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My Most Interesting Life Experiences.
- Hotel Gellert Roman Baths, Budapest, Hungary: On a winter trip to Europe in 1989, after a couple of days being tourists around Budapest, I decided to take advantage of the "Roman Baths" spa adjacent to the hotel. I went down in only a hotel bathrobe and slippers, put the 92 cents admission on our tab, then I went into the changing area, where you hang up your robe and put on this cotton loincloth before entering the spa. As soon as I walk in, I get singled out for special treatment as the rich American tourist--I think I was the only tourist in the place, the rest were locals. First stop was the massage station, where this enormous mountain of a man greeted me with "YOU WANT SPECIAL MASSAGE...I GIVE YOU EXTRA SPECIAL MASSAGE!" -- which must have been the extent of his English. He leads me and my loincloth into their massage room, which happened to look like a morgue--floor-to-ceiling tile, stainless steel tables, and hoses. I didn't know if he was going to dissect me or work out my kinks... He gets me on the table, hoses me down, and proceeds to soap me up and massage me with the soap. They were the biggest, strongest hands ever to massage me--it was hard to relax when I was scared shitless! This wasn't one of those nice comfy table new-age music organic lavender oil aromatherapy kind of sissy massage--this guy could snap my neck in two with his bare hands! After a good long massage and a final hose off, I get off the table and he sticks his hand out, wanting to be paid. Hey, I'm standing there in my loincloth, wondering where he thinks I am hiding the cash. He starts getting a little steamed as I play the dumb bit, and he started to repeat over and over "I GIVE YOU EXTRA SPECIAL MASSAGE!" -- so on cue, another big guy comes out of the tilework and firmly explains to me in decent English, "Boris gave you extra special massage, and he wants a extra special tip." I explain that my loincloth seems to be without pockets for my wallet, nor do I have any money in my robe, therefore Boris would just have to wait. Boris didn't take to my explanation well, and kept holding out his catcher's mitt of a hand, repeating his massage mantra. After 10 more minutes of this wonderful international dialog, Boris gave up with my assurances that I was indeed staying in the hotel, and that yes, I would give him a tip worthy of his EXTRA SPECIAL MASSAGE. With the calming effect of the massage totally gone, Boris II now becomes my pal, escorting me to the pool area, bringing me back to the changing room, then leading me to the manicure area where he cut me in past several waiting locals to get my fingers and toes trimmed before any one else. I felt like crap under the glare of a half-dozen locals in the queue, but Boris II kept them at bay. Hell, I didn't want a manicure, for Christ's sake!
- Club Med Moorea: Our vacation at Club Med Moorea (Tahiti) in the early 1980's was the first time I had been around a good number of Australians and New Zealanders. Despite the bond of a common language, we found over the course of the week in many conversations with many A/NZ couples that our cultures were quite different. We all ate at large tables (8 to 10 seats) and as we consumed the many carafes of wine, conversations would delve into the details of each culture. We were one of the few American couples there, far outnumbered by A/NZ couples, and we found them all to be warm and outgoing. Serviettes (I thought this woman said Soviets!) were napkins; yet napkins were their daipers. We have kept up correspondence with one couple over these intervening 20 or so years.
- My Technology Internship at Bellcore--My Favorite Work Year (1990 - 1991): Being a malcontent at work sometimes works wonders. I was quite vocal about a large accounting firm's consulting arm getting a beachhead in our IT department, so I was "selected" to go on a one-year internship to our research arm, Bellcore, in New Jersey. Each RBOC sent up to 4 interns, and most relocated their families like we did. Janet was able to take a leave of absence from her job and nailed down a sales engineer position at a software company back East, and Karen was about two-and-a-half, so she was ready to go into pre-school, so we packed up the house and moved to a country home in Bernardsville, New Jersey. The company paid for the house and leased two cars for us; we rented out our house in California and stored our cars. It was like a year of school with no homework. You hung around with the researchers, learned a bunch of great stuff, but since we were only with each work group for 3 month stints, we got no real work. A nice vacation for all of us away from the daily grind at our regular jobs. And, being from California, the three of us took off every weekend to explore the East Coast. Everything is so close together out there--everything was within a 4 hour drive of the house: skiing in Vermont, spending the Fourth of July on the Esplanade in Boston, dining, theater, and opera in Manhattan, lazing on the Jersey shore, hitting as many Smithsonians as we could, Civil War battlefields all throughout Virginia. In the Bay Area, you can only get to Tahoe in 4 hours of driving...you felt you could get anywhere in that amount of driving. And that year was the genesis of the "Brothers in Baseball." The interns and families got together for various activities and trips, and several of us played hookie from work to take Roadtrips to Boston and Cooperstown packed in Scott's leased van. Four of us still get together and hit the road even after all these years!
