It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Am A Cheesemaker

Okay, so now I qualify as an official cheese maker   Yeah, it's a simple introduction into cheese making kind of cheese that I made, but I am still amazed at being able to produce cheese. I made mozzarella and it required milk, citric acid, rennet and a pinch of salt.  It's so simple that few ingredients are required and time spent is minimal.

So now I am a cheese maker.  A gallon of  milk goes into a large stainless steel pot with a thermometer attached.  Citric acid, dissolved in water is added   Heat it up to 90 F and add the rennet. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  If the cheese has "set" you can cut the cheese in a checkerboard fashion.  It's set if it looks like custard that has separated away from a liquid.  (curds are the solids and whey is the liquid).  Now you heat up the curds to 110 F.  At this point the curds are strained.  This might have to happen twice.  Then the product (solid cheese) is then worked into which ever shape you like.    Plus this is an all natural product.  Citric acid is found in fruits like lemons and oranges and rennet is derived from either an animal or vegetable source.  When salt is used it should be sea salt as the iodine in table salt impedes the cheese making.

I happen to love fresh mozzarella and have had a hankering to try making it and finally took the plunge, and boy oh boy am I ever glad I did.  There is a lot of self satisfaction that comes from tackling a project or making something we thought would be difficult or that we are unsure if we can do it or not.  When you have successful completion it's grin time!  The project was so much more fun having completed it with a friend.  Now we need to make another batch because we ate almost all the cheese with some Hungarian sausage and washed it all down with a couple of Fat Tire beers.  Fun!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Need A Little Motivation?

If you're looking to kick start winter indoor cycling or your program is getting a little blah as we reach mid-season for indoor training here's a video and article to help you out.  I came across this blog and fitness ezine by Rebecca Ramsey some time ago and have been following and using her tips and advice..  Ms. Ramsey has graciously consented to allow a guest posting and copy of her motivational video for readers here.

In addition to the motivational video the article below outlines beginning interval training.  Wow, just in time for me.

With temps in the sub freezing zone, grey winter skies and blustery conditions it's time for a little motivation, enjoy!

7 Reasons To Start Interval Training (for beginners)
By Rebecca Ramsey
Feel intimidated with starting interval training?
Interval training is not reserved for experienced cyclists. In fact, interval training is a great way to boost your cycling fitness and keep you from hitting a fitness plateau.  Any level of rider can start interval training. As long as you are cleared medically to ride at higher intensities, then you are good to start.
Interval training is simply taking a workout and breaking it up into intervals of hard cycling, followed by intervals of easy cycling.  The idea is to cycle the hard bouts of exercise harder than you would if you were riding at an easy, continuous pace.
When you start interval training, it is a mistake to think you have to go ‘all out’ from the word go. Instead, think of ‘interval training’ as simply ‘lifting the pace’.
All you need to do is ‘lift your pace’ a little above what you normally would do on an easy, continuous bike ride.  Then, on the easy interval bouts, simply lower your intensity (heart rate and/or gearing) back down to a comfortable riding pace.  You then repeat the intervals over a set number of times, before warming down and finishing the workout.
Here’s an example of a basic interval workout you can start on the road or on the turbo trainer after a good 20 minute warm up:
Lift your pace or click-up one gear higher and hold this new pace for 5 minutes, (say up to 80-85 max heart rate, so it feels slightly harder than usual), then recover by riding back at your normal easy bike ride pace or click back down to your starting gear.  Repeat this 3 times, then warm down for 10 minutes.
Here are 7 reasons why intervals are good to implement into your week from now on:
1. Helps fat burning:  cycling at a higher intensity than usual will help increase your metabolism i.e. the rate at which you burn calories.  The higher the intensity, the more calories get burned.  But remember, the harder you go, the shorter the work interval should be.  Start easy and look to progress over time with the intensity
2. Saves you time: cycling at a higher intensity with intervals, usually means the workout is shorter.  Don’t be fooled by this!  The quality is in the ‘intensity’ of the workout, not the length.  However, this means then you get fitter quicker – and this saves you time.
3. Make workouts more interesting: getting bored with one paced rides? break it up with interval training!  Not only are the workouts more interesting, but you’ll find it a great challenge to look forward to!
4. Gets you faster all-round: interval training helps to get you cycling faster and kick-starts your training again out of rut.  You need pace variation to keep progressing with your fitness, and intervals is one great way to do that.
5. Easy to implement: you don’t need high tech equipment or ‘special’ anything to start interval training.  You can start with monitoring ‘how you feel’ and using your gears.  If you have a heart rate monitor, then this can help, but really it’s a case of just ‘go ride’.
6. Good for your heart: research has shown that interval training helps drop your heart rate, increase stroke volume (the amount of blood your heart pumps each beat).  The more blood pumped, the less the heart needs to beat each minute!  Yes, interval training is good for you!
7. Feel amazing: after doing interval training you are more likely to feel even better than having done one long continuous bike ride.  Endorphins are produced in your brain in response to strenuous exercise. Interval training – due to its short bursts of intense activity – really get the endorphins flowing, and you feel fantastic.
Once you get used to interval style training, you can begin to increase the intensity, or increase the length of the hard interval bout.  This really depends specifically on what your are training for, but in the beginning, you want to keep it simple.  If you do the above example, then the next step is to add perhaps one or two more hard intervals, so you total 25 minutes of harder cycling before upping the pace of the harder interval.
You see how we increase just one variable at a time here? If you try to do more repeats AND up the pace, AND decrease the rest interval…you end up ‘overtraining’.  Go easy – the body responds best to small changes.
If you feel tired beforehand, never do interval training…you want your body to be fully rested to respond best to interval training.  As the saying goes, “if in doubt..leave it out”!  Similarly, after interval training take a few days easy cycling to reap the fitness benefits, or you’ll over do it.  Usually, one interval workout a week is enough to get started.
You can enjoy more articles and sign up for her free ezine here, plus I've added it to my list of Favorite Bicycling Links on the right sidebar.  Thank you Rebecca Ramsey for sharing your video and tips!

