Back on the saddle

2010 June 24
by Eric R.

Last Saturday – after a few weeks of vacationing in California – got back on the saddle for a pleasurable ride around Berkeley lake, Georgia.

All systems go for 19 miles using the Fast setting. I’d play leaving each meeting point last and getting to the next point first. Oh, about 30 people wished they had an electric bike during each uphill climb.  They really smiled internally when I had to quit the ride due to a system reset…. but I’ll be back.

Check my ride at the Garmin site . Max Speed: 44.2 mph

1,587 miles to go.

The tale of two belts

2010 May 25
by Eric R.

Here is my proof on how far I’ve gone down my belt sizes.

Tale of two belts

Tale of two belts

I  also have a few more pictures so you can see that both belts were put side by side.

My two belts side by side

My two belts side by side

Belly stretched belts

Belly stretched belts

The brown belt was bought in Durango, Colorado on December 26, 2001. I think it has been 4 years since I was able to wear that belt.

Watch out Jared!

A beautiful day riding 100+ km in 3:15

2010 May 21
by Eric R.

The wait was worth it.  Prepared Saturday night making sure I didn’t forget a thing. Bike, check! helmet, check! B vitamin liquid energy drink, check! Last minute bike charge with charger connected through window, check! GPS, check! Went to bed like a kid the night before Christmas.  5:30 am I was up before alarm clock started buzzing. Had my three shots of espresso and almost started driving still connected with the charger thru the rear window…..

Sunday morning Atlanta traffic was a little heavy and when the sign flashed 3 lanes closed a few miles ahead I decided to take the long route around downtown via I-285 And you would have thought that at 6:00 am on a Sunday traffic should be nil? Not in my hometown!

Made it to the starting point with a few minutes to spare before the American century ride left. At the moment I decided against going for this 100 mile ride since it has been 5 weeks since my last ride (Atlanta -Athens on April 10-11).  As I age , I have become a little more cautious on how I decide to stress my body. Having re-installed the battery on Friday night and not knowing the current performance characteristics of the internal battery, I decided against experimenting with a probably very painful ride that could have potentially extended over 6 hours on the saddle.  That was a very wise move!

Having a few extra minutes before leaving for the 62 mile ride, I lingered around the Waffle House tent for a simple breakfast of a sausage biscuit and took the preventive measure of taping my exposed fingers (specially the right thumb – or throttle finger).  Left about 7:50 am ( a few minutes before the official start, since some groups already started the ride and there was little organization at the start line). Quite a different animal from the MS150 ride where Atlanta was full of banners, balloons and police escort on Harley’s to cover the riders while going through downtown.

The ride started going through the town of Tyrone, Georgia and the route was well marked until I got through Main St. Noting that my Garmin was not so trustworthy on my previous ride, I decided to check if there were signals of the route and went straight for a couple of blocks until it made no sense. Happily I found a very strange landmark, the front car of a very futuristic looking Disney’s monorail poking at me from the parking lot of a General store. I mentally noted that I should take a picture of it since it was so odd but decided against stopping (while wearing my clip on MTB shoes – sometime stopping is not an option).  I therefore went back to the confusing corner and continued my ride through Georgia’s countryside. The first 20+ miles were uneventful. Every 10 miles we had a pit stop for bio breaks and hydration. At around 26 miles I finally started arriving first to the pit stops. Note, that I’ve been riding at a normal speed of about 18-26 mph aerobically exercising without exertion. Noting that I was riding first – I began riding with the objective of arriving first for my distance group at the finish line. This is where my internal battery decided to quit on me. I quickly switched to the external battery and continued with my ride with no worries since I’ve ridden 50 miles with only the external battery and I only had 36 miles to go.

Then things started to get interesting.  I found the most beautiful  lavender field extending for what it seemed like a couple of miles and a church steeple that made the scene very movie-like. Now I could imagine rolling on my bike through a European campagne scene.  You can find the location of this Georgia euro farm scene here.

