Tuesday, March 29, 2005


MOAB WAYS (photo)

Ancient song.
Rock. River.
Whispered breeze.
Kindly speak.
Heart tune. Old wind.
Energy flow.
All is

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Monday, March 28, 2005


WHAT... ME, Competitive?

Well, it begins; four days before leaving for the Moab mountain biking trip and I'm talking to my buddies, and already it's "Wow, my knee's really hurting; I'm going to the doc tomorrow." Or, "Oh, man; something gave me food poisoning on Sunday; I've been home really sick all day." Or, "Yeah, I'm getting bike fit as soon as I get back from this trip; my left hip is really holding me back."

The excuses begin; the infirmaties intensify. Now, of course, this is to be just a friendly ride; no competition. Peace and love all the way; it doesn't matter who gets to the top of the hill fastest.

Pleeeasssse! ...

Of course one of those excuses is my own.

But, hey, a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.


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Sunday, March 27, 2005


Red Rock Resurrection coming Soon

Easter Sunday and the weather, after snow and ice yesterday is sunny and gorgeous here in Denver. And like usual, the magic of... dry air, high altitude and lots and lots of sunshine has chased away almost every trace of winter. Just like that. And I'm getting the mountain bike ready for four days in Moab, Utah next weekend. Ahhhh....

Porcupine Rim
Slick Rock
White Rim & Canyonlands


Life does begin anew.

After a winter of spinning countless hours on the trainer, punctuated by some good, long COLD road rides, I will at last be back on the mountain bike, spinning through the red rock and sand. Getting the season's first sunburn, er, Tan.

Oh, Yeah.

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Saturday, March 26, 2005


What was THAT about?

I just looked at what I posted yesterday about fat, and went, "Whoa, what was that about," because the whole thing sounded negative. And I don't like being negative. Yet at the same time... I get frustrated when I look around me and see what we do to our bodies and our lives. And, yes, that includes me. I've gotten much better in recent years about taking care of what's important and health-giving, but I still backslide from time to time, and I was so clueless for so many years.

It's just that I now fully recognize that if I make the right choices in diet, rest and excercise, moment to moment, based on reality, not wishful thinking, my life becomes better, happier and more energetic and fulfilling.

Pretty simple, huh.

But like many simple concepts, this one is much harder and more difficult to put into practice than it is to just read it.

To reiterate: it IS true; we ARE what we eat.

The real awareness of this came for me once I started really training hard for bike racing, which began at the grand age of 60.

Yes, I'm a slow learner!

I started getting ready for my first "24 Hours of Moab" round-the-clock bike race three years ago.

Once into that process and PARTICULARLY once I hit the 15-mile race course; the direct relationship between what I eat and how I feel and how I can perform quickly became VERY clear! All that stuff I had read for years and intellectually accepted, about diet and excercise, came into a whole new focus.

And it became blazingly REAL the first time I started the steep climb away from the starting area through the red rocks and sand of Moab on my mountain bike.

'Ugh! this is nasty; I need some more fuel, some more endurance, some more strength, some more food, some more ANYTHING! For God's sake, GET ME THROUGH THIS and I'll change my ways!'

And the only answer that came back, came from from within myself, the quiet voice saying, "Jack, you wanta go better, ya gotta eat better, train better -- and get rid of the lard gut!"

So. I've been in that process of weight reduction and eating better for a while now. (Actually the process started several years before the racing, but the racing certainly intensified and clarified what I needed to do.)

And if my piece yesterday sounded negative; well, it was because I desparately want to make this point about diet, rest and excercise -- stuff that I've learned the hard way.

I want to say to people - young and old - short, tall - fat, skinny - male, female - that we HAVE TO do somehing about this national trend toward obesity and being couch potatos - particularly for our young people - before we get any further into the hole. And we have to do it as individuals, within ourselves and about our own choices and actions. We can't just complain and exclaim about it. We have to, each of us, ACT. This is not something for government to do, fast food joints to do, bars or health clubs to do. It's for US to do; one step at a time, everyday.

We have choices here, folks... and we have to make them, each of us, individually.

