Saturday, December 31, 2016

F*** it. I'm hanging with the king


Serious question:

Burger King is offering a $4.00 value meal with a whopper jr., nuggets, fries and a soft drink. Assuming that you take a full-strength (not diet) drink, that's around 1,100 calories (including nugget sauce and ketchup). 

I'm not picking on Burger King, other chains offer similar deals, I just keep seeing their commercial and it makes me think about stuff. 


So, here's the question. Can you name another source of 1,100 calories that tastes that good for $4.00? 

You couldn't buy the ingredients to make this meal at a grocery store yourself for $4. 


That's 4/10 of a cent per calorie. It's hard to buy any food that cheaply. Maybe if you drank straight veggie oil. 


Nevermind nutrition, if you're going for bang for the buck, why wouldn't you eat this? 

Assuming a 2,000 calorie diet, and eating this 365 days per year, that's 730,000 calories per year. Or, 664 $4 value meals. That means it would cost you $2,654 to eat all year. Or $7.27 per day. Or, save even more by eating one $4 meal (1,100 calories) for lunch and then 2 packs of top ramen and a coke (520 calories, $1.50) for another meal. Boom. Out the door for $5.50 per day. 


Can you beat that? And I don't mean with plain rice or oatmeal. I mean with a flavorful meal with a drink. 

Check this site out if you really want some calorie bang for your buck. Although I don't recommend eating straight flour. 


Be brave, and eat a whopper. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Burning the candle at four ends


Before we get started today, a word of warning. This post has very little to do with bikes and isn't very funny. Read at your own peril. 

Red Green famously said that "if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."

I am neither handsome or handy. Instead, I am always occupied. 

I work a busy job. When I'm not working, I'm volunteering for COMBO. And I'm a captain of my race team. Oh, and there's this blog, and the Dirt Rag column. And training and racing. Did I mention the three teenage kids?


I don't have to do all of this. If I was wired differently, I could quit some or all of it.  Might be nice to read a book or watch a game of sportsball sometime. But I can't. 

Instead, I burn the candle at four ends at all times.

It's always been that way. When I was younger, I filled my days with whatever hobby crossed my path. Cars, cards, concerts, cooking, tattoos, gaming, drinking, whatever.

Perhaps I'm still doing the same, though at least now my distractions are healthy and productive. 


But it's not getting better; it's getting worse. In the last couple of months, many friends and colleagues have remarked repeatedly that I look tired. I suppose I am. So what?

(Do I look tired to you?)

I don't expect a long and uneventful life. Never have. The hottest fires burn out the quickest. Again, so what?

Case in point: right now, I'm on vacation in Florida. (By the way the photos on this post are of weird stuff I saw in Florida). It's beautiful, clear and sunny. Unseasonably warm. Or, at least historically unseasonable. 

 (Don't swim with diarrea, please)

My kids and wife are relaxing. They're at the beach, at the pool. But they're eyeing me uneasily. 

They know that I can't just rest. They know me and they know I can't. I think that's why they are so easygoing about all the stuff I do. It's probably exhausting to be around me and a relief to let me go do things without them.

But it is my vacation, so I'm trying to rest. Yesterday, I went for a bike ride on the beach. Bikes usually clear my head. 


Mountain biking in particular stops my brain from spinning. If you aren't paying attention to your environment at every moment on the trail, you're gonna wreck and it's gonna hurt. Beach biking, not so much. I had time to think. Dammit. 


As I rode along, it dawned on me that my interaction with the beach was different than most peoples'. Whereas I was riding along parallel to the tide, on the hard sand near the water, most other beachgoers were moving perpendicular to the tide, from their beach towels to the water. Across my path. Or perhaps, I was crossing their path. 

In any event, I didn't mind. I was being attentive and I was happy to stop and wait for someone who toddled in front of me. 

Most of them were indeed toddlers. Or sun-baked middle-aged drunks. If they noticed me at all, my smiling gaze was usually met with an open-mouthed stare. That's to be expected of the very young or the very drunk. 


The few sober adults that didn't see me coming had one of two reactions. Some smiled and waved at me. Maybe even asked about my "big tires."  They weren't bothered by me. They seemed to enjoy the fact that I was enjoying myself on the beach too. 

