cardiac (arrest?)

I’ve been kinda lazy this month.

julyIt’s pretty obvious how lazy I’ve been from my workout calendar on MapMyRide. It was very sparse for the month. Aside from a few hikes and one short run I haven’t really gotten any exercise. That’s definitely not a good thing when I have a century ride in a few weeks. So today I went and got my only bike ride in for the month of July.

IMG_20130805_104508Since Ray’s doing the century as well, and since his schedule is more flexible nowadays, we were able to go for a training ride on a Monday. We ended up riding out towards Lake Berryessa, since we don’t usually ride it on weekends because of the heavy boat trailer traffic.

IMG_20130805_104540From the bridge in the previous picture there’s a nice view of Monticello Dam.

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Our route took us to the top of the dam. From there you can get a nice view of Lake Berryessa.

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The climb to Lake Berryessa is known to local bikers as ‘Cardiac.’ CARDIAC, as in CARDIAC ARREST. After not biking for a month, I could see why. I was feeling really sluggish, I was getting really winded, and my heart was racing out of control. In truth, it’s actually not even a hard climb, I’m just ridiculously out of shape. Cardiac’s actually the smaller of the two bumps on the elevation chart above– the taller one is Cantelow, the climb that we normally train on. After descending from Cardiac I felt a little bit better, but felt super sluggish and winded again as I started to climb the steep backside of Cantelow.

It’s amazing how out of shape I am. You would think that hiking would keep me in some sort of shape. But NOPE. It’s almost as if it’s a completely different set of muscles. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. There are two weekends left to train before the Crater Lake Century– I guess I have to get a lot of riding in so I don’t suffer from a cardiac arrest during the century…

inertia

Spring seems to have come late this year. Actually, I take that back. Maybe spring has come at the same time as usual. I don’t really know. But this year I’ve come out of my winter hibernation later than usual. There’s a number of reasons why. I came back from Europe in February with something weird that my doctor had prescribed antibiotics for. And my bike was stolen. Both I suppose are legitimate excuses for not exercising. But in truth I think the main reason is inertia.

Wikipedia defines inertia as the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest.

In winter time, I am pretty much at rest. Not much biking or running. So I’ve found that when spring time rolls around, there’s a good amount of inertia. There’s a good amount of resistance to change in my state of rest. I just want to continue resting, even though I know I should be training for the various running and biking events that I plan to do throughout the year.

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This past Sunday I ran my first 5k of the year in Modesto. I hadn’t done much training for it, so I was pretty out of shape.

Screenshot_2013-03-24-08-35-53The technology for these races is amazing nowadays. Literally just a minute after I crossed the finish line, I had an email with my official time. I had just barely cracked the 30 minute mark– I ended up being way slower than the eight and a half minutes per mile goal I had set for myself.

IMG_20130324_075735At the end of the race they had chocolate milk and bananas. They make quite the tasty combo, and apparently it’s a pretty close to optimal post workout meal, at least in terms of the ratio of carbs to protein.

Fullscreen capture 442013 50201 PMInertia works both ways. Objects at rest tend to wanna stay at rest, whereas objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Or at least in an ideal world that would be the case. I have slowly started to gain momentum and inertia in my workouts, hopefully I can keep it up. The MapMyRide app actually helps out a lot in keeping me moving. It tracks both runs and bike rides, and it shows meaningful statistics on all of them. What I really need is more friends using the app, so they can keep me accountable. *hint* *hint*

synaptic response

Synaptic response?! What kind of weird title is that? Well, they seem to say that a lot in Star Trek, which I have been watching a bit of on Amazon Prime lately. But actually this post is in response to riding my new bike, a Cannondale Synapse.

IMG_20130317_145157The new bike. A Cannondale Synapse. When it comes to bikes, I really don’t have any brand loyalty. I’ve owned 2 Bianchi’s, one Specialized, one Trek, and now a Cannondale. I just happen to buy whatever bike happens to be the best value I can find at the time. (Although if money weren’t a problem, I’d probably buy another Bianchi, so I guess I’m somewhat of a Bianchi fan…) It’s not like cars, where if my car died or was stolen, I’d almost certainly buy another Subaru. Anyways, this Cannondale happened to be the cheapest full carbon frame I could find with Sram Apex.