- Summer 1975 - Biking in Europe: Late in 1974, a college buddy of mine dared me to spend the next summer in Europe with him, bicycle-touring. I took him up on it, and put down a $150 non-refundable deposit on a charter flight. Mind you, I was 20 years old, never flown, done a bit of cycle-touring, and never been out of the west coast corridor of WA/OR/NV/CA. I forgot about the dare, and the deposit, until it came time about 2 months before leaving to plunk down the rest of the money for the flight--hell, $150 was a lot of money to lose for a poor college student living in an attic off campus, so I ponied up the rest and started riding my old Schwinn Varsity around to get in a little cycling shape before we left. Joe and I decided to buy our bikes there, so we got about $500 in Belgian Francs, some Travelers Checks, our panniers, and took off on the adventure of my short life. We landed in Brussels and assumed we'd be able to find a bike shop that first day and score a nice bike and be off. Only is, only the "racing elite" buy "10 speeds" as we called them, and the bike shops were filled with clunky 3 speeds that were totally unsuited for touring. Finally, on the 3rd day, we stumbled upon a shop that had two orange Peugeot 10 speeds, but the owner wasn't too helpful until we flashed the Belgian cash. We took off out of the youth hostel the next day, heading for England. We ferried from Oostend to Dover, and biked into Cambridge, where, tired of cycling in the constant rain, we stored the bikes and trained it into London. More June London rain convinced us to head south, so we returned to Cambridge, gathered our bikes and headed back into France. About two weeks in, heading into Montreuil, France, I came down with a nasty cold cycling along in a particularly nasty, cold rainstorm, so Joe and I, out in the middle of nowhere, put ourselves up in a barn, and we waited out the storm snoozing in the hay. That night in the youth hostel things got worse for me, and I'm thinking, I'm REALLY FUCKED! Sicker than a dog, halfway around the world, cold and miserable, with an airline ticket that I couldn't use until late August, and I want my mommy! I stayed in bed the next day, feeling enormously sorry for myself. But the next morning, I woke up in much better health, and I realized that I'd have a real miserable three months if I didn's snap out of my funk, haul ass to the Riveria and dry myself and my attitude out. And that's just what I did as soon as I was well enough to ride. And I did have a fantasitic time--Joe and I separated several times, he being a bit more schedule and event driven (gotta be in Burgundy in a week to catch the Tour de France!) and me being more laid back and see what fun cropped up. We separated in Tours, and I picked up a group of Dutch cyclists and hung with them to Avignon, then I hooked up with a pair of guys, one from SoCal and Canada, and we continued on to Genoa. Joe and I hooked back up in Genoa, but he wanted to cycle over the Alps, and I said, "Bullshit! This is a vacation, not an endurance event." So I rode over to Venice and took a train to Munich and hooked back up with Joe after his traversal of the Alps. But he was so drained by that part of the trip that we pretty much bagged the last two weeks and took a train up to Lippstadt and stayed with a family with which Joe was a Foreign Exchange Student several years before. They had a nice place (sauna and dunk tub) and we were so fried, that we just languished around the house during the day and hit the local pub to get shitfaced each night. But I grew up enormously that trip...it had been the first real time I had been away from home (my folks lived in Alameda and I was living in Berzerkeley going to school) and I held it together, fending for everything while living off a bike and 30 pounds of gear for 3 months. To this day I marvel that I pulled it off. We stayed in youth hostels about two-thirds of the time, and camped the rest, but we met many wonderful people, ate great food, and saw amazing things. I kept an extensive journal during the entirety of the trip, so once they create a decent speech-to-text product, I hope to publish those musings.
- The European Purchase Plan - BMW: My wife, Janet, and I, being the perfect Yuppies, decided to do something adventuresome when we needed to buy a new car--why not buy our next car through one of the European Purchase Programs offered by Audi, Mercedes, or BMW? We checked out each of the programs, test drove the cars, and settled on the BMW 325es. We saved about four grand on the car, and the factory ships the car back to a local dealer who takes care of cleaning the car up and putting the catalytic converter on. The only downside is that you have to pay for the car, in full, before you leave to pick it up, and it takes 6 - 8 weeks to ship the car back. But we had a brand-spanking new BMW to haul ass around on the AutoBahns and AutoStradas of Europe instead of some funky Opel rental car. Janet and I piled up vacation and took a full five weeks for that trip. Picking the car up at the Munich factory, we zipped through northern Italy to Firenze, north up through the Riviera and Provance, to Paris, then back toward Munich through Alsace. We captured our wonderful trip memories in journals kept throughout the journey--one of these days when I get some decent Voice-Recognition software, I'll transcribe those journals on to this site. We had a great time--only one speeding ticket heading out of Paris and the car was towed once in Venice--and we hated coming home. We kept that car 13 years with minimal cost of upkeep. What a car!
- The European Purchase Plan - Mercedes: In 1998, with the BMW getting long of tooth, we decided we had such a great time getting the BMW, that we would do European Purchase again. Again the shopping and test driving, but this time we settled on the Mercedes E320. The factories have made the EPP less of a great deal--it's pretty much a wash between buying the car here or picking it up in Europe, but Mecedes throws in 2 nights at one of a half-dozen luxury hotels. Sold! We picked the car up in Stuttgart--Mercedes does a nicer job at the factory, since you get a tour of the factory and a great lunch at their HQ on a patio (BMW gave you meal vouchers at the cafeteria)--and we took our two nights at a wonderful Baden-Baden Hotel/Castle. We pulled up and there were 3 other brand-new Mercedes parked in front--Americans on EPP like us. Our daughter, Karen, was along with us this trip, and she and I watched two games of the World Cup in this glorious sitting room in the hotel with about a half dozen rabid European soccer fans. If you gotta watch soccer, might as well be in a luxury hotel. We spent three wonderful weeks hitting Salzburg, Venice (we didn't get towed this time), Strasbourg, and more. Once again, we have journals...details to come.
