Category Archives: cycling

Losing weight, getting more fit: summarizing my food and exercise obsessions

I was asked by a new agility friend a few days ago about how I managed to lose weight and get more fit when confronted by the reality of trying to run a big fast dog when I was a slow out-of-shape handler. I wrote a long email summarizing what I’d done; this post is an adaptation of that email, for the benefit of anyone who is bored with the reality of being out of shape.

I get asked what motivated me to get into shape and the short answer I give is that I struggled with running Rush. The deeper answer is both simpler and not so simple. Somewhere around there I saw my doctor about my “bilateral knee pain”. I was of course worried that my chondrosarcoma was back; my doctor was blunter. “It’s not cancer; it’s your weight. You’re going to need double knee replacements in a few years. Your menisci are thinning.” I went home and did research; I had a bone graft in the left knee as part of the chondrosarcoma surgery. It’s not really clear how successful a knee replacement would be, without good bone to drill into for the hardware.

So: tell me I may not be able to walk normally in a few years if I don’t lose weight, and guess what? I can lose weight.

It’s been more than three years since then. It’s taken three years–not a few months–to lose about fifty pounds. I’ve approached the project with every bit of my scientific brain trying to influence my eating patterns. I’ve read about what influences eating behaviors and exercise behaviors. I’ve read about getting fit “over fifty” (I’m turning sixty next week!). I’ve tapped into my desire to be competitive. I’ve done everything I can to get there, slowly and steadily. It’s been a lot slower than I’d like, but it beats the alternative.

And at this point my knees don’t hurt, most days.

That’s the summary of why. I also feel the need to mention that I stopped being angry at myself for gaining weight in the first place. It really didn’t help matters, and there was no point. I mean, who cares why I gained weight? I suppose it would matter if I had thyroid problems, but I don’t.

I’ve written before about what I’ve done: two posts that come to mind are two posts from late in 2014.

These two are a pair: the first is about goals, and the second is about measurable behaviors that would lead to those goals. Keep in mind that fundamental rule of training anything with a brainstem (as explained by Karen Pryor in Dont Shoot the Dog): you can’t reward results, you can only reward behaviors.

First.
Second.

This one is recent and discusses why I’m going to Weight Watchers right now.

This one is about the changes Rush has wrought for me.

This one is an early report, when I’d lost about twenty pounds. I’d forgotten that bit about “sometimes you’ll be hungry and oh well, just power through it.” Excellent advice.

Another report from around the same time: people were stopping me at trials to ask what I was doing to lose weight. (Literally: they’d sidle up to me and whisper “how are you losing the weight?” because it’s such a forbidden topic that no one will discuss it publicly. At this point, I think people have figured out that I’ve lost a lot and it’s okay to ask about it. But I still avoid talking about it, because it’s BORING to most people. You’ll notice I’m happy to obsess, however, to those who are interested.)

And another early report, talking about some of the research I’ve done on weight loss theory.

Calorie/food tracking apps:
I’ve used the Fitbit site, MyFitnessPal.com, SparkPeople.com, and the Weight Watchers app. None of them is really great, but they’re all okay. Right now I’m using Weight Watchers because I’m going to meetings as a way of help myself not eat MACH cake at agility trials–I go to a noon Monday meeting and the public shaming has helped. I hate the meetings (YMMV) but it’s one more habit, along with tracking what I eat and how much I exercise. I think MyFitnessPal has the best food database, and SparkPeople sends the best daily motivational email.

Exercise tracking:
I use a Fitbit and have for almost three years. My daily goals are 45 active minutes and 12000 steps…. I also have a runner’s watch (Garmin FR110) because I’ve accidentally become a runner, again. (I was a runner in my 20s. Stopped when I had kids. Hated it when my knees were bad… Discovered the Hoka One One shoes and now enjoy running again. The shoes are no good for agility, so now I have shoes for running, shoes for trail running, and shoes for agility. I spend money on shoes.) I also keep a paper logbook on my desk with a brief summary of my day, exercise/weight/agility training info. It’s maybe a sentence a day but it’s easy to review and I like that.