IMG_20130317_144622For my test ride I decided to take the bike up Cantelow, which is the hill that I usually do my hill training on. After all, Sram Apex was made for climbing hills. According to Sram’s marketing video, Apex was developed for Alberto Contador to ride a 24% grade gravel and dirt road time trail stage during the Giro d’ Italia. It has a really low gear ratio for a compact double, so I could finally ditch the triple ring and still be able to climb hills.

IMG_20130317_155158The road from Lake Solano, where I parked, to Cantelow is called Pleasants Valley Road. It really is a pleasant valley, with smooth pavement and long curves and a few small rollers. It’s a great place to test a bike.

First impressions– Holy crap I’m out of shape. And were these shorts and jersey always this tight?

First impressions about the bike– carbon fiber is nice. It’s everything they said it would be. The bike is much lighter than my previous bike, and the carbon frame seems to soak up some of the bumps on the road. The ride feels smooth and the bike feels nice and stable on curves. However acceleration feels slower than my old bike. It could be the crappy wheels and tires, but most likely it’s just that I  haven’t ridden in a while and I’m out of shape. (But we’ll say it’s the wheels and tires so I have an excuse to buy nice ones…)

IMG_20130317_151829The bottom of the backside of Cantelow. I haven’t been here in a while. The hill looks bigger than I remember.

The reason why I chose the backside is that it’s steeper. I figure if I could ride the backside of Cantelow seated the bike would be good for any century ride. The only century ride climb that I’ve done that seems to come close to this in steepness is the Tour of Napa’s Ink Grade.

IMG_20130317_153131The view from the top of Cantelow. It actually wasn’t too bad getting up there. My strategy on hills is always to conserve energy, sitting and spinning the lower gears, rather than standing and mashing on the pedals. The gears on this bike seem low enough to be able to spin up any hill I’d encounter. It’s pretty cool that you can get those low gears on a double crank nowadays.

So yeah, I like the bike. I will probably swap out the tires before my first century ride (which is already only two months away), and maybe upgrade the wheels at some point. But other than that I’m really happy with the bike. I want to eventually push myself into longer rides (Davis bike club has a 200k/300k/600k randonneur series), and this seems like a bike that will grow into that role.

This new bike is nice, but it loses out on versatility. There’s no dropouts for a rack. My previous bikes were able to handle some bike camping. This bike cannot. So I guess if I get the urge to do another two week long bike ride, I’ll have to look for a touring bike.

stolen cycle

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I didn’t notice until this morning when I was about to leave for work that my bike was missing. (There are usually two bikes on this rack.) I looked around the house and found that the side door was open. I never use that door, it’s always locked. And the sliding door in my sunroom was open.

Fullscreen capture 2202013 73545 AMSo apparently there’s been somewhat of a crime wave in Davis this month. And apparently my house was broken into while I was in Europe. I don’t have a lot of valuable stuff, probably the most expensive stuff I own are my cameras and my bikes. And none of it’s super duper expensive stuff, the most expensive stuff I own is maybe a thousand.

I had most of my electronics with me– since I was traveling, my phone, my tablet and my cameras were with me in Europe, so I guess the only thing left to steal was my bike or maybe my TV. The thing that sucks is that bike’s probably the only thing that had some sentimental value. I’ve ridden a lot of miles on that bike, and had some crazy adventures on it. It’s the bike that brought me home on a thousand mile trip from Seattle.

When I got home from work I filed a police report. The police officer that came over said that there’s a decent chance of them recovering the bike. Apparently most bikes that are stolen in Davis are ditched pretty soon after the theft. So I emailed the Davis PD pictures of my bike so that they can identify it if it’s found.