- Sumo Wrestling SportsCenter: I had the good fortune of being in Tokyo for 10 days in 1995 while the huge spring sumo tournament was going on. It was like the World Series of Sumo. All the top names were there: Akebono, Takanohana and more. I really got caught up in the excitement because I found a daily recap telecast, a'la Sumo SportsCenter, on every night at 10:30, where every one of the day's matches would be shown. None of the pomp and stomping to begin each match, just the few seconds of frezied action. Sort of like showing a football game without the huddles and timeouts...just the action. Just the right amount of action for us ADD Americans, with a few slo-mo replays to show the finer points of the bull rush and diaper throw. They showed the march of the "stables" as the yokozuna led the rest of the wrestlers into the hall, then blitzed through all 30 or so pairings. All commentary was in Japanese, but once you got to know the different wrestlers, it didn't matter. It was a great day to close out each day, with a bit of the local color.
- Watching The Tour de France in Europe: Even though I am getting more and more into cycling, I have always liked cycling, and the Tour de France is bigger than the football playoffs and SuperBowl in Europe. Running for 3 weeks in July, it's on every day with live, uninterrupted coverage on every station in every language! And all of our European vacations have covered at least some of Le Tour, so I get to either see it live or see the recaps on the nightly news.
- Visiting the Normandy Beaches (pre-Private Ryan) In the 1986 BMW European Vacation, we hit Normandy before we zipped into Paris, seeing Mont St. Michel and other sites. Janet had no interest in seeing the Normandy beaches, so early one morning I went out to Omaha beach and toured the cemetary above the beach. The beach had a high, thick overcast, and it was so early that I was the only person out there. I had read extensively about the D-Day landings, and obviously seen "The Longest Day," but to be there on the beach, and look at the bluffs rising off the beach, and the impenetrable hedgerows honeycombing the landscape around for miles, I finally got an appreciation for the enormity of the troops' accomplishments on that day. A very humbling experience to say the least. And to see the thousands of headstones in the cemetary brought it all together for me--you can't help but shed some serious tears.
- Traveling in Japan using a Guidebook: I had the good fortune to tour Japan as part of a Masters' class "assignment" in 1995. Which happened to be the time the dollar was at its weakest against the yen--it hovered at about 78 - 85 yen to the dollar, making EVERYTHING so expensive. Of course, you get the obligatory guide book to plan out your free time, but once you get to Tokyo, or wherever, the guide books are useless! Everything is in Kanji--the addresses, the street signs, restaurant names...everything! There is "English" signage for the subways and train stations, making it pretty easy to get around, but once there, you can't find a damn thing. This guy I hung with wanted to find this particular restaurant, so we got off the train at the proper station, but there was no way we could even begin to find the street, let alone the number. And Japanese seem very American in one respect--they only speak one language (or at least let on that they only speak one) and that's Japanese. I got spoiled in Europe--most all young people speak very good English, so you can get a great deal of helpful guidance in your mother tongue. Forget it in Japan--either they are either unable or unwilling to give you a hand in finding a place, since the guidebook is in English and they only speak and read Japanese. But despite the difficulties, you learn to ditch the guidebook and just take things as they come. And you wondered why American Japanese restaurants have plastic food in the window--they do that in Japan, so the stupid American tourists can take their waiter outside and point at the dish they want!
- Start of the Year: I said last year, [I was] "Determined not to repeat my mistakes of the previous years," I ended up making the same mistakes! I started the 2004 cycling season in great shape and down at about 210, but despite putting in the usual mileage and intensity, I added weight throughout the season, ending up the 2004 cycling season at about 220, then added about 10 between then and the end of the Holidays, so I am back where I usually start in January of any year--230 pounds on a 5'10" frame. Disgusting!
- Goals for the Season: My cycling buddies, Henry and Craig, have a desire to "go long," so I will tailor my winter/spring training to do the Davis Double (200+ miles) by May. Since the family caught two stages of the Tour du France last summer, I may have convinced my cycling buddies to participate in L'Etape du Tour, an amateur race that completes the course of one of the stages of the real Tour, this year on July 11th. It's a 177 km stage, so I'll have to keep training "long" through the summer if we are able to get on a tour. And as always, try to get under 200 pounds, sooner rather than later.
- 2005 Results: We didn't get it together to tour in France during the summer, so cycling this year will be domestic in nature. Starting in February, I began riding with the new "Team Alameda" that would gather at Alameda Peet's Coffee and ride every Saturday morning throughout the year, weather permitting. With ride leader experience, I have evolved to leading the "medium" group--a fairly fast group that puts in 40 - 60 miles. On May 1st, I rode with my ACTC group in the Grizzly Peak Century, completing the full 100 mile course, which featured nearly 9,000 feet in climbing. Realizing that 100 miles in the saddle was enough for me, I hung up the desire to "go long" and get a double century under my ass this year. On August 6th, Mike from the ACTC group and a couple of the Alameda crew rode in the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge, at 100 miles and 10,000 feet in climbing. It was a long, hot, challenging day featuring a lot of suffering up the Zayante Road and Jamison Creek Road climbs. Riding three days a week has made riding an occasional Century much easier, but I still don't have the burning desire to complete a Double Century. Maybe I'll tackle the Markleeville Death Ride next year.
