Friday, May 28, 2010

Volleyball Finals the Winner is

This last Tuesday was the end of my V-ball league for the season and I wasn’t going out quietly! My team came out strong. We played intensely winning the first four out of five games. I had thought we were unstoppable. My serve was strong and I when I played center I had made some incredible saves. Over this season I had gotten much more fit.

Then it happened. We started loosing! The games were tight but we lost the next four games in a row!!! My team had played so hard that we were loosing steam fast… then loosing team cohesion, not setting the ball up for spikes properly and not backing each other up right. The score had slipped to a 5-5 tie of games won and lost.

I looked at the time and we had two more games before the night was out. We gathered as a team and reminded each other that we were in it together. I even gave a couple of tips to a fellow player to get her serves to hum with more power. The next game the other team got out to a quick lead and two of our normally great servers had bad shots. As I got to serve someone said, “It’s up to you now.” No pressure huh?! When I’m “on” I can place the ball right in the center or corners. 1-2-3 I was able to start building our points up… then bringing up our score to even and another to get us ahead. I had burned the candle at both ends all night and after that serve run I was literally like I had jumped into the water, but with sweat. Yet it was enough even as I lost the next serve, my team had rallied and the others shook off that demoralized feeling and gained a second wind (or third at that point). We rolled over the other team to bring it up to a six games to five score.

Yet there was one last game. We could go away with a season ending win (7-6) or a tie (6-6). Everyone felt the superhuman energy of this night… Neither team was going to yield. It was a game that had to be won. Something just swept over me. Normally I play for fun, but this game… the end of the season was important. There is no prize or trophy or anything but everyone wanted to go out on top.

I got ripped. I was not going to loose… well, I wouldn’t settle for a six games to six tie. I worked too hard for this. As I stepped up to serve I put the other teams players off balance, on the floor on their knees trying to dig the ball up from shots at their feet. That ball had been infused by my energy, I even joked about unleashing the Dark Side of the Force on that ball. I got us to two points from a win… then…

Before I tell the end of the story I want to make it clear that I played my heart out… BUT so did every other player. While I had some powerful serving runs I did not win (or have loss of) games by myself. Win or loose we had all played at 100 percent. Yet after all this, my first season back in a adult volleyball league since my college days if I had any will in the matter I would win. I earned this, and I wanted it baaaaad.

I know I have you on this precipice, on the edge of your seat and then I tease you with how it ended… At this point I could be cruel and say, well read my next post… after all this one is in fact getting a bit long…

But I won’t do that to you. That last game we fought, and the other team was not about to give away any win. It was to be EARNED from either side. The nights final tally we took 7 games and lost 5. I can’t remember how much I glowed after that, or the last time I had been that sopping wet from sweat. Moreover the next day I was shocked, I wasn’t painfully sore in agony at all, but just stiff sore. There’s some muscle sneaking in this here body!

To top it off I got another award for my blog (this one from Deb Willbefree) Thanks so much. I appreciate people reading my blog and commenting, and I’m thrilled to know that folks enjoy it enough to give me honors. I’m horrible about following the directions to awards but I do like them. Yet even more than awards I love the comments. Sometimes it’s a real tough fight and it’s always great to be reminded that we are in this together… your support, and hopefully in return I offer a bit of encouragement somehow myself to you in writing my adventures to share in the blog. Knowing we have got each other’s back in the fight to health is the best part.

I thought about that old saying, “It not whether you win or loose, it’s how you play the game.” at Foolsfitness it’s how you play the game of course. But do play with passion to win.- Alan

Monday, May 24, 2010

Part III Glorious Victory!

Lost! No, not exactly… but I was in a place I did not know and at one point as you can see it got pretty thick with woods. We had searched the net and found an old converted railroad line that was now a bicycle and walking path going from Windham to Salem NH and this was planned as our alternate ride as the day before had been a wash out. (If you haven't read parts I and II you may wish to scroll down under this post)

According to lore, in the 1870’s the biggest single rail line in America was here. What an incredible view huh?!