Next was the cop. When I turned on the next street, there was a cop on his car with a radar gun. Speed limit was 30 mph and I was going downhill!!!  The thought of getting a speeding ticket on my Optibike started floating around my mind… should I try hitting 40 mph as I passed the cop?  I had to work really hard to not go over 29.83 mph because I didn’t wanted to spend precious minutes getting a speeding ticket.  But it was a noteworthy concept that I latter send on a email to see if Opti was interested in paying a speeding ticket while riding an Opti bike. I’d love to see the print ad with the picture of the extremely big guy (me) as the speeder doing 45 on a 30 mph zone…… I think Craig got the message across on the Opti web site – but with a skinny guy.

As I got closer to the finish line – I started seeing many short distance riders that where doing the 32 mile, 16 mile and 8 mile rides. The look on their eyes was amazingly incredulous as I zipped by them going 25+ mph. I felt like Mario Andretti. I even skipped the last pit stop that was sponsored by my home town bike shop (Suwanee Creek Bicycles).   I was cranking up to 30 mph with a 160+ heart rate on my way to the finish line since I had battery juice to spare.  Riding on fast mode with a moderately high cadence was exhilarating.  When I arrived I went straight to the massage tent area and then my thighs collapsed in pain. I had to be extricated from my bike and hopped like a toad to the massage table.  Amazing what 10 minutes with ice on my thighs did to eliminate the throbbing pain due to a build up of lactic acid. I was able to get on my feet without any pain. Having massage therapist on hand is the greatest perk of riding on a organized bike ride.

62+ miles this past Sunday. 4 lbs to the ether.

1,606 miles still to go in 2010…

Here is the Garmin detailed ride link.

An English or a Metric Century?

2010 May 15
by Eric R.

Tomorrow will be my first electric century ride. Starts at 7 a.m. about an hour from my house. Leaving by 5:30 a.m. to make it on time. Hope it doesn’t rain too early. Will I lose 10 lbs in a day? Stay tuned….

Mid year evaluation

2010 May 7
by Eric R.

My 2010 bike riding goals (other than mileage)

1. Accomplish my 10% body weight challenge with Opti before the deadline next September

2. Reach the Alabama -Georgia line on my bike riding the Silver Comet. June 2010

3. Learn to pedal using clip ons…. (before this year end).

4. Learn to layer warm clothes properly and conquer winter riding.

5. Conquer the fear of night riding.

6. Dabble in Mountain Biking. June – July 2010

7. Ride while at my time sharing adventures this year (Anaheim, San Diego, New Orleans, Destin, FL )

8. Take my grand-kids on bike rides (non powered). Summer 2010

9. Ride to work daily for a week (250 total miles). Want to average at least once a week for the full year (about 2000 total miles). May or June 2010

10. Ride with my wife (need to teach her to use the Opti since she can’t exercise due to her lungs). September 2010.

What do you think my performance has been for this my first year with Optibike?

Your comments are welcomed!

Update 8/5/2010 – due to hardware & vacation issues (and also heat) – the time frames mentioned above have been shifted 60 days.

Equation finished?

2010 May 1
by Eric R.

Optibike + 4 months of riding = normal cholesterol + more muscle + weight loss

Thursday I had an official weight measurement at my doctor’s office and I was at an official 274 lbs. That weight is 32 lbs lower than my standard operating weight of 306 lbs for the previous 2 years. I’m now able to wear XL shirts instead of XXXL, and I was able to “test drive” size 42 pants instead of “rising” 48 inchers. Now I can wear my 44 and 46 inchers that have been relegated to the left side of my closet for quite many years. That is a tremendous improvement. A few years back – during the despair years – I went to a bariatric surgery seminar at Emory University and the presenter made a clear point that most people can’t lose 10% of their body weight without the help of surgery. Bull!