What’s interesting is that apparently the police pretty much know who is responsible for this wave of burglaries in Davis. In the South Davis area it’s some punk kid (well okay 22-25 year old male isn’t really a punk kid) on a skateboard. The officer I spoke to said that they even know where he lives, but they need to catch him in the act.

So anyways, hopefully they catch him in the act, and hopefully my bike is recovered. I have been shopping around for bikes though, and there’s a dealer in the south bay that has a big closeout sale on 2012 bikes. They have a nice carbon fiber Cannondale with Sram Apex (pretty much what I’m looking for) for $1300. Even if I buy this bike though, it’d be nice to have my trusty Specialized Tricross back. There aren’t a whole lot of bikes I know of that can handle a long distance touring ride that are still fast enough to use for century rides.

 

ride railroaded

The plan sounded easy enough. Drive to Elk Grove then ride south along the river on the levee roads, grab lunch in the old historical Chinese community of Locke, cross one of the drawbridges and then ride back to Elk Grove on the other side of the river. Forty nine miles of completely flat roads–it sounded easy enough.

I was really looking forward to this ride because I was going to be riding with some guys from high school that I haven’t seen in a while. Plus I’ve ridden the levee roads before, and it’s always been a nice ride.

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When I loaded my bike I noticed that my car was still covered in frost and ice. It was gonna be a cold ride…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile loading bikes on my car, I dropped my cellphone, shattering the screen. It’s survived tons of drops, even a bike crash, so it’s weird that it chose today of all days to finally shatter. At the time I didn’t think of it, but actually that was kind of an ominous sign…

Out of all the people that I regularly ride with in the Davis/Sac area, only Jiro was able to make it. So we drove from Davis to Elk Grove and met with my high school friends at a high school parking lot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there we headed out towards the river. We didn’t even make it out of town before our ride was ended by these train tracks. Several guys crashed trying to get across the tracks, and unfortunately Terrence ended up with a completely bent front rim.

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So what was supposed to be a 49 mile bike ride ended at about mile 1. Terrence walked back with his bike, and we met back at the school. I had an extra front wheel at home, so we decided to swap out his wheel and ride to Winters instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe swapped out the wheel and started riding, but it started raining before we even got out of town. We decided to call it quits, since it was pretty cold, riding through rain on a cold day would’ve been miserable.

So in the end our ride got railroaded not just by the railroad tracks, but by the rain as well. Oh well, it was a fun little excursion and it was good seeing people that I haven’t seen in a while.

I just realized, that my last few rides on levee roads have all had some sort of mishap. I crashed on my last ride on this particular road, and I had almost a disastrous mishap on the levees North of Davis on a bike camping trip to Colusa. So maybe I should just stop biking on levee roads…

fall riding to folsom

Growing up in San Francisco I didn’t really experience autumn. In San Francisco the climate doesn’t change much between seasons, and I remember most of the trees (of which there weren’t all that many) being evergreen. So I didn’t really experience colorful autumns until I moved to the Davis/Sacramento area. Out here there are tons of trees, and every fall they erupt into an explosion of color.

The area near the American River Parkway has a ton of trees, which makes it a really nice bike ride this time of year.

Although there were tons of leaves that had fallen, the path itself was clear.

We started at the Sac state bridge.

And then rode about 20 miles to the Old Folsom bridge.

We refueled at a coffee/gelato shop in Old Folsom. Espresso bean gelato– rawr… I was trying to focus on the gelato, but my little point and shoot camera doesn’t have any way to select the focus point. The camera seems to like Ray’s bike and didn’t wanna focus on anything else. I, on the other hand, focused on eating my tasty gelato.

Old Folsom is quite nice. I like it better than Old Sacramento. They even have street performers here. This statue guy was teaching this little kid how to be a statue. I wish I had thought of that when I used to teach fourth grade boys Sunday school. My class would have been less rowdy if they were pretending to be statues.

My ride back was pretty quick. I stuck to the back of this paceline. The guy in front was a real beast, he was pulling 23 into a headwind the whole way, outside of this paceline I was pulling maybe 18 on my own.