There was a point in the ride when neither of us spoke, it was pure and deep wonderful silence without any buzz of today. The only sound was the sound of a gentle wind caressing your face and singing softly in the trees. It was such a peace that washed over my heart. After that it was like you could almost hear the quiet whispers of a time long past, a very distant steam chug of a time when things were at the right speed.

As this journey was about to wind down it was amazing. A year or so ago I had not imagination of this. The physical ride was NOTHING… I could have traveled twice the distance, plus. I guess as fitness goes it really is a mental fight. It was such a triumph… a goal worked hard for and achieved. Maybe even over achieved. I can’t help but think about all the mental buzz around the event and in my head that led up to this. That was the real fight.

I even finished off the ride with some healthy eating choices at a wonderful little place right next to the bike path. I went for a veggie wrap, frozen yogurt, and non-sweetened ice tea. I even passed on the bag of chips that came with it.

I laughed as I drove home very early on that next morning… you see, the radio played a song that said, “The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning!” over and over. I have no clue what the song was about because it was just those few words that echoed wonderfully in my mind. You see, my bicycle somehow had let this 300 pound plus guy fly!

SO WHAT”S NEXT? I’m thinking a year from now I’m considering bicycle racing. I’m starting to try to get a vintage steel frame 10 speed in good working order. I plan to take a picture of it and stick it on my fridge door to remind me where I want to go next and also where I don’t want to go anymore. Oh, I will not have a chance at any tour de’ France style riding… but that isn’t what it’s about. It’s about my own battle. I will be riding against, and also “for” myself. I would likely be in the back of any pack racing (the guy doing more huffing and puffing than the big bad wolf) but the first time I enter a race, I will already have won.

A few days back I did a 20 mile plus ride with my “Boba” bicycle and yesterday a 12.5 mile ride with minimal stops… I’ve also see the scales bow before my efforts to 317.75... The work is paying off. About a month ago I was flirting with 13 more pounds. My weight shifts up and down a lot but I can be certain of at least a 7 pound or so drop in the range.

Maybe this time next year you will see a pic of me on an old vintage racer… riding a touch faster, a wee bit further, and without so many stops, and of course with a little less baggage.

Act on your dreams my friends.- Alan

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Part II Rack Em Up

(Scroll down to the previous post if you haven’t read Part I)

It was 4:15 in the morning… wait, let me sound more detective like… it was 0400 hours and the rain came down hard, the kind of rain that washes the scum off the streets. My name is Alan, I’m Fools Fitness… I don’t have a badge. But I’d like a Pony Express Badge… A nice tin badge that gleams in the sun.

I awoke from a light sleep with a crash. Being in a house you are not always in I guess you need to expect sounds you don’t expect. (wait… if you expect the unexpected is it really… oh never mind) Yet I had a gut feeling what that crash was that was confirmed moments later. Two bright flashes through the curtains then more crashing. Lightning my friends, lightning. Maybe at this point I should mention I ride a STEEL frame Raleigh bicycle. I figured the storms would pass as it was still so early in the morning the sun hadn’t arose.

This was my friend Kate’s first bicycle marathon too. In fact she had invested in a bicycle rack that literally cost more than her own bicycle for our trip. We fought the bicycles on that medieval device that had tons of straps and tie downs, added 27 bungee cords, some more straps then looked at each other each searching for confidence in the other’s eyes that we had done this right.

We were off on the road, The weather had let up a lot, and the bicycles were locked on… or so we thought! (insert ominous music here). Then *it* happened. We are driving along this back road and she pulls this Dukes of Hazard maneuver that end up us sliding partially in a ditch. I didn’t see a deer run across us, what had happened? Her bicycle had slipped on the bicycle rack and was in breath of being dragged behind us. She had pulled over in time but the first thing I thought about was being in this dirt low shoulder after a hard rain and the car sinking hopelessly into oblivion like cruel quicksand never to be heard from again!

