Archive for the ‘health’ Category.

stjohnprovidence.com vs. stjohnprovidence.org

Attempting to pay a medical bill online and accidentally typing stjohnprovidence.com/billpay (link intentionally omitted) instead of stjohnprovidence.org/billpay resulted in this wonderful false AV warning within my browser. I’d think that a big hospital would work to fix this sort of thing…

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine + Pro Flywheel

Earlier today I purchased a used (but nearly new) Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and Pro Flywheel from someone local for cash plus a set of nearly-new tires that I didn’t need. I’d been interested in trying out a trainer with a heavier flywheel than the Cycleops Fluid 2 that I’ve used for the last few years as I suspected it’d smooth out my pedal stroke and make for a more outdoors-y feel. I’ve had problems getting my heart rate to the same levels on the trainer as when riding outdoors, and I suspected it was from the higher drag, constant hill climbing feeling that I was getting with the Fluid 2.

For my first ride tonight I did TrainerRoad’s 8 Minute Test (without the Pro Flywheel) and thus far I’m very happy. There is a much longer coast/spin down time with this trainer vs. the Fluid 2 resulting in less of a climbing-stairs feeling and something more like riding into a strong headwind. This I’m fine with. The result of the power test put me at a 304W FTP, and during the test I was able to reliably get my HR to roughly my maximum, somewhere in the mid 170 BPM range. The last time I did a test (back in October) I was barely able to hit the 160s.

On my first try with the large flywheel — after removing it to wipe everything down — I noticed that there’s a bit of vibration when I’d get it to higher RPMs. I imagine it just needs a little aligning, but if I continue to have issues hopefully Kurt will help sort things out. The larger flywheel provided an even more intertia, and it almost felt like riding down a gentle grade with a steady headwind when using it. Serious effort was required to get it started, but once it was going it seemed to smooth things out even more.

I’ll try it out on some longer sustained-effort rides in the near future and perhaps even do another power test with it, just to see what happens. I really hate power tests, though…

† TrainerRoad claims that it’s Virtual Power is roughly 3% off from a power meter when used with a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. It’d be nifty if this is the case, as I wouldn’t mind having a 300W FTP… That’d put me at roughly 3.79 watts per kilogram.

2014 Lumberjack 100: No, or Not Yet…

Just over an hour from now registration will open for Lumberjack 100. This is one of my favorite races; 100 miles of beautiful northern Michigan trails at the beginning of summer. However, this is the first time in three years that I won’t be signing up today.

This race usually sells out quickly so last year I signed up the day registration opened, but right around the time I was to start the training plan for it I decided that I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t face a third year of rigorously following a strict schedule of when and how to ride, so I sold my entry. I kept roughly following the long ride weekends of the training plan† because I liked how all the riding made me feel, but without the sense of obligation or goal.

My plan for the Lumberjack 100 weekend was instead to head up to the race, hang out, volunteer, and do a bunch of riding on my own in the area, with one lap mid-race to help out. Instead something clicked, I had a great spring without pressure, and when a couple weeks before the race a friend offered me an entry at a great price, I accepted. Not only did I finish the race, but I beat my previous time by more than an hour.

Good luck to everyone registering today — it’s a great event — but I once again don’t want the pressure. So, what happened last year will be my plan… Ride my bike, have fun, reserve a cabin in the area, and if closer to race day it sounds like I’m wanting to do the race, I’ll get a transfer and do it. If not, it’ll be a fun weekend of hanging out at one of the best races in Michigan.

† I’d been using the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race – Finisher Plan which is comprised of shorter rides Tuesday – Thursday and then longer rides on Saturday and Sunday. I highly recommend this plan to anyone considering a 100 mile race, particularly Lumberjack 100. It does a great job of building lots of endurance. The most impressive thing I found about it was, post-training plan, the ability to go out on a five or six hour ride just for fun without it seeming like a serious, insurmountable effort.

Another TrainerRoad Setup

For the past two years I’ve been using TrainerRoad in the basement while riding on a bicycle trainer during the winter months. I’m normally not too keen on getting exercise for its own sake, but I’ve found that sometimes I get feeling grumpy and a bit of exercise, such as riding on a trainer, helps. Along with fatbiking it also helped keep up my fitness over winter, making bike riding in springtime a good bit more fun.

The setup that worked really well for me last year can be seen here, where an old Asus Eee PC (netbook) handled the job of running TrainerRoad and logging data. This worked, but the machine is slow enough that it’d get in my way whenever I needed to update, fiddle with settings, etc. Having some time off work this week and wanting to improve a bit, I decided to see what I could do using spare hardware from around the house.

