Calories per Mile

This is a SWAG for calories burned cycling 12-15mph:

* Divide your feet climbed by 10.
* Divide again by your average MPH.
* Add that to your total miles.
* Multiply the new number by the weight in pounds of you, your bike, and everything you’re carrying.
* Multiply the new number by 0.105 (or divide by 9.5).
* (Use 0.115 or 8.7 if you only know your own naked wake-up weight.)
* That is pretty close to your calories burned for the ride.
* Baseline here is me, 6’5″, anywhere between 250 and 290 pounds plus bike weight (any bike).

BMR is not a part of this SWAG:

* BMR is how much you burn in 24 hours of sleeping.
* Most people are around 9kcal per pound per day.
* BMR and is not based on your activity level (see TDEE).
* BMR is based in your microcellular efficiency, and is influenced by hormones.
* If you are on severe caloric restriction, it goes down.
* Thyroid issues can affect this either way.
* Baseline here is me, at 285 pounds, and averaging 2550 kcal per day.

Faster speeds pick up exponentially more wind resistance.

* Twice the airspeed has four times the wind drag.
* Higher density altitude has proportionally less drag.
* Shorter and narrower shouldered people people have less wind drag.
* Fatter people are slightly more aerodynamic, so the increased wind profile is not THAT much of an issue.
* Cycling 10mph into a 5mph headwind has as much wind drag as cycling 20mph with a 5mph tailwind.
* 12-16mph is the 50% transition for wind vs other factors on flat ground. (13mph for me at 6 sqft)
* Baseline here is me, with about 6 square feet of frontal area, about 22 Watts at 10mph, and about 150 Watts at 20mph, just for wind.

Rolling resistance is a big part of drag.

* Increases linearly with speed (2x speed is 2x the rolling drag).
* Lower weight is better (because tiny bumps have to push you UP over them).
* Race tires can be half the CRR of average tires.
* Wider tires are better by around 1% per mm with 23mm as baseline.
* Baseline is me, at 310 total, 31W at 10mph, or 61W at 20mph on 1% grade.

Routes with less uphill than downhill will cost fewer calories.

* Increases linearly with speed (2x speed is 2x the gravity drag).
* 1% uphill is 2x the drag of rolling resistance. 2% is 4x.
* Lower weight people do way better on both gravity and CRR.
* Baseline is me, at 310 total, 62W at 10mph vs 124W at 20mph on 1% grade.

Good links:


Body Energy Usage

I ponder macro-nutrition needs a whole bunch. Here’s what I have handy, though my technical references are scattered and omitted.

There’s always a need for roughage, vitamins, and minerals, which come from foods with very low calories/kilojoules. Aside from that, the three main macros have specific needs.

A body needs 125 grams of carbs for your brain/nerves; just under 1 gram of protein per kilo of lean body mass to maintain tissues/muscles; and around 30g of fat for cellular and neurological structures. This is usually around 1200 kcal per day, but varies by person 10-20 percent.

Anything else you eat is either poop, or gets converted to sugar. Sugar is burned if it’s needed immediately for exercise (growing, standing, walking, cardio, whatever, anything other than sleeping). Any sugar that is not immediately needed is stored in muscles as glycogen, up to around 4% of your muscle mass. All sugar past that is turned into fat and stored in our fat cells.

This is where “whole grains” comes into play. If it’s not ground up, it takes longer to break it down. However, if you take grains, and mill them into a powder, IT IS NOT WHOLE GRAINS. Just because there is fiber in the food does not mean it’s slow to absorb. The less processed the food, the longer time period over which it trickles energy into your body. If it’s super processed, it all absorbs very quickly, and your body may have trouble figuring out what to do with it unless you’re depleted already.

This is also where some insulin resistance comes from, and why diabetics have normal sugar metabolism in their muscles during exercise, even if they are short on insulin, or are resistant to it. Resistance is GLUT4 which causes glucose receptors to move to the cell membrane, but exercise does the same thing – muscle is hungry, it asks for more. Muscle is not hungry, it asks for less, even if you try to overfeed it. Where would it put this excess sugar? It can only store so much.

During exercise, your fat cells can liberate about 90% of your weight in pounds as usable calories per hour. For me, it’s about 260 calories. The gap is made up from glycogen in the muscles, which is good for just about 90 minutes. If you exercise hard, and stop at 60, and rest for 30, those 30 mins still use up that glycogen for delayed processes, cleanup, etc.

