I have made a decision that all my posts of rides will include one additional metric: Weight.
Like many adults, I have a problem maintaining a healthy weight. And last month on my birthday, I made the determination – I will get down to that healthy weight. And by publicly posting it, I will force myself to maintain that – once I reach it.
In cycling, a Clydesdale is a category for heavy riders. Some could be simply that they are big men (very tall) but most are just overweight. And they cannot compete going uphill with their lightweight competitors. So some events, hill climbs usually, have a Clydesdale category. It may vary but is usually 190 pounds. And the women have a Philly category.
Sometime after cancer treatment 10 years ago, my weight started creeping up. There is a medical reason for that but that’s not an excuse. It’s a challenge. And we all have challenges in life.
I’ve never registered as a Clydesdale. But the best opportunity for me was at the 2018 Hillclimb World Championships in Santa Barbara. I did not because I always held this belief that I would lose the weight before the event. And I never did.
Only after the world championships did I see it. Just two people had registered as Clydesdales. No matter how bad my time (and it was), I would have finished on the podium (Top Three). Damn me. And possibly, if I rode with those two guys, I could have stayed with them until the end and maybe even pulled out a better time. Or maybe not. I was, after all, coming off knee replacement surgery just a few months earlier.
For me, all my adult life, to control my weight I have to be aware. That means the scale has to be my friend. And I’ve gone too long without stepping on the scale.
On my birthday I went for a 65-mile ride near Altoona, Pa. I bonked. I blamed the heat (true) and lack of hydration (true) and lack of nutrition (also true). But I also realized that I was carrying too much weight. When I got home I made the determination to lose weight.
I stepped on the scale. 210 pounds. Ouch. And that was that.
I made a spreadsheet. It was simple. Date. Weight. 7-Day Moving Average.
Seven-day moving average spreadsheet
I chose this method of tracking with a focus on the seven-day average. This would allow me to miss a day of weight tracking and not worry about it. It also accounts for the daily fluctuations that occur depending on when I can weigh in. Sometimes a loss, or a gain, is all water weight. In the chart, above, I gained three pounds (Aug. 21) but the moving average was down (because the 189 replaced a 190 value seven days earlier).
My “program” is simple.
Eliminate grazing, that between or after meal snacking
Eliminate all the sugary stuff (candy bars – no Mint Twixt, donuts, Pop-Tarts)
And that is the magic plan. From early July to late August – down 26 pounds.
There is a side benefit to this. My riding is getting better. I bemoaned the fact that 10 years ago I would do a long ride at 17 mph+. This year it has been more like 14.5 mph+. A few weeks ago I did a ride and set 23 PRs. Had another 48-mile ride where I averaged 17 mph. Dropping the extra 25 pounds has really helped my cycling.
It is embarrassing to admit this but this is public to hold me accountable. If I put future posts with my weight I have to be aware. And if I’m aware it won’t get away from me. No more Clydesdale.
Until November 2019, I was running the Garmin 510 bike computer which was not one of the newer ones capable of live Strava segments. I bought the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and slowly made a transition to running the Wahoo.
There was a learning curve for advanced features although the basic stuff of speed, time, and distance, were ready immediately. I rode through spring and then in late spring, upgraded to a paid subscription for Strava.
Before subscribing, I would check known segments after each ride. Sometimes I would set a new PR (personal record). Usually not. Nowhere was this more evident than in the summer of 2019 when I was chasing a segment in Prince William Forest Park.
Each day I would go to the segment and go full out for 45-50 seconds. Sometimes I thought it felt good. Other times I knew I didn’t have it. Then one day I got home and uploaded my ride and found I had the KOM.
Live Strava Segments are just that. As I approach a segment I am notified. Then the big GO! appears on my screen. Throughout the segment, I can see my progress.
Looking back on those Prince William Forest Park segments, I always went as hard as I could. So seeing that I was one second down may not have been enough to find that one second. But when I’m on the 3-5 or 10-minute segments, one can find the energy to push it a little harder to match the last time when you are getting feedback.
Live Segments have changed the way I ride. I do a lot of LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) rides. I also know that interval training is necessary to improve. Live Segments give me those intervals that require me to go hard.
Nowhere was that better shown than today’s ferry ride. The W&OD was crowded but I came to the Kincaid Climb just before Leesburg. I was worried about getting a good time here because there was a slight headwind and there were lots of people. If I had to slow while waiting to pass I knew I was toast. But bad luck avoided me and my computer said 1:38 which was down from my previous PR of 1:55. My actual Strava time was 1:39.