Books I have found helpful (these are live links, if you decide to use them, I get a tiny commission, as an Amazon associate.):

Karen Pryor Don’t Shoot the Dog (about creating rewardable behaviors and then rewarding them–works for people too) (very helpful in explaining to my husband, family, and friends exactly what I need from them–things like: “please buy me nice soap for my birthday, not chocolate.” “Please go for a bike ride with me instead of inviting me to lunch.”)
Link: Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training

Switch by Dan Heath — this is a book about creating change in businesses by approaching things from different angles. It’s pretty geeky/business-oriented, but it helped me think about behaviors instead of abstractions.
link: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Better than Before: Mastering Habits by Gretchen Rubin (she also wrote a book called The Happiness Project, to which she refers often in this book–not nearly as specific a book)
Since I’ve found a lot of getting fit/losing weight has to do with creating new habits (since the old ones really haven’t worked for me), the idea of deliberately setting out to create better habits is helpful. Some of the ideas in this book are useful, others, not so much.
Link: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Sugar Salt Fat is about the food industry and is more than a little horrifying. If you need persuading that processed food is not healthy food, this book will do it for you.
Link: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Secrets from the Eating Lab is about the subtle ways you can influence your own food-related behavior to make it easier to lose weight. Stuff like putting the food away, using small plates and bowls, etc. I’ve found a lot of it very helpful.
Link: Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again

Still reading? If so, I’ll mention that I’ve started making absolute statements about myself, even if sometimes they’re more about goals than 100% true:
“I never eat processed food.”
“I avoid refined sugar (and artificial sweeteners).” (Both things wreak havoc on my insulin metabolism and create mood and sugar swings that I have trouble managing.)
“I run about 15 miles a week.”
“I walk my dogs three times a day.”
“I always record what I eat.”
“I bring my lunch to trials so I don’t eat the junk from the concession stand.”
“Yes, sometimes I’m hungry. It’s not a big deal.”
“I am losing weight because I enjoy every single bite I eat.” (In other words, I don’t just eat garbage food just because it’s there.)
“I do my hard workout on Wednesdays, when they bar car traffic in the park.”

By making these absolute statements, I a) reinforce the habit, b) make it harder to duck the task, c) present myself as the person I want to be TO MYSELF, instead of tearing myself down.

As for dieting philosophy and what to eat, I know people who are losing weight with paleo, with weight watchers, with Mediterranean diet, etc. I really think it’s key to establish what you’re eating now, what you really enjoy eating–and then reduce the amount about 20% and increase your activity about 20%. If you have any really obvious unhealthy habits, like soda or an evening slice of cake, rationing them is easier than eliminating them. I’m very fond of ice cream, for example. So these days, I can have my ice cream if I bike to the ice cream shop and bike home. French Fries? I can have seven, once or twice a month. Seven turns out to be a real pleasure. It’s enough to enjoy them but not so much I feel disappointed in myself later. One thing I really like a lot about Weight Watchers is the encouragement (through their point-counting system) to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s helpful for me.

You can tell I’ve obsessed about this a lot. Surprisingly, there’s very little useful research out there, but I’ve found some of it very useful. All the research seems to boil down to: eat less, move more, don’t eat nutritionally altered foods (i.e., foods where a portion of the food has been refined away, such as white rice instead of brown rice, white flour instead of whole wheat, juice instead of whole fruit, etc.). Oh yes, and don’t mess with your sugar metabolism by eating refined sugar or using artificial sweeteners (yes, artificial sweeteners cause insulin to be released).

Behaviors and goals

Yesterday I wrote a lot about my goals for the year, and a little about how I hoped to reach those goals. I thought about those goals this morning as I ran (without a dog!) slowly. I thought about that mantra of dog training: you can reward behaviors but you can’t reward a dog for something it didn’t do. That got me thinking about my own behaviors. I have a group of goals that will require me to change my behaviors if I am going to reach those goals. So this post is about behaviors.