Using a slightly-more-powerful-than-the-Eee PC Asus EeeBox EB1501 that I’d purchased in an ill-fated attempt to use it as an HTPC I connected it to an old Dell Ultrasharp 2005FPW display that was originally purchased for use with a PowerMac. It was first positioned directly in front of the bicycle — just as the netbook was — but this felt really awkward so I went looking for other options. What I’ve settled on thus far is seen above; the 20″ LCD display placed above the television, showing the relevant data and workout graph. A single computer speaker is placed next to the computer so I can hear the end-of-interval countdown beeps, and the ANT+ USB receiver is placed to be pointed directly at the bicycle.

The mouse and keyboard are wireless, so I should be able to set them near the bicycle and pull them out as needed, but as individual workouts in TrainerRoad are started and paused by pedaling (or stopping) they likely won’t be needed very often. No longer having the laptop and stand in front of the bicycle should allow different positions for the blower fan which helps keep me cool. I’ll probably try straight-on first, since that’d be closest to actually riding outdoors.

My biggest fear with this setup is that there’s some on-screen detail that I’ll miss (overall time, parts of the graph) or I’ll find myself getting off of the bike regularly to adjust something in the application itself. If this doesn’t work out, I might look at something like an older iPad, seeing as TrainerRoad has an iOS app under way now… Or maybe my Nexus 7 tablet, if the Android version is ever released. Either would work nicely on a small handlebar mount and probably be quite efficient to use.

Now if I could only find the irritating tick in the bike when pedaling under load… Maybe that’s a project for tomorrow.

Dollar Scalp Club

Before bed this evening I was shaving my head and face in the shower, a fairly typical twice-or-so-a-week event. Having recently acquired a Dollar Shave Club four-blade razor I was giving it a go, just as I had four or five other shaving sessions before. As I was finishing up, going back over the top of the my head one more time, I felt the familiar tug of cutting one’s self. As typical for head cuts I was bleeding a bit, so I called for Danielle to tell me just how bad it was. She had a difficult time dealing with the sight of blood (needing to sit down at one point — as she did during this), but after I washed the blood off she was able to give it a look, and after setting a dry towel on my head for a while she used our largest bandage some Neosporin to patch it up.

At first I didn’t understand was the magnitude of the skin removed, thinking that it was just one of the usual small cuts that I get every couple of months, often the result of a small pimple or ingrown hair. While waiting for Danielle I managed to pull it out of the razor, setting it aside in a bit of water so I could look at it later. Shown above is the still-moist piece of skin, laid out on a stainless steel scale. This is 11mm x 20mm, and the ends are a bit thin and folded under.

Since the razor wasn’t brand new (it’d been used maybe four or five times before) I’m hesitant to fault it, but the Gillette Mach 3 that I’d used for years previously never did this after a similar number of uses on a triple-blade head. Then again, the flap of skin was stuck between the bottom two (leading and second) blades. This could have been because the leading blade was dulling, pulled up a bit of skin, and the second cleanly sliced it away.

Despite the hassle of cutting my head, the skin slice resulted in a very interesting photo. In it one can see bisected pores, small imperfections, and lighter colored and less translucent spots where the sample ended up a bit thicker than others.  Click here to see the full resolution version, which is making me wish I’d had an higher resolution camera.

This should heal soon, but as it’s more superficial than scrapes I receive while biking I don’t anticipate it being much of a problem. Because there’s so much blood flow to the scalp small cuts and scrapes like this tend to heal quickly. Thankfully Danielle was here to dress it, as being on a not-quite-visible part of my head it would have been a huge hassle to do alone.

Welcome to the LW Coaching 100 mile Finishers Training plan.

For the last two years I’ve followed the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race — Finisher Plan for the 12 weeks prior to Lumberjack 100 (LJ). I purchased the TrainingPeaks version of this plan in 2012 and it’s worked well for me, so I’m going to do the same this year. However, there is something about the TrainingPeaks site — maybe it’s the visibility of weeks of stuff-to-do at a time — that feels very daunting.

Today I applied the plan to the 2014 calendar, set to finish on Sunday, June 22, the day after LJ. While the first day of actually doing stuff isn’t until April 1st (this is an LTHR test), just seeing the calendar again is a little intimidating. However, it means that nice bicycling weather shouldn’t be too far away… Even if it is structured and training, I tend to really enjoy the rides. Here’s to that continuing this year.

Back Roads…

Quite a while ago now, back when I was 17-18-whatever, not long after after graduating from High School, I spent a lot of time just driving around randomly with friends, listening to music, poking around random dirt roads and interesting areas doing little other than driving around and talking; essentially hanging out in a car.

I now realize that many of these areas where we ended up are the northern Oakland County dirt roads where I’ve found myself riding bicycles with friends. I’m really happy with the way life has turned out and thus while I recognize that such days-gone-by were great, I don’t particularly want them back. They were good, but are best left as memories to be reflected on while enjoying the now.

(Photo above is Jered and Wendi from thus autumn when we rode an extended version of the Flying Rhinos Back 40 Challenge on some of the aforementioned dirt roads. It started a bit cool, but was otherwise a great weather day.)

