Marc's Public Blog - Biking, Running, Rollerblading and other Exercising

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2004/03/21 Mountain Biking in the mountains this time.
π 2004-03-21 17:46 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: Paul Oakenfold - Great Wall / Jon B - Mercury Skies
Current Mood: Exercised out :)

So, that was it, I just had to go try out that new mountain bike, where it was meant to be used: a mountain (MonteBello off Skyline et Page Mill, where Xav took me most times we went together).
I got (drove that is) to the top around 09:30 and realized that I had forgotten to take my biking gloves (helps quite a bit when you are rushing downhill in stones and dirt: the bike shakes a lot and your palms get all of it). Oh well, at least I had plenty of water and advil ;)

Anyway, I went down the rather steep incline filled with sand and stones, where the trail begins, and about 20secs later, I had flown over the bike and ended up in some bushes (this so sounds like a blog I read recently, not even funny...).
That was kind of vexing since I had never fallen from any of my bikes, but the good things is that due to the terrain, I was going really slowly (it's hard enough to stay in control as is), and I ended up with minor injury to my left knee (the one not protected by the light brace I wear, go figure...)

I realized right away that my seat was just too high for the terrain and the slope, causing my center of gravity to be way too high (gee, funny how physics works).
After lowering my seat (and being very happy that being a good engineer, I had brought my tools with me), I went back onto the trail.
My first path up just didn't work as I found out that my chain would wedge itself if I downshifted from 3rd to 1st on my front gear (and this repeatedly, which made taking paths up a bitch. I'll have to get that fixed)

I was a bit leery of what was going to happen because of how poorly I performed last time I went with Xav (many months ago, in the middle of my 1 year exercising break, and ouch, did I suck), but I was feeling great, if not a bit apprehensive of the new bike, and its handling in turns and terrain with minimal traction, and its brakes.
So, while I didn't have what it took to go balls out on the way down, it was just as well considering and I got to the creek at the bottom in one piece. Crossing it was fun considering the water level, but somehow, I didn't end up in the water (I even managed to make every single turn on the twisty slope down, without setting my foot down once).

After that, was grizzly flat (BTW, if I ever catch the sick bastard who named a 4km 330m (1000-foot) climb a 'flat', I'll make sure to convey my appreciation to him). I knew that I had my shi^H^H^Hstuff together when I got to the top after 26mn, a bit tired, but without having stopped once, or even lost my balance or traction in the couple of dicy places on the way up (if your gear is too low, you get too much torque and your back wheel spins in the dirt, you stop, you set your foot down, and you lose, and if your gear is too high for your leg muscles, you can't pedal up, and you stop and lose too :)
Heart rate on the way up was 165 to 175 sustained, not too bad.

After crossing skyline, and going down, a moment of panic took me when I arrived at a crossroad: left or right? Xav was saved by the fact that I had just lost my last bar of cell reception, so I didn't get to call him and wake him up to ask him :)
(ok, turns out he was actually road biking at that time, so I wouldn't have gotten him anyway)
Then something miraculous happened: I took the map I had stashed in my backback and found in the parking lot I started from, found the trail names, and actually found the right direction by using the map (I was also happy to have that compass on my keychain :)
Miracles happen every day, I tell you ;-)
Later, I found another cross road where the trail was clearly marked as being on the left, but my intuition told me to take the wide dirt road on the right, and it just so happened to indeed be the way I used to take with my friend (no idea what taking the other side would have led me :)
The cool part is that I got to see 5 deer while on that road, and after that, things were mostly uneventful, and I ended up at my car after a bit more than 90mn (not counting a little sprint where I reached 52.6kph)

Total Time: 1:32:03
Distance: 18.8km
Speed: 12.3kph avg / 52.6kph max (woot!)

you can find the rest of the pictures here

After that, I had way too much fun driving down pagemill in my poor little mazda protege, its crappy tires and regular brakes (the Audi TT convertible that was driving a good pace in front of me, pulled over to let me go after a while :)
Good thing I strap down the bike very carefully, one wouldn't want it to go flying in some turn ;-)
2004/03/20 Painful Rollerblading
π 2004-03-20 16:18 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: DJ Tiƫsto - Live At Revolution - Amsterdam
Current Mood: Much better after a few litres of shake in my belly :)

So, after an hour of step, icing up my knees while doing a little Email, and some coding for work, I headed outside for rollerblading (I had just replaced my worn wheels with brand new ones. I had cleaned up my apec 5 bearings (technically good stuff) with the proper bearing cleaner after coming back from Australia in January, however, due to weather and snow season, I had never gotten the chance to go out with them until today.
Anyway, I headed out around 12:08, for a 45mn ride to the trail, and then the expected 90mn or so for the 26km on the stevens creek trail (Mountain View to East Palo Alto).
I was in decent shape, and energized after step, so with the new wheels and cleaned up bearings, I had hopes to shatter my trail record of 89:32s (17kph, which isn't too shaby for rollerblades). However, while riding to the trail (I usually drive because it's a little ways from where I live), I noticed that I had to apply more effort than I was used to, but maybe it was just because of the pavement, and my memory.
Yet, when I finally hit the beginning of the trail 45mn later, I got to my first checkpoint 3mn late, my second one 11mn late, my 3rd one 13.5mn late, and my half way point 25mn late.
In the end, after much effort, as it felt that I was really dragging dead weight (other than my own I mean :), and a forced stop to buy a died coke with lemonade as one litre of water was a completely insufficient for the heat and the lenght of the whole ride (almost 4H), I finally got home...

