• Category Archives the sporting life
  • Biking, running, weights, yoga…

  • The Challenge: A Follow-Up

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5#, 10.5% BF

    I don’t know, maybe it was the burger & beers… I went for a walk in the falling snow last night, and somehow ended up at Brew Works — I know, right? Go figure…

    The Push-up Challenge: Well it’s been at least a month since I started, and things went pretty much the way I expected — I can see, or I pretend to imagine I can see, some new bulk and a bit of definition in my pecs, a little less so for my arms, but nothing really dramatic. (Strangely enough, my upper pecs seem to be growing the fastest, so I sort of look like I have very high chest muscles, ending just a little below my collarbone. Kind of a weird look… Luckily I’m still wearing my winter sweaters and long sleeve shirts for now, and since I’ve still got plenty of chub it’s all kind of hidden anyway.)

    I’m still thinking that a hundred push-ups is not enough of an overload, and a month is not enough time, for real muscular improvement. I am currently doing 130 push-ups a day, in two sets of 65, and will continue doing so for now, adding reps as I my strength allows.


  • Exploratory Fat-Burner

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5#, 14.0% BF

    Got in a good ride yesterday, going upstream on the towpath. I only went about 20 miles, but with the snow and the soft mucky conditions, it took almost four hours of hard work, so I feel I got a serious ride — and since I went out to a less fully developed portion of the D&L, there was also a bit of adventure and exploration in the mix too.

    From Bethlehem I went west to Canal Park in Allentown, then north on some local roads and trails until I picked up the towpath again, off of Dauphin Street a little south of Catasaqua. I rode this to Race Street, and here my true exploration began: we normally turn right and then left here, to continue north on Front Street; I have contended that there is a bike path somewhere nearby we could take, while Anne feels that Front Street is the way — maybe the only way — to go.

    It turns out that we’re both right, though first I had to make a wrong turn and end up on RR tracks for a mile or so, before realizing that there was a bona-fide towpath just a few yards out of sight to my right. I was riding on the ballast, cursing whoever it was that thought this was a good cycling idea — uh, oh look over there, there’s a real trail and it’s so much easier! I got that sorted out and continued on my way, but even this trail deteriorated after a while — nothing too bad for mountain biking, but it was certainly not straight, smooth and flat towpath anymore either, and definitely not ready for a loaded touring bike. Still, I was having fun even if the going was rough, but then I came to a spot where a construction crew was putting in a bridge. I got around them, but past the construction site the trail was pretty chewed up from all the equipment; that, I decided, was my turn-around. (I’d wanted to go all the way to the 21st Street Bridge in Northampton to prove it could be done, but since I was within a mile of the Northampton portion of trail — which I was already familiar with — I figured I’d seen what I needed to. Besides, I was starting to get tired.)

    The ride back was pretty uneventful, though I did stop to note where I should have accessed the towpath in Catasaqua, and I did have to stop at a train crossing in Allentown. Back on the regular towpath at Canal Park, a snack break at the last lock before Sand Island, and I was home in no time. I then took a brief nap…

    We went over to Two Rivers in Easton last night, to catch up with Judy. Nice night, good beers (I had their oatmeal stout) and good conversation. I slept like a log when we got home, and I was surprised and disappointed to find I didn’t drop 20 pounds overnight. Today was volunteering at the Canal Museum, and tomorrow it’s going to rain I think.

  • Sloppy Towpath

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5# 14.5% BF

    I went out for a chilly towpath ride this morning with Julie G (she has off Wednesday and Friday). I think she knew what was coming but I totally expected the ground to be frozen solid, and dry even if above freezing, and it was like that for the most part but there were long sections where it was soft, muddy or just plain wet. We had a great ride, 14 miles down to Hope Road and back, but we did come home dirty. I have my jacket and bike clothes in the wash as we speak.

    I wonder how the mountain is doing, if it’s in any rideable shape. I did a mucky towpath ride a few weeks ago, then met Greg the next day and rode SMB and it was in great shape; we did Sals a few days later, and it was a bit wetter than SMB but still OK. Maybe a Sunday ride, at one or the other?