Without Live Segments, this is one I would normally just roll through with no effort. In fact, my last ten rides, before today, were: 2:27, 2:17, 2:43, 2:28, 1:55 (old PR), 2:18, 2:24, 2:31, 2:44, and 2:23. I went hard and was rewarded. It’s not great – I am 33rd overall but that’s out of 16,292 athletes. So in that regard, this old cyclist is in the top 99% – 99.8% to be exact. And I am number one in my age group.
I even hesitated to go for a PR on Kincaid. Part of me wanted to save myself for the next climb. And that, too, is the beauty of Live Segments. Had I seen that I was down even 5-6 seconds I probably would have just sat up and soft-pedaled to the end.
I was expecting to compete for four segments today. The ones that show on my Wahoo are the ones that I have selected (starred). I was on the shoulder of US 15 North when I got the GO for Sprint to the SHIP and don’t get TRUCKED. Instant feedback – I went through in 2:01, lowering my time from 2:12 three weeks ago. My Strava time was actually 2:02. But I was two for two. I was on a roll.
I came today to improve my time on the climb after leaving Whites Ferry. Three weeks ago I did this climb and had a PR (9:17). I waited at the top for my friend, Tim Casebere, at what I thought would be the “finish” line. I was actually short of the finish which was located over the top of the climb and about halfway down the next dip in the road.
When I got home I saw that I was second on the day – beaten only by Tim by three seconds. I laughed. I guess the clock was ticking while I waited. So I knew that if I simply didn’t stop at the top today I would improve my time on Climb Outta Whites Ferry. I went hard, saw that I was 45 seconds up, and then saw the PR on the screen (7:25). Wow! Almost two minutes. Note the “official” Strava time was 7:26 – I’ll still take it.
I was happy. I was riding well and I headed next over towards Edwards Ferry then back into Poolesville. There was one segment remaining, that I knew of. It was a climb on Martinsburg Road. And I was three for three and drenched with sweat. And it felt great.
I made my way over to Beallsville and decided if Rt 28 was closed five miles ahead (there was a bridge out at the Monocacy River two weeks earlier when I rode it) that I would take the road which now would be less traveled. It was closed ahead and as I hoped, I had no traffic for the next two and 1/4 miles to the turn onto Martinsburg Road.
Immediately I was smacked in the face with a GO! I was on Power Station Hill Sprint. I could see it wasn’t long and went through in 0:39 – down from my previous best, 1:07. (Actual Strava time was 0:38). I was four for four.
I turned on the beautiful concrete Martinsburg Road and again, GO! I got into a big gear and watched my advantage over my PR increase. I went through the Concert Grind up to Wasche Rd. in 2:28, lowering my PR from 3:14. (Actual time was 2:27.). I was five for five and knew at least one more segment remained.
The reason it was one more is that three weeks ago the Martinsburg Rd Spring Climb popped up while I was riding with Tim. My PR was 1:01 that day and I knew it was ahead. But would I have anything left after going five for five in previous segments?
These Live Strava segments have been wonderful but not perfect. Some that I have starred and are supposed to show up on my Wahoo, haven’t. And I had starred some segments before today and they did not show up as race segments. Yet. So I knew one remained but thought there could be more.
I hit the downhill portion of Martinsburg Road pretty hard then started up the climb. Then came the GO! and I dug deep. I finished in 0:45 which surprised me. And now I was six for six.
It was a good workout and I was prepared for more segments. I didn’t know how much more I could find if there were more segments to pop up. But that would be it.
Without Live Segments, I probably would have ridden “medium-hard.” But I never would have dug deep for six segments on this ride. I can’t see not being a premium member of Strava simply for this benefit. It has changed my riding for the better.
In the end, I had 17 PRs on this ride. For some of those I wasn’t even aware of but I got them because I went hard on the segments. Because of Live Segments.
The Remaining PRs
Trailside School to Catoctin Circle (17:47) N. Kind St. from North St. (2:16) 1/2 Sprint to the Ferry (3:37)* Jerusalem to Darnestown (6:46) 109 to Dickerson on 28 (6:34) Martinsburg Road (11:56) ElmerSchoolRd2 – Whites Ferry (6:38)* Run to Whites Ferry (3:36)* Whites Ferry Last Sprint (2:37) Come to Think of it I Did Just Get Off the Ferry (5:58) Belmont Ride to Clairborne Bridge (2:49)**
__ *These are starred segments in Strava but did not show up on my Wahoo to race. But I still did OK.
__ **I didn’t know this segment existed but two dicks went flying by me at the light at Catoctin Circle. It was a red light that another cyclist and I was waiting for. Just as it turned white (for pedestrians and cyclists), they had a head of steam and went flying by us dangerously close. I thought what dicks but then I caught them. I wanted to follow but they passed a couple of people dangerously close. When it was finally clear, I went by never to look back at them. I kept my speed up simply to get away from them. No one likes to ride near dicks.