It was my first ride in a while, so I guess I’m kind of out of shape. I’m hoping this is another mild winter, so I can continue biking through the winter and hopefully at least keep some of my endurance up.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • nice autumn days
  • fast pacelines to leech a draft off of

seoul search

The weather has been quite incredible lately, it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s November. I for one would like to take advantage of the awesome weather to get a little bit more riding in, before it gets cold and rainy.

Today I rode with Fan– he’s been wanting to ride for a while, and this has been the first day that we’ve been able to get our act together and actually ride. We decided to bike to Seoul, one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Sacramento.

The ride starts out on the country roads in Davis then climbs up onto the causeway.

The causeway brings us from Davis to West Sacramento.

After the causeway you ride along West Capital, which dumps you off near the Tower Bridge.

From there you ride through Old Sac.

And then onto the short river path that takes you to Discovery Park.

That short path ends at the Discovery Park bridge. Once you cross the bridge, you’re at the start of the American River Bike Trail.

We are so blessed to have this bike trail. It’s gotten even better lately, they’ve been repaving the entire path, so it’s incredibly smooth.

It’s really nice this time of year, with the fall colors in some of the trees along the path.

To get to Seoul, we continue riding until we hit the Watt Ave bridge. What’s Fan staring at down below?

There was a fly fisherman below the bridge. I guess it’s salmon migration season.

After you cross the bridge, it’s just a short ride down La Riviera to get to our destination.

Seoul Restaurant.

From my house to Seoul it’s a bit over 25 miles.

The reason why I go to Seoul is the lady there is super nice– she lets us bring our bikes into the restaurant.

The side dishes are another reason why I like Seoul. We ended up ordering four plates– a ridiculous amount of food. I was amazed that we actually finished it all. The waitress lady was even more amazed– while I went to the bathroom I heard her laughing about it with the cook lady in the back…

We rode a bit further on the bike trail, to this river access point, before turning back home.

When I got back to Davis and crossed the bike overpass, the sun was just beginning to set. By the time I had gotten home I had cranked out about 55 miles for the day.

The first time I ever rode the American River Bike Trail was with actually with Fan, many many years ago, back when he was in youth group and I was a youth counselor. We had these two crappy mountain bikes. I think we got in like 7 or 8 miles before flatting all our tires. We ended up having to walk all the way back to the car. It took forever, we didn’t get back to the car until like 2am.

It’s amazing how much things have changed. Even just 7 miles felt incredibly long back then. Nowadays even 50+ miles is not too big a stretch. Well I suppose most of it is because of the better bikes we ride nowadays, but I’d like to think that at least some of it is because we’re in better shape too.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • efficient road bikes
  • the American River Parkway– we’re seriously blessed to have this bike path
  • Korean food… Rice and kimchee is premium biking fuel– Good amount of carbs and electrolytes…

neglected hobbies

Today was a fun filled day. I suppose what made it really fun was the variety of activities. I guess I have a wide variety of hobbies, and lately they’ve been somewhat neglected. Lately I’ve been pretty lazy, preferring to lie on my couch and watch stuff on Amazon Prime or lie in bed reading on my Kindle. (Stupid Amazon– making it too easy to be lazy.) So it was good to get back out and enjoy some of those neglected hobbies.

The day actually started a couple of weeks ago with this email. I forwarded it to a few friends, some of the people that I’ve ridden mountain bikes with before.

Before the demo day I went to a camera swap meet. The swap meet was just sort of a bonus, I had just randomly found about it the night before, and it happened to be close to the demo day. There was a wide variety of stuff, from vintage collectible stuff to pretty high end current equipment like full frame digital SLRs. I didn’t buy anything (I wasn’t expecting to), but it was fun to walk around and see all the stuff for sale. I’m actually kind of looking to buy a new SLR, but I recently looked at the number of shots I took with my current SLR and figured I should hold off a couple more years. I only took about twelve thousand pictures over four years, and since an SLR is typically rated to over 100,000 shutter actuations my camera still has a lot of life left.

