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, April 23, 2017

Ride the Rockies 2017 Route Includes Three of the Ten Steepest Passes in Colorado!

I saw this post from a friend of mine on Facebook this morning and just had to click and see how many of them I have ridden on my bike. As I scanned the list I realized that we will ride three of them on Ride the Rockies 2017, including #9 Wolf Creek Pass (6.8% at 10,850 feet above sea level), #6 Molas Pass (7% at 10,910 feet), and #3 Red Mountain Pass (8% at 11,018 feet). Oh, by the way, we do those last two on the same day!
Time to shift training into high gear! Actually, I did that this past week, riding 17 miles on Monday (the 17th), 18 on Tuesday (the 18th), 19 on Wednesday, and so on, for a total of 117 miles in six days (all on my CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer). 
Jonny Rocker is quickly catching up to me in miles now that he is training in earnest. I'm only 110 ahead of him at 1,151 for the year. According to his text yesterday he is at 1,040 with 400 of that in the past week! At this rate he will pass me next Saturday sometime during his century ride (let us know how it goes, brother, and send some pics for me to post). It's decent riding weather today so I'm headed outside for a quick 23 miler (keeping with the theme of riding the number of miles that corresponds with the date that I began with a 10-mile ride on April 10.)

Ride on...


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Food is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Saturday, April 22. Earth Day 2017. We woke to snow falling in Colorado this morning. Big flakes melting as they hit the ground, nourishing the grass and flowers that have sprung up in recent weeks. It was a beautiful sight but I really need to start getting outside to ride sometime soon. Ride the Rockies is only seven weeks away!

I'm not complaining. If you complain about snow or rain around here people will quickly remind you, "We need the moisture," especially the farmers and I ranchers I work for who need it to grow our food. Precipitation is a pretty common topic of conversation in the agriculture community. 

Water availability is also one of the key issues in sustainable food production. No water, no food! From the time my great great grandfather Americus Vespucious Angell settled in western Kansas in 1886 farmers have been hard at work finding ways to produce food with less water and returning it cleanly to the environment. My great-grandfather Charlie John Angell invented the one-way disc plow in the early 1920s to preserve precious moisture and reduce soil erosion.
My great-grandfather C.J. Angell even has his own Kansas Historical Society Trading Card!
Farmers and ranchers today continue to reduce water usage with improvements in irrigation techniques, no-till, and, yes, even GMO crops (gasp!). To learn more about what cattle farmers and ranchers today are doing to reduce beef's water footprint, check out FactsAboutBeef.com.

One thing that is often overlooked in the discussion about water and sustainable food production is food waste. Food waste has a huge impact on on water use. Think about it. If food is wasted, all of the water that was required to produce it is also wasted. With beef, if we could cut waste in half it would improve the sustainability of beef production 10 percent
Plannedover beef roast and broccoli, tomato and egg scramble.
I have personally been working to reduce food waste by making sure we eat the leftovers from dinner before they go bad. Throwing food away is like throwing cash in the trash! The average American family tosses $2,500 in food in the garbage, which then ends up in a landfill, the third largest source of methane emissions.

Plannedover Flatiron steak, broccoli, squash, red pepper and egg scramble with avocado.
This morning after my 22-mile workout on my indoor trainer I enjoyed a #plannedover power breakfast scramble with two eggs, steak, broccoli, squash, red pepper, and avocado. Not only was it delicious but it was all food sitting in the fridge waiting to go bad -- all but the eggs and avocado leftover from our evening meals this past week.
To join the fight in reducing food waste, sign up for the 30-day Food Waste Challenge to get lots of great ideas for simple changes that will make a big impact!

Ride on...


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My RTR Gear is Here!