  1. Goal: weight loss.
    Measurable Behavior: record everything I eat (corollary: measure and weigh what I eat).
    MB: eat fruits and vegetables when I’m hungry. (Alternative nebulous behavior description: make better food choices.)
    MB: follow Weight Watchers program.
    MB: attend 3 of 4 Weight Watchers meetings every month. (I’ve been doing WW for a while now. It seems to be working, even if I hate the whole “support group” vibe of the meetings. It’s not easy being an introvert.)
  2. Goal: run faster, more easily, for longer distances. Improve sprint speed.
    MB: build to twenty-five miles/week (which will help with goal 1, too) by adding 5% per week to current 15 mi/week. (Reduce mileage when trialing for a weekend.)
    MB: run 5x/week on non-trialing weeks. Run 3x/week when trialing on Saturday/Sunday.
    MB: do one hill/sprint workout/week.
    MB: add “tempo runs” to one run/week. (Tempo runs are short/fast/light twenty-second intervals in a regular run.)
    MB: build toward a weekly long run of around 6 miles.
  3. Goal: try ISC dog agility events.
    MB: enter ISC events. Evaluate results.
  4. Goal: work toward Rush’s C-ATE title.
    MB: enter CPE trials.
  5. Goal: improve our (Rush/me as team) performance in Jumpers dog agility courses.
    MB: train “go on” and “switch” cues. Learn to use them effectively.
    MB: train more effective use of blind crosses.
    MB: train toward handling at greater distances.
  6. Goal: build toward bicycling a Century (100 miles) in late 2015 or in 2016.
    MB: starting in April, ride at least twice a week, once on hills, once for distance. (NOTE: it may be necessary to modify running behaviors to accommodate the cycling behaviors.)
  7. Goal: write more articles.
    MB: write two articles/month (outside of this blog).

Looking back and moving forward

I’m really having trouble with the whole idea of 2015 being a real thing. I was born in 1955, mid-twentieth century, came of age when we didn’t trust anyone over 30, and next July I will be twice that. Of course, I know now how ridiculous the idea was–there must have been someone over 30 we could trust, even in the age of Nixon–but I’ve now come to the idea that one should hesitate to trust anyone of any age. (Especially politicians, but that’s not a topic for this blog.) Anyway, here it is, almost 2015, and the last New Year’s Eve I remember clearly is the panic of 1999-2000, when everyone was all worried about our software breaking down (Y2K and all that). Me, I was busy panicking about Jay being in the hospital that evening–he got his appendix out on the last day of 1999. (The hospital did have backup generators.) (And everything was fine, in the end. Just scary at the time.)

After that digression (I can hear Holden Caulfield’s classmates yelling “digression!” but I’m ignoring them), back to the matter at hand here. I’ve spent weeks thinking about my goals for 2015. I had huge goals for 2014–and I met most of them. I took Rush and Dancer to CPE Nationals in Minnesota (and Rush won his height class in FullHouse and Jumpers), Dancer got her C-ATCH in August and Rush got his C-ATCH in October, I beat my previous best time at 5K, and I lost a few pounds (not as much as I would have liked, but better than gaining). Jay and I did a long bike tour–Astoria, OR to Crescent City, CA–self-supported down the Oregon Coast. Four days (of the nine) were my longest bike rides ever. The longest day was 56 miles. And the last half-mile was uphill. My first bike tour. Not his first (nor his longest). I got asked to write an article about agility for someone else. (And they want more.)

Much of what I want to accomplish in 2015 is a continuation of 2014. I want to lose another twenty or so (or maybe a bit more) pounds, so I can focus that mental energy on maintaining instead of losing. I don’t think I’ll ever hit a point of not having to watch what I eat–or not being hungry–but there’s a huge amount of energy going into tracking weight loss and food right now, and I’d like to reduce that outflow a little. (Maybe I should write about losing weight instead of dog agility; it’s occupying nearly as much of my brain these days.) I read some research recently about visualization that suggests it’s important to visualize both the positive outcomes and the possible obstacles in the path. I know my obstacles; I need to think about how to climb over them. (I could imagine that I’m Rush, surmounting my difficulties in the same spectacular way he goes over the a-frame. There’s an image–clambering over a pile of body fat as it melts away….)