Eating carbs cannot provide as much energy as glycogen, but it’s the next best thing. Also, if you’re fasting, your glycogen reserves get burned up pretty quickly. Glycogen is 3:1 water to sugar, so this is why the first week of dieting is so awesome. No, that’s not fat. It’s muscle energy.

Any energy deficiency not covered by food will be covered by muscle damage. About the same number of calories can be broken down out of injured muscle cells. For me, this is a total of muscle and fat sourced calories of about 520 calories per hour. If I exercise for 3 hours with no food, then my power output drops to 130 watts, which is about 520 calories per hour.

The best option to limit muscle damage, limit recovery time, and optimize exercise benefits when going for more than your glycoge, is to eat as much every hour as you burn, minus the calories that can come from fat. Staying carb focussed can give more energy, and can be easier to absorb, though for some people, this slows the breakdown of body fat.

Staying fat focussed keeps the fat burn mechanisms running, but it takes twice as much oxygen, which means you’re hear-rate limited. It’s less about muscle conditioning then, and more about cardiovascular improvement.

Staying protein focussed is tougher on the kidneys. The aminos have to be converted for use as fuel, and that’s a lot of extra ammonia to pee out. That can be an issue when dehydration might already be at play.

Cycling Fuel

Max bodyfat you can burn in an hour is roughly 1 gram per 10 pounds, or in calories, 9 times your weight in pounds.

Anything else is food, muscle glycogen, or actual muscle tissue. Glycogen max is about 4% lean muscle mass, which usually is enough for 90 mins, plus or minus. Food is whatever is in your gut, though exercise slows digestion.

Bonk is when you have used up all food, and your glycogen stores, effectively exercising while fasted.

Bonk power is the max sustained energy ouput when you are fasted/bonked. This is fat burn, and muscle breakdown, combines.

Average watts is roughly 1/4 your calories per hour.

Me as an example
I’m 280 pounds, and bonk power for me is 133 watts, which is about 520 calories per hour. Doing that pretty much guarantees cramps from muscle breakdown.

Biking, I tend to burn 750-850 calories per hour, but I can peak at over 1000 in some instances (beginning, well fed, well rested, very driven).

That’s a big gap, because being big, I get more wind drag, which is 50% of your energy above 15mph. I also take more energy to climb a hill.

Downhill is faster, so less benefit (less time spent going downhill), and often waste the energy by riding brakes so as to not plow through others.

I do best consuming 600 calories per hour while riding more than 90 mins.

So, I have to eat the equivalent of a meal every hour to keep up, and reduce cramp risks. Most of that needs to be carbs that break down in less than an hour. Also, I don’t want to have a bathroom break every hour.

Ride Fuel
Sugary colas have phosphate, glucose, and fructose – all good for refueling. Cookies, sandwiches, etc usually are low roughage, good energy density, and include salt. M&Ms were actually designed to be endurance fuel for the army, and they hold up pretty well in a plastic bag.

Basically, all the things that are bad for you normally make great endurance fuel.

As to proper “race fuel”, honestly, it’s too low calorie for someone my size. Some people only need 200 calories an hour to stay fueled, so half banana, a 2″ square of granola, and a swig of gatorade is fine. For me, that would be a whole bunch bananas, and two quarts of gatorade. Just too much bulk.

Add to all that the need for oxygen to build ATP (actual muscle energy chemical). It takes 35% more oxygen to burn blood glucose than intra-muscular glycogen. Fat takes twice as much oxygen as glucose. High heat, humidity, low pressure, altitude, carbonation, and alcohol all reduce oxygen availability. Transport of glucose into the cell takes ATP. Digestion of food takes ATP.

Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, and Metabolic Syndrome
The key there is to not eat much carbohydrate outside of the exercise times. When glycogen reserves are full (muscles recovered), and adipose cells are replete, then why would you need more fuel? That’s the practical wording of the physiology here, despite the perception of a faulty hunger mechanism for the obese, or lack of islets for type I, or the defective signalling in Type II without obesity triggers.

Exercise induced glucose uptake is normal in diabetic muscle cells:

Exercise may increase glucose sensitivity:

While glycogen is being replenished, glucose uptake by muscles in normal. GLUT4 is transported to the membrane during exercise, even in absence of insulin.