This just got real! My official Ride the Rockies 2017 hat, sticker and $25 gift certificate to the RTR merchandise store arrived in the mail today. I love the gift certificate idea. Instead of sending the traditional commemorative route shirt to everyone, you get $25 to shop for whatever gear you want. I went with the traditional route shirt for $25. ☺
The arrival of the care package always signifies that the start of the ride is near at hand. In fact, there fewer than eight weeks left to train. That's a little scary. I feel good about the miles I have put in since January 1 (1,051) but I haven't really gotten out and tested my legs on the hills yet. The weather looks promising this weekend. Wish me luck!

Ride on...


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1,000 Miles in 100 (and one) Days!

This morning I rode 11 miles on my CycleOps Fluid2* indoor trainer. It may not seem like much but it was significant. This is the first time, since I began recording my mileage on my Garmin Edge* cycling computer, that I have reached 1,000 miles in the first 100 days of the year! OK, so it was actually 1,002 miles in 101 days, but the record still stands. I am on track to hit 2,000 miles between January 1 and the start of Ride the Rockies for the first time -- and this will be my 10th RTR.

*I do not receive any compensation from CycleOps, Garmin or any other brand I mention on my blog. If I mention a brand it's because I am a true fan of the product!

RTR starts on June 10, the 161st day of the year. If I maintain my current average of 10 miles per day I'd hit 1,600 miles before the start, but nearly all my miles to date have been on my indoor trainer in chunks of 10-20 miles per ride. I typically increase my mileage significantly when I am able to get out on the road and put in some long, slow distance (LSD) rides (not to be confused with riding on LSD).

I have racked up 1,002 miles over 70 different workouts totaling 50 hours and 33 minutes to date in 2017.

I'm hoping those days come soon. This past weekend was ideal riding weather but I took the opportunity to sand and stain my redwood deck with Penofin Brazilian Rosewood Oil.*

*Nope. No sponsorship. 😊

Yesterday I noticed I rode 10 miles on the 10th and 11 miles on the 11th, so figure I'll do 12 on the 12th, and so on. In fact, I may try and keep this up for the rest of the month. By my calculations that would put me well over 400 miles in April. In May I will begin riding to/from work and should have no trouble hitting more than 500. That should put me in striking distance of 2,000 (factor in travel days and it will be close).

In an earlier post I talked about riding 2017 miles in 2017. I now think that it's possible to reach that goal before Ride the Rockies. 

Ride on!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ride the Rockies 2017 Training Update: March Madness

What do you do when your team loses in the Elite 8? Shred your bracket and focus on your next big goal! For me, that is Ride the Rockies 2017, starting 11 weeks from today. My March Madness ended last night with the Jayhawks' loss so its nice to have something to look forward to. Having a goal to keep me motivated is one of the reasons I sign up for these challenging multiple day cycling events.

The other part of March Madness in Colorado is the spring weather. March is Colorado's snowiest month along the Front Range. This past week we went from 75F during the day to a blizzard that night. I was able to get outside this past weekend but the rest of my 300 miles so far this month have been on the indoor trainer. 
I've been continuing to throw in sets of Flying 40s and Ten Speeds during my workouts, as well as gradually increasing mileage. To date, I have logged more miles in 2017 -- 865 -- than in any of the previous three years through March (and I still have several days to ride). I'm averaging right around 75 miles per week/300 miles per month.
Jonny Rocker texted me this past week. Apparently he's having trouble getting motivated to ride while sitting on the beach in Hawaii (everybody say, "awwww") and has only recorded 560 miles to date. I'm not worried about him. He will catch up quick once he gets back to retired life in California :)

I'm ready to move on from March Madness to April showers and May flowers. Come on, Mother Nature, let's do this!

Ride on...


Monday, March 6, 2017

2017 RTR Lottery Accepted!

It began with a text from Rocker on Friday morning. The charges had hit his card. So I checked my credit card and sure enough, there it was, a charge from RaceIt-Ride the Rockies. Seeing the charge go through is a sure sign that you're in -- RTR doesn't charge your card unless you are selected in the lottery -- but it was still good to receive the e-mail confirmation later that day: 

Getting selected in the RTR lottery isn't exactly like winning the lottery. I wish it was because I have been selected 10 out of 10 times I have applied! My luck with playing the lottery is not nearly as good (RTR is capped at 2,000 riders -- it makes me wonder how many people actually apply for the 2,000 spots).

