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!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

No Motivation to Workout? Me, Neither!

Where do you find motivation?
I need a goal. It's a beautiful summer morning in Colorado and I can't get motivated to walk, run, hike, or even bike this morning. I'm definitely going to get out and do something. It's just too nice a day to sit inside. But what happens when the weather starts to turn colder and the days are shorter and I'm still suffering from lack of motivation? It's too easy to fall out of a good exercise regimen (here are some good tips for staying motivated to workout from AskMen.com).

What are your goals?
What I need is to set a goal. What works for me is to sign up for an event and pay the registration fee. The question is, which event? Should I take on my first tri since 2011? That would force me into the pool when I'd rather take advantage of this weather. Tackle my first full marathon? I'm hesitant to sign up for one when I don't know if my "hot foot" issues on my left foot will flare up until I start running more. I've never done one of the Tough Mudder type adventure races. My 6'4", 220 lb. frame and lack of upper body strength make pulling myself over walls nearly impossible!

Tim Brown, on the first day of his first Ride The Rockies
Photo credit: Joe Murphy, The Denver Post

What is your excuse?
Sounds like a lot of excuses, doesn't it? Yeah, that's what happens when you have no motivation. There'd be times riding up a nasty climb or into a headwind on Ride the Rockies when I'd want to quit and I'd come across one of the many riders living with missing limbs, paralyzed from the waist down, many from injuries suffered defending our freedom, and I'd feel stupid. I came across Tom Brown, a triple amputee, several times on the ride this year.

Help me out here. What motivates you? What events do you have coming up this fall?

Ride on!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five Tips for Surviving Multiple Day Cycling Events and Century Rides

After surviving the longest Ride the Rockies in history in 2013 and toughest day ever on Ride the Rockies in 2014, I've learned a few lessons (the hard way) about how to survive long-mileage and multiple day rides. Actually, I've compiled these tips over the years, having finished eight RTRs and ten Bike MS rides (2-day, 150 miles) since I began long distance cycling in 2000.

Ride the Rockies 2014 was easily the most challenging of the eight I have completed, with over 30,000 ft. of elevation gain!

Participating in long-distance and multiple day rides requires a significant amount of training (this article has some great training tips for multi-day rides) to avoid suffering during the ride. Don't get me wrong, you can do long distance rides without a significant amount of training. I know a lot of people who do but most of them suffer the consequences, including more time on the bike each day and the resulting aches and pains that go with it!

Ride the Rockies 2013 became the longest in history when a reroute due to wildfires added 33 miles to the route.
Regardless of your training level, these five tips will help you survive your first century ride, multi-day charity ride or a week-long bike tour like Ride the Rockies:

1) Stretch Before You Get Sore/Tight -- Whether you believe in stretching before, during or after a workout (my brother is into dynamic stretching), one thing is clear: once you start to develop tightness/soreness it is hard to recover on a long distance or multi-day ride. By Day Three that little twinge had become a sharp-stabbing pain like a dagger being thrust under my right shoulder blade. The tightness in my right should eventually migrated to my lower back and right hip, running down my IT band to my knee (I must have been overcompensating on my right side). At times I was forced to get off the bike and stretch every 5-10 miles (even less when climbing) to relieve the pain.

2) Apply Chamois Butter Before You Start Chafing -- Speaking or pain, one of the most common questions I get after the ride is "does your butt hurt"? Seems like kind of a personal question but most people find it hard to fathom sitting on a small, hard bike saddle for hours and days on end (literally). No matter how much riding you do before the big event this can become a problem. They actually make a special product called Chamois Butt'r designed to prevent chafing and soreness. This year I finally got smart and applied it on the first day rather than waiting until saddle sores began to appear and I avoided them altogether. This tip also applies to sunscreen and lip balm. Just be sure to double check which tube you grab before applying (yes, I know someone who applied butt butter on their face as sunscreen).

3) Drink Before You Feel Thirsty -- I learned this lesson on my first Ride the Rockies when I ended up in the ER in Leadville, Colorado suffering from altitude sickness! Hydration is critical on long rides, especially when riding at altitude. I was able to stay hydrated for most of the ride this year. I did feel a little parched one day but recognized the tell-tale signs (I know I am getting dehydrated when I have difficulty swallowing while riding) and increased my water intake and it never became an issue. 