When I removed my rollerblades, I saw the 2 huge blisters on the inside of my ankles, which I usually end up with (although usually smaller), and realized that I wasn't walking really straight, or that for that matter my legs were barely supporting me ;)
So, it was time for a killer 'marc special' potluck shake in the mixer (ingredients: ice cream, no water or ice, frozen fruits, frozen juice extract, and water else may come in handy in the freezer or fridge, mix and adjust until a spoon almost stands upright (but not quite, or the mixer can't stir it)).
I feel much better after having re-hydrated a little bit (1.5 litre or so :), and I guess about 5H of aerobic exercise will do for today and will make up for the days I didn't do any this week and the boring and uneventful mexican food (as always for mexican food) that I had to eat last night

I was good exercise, but excrutiatingly slow and painful, if I had had a little less determination and common sense, I'd have turned around instead of insisting on doing the whole ride as planned.
Anyway, those wheels and bearings are coming out. At this point, I do not even care which one slowed me down if it's not a combination of both. I'll just get some bad ass abec 7 rated bearings this time, never clean them again (just buy new ones) and see if I can score some better wheels than the crappy ones I ended up with (kinda sad as they looked ok from their big size (76) and index (82A))
That's too bad, I've usually had good luck with the wheel specials at big5 in the past (actually my last two pairs were terrific), but just as I buy two new sets, I apparently got a really crappy kind. Funny, I can already hear M.E. telling me that I got what I pay for. I just hate it when other people are right :)

Total time roller blading: 3H50
Time On trail: 2:16:25 (a full 47mn slower than my best time, and my worst time ever :( )
Heart Rate: 145bpm avg / 176bpm max
Water consumed on trail: 1.5l
Weight lost (mostly water): 6 pounds (2.7kg) (not counting water consumed while I was on the road)
Resulting Body Weight: 156.2 pounds (it's been about a year since I reached that after exercise, yoohoo)

At least I know better than dealing with my blisters before taking a shower (or the water gets in there, which is quite painful), but that doesn't quite solve the attrocious pain (for about 5-10s) of putting alcohol on them to disinfect before putting a band-aid. Maybe alcohol just isn't the way to go (but then again, I kind of knew that ;)

I was planning to go mountain biking tomorrow, but my mountain bike buddy swiched to road biking, so I'll have to find someone new to go with. Of course, I could just go by myself, but considering the trails, it's not an extremely wise thing to do (not as bad as scuba diving by yourself, but you get the idea). Mmmh, I may just go for it anyway, I need to go back and see how I fare...
2004/03/16 New bike shakeout / Visiting an old step class
π 2004-03-16 20:25 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: Trance Nation 2002
Current Mood: Burning Calories feels good sometimes

So, I recovered my mountain bike from the store after they installed a brand new shifter, anti-thorn tubes, tuffies (protection between the tube and the tire), and did a full tuneup.
While it's a mountain bike, and I can't expect road bike-like performance on it, I was able to tell on my ride to work that I was definitely getting faster on it (not that much its weight in my opinion, but the fact that it had less overal drag and friction in its moving parts).
It was $230 (ugh!), but considering that I paid zilch for it, it's not a bad price of a good mountain bike like this (it's the red one )

Stats going to work:
Heart rate 162bpm avg / 198bpm max
Distance: 9.3km
Speed: 26.5kph avg / 43.8kph max
Time: 20:06s
(that included jumping a fence that was put in the middle of the west entrance I usually take, but I was probably also in better physical shape this morning)

Stats come back to work and riding directly to 24H fitness in sunnyvale (on Lawrence):
Heart rate 156bpm avg / 178bpm max
Distance: 12.3km
Speed: 28.4kph avg (woot!)/ 39.6kph max
Time: 26:23s

Step Class:
Heart Rate: 165bpm avg / 190bpm max
Time: 1H

I'm still not getting over that step class. It was my (somewhat distant) second preferred class from a while ago (like more than a year), and I got right back into it, did all my double spins, and other modifications on top of the teacher's routine, as if I had never left.
However, the 30mn intense bike ride from work, plus the high temperature in the room, and probably the fact that I just don't do 4H of step a week anymore, made it so that I started to struggle a bit 30mn into the class and while I was still nailing quadruple jump rotating V-steps, I could tell that I was barely making them (then again, I've never seen anyone try to follow me and do them too, so... ;-D), and 40mn into the class, I just had to stop and drink, I was sooo dehydrated (usually, I can finish the class on my before the class drink).
But seriously, I have no right to complain, I did quite well considering that I hadn't done that class for more than a year, and astonishingly, while I did all the bad rotating steps that got me in trouble in the first place, my knee (which I'm icing up anyway as I'm typing this) isn't in pain. I know I wouldn't get away with 4H of this per week, but this is still great news.