Bicycle cross-chaining

Mark loves to prod me about cross-chaining, because it’s formally a naughty-no-no. I thought I’d give some observations, since I am a chronic cross-chainer.

Cross chaining wears the sides of the sprockets, which is never what wears out. I ride like I am a 1×9 unless I’m on hills. No problems. All major makers support 1×11 (single gear in front, all the way back and forth in the rear).

Cross chaining puts a side load on chain pins, so use a chain whose plates don’t pop off. Most are made by KMC, with a brand label on them. I found SRAM branded chains hold up better. SRAM was the first to offer 1×11 drivetrains. KMC branded, Shimano branded, etc would pop a link by 600 miles. Maybe better now, but I have no reason to change brands. Bell chains are just too heavy/slow/frictiony, but work fine. Whippermsn chains are super durable, but expensive. Chains with a dimple or flat pin edge are better than the ones that look like a wite cutter went after them.

Wear on the teeth, ramps, and pins of the cassette/chainrings is due to shifting. Side loads don’t matter much, but heavy loads do. Don’t shift under high load, and they will last longer. If you hear a crunch when shifting because you waited to downshift, that’s more damaging.

Wear on chains is mostly from higher wattage, incorrect lubrication, and grit abrasion. Clean and lube your chain any time you can hear it at all. Try different lubes and see what you like. You can even throw it in a jug of 50wt motor oil, or molten candle wax if you like, but make sure to wipe it off well. Oil only needs to be inside the rollers. Anywhere else attracts grit.

Wattage, well, whatever power you can put into a chain is part of the fun, but if you are 285 pounds like me, and stand to power up a hill, expect more wear.

Lastly, when your chain gets to 0.5% stretched, replace it. Letting it go longer causes additional wear on the sprockets.

The only other issue to bring up is practical, not wear related, and that’s dropped chains.

If you are all the way tiny in the back, and shift up to the big ring in the front, expect to drop the chain off the outside, onto the crank arm.

If you are all the way small in the back, and try to shift to the small ring up front, expect to drop your chain between the cranks and the frame.

If you are fast, you can soft pedal, shift 2-3x in the rear, then shift up front, before losing much momentum. Chain guards and idler arms are not super effective at preventing drops caused by cross chaining.

Bicycle Tire Pressure

Optimal tire size and pressure isn’t always known. Here is a great calculator I use when I set up bikes.

The “Bike + Rider” weight is usually about 10% over your out-of-the-shower weight, and includes your clothes, tool bag, bottles, bike, etc.

The middle calculator automatically shows front and rear tires separately. I recommend that.

For tire sizes, you can pick what you have installed, and see what’s the best pressure for front and rear.

I like to run 2 different sized tires so I can keep the same pressure front and back, but due to frame limits, my rear tire is still too narrow.

If ideal for a road bike is under 80psi, (light riders), then you might consider going with a thinner tire. You’ll find it easier to spin up.

If ideal is over 120psi, you might consider a wider tire, because higher pressures can be harder on rims, tire casings, etc.

If you’re riding dirt, then lower pressures are better, to a point. Under 30psi usually means rock crawling, low speeds, and a tubeless setup. Over 80psi usually means you’ll have traction issues on softer surfaces.

Also. this person’s domain is “Dorky Pants R US”, which is just really great fun.

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Gym Workout Routines

I was talking with a friend about my Gym routine, I thought I’d share some of that here. It’s kind of a wall of text, soI tried to organize it for easy skimming.

I keep a notepad on my phone to track what I did and what’s next. End of workout, I add the updated list to MyFitnessPal in the exercise notes. This keeps me from twiddling my thumbs during rests.

#### Warmup is cardio:
* About 10 mins or 200 calories warmup on the recumbent bike. I’ll start at about 50%, and crank it up to 100% a couple of times. I try to vary my RPM, but tend to hang out around 70. I have long legs, so momentum is a factor. I make sure I clear 160bpm, but I never get to max HR. Sometimes I try to draw pictures with the hill profile.

#### Safety warmup for exercises I’m not sure about:
* 10-20 reps at 50-60% just to make sure everything moves right, especially for heavier weight exercises.