We shifted the bikes again and tightened straps. I added a few special knots I learned from making rosaries to be even more safely redundant. I saw the car tipping in a bad way toward the ditch… (gee, is there a way you can tip in a ditch a good way?) We got in and she just drove out like nothing.

She’s got one of those really cool GPS gadgets. It says in this neat voice “turn left ahead” and such. I imagine if I had one it would get to the point it would say, “We are hopelessly lost.” and “I told you to turn back there” or just, “I give up… find it yourself!” We found the bicycle meeting place relatively easy thanks to her. Had I done this on my own… well, lets just say I have rather no navigation sense. The only time she asked me which way to turn I sent her in the exact wrong direction.

We arrived just as another storm came too. The downpour pinned us in the car along with a concerto of rolling thunder in the distance. Fear not my fine Fool’s Fitness friends, We rode the next day… which I will share in Part III, but not this day. I would not be deprived of my ride, and “taking the bikes for a ride” did not constitute a technically driving around with them on the back of a car for me! I brought the money I had raised in to the group and my eyes were assaulted by more spandex than a superhero convention. There must have been near a hundred bicyclists there.

Stories were shared about where they were as lightning had struck or how they got a free shower as a car sprayed them with about 50 gallons of water from the small streams on the side of the road. Gee, they seemed rather dry now? Had they changed? Or was this like those fishermen who eventually had a fish on their line the size of Moby Dick?

Well, the good part is I came. I WAS doing this, maybe a day late but I showed up for life in my fitness journey. They had a wonderful BBQ, grilling under cover outside and bring it into the barn to enjoy. This time I did carb load, or any other load in food. I tried Goat Cheese and some kind of fruit jelly on multigrain crackers. That jelly I can’t pronounce, spell, or even remember other than it was good and a bit tart.

I had raised enough money (over goal even) to get some drawing raffle tickets. I actually ended up winning a $25 dollar gift certificate to a book store. A few days later I had got a book on bicycling, one on horses for my boss, and another on graphic novel art book for my work… all on sale and a little under so I could share some of the money with another Foolsfitness Member who drove us down to the place.

Ok we are getting a really long post here so… PART III coming soon with the Actual bicycle ride.

And Remember that at Foolsfitness reading is a workout.- Alan

Monday, May 17, 2010

Part I: Bike Marathon The Journey Begins

I trained for this bike ride for over a month. Yet that morning I had so many nerves on edge I couldn’t even think about eating breakfast. I removed the wheel off my Raliegh Venture and tossed it in the back of my car with the back seat down. Then I needed the pannier bags, the water bottles, somewhere was the multi-tool, speedometer… funny little gloves and tiny helmet mirror… pipe tobacco, all… check. Wait… something’s missing? Where are my shoes! And I have a hole in my sock!

I wonder if owning a bicycle is like having a small child? Did you ever see those people with all the baby gear? They have strollers with all sorts of bottles and baby tools… anyhue, by the time I finished I had some trouble actually getting in my little car. The handlebar was wanting to snuggle next to my head and my overnight bag kept fighting with the fifth gear of the gear stick of my car.

(Insert deep announcer voice) It is an epic story of the ages. A story of high adventure… One mans determination against all odds to save the fate of the universe itself… ok, my 1st bike-a-thon wasn’t THAT dramatic but I had to get that kind of writing out of the way.

First of all let me get this exciting information out. I had raised about $160 for the animals, as well as Other money not in that total from corporate sponsors for gas money, food, water, and tolls. I’d like to thank Genesis Behavioral Health, Dance on Studios, Happy Jacks Pipe shop, as well as all the people who donated to the animal fund.