Also, while waiting for the class, I tried a few chin ups to see if I could still do them, and I managed 8, one more than I've ever done (and the last time I tried was probably 18 months ago). Schweet ;-)
2004/03/14 Bikes...
π 2004-03-14 23:31 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: Paul Van Dyk - Live at Loveparade 2003
Current Mood: Ouch, Sunburned a bit

So, I picked up two abandoned bikes at work, one of which is a very
nice mountain bike (dual suspension), which now gives me a total of 3 (my original mountain bike, which will probably be a road bike which just won't go as fast, a bare basic mountain bike, which will make a great burning man bike , and my new mountain bike). You can see them all here
In order to beat the heat, I had planned to leave at 08:30, but I still needed to mount the speedo on the new mountain bike, as well as a stupid-ass!@#$%! bike pump which had a mount designed by an absolute idiot who wasted more than one hour of my time with something that just didn't fit together and that I ended up using superglue on.

So, I left slightly late, around 10:00 (doh!), and then came back less than 20mn later because the tubes weren't holding air properly (they did during my short test saturday, but apparently, that wasn't good enough), so I had to go home and get my old bike (double Doh). It's only around 10:30 that I left my old mountain bike (which I can now tell drags and is definitely heavier), but I still took it for 54km or 3H15mn.
Good distance, not great time, since I stopped to take pictures, and had a few issues with the water level being way too high, and making the path I wanted to take, increasingly dicy

So, I have that thing where I don't like to turn around, and I was taking a path which I remember jogging on one time, and ended up with mud all the way to my lower knee because I had refused to backtrack. Well, someone smart would have learned, but here, I knew the path had to be somewhere on the other side, except that I never found it, and on my way back, drowned my front tire in mud.

Damnit, my brand new shiny cross traning shoes!!!

Anyway, after reaching University Avenue, jumping a fence that was about my height (ok, that's fun, I locked the bike in the up position on one tire, escalated it, and caught a tree branch that allowed me to clear the fence, but not as much fun as trying the lift the bike over afterwards when you're by yourself, very heavy and hard...). Sure, I could have backtracked through the freeway onramp I took to get there (please, don't ask :-D), but I don't like to admit defeat :)

You can find the pictures from the ride here . It was good exercise, and while I got ligthly sunburned (made it home by 13:30, which was a bit late), I found out that I could do 30 straight pushups again while stretching (yoohoo)

I went to the bike shop afterwards and found out that it'll cost $200 for a full tuneup, changing the tubes with real thorn resistant ones, and changing the 24 speed shifter to a real one ($100, ouch!).
I should get a killer mountain bike after that, though.
2004/03/09 Finally biked to work
π 2004-03-09 11:37 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: Dave Pearse - Some Mix (I was watching the road, not the player)

After working a few hours and feeling sleepy (no idea why :), I courageously went to bed again around 9:30, and almost got 45mn of sleep. I felt much better after that, to the point that I realized that it was nice outside (might have something to do with why I was so warm in my nice clothes yesterday), and I also celebrated my 7th pound shedded this morning, so I decided "WTH, let's bike to work today".
It's cool because I actually get to wear my bootcamp clothes (with just a short on top, trust me, it's better that way ;-D), so that's less stuff to worry about, and 20mn later, I was on my way.

End result:
Heart rate: 151bpm min / 159bpm avg / 171bpm max
Time/Speed: 22mn15s for 9.2 km or 25km/h
Not too bad for a heavy mountain bike, and me not having biked for 4 months.
(note that 25km/h includes slowing down for lights and so forth, but I was able to get
all of them green or more or less run them this morning. Usually I have to wait for 2 or so).
It doesn't yet beat my 22mn flat for 10.1km (return trip from my old building), but
it's a decent start.
2004/03/04 Step
π 2004-03-04 20:48 by Merlin in Exercising

Boot camp was a bit boring today, I'm just not a fan of cardio kickboxing (and our teacher is a karate teacher, so it's obviously easy for him to wing a class by doing cardio kickboxing when he runs out of material for a class).
Anyway, I got home a bit bored, so I put on some good techno (incidently what you'll hear during most high impact step classes as there is nothing better to put in the mood and give the correct beat) and went stepping on my home step for 30-40mn, to actually sweat a little and make my shower worth my time.

Incidently, I got a bit melancholic as I realized that I've now forgotten most of the steps that I used to do
with Eric, the best high impact teacher ever IMO, at 24H fitness. Since not only my knee is blown (I had
to ice it again as it just will not stand the rotations that I do anymore), but Eric stopped teaching step after 20 years, I've come again to the painful realization that I'll most likely never be able to do those insane step classes that I, and my peers there, enjoyed so much. Every other class I've gone to, is just very pale in comparison :(
I did enjoy every single minute of it, but now I wish that I had taken a few videos of the best classes that
we took, and the insane steps and combos that we built on the fly on top of the regular class. Where am I ever going to find that again? (assuming my knee would be capable of withstanding it, which it probably won't)
Sigh, it's sometimes hard to admit that your best days of something are behind you for good...

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