Saturday, July 26, 2014

On the Importance of Persistence

I have almost tweaked my bike exactly how I like it. It took lots of cajoling and convincing of the bike shop mechanics that, yes, some people actually like to have a more upright riding position on a touring bike with drop bars. They told me my fit was perfect how it was! That my downward angle would give me so much more power and efficiency and let me ride faster and longer!

I told them I didn't care. "I won't ride if I'm not comfortable. Then efficiency will mean nothing."

"Well," he said after swapping for a more upright angled stem, "we can't get the handlebars any higher."

"What about a stem riser?" I asked.

"Well... I GUESS that would work," he said.

Me: "Is there any reason -- besides 'efficiency' -- why a stem riser is not a good idea?"

Him (thoughtful pause): "Aesthetics?"

Yep. That's what it came down to. This guy couldn't comprehend the idea of someone who wanted a bike that fit, that looked, a little different. It would look weird. So much for the wants and needs of the customer.

I eventually convinced him we are going with a stem riser. He reluctantly agreed. I picked one up on amazon and brought it to him the next day. He threw it on the bike and told me to go ride it for a few minutes and then we can tweak.

I left the shop and rode across Key Bridge. And within about twenty feet, I got this huge grin on my face, and I actually started laughing, because the fit was so perfect! I was more upright, and more comfortable, and I could look ahead without straining my neck upward... This was all I wanted!

I rode four miles to Reagan airport and called the bike store. Congratulations, I told them. It's fixed. I won't be returning. :)

It's been about a week and I still love the fit, although I do plan to tilt my seat nose upward a bit, as I've found myself sliding forward a bit too much. So we're still dialing in the mythical *perfect* fit... but even as it stands now, I'm extremely pleased.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

My New Bike Will Take Me Across the Country! soon as it fits right

I got a new bike! It's a Trek 520, which is made for touring but I'm also told is great for commuting. I was going to get a Trek 7.4 FX, which is a hybrid fitness bike, but when I mentioned to the salesperson that I dream of riding the trail all the way to Pennsylvania -- and maybe even riding cross country one day -- he steered me directly to the Trek 520. "THIS is the bike you want," he said. The 2013 model was on sale, and I saved more than $200. I love the color -- the dark olive/bronze is so classy!

It's a beautiful bike -- and very different than what I'm used to. I've never ridden a bike with drop bars before, and frankly the position is all wrong for me. They said I'm supposed to ride on the hoods (the part up by the brakes), but I feel so stretched out there. It's not very comfortable. They say I'll "get used to it." The store manager did a fitting, watched me ride and said he would even suggest a longer stem that pushes the handlebar out farther, getting me lower. "It will be much more comfortable, trust me."

NO! I trust no one. I know how I like to ride, dammit. I'm an upright guy. I like to see the scenery. Drag? Inefficient pedaling? Meh. Not important to me. I'm not trying to win a race. I do, however, have a vested interest in staying comfortable. If I'm not comfortable, I won't ride.

I did a quick 10 miles this morning, and while I'm sure I could get used to the more aggressive position, I can't imagine ever really liking it. I found myself on the flats (the top bar) most of the time, which was better but still not as high or comfortable as my hybrid was. Plus there's no brakes up there, so it's less safe.

And so! I will be modifying this otherwise very nice bike. I've ordered a Brooks B67 saddle, which is made for an upright position, and is said to be supremely comfortable. I'll be ordering new pedals. And, most importantly, I'll be taking the bike back into the shop to put in a new stem with a higher angle. That should raise the handlebars an inch or two, and bring them closer, so I'm not as stretched out. If that's not enough, I'll install a stem riser. And if, on the long tours through the countryside, I find the need for a more aerodynamic position or one that lets me pedal more strongly, I'll just get into the drops, which will still be pretty low and stretched out.

I'm very excited because I know this bike CAN and WILL be awesome! But the frame is SO different than what I am used to, with the handlebars SO far forward, that I need to make some serious adjustments before said awesomeness will thrive. For comparison sake, here's an animated GIF showing how much farther the new handlebars are than my old ones were. Yeeeeeeah.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Still on track!

One month later, and I'm still on track to hit 200 somewhere around the beginning of August!

That is with a very conservative weight loss of about 1 pound per week.

Following this diet is proving pretty easy. I no longer have cravings for fattening food like pizza or Chinese! And when I do indulge, it turns out no longer to give me the pleasure it used to. I went to the movies the other day and ordered a movie theater popcorn with butter... and it was okay, but I felt like crap for the rest of the day, and on balance it certainly wasn't worth the calories. I'm thinking of just packing a bunch of grapes and berries the next time I go to the movies -- that's infinitely more delicious.

You'll see a period of about a week where my weight stayed in the 208 range. That's when I was on vacation in Michigan, partaking of all my old favorites (Sy Thai, Buddy's Pizza, etc). As soon as I got back to DC, I got back to my (mostly) healthy eating ways that makes me feel so much better.

So! 200 pounds is well within reach, and this time I'm not stopping once I get there!!! If this pace continues, I'll be back to my pre-law school weight by the fall. What a miracle that would be!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kale and Berries and Veggies, Oh My

I went in for a standard check up last month and saw that my triglycerides and cholesterol were way out of whack. The doctor told me that if I get my weight down to a healthy level, the problem should clear up on its own. So I decided to start preempting my cravings with a bunch of healthy and tasty food. Blackberries and raspberries and blueberries for breakfast! Delicious salads from Sweetgreen for lunch! Home-cooked dinners consisting of sautéed onions, garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, snow peas, and a bunch of ground turkey breast! And maybe my secret weapon: baked kale chips for a late-night snack.

I still let myself eat the more fattening food I sometimes prefer, but I have found that when I overeat – an entire pizza, or an entire gigantic Kung Pao lunch special -- I feel like crap. So I try to limit portion size there, and I try not to have that stuff too much.

Is it working? Take a look at the graph. If I can keep it up, I'll be below 200 in no time. Will see if I can keep this up, but it isn't too hard, and I like the way I feel, and my old clothing from nearly a decade ago is fitting me again. (I'm glad I kept it!)