Others were angry with me. They scowled and glared. Why would I use with the beach in a manner different than theirs? I must be nuts. How could I occupy the same space as them, if even briefly? I must be incredibly entitled. How could I expect them to stop their march to the water for me? I must be selfish, rude, and greedy. 


This got me thinking philosophically. So many dimensions in these interactions came to mind. 

On one hand, it's a classic "tragedy of the commons." This theory explains that mutual gain can be quickly diminished when a person with rights to a common space withdraws his consent to share. 


Or, maybe it's an illustration of the American system of property rights, inherited from the British. Property rights are among the oldest, and most unchanged legal foundations of our country, although the system of private ownership is little discussed or questioned. But I have questions. 

When does someone have the right to put up a fence, or a beach towel, to the exclusion of others? And do our settler private property rights inform the walker's feelings about the biker? Does he have a better right to the linear path to the surf than I have to the lateral path of the coast? Is there a border there that he must defend? Can he zone me out? Regulate me away? Criminalize my behavior? 

Or, maybe it's just a question of individual experience. Perhaps the walker has never been on a bike, but has heard that cyclists are rude and lawbreakers. Maybe he had an unpleasant brush with a cyclist in traffic last week. Maybe he just didn't like my tattoos. 

These personal experiences spill into every encounter and decision. That's why the toddler stared at me - he had formed no bias about cyclists yet, he was just observing. Forming future biases. 

I smiled and waited for him. See kid, bikes are nice! Same with the drunk. His cognition was impaired beyond the ability to accessing bias and process a reaction. His few remaining brain functions were working full-steam on staying upright. 


Or maybe too, it's a matter of self-interest. Perhaps the walker felt entitled to this strip of beach and is unwilling to share. This beach time was a precious resource, bought at the expense of his travel costs and a week off work. And there I was, encroaching on his limited free time and license to the beach. 

Whatever the case, I can't help thinking about it. And wondering what role my own bias plays. 

If I'm being honest, i haven't always reacted kindly when someone intrudes into a space that I am entitled to. I keep trying though. 

(Except for birds. I hate birds). 

In my reasoned view, the beach is nice and bikes are nice. Walking is also nice and so is swimming. I'm not in a hurry and I have no reason to hurry. So, I choose to wait on others, to share, to be kind, to smile. At least, I try to do so. 

But what do I know?

By the way, I'm writing this post on the beach. I took a couple tall boys of PBR and started walking. When the first was finished, I stopped, cracked the second and sat in the shade. Am I resting? I can't tell. 


Be brave and burn out. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You take the good, you take the bad,


You take them both and there you have the facts of life, the facts of life ...

Well, in matters not in any way relating to a teenage boarding school, I have had to take the good and take the bad. 

Last night, I went out for a ride. It didn't end well. 


Seems I broke a rib. 

My friend Tom summarized the story for me, and he did a better job that I will, so, here it is:


In any event, the worst part of the wreck was the three miles back to the car.  In the dark.  At 20 degrees.  I was moaning and cursing so much that, if anybody was listening, it probably sounded like Sasquatch sex. 

The ER doctor said "riding mountain bikes in the dark in the snow? That's crazy." 

But, as I told Christy, doctors don't know shit about mountain bikes.  Unless they ride mountain bikes. But this doctor didn't ride mountain bikes.  So he didn't know shit.  Except about doctoring. Pshhhht.

Anyhow, it could be worse. At least the weather forecast looks like this:


So I probably won't be hitting any trails soon anyway. Which is kinda why I was out there last night in the first place. 

But let's move on from pain to something pleasant. 

See, I wrote a piece about my trip to the IMBA Summit and the accompanying road trip. It's up on Dirt Rag's page. I discuss the finer points of th (mini) Van Life. You can find it here.

Check it out. You can find out whether Chuck is thinking about murder. 


In any event, it beats a broken rib. 

Be brave, and take your pain meds. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

'Tis the Off-season


Kittens keep it real. 

Anyhoo, it's the off-season and I'm busy getting fat (again). The good news is that I'm only a few pounds away from racing Clydesdale next season, so there's that. 


That's me between the kiddos. 