I have ridden three of my nine Ride the Rockies as a member of Team Bar2Bar. Several of us got together to do some skiing this past weekend and all we could talk about was RTR! Pictured (from left): Woody and Paul the Pilot.
Anyway, as I suggested to Rocker, it's time to get motivated. There's nothing like knowing you have to be ready to ride 447 miles while ascending more than 32,000 vertical feet over the span of seven days to wake you up in the morning (and a lot more than that if we decide to meet up with Team Bar2Bar in Salida and ride to the start in Alamosa).

On that note, it's time to hit the trainer (my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer, not my personal trainer). 

Ride on...


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Are You Ready to Rock? Jonny Rocker and I Just Registered for Ride the Rockies!

UPDATE 3/4/17: WE'RE IN!

Are you Ready to Rock? My brother Jonny Rocker and I just registered for Ride the Rockies 2017! Now the waiting begins. We will find out March 3rd whether we are chosen in the lottery. RTR is capped at 2,000 riders but I have gotten in every time I have registered (knock on wood). 

I've been following several of the Quick Cycling Workouts for Power and Endurance from Bicycling.com: 
"This is gonna hurt. But it'll be worth it. These innovative interval workouts will make you faster and stronger--by next month."

Well, I've been integrating the Flying 40s and Ten Speeds into my workouts on my CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer for about five weeks now. Am I faster and stronger? Well, I rode 15 miles on my trainer in under 40 minutes (average 22.5 mph) for the first time ever about a week after introducing these workouts into my training! So yeah, it seems to be working.

Here is the workout I did today:

5 mins warm up
10 x Flying 40s (40 seconds at 80-90 RPM, 20 second recovery) 
5 mins recovery
10 x Flying 40s (40 seconds at 80-90 RPM, 20 second recovery)
5 mins recovery
10 x Flying 40s (40 seconds at 80-90 RPM, 20 second recovery)
5 mins recovery
10 x Ten Speeds (10 seconds at 100+ RPM, 20 second recovery)
5 mins cool down

60 mins total, averaging 20.5 mph

And they're right. It hurts, but it'll be so worth it when Ride the Rockies rolls around in June.

Ride On!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So Far, So Good **Knock on Wood**

My winter training is going well. **knock on wood** Following Cycle Oregon in September, I maintained a good base of around 200 miles per month in October and November. I kicked it up to 300 per month in December and January (all but 22 miles of which were on my indoor trainer) and am on a pace to hit 250 in February.
Click to Enlarge
My body seems to be holding up well. I have kept the winter weight off. So far, so good. **knock on wood**
Beef provides 38% of your daily value of zinc, a nutrient that helps build a healthy immune system.
Somehow I have avoided getting sick when everyone around me has been sick -- even after spending a week with more than 9,000 of my closest friends from around the country in the biodome that is Opryland. **knock on wood**
One of my closest friends in the beef community -- the one and only Suzy Sirloin!
For some reason I have been using that phrase a lot these days. That's a good sign. It means things are going well. As I have learned in writing this post, the reason you "knock on wood" is to summon positive spirits from the trees. Works for me!

Right now I need the positive spirits to be with me and Jonny Rocker -- that we get picked in the Ride the Rockies lottery! Our plan is to register with my good friends from Team Bar2Bar -- Hankster, Peanut, Woody, and Flip Flop Jenny -- meet up in Salida (the end city) and ride to the start in Alamosa (an 80-mile day). 

Of course, we have to register first, but we have until Sunday, February 26, at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time. Until then...

Ride On!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ride the Rockies 2017 Route Announced; Welcome New Ride Director Renee Wheelock!

The annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies cycling
tour will visit the southwest part of Colorado for
the first time since 2013 (click to enlarge).
The 2017 Ride the Rockies route was announced Saturday night at a party in downtown Denver. Registration for the lottery is open until Sunday, February 26 at 5:00 p.m. MST. 

I wasn't able to attend in person this year as I was coming off a five day trip to Nashville that left me feeling as sore and exhausted as if I had just finished a week-long ride (It's no wonder, considering I took 51,608 steps covering 20.7 miles in five days at the Annual Cattle Industry Convention!). Actually, I could have gone straight from the airport to the party but the call of my own bed was strong and I went straight home and was sleeping soundly before the party ended. 

I woke up thinking about the route announcement and checked my phone. As I was hoping (and predicted in a blog post I wrote on the plane to Nashville, but forgot to post!) the route is returning to the southwestern part of the state. I was also hoping for a kinder, gentler route than the Chandler Smith-era RTRs (Smith announced his departure last July following his 10th Ride the Rockies). 

When Smith took over as Ride Director in 2007 the routes got exponentially tougher, punctuated by ridiculously long days with massive elevation gain -- like the time in 2014 he took us 88 miles and 8,800 ft. from Boulder to Winter Park (followed by a 95-mile day) or in 2015 when we rode 96 miles with 7,631 feet of gain from Grand Junction over Grand Mesa to Hotchkiss

The 2017 route will provide me with another photo opportunity at the Bay of Chickens on Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Curecanti National Recreation Area:)

Chandler seemed to be trying to weed out recreational riders like me (who only put in 3,000-4,000 miles a year!). He put riders in dangerous situations -- like summiting 12,000 ft. Berthoud Pass after noon in a thundersnow storm -- and a 15-mile stretch of deep gravel in the middle of an 85-mile day. I’m glad he moved on. Time for a change. As I said in the post I failed to post:

"It’s time to return to the good ol’ days of tough but reasonable routes, recovery days following the brutal ones, days that don’t leave you so wiped out that you don't have enough energy to get out and party it up with the locals. Come on, RTR, you can do this. I’m counting on you!"

I think the new Ride Director, Renee Wheelock, has delivered! Advertised at 477 miles with more than 32,000 feet of gain the 2017 route is no Sunday afternoon ride in the park, but it includes a nice mix of long, tough days and shorter "recovery days" including a 39-mile "loop day" in Durango. As Wheeler said in today's Denver Post:

"We get quite a bit of feedback that participants enjoy a loop day, and some people enjoy taking that day off. Durango has a lot to offer in the way of stuff to do. The miles are short enough that people can get out and ride and enjoy."

I also prophetically hoped the route would include Ouray, saying in my unpublished post, "I've never ridden through Ouray. It would be cool to see a new town on the map." 

An amazing shot of the spectacular
and dangerous Red Mountain Pass.
Sure enough, the route includes the stretch of road known as the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray through the San Juan National Forest. This day features three mountain passes, including Red Mountain Pass (elevation 11,017), known as one of the world's most spectacular and dangerous roads!

The opportunity to ride the Million Dollar Highway pretty much seals the deal for me. Throw in Wolf Creek Pass to Pagosa Springs, Monarch Pass (the highest point of the ride at 11,312 ft. above sea level) and the finish line in Salida and this looks to be an awesome ride.

Sold. I'm planning to register for the lottery. Who else is in?

Ride on!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Team BEEF Cycling and Running Jerseys NOW AVAILABLE for Purchase

By now you've probably noticed that I wear a Team BEEF cycling jersey on group rides like Ride the Rockies and Cycle Oregon. I love showing other riders that healthy, active people can enjoy beef as part of their diet every day (like I do), along with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. On every ride at least one person asks me where they can get a jersey with an awesome steak on it, like mine! Finally, I have a good answer!


If you are also a beef-loving athlete, head on over to Facebook and "like" Team BEEF USA. This will connect you with other beef-loving athletes from around the country. Then go the National Team BEEF store and purchase a jersey. It's just that simple!

Why did the chicken cross the road? To hang out with the guys on Team BEEF, of course!