We are thinking animals; we are sentient beings. We are not vegetables or minerals. We CAN make those necessary CHOICES; in fact, doing so is our job, our duty, our BEing here on earth. We CAN get better. We CAN eat better and excercise better. And our gain is not only in better health and longevity, but in our individual quality of life and our mental well-being; in our ability to live with, to reach out to and help others.

Each of us carries within us the energy source that God gives us when we are conceived, and when we consciously work to strengthen that energy and to consciously exhibit it, when we have built it up to brightly burn, then we become a clear visible light to guide and help others -- and the world becomes a better and more comassionate place for all - animals, minerals, vegetables, souls and environment.

The analogy is Springtime. We can, right now, reach out of our winter of sluggishness, our darkness, and embrace all that CAN BE. We can accept the sun and help fuel the light that brings the new growth of human Spring.

This starts with first recognizing and fully accepting where we are now, then choosing to eat, drink, excercise and rest in a new way - with joy and hope - with cognizant striving to make best choices, second to second, minute to minute, day to day.

Let's work together to choose reality-based living; that way we can all become more alive, open, and loving.

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Friday, March 25, 2005


BIG FAT Not a Friend

Good old Adipose Tissue, the fat barn of our body. Look it up and Encarta tells you, "fat found in tissue just below the skin and surrounding major organs, acting as an energy reserve and providing insulation and protection." Good stuff if you're forced into going without food for a few days, but not so cool if you happen to be a stuffed piggy... like most of us Americans these days.

A better description than adipose tissue, for most of us, "rolls of greasy chicken fat." Excess yellow fat squeezing around our organs, heart, kidneys, liver, what have you. Bend over to tie our shoes, and most of us come up wheezing and blowing and exclaiming, "Whoa, I gotta do something about this."

But not right now; I'm late for dinner.

With every little bit of excercise or bending, excess fat squashes our contorted bodies so hard that our working parts up almost give up the ghost. Spots jump before our eyes and our over-stressed hearts go POUNDY, POUNDY, POUND.

So, regardless of how we arrived at this condition, how can we get rid of this damned stuff, this obnoxious excess FAT?

Last time we had this much fat in the country was in the 1970s and it was piled up in warehouses in the form of subsidized CHEESE. The government helped support milk prices which brought about excess production which brought about the school lunch program and various other "aid" programs and we gave away all our cheese to school children, poor folks, and sculptors looking for a new medium.

I digress.

The question today is how can we now empty out those cow-barns of adipose tissue waiting all throughout our bodies to round up and hold greasy yellow fat everywhere we don't really need it, like smeared all over what would be otherwise healthy, attractive buns, thighs, bellies, places like that? How can we make our kids stop looking like 1950s Porky Pigs and Dumbo the Elephant?


Good Luck.


It's gonna make you hungry.

Will Power?

Yeah, sure.

A combination of all of the above?

Yep, that's what it's going to take.
Applied in sustained fashion over time.


Wheww! Big task. But doable.

The alternatives?

Poor health, shortened life spans, less fun, less vitality, less sex; less EVERYTHING except prescription drugs, depression, old reruns and cans and cans of Pringles. Oh, and more time to play video games, declare that life sucks, nobody understands me, and produce hateful song lyrics supporting the perpetuation of "victimology."


Our lard-butts ain't nobody's else's fault. Not McDonald's not God's, not Dubya's.

Love it or hate it; we're all responsible for our own well-being and enjoyment here on this delightful little rock of a planet we're traveling on. And EXCESS FAT, Excess LARD, is starting to get in our way of enjoying the good stuff.


... I'm working up an appitite.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005


On the Podium (photo)

Winning takes Training -- there are NO shortcuts Posted by Hello

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A Long Road -- be patient

Tyrone, a 50-year old co-worker walks into my office this morning. He's a big guy, weighs 250, and maybe should weigh 200. Much to his credit, he's been religiously working out for the past three months; hired a personal trainer and working hard at switching his life around; wants to live healthily enough to see his kids graduate from college -- and knows he's got a ways to go.