- Start of the Year: Determined not to repeat my mistakes of the previous years, I started the South Beach Diet (with minor modifications courtesy the Zone and Cliff Sheats "Lean Bodies") in October 2003. I find I just can't workout hard and lose the necessary weight--I also have to diet to get the weight off so I can perform better in the hill climbs. At the end of the 2003 Cycling Season, I still weighed 230, and despite my vastly improved biking fitness, I still struggled mightily up steeper hills because of the 30 - 40 extra pounds I was carrying unnecessarily. I shed 13 pounds in the first two weeks, as the book advertized, then got down to 210 just before the Holidays. I weighed in at 215.5 on January 5, 2004, so the "lounging around Tahoe looking out at the whiteout conditions" between Christmas and New Years didn't pack on much weight. Besides, I crosstrained by snowshoeing while we were up there, so it wasn't like I sat around the entire time doing nothing.
- Goals for the Season: with the ultimate goal of finishing an IronMan Triathlon, I need to see if I can go through the training mileage necessary so I can complete a marathon. To someone who has only done a few 10Ks 20+ years ago, this will be a significant challenge! Knee pain has kept me away from running over the past several years, but because of the huge increase in leg strength and the weight loss from biking, I now feel comfortable in running at least once a week at about a 9 min/mile pace for 30 minutes. And no knee pain! So I will follow the program set forth in Jeff Galloway's classic running tome, "Galloway's Book on Running," I will complete the San Francisco Marathon on August 1st, 24 days before my 50th birthday. In January, I'll increase the number of runs per week, hoping to work up to running three to four miles, three or four times a week, all at an easy 70 - 80% max heart rate level. From there, if all goes well and my body tolerates the increase frequency, the program has you do a long run once every other week, along with keeping up the shorter runs. You eventually work up to the full marathon distance on the longer runs about a month before the race, then taper until the event.
- Highlights of the Season--Total Mileage for the year--2236.42 miles: Had another successful year on the bike: I hoped to complete the full century in the Grizzly Peak Century in early May, but I got my first case of "hot foot" on the climb out of the lunch stop and had to "abandon"...bummer. Another great year leading rides for the Almaden Cycle Touring Club after work on Mondays and Thursdays, but because of my weight, and others' progress, I was bringing up the rear on most of our climbs, or maybe that was "sweeping!" After a couple of years of not doing it, I convinced my wife that she'd love the Trek Tri-Island charity ride up in the San Juan Islands, and got the normal crew together to do it. My wife, unfortunately, got a new job just before the ride (3 days of sublime, and mostly flat riding among the bucholic San Juans, with several ferry rides thrown in) and could not get the time to ride, so I flew up and borrowed Doug's old Schwinn 7 speed for the ride. Doug and his girlfriend rode a tandem, Jerome came up from LA, and Darryl came in from Atlanta to ride. Thick fog really messed up the ferries, and thus the ride's timing, but a great time was had by all anyway, especially at this YMCA camp (Camp Orkila) on Orcas Island...beautiful in the fog!
- Marathon didn't happen: Cycling has eliminated my knee pain, but as soon as I started running more than twice a week (for 30 minutes each), knee problems kicked back in. It looks like I'll have to keep my running limited to 6 or so miles a week and build up very, very slowly. Trying again in 2005!
- Lance Takes Six: We planned a Parisian/Normandy/Brittany vacation this July, and made plans to hit a stage end in Chartres by taking a day train out of Paris. We got to see Lance in Yellow make the final short climb up to the Flame Rouge with the peleton! We ended up having so much fun that we caught another stage out in Brittany later that week.
- Start of the Year: Hit the scales on January 6, 2003, not so shocked to have it read 230 pounds--up about 10 pounds from my low towards the end of the summer. The most common comment I get from those damn skinny cyclists zipping past me climbing up Tunnel Road is, "Wow, you climb pretty well for a Big Guy." Well, after two years of cycling, laying the groundwork for lifetime fitness, I hope to finally get down to my goal weight of 190 pounds this year. In 2001, I went from 250 to about 230 over the course of the season, then ballooned back to 250 over the Holidays. What an Idiot! In 2002, I went from 250 down to 220 at the height of the season, and ballooned only up 10 pounds, so I must be getting better and smarter.
- Goals for this Season: compete in more sprint triathlons, work my way up to competing in a Olympic-distance triathlon (running more than a half-hour is my limiter to be overcome--bad knees), get to and stay at a goal weight band of 190 - 200 pounds, compete in the Grizzly Peak Century--one of the tougher Centuries around, get to the top of Mt. Whitney (since we turned back in 2000 at 12,000' with altitude sickness), and improve all 2002 season times by at least 10% (e.g., improve the Diablo climb from 1:30 to 1:20).