It's also almost Christmas, so I thought I'd give you some gift ideas for me, just in case you haven't gotten me anything yet. 

"Go in Peazizzle" St. Broadus, Patron Saint of Long Beach. 


For those cold nights on Hoth

I just need this, okay?

But if you're done with your shopping, could you do me a favor?

Stop in at COMBO's annual meeting and celebration  It's on December 19 at Lineage from 7:00 to 9:00. 

I will be presiding over the event until someone tells me I've had too many of Lineage's delicious beers and takes the mic from my hand. So, you know, get there early. 


You can hear about the threats to local mountain biking and what COMBO's doing about it. Plus, you get to mix and mingle with luminaries like Ed Braunbeck and James Knott. 

What else you got to do, eat Christmas cookies? 

It's gonna be a good time, fo' shizzle. 

Be brave in the off season. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Nothing is set in stone

Most kittens dream of murder. This one dreams of mountain biking. I dream of mountain biking, when I'm not having nightmares about being naked in high school. But right now, I'm thinking about blogging. 

You ever think about blogging? I mean, not the idea of it, but the work of it? How to produce interesting content? How to grow your audience? 

Well, let's peek behind the curtain. 

So, I have been writing this blog for a while now. And, as an aside, I hate the word "blogging." Maybe because it is pronounced like blah-ging. Or maybe it's because I just don't like the way the word sounds. It's an awful mashup of the worst sounds in English. BL-AW-G-GING. 

But I digress. What I really want to say is that nothing is set in stone. Except for Mt. Rushmore. And the pyramids. Also, things that are set in stone, like railings and stairs. Ok, a lot of things are set in stone. 


What's not set in stone is how I post on this here blog. 

See, things have changed some. I used to post weekly or more. Then every two weeks or so. I tried to have a theme and work out that theme while discussing something bike related. These posts take a while to write. I have to soak in the theme, like bath water, until it starts to get dirty and cold and then I know it's time to commit the ideas to paper, so to speak. 

Or sometimes I just post pictures of cats and unicorns. 

Unicorn skull. It's real. 

Over time, my audience was growing, although slowly. 

Then I started doing an online column for Dirt Rag. I love doing this column. And it has gotten my writing out to a bigger audience. 

But, in the meantime, my blog's traffic has withered and died. 

What to do? Well, that begs the question. Why have a blog at all? Why worry about the traffic?

The answer is part selfish and part not. I like to post. I'm not normally a talker. Usually, if a bunch of people are talking in a group, like at a bar or in a car or a meeting, I don't say much. I mostly just listen. 

So, this here's a place that I can run my mouth. And post pictures of kittens and unicorns. And Mr. Rogers. 


Besides that, I like biking. I care about it. So I like to advocate. And I like to promote the good stuff going on in my community. 

You want me to promote your race, sure. Your cat's bat mitzvah? Just holler. 


So, I like to talk and I like to talk about bikes. But it's pointless if I'm just talking into the void. I need an audience. So, I can't let the blog just die. 

Well, the obvious answer is to post more. 

Now, I can't do long, thematic posts more often. I have a job and a family. Plus, I'd rather ride bikes in my free time than post blogs. 

So I'm gonna try something new. I'm going to do a couple quickie posts a week, like this one, with a simple story or some local events. 

Here's one event that combines two things I really care about: building local trails and getting kids on bikes: 


This Saturday (December 3) at 8:30 am, COMBO is having a trail work day at the beginner trail at Alum Creek Phase One. Here's a link to the event:

You like riding trails? How about paying it back with a couple hours of sweat equity? As a bonus, you'll be helping fix up the beginner trail, which is used by a lot of kids, families, and new riders. And isn't that what it's all about?  

Go do it, you won't regret it. I smile every time I ride on a section of trail that I helped build or repair. Don't you?

That's it for now. Be brave a couple times a week. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Looking forward to the NUE year


So, it's that time again. The race season is winding down and I'm looking forward to next year. 

Next season, I plan to do at least four NUE 100-mile races and build my season around them. 

So far, I have three on my list: the Cohutta 100, the Mohican 100, and the Lumberjack 100. What am I missing? What should I do for a fourth?