So continuing my weight loss is one goal. Last year I had pretty much the same goal… and didn’t lose the twenty-five or thirty pounds I wanted to lose…. but I didn’t gain. Sigh.

Next continuation is the dog agility goals: first, I want to work toward Rush’s CPE C-ATE title. It’s a time-consuming title, requires a lot of trials, and I want to do slightly fewer CPE trials this year, so there’s really no way he’ll get the title in 2015, as it’s not numerically possible. Rush will need twenty Qs in each class (and then some extras that can be in any class)–it already looks like Jumpers will be our biggest challenge. Second, I’m not going to try for Nationals in any of the venues. 2016, maybe, depending on where things are. Third, Jumpers. Jumpers needs work in any venue. It’s terribly challenging for me to keep up with him without the built-in pauses created by the contact obstacles. Finally, fourth is ISC. For the first time, I have a dog who can compete in the ISC classes, so I want to give them a try; I’m signed up for ISC at the January PAC trial, so we’ll see how that goes… (Last year, one goal I did not end up pursuing was trying to take Rush to Rose City to run the ISC classes there. I’m really not ready to run ISC in public. Maybe next year.)

The dog agility goals are all kind of nebulous and vague… Rush will turn four in May, and I’m pretty sure he’s amazing and brilliant (what did I do to deserve this dog?!), and Dancer is slowly retiring herself (no more AKC), and as she does that, I’m trying to figure out where I want to go next. A lot depends on achieving my running/sprinting goals (see below), which in turn are related to my weight-loss goals (as above). It sounds very intertwined, and of course it all is. I’m really glad to have a reason to get up every day and go out to run and play with my dogs. I’m contemplating (as I’ve contemplated in the past) doing some obedience or rally with Dancer. I did sign up for Denise Fenzi’s online precision heeling course. We’ll see. Dancer actually has a nice walk-with–it might be fun to work on a formal heel cue. She enjoys training and I enjoy working with her.

Running goals: speed and endurance. I want to go further, faster, more easily. I started last year with the Couch-to-5K program, barely able to run one minute (I started with walk-one-minute-run-one-minute and found the first few runs horrifyingly difficult). I’m starting this year able to run for most of an hour (as long as I walk about one minute out of ten)–albeit running very slowly–and I want to get faster and run more easily. Losing weight will help. Sprint work will help (and make a huge difference with keeping up with Rush in Jumpers, too). Hill work will help with strength. My knees are so much better than they were last year. I can sit down slowly without having to hold the arms of the chair and I can get up without holding the arms too–and without my knees hurting. That’s a flaming big deal. I bought a book on serious running training that I’m hoping will help. (This one: Daniels’ Running Formula-3rd Edition. I get a tiny commission if you buy through that link.) Since I like measurable goals–since you can measure whether or not you’ve met them (duh!)–the measurable goal here is a 11:30-pace 5K (a bit less than 36 minutes).

Jay and I are planning a weekend trip to bike Crater Lake. After that, I’ll contemplate doing a Century. Maybe 2015, maybe 2016. Eventually I’ll have to do one. Everyone else in the family has (although Stacia’s wasn’t a formal one) (which doesn’t matter, because Stacia wins this event anyway, since she biked from Portland (OR) to Williamsburg (VA) self-supported and mostly unaccompanied, which gives her the ability to one-up almost any cyclist).

So that covers dogs, cycling, running, and weight loss. All very boring. Finally… I want to write some more articles. Maybe even sell a few.

 

Training for one thing at a time….

The mantra of dog trainers is “duration, distance, distraction.” The conventional wisdom is that you can only train for one of these things at a time. For example, if you’re trying to get a long sit, you should start by standing very close to the dog while in a quiet environment; if you’re trying for a stay at a distance, you should make it short and in a quiet environment; for stays in a distracting place, stand next to the dog and keep it short.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own training this spring. I was training for stamina this spring as I planned for our Oregon Coast bike ride, and I wanted to build my distance both on the bike and running with Rush (and Dancer). I couldn’t seem to get any faster, though, either running or on the bike.