I got a great e-mail about where some of the funds are going… I quote:

“The Gilmour Fund will be making a special, one-time grant to enable Zoo New England to provide staff support to the effort to rescue marine wildlife impacted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. This effort is currently being coordinated by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Anyways, I was now on my epic journey, on the road. I don’t city highway drive much at all. Wow, people go like 90 miles an hour on the highway… scaring the willies out of me… (what exactly are willies anyway?) yet my determination was not shaken my friends!!! As those speed demons plans had failed they tried a new tactic, everyone from all around somehow planned in some mass conspiracy to be on the highway at once to keep me from my destination. I actually stopped on the highway! Somehow in my mind I didn’t think it was even possible to stop on a highway. Yes, I’m from a small town. (Even that is getting bigger all the time… I rate my town by numbers of stoplights and they keep on coming growing like unruly weeds. Then they spawned roundabouts or rotaries… which are like little carousels for cars to play on. Wow I really digressed here didn’t I? )

I arrived at a Fools Fitness Fine Friend’s home near the bike-a-thon after hours on the road and one rest stop to ease my nerves. I didn’t really know what to eat to prepare for a marathon, although in the past I had heard rumors that there was lots of spaghetti involved. At that point I was winding down from the terrors of the trip down and honestly don’t even remember what we ate, for you folks who like to know that information, although I remember it wasn’t spaghetti…


At Foolsfitness we have a motto for bicycling… the more gear the better.- Alan

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Irish Lady

What you see before you is a Raleigh Grand Prix GT MK V made (if I did my serial number search correctly) in Oct 1974 in Ireland. And, yes, she is currently warming herself in the peace in quiet of my art studio.

Two commenters in my last post actually led me to her. One had said to check Gregslist and another said another would “just be around the corner”. Ironically it wasn’t just around the corner but actually two streets up that a gentleman sells bicycles out of his garage as a hobby.

I had my eyes set on another Raleigh in his yard when I came and looked about. I had tried running that one through the gears and it fought me, him, and another guy looking at bikes. Frankly the other was a bit out of my price range but I get focused on something and have a hard time letting it go. That one had fancy stirrups that called to me. But it was a horrible, ugly, powder blue.

If I’m going to start road riding next year I need a road bike. (no offense to my dear “Boba” comfort bike be he isn’t suited to the racetrack, he‘s a daily rider meant for cargo delivery) But I can’t get “any” road bike. First I can’t afford the newer carbon fiber racers. Second they frankly wouldn’t hold my weight anyway. Finally third I want a bike that has a soul, a style, a uniqueness.

Look at those fittings in the picture. This wasn’t a bicycle that was made from cut tubes and shamelessly welded together… “to exacting specifications in China” as my other one claims to be. Nothing against my daily rider, it’s rugged and gets a lot of miles. But look close… the tubes were placed into fittings that even were scalloped and scrolled. It is a piece of art.

As you can see if you click on the very top picture she is in need of much work. One bracket on her seat is out, the cables covers are rotten, cables rusted and frayed. Those old Raleigh racing whitewall tires have the wrinkles of many years of dry rot. The front derailleur is rusted frozen. The front forks are covered in rust. Wildly there is still air pressure in those ancient tires… or they have just petrified? Yet the wheels are true and straight. I think, just maybe with some work, a lot of work, she will fly again.

Maybe that’s part of what this is all about. I’m going to need a lot of work to “fly again” too. Maybe we both can do it together. Maybe the other “shiny” two ones were in fact too easy… I need to remind myself that this fitness journey is about commitment and work. Was the “Green Lady” worth $35 I asked my local bike shop guy… I don’t think I really needed an answer from him as I really know the dream is worth much more than that.

I think there was another lesson for me in this too. While I had looked at the more fancy and shiny one and even asked the man if he had others and he said no… she was there all along. So quiet, right behind me in his garage. The guy even dismissed it saying that it was destined in his eyes just for parts. I have thought of myself so many times as a hopeless case. I have struggled with weight for so long. Yet the answer I was seeking was right under my eyes even as I searched for an old bike.