#### I usually go for strength
* Target is 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps per exercise.
* If I make it to 16 reps, I bump up the weight on the next set.
* Sometimes I’ll do 8 reps, then drop 40% and do another 8.
* If anything pinches or doesn’t feel right, I’ll back off the weight.
* Not so worried about cardio since I average 75 miles per week on a road bike.

#### I do circuits for time efficiency:
* Whole Body Days: alternate upper/lower, front/back, with 30 second rests between circuits.
* Upper OR Lower Only: I’ll do 2-3 exercises with a 60-90 second rests.
* I average almost one working set for every 2 minutes. That includes the set, equipment setup, walking between machines, updating my notes, and any rest/cooldown time. That excludes the warmup time at the start. (eg, a 2 hour workout has 20 mins of warmup, and 40-45 working sets. A 1-hour workout will have 10 mins warmup, and 18-24 sets.)

#### With a workout buddy:
We could alternate on the same machine with 60-90 second rests. This is less overall workouts, but more social. We could also do the circuits, and just be one machine off from each other. Less social, but more efficient.

#### Workout Duration:
I prefer a longer, whole body workout every 4 days. I get better results, and less wasted time. My goal is to grow muscle mass, and I’m missing the sprinter gene, so recovery time is usually 3-5 days instead of 2-3 days for most people.

If I have only 1 hour, it’s best if I stick to only upper or only lower, because exercises always pull in a other muscles a little. I don’t feel I get quite as good of a workout this way.

#### Upper Body Exercises:
* Freeweight bench row (Low-Back sparing vs seated)
* Chest Press (like a bench press)
* Lat Pulldowns
* Seated dips (because I’m too heavy to do real dips yet)
* Chest fly & rear deltoid fly (same machine, diff settings)
* Biceps curls (cable or dumbell)
* Triceps extension (Slow to improve)
* Sometimes I do a shoulder press or a vertical row, but those are not so great on my shoulder sockets.
* Lateral dumbell arm raises.

#### Lower Body Exercises
* Freeweight seated calf extension (Soleus Muscle)
* Rotary Calf Extension (Gastroc Muscle)
* Inner/Outer thigh (adductor/abductor)
* Leg Curls (Hamstrings)
* Leg Extension (outer and inner quads, nearer the knee)
* Leg Press (because it doesn’t load my low-spine like squats & deadlifts do.)

###### Back Pain avoidance (Chronic and Acute)
* Nothing with a torso twist (wood choppers, obliques) – always causes days of increased pain.
* No abdominal crunches – Still hurting from 2 weeks ago when I let my form get sloppy.
* No back extensions – Same as with crunches, though a 45 degree bodyweight back extension bench would be fine if I could find that at my gym.
* Backed off of seated rows, just to be safe. I’ve moved to bench rows, though bent-over single-arm dumbell rows are okay too (off-arm is on the bench, so no low-back load).
* I should be doing planks and leg lifts at home, but I keep forgetting. This gets core without abusing low-spine.
* I should do more stretching on non-workout days, but I keep forgetting. This helps keep from putting too much strain on low-back when moving around.

#### Preferred Machines
I like the Hoist machines my Gym has best, but I’ve maxed out the leg press. Not sure I want to use the freeweight leg press without a big spotter. I like most of the Precor machines, and use them for things missing from the Hoist line-up. Last are the Life Fitness for a couple things, but they use bigger weight stacks for the same effort, and just seem to be on a different scale from all of the others.


This is what SEEMS to make the most sense for me. No *way* is easy, but this seems the least hard.

Energy Plans:
* Defer first meal until actually hungry (9:30a-12:30p for me)
* Keep each meal before 3:30pm around 12% of my daily intake.
* Eat before I get ravenous (around every 2 hours).
* Try to keep a reserve of about 25% of my calories for the evening.
* Don’t be TOO aggressive (20% deficit is okay, but 40% is not).

* Keep extra servings away from my plate/bowl.
* Split up snack/mini-meals when I’m not hungry.
* Stay busy (yay computer!)
* You have to exercise, because your body will reduce your BMR to keep from losing fat reserves.
* Hungries are worse the day AFTER exercise, so save your calories for tomorrow.