Why not? After a lot of thought, I think it’s back to the idea of training one thing at a time: I couldn’t train speed¬†and endurance. Endurance was more important to me, so I got what I was training for.

Now that the ride is done, and I’ve rebuilt my reserves (more on that in a minute), I’m thinking about speed. I’ve decided to go back to the very beginning of Couch-to-5K and work toward speed this round. I started this morning with the 1-minute-run, 4-minute-walk (times 6) days. Instead of trotting through the minute portions, I ran as fast as I could–I actually got Rush into a nice speedy trot. I did all six 1-minute segments at right around 10-minute-mile pace. This is significantly faster than I was running in mid-July, although for a significantly shorter distance. My plan is to train the speed now and then increase the distance again later. I’ll stay with 1-minute run segments for a while and decide later when to move on. This is similar to the Sprint-8 program, although that program focuses on shorter segments (30 seconds) and shorter recovery (1 1/2 minutes), so that it ends up being anaerobic; I’d like to keep my running in the aerobic range.

On rebuilding reserves: for several weeks after I got back from the long ride, I felt depleted. Not tired, not sick, just drained. The best metaphor I can find is that I spent the spring filling my endurance tank and the trip drained every last drop. At no point during the trip did I feel like I couldn’t do it (mentally or physically), but after I was done it felt like I needed a good long rest. So I took a good rest, mostly just walking the dogs and doing the occasional short bike ride.

Cycling the Oregon Coast

photo1 for blogThat’s Jay and me, ready to start our ride, in Astoria, OR. Brandon (who runs our Western BikeWorks store) was kind enough to drive us to Astoria. We started planning the ride in January; it would be Jay’s first self-supported tour and my first tour of any kind. I had a custom-built titanium Guru built, with the luxury of electronic shifting, and did some serious training all spring, both running and riding as much as possible. Stacia described our plans as “credit-card touring” because it was all hotels and restaurants.

Day1 for blogAstoria to Manzanita: 43 miles, 2550 feet. Jay had panniers to carry our gear and I had a small bike-rack suitcase. We carried as little as possible. After the first day, we were very glad we were wearing bright colors. We rode mostly on highway 101, where the cars, RVs, and trucks go 55 mph and the cyclists ride in the shoulder. We tried to get off the highway when possible–but it wasn’t always possible.

tunnel day 1

That tunnel was pretty scary. You hit a button as you go in, and a light flashes to let drivers know there’s a cyclist in there. The shoulder is narrow and the trucks roar past. We were lucky: a truck slowed and stayed behind us for the length of the tunnel, ensuring that drivers didn’t try to pass us too closely after that. As soon as we were through the tunnel, we stopped for a break and to catch our breath.

Mostly the drivers were pretty good about giving us space when the shoulder was narrow. The wide RVs were the worst; the drivers didn’t seem to know how wide they were, and sometimes it seemed they passed us with only inches to spare.

day2 for blogManzanita to Pacific City: 52 miles, 2760 feet of climbing.
This ride was once again my longest ride ever. The Inn at Cape Kiwanda was a welcome rest stop, with dinner across the street at the Pelican Pub and Brewery. We stopped several times for iced tea and snacks, too. Lunch was across the street from a train museum–with full sized trains–the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi, OR.

At this point, Jay and I began to notice a trend; he ate clam chowder, and I ate fish tacos. And both of us ate cinnamon rolls, if possible. We had really good cinnamon rolls at two places during the trip.

We were able to get off 101 for part of the day: we left 101 onto Netarts highway at Tillamook, then took Whiskey Creek Rd to Cape Lookout Rd, Sand Lake Rd and then Cape Kiwanda Dr to our hotel for the night.

