A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I WON THE RTR LOTTERY! Wait. What Did I Win?

I had a busy day at the office yesterday and completely forgot it was selection day for the 2015 Ride the Rockies lottery. The e-mail notification came at 9:28 a.m. but I didn't see it until around noon, when the Beefwife texted, "You're in! Check the lottery status!" So I checked my e-mail and there it was, sure enough, there it was: I WON THE RTR LOTTERY!

Wait. What did I win? 

Being selected means I also get to add to my RTR gear collection. I love the design this year. May have to get one of these Primal Wind Jackets!
Being selected in the 2015 RTR lottery means I get to pay $500 to ride 465 miles with somewhere around 33,000 feet of climbing (according to my calculations). Not exactly a Powerball type payoff but I feel lucky nonetheless because it also means I get to hang out with my friends from Team Bar2Bar (Paul the Pilot and his crew, Flip Flop Jenny, Hankster and Woody) for a week, visit some cool Colorado mountain towns, and take in some amazing views of the Rocky Mountains peddling along at an average of 15 miles per hour :)

Paul the Pilot is once again serving as Captain of Team Bar2Bar and this year he's bringing along a couple of crewmates!
Being accepted for the 30th Anniversary Ride the Rockies also provides a lot of incentive to get up in the morning and work out (as I am about to climb on my Cyclops Fluid2 Indoor Trainer). My belief is that the amount of suffering on the ride is directly inverse to the amount of training you put in (more training = less suffering). I plan to take a different approach to training this year, however, after suffering a lot on last year's ride (with back, shoulder and hip pain). I'm going to focus less on accumulating miles and more on building core strength and conditioning. I'll share more on my training routine in the coming weeks.

If you got in, stay tuned here for training tips and insights into the route, towns, camp sites, hotels, bars, etc. If you did not get in (whether or not you registered) feel free to come along for the ride! It's always an adventure.

Ride on!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ride the Rockies 2015 Registration Deadline is Sunday at 5 p.m. Mountain!

I just registered for Ride the Rockies! If you are still on the fence, the deadline is tomorrow (Sunday, March 1) at 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. I have to admit it was an exhilarating feeling to hit submit and commit to training for and riding in what would be my ninth RTR, if we are selected in the lottery (I signed up with my friends from Team Bar2Bar). We will find out this Friday, March 6, if we are among the 2,000 riders randomly selected.

That little "bump in the ground" is Grand Mesa, the world's tallest flat top mountain.
What we never know for sure is how many riders apply. I have been selected all eight times I have registered over the past 10 years. So I am either lucky or there just aren't that many people who get turned away. My theory is that the increasingly tougher routes over the past several years (especially last year) may have scared some people away. That and the grossly overestimated elevation gain of more than 40,000 feet on this year's route may help our odds!

My first visit to The Vic in 2005
I do hope we get selected. This year's ride, the 30th Anniversary of RTR, should be a great one. The first two days are essentially a repeat of the first two days on my first RTR in 2005, including the brutal climb up Grand Mesa, considered one of the toughest climbs in the Rockies. While the Mesa doesn't look that imposing from this angle (this after the descent on day two of RTR 2005), it is a "long and relentless climb."

Other highlights include stops in Crested Butte and Salida, two of my favorite mountain towns with distinctly different vibes. Between the two is Cottonwood Pass (12,126 ft), a tough climb on a packed dirt surface (fortunately the downhill is paved). The overnight party in Salida always includes shutting down The Vic (bar at the Hotel Victoria).

At the summit of Cottonwood Pass on RTR 2008
Then there the brutal two-mile climb up the south rim of the Royal Gorge, rewarded by a ride across the wooden Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in North America. hanging 856 feet above the raging Arkansas River below. It's a rush, to say the least!

At the Royal Gorge Bridge on the final day of RTR 2006
I'm even looking forward to a return to Westcliffe, an unplanned part of the 2013 tour, when the Royal Gorge fire forced a long detour through Silver Cliff and West Cliff, on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) range. it's a beautiful spot to end the ride!

Riding "Woody Style" at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on RTR 2013
Now comes the wait...

Ride on!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Are You Getting Enough (Protein, that is!)?

I recently downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and started tracking my calorie consumption. As usual, I gained about 10 pounds this winter. The only problem is winter isn't over and I can't afford to gain 10 more! But mostly I wanted to start tracking my consumption of carbohydrates, fat and (especially) protein. After two weeks of recording everything that goes in my mouth I am embarrassed to admit that I, BEEFMAN, have been under consuming protein!

That's right, as much as I talk about the benefits of eat beef, I have not been eating enough beef, dairy, beans, nuts and other sources of protein. Part of the reason is because I underestimated the amount of protein my body needs every day. I had always heard that the recommended daily value (RDV) for protein was 50 grams, based on the average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.

The first problem with that is I am not average. I am 6'4" tall, 225 lbs. (in winter) and physically active (I work out at least five times a week for 30 minutes, significantly more when I am training for an event like Ride the Rockies). When I punched this info into MyFitnessPal, with a goal to lose one pound per week, it came back with a daily calorie goal of 2,280! And that's to lose weight (the BEEFWIFE doesn't appreciate the fact that men do burn calories faster, especially big guys)!

The other problem is that is the RDV for protein is a minimum number. After doing a little research I learned about Accepted Macronutrient Distribution Ranges, or AMDRs. As it turns out the AMDR for protein is 10-35% of calories. At the low end of that range I'd need 57 grams per day (seven more than the RDV). At the high end (35%) that's 200 grams per day, or 4X the RDV!

Recent research on protein has found that "Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets." In addition, consuming higher amount of protein helps you feel full longer, reducing overall calorie consumption.

So I decided to set my goal for protein at 30% of calories, or 171 grams. On days when I exercise like today (rode on indoor trainer for 45 minutes at 20 mph) it goes up to 250-300 grams per day. In two weeks I have yet to hit my daily goal! This protein calculator estimates my daily protein needs at 230 grams when I set it to "moderately active" and 30% of calories from protein. Basically, it comes out to one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

I'm right on target for protein today and
we're having beef for dinner!
Maintaining muscle mass, like bone loss (osteoporosis), gets harder as you age. There's actually a name for the condition: sarcopenia. As I age I want to maintain muscle mass so I can be physically active for a long time (I want to be one of those guys doing Ride the Rockies in my 70s!).

So the bottom line is I need to increase my protein intake and I'm trying to do it without turning to protein shakes, but it's hard. Seriously. It's hard to get enough protein while staying within calorie and fat goals, especially with plant-based sources of protein, which often come with more calories per gram of protein than beef.

With beef, especially lean cuts, I can get 8 grams of protein for just about 50 calories. Beef jerky makes a great high protein, low fat, low carb snack (I've been known to eat a whole bag for lunch!). I've also added Greek yogurt and TrueMoo Protein Plus protein fortified chocolate milk after workouts (real milk with 14 grams of protein per serving and the right amount of carbs for post workout recovery).

Have you used MyFitnessPal? Do you have a hard time getting the protein you need every day? Please share any tips you have (other than shakes and bars, I prefer real food!).

Ride on!