European Sampler And Spinervals

The rest of the ordered DVD's came in last week and there's still two on the wish list waiting.  First off was the European Sampler.  NICE!

The DVD quality was okay, the music is classical which fits the scenery but, classics aren't for workouts and I found myself pedaling at a more leisurely pace and that's okay for a change of pace, literally. I really enjoyed the sampler which takes you through the Austrian Alps, the banks of the River Rhine, the Italian Riviera, the Cottswald English countryside and the rugged pastures of Wales by the sea.  The video is 35 minutes and my session was 25 minutes so I'll save the vineyards of Alsace for my next ride.   When perusing through the reviews prior to purchasing the video several folks complained of the short segments   I didn't mind the length of the segments but the overall length of the video (35 min) is pretty slim for the price.  At $!5.95 Amazon price it's a couple of dollars less than most of the others but those others are anywhere from 75 to 115 minutes, so I can see why there is resistance to the value of this particular video.

Since it's winter here and it was beautiful summer time weather in the video, I'll take it.  Plus winding through the narrow streets and lanes makes time fly by on the trainer.  I was anxious to try out the Spinervals but a bout with a tender knee joint sidelined me for three days.  I started out my week on Wednesday with a light session finishing up the Puerto Rico video. Since my knee was not barking at me this morning I decided to go for the Spinerval workout and see if I could do it.


Even though I started with the original 1.0 version, many die-hard spinners today consider that first in the series kinda whimpy.  The title of this one is 1.0 "No Slackers Allowed" and 25 minutes worth had me feeling like I'd been worked over pretty good.  I was pleasantly surprised that the training session took place outdoors beside a lake.  I had anticipated a rather dull indoor gym like setting and this was not the case.

There were riders of various ages, both male and female on trainers who were working furiously at intervals during the course of the video.  There was a warm up period and then a series of ladders began.  At least that's what the video called them.  Our coach drove us hard but was a motivator too.  We were timed at intervals of light gear spinning coupled with progressively harder gearing and alternated back and forth with fast and furious spinning and the leg burning heavier gearing.  The coach called for the second set which was different from the first to alternate the harder spinning with standing, then a seated light spin followed by a powerful seated spin and then the same thing all over again.  I've not mastered standing on a bike whilst pedaling as an adult.  Funny but as a kid it was almost no different to stand and pedal or sit.  Hardly the case as an adult! Absent a heart rate monitor, the prompts across the top of the display on the video gave varying degrees of perceived exertion so that you could pace yourself without one.  When I finished my time I knew I'd had a good workout and I have to believe this will help me be better prepared for spring time and I'm certain these workouts will make me much stronger come the season.  Added bonus: the little devil in me enjoyed having company while sweating and suffering.

I really want to be able to ride at a faster pace so that I can up my mileage for the same amount of time spent on a ride.  Also, hills for me are tough and working my legs like this should help.  I'm going to take it slowly and use the Spinerval Video two times per week unless my knee joint does not cooperate.  If I manage that well, I'll up it to three times per week in a week or so.  The other days will be at a consistent pace with my touring videos.  So far, I like my plan.

In my next post I'll introduce another guest poster with a motivational video that she publishes in her online newsletter and blog.