What is your favorite jersey and what does it say about you?

Ride on!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

2017 Cycle Oregon and Ride the Rockies Route Announcements Coming Soon!

UPDATE (1/25/17): The Cycle Oregon route is out! And it looks AWESOME. The Crater Lake Adventure was announced yesterday. The Central Oregon Route features the mountains of the Cascade Range and picturesque Crater Lake, with options ranging from 430-490 miles and 24,186 to 30,656 feet of elevation gain. WOW. Anxious to see what Ride the Rockies comes up with to compare to that! Stay tuned for details.

Original Post
Both Cycle Oregon and Ride the Rockies will announce their 2017 routes in the next two weeks! I'm giddy with anticipation.

Cycle Oregon celebrates 30 years in 2017.

The Cycle Oregon route announcement party will take place at the Portland Art Museum on Tuesday, January 24. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the route will be announced at 7 p.m. If you don't live in Portland (or even Oregon, for that matter), you can also stream it live online

According an an e-mail I received as a previous participant (see above), the first 500 guests will receive early registration codes for the Week Ride and the Oregonian/oregonlive will be giving away one free Week Ride entry (enter the raffle in the Sunken Ballroom by 7 p.m.). Cycle Oregon registration opens January 25, at noon Pacific time and stays open until the ride fills up (which never happened last year).

Ride the Rockies will be holding it's 32nd annual ride this year.

The Ride the Rockies route announcement party will be Saturday evening, February 4, from 6-10 p.m., at the McNichols Civic Center Building, 3rd Floor, 144 West Colfax Avenue, in Denver. I have attended this party in that past but will not be able to go this year. It is a fun event with lots of entertainment, beer from Colorado's own Odell Brewing Co., and a dramatic unveiling of the route. There are also opportunities to win free and/or guaranteed tour entries (Ride the Rockies is limited to 2,000 riders determined by a lottery). Registration opens February 5 and typically closes one month later.

If you are wondering what is the difference between CO and RTR, other than the route, here is my comparison of the two events.

My plan is to wait until both routes are announced, discuss with Jonny Rocker, then decide whether to do my 10th Ride the Rockies, my 2nd Cycle Oregon, or branch out and try something new.

Anticipation. Is keepin' me waitin'!

Ride on!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Break in Training Retrospective

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed early this morning when a particular headline caught my eye. "Yes, they do," I thought, "and I did." So I clicked on the article and as I read the memories came flooding back.
“It has to do with the way cyclists tend to fall," says Dr. Brian Cunningham, MD, a Minnesota-based orthopedic trauma specialist. "When you fall directly onto your shoulder, your clavicle [or collarbone]—which has an s-shape—compresses and is prone to breaking.”
Yep, that's exactly what happened, shortly after a car passed me on the left (as I flew downhill at 35 mph), turned right in front of me (causing me to slam on my brakes and start fishtailing), and I slammed into the passenger side door (taking the rearview mirror off with my left knee), flew over the hood and landed on the pavement in the middle of the intersection.