  • Too Much Pork For Just One Fork

    Morning weigh-in: 192.5#, 14.0% BF

    Whoops! That’s been up like that for a day or so now — we’ve been eating pulled pork, more puled pork and leftover pork for the last few days too, so I see a pattern. I did get in a trainer workout Tuesday night, but I also found myself struggling, pushing harder than I thought necessary to get my heart rate up — morning yoga/weights/push-ups seem harder over the last few days too. Natural slump? Over-training? I plan to just work through it.

    I went to the allergist yesterday. It was good to see her, get updates on my allergy sensitivities — not much has changed — and get some good advice (and medication) for dealing with my eczema. We’ll see how the new regimen works out.

    Meantime, I’ve been working on some Maps for CAT. Here’s a sample; it’s a work in progress but I feel pretty good about it. I actually used my routing program to do the directions — with a little bit of human editing!

    Bicycle route map: Nazareth to NCC
    Cycling route: Nazareth to NCC

  • Push-Up Challenge

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5#, 14.5% BF (still holding on…)

    One more thing I added to my morning exercise: push-ups. They’re easy to fit into the day, don’t need special clothes or any special exercise space, and I’ve been doing them off and on, as a quick way to keep warm without messing with the thermo$tat, since that cold weather hit. Then the other day I saw some click-bait about doing 100 push-ups a day for 30 days and thought “why not?”

    So I’ve been doing 100 push-ups a day, 50 in the morning and 50 later in the afternoon, for the past week.  I already think I see some more tone in my arms and chest, but it’s probably more like I’m just waking up my sleeping muscles rather than building more. But that’s just a week in, we’ll see what the results are at the end of the challenge..

    When I went looking up the challenge online, I found a couple of  articles and some Youtubes, mostly of say, Buzzfeed writers, people who were basically not exercising at all, who needed to break their push-ups up into smaller, more numerous sets over the course of the day, and in the end had some, but not really all that much improvement. Both sides of the Dunning-Kruger coin may be coming into play here, but I don’t think 100 push-ups is really all that many, especially over the course of a day, and one month is not a long enough time to give yourself to see results. (I’ll also say that doing a lot at once is probably better than doing them in a bunch of smaller doses; the last few painful ones are probably the ones that do the most good.)

    For now I’ll keep with the 100 push-ups, but at the end of the challenge, if I keep going, I’ll probably add more.

    Meantime, last night was the first trainer workout with heart rate monitor. A half hour, fifteen minutes of which were in Zone 3 or thereabouts, boring as hell but I did have the music playing. Dinner was leftover ribs, and this morning’s breakfast was bacon and eggs with Danish seed bread.



  • Escalating A Continuing Obsession

    Morning weigh-in: 189.5#, 14.0%BF

    It remains to be see whether I’m “back to that” or not, but I weighed myself this morning. It’s my blog, I can do what I want…

    I came across this photo the other day, taken by my friend Brian H on our trip out to Moab in 2008. It’s one of my favorite photos of myself, in fact one of the few I actually like:

    I ride my mountain bike
    Me Riding In Fruita, Colorado

    It presents me as I liked to see myself, and wanted to present myself to others as, at that time in my life. Maybe I still do want that, in some ways… Note the muscles! Those are why I’m posting the picture, actually: I am using this photo as motivation to get back in shape. (As a counterpoint, note the non-gray beard: some things are not entirely going to return ever, at least not without some Grecian Formula, or Photoshop or something.)

    Anyway, I didn’t get in touch with Greg yesterday, so I went out on a nice towpath ride. It was freezing at first, but I was dressed right and working hard, and warmed up soon enough. There were a few runners out, and some hikers, but it seemed like I was the only cyclist. I did run into Sarah A’s parents (I know Bob because we both volunteer at the Museum), who were out for a walk, and we talked some party logistics — we are hosting Sarah’s (no longer a surprise) birthday party this Saturday.

    My turnaround was going to be the old boat launch, but for some reason I kept going to the new one, where I ran into a bunch of first responders, ambulances, rescue boats, and the Freemansburg Fire Department hovercraft. I asked if they were on a training run, but no: there was a report of someone jumping from the Rt 33 bridge, and they were searching the river. That’s a tough job, and a bad day.