As you go down the Oregon Coast on highway 101 (and on the local roads), you climb in and out (and in and out) of the posted Tsunami Hazard Zones. The road follows evacuation routes. I’d been reading about tsunami hazards and the dangers of earthquakes. If an earthquake occurs on the Juan de Fuca Fault, a tsunami will follow about fifteen minutes later. I often found myself thinking about escape routes and how far I could ride in 15 minutes. Sometimes I’d coast rapidly down a hill–going as much as 35 mph–and think that I could turn around and go back up if the earthquake hit right at that moment.

day3 for blog
Pacific City to Newport, 56 miles, 2600 feet. For the third day in a row, the ride was my longest ride ever. We stopped for a snack: today was the first great cinnamon roll, at the Cafe on Hawk Creek in Netarts. After coffe, tea, and the huge cinnamon roll, we went off 101 onto Slab Creek Road until Lincoln City. After stopping for lunch in Lincoln City (at Kyllo’s, excellent clam chowder, according to Jay–my fish tacos were also very good), we took the Otter Creek loop off 101. Our hotel was the Hallmark Resort in Newport and the room had a spa bathtub. I walked in and started running the water immediately, then climbed in and soaked until I felt relaxed and not quite so tired and not quite so sore. While I was soaking, Jay did all the laundry, thereby earning himself a lot of perfect-husband points. Dinner was brought to the room by room service, which felt like the height of luxury.

day4 for blog
Newport to Yachats: 29 miles, 1230 feet. This day was planned as an “easy day,” with only thirty miles. While it felt a bit easier than previous days, it began with the hardest mile of the trip: walking our bikes across the Newport Bridge. It’s high, it’s wide, its shoulder is about two inches wide, and the sidewalk is narrow. We walked over it for our safety, but that meant being on the sidewalk. When I drive over bridges like that, I just follow the car in front of me (at a safe distance, of course). I made the mistake of looking down when I was halfway across and pretty much froze in panic. It took a bit, but I figured out I could just follow Jay’s rear wheel as he walked–a method we used for other bridges on the trip.

We were able to ride on Beaver Creek Road and Bay View Road, so we got off 101 for a bit.

day5 for blog

Yachats to Reedsport: 49 miles, 3600 feet. As we got south of Yachats, we rode along the Pacific to the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence. The Caves are unlike anything else we saw along the coast. As a result of the geology and the waves, a cave has formed, where sea lions come to haul out. An entrepreneur put in an elevator two hundred feet through the rock, down to the Caves.

sea lion cave for blogWe had planned a short day, stopping in Florence, but we decided to continue on to Reedsport so that we could take the long way around the Coos Bay Bridge the next day, since we were worried about the safety of crossing the bridge by bicycle. We stopped for lunch in Florence (at a mediocre Mexican restaurant that shall remain nameless) and then continued on.

At this point, we came into the area of the Oregon Dunes. The Dunes are high, sandy, and stretch three miles wide and forty miles long. People ride dune buggies and ATVs up into the Dunes. They blocked our views of the Pacific, but created their own fascinating environment. We saw cows and farms, stands of trees, and vast expanses of sand.

day6 for blog
Reedsport to Coos Bay, 38 miles, 2100 feet. After some internet searches for pictures of the shoulder of the beautiful Coos Bay Bridge, we decided that the narrow shoulder and the long bridge, combined with my “bridge issues” (i.e.: I’m not thrilled with driving or biking across long high bridges) and an interest in our safety, dictated a long detour around the east end of Coos Bay. We took 101 from Reedsport to North Bay Road, then stopped for coffee and tea at a small coffee shop right at the beginning of the next section of the bridge, before continuing onto East Bay Road around the rest of Coos Bay. It was a great deviation from the common route; the road was relatively untrafficked, quiet, rolling hills and pretty views of the Bay. Coos Bay is a pretty little town, but we didn’t find a good restaurant for dinner. Even the clam chowder was mediocre, sadly. (We might have had better luck if we hadn’t limited our choices to those within walking distance of our hotel.)