At the demo day I told the Giant Rep that I wanted to try their cross country 29er. They set me up with a Giant Trance X 29er 0. I got to the demo day before everyone else so I was able to get some time on my own to test out the bike. It was a pretty sweet ride.

George ended up inviting a whole bunch of people to the demo day. I think in total we had ten people. With a group that large you tend to spend a lot of time sitting around regrouping. Here’s half the group waiting for the other half of the group. I was really glad that I got to spend some alone time with my demo bike beforehand.

I really liked the bike I demo’d. Originally I was told it was under $3k, which I thought was a really good deal, considering how well it rode, and considering the components it was spec’d with. I later found out that it was actually $4,250– which put it well out of my price range.

I’ve actually kind of been looking at getting a new mountain bike for a while. A few months ago I kind of decided that if I could hit the trails twice a month I could justify buying a nice mountain bike. I actually haven’t ridden that much though, so I guess I should hold off on buying one. My trusty old Bianchi still gets me through all the trails that I would ride.

I brought my trusty Bianchi thinking that after the demo day I would ride the trails on my own. Parking is expensive at Granite Bay and I wanted to get my money’s worth. That ended up not happening, but I guess I still got my money’s worth. At the beach at Granite Bay we saw kayaks and paddleboards for rent. I asked the shop owner if he could get us a discount since we had a pretty large group. He ended up letting us rent kayaks for $7 per person and paddleboards for $9 per person for two hours, which seemed like an awesome deal. So we ended up kayaking and paddleboarding across Folsom Lake.

It was pretty fun- It’s been a while since I’ve gone kayaking or paddleboarding. I used to own a kayak, which didn’t really get used, so I ended up returning it. I think if I ever get the itch to kayak I’ll go back and rent from this guy again.

So anyways, yea, it was a fun filled day. I think it was a good reminder too, to make use of the stuff that I already have. My camera is still decent and my mountain bike works fine for the trails that I ride, I should make better use of both of them before I consider upgrading.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Friends to share hobbies with
  • Being able to afford toys like mountain bikes and cameras

cyclic revelation

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had a chest x-ray, an EKG test, an echo-cardiogram, a holter monitor test and a cardiac stress test. Thankfully, all of them turned out with great results, so it seems that everything is okay.

The cardiac stress test ironically relieved a lot of stress for me and made me realize that all the biking I’ve been doing has done wonders for my cardiovascular health. During the test they hooked a bunch of EKG probes to various locations on my chest and then had me walk on a treadmill while the tech monitored the EKG readings. They gradually increased the incline of the treadmill and increased its speed until my heart rate reached the target that they had set, which was 162 beats per minute. It felt like it took forever for my heart rate to get there, it wasn’t until I was running uphill at an 18% grade that it hit the target. The tech said that meant I was in pretty good shape. She could find nothing wrong with my readings and said that most likely my fainting was a vasovagal syncope.

On the one hand that was really good news. I originally had gotten into bicycling to keep my blood pressure down and my heart healthy, although I continue to bike mostly because I love it. So it’s good to know that my heart is healthy. It would be the ultimate irony and (for lack of a better word) would’ve been really really crappy if I had to stop biking because of some heart condition.

I’ve done a lot of research over the past week on the vasovagal syncope, basically it sounds like a medical term for an unexplained fainting spell. There’s a ton of different things that could cause a vasovagal syncope, from low blood sugar to heat exhaustion to too much caffeine– even just getting up too quickly could cause it. So while it’s good news that my heart is healthy, I felt like a vasovagal syncope was kind of bad news, because I took it to mean that I could faint suddenly for no apparent reason.

So anyways, with my heart healthy and with the Davis Livestrong challenge a week away I wanted to go for a good long ride. I originally planned to do the 65 mile Cantelow loop, but with the weather forecast saying that it would be 105 degrees in the afternoon, changed plans and decided to do a short hills training ride in the morning.

I ended up driving out to Vacaville with Jiro and Ray to ride Mix Canyon and Cantelow. At the bottom of Mix Canyon we met this guy, who said that the climb had kicked his butt. It would soon kick ours too.