- Highlights of the Season--Total Mileage for the year--2503.76 miles: Had another successful year on the bike: I competed in the Grizzly Peak Century in early May after a distressingly wet-on-the-weekends winter in the Bay Area (which meant a lot of hours on the trainer in the garage). After missing the group with which I had planned to ride, I hooked up with some younger guys who paced me along to an amazing 14.5 MPH average over the 75 mile first loop. There was a whole lot of climbing, but we blitzed the flats and rollers in a fast paceline. The day was rather drizzly, and lunch was so plentiful that I just did not feel like heading out for the second loop to get in the full Century.
- Great Year Leading ACTC After-Work Rides: with my co-leader Henry, we continued leading the Monday and Thursday night Argonaut Rides for the Almaden Cycle Touring Club in the South Bay. We always had great turn-out through the season, and it was most rewarding to see the progress of some of the riders. We had one person in particular who went from struggling to keep up with the group on the flats and bringing up the rear on climbs at the start of the year to blowing away the group on the flats and holding her own in the hills.
- Whitney Training: got out with a couple of the Whitney group to train on Mission Peak above Fremont before work in the weeks leading up to our trip. I filled up the backback and trudged up the trail--a very steep 3 mile hike to the top that gave a great simulation for the hiking up Whitney--good training to get the legs and back into shape carrying a load up a steep trail.
- Setback: torn retina: Retinal tears kept me off the bike and not exercising for a few weeks in June/July on doctor's orders, but I was cleared for the Whitney trip at the end of the month.
- Whitney Expedition: July 31 - August 2: We had a party of 11 slated for Whitney, with all the proper permits. One dropped before we left (couldn't backpack with her knees), 6 decided to make it a three day trek, 1 a two day, and 3 did all 22 miles up and back in one day. On Thursday, July 31, five who stayed in or around Lone Pine on Wednesday met at the trailhead (Janet, Andy (Janet's brother), Ken, Sunil, and me) and set off for Outpost Camp (4 miles in) at 11am, taking a leisurely lunch at Lone Pine Lake. A "monsoonal flow" was happening across the Southwest, and we got intermitten showers on the trail (though it cleared as we hit Lone Pine Lake and Outpost Camp). Set up camp at Outpost Camp in the afternoon, where 2 more of the party (the Brothers Boyden) showed up at 6pm (they had left the BayArea early that morning). We were supposed to rise at 5am and be on the trail at 6, but all of us used earplugs and didn't hear any watch alarms, and we only arose at 5:45...Sunil left camp at 6am since he was hiking all the way out that day since his wife and baby daughter would be waiting for him at Whitney Portal later that day. The rest of us had breakfast and set off at 7am. The three day hikers showed up at Outpost Camp just as we were setting out, so 10 of us headed off towards Trail Camp and the infamous 97 Switchbacks. Topping off our water at Trail Camp, the group began stringing out past Trail Camp. Janet was proceeding slowly, and I hung back with her. Weather alternately closed in and cleared all the way up, with snow hitting us solidly once we hit Trail Crest. No one, in later discussions, reported any altitude stress, but the trail itself is quite rugged, especially one with short legs like Janet. The group summitted anywhere from noon through 2pm, with Janet and I getting to the Summit Hut at precisely 2pm, August 1, 2003. The three day hikers tried for a summit of Mt. Muir as they came down from Whitney, but the snow made it impossible to follow any kind of trail up to the summit, so they gave up. A few obligatory pictures in the closed in semi-blizzard and we were headed back down. Miracle fabrics are just that...Janet and I had 3 layers: polypro long-sleeved Tee, a heavier fleece coat, a Gore-Tex shell and breath-able fabric shell pants. Never felt over hot, or cold, and with everything breathable, never got the "sauna-like" feeling when you are bundled up and still exerting yourself. And all layers stayed dry, as everything was wicked away. Got back to Outpost Camp at 7:30pm...12.5 hours on the trail: 7 hours up, and 5.5 hours back. Tough day... Those still camping at Outpost Camp got up at 6:30 or so the next day and broke camp, and we met everyone back in Lone Pine for a nice lunch. Great trip...great break from this work and school insanity!
- Finished my Masters!: Around all the biking and hiking, I was able to finish my final Field Research Project for my Master's of Science in Management of Technology, getting my diploma in the mail right around Christmas...nice present!
- Start of the Season: I got a great Christmas present: a Tacx trainer with a nice little computer that varies the resistance to simulate hills, keeping me riding during this very wet January in the Bay Area. I've got a few months before the ACTC's Monday and Thursday rides start up (at Daylight Savings Time) to keep getting hill work in and lose the weight. I have an old college buddy living in the area, and we've managed to get enough good weather on Sunday to get some brisk 30 - 40 miles rides in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills. Alas, my friend is moving out of the country in early February, so I'll have to hook up with some other folks after he leaves. Since I blimped back up over the last couple of months of 2001, I am starting the 2002 season at 250 pounds again!
- New Toy: I also got myself a Christmas present: I fell in love with the now-discontinued Trek Y-Foil Road Bike, and I just had to have one (see picture above). I won an eBay auction for the frame/fork of a gold 1999 Y-77, and using components off my other Trek when I converted it to a triple crank, I built it up over the Christmas holiday. Not a bad bit of bike mechanic'ing if I say so myself! Got it rolling just before the New Year! Update: In March, I read that Shimano's mountain bike components are perfectly compatible with their road bike counterparts, so I changed out the rear Ultegra derailleur and 11 - 24 cassette to a Deore XT SGS derailleur and 12 - 34 cassette, getting effectively the same gearing out of a double as I would have converting to a triple. So now I have Dura-Ace shifters perfectly indexed on the XT rear derailleur. Now the Y-Foil is every bit as good a climbing bike as my triple-equipped 5200.