The Coos Bay Bridge is a beautiful bridge–but very long, very high, and full of traffic. We were very glad to find a way around it.

day7 for blog
Coos Bay to Port Orford, 60 miles, 3600 feet. This was our longest ride of the trip, so we started early and planned to stop for a second breakfast. The sight of a restaurant advertising “BACON!” as we came in Charleston on the Cape Arago Highway persuaded us to stop. Instead of going into BACON!, though, we went to the Crabby Cakes Bakery on the other side of the street, where the baker was just emerging from the back room with a fresh batch of what turned out to be the best cinnamon rolls of the trip.

baker for blogAfter we left the bakery (and cafe), fueled with coffee (Jay), tea (me), and sugar (both of us), we took Old Seven Devils Road to 101 and lunch in Bandon. The Seven Devils are apparently someone’s pet name for the rolling hills of the route; we went up and down and up and down and up and down, but it was pretty and quiet, and a pleasure.

After our (mediocre) lunch, we went across the street to a nice art gallery, where we bought two nice mugs as a souvenir of our trip and had them shipped home. We weren’t going to carry any more weight if we could avoid it. (I say “we” here, as if it weren’t Jay carrying all the weight.)

When we got to Port Orford, our resting stop for the night instructed us to “turn left on Cemetery Road and follow it for one-half mile.” It was uphill and I wanted to walk–I’d already ridden 59 miles!–but Jay reached over and put a hand on the small of my back and pushed me up the hill, while pedaling himself up as well. I had to award another million perfect-husband points for that, putting me vastly in his debt. After a rest and massages at the WildSpring Guest Habitat, we rode back down the hill to a great dinner at Redfish Restaurant–and I pedaled myself up after dinner.

day8 for blog
Port Orford to Gold Beach, 29 miles, 2600 feet. We’d planned a short day… and we were glad we had. It was wet and windy and unpleasant. My shoes filled with water. Our hotel had a hot tub, thankfully. Dinner was pizza, delivered.

Day9 for blog
Gold Beach to Crescent City, 56 miles, 2660 feet. Our last day riding the Oregon Coast divided naturally into two parts: Gold Beach to Brookings and then into Crescent City.

Gold Beach to Brookings is rolling hills, great views, long climbs–and the prettiest part of the entire Oregon Coast. The 27 mile ride into Brookings was one gorgeous view after another. That was partly because of the long climbs. We went high enough for it to get foggy at the height of the highest climb. Jay said the view from the Thomas Creek Bridge was great–but I rode across it staring at his rear wheel, so I wouldn’t know.

There’s not really any place to stop between Gold Beach and Brookings, though, so we were happy to roll in Brookings and stop for lunch at the Art Alley Grill, which had excellent food and a good dessert.

caliifornia border for blogThings went downhill after lunch, though. The ride was flat into California, and we rode through an alley of redwood trees–majestic but boring–all the way to Crescent City, where we stayed at a hotel that was pretty much unchanged from the 1950s–the Curly Redwood Lodge.

Fortunately, the beds were newer. After a decent night’s sleep (and another mediocre dinner), we rented a car and drove back to Portland.

“Cycling Enthusiast”

Western Bikeworks, where I am one of several owners, has the ability to add product reviews, and from time to time I review products. For several years, I’ve been posting reviews as a “casual cyclist” (with the notation that it’s a review from a member of the staff), but the last time I went to write a review, I checked the “cycling enthusiast” box before I wrote an (enthusiastic) review of an electrolyte/hydration formula called Skratch (it actually uses natural flavors and consequently tastes pretty decent). (Well, at least it doesn’t taste like artificial flavorings.)

It actually stopped me for a few minutes. When, exactly, did I become an “enthusiast”? I assume it happened sometime this spring, as I got ready for our Oregon Coast bike ride. And now that the ride is done, I find myself thinking a 20-mile round trip ride is no big deal (as long as it’s not raining). So I’ve added cycling to the topics I’ll cover in this blog. I’m working on a long article about our trip down the Coast from Astoria to Crescent City (CA), but it’ll be a few days yet.