Since a vasovagal syncopy could be caused by low blood sugar and dehydration, I loaded up on carbs and chugged a bottle of gatorade, along with some electrolyte pills to prevent cramping.

Mix canyon is a tough climb, and it was really hot, but I was actually feeling pretty good. I didn’t expect to make it all the way to the top of the climb, but I was hoping to get to about the 3 mile marker. At around 2.5 miles I saw Jiro stopped on the side of the road, so I decided to stop and take a breather too.

I got off the bike, and then maybe a few minutes later I started to feel light headed. It was then that I realized what caused me to faint a couple of weeks back. It seems that going from riding pretty hard in hot weather to stopping suddenly causes a rapid change in blood pressure, which causes me to feel lightheaded, and even faint. Afterwards when I got home, I did some research and this seemed like the most probable cause.

So I sat for a while until the lightheadedness subsided, then continued up Mix Canyon until about the 3 mile mark. Amazingly, it gets even steeper from there on, so I decided to give up and save it for a cooler day.

After Mix Canyon we decided to head up the backside of Cantelow. I still remember the first time Lynn-kai and I attempted to go up this hill– it utterly destroyed us. Nowadays it’s not too bad.

I always enjoy the view from the top of Cantelow. On a clear day you can see for miles.

I had brought four bottles of Gatorade. By now I only had half of a bottle left. Thankfully there was only one short climb left, then it was all downhill back to my trusty old Subaru which was parked in Vacaville.

Afterwards we hit up a Filipino place we had found on Yelp. On weekends they have a lunch buffet, and all the food was pretty good. The owner, Roline, was super friendly and warmly welcomed us into her extended family.

They also had halo-halo, a Filipino iced dessert, which really hit the spot after riding in hot weather.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Friendly Family-owned Filipino Food
  • Gatorade
  • Cold Desserts on hot days (Seriously, it was hot. It hit 106 degrees…)

parkway revisited

The American River Parkway is probably the place where I really discovered my love for road biking. I used to bike there pretty often in the summer, but in the last couple of years I hadn’t ridden out there much, preferring to ride west from Davis towards Winters instead. This year though, I’ve been riding with more people from Sac, so I’ve been splitting my weekend rides between Davis and Sac, so I’ve rediscovered how awesome the Parkway is.

Today I rode with Jeff, Jiro and Richard. We started at the Watt Ave bridge and rode to Beal’s point and back for a total of about 45 miles. It was really nice outside, but it was pretty windy.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson about taking pictures while riding from my last crash, but nope… I’m still taking pictures while riding. The pavement out here’s really smooth though, which makes it safer.

We rode to Beal’s Point which is at Folsom Lake. There were a ton of people out there today. It looked like it was a Russian church gathering.

On our way back from Beal’s point I had forgotten that we were going to ride along the southern trail, so I got separated from the other guys. I waited for them at the Nimbus Hatchery. While waiting I saw a dad riding on a custom bike with his paraplegic son. They reminded me of the famous Team Hoyt. They also reminded me that Father’s Day is coming up.

After our ride we ate at the River’s Edge Cafe. My meal looks like a heart attack on a plate, which I probably should be avoiding nowadays, but after a bike ride is when I can sort of justify indulging myself.

I guess what I ate wasn’t all that healthy, but it’s nothing compared to this. In my younger days, I would’ve went for the challenge without hesitation, especially after a decent bike ride…

But now in my olden days, I realize I should try to eat somewhat healthier. The solution really is just to cook more, since it’s easier to control what I eat that way. Lately I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and fish along with whole grains.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Strong riders to draft behind on windy days. (I wonder if Jeff minds that I’m constantly drafting behind him but never really pulling… haha…)
  • Rice cookers with brown rice setting (and my mom for giving the rice cooker to me…)
  • Brocollete. I just discovered this vegetable. It is awesome. It’s like a cross between asparagus and broccoli which tastes really good when roasted with some olive oil and seasoning.