- Goals for the Year: The Triple Crown of Bay Area Climbs: Mount Diablo, Mount Hamilton, and Mount Tamalpias
- January Mileage--248.3 miles: Got off to a great start by getting lucky with good weekend weather...got at least one Oakland Hills ride in each weekend to jump start the season.
- February Mileage--132.92 miles: Skiing took up a couple of weekends, cutting my mileage down in February.
- March Mileage--92.3 miles: A great family vacation to Santa Fe and a nasty, persistent cold at the end of March really cut into the miles, but at the end of March, I was down 25 pounds to 225! Back into my 38's, and I can permanently retire my 40's and (gasp!) 42's.
- April Mileage--345.12 miles: The month was uncharacteristically dreary and cold for the Bay Area, but the Almaden Cycle Touring Club fired up their Monday and Thursday 6pm rides in the South Bay and Peninsula Hills after Daylight Savings time started, so I got a great deal of "bundled up" mileage in this month. And my wife, Janet, is starting to ride (cautiously, since she has an uncanny ability to find every train track and crash her bike) because she is doing a Danskin Sprint Triathlon in June, so we put in some miles together. I was down another 5 pounds to 220! Feeling more comfortable in my 38's, and the 40's and 42's went to Salvation Army--now that's a commitment!
- May Mileage--353.44 miles: With BIB2002 coming up in late July and my 30th High School Reunion coming up in mid-August, I have to increase my mileage and intensity on the bike, and start running again. I finally have my weight down low enough that I can start running again--slowly at first, following a walk 10 minutes, run 15 minutes, then walk another 10 minutes--the first week in May. If my back holds out, I will increase the run time by 10% per week, getting up to a max of 45 minutes running, or until my knees/back start complaining. And it was a successful running month! Starting out at 15 minute running intervals, I have worked up to 20 minutes by the end of the month, and my back and knees are holding up just fine. I did not have many high-mileage weekends this month, so the bike mileage has stayed flat from April, but the intensity is there on the ACTC Monday and Thursday rides giving me the most work over the month.
- June Mileage--432.05 miles: I got one of my season's goals out of the way this month--on June 22nd, I joined one of the ACTC Club Rides to ride up to the Observatory at Mt. Hamilton. It was a steady, gradual uphill grind (about 4 - 6% grade most of the way)and I burned up 3849 calories over the 48.16 miles. It was another good running month as well--I've worked up to running 30 minutes and my knees and low back have held up. I had been averaging about 10 hours of exercise per week, but in the last week of the month I kicked in swimming workouts to boost total hours for the week to nearly 15. My wife, Janet, competed in the Danskin Sprint Triathlon in Sacramento, finishing a respectable 76th in her age group, so the triathlon bug is gripping the family, so I have to get swimming. My wife got some coaching in the "Total Immersion" method of swimming, so she'll be coaching me to get me to where I can swim for a quarter to a half a mile, enough for Sprint Triathlons.
- July Mileage--296.08 miles: BIB2002 cut into my mileage this month, but I did complete my first triathlon--doing a "fun" triathlon at our health club on July 20th. The swim was 200 meters in our club's pool, bike was 6 miles, and the run was 1.8 miles, far below sprint distances but it was a good start. I finished the swim in 5 minutes, transitioned in 5 minutes (gotta work on that timing), biked in 20 minutes, then completed the run in about 20 minutes. Not bad for the first effort! With all my cycling, I naturally assumed the bike leg would be the strongest, but coming off the swim, my legs felt like noodles for the first mile or so. I had my Heart Rate Monitor on, and I was surprised that my heart rate was relatively low (70% of Max HR) during the swim, but as soon as I got on the bike, it spiked to nearly 100% as I went through the first mile. It took that long to get my legs and heart rate under control, and after that I felt under control and completed the bike leg, and the run just fine. Next triathlon is one of the Tri-for-Fun series in Pleasanton featuring open-water swimming.
- August Mileage--341.77 miles: Well, we blew off the Pleasanton Triathlon--something about getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday to go swimming in a cool lake at 7am, with no wetsuit. I did have a nice surprise--I took my bike up to Tahoe and did some riding around over a short vacation we took. Now, I seem to be flying up hills in my middle front chainring at 10mph that I used to suffer up in my granny gear, barely staying upright plodding up at 4 - 5mph. Hills seem a lot smaller when you are climbing them at twice the speed. Guess all this training is paying off.
- September Mileage--285.41 miles: Knocked off the second leg of my mountain goal--got up Mt. Diablo via South Gate Road in 1:30:50. Climbed well for the first 8+ miles until my lower back began tightening after so much straight up. Had a fun surprise on the lower half of the ride--a good sized tarantula was cruising along the side of the road, blithely ignoring me. And I finally bought a wetsuit, so I am trying to get more into swimming so I can bring myself to drag my butt out of bed and hit the bay or ocean.