I am most stoked for the Mohican 100. That's a local race for me, and by far the closest of the NUE series. 

You may remember that the first time I tried it, two years ago, I ended up destroyed physically and mentally. And I was bleeding. 

This year, I went at it again, about 30 pounds lighter and much better trained. And I didn't pack the three beers this time. 

I did enjoy a few afterwards. That's probably the best part of this race - hanging out with all the local goofball mtbers. 


This year, I finished four hours faster and it inspired me to race the Shenandoah 100, which left me destroyed physically and mentally. At least I wasn't bloody. 

Ennyhoo ... registration is already open for the Mohican 100.  You should join me. Sign up here

Do it. Go ahead, I'll wait. 

I asked race director Ryan O'Dell for some of his favorite quotes from Mohican 100 racers. Here were some of his favorites:

1. "Rode the first 20 then realized I was already smoked," (Been there, done that). 

2. "I cried at mile 60." (Yep, me too). 

3. "I wanted to drop out but the promise of Great Lakes Beer kept me going."  (Indeed). 

If you didn't do register yet, maybe this will get you stoked:

And if that doesn't get you pumped, check your pulse. 

Be brave for 100 miles. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016



Winter is calling. That means it's about my favorite time - fat bike race season!


Are you excited? I am. 

I will be racing the Farmhand near Grand Rapids Michigan and the Fatbike National Championships. Also in Michigan. 

But you don't have to drive to Michigan for all this fun. You can race right here in Central Ohio. 

COMBO is hosting its race series at Chestnut Ridge. I will be there. Might even wear the unicorn suit. Come race me! 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Falling down on the job and why I'll never write a product review

My shoe lies in the middle of the trail - the rest of me was upside-down about 20 yards away in the woods
So, I have been failing to keep this blog updated regularly.  As you may know, I have been producing content for Dirt Rag and reposting it here.  The blog has, in essence, migrated to their website.

I still intend to keep posting links to those columns here, but I am seriously behind.  Part of the reason is that the Blogger app doesn't work on my phone anymore.  Anyone else have issues with the app?

Anyhoo, here's a column from last month (link below too).  In it, I call my friends nerds and I explain why I will never write a product review.  Hope you enjoy!  I'll try to have another post up in a week or so.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I peed on Dirt Rag's website

Have you ever been in a race, and you can see someone in front of you?  You put in extra effort to catch them, but you can't.  Seems like no matter how hard you pedal, they just get farther away from you?

Yeah, my whole life has been like that lately.  I can't catch up.

Which is my way of apologizing for publishing this almost two weeks late.  Anyway, my writeup of how I have to pee and how I finished the Shennandoah 100, is over on Dirt Rag's website collecting dust.  Read it here.  Here's the link, if you prefer old school:

Be brave and catch up.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Messing up Dirt Rag's Website

So, the good folks at Dirt Rag picked up a piece that I wrote about Dirt Fest, and they thought it was okay.  They have asked me to write an online column for them a couple times a month.

So, until further notice (or until Dirt Rag realizes what a terrible mistake they have made), my posts will be appearing on Dirt Rag's site.  I will continue (somewhat) to post here, and I will always throw a link up to the column whenever a new one is published.

Here's my first effort:

In all seriousness, I couldn't be more stoked about this.  Dirt Rag is the best MTB magazine out there, and their content is so different than most of the other mags, which are often little more than glossy catalogs. 

So, thanks for tuning in and be brave, just do it over on Dirt Rag's site.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Losing weight in 10 easy steps - and why you shouldn't do an Ironman

I recently posted a huge personal victory on FaceBook. Specifically, I posted that I had officially reached 100 pounds of weight loss.

I went from 287 to 187. 

This post got a lot of likes. In fact, more than any post I have ever done. Apparently, I touched a nerve.

Since then, I also completed my first half Ironman race. 

Combined, I have received a ton of kudos and kind words for these achievements. Which I am grateful for.

Even more meaningful were the personal messages that I have been getting from friends and acquaintances, telling me that I have inspired them to keep pushing. Some have even asked for advice. So, I thought I'd do a blog post with my 10 easy steps to weight loss. 