So two days ago Tyrone's working out on a rowing machine at the health club, under the supervision of his 30s-something personal trainer. The trainer's working him hard and Tyrone has good muscular strength, even though he's overweight. As he says, "ya gotta be strong to carry all this blubber around for 30 years."

Suddenly as he's straining away, he gets a flash of a headache climbing up the back of his skull.... His heart rate is around 150, about as high as its been during 15 years of sloshing around inside a fat-crowded, couth potato chest cavity. Tyrone slumps to a halt to catch his breath. Obviously he looks kind of scary because the trainer says, "Ahmm, let's just call it a day; I won't charge you anything, come back on Thursday."

So, today, when he walks into my office, Tyrone's obviously a little discouraged about what he perceives as his poor performance, and a little frightened; in fact, he's going to see his doc tomorrow to see if maybe there's something wrong.

"I've gained a lot of muscle strength, but I guess my cardio just hasn't caught up," he says.

Yeah, I guess so.

But it doesn't mean Tyrone should be discouraged or that something is drastically wrong with his body. It probably just means that he pushed too darned far, too fast; something we all do when we first start working out, and for some of us something we continue to do all throughout our lives, both in and out of the gym.

The point is, just like the family sedan can't go from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds; you can't just suddenly jump up, start working out and leap from unfit to fit in three months.

This is too often the major discouragement for those of us who suddenly decide to "get in shape," and start on a major excercise program. Progress just doesn't seem to come fast enough, and to accomplish it is taking a lot more hard, SUSTAINED work than we expected.

In our instant gratification world of cell phones, overnight-internet orders, and drive-through Starbucks, we want it ALL and we want it NOW. Three months of steady excercise should be enough to get us well down the path to fitness, right?


Three months of working out is a good start, and for many of us it provides a foundation upon which we can actually begin to develop real change and improvement in our physical lifestyle. After 90 days, we can definitely feel benefits from regular disciplined excercise. In fact, we're probably starting to feel pretty darned good about ourselves. But we also need to be prepared for those unexpected setbacks such as Tyrone suffered yesterday -- and deal with them as normal. The body needs recovery time as well as prescribed physical stress time. Not enough rest, or pushing too hard, and the next workout performance IS going to suffer. And this disciplined cycle of work, rest and recovery has to be on-going. Equally important, it has to be fine-tuned to each individual. We are all different and our ability to recover can be influenced by what seem to be endless nuances: age, weight, sleep, nutrition, work-related stress, wives, husbands, kids, overdue bills, when we got up, when we went to sleep.

Reaching a high level of physical fitness, with a strong heart, cardio vascular system and enhanced strength and endurance is not a one-shot deal. It's not a six month deal. It's an on-going cycle of over-stressing our systems, then allowing the body time for recovery, repair, and adaptation.

This is a lifetime deal. And it's a process in which we learn as we go along. I can eat turkey sandwiches while during an endurance ride, but my riding buddy turns a nasty shade of pale green just thinking about them. Of course she can eat hot Tex Mex chow and it turns my stomach inside out, even though I love it. Go figure.

But learning about all these factors and how to handle them, how they fit into the over-stress/rest & recovery cycle is something we all have to do -- for ourselves. A coach or trainer can teach us many things, but the real burden of training right is on us, the individuaal athelete. My buddy Tyrone is right when he tells me he's going to ask his trainer to back off a bit; Joe isn't training to join the Marine Corps and travel to the Middle East, he's just trying to get healthier so he can enjoy his life and family more.

Bottom line: training to get physically fit is really about chosing a new way of life. It's about living in a way that you can truly enjoy and sustain. It's about living an active lifestyle in which you get rewards everyday from feeling good and being healthy. It's about having fun and enjoying whatever physical activity you chose to pursue. It is about becoming a truly different person who lives a different set of patterns and habits than you did in the old non-fit days.

So, should Tyrone be discouraged? No. But the only way from keeping that from happening as we begin to regularly train is to fully recognize and ACCEPT our current state of physical being at each and every moment. We have to fully ACCEPT where we actually are in our strength and cardio system development. And not letting wishful thinking make us believe we are more advanced than we are. And accepting this is hard to do.