- October Mileage--168.36 miles: The ACTC Monday and Thursday rides ended last month (not enough light left in the day to get in a decent ride) so my mileage will start dropping off, since I am limited to riding on the weekend. My lower back also went out again, despite dropping the weight, so after I got the obligatory Cortisone shot allowing me to get out of bed in the morning, I got referred to physical therapy. The group I am going to assume you are a jock, and you want to stay a jock, so they stress core strength and stretching. Big difference, and the back ain't hurting no more...
- November Mileage--130.67 miles: Knocked off the third leg of my mountain goal--got up Mt. Tamalpias from Stinson Beach up the Panoramic Highway in 1:12:20. Lived in the Bay Area all my life and I've never been to the top of Tamalpias...now I got up there the hard way!
- December Mileage--75.21 miles: El Nino seemed to have come back with a vengence, with storm after storm hitting the Bay Area, keeping me off the roads. So I called this month "Active Recovery," spent walking the dogs and watching football on TV.
- End-of-Year Results--2910.70 miles for 2003!
- Losing weight and getting in shape: as you can tell from the picture galleries, I get chubbier as I have gotten older, so this year I decided to get off my ass and get in shape. My friend Jerome and my brother-in-law Andy have been great motivators (forget my BIB brothers...obviously), getting me out and moving. It started last year (2000) when Jerome and I set goals for the year: summit Mt Whitney (highest point in the lower 48) and ride in a Seattle charity bike ride (the Trek Tri-Island at 150 miles over 3 days). We fell short on Whitney, succumbing to altitude "stress" at 12,000 feet, but we completed the ride--and it got me started. After some late-year set-backs, I climbed to 250 pounds, but early in 2001 I bought a 2000 year model Trek 5200 "Lance" model bike with an ultralight carbon fiber frame (OCLV). Cycling has turned out to be much easier on my oft surgically repaired knees, so now the hard training starts!
- March 4, 2001--LA Marathon Bike Tour: My first "organized" ride of the year, Andy (a hard-core roadie) and I drove down to LA and met up with Jerome and his brother and we rode in the pre-Marathon bike event. About 22 miles over much of the same route as the Marathon, it gave us the opportunity to "ride in the 'Hood" as Jerome put it. The route was really crowded, so it was more of a fun ride than anything else, but it was a good kick off of the riding season. I rode my restored 1974-era orange Peugeot, but I quickly realized that I wanted to partake of the new technology (STI index shifting, lighter weight everything), so I started lusting after a last-year's model "Lance" Trek 5200 that Helen's Bikes had displayed at the "trade show" the day before the ride at the LA Convention Center. After I got back to the Bay Area, I called Helen's and bought the bike.
- April 28, 2001--Multiple Sclerosis' Top Hat Classic: Andy and I (Jerome wimped out on this one) rode 56 miles from Pleasanton to Castro Valley, through the Oakland Hills to Moraga, Walnut Creek, then back to the start. Not a bad start to the season but when Andy took off to get into a paceline behind a tandem, he left me in the dust.
- June 3, 2001--America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride: Andy and I (Jerome wimped out on this one too) completed this 72.4 ride around Lake Tahoe, starting at Stateline/South Lake Tahoe at 7:30am and riding clockwise around the lake. The ride featured two major climbs (3 miles up around Emerald Bay and 8 miles up to Spooner Junction) and several minor ones. I averaged an amazing (for me) 15.5 mph, taking 4 hours and 42 minutes (elapsed riding time) to complete the trip. I felt comfortable all through the ride, even at that altitude (6200 - 7000'), and I even got some paceline riding in. At this point I have put 670 miles on the bike since March 2001 and have lost 25 pounds--I have found out that I can get the proper intensity out on the road, and it is much more interesting than spinning away in some gym.
- July 1, 2001--Giro di San Mateo: Jerome finally made a ride, along with his son Jerron, his brother Ronny, and Phil, a friend of ours up from LA. Andy, Phil and I did the 100K option with Team Jerome taking the 70K option. The three of us got in some great intense paceline riding and ended up catching Team Jerome 10 miles from the finish, despite riding 15 miles more and climbing 2000 more feet! Felt good and strong all ride long. Weight has plateaued it seems, but I have not been hardcore in the eating department since the Tahoe ride--I have been averaging about 100 miles per week in June.
- August 19, 2001--the Holstein Hundred (Tomales High School): As I started this riding season, I planned to ride in a full Century (100 miles instead of the "metric Centuries" of 60 - 65 miles). Jerome and I (along with Fred, a friend of Jerome's) signed up for this ride, but I couldn't convince him to do the 100 mile option. The routes looked like they were the same until the 50 mile point, so the three of us took off together at about 8am. We headed south to Pt. Reyes Station, then wound back east and north to the third rest stop at the halfway point. There had been some climbs, but I was feeling strong and fresh, and had followed a father/son team along in a fast paceline for the last 10 miles into the stop. I headed off alone out of the stop, heading north toward Sebastepol. From there, the route got VERY UGLY...the winds coming off the ocean kicked up, so if the route didn't have me fighting nasty headwinds, it had VERY, VERY STEEP climbs--sometimes into a headwind! There were 4 major climbs--on the order of 10 - 12% grades--at the 60, 70, 80, and 90 mile points. At the 80 mile point I felt a sharp pain in my chest, and I immediately thought I was having a heart attack! But I realized the sharp pain was radiating along the surface of my chest, so while continuing to pedal along, I reached down to find out what was going on and I crushed a bee in my jersey...Ouch! And the final 3 miles back to the high school were into a nasty headwind with me near total exhaustion. BUT I DID MAKE IT! The final stats: 100.39 miles, 7 hours 43 minutes in the saddle, 10 hours elapsed time, 13 mph average but I averaged 16 over the first half. But it turned out to be a horrible grind the last half of the ride, and not much fun, so I doubt if I will be doing any more full Centuries in the near future. But I can check it off my "Life's To-Do List."
