Day 76: Ravena’s Revenge

Update: 220.2 lbs, 38.0 lbs so far, Goal Reached Day 74. – 12.0 lbs to NEW 50 lb goal.

So yesterday morning, I decided to give The Loop another shot, as previously discussed in my Life Lessons From The Road post. If you read it, then you know this is a 12.5-ish mile loop heading out into the boonies from my neighborhood, which was full of exciting experiences last time I road it. Yesterday’s ride had some moments worth mentioning as well.

First off, as I headed out, I should have perhaps been warned by the ‘tooley fog’ (actually spelled tule fog) that was wafting across the fields of North Keizer as I started my ride. Turns out it tule fog is actually a California thing, so I guess it wasn’t a tule fog, so to speak, but you always hear how someone ‘headed out into a tule fog, and that was the last we saw of them,’ so it made me wonder if something momentus was ahead in the ride.

Ok, that’s not really a tule fog, just a little light mist over some mud. Well, anyway, by the time I got to the home of the CGS (chubby german shepard,) I was ready for our little game of I-can’t-really-catch-you-but-make-me-feel-good-anyway pick up the pace riding, but I think CGS must have known I was cruising to the smooth sounds of Kenny Loggins at that point because he just kind of gave me the Chubby Homey ‘sup’ nod, and didn’t really even budge. I thought maybe he was setting me up for NSCGS (not so chubby german shepard) but he was nowhere to be found, so I think we’ve perhaps reached an understanding. Neither of us really want to work that hard in our relationship.

Before long I had reached the point where two roads diverged, and being a man on just one bike, I could not travel them both. My heart must have forgotten the little episode last time because once again, it insisted that we give Ravena’s Hill another shot. Again, if you read the entry linked above, you know this is the magical hill that pulled my bike to a standstill position. I’ve taken a few photos for you, but they won’t really do it justice:

That’s the view from a couple hundred out…you can see the less steep road to the left, and Ravena calling like an evil temptress to the right. You lose it in the trees right away so you don’t get to see how steep, or long it is. Granted, it’s somewhere between 100 feet and 100 yards, but plenty daunting. So as I was saying, the old ticker said ‘lets give it a go again!’ while my legs and head were saying ‘you seem to have forgotten that we didn’t get very far last time.’ Ticker replied with ‘yes, but remember that we didn’t quite have the whole gear shifter thing figured out, and BBGOaB (big brown geek on a bike) tried going up in about 8th gear, instead of 1st or 2nd gear.’ Well, the heart won out, and I downshifted almost as far as I could before giving it a go, cranked up “Harder to Breath” on the Shuffle and had at it. Little did I know how appropriate that song selection was going to be.

Somewhere near the 1/3 point, where the bike just stopped last time, I realized this was one of the hardest thing a guy who’s just barely getting back into shape should be doing. The low gear made it easy for me to spin my back tire on the still damp pavement, the contortions of my body digging and pulling, digging and pulling made the front end come up once or twice, worrying me that I might flip the bike over, and I was zig zagging all over the road looking for a less-steep place to climb. It’s amazing I didn’t just fall to the ground because not too much further past the 1/3 mark, my heart started beating like a distant jungle drum, cranked up to 11. I felt a fire in the back of my throat from trying to suck in more air, and my head felt like it was going to pop and shoot off my neck like a balloon at a birthday party. At the 2/3 mark the head and legs were screaming ‘give it up big guy, this isn’t for you!’

Normally, I bail at this point. Probably because I knew I’d have to blog about it, I kept going, and without getting too dramatic about the inner fire, or the will to succeed, I made it to the top. I had to get off the bike and walk around for a minute, drinking and spitting out water, but I made it. The next couple miles of my ride were really unpleasant, and I didn’t get out of that funk until about the point I reached the BS Market (yes, we really have a BS Market on the course…but you can’t buy what the name implies there.) But from near the top, here is another shot…again, not really painting the picture of just how hard that climb was for me, but at least maybe you’ll get an idea – right at the crest, you’ll see just the top of the stop sign that’s hidden by the hill itself.
At this moment, I’m not sure that’s anything I want to experience again. The old ticker has become quite the litigator though, so he may make his case for why we should try the next time we approach it, but maybe the head and legs will talk some sense in to him. Thank you to all of those who stopped there with me at the stop sign and asked if I needed a call to the paramedics, it’s good to know there are still people who care.

That’s the bike, without me on it because I’m laying on the ground trying to catch my breath. When the lady at that house came over to ask me to move so she could back her Escalade out, I agreed on the condition that she take a picture of my bike for me. Whoo, tomorrow I’m driving the truck.


p.s. – I couldn’t come up with any kind of iconic photo today for the top-corner pic, but then low and behold…Ravena’s Ring.