Maybe that answer we are seeking together is right there in front of us too, we just need to keep searching and not give up! I am nervous that I’m now trying to bring her back from the brink of death… but really that’s what I’m trying to do with me too. I think we can understand each other the Green Lady and I. I think my own wheels are true and straight too.

COMING NEXT!!! A three part series of the adventures of my very first Bicycle Marathon of last weekend complete with some great pictures!!!

Dare to make your dreams reality at Fools Fitness!- Alan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Dime Store Window

What is it like to have a dream? Perhaps when you were young you looked into a store window and saw that one amazing toy, that the mere sight of it filled you with such joy you could not find words to express. Our hopes and dreams ( and faith of course) drive us and build us to look to a tomorrow.

For the last three weeks I have walked by a antique shop and seen such a thing. There she was smiling at me. I saw an old 70’s vintage Raleigh steel frame ten speed. If you have read my blog you may recall I have attended watching a bicycling race at the local NASCAR track and also have had the pleasure of running my cruiser style mountain hybrid Raleigh bicycle even on the track once.

Back to the dream. Last year I had the dream to loose weigh and become more healthy. I can proudly exclaim I hit the 320 mark which is ten pounds less than last month and about 23 pounds less than the start of my blog a year ago. I am trying to take that dream and work hard making it into reality.

Now for reality. I have far to go, but first another dream to fuel the fire with a “what if” question… What if I got that steel framed bicycle and restored it to working order over the fall and winter as I continue to restore my own body to a more working order as well. That bicycle could take me INTO the race not just sitting on the sidelines with some hard work in a year.

I heard it’s siren song and how she called to me over the last three weeks. I would prove to that bicycle how I loved her and was worthy as I came home this last weekend from my bicycle marathon, slaying that preverbal dragon for her! She winked at me last week inside that window with her English Raleigh emblem all enameled glowing at me… I think I had caught her eye as well.

Yet she also carried on her an earring that claimed she was in her debtors prison for one hundred dollars. I dug deep in my heart to find some way to offer a acceptable bounty for her freedom from that cruel prison. I arrived home early Monday morning from the bike-a-thon driving by the shop… in a couple more weeks I would have the gold to free her some way, some how…

As you see in the picture I crafted as an Ode to her, now she is but a ghost who will haunt me tugging at my heart strings afar in some unknown location… my lovely old race bike was sold on Saturday not to me but another. I morn her and my heart is defeated and crushed, my dreams smashed into oblivion on the rocks of the shores of reality. Yet in that love I hope she is happy and free to fly again with another. Still… Still my friends I had wished it was with me. (the above sadly is true. The bicycle is gone…)

***(I am currently working on writing up my adventures… and terrors at my very first bike marathon last weekend… please bear with me, it will take a bit of time to do it writing justice and will end up being multiple parts)***

At Foolsfitness somehow we have experienced great adventures, triumphs, terrors, sadness, and heartbreak all in the span of a week…- Alan

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting Ready NASCAR Style!

In a day I’m going to be on the road headed to the big bike-a-thon event, and I’m going NASCAR STYLE BABY!!! I’ll tell you about my logo craze but first…

As a last bit of training I jumped on a bicycle safety event at the local NASCAR track where you could actually take your bicycle on the track. Let me tell you it was more dangerous than any stock car race I’ve seen. I work as a bicycle currier but I don’t deal with that level of danger in my normal mail routes. After three laps I got out while I was in one piece.

Why the danger? Well imagine throwing about 200 children all hopped up on soda on to a NASCAR track. The older ones really think how they are on a race car track and want to book it for all it’s worth. Then there is the group that’s just so excited that they zigzag across the track rather than follow a normal line. If you can avoid those collisions then there is the clueless group that end up going the *wrong* way on the track. Can it get worse… oh yes. See there are the 3 year olds who just are learning to ride and are doomed by the Gods of crash and skinned knees. Lastly you have the parents of said children trying to walk with them until they get distracted talking to their friends who also have children in the event… those gals just stroll along oblivious to all, around the track.