- September 8 - 10, 2001--the American Lung Assoc. Trek Tri-Island out of Seattle: Jerome and I did this ride last year, but I was using my heavy Performance hybrid bike and I wasn't in the best of biking shape. This year what a difference! I had put about 1600 miles on my new Trek, so the 150 mile ride spread over three days was a piece of cake compared to last year. It was great seeing all the LA and Seattle buddies (Doug, Oliver, and Phil) and taking in the beautiful San Juan Island scenery! Unfortunately, we watched the events in Manhattan unfold as we packed up for home, but Andy and I had driven up there from the Bay Area, and it was a somber 13 hour drive home. Jerome and Phil had flown, so they eventually rented a car and drove back on Thursday that week.
- September 15, 2001--another ride around Lake Tahoe: After riding as a guest for several months, I finally plunked down $15 and joined the Almaden Cycle Touring Club (ACTC) in August. Andy and I, one week after returning from Seattle, joined a Club ride and circumnavigated Lake Tahoe again. We started 5 minutes late, so we cranked like hell to catch up to the group, but they turned off on some bike paths and we unknowingly passed them early in the ride. We kept pushing hard to Tahoe City, and we gave up trying to ride with the group and continued around on our own. Other than fighting a 12" Subway Club Sandwich up the Spooner Grade (6% incline for 8 steady miles), I felt great the entire ride. Driving back north to Incline Village, we passed the now strung-out club riders, left far in our wake.
- December 31, 2001--End of the Season: Well, the 2001 Cycling Season came to a close, with a 23 mile training ride around town, giving me a total of 2437.07 miles ridden this year. I lost about 25 pounds this year, and my resolution is to get the rest of the weight off to get down to 190 pounds. The extra weight is killing me in the hills! Happy New Year--I hope 2002 is a better one!
Me, Andy's ACTC Teammate, and Andy at the Tahoe Ride Finish Line
- See a game in every Major League Baseball ballpark
- See a ballgame in every country they play baseball: I've seen a ballgame in the US and Japan
- Summit Mount Whitney--came close in 2000, BUT WE KNOCKED IT OFF ON AUGUST 1st 2003! IN A SNOWSTORM NO LESS...
- See the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia--deliciously European events that Americans just cannot get into, but I love watching the coverage of these most amazing human endurance feats...to be in Paris watching the final stage of the TDF would be sublime! Caught the end of two stages during the 2004 TDF, one in Chartres, and the other in Brittany.
- Ride in L'Etape du Tour: a single day ride that takes the route of a TDF stage a day or two before or after the actual stage.
- Attend a Wimbledon Match
- Attend a World Cup Match--another happening that Americans just cannot relate to, but the fever gets you when you are over there
- Visit India: traveling in the Third World doesn't excite me but I have worked closely with several Indians and they made me hungry to see this vast, complex subcontinent
- Travel throughout Australia and New Zealand
- Trek in Nepal--see Mount Everest from Base Camp: I have no interest in climbing Everest after reading "Into Thin Air" but I would like to see the Himalayas from the 17,000 foot base camp.
- Go to a sumo match in Japan
- Ride in a full Century: complete on August 19, 2001 at the "Holstein Hundred"
- Ride a Double Century
- Ride the Paris-Brest-Paris 900km Race
- Take a Pilgrimage to the The Sanctuary of our Lady of Ghisallo, Patron Saint of Cyclists, in Magreglio (Como) - Italy: this is the Cooperstown of cycling, with bicycles and jerseys and photos of many legends of the sport (Bottechia, Moser, Merckx, Hinault, LeMond, and the campionnissimo himself, Fausto Coppi). I want to pick up a souvenir--a small metal pendant with the Lady of Ghisallo's image on it; tradition and legend hold that the Madonna will keep me safe from harm.
- We got a great book over the holidays, "1000 Places to See Before You Die," and apart from the reminder of the finality of the goal, it gives a great overview of the things you JUST HAVE TO DO while you can. Here are some more of mine:
- Stay at as many of the Great Hotels of the World as we can:
- Stayed at the great Spa at Montecatini di Terme, Italy in 1986
- Stayed at the Highlands Inn, in Carmel, CA in 2004
- Go to Munchen's Oktoberfest--Janet was there are part of a business trip, and her pictures of the enormous brewery tents makes it a must see (and drink) for me. And, unlike Americans who get ugly and violent when drunk, Germans get happy and start singing horrible American pop songs (John Denver's "Country Roads" was a hit with the crowd according to Janet) when thoroughly tanked.
- Retire Early and Enjoy Life!