Category Archives: fitness

Summer Fitness Competition at Work

In an effort to build morale, companies will organize some friendly competition between different groups of teams.  They count number of steps, and they even included an option to convert cycling miles into steps.  That’s cool … with all the miles that I do, that should be good for us.

Recording miles was a bit of a challenge though.  I have a fitbit, and it is able to calculate steps when I ride, but I have no idea how it calculates this.  The organized competition does have a direct calculation … cycling step = (miles/3)*2000.  When I compare the number of steps on fitbit, to the calculcation, the fitbit step is way off … by about 1000 to 2000 steps.  Damn, so I had to take the graph that fitbit has, and subtract the number of steps based on the time I used for my ride.  Yeah, that was a pain to do.

I eventually was able to get my steps calculated, and I ended up with the highest step count on the team.  However, there were other teams that blew everyone else away.  My largest amount was 51,000 steps, due to a 71 mile ride I did.  However, there were a couple of guys who had 90,000 and 70,000 step day.  I later found out these team had two members who were doing marathon runs every day.  WTH?  That’s just unfair.

Oh well … it did promote camaraderie, and team bonding, which is good.  Hopefully, it also encouraged others to be a little more healthy, or at least physically active.

Fitbit Surge

I earned enough recognition points at work to buy me a Xmas gift for myself.  I browsed through the web site, but there store didn’t have much that I liked so I just got an upgrade of my Fitbit … Got a Surge.

It is a little bulkier, but it does have a larger display.  In addition, it has a heart rate monitor, and it can actually track my bike mileage (it does have a GPS).  I still prefer to record my data via Garmin onto Strava, but it is a novelty that it can track my mileage.

One nicer thing, in addition to tracking how much sleep I’ve been getting, if my testing heart rate.  It’s cool to keep track of that.

Climbing is Back, Endurance, That’s a Different Story

I’m happy to report that my climbing is back, and yes, to some extent, sprinting is there (able to pass some folks).  But endurance is still not there.  Guess it’s just going to take a bunch of long distance weekend to get it back up.

I decided to do a surely flat distance ride, which was originally going to the Cliff House.  I wanted to limit it to a sub 100 ride, so I cut it off a little bit after Pacifica, which turned into an 82 miler. I think the fog may have sapped my enthusiasm too. It’s a good thing I did, because my legs didn’t have much jump after mile 70.


So with myself exhausted and legs tired, what did I do for Sunday?  Did I take it easy?  Come on, remember who you are talking about.  I wound up doing a kick ass hill climb, Mt. Umunhum.


This was a fairly routine ride with me before the accident, and this is the first time I felt confident enough with my hill climbing to even attempt this.


I won’t say it was easy, but it wasn’t impossibly hard.  My climbing legs are there.  This is very encouraging.  So why couldn’t I do an easier 80 miler?  Well, on my way back home, I was starting to feel the fatigue.  I guess it’s just going to take time, consecutive 150 mile weekends to get that fitness back.  But the effort today on Hicks then Mt. Umunhum did feel good.

Back into Climbing Shape

I think I’m back, or at least on the road to climbing shape again.  I guess I was trying to regain confidence that I can do those long climbs again.  Last week, I did do Page Mill, but I feared I didn’t quite have the confidence that I can repeat this, like I did on my weekends, where I did consecutive climbing rides on back to back days.

I definitely was going to do Mt. Hamilton on Sunday, so I figured on climbing Hwy 9 to Skyline would be good to do on Saturday.  Actually, my original plan was to go south on Skyline (after climbing Hwy 9), and go out to Gish, then Black, then turn back to Hwy 9 again.  The “back” route does include an extra 1000 feet of rolling hills.

I didn’t want to push it too hard, so it was a grind it out pace.  It wasn’t fast, and I was careful to ease the pace, the moment I found any slight tweak in my back.  By the time I made it up to Skyline, I just decided to just turn back.  I’d still get in just under 40 miles, so that’s a good number to start with.

Sunday, I did the meetup ride, going up Mt. Hamilton.  This is 19 miles straight up, to elevation of 4000 feet.  I was originally going to ride to the start, but when I woke up, I can tell I needed some food, as my head felt pretty light.  Look in the fridge … gah … empty.  Looks like I gotta rely on Starbucks for breakfast.  As I was preparing everything, I quickly found myself running out of time (due to forgetting to bring one thing or another).  This always seems to happen when I drive to the start of a ride.  Maybe that’s why I always prefer to ride to the start.