One 3 oz. serving of beef provides more than 10% of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for less than 10% of your daily calories!
4) Eat Before You Feel Hungry (or fuel before you bonk) -- Similar to staying hydrated, it is important to keep fuel in your tank during a long ride. If you've ever run out of fuel (or bonked), you know what I mean! Fortunately, most long distance rides are supported and offer a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods along the route. I try to eat something at least every hour -- or at every aid station: fruit, pretzels, animal crackers, basically whatever they provide! I carry Clif Shot Bloks on me for fuel between stops. And, of course, at the end of the day I always seek out a big burger or steak to help my muscles repair fuel up for the following day on the zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins in beef.

5) Death Before SAG -- Until this year on Ride the Rockies I had never ridden in a Support and Gear (SAG) vehicle on a long ride. I have been fortunate to avoid a major mechanical breakdown requiring a ride and have vowed to never hitch a ride because I was tired, sore, or mentally done with the ride. This attitude is captured in a saying I heard on my first Ride the Rockies: Death Before SAG. I have never come close to a choice between death and sagging and obviously don't ever want to test it! For me, it's just an attitude you have to have going into the ride or you risk succumbing to the the temptation! There's a team on the Colorado Bike MS ride named "Ain't Too Proud to SAG." I think that's the wrong attitude (but, hey, they're doing it for a good cause!). To me, SAG is a last resort option in the event of a physical or mechanical breakdown (or thundersnow storms at the summit of Berthoud Pass).

Support and Gear (SAG) vans drive up and down the route rescuing riders who have broken down -- either mechanically, physically or mentally!
Photo credit: http://www.mvermeulen.com/rtr2009/
What multiple-day or long distance rides do you have coming up yet this summer? What tips would you share? Please post a comment!

Ride on!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

BEEFWIFE: Rhut-rho, Shaggy, it’s Rhubarb season!

One of the BEEFMAN’s colleagues sent him home with a few stalks of rhubarb last month so I decided to make Scalloped Rhubarb, a super simple, yummy, gooey deliciously sweet and tart dessert recipe I got from my mother-in-law (guess that makes her the BEEFMOM!). It's getting late in the rhubarb season (April-June) but if you can still find some, this would make a great Father's Day dessert.

Rhubarb looks like red celery and typically used as a fruit but technically is a vegetable.  The stalks are edible but the leaves contain oxalic acid and can be toxic so discard the tops.

To peel or not to peel, that is the question.  As I was making this, I peeled the rhubarb because of the celery-like strings and for some reason I had it in my head that you were supposed to peel before cooking (where did I come up with that?).  As I sat down to write, I decided to do a little internet research with some of my favorite Food Network chefs’ recipes and found that no one says “step 1: peel the rhubarb.”  Thanks, Ina (Garten), Anne (Burrell) and Bobby (Flay); wish I had checked BEFORE I made this!

At least I can show you what peeled rhubarb looks like even though you NEVER have to do this step.  After NOT peeling your rhubarb, cut into one-inch pieces.

Next cube your bread.  I like to use challah which is a traditional Jewish yeast egg bread that I get in my local grocery store; I think it gives a little more texture to the dessert.  The BEEFMOM used white sandwich bread, so feel free to experiment with bread types.  I removed the bottom crust first but not the top crust.

Pour the melted butter over the bread cubes and stir to coat.  Add sugar and mix well.  I could just stop right here and eat the whole bowl.  Like a butter and sugar sandwich!  You had those as a kid, didn’t you?

Fold in the rhubarb.

Spread into a greased baking dish.  Add one tablespoon of water into each corner of the pan but do NOT mix in.  Bake 45 minutes until golden and gooey and delicious looking!

YUM... add a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and prepare to be amazed!

Scalloped Rhubarb

6 cups bread cubes, crusts removed (or not removed, your choice)
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 cups rhubarb, cut into one-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat bread cubes with butter; add sugar and mix well until bread is well coated.  Fold in rhubarb. Pour mixture into greased 13x9 baking dish.  Put one tablespoon water in each of the four corners of the pan but do not mix in.  Bake 45 minutes, covering during last 10 minutes if top is getting too brown.

Alternate:  I was going to make this one time in the fall and couldn’t find rhubarb (fresh or frozen) in my store so I made with blueberries instead.  I cut the sugar almost in half and it turned out lovely so feel free to try with other fruits adjusting the sugar to which produce you use and to your taste.


Leslie (aka the BEEFWIFE)