You’ll know you’ve broken your collarbone almost immediately, says Dr. Subir Jossan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the DC-area Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics. It’s not a subtle injury—moving your arm will be agonizing, and you may hear an audible crack as you hit the ground.
Well, I don't remember hearing a crack. I don't even remember hitting the ground, but when I tried to sit up the pain in my right shoulder was agonizing. I knew I had broken my collarbone even though the paramedic wouldn't confirm it. He told me later that they don't want to freak people out. I hated to break it to him, but I was already freaked out as I rode in the back of an ambulance for the first time in my life! 
The big issue with this break is that when it heals right, it won't impair your long-term function—but that doesn't always happen, and the repercussions extend beyond your collarbone. The collarbone acts as a strut connecting your arm to your chest; any kink in that system could mean you’ll have prolonged problems.
Tell me about it. I had no idea how important the collarbone is to the rest of the body. My doctor explained that there were two treatments options, as outlined in the article:
A sling: A tiny, hairline fracture is a pretty simple fix. Usually the doctor will put your corresponding arm in a sling and tell you to come back in six weeks. 
As my x-ray shows, I had more than a tiny, hairline fracture!
The surgical option: If there’s any sort of displacement—meaning part of the bone has shifted—things get more complicated.
Well, even though I had significant "displacement" my doc recommended putting me in a sling and giving it an opportunity to heal on it's own. He explained that even though he is a surgeon he prefers to avoid the inherent risks of surgery, if at all possible. I agreed. 
“If you don’t have surgery, there’s a zero percent chance you’ll get an infection and a zero percent chance of needing to have hardware taken out," Cunningham says. If you skip surgery but the break isn't healing properly, you may endure six to eight weeks of mild discomfort only to find out that you have to have surgery anyway. 
Unfortunately it didn't work and I began having issues with the nerves in my right arm affecting my ability to grip with my thumb. Not cool. So after six months I went under the knife to put the pieces back together.
Collarbone surgery entails placing a small plate over the fracture. In about 10 percent of cases, the plate may have to be taken out later; this is especially common in women who report irritation with purse or bra straps rubbing over the area above the plate.

I can feel all seven of the screw holes through the skin over my plate.
I did not have the hardware taken out. For the most part I don't have any issues with it (it doesn't even set off metal detectors) but I do experience some irritation when my computer bag or backpack strap rubs on the area above the plate. 

I also think the nerves never healed completely because I get some tingling on my forearm from the crux of my elbow to my thumb. But I can live with that, given things could have been much worse, and ten years later I am riding more than ever. Looking back, it really was just a break in training.

Ride on!


Next up: the long, sordid story of the legal battle over "Whose Fault is it, Anyway?"

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Winter Training

Colorado winters drive me indoors to
our library/workout room.
My number one fitness goal this winter is to avoid the winter weight gain that hit me hard last year. I stuck with my maintenance miles goal after Cycle Oregon and ramped up my miles on my CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer in December to account for the extra calorie consumption I knew would come with the holiday celebrations.

So far, so good. I gained a few pounds between Christmas and New Years but have already dropped back below 220, which is about 15 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year. I didn't get below 220 until July! I'm looking forward to NOT hauling that extra 15 pounds around when I get back out on the road.

My CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer.
In the meantime, I am working on building my aerobic and endurance base with my indoor training. My biggest battle with winter training is boredom so I have several routines I follow on the trainer to vary my workouts and keep it interesting. Some days I will do intervals for 30 minutes while others I will keep it at a pace I can maintain for 60, adjusting the resistance up and down gradually.

One of my "go to" routines is a take on a workout I remember from high school track called ladders. My version looks like this:

  • 1 minute at my "flat road" gear (~90 RPM)
  • 1 minute at a moderate climbing gear (~80 RPM)
  • 1 minute at a steep climb (~70 RPM)
  • 1 minute at a moderate climbing gear (~80 RPM)
  • 1 minute at my "flat road" gear (~90 RPM)
For a 30 minute workout I will warm up for five minutes spinning at 10 RPM then do 4 sets of ladders (20 minutes) then cool down for five minutes.

Another simple interval workout is to spin at >100 RPM for one minute, then drop back to ~80 RPM for one minute, adjusting resistance up and down every two minutes.
Check out these five Quick Cycling Workouts for Power and Endurance from Bicyling.com.

My goal for January is to ride a minimum of 50 miles a week (30 mins a day for five days) to maintain my current fitness level. I will bump that up to 75/week in February and March. By April I hope to be getting back out on the road for longer rides on weekends and in May I will start riding to work (25 miles each way) when possible (depending on work and weather). 

What is your winter workout routine? Please share your secrets!