    Eating: Today’s lunch is canned mackerel in tomato sauce, with crème fraîche and pickled vegetables, over Danish seed bread. Yesterday’s lunch was smoked trout on Danish seed bread, with more pickled vegetables. We’ve been getting pretty Nordic with this recent cold weather.

  • Destination: Listmania!

    I sat down last night and, jonesing for rides as I do every year about this time, I wrote up a list of places I’d like to ride this year. All are in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey (with a few MD/DE outliers) , and within two or three hours of home. I’ve biked all of them before, some many times, but somehow very few of them happened in 2017. Anyway, here goes:

    New Jersey:

    • Allamuchy (also Stevens & Deer Park)
    • Ringwood SP
    • Wawayonda SP
    • Kittatinny SP
    • Mahlon Dickerson Reservation
    • Chimney Rock
    • Round Valley
    • Six Mile Run
    • Huber & Hartshorne Parks
    • Allaire SP


    • Jim Thorpe
    • Tamaqua/Burma Road
    • Raystown Lake
    • State College/Rothrock SF
    • R.B. Winter SP
    • Camelback
    • French Creek SP
    • Blue Marsh Lake
    • Nockamixon SP (I know, I know, but I don’t go as much as I like…)
    • Michaux SF
    • Merli-Sarnoski Park
    • Prompton
    • Lackawanna SP
    • Wissahickon


    • Frederick Watershed
    • Gambrill SP
    • Patapsco Valley SP


    • Iron Hill
    • White Clay

    This is to say nothing of “destination” places like Kingdom Trails in VT, or Slatyfork WV, or Moab, or Downieville…

  • Spanked!

    Another day, another awesome MTB ride… I rode again with Greg H, but we hit Sals this time. I think I did a but better in the rocky stuff than the other day, but even if I think [redacted] is a bit tougher, with more difficult trail challenges sprinkled here and there, Sals is relentless — it never stops being rocky, or uphill, or both…

    Tomorrow is a rest day, going in to Philly to see Ben, and Saturday, if the weather holds, we’ll be doing the “tour of Christmas lights” ride.

  • Rest Day

    I had an awesome ride yesterday, with Greg H at a local place that shall not be named — and if you’re in the know you already know where I mean — where, in contrast to Monday’s slop fest, the ground was snow-free and fairly dry. Chalk it up to good drainage, and maybe hilltop exposure to sun and wind, but conditions there were almost as good as it gets.

    My riding, however, displayed a certain lack of courage…

    On the way up the hill I was in front, and thinking to myself “enjoy it while you can,” because I knew the rough stuff would remove any fitness advantage I might have.  My recent riding follows the same old pattern: my fitness is the first to return (and the last to fade even when I’m slacking), but technical skills, and confidence, atrophy quickly and take forever to return. (I also got skunked by the fact that there were more technical features there that are just above my usual ability; I can clear them sometimes but am frequently knocked off my game. I used to call this my over/under. If things were just a little easier I would have been a lot better/faster/whatever, I swear…)

    Anyway, we had a good time, and I am getting better even if he has to wait for me after the difficult sections. We were supposed to go again today but Greg couldn’t make it, so it’s on for tomorrow.

  • Back Out In The Muck

    Yesterday’s ride along the canal was a slopfest, clothes and bike gray & gritty from the gravel/cinder surface, and I was whooped by a 14 mile ride over soft paths. So today, I’m heading out again — this time with Greg H to some actual trails, which stay dryer and more solid, hopefully. I’m heading out in a few minutes, just after blogging and a little lunch.

    A quick aside on the mapping front: I took a long time dithering about it, but I wrote my own chainage routine, and my own ascent/descent calculation function, both in PL/pgSQL, and both — especially the ascent routine, where there was a lot of room for improvement over my PyQGIS script — worked perfectly. (The ascent routine took about 20 minutes to run everything, as opposed to 4-8 hours for QGIS.) I still have to zero out the data at bridges, but I am now back to where I can wait for outside data (recommended routes, etc) to continue.