Day 67: Coffee To Go

Update: 223.8 lbs, 34.4 lbs so far, 3.6 left to reach goal.

Really hacked about a freaking pound upswing after busting my butt in exercise for 4 days in a row, while sick, and continuing to stay on my caloric and water targets, so rather than whining and complaining (more), let me just say I think this photo is a brilliant idea.

The cool thing about that coffee cup holder is it also doubles as a light mount, so you can swap between your coffee and night time driving needs. Although in my book, you probably need both.

There is also a whole site dedicated to coffee cup systems for bikes called BicycleCoffeeSystems – no amazing web design, but plenty of information, check it out.

Ok, since I didn’t even try to make anyone smile today, here’s a picture of the brown geek on his bike, big helmet and all, from his last commute. BGOHB for short.



Day 65: Uncle Paul’s Life Lessons From The Road

Update: 223.6 lbs, 34.6 lbs so far, 3.4 left to reach goal.

The other day Nick told me about a 13 mile loop that takes off from my neighborhood, circles around the boonies, and then back, for a good bike ride. For those who know the area it takes off down Shoreline, which crosses to Windsor Island Rd, out to Ravena, cut back down Wheatland to River Rd, to Lockhaven, back to Windsor Island, Shoreline, and then back into the neighborhood. As is usually the case, a new venture like this for me is full of little lessons…lessons which today, Uncle Paul would like to share with you.

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
Remember the pitbulls from last week’s ride..yeah, well I avoid them now by taking a different route. Today from a distance I spotted an old, chubby German shepherd guarding a farm, that I would have to ride by. I picked up just a little speed to be sure, and as I got closer, he started barking and started moving towards me. I could tell he wasn’t going to catch me as long as I didn’t slow down, but I decided to act like I needed to speed up anyway…to give him a little thrill chase. I’m sure as an old, chubby dog, he was going to go back and tell his other dog buddies how he nearly mauled this big brown guy on a bike — “you should have seen it, like a ginormous double scoop chocolate cone on two wheels!”

Well just about the time I was patting myself on the back for boosting this old dog’s ego, I picked something up out of my peripheral vision — a younger, slightly less chubby german shepherd that was coming from another part of the same property, making a bee line to cut me off at the pass! Santa Maria! This time, I actually had to kick up the horses a bit so he wouldn’t take out my front forks. Close call, but I staved off the sneak attack. Later on, I was pretty sure the Pitbulls from across K-town called the G-Sheps and told them they’d need a blind sweeping attack to fake me out. I don’t know who let the dogs out, but call the score: Attack Dogs – 0, Mex-On-The-Bike – 2.

Don’t Spit Into the Wind
Ok, this one I actually learned from Jim Croce back when I was a wee lad, (or Wii lad these days.) However, I’d forgotten what a pain it is to ride in the wind. Today I realized that a good tailwind can make you feel like you’re Lance Armstrong, whereas a strong headwind actually reduces you to Lance Bass…(yeah, I’m not really sure what that means either, but I needed a good Lance-Lance drop there.) With no wind, I actually had some pretty good cruising speeds, but once I hit some of the open fields of the backwoods the winds slowed me down to nearly half speed, which stinks. I’m not sure how this works, since I made one big loop, but I managed to have a headwind for about 2/3rds of my ride…which is nice. Check the wind before you ride. If Something Wicked This Way Comes, maybe hold off for a break in the weather.

Easy Does It
On the gearshifting that is. As I hit one particular hilly area, I decided to shift down to make life a little easier, but actually went the wrong way and geared up making the pedaling twice as hard. I panicked, and shifted right away two gears the other direction. This was on the front sprocket shifter, so it’s actually jumping by 10’s, if that makes sense. Anyway, since I didn’t allow for the chain to fully engage before shifting the other way, and since I was standing on that crank at the time, I derailed it. Thank goodness I still had a runny nose from my cold, because I had put tissues in every pocket of my shorts (all 4 of them) in case I needed them. Turns out I did, but to wipe the grease off my hands. Now I realize carrying a few tissues, or some sort of rag is a good idea. Also didn’t realize there was a U-Pick Tulip patch (farm, garden, villa..???) on Wheatland, but I do now, and a mom and daughter got a great shot of me from behind bending over to fix my chain…sorry ladies.

No Means No!
At about mile 7.3 of this loop is a road that runs uphill named Ravena. It’s named for the late famous hispanic cyclist Edwardo Ravena who died instantly when he attempted to actually ride up this almost completely vertical stretch of road. He made it about halfway, and simply gave out from exhaustion. The local townfolk decided to memorialize his effort by calling that Ravena’s Hill, or simply ‘Ravena’ nowadays. Anyway, my eyes were bigger than my stamina today.