When working out most of us always want to push a little bit further, and to believe that we should be just a little stronger or more fit than we actually are at any given moment. And that if we just strain and suffer a bit more it will be "good" for us.

This attitude, which is almost universal among beginning fitness advocates, can lead to big trouble or to failure and giving up. Training too hard without enough rest between sessions, overworking our system to the point where chronic fatigue sets in, means the quality of our workouts deteriorates to the point where we are just pushing overly tired muscles through the motions, rather than slightly over-stressing healthy, well rested muscles to the point where the body can adapt, over time, leading to lasting improvement and improved health.

I could go on and on, but now I come to TIME OUT; save some rant for another day.

Just like in working out, it's time to take a break in writing this, to start fresh later, or on another day with another idea. the piece will be better and more useful.

"WHOA," it just struck me...

Hey! wait a minute. Maybe writing is just like training. Maybe training is just like LIFE. Maybe no matter what we do, we gotta stop, pause and give ourselves a little break now and then; to come back fresh. Or we will just going to get stale, become a 'grind,' and not really accomplish all that we want.

Wow, is THIS what all these people around me whom I love have been trying to tell me all these years?

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Monday, March 21, 2005


Autumn comes to Colorado Bike Country (photo)

Life at 10,000 feet can be beautiful. Crisp aspen leaves crunch their song under miles of sun-warmed high country trails

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First Spring, First Light

So it's the first day of Spring, 2005 and life begins anew. It makes me think of life on the ranch when I was growing up and even into young manhood. After a dark, frigid winter punctuated by cold, clear days that made your nostrils stick together when you breathed, Spring meant calving time. And within a few weeks, nests and nests of bright red and virginal white Hereford calves lying around on the first newly emerging grass, pristine and wonderful as the first day's light after the long dark. "Morning has broken." And at about the same time, the Pussy-Willows began bursting forth with all their silly furriness, and the very first smells of Spring, new life, the earth's fecundancy filled the air, wafting upward between remaining patches of shaded snow. And soon there would be even more grass, and then during the late April showers, the Palouse Prairie wildflowers would begin peeping forth and, oh my God, what blessed luxuriness and spotty waves of color.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005


Out the Door

Our Life is a choice. It happens every day. Over and over, we get opportunities to LIVE. We have plenty of opportunities to study, reflect and enjoy the best that is before us -- regardless of our circumstances.

On the other hand...

...we have Death.

Death, it seems, is not an option. I happens only once. And the reporting back from those kazillions who are already there is spotty at best.

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Whoa, so it's time to start. So few days and such a large universe.

Where to begin.

I guess the best place for me, at least, is back with my 55th birthday, celebrated alone in rural Virginia. I rolled out of bed, ate pancakes, and drive into Leesburg to buy a mountain bike. And so starts the tale.

Or, I could start by backing up a few month, maybe a year, to bending over to pick up that fifty pound sack of dog food from a Giant Supermarket cart and throwing it into the back of my little Toyota pickup. Damned, I noticed; that seemed HEAVY!

That's not RIGHT! Oh, my God; I'm aging.

Now is a funny way to start a major life change, or what?

So now it's eight years later; my weight is 151 rather than 190, my resting heart rate is 45 rather than 80, my total cholesterol is 123 instead of 270. And I feel great.

My current goal is to finish a 100 mile mountain bike race, the Leadville Trail 100, in less than ten hours.

Oh, and the LT100 as it's called is almost all above 10,000 feet, low point 9200 feet and high point 12,600 feet. Last year, my first time attempting it, I finished it in 10 hours, 56 minutes. I got second place for men over 60. A guy from Michigan came in first, a rider from California was third, and a fellow from Iowa was fourth in our class. I hope to meet them all again, for this year's race, come August. I've been training hard all year; I know they have too, and regardless of the 2005 race outcome I know that we will all have one heck of a day, as will the 600 other riders from all across the U.S. and a scattering of other countries. We will all be alive and the pain, sweat and comradery of mountain bike silliness will make winners of us all, each and every one.

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