So what did I do for the past couple of weeks after my Atlanta – Athens 10 hr bike ride?  Due to an issue with my internal battery – I took a forced vacation from biking and decided to do a little nutrition. No sugar, breads nor carbs.  Only tuna fish, salmon, steak, vegetables and shakes – until my trip to Boston last weekend.  I would have been crazy if I didn’t sample New England’s finest cuisine such as clam chowder, lobster rissotto, swordfish, oreo chesecakes and those Dunkin Donuts following me all the way to the airport. I’ve never noticed so many DD’s in my life – at least one every two blocks and one per concourse at the airport – all calling me by name… (Nancy, I promise I only had two donuts – the ones that were yelling for me to take them to Atlanta). Even with splurging with all day “gourmet” airport food courtesy of Delta (due to weather delays and Delta’s ancient airplanes having mechanical troubles) – such as lobster and shrimp rolls, Mr. Chang’s famous spicy chicken, and my 2 donuts –  I was still able to lose 1 lb last weekend. The “nutritional dieting” coupled by the high metabolism due to biking created the perfect storm for extreme weight loss – to the point that even I was worried my blood chemistry would be out of kilter. That is why I did a second blood test this past Monday and got my results Thursday.  My cholesterol came down to 131 and I now have a perfectly normal blood chemistry (my liver is now done building muscle).

My next upcoming ride is for the American Diabetes Association on May 16th. I signed for a 62 mile ride that I might decide to extend to my first century ride (100 miles) since having a lot less weight to carry – my bike range should extend accordingly. My battery issue should be resolved by next weekend so that I can re-start doing what I love and follow my one of a kind nutritional program (all you desire to eat – but with my new twist of “healthy”).

1,668 miles still to go in 2010 …. and given the weight loss rate of 5 lbs per 100 miles – does this mean I could be 85 lbs lighter and full of muscle when I’m done with my personal distance goal?  Scary thought – keep watching out Jared!!!

PS. I did check out an interesting non-electric bike while in Boston. Patrick from Dynamic Bikes let me test ride a couple of their chainless bikes. I  loved the crisp Alfine rapid fire gear changes and very silent ride going around the shopping center by his store.

187, a very sweet number but 60 perversely good

2010 April 20
by Eric R.

I just got back my blood test results from my doctor and for the 1st time since 1995 my total cholesterol is 187. Totally normal without ANY drugs and without changing my diet. The only factor that was added to my life was my Optibike received on September 21, 2009. About 600+ miles was all I needed and that was 300 miles from September – November  and 332 miles from March to April of 2010. All my rides are documented on this blog.  Only rode on weekends other than my 1.5 commutes to work (which I plan to resume on a more frequent basis since they are refreshing in a perverse way – think frogger). All miles were done for the pure pleasure and joy of riding a bike. Note – that when the weather turned arctic around Atlanta I was unable to bike December – February.

Only bad number I got from my blood test is that my serum glutamicoxaloacetic transaminase or SGOT result was 50% higher than normal (that’s a 60 when the upper range limit is 40). The SGPT number was totally normal. Thus after researching around the internet – my conclusion is that the only possible reason that number was elevated was due to the process of BUILDING MUSCLE. I take that with gusto!

My current weight will have to wait until I visit my doctor next week (I’m traveling out of town this week).

I’m now creating the initial version of  Eric R.’s  joyful fitness equation:

Optibike + 4 months of riding = normal cholesterol + more muscle +  (to be revealed after doc visit)

And for those who enjoy algebra

  • muscle = ++ fitness
  • normal cholesterol = longer life
  • longer life = happy
  • 4 months of riding = joy

Do your own substitutions… watch out Jared!

P.S.  Reflecting on how much I had spent on Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, Vitoryn, Zetia, cod oil pills and all other kind of crap since 1995 I think I spent enough to probably have paid for 2 new Optibikes and those pills never gave me anything more than anxiety and dreading to see the numbers from my liver tests every time I went to the doctor.

Only the teeth…

2010 April 14
by Eric R.

A lot of people asked me this weekend how could I lose weight on a electric bike. I think they have the concept that I just went for the ride until they saw me passing them going uphill while huffing and puffing.  Yes I did pass 149 cyclists on the way to arriving 1st to Athens on my 130+ mile ride this weekend. You can follow my getting there route here.  Before I give you the results of my 2 day adventure let me tell you 1st that I will never attempt this ever again.