The meetup ride had a really good turnout.  Since this is a 19 mile climb, I had to make sure I didn’t go too hard in the first 10 miles (very easy to do).   I was content to just let a large number of people pass me by … they all seemed to be stronger and fitter than me anyways.  The key here was to make sure my back didn’t feel any extra strain.  I eventually hooked up with a group of 3 other riders, and we were doing a conversational climbing pace (yes, that is possible).  That kinda helped pace myself, and make sure I didn’t blow myself up.

At around 17 miles up, I started to feel my back flare up a little bit … but then I realized, I was only in my middle chainring … damn, I’ve got another chainring to shift into.  Ah, that felt better.  I knew when I was at the last switchback, and that’s when I started to push deep down.  The good news is my back wasn’t aching, so I just had to concentrate on pushing the pedals, and getting my heartrate up.

I made it to the top in 2:17, about 10 minutes slower than my personal best.  It actually surprised me how well I did … if it weren’t for that potty stop, mid-way on the climb, who knows how close I would have come to my personal best?

At this point, I feel more confidence in my climbing.  I think I’ve built up my core strong enough that I can go more aggressive on climbs.  Now all I have to do is bump up the mileage.  Strange how confidence can really change the way you ride.

Not Getting Any Younger

After having a bout with back spasms,  I came to the realization that I’m going to be 50 in 2 months and I’m not the spring chicken I used to be.  Having back spasms it’s really painful,  and its something I would really like to avoid.

I started doing easy ab crunches on those big gym balls, and that readily helped me get over my back problems.  I really do have to thank my co-workers, as they suffered through the same thing and pointed me in the right direction.  So I’m going to continue doing these crunches,  and also do planks,  just to get my core strength stronger to help with my climbing. 

I don’t know if I am back to the shape I was before my back spasms, but I do know I wasn’t climbing very well.  Maybe my weak core was accumulating over the past few months without me knowing it.  All I know is I am continue many daily stretching routines and possibly take a yoga class.  This has definitely been a wake up call.

New Goal for 2013 … Randonneuring

Thanks to my friend Jenny Oh, I now know what I’ll be shooting for in the new year.  She’s been wanting to do the SF Randonneur series, and for that matter, I’ve been wanting to do it too (just didn’t happen last year, due to my silly idea of becoming a runner).

I figured this would be good training for the double century season, and will get me in shape for Solvang, and whatever other double I plan to do.  Don’t get any bright ideas though … I’m not training for PBP … but it’ll be fun to do this series.

Resting and Max Heart Rate

This weekend, I was on-call so there was no riding for me.  I was viewing some of the forums from my buddies at and posted a thread on resting heart rate.  To play along with this theme, I then posted one on maximum heart rate.

I got to see what other cyclist’s heart rates were, and compared to mine, I found them shocking.  So my resting heart rate was hovering around 58 to 62 bpm.  Some chimed in with 50 bpm, and some even lower than that (one even mentioned 29 bpm).  Now, that can’t be normal.  I guess when you donate blood, they normally don’t take anyone that is < 70 bpm, unless you are an athlete.

I have to admit, I never looked at my heart rate too closely, but 58 to 62 is pretty low.  I don’t ever recall it this low, but then again my fitness isn’t what it is like now.  The difficulty here is trying to look at past history, and comparing fitness by looking at heart rate, because most of these data is not resting, but more active heart rate measurements.

I didn’t have a working HRM from May through July, so it’s difficult to make a comparison.  In April, my average HR was 127, August 140, September 131, October 135, and November 133.  Looking at this, part of me sees this as how hard I’m working, and part of it says how fit I am.  I guess I really do need a power meter, just to gauge how well I am doing.

As far as maximum heart rate, the highest I triggered was 191 bpm, and 184 bpm (that was the last 200m of the OLH LKHC).  Some of my friends quoted 200 bpm, and I cannot fathom getting my heart rate that high.  Perhaps my perspective of fitness is too low.  I usually never go so hard that I don’t have anything left at the end … I always wanted to have something left in reserve, so that I have something left to go home with.  I think I am averaging somewhere between 160 to 175 bpm on major climbs, like Page Mill, King’s Mountain, and gets just a little higher if they are intense steep climbs.  Is my perception of fitness misguided?

I guess in the end, these numbers and data don’t really mean anything … as long as it’s within the goal you are trying to attain.  Oh well.

Can you tell I was bored this weekend?