Home-Made Protein Bars

Earlier this year I asked Danielle if she’d come up with some manner of food / energy / protein bar for me to eat while doing longer bike rides. She took this Protein Bar recipe from Good Eats and adapted it to use things we had around the house, and they came out quite nice. I’ve eaten some of this stuff on all of the long rides I’ve done recently, and it seems to help quite a bit by getting some solid food in my stomach.

Once baked these have a nice, slightly fruity and peanut butter-y taste, and by cutting them, putting them in individual sandwich bags and freezing, it’s easy to take one out and thaw it before (or on the first part of) a longer ride. I’ve found that a large pizza cutter (rolling style) works very well for cutting these into individual pieces.

Here’s what goes into them — the adapted recipe:

  • 4 oz. Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 2 1/2 oz. Oat Bran
  • 3 1/4 oz. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 11 oz. Dried Cranberries (Substitute other dried fruit as desired.)
  • 1 oz. Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 12.3 oz. Soft Silken Tofu (Typically one package.)
  • 1/2 cup Carrot Juice
  • 4 oz. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 170g Peanut Butter (Natural as possible, peanuts and salt only.)

To prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking pan/dish with parchment and coat with oil.
  3. In a large bowl combine protein powder, oat bran, wheat flower, and salt. Whisk together.
  4. Coarsely chop the dried fruit. Set aside in a small bowl.
  5. In a third bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth, then add the carrot juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter and process until smooth. A stick blender can help with this.
  6. Slowly add the the protein powder mixture into the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  7. Fold in the dried fruit and coconut flakes.
  8. Pour into pan and spread into an even layer.
  9. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 222°F.
  10. Remove from oven, cool completely, then cut into the desired number of pieces.

Nutritional info for the entire batch, for the original recipe, which should be close to the modified version:

Calories: 4008 kcal
Total Fat: 120 g
Saturated Fat: 24 g
Protein: 192 g
Total Carbohydrates: 552 g
Sugar: 336 g
Fiber: 72 g
Cholesterol: 432 mg
Sodium: 1896 mg

I typically cut this batch into around 12 pieces, resulting in ~334 kcal and around 16 g of protein per bar. Most of them go into the freezer in individual plastic bags, and then I just take one two on each longer ride.

Trilliums at Clinton River Park

This evening I was feeling a bit bored / down so I headed out for a ride at River Bends, extending that over to Clinton River Park Trails as well. The trails were in great shape, and white trilliums are coming up lining many trails, which was beautiful.

I’d figured that this wouldn’t be a very long ride, so I only took a long a bottle of mid-strength Gatorade (mixed from powder) for the ride, but this ended up not being enough for a two hour ride after dinner time. By the time I’d made it back to River Bends I was feeling quite crappy and had to eat a Clif bar to feel better. I picked up a large pizza on the way home and ate most of it for dinner and now I’m feeling back to normal.

I chalked this up to doing a fairly hard on-bike workout last night (hill repeats) and then not eating enough for dinner or during the day today. Danielle thinks that if I start eating more protein more regularly this won’t happen as often, and I tend to agree… But I did have some eggs for breakfast and a bunch of tofu at lunch. It’s probably a mixture of the two.

During this ride I also found that a spoke had come loose giving the wheel a slight hop, and one of the dropouts had slightly shifted putting the wheel slightly askew. Both of these were pretty easy to fix once I was home and fed, and I was also able to do a little shifting tuning made necessary by some trail-side repairs during this past weekend’s endurance race. During the race my rear derailleur cable came loose so I had to set it all back up trail side which wasn’t too hard, but it wasn’t as accurate as I can tune it while on the stand.

The Poop Box

Reading up on various healthy things, Danielle came across information about using a box or platform to raise ones legs while seated on the toilet into a position similar to when one is using a squat toilet. I resisted trying it for a couple days, but then gave it a go. Initially the bathroom had been fitted with an overturned plastic basket and I found it to be rather nice, so I’ve since upgraded the platform to an old monitor stand. The purported benefits to this position are well documented elsewhere, but I can heartily say that it’s a very good option for when sitting on the toilet.

I normally have no issues with the number two process, but by using a platform such as this to adjust my internally bits into a slightly more evolved position everything is even smoother, leaving me with a much emptier feeling. Because of this I must strongly recommend that everyone try putting a box under their feet while pooping. It makes a magical process even more amazing.

(There are a few logistical concerns with this, such as how does one sit down with a platform/box in the way. I sit down, then use my feet to pull the box back towards the toilet, then put my feet up on it. If I don’t do this I have to somehow put step over a platform that isn’t designed to hold my full weight with my pants around my ankles. Perhaps a different approach would work with a more solid platform, but this one currently works well and sliding the box to and fro before and after use is not difficult.)