Google bicycle maps showed a -3 to a +3 % average grade from Atlanta to Athens. Oh boy, are they wrong. Those hills were brutal. No they were not mountains but were they long going uphill and short on their downhills even both ways…Day one was a total blur. Got lost because I followed the route I downloaded to my Garmin – thinking that the route would be easy to follow- but I learned yesterday that my Garmin Edge 705 would not let me ride the route, unless that was the shortest route to the destination. So when I realized I’ve not seen a cyclist for about an hour and that I no longer found little signs with an arrow around the road and the road was a four lane 55+ mph road that I must somehow got lost. I stopped at a gas station and started to figure out where in the world Eric R. was. With the help of the mission control folks I was not too far from the route and my Garmin finally put me back on track. I had somehow missed the lunch break point (not that I need any help in that category) and cut my route short by about 2 miles (82 instead of 84) – but I did turned off my Garmin and turned it on a mile off here and there – those senior moments do show up in the Garmin as diagonal lines not ever following a road. When I got to the outskirts of Athens, ran out of batteries. I started walking with my bike any time the terrain was uphill. Rode the downhills and after about 30 minutes I could see people with pompoms and the signs that I was close to the finish line. As I said, I was walking uphill and this guy riding a road bike passed me by. Knowing that the finish line was so close, I jumped on my bike and started riding on pure human power uphill to the finish line. I was able to overtake him before the finish line and gained about a 5 second lead.  Being the first two riders at the finish line – very few people even noticed us but arriving first,  I’ve never felt so good in my life! I’m glad I was able to hold on to that feeling for the next couple of days before all the muscles on my body started sending not so good signals to my brain (pain).

Menu so far: Breakfast – 2 Costco croissants with 3 shots of espresso. A few bananas and orange slices with powerade at the break points and a couple of bites of beef jerky. Lunch – nada. Dinner- 4 beers, a small pizza and a killer BBQ pork sandwich out of a trailer.

Went to bed the earliest I remember and prayed all night for the Lord to give me strength to be able to ride back safely without too much pain.

Next day I was up and about around 6 a.m. waiting for the hot breakfast to be served. My language skills helped me to get 2 cheese omelets, 2 sausages, 1 biscuit and 2 waffles before the rest of the world. Began my ride to the start line when a technical glitch eliminated my chances of completing my ride. After about 1-2 blocks from my hotel the internal battery pack tripped and no longer gave me signs of any life. I knew it was a matter of resetting it – but without ever encountering a similar issue with my Opti – I wanted confirmation on where to poke the bike before letting any field mechanic to do surgery on my baby.  I was able to get confirmation on the procedure much too late on the ride so after riding 50 miles I was sagged to the finish line. I only had a roast beef with cheese croissant sandwich for lunch with 2 sodas and again oranges and bananas at the 3 breakpoints I went. A very light dinner ensued when I went home (1 curry chicken empanada).

I rode for about 10 hours in two days. The results – 7 lbs to the ether. The title of this post? It should be completed – what was the body part that didn’t hurt 24 hours after the ride?

1,668 miles to go in 2010.

And BTW – thanks to all of you who supported my fund raising efforts and put me on the top 25 fund raisers of the event.

In what trouble have I gotten myself into?

2010 April 8
by Eric R.

How about a 168 mile two day ride from Atlanta to Athens, Georgia. This is the inaugural MS 150 ride for Atlanta and am I nervous. I did get the extra battery last night and I’m making sure it is fully charged for the ride on Saturday.  Wish me luck! Or is it?

You can follow all my rides this year on my Garmin public posts.

Here is the route:

MS 150 Atlanta - Athens

MS 150 Atlanta - Athens

44 miles more – Addictive April?

2010 April 6
by Eric R.

Took me 1:08 to get to work this morning (22 miles each way).  About average if I left early on my car. Saved about $12 in gas, added like 1 month to my life span. Think it was a fantastic trade off.

Is this 2,000 miles in 2010 goal addictive?

You bet it is!

1,800 miles to go

ps. Join me at Optibike’s conference call tomorrow evening.