With no further ado, here are my 10 simple steps:

Work, and then

Or, if you prefer the steps in song format:

Losing weight isn't easy. It is hard. There are no shortcuts or simple steps. It's. Extremely. Fucking. Hard.

Plenty of my friends are lean and fit. You may think that being lean comes natural to them. It's easy for them, right? They get to eat whatever they want and they don't gain weight. You many even be jealous of them, and wonder "why am I cursed with this fat-loving body?"

Bullshit. Don't blame genetics, even though it may play a role. My friends who are lean and fit WORK to be that way. They work. Fucking. Hard.   

It ain't easy for nobody.
Except Uncle Paulie.  Everything is easy for him.

So, what to do? My advice: you might as well quit trying to be fit. Being overweight and out of shape is not that bad, right? It's easy. You don't have to work work work work work. You can hang out with friends. You get to eat pizza and drink craft beers. You can watch live sports on tv. Cool. 

My advice is, don't worry about it. Just do you.

Still, some of you may still want to try, despite my advice. But let me begin by saying that you shouldn't listen to me. I'm not a doctor, trainer, or nutritionist. My ideas may be based in "bro science." 

And, here's the thing. I'm not done. I didn't "do" it. I'm "doing" it. Every day. 

Yeah, I lost 100 pounds. Took me about 10 years. Of work. And I'm proud of that. Very proud.

But I'm not satisfied. My BMI (27) is still "overweight."  And my body fat percentage (18%) is still to high for my goals. Indeed, after reaching my 100-pound goal, I promptly gained two pounds back. Fuck. In fact, I slip up all the time - at least one bad day a week.

So, I work every day.

Want to know my formula for eating? It's really simple. My calories in have to be lower than my calories out.

I look at calories as firewood and exercise as fire. And my fat is the woodshed. Every day, I bring in a bundle of wood (daily calories). If I burn all of that wood (through exercise) but still need to keep the fire going, I have to go to the woodshed (body fat). Sooner or later, the woodshed will get depleted. 

It's that simple. Calories in have to be less than calories out. In a recent controversial example, a professor in Kansas set out to prove this formula by eating nothing but twinkies. It worked. He lost weight eating only twinkies, doritos and oreos, because his calorie intake was lower than his burn. 

There are plenty of calorie counter apps out there. I like Fitness Pal. 

Of course, merely counting calories does not take into account nutrition. Eating twinkies won't keep your body's systems in good balance. But you will lose weight. 

My formula for eating nutritious food is pretty simple too. More calories from carbs than protein before exercise, and more calories from protein than carbs after exercise or when resting. That's it. Yeah, you can go no-carb, switch your body to ketone burning or whatever. But I'm not interested in that.

I eat A LOT of lean protein, and nutritionally-dense fruits and veggies (dark greens, beets, citrus, and berries) with nearly every meal. In addition to being good for muscle repair and recovery, these foods are low calorie and filling. 

Even when I thought I was eating enough lean protein and veggies, I was wrong.

I try to avoid fried foods, sugary food, pizza and pasta. Too high calorie due to all the extra, nutritionally useless fat and sugar fat and sugar (I get enough fats and sugars from a healthy diet). 

But I do eat junk sometimes. My favorite junk foods--the ones I just can't quit--are donuts, bacon, and beer. I don't feel guilty about enjoying my favorites, as long as I don't overdo it. But I am honest with myself about the calorie and health impact. And, I don't indulge in junk that I DON'T like, just because it's available (like those cupcakes someone brought in to the office). I could eat one, but if I'm going to eat junk, it's going to be my favorite junk. I'd rather save the calories for a beer after dinner (or have beer for dinner). Point is, be strategic about eating junk. Do it mindfully and intentionally. 

Pretty easy. Probably nothing you haven't heard before. 

What about exercise? Well, that's the other hard part. But again, my approach is pretty simple. 

Cardio burns more calories than strength training. But some strength training helps keep you durable and injury free. So, I do more cardio than strength.

For cardio, I do short, high intensity workouts a couple times a week. This builds speed and really ramps up the calorie burn. And, a couple times a week I do longer, slower cardio workouts.  This helps endurance and is generally more fun than high intensity work. 

But I don't stick to a rigid training schedule. When I feel tired, I rest. When I feel strong, I exercise. Once you get used to this rhythm, you can time "feeling strong" to coincide with race day. 