I saw the hill from a good half mile to mile away, and started mentally preparing for it. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” But my legs were saying, “yeah, aint gonna happen my friend.” Having been recently inspired by an episode of Friday Night Lights I began to encourage the legs that ‘they really could, if they’d just dig down deep.’ As I neared the throat of the hill, I downshifted (no derailement this time) and proceeded to dig on in. Everything was going great until about a third of the way up, when something strange happened…my bike simply stopped. No slowing down, or rolling to a stop, it just up and stopped. Really, the wierdest thing I’ve had happen on a bike in my life. There was no more energy in my legs, and we were at such an incline that gravity pulled us to a motionless state. I quickly hopped off and pushed it the rest of the way up the hill.

I later noticed something odd…I have a shifter on the right side of my bike too, and if I move that little dial thingy, I can actually change the gears on the back sprocket, which makes life much easier. I had tried going up that hill in about gear 8, instead of something like 3, or more realistically, 1. Anyway, I know better for next time. And since I remembered that whole ‘other gear thing’ on Wheatland, it made the hill by McNary Golf course easier to get up and over as well. Use them shifters, they’re there for a reason.

Well, there you go…dont’ say Uncle Paul never gave you nothin’!


PS – you know what stinks? Riding to work and back, playing golf, and playing basketball on Friday, riding for an hour on Saturday, and staying under 1500 calories for 3 days in a row (eve over a holiday) and going up .4 of a pound, not losing.


Day 61: The Commute

Update: 224.0 lbs, 34.2 lbs so far, 3.8 left to reach goal.

Yesterday, this little beauty was my mode of transportation for getting to work. I’ve been wanting to ride in since getting my new bike a few weeks ago, but either the weather has been bad, I’ve had tons of stuff to take with me, or meetings all over town, or something that has kept me from commuting on two wheels.

Yesterday I still was feeling sick, but figured it was going to be a decent day, so I just bit the bullet and did it. All in all, I rode down to the office, then out to Riverfront park before heading to meet an old friend at Starbucks, and then back home at the end of the day. Not really a long ride — logging less than 10 miles total for the day. Yesterday, I was one of those geeky guys on a bike, helmet and all.

Riding my bike has really become preferred method of exercise. If it’s nice out (or even a little not-so-nice) and I’ve got some time, I would much rather go for a ride than get on the treadmill. I’m still a little concerned about the image from behind the bike for those that are following me, but hopefully before long I can reduce the ‘golf ball on a tee’ look that I currently represent. I’m not sure how many days I’ll get to ride down to the office (you can’t carry your clubs on a bike very easy, you know) but I’m going to shoot for at least 2-3, especially as the weather gets nice.

Pool update….sorry Syd, I tried, I really tried…..

K-biz – 4/1 – Date Passed.
Mistee – 4/4
Date Passed.
Syd – 4/5
Date Passed.
Jen – 4/8

Michael – 4/10

SeagravesJ – 4/25

Joe – 4/27
Skovelli (late entry) – 5/1

Hasta, y’all.


Day 51: You See More On Two Wheels…

Update: 228.6 lbs, 29.6 lbs so far, 8.4 left to reach goal.

I read a quote somewhere saying ‘you see more on two wheels than you ever will on four,’ obviously referring to the joys of cycling, or biking. Well, I can testify that this statement is true. For example, last week while cruising out to Spongs Landing at 7 in the morning, I enjoyed God’s great creation in two amazing pitbulls that wanted to show me just how fast they could run. To return the favor, I showed them that a 230+lb man could get a bike up from 7 mph to over 20 in just a matter of seconds. It was a fun little game we played not only once, but twice, since I had to come back the same way to get home. My only other option was to ride up all they way to about Wilsonville, and then cut back and around, but since I didn’t have half the day for a ride, I just did the Running Of The (pit)Bulls again.

This morning, I relived the quote as I took a different route, and looked out off the road into God’s creation and saw…more McDonalds garbage for miles than I really expected to see. No wonder I like to ride in the car, I don’t have to see everyone elses personal roadside trash-can that way. One thought kept crossing my mind as I cruised along seeing the Golden Arches strewn about — “Great, now where am *I* supposed to throw my McMuffin wrapper!?” – (kid….I kid…..)

Anyway, got in 10.5 miles this morning since the kids are off for spring break (that’s 540 calories, at 10mph, for those who were wondering), and just beat the rain, I was starting to sprinkle as I pulled in. And let me say, I’m a sight to see when I do. Since I haven’t really gone nutso on the whole biking thing yet, I haven’t spent a dollar on cycling clothes, so my early morning wardrobe is running shoes, baggy sweatpants, t-shirt, pull over zip neck, with a hoodie sweatshirt over those, my wifes white Turtle face muzzle, garden gloves, and bike helmet– accessorized with the trendy white ipod earphones of course…gotta be cool, that’s how I roll.