Ride on,


Monday, January 2, 2017

2015 vs. 2016: What a Difference a Year (without injury) Makes

2015 was the year I learned that the IT Band is not a nerdy rock group.
I've seen a lot of posts this week about how many miles people ran in 2016 and people setting a goal to "run the year" (2,017 miles in 2017). I don't run much these days (if at all, for fear of inflaming my IT band, as I did in 2015) but this made me wonder how many miles I had ridden in 2016 and what my goal should be for 2017. I jokingly told one Facebook friend I would match her 2017 goal to run 2,017 miles -- on my bike -- but knew that would be far less than I had ridden this year so I need a better goal than that (like resolving to BEEFit)! 

So how many miles did I ride this year? Of course I tracked all my rides on my Garmin Edge 810 so was able to quickly look up my total miles for 2016 on Garmin Connect. I was actually surprised to see that I rode 3,737 miles this past year.

This screenshot of my 2016 rides from May to December shows the lead up to Cycle Oregon (Sept. 11-17) and maintenance rides through the end of November.
Without even going back and looking up past records I know that is the most I have ridden in one year. Given that I was close to 4,000, my daughter suggested I could set a goal to ride 4,034 miles (doubling up on 2017). I kind of like that idea but I spent a LOT of time on the bike this year (219 hours, 15 minutes and 52 seconds, to be exact) and am not sure how much more time I want to spend in the saddle!

By comparison I decided to look up 2015 miles. This time I was surprised how low they were. I only rode 1,779 miles in a year? How could that be? I didn't think I'd ridden fewer than 2,000 miles in a year since my first Ride the Rockies in 2005. 

This screensot of my rides from May to December 2016 paints a very different picture. My IT band injury put me out of commission for nearly five whole months!
So I looked at the calendar more closely and the answer was clear. I only rode NINE times between July 1 and December 1. Remember that IT band injury? Probably not, since I never wrote about it. So here goes...

All along the Water Tower in Chicago
One week after Ride the Rockies 2015 I was running in downtown Chicago. I love to run along the Miracle Mile and the trail along Lake Michigan. I was cruising along and stepped off a curb and felt something pull in my right hip. I limped along the remaining miles and could barely walk the next day. 

The run along Lake Michigan can be a little uneven in spots, which is one cause of IT band injuries (running on an uneven surface)
I tried riding a few times after but had knee pain that was unbearable. The IT band can wreak a lot of havoc when it is not happy! After reading up on it I decided rest was the best road to recovery and literally sat out most of July, August and September. The good news it worked! The bad news is I gained about 20 lbs. during all that sitting, and holiday eating. As a result it took me a lot longer than normal to lose my winter weight this past year. 

I wrote about why old guys get fat in winter several years ago, focusing on the hibernation theory. This year I think the answer is pretty obvious. I burned 170,310 fewer calories in 2015 (153,160) than 2016 (323,470). 

Getting out of bed to ride in winter is hard!
Fortunately I had more time to get into fighting weight before Cycle Oregon in September than I normally do for Ride the Rockies in June. I would have had a hard time hauling my ass over the mountains weighing 235 than I would at my normal 215!

Training for a ride in September meant that I stayed motivated throughout the summer and early fall. Typically I have a hard time getting back on the bike after my big event. This year I was determined not to let that happen and set a goal to ride at least 50 miles per week in October and November, which I did. I stepped that up to 75/week in December.
I like to set up my CycleOps trainer in front of the TV and watch the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs! 
A lot of these miles were ridden on my CycleOps Fluid 2 indoor trainer, which involves constant peddling (riding outdoors it's normal to coast 10, 20, even 30 percent of the time and provides a great workout.
So here I sit on January 2, 107, weighing in at 223 lbs., ten pounds less than last year at this time and around my normal for this time of year. I want to get that back under 220 ASAP and hold it there until warmer weather returns and we emerge from hibernation!

The question is: which big ride am I going to do this year: Ride the Rockies or Cycle Oregon? Another possibility Jonny Rocker and I have discussed is doing our own ride, either self-supported or supported by our wives. Let me know if you have any suggestions for other week-long rides or planning your own route.

Ride on!