I almost never train on sore or tired muscles. (A little soreness is okay, but overtraining has led me to injuries). That way, I don't feel worn out and tired all the time and I don't dread the next workout. 

To stay motivated (and this is the hardest part), I enter races and events. 

I am less likely to cop out of a training day and I am more likely to train harder, when I have a race on the calendar.

Second, make your training relative to something you enjoy. I happen to like mountain biking. I really really like it. So, training is not a chore for me because I get to ride my bike. 

What do you like? Swimming? Hiking? Bird-watching? Look for events that are enjoyable to you. Then register and pay for them. Put them on your calendar. Now you've got a reason to train and you have skin in the game.

And when you find an event to sign up for, make sure that it's a little intimidating. Something that is, for now, just out of the reach of your abilities. 

For me, there is no greater motivation to train than fear of failure. 

So, if you can run a 5k, put a half marathon on your calendar. If you can hike, why not trail run? You get the idea. 

Finally, find a group of people who also like to do what you do and get involved with them. For me, I am surrounded by an amazing community of cyclists who have acted as mentors, coaches, riding buddies, and even people that I can teach.

Social media is a good place to find local groups with common interests. While most of your training will be on your own, you will receive support and advice from a good network of like-minded people. Plus, you will find plenty of group-rides (or runs etc.) and training opportunities. 

I know, for sure, that I wouldn't be where I'm at without all of the good people who lifted me along the way.

So, how does this all relate to the half ironman I recently completed?

Well, it's my most recent challenge. See, over the last ten years, I have had to keep ramping up the work to get the same fitness benefit. Because my body has adapted to exercise, it takes more or different exercise to push the cardio to the same plateau. 

So, when I stopped seeing a strong benefit from riding alone, I added running. Then I added swimming. I have added fast races, long races, and more races.

A half ironman seemed like the natural next step for where my fitness was at. It was a challenge that was intimidating, would require a lot of training, and was out of my reach when I registered. 


So I trained my ass off. I knew I wouldn't "win," but I had hoped for a comparatively competitive result, like maybe top third or the finishers. 

My actual race didn't go so well. I trained for months, but just couldn't seem to get faster at swimming (although I did overcome my open water panic). 

So, at the ironman, I barely finished before the cutoff. (1:06 and the cutoff was 1:10). Still, I was so glad I made the cutoff, I actually cried a little in relief during the transition to bike. 

Now, my bike is my "good event." I had expected to average 22-23mph, given my training times and my times at other events. 

But when I started, it felt like I was cycling through mud. I was putting in a 22mph amount of effort, but only going 19. People were passing me who shouldn't have - people I know and that I am normally faster than. 

At the time, I put this down to the strain of the swim, but, at mile 50, my rear brake locked up. It was then that I realized it had been dragging the whole time! This cost me huge, and I finished the bike in around 3 hours, instead of 2.5. 

Lesson learned: when something feels wrong, stop and check. I could have saved myself a lot of time. And, I should have checked everything while the bike was on the rack before I left transition. It wouldn't have taken long to just spin the wheels. 

Anyway, the run went about as planned, and took me around 2:10. 

All told, with transitions etc, the race took me nearly 6 and a half hours. Damned disappointing (although a fairly mid-pack finish). But I was hoping for a sub-6. 

It's tough to talk about the race after. Everyone wants to know how it went. And when I tell them it didn't go to plan, they still congratulate me. 

Yeah, I finished it, but that wasn't my goal. I am proud, but still feel let down. 

But it's not about the finish time, in the end. It's about the work, work, work, work, work. Remember, you're gonna do most of this by yourself.

So, after the ironman, when a friend tells me "wow, great job!", I hear "wow, great job dragging yourself out of a warm bed for all those 5am swims." And when they say "That's awesome!", I hear "That's awesome that you got home tired from a tough day at work, and saw the rainclouds rolling in, but you still laced on those shoes for a run!"

Because there is no cheering crowd on your training ride, no inspirational signs on your Sunday run, and no one gives you a pat on the ass when you manage to walk by the box of donuts. For the third time.

My advice: don't do it. 

Be brave, and work.