I’ve used the Bike-a-thon event as an excuse to “carb load”… after all, any excuse to eat two pizzas in the last couple of days will work right?

Back to my NASCAR Style. I had an idea while I was at the track. I have a decent expense for travel in gas and tolls, plus snacks and spring water. So I am actually putting on panels on my rear panniers with company logo sponsorships! Ahem… I’d like to thank all my sponsors on and off line who supported the Zoo New England Gilmour ride (Over 100 dollars raised now!!!)

AND I’d like to thank my corporate sponsors who are taking care of the Fools Fitness Team Raleigh operation costs… Genesis Behavioral Health, Dance On dance apparel and more , as well as Happy Jack’s Pipe and Tobacco Shop. So… how’s that for wild? Supported by someone who sells two-twos! I’ve even got logos on my helmet and a logo shirt from a sponsor.

Hey does this mean Fools Fitness Team is now “Pro”?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bicycle Scavenger Challenge!

I have a game we can play, encouraging you to get your bicycle out . My challenge is for you to take a picture of your bike (and you?) next to an “old car“. In future posts I may challenge you to take pictures next to other things. Please encourage me to do the same. Make some suggestions for me to “find” something I can take a picture of my bicycle with too in an ongoing scavenger hunt!

Leave a comment with ideas and a link to your own blog posts of your own adventure picture. If the game takes off, I may link your blogs in my posts and leave my own current challenge in the right column of my blog. Try to keep the challenges reasonably generic. Not all of us can get a picture of our bike next to the Grand Canyon or Mayan Pyramids. (Well, with photoshop, but that‘s cheating!!!)

SO where do you want to see my “Boba” bicycle next? With a statue, next to an exit sign, by the water, Next to an elephant, in front of a church???

I’m still trying to build up my endurance to ride the bike-a-thon I’m riding for this coming Saturday. If you’d like to make a donation on-line to help out animal projects through Zoo New England please go here:

I’d like to thank my supporters so far… and also to share some great news. “off line” I’ve been able to raise over $60 dollars so far, and on-line I’ve got a current $30 in donations. I’d appreciate your support. That being said this will be the last time I “beg” for donations for the event. There are many wonderful causes that people can support. I think it’s important to try to be a positive influence in the world and naturally there are many other great things you can participate in as well. So, no pressure.

Back to my “training”. I’ve rode over the weekend a casual ride around the State Capital of New Hampshire (in the U.S.A.) and got the two pictures… the Liberty Bell is a replica. That famous crack in the bell is actually *painted* on this one. Somehow a faux crack in this replica seems a bit cheesy to me. The picture in the right column is next to a hot rod bucket Model T.

The ride this weekend was riding about Concord from comic book store to book store, and a little random roaming. I always forget to hook up my speedometer so I have to guesstimate the ride at 3 miles or so? I also learned to carry extra water as I ran out and had to beg some nice lady washing her car at her home for some water from the hose to refill my bottle and to bring my tools too as my front fender got loose. Ride and learn!

Don’t forget next week I hopefully will be posting a multi-part series with pictures of the Zoo New England Gilmour Fund bicycle event. I’m getting *really* nervous… I don’t know if I can ride the whole thing and I’ve never tried something like this. But I guess the key here is I’m going to try! If a guy like me at 330 pounds can pedal, maybe you can too. Remember we are in this fitness thing together and we are riding for our lives… fighting off Diabetes, keeping our hearts strong, and being able to breathe easier. If you can’t ride, walk. If you’re in a place that walking is difficult, just make a choice to downsize to a slightly smaller portion in your next meal and build on that success.

I’ve been thinking that while I make lots of mistakes in poor eating choices, and I kick myself for not being perfect, I’m still trying to do something. Healthy choices add up too! I may never be a Mr. Universe, but I can try to be a slightly more fit Alan.

At Foolsfitness we wonder when this place ended up being a bicycling blog… - Alan