* Lots of broths, leaves, fresh veggies to add bulk, and fill in when I’m STILL HUNGRY!
* Make sure I get the food groups and vitamins daily / weekly rather than every meal.
* UMAMI: Your tongue creates Peptide YY it detects meat, glutamate, etc. Reduces hunger by 30% in the lab.
* VITAMIN A: Hunger hormones are produced by fat cells. Empty fat cells do not get recycled without Vitamin A.
* VITAMIN D: Vitamin D is blocked by Vitamin A, and is deficient for many indorsy people.
* CALCIUM: Requires Vitamin D to be absorbed. Prevents brittle bones.

Some days will be better than others. Don’t give up. Keep tinkering.

Italian Cream Cake

Sharon ran across a recipe that looks amazing. It is very similar to my mom’s recipe, except they use melted butter in place of the oil+butter_flavoring; and they use twice as much icing.


Italian Cream Cheese Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening…
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans


2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Beat just until combined. Stir in coconut and pecans.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in pecans. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Store in the refrigerator.

For reference, Here is my mom’s recipe, slightly annotated by me. She kept it on a 3×5 card in her recipe box, but it might have been something she got from her mom.

Mom’s Italian Cream Cake Recipe


Set oven to 350 (preheating)

Cream well:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp butter flavor

Add 5 yolks (emulsifiers), one at a time, and stir after each one.

Once it’s all creamed, add:
1 cup buttermilk

Then, add the dry team
2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 cup Angel Flake coconut (Canned is better than dry bagged)

Add the whites
Beat 5 egg whites until stiff
Fold egg whites gently into batter

Bake the cake
Pour equally into 3 round 8″ cake pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at preheated 350 degrees F.

Melt and mix the icing in a double boiler
8oz cream cheese
1 stick margarine or butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp butter flavor

Once melted, add:
1 box powdered sugar

Once smooth, add:
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cool icing by placing pan/bowl in cold water.

Once the cake is out and cooled, spread the icing between layers, then on the top and sides.

Let set up overnight in the fridge.

Note: Individual slices freeze very well and are extremely tasty while still frozen.

Disable Strava Live Segments on Garmin

Garmin support says to disable individual segments on your device. Well, new segments show up still, and things get re-enabled. When Segments are enabled, it chews up more battery, just like following a course. Also, Garmin support takes DAYS to respond, and seems to send you to a level zero support queue first.

Strava support was awesome. I got a simple, exact response in three hours. To disable live segments, go to garmin connect. From the hamburger menu in the top left, click the arrow next to segments (way down in the list). Click the button to add it to your dashboard. Now, you’ll see the widget on your dashboard. From there, click the gear on the widget. Choose “Use Garmin Segments”. BLAM! You’re back to not using Strava Live Segments. You can toggle it on and off there, even though the initial enablement is on Strava’s webpage.

I wanted this disabled, because every time I would go near a segment, it would beep at me a few times. If I crossed over the start of a segment, it would beep no less than 15 times before it gave up. This is from an Edge 520 on version 7 code. Maybe it’ll be better in the future, but it’s just a distraction to me. YMMV

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Spinal Health

My critical stretches are:
* Calf stretch just because it reduces referred pain on hamstring stretches, and because I tore a gastroc once.
* Hammies get a hurdler stretch or similar. Tight hammies are big, bad back things, and a major problem for me.
* IT bands get a figure-four, or a leg over stretch to help reduce piriformis syndrome.

Others I enjoy when remembered:
* Pidgeon pose gets adductors AND IT bands a little, because I cannot really do the splits. This is mostly for 2 days after a long bike ride.
* Quad stretch, usually just grab my foot behind me and get as much stretch as I can. This is more for my knees than anything.

Core strength I need more of:
* Planks in all 4 directions also help core. Front plank can be replaced with pushups if form is good. Modified planks/pushups as necessary to prevent strain.
* Rows, whether off a doorframe, or a table, or with proper equipment, are important. However, a year post-op, and I’m still not really comfortable with twisting under load. I do one arm at a time, and keep my shoulders square. YMMV.
* Walking / hiking are great for core if it’s more than a few minutes, and more than just on a track or treadmill.

Aerobic/Calorie Burn
* Road bikes are low impact, but the bending is not always best.
* Spin bikes are easy to sit upright and get comfy, while burning calories, but the class matters a bunch.
* Some people run, but if your heel hits the ground, it just hammers your spine.
* Swimming, if that’s your thing. More of an upper-body thing.
* NOTE: Stretching after a good warm-up will be much more effective. Also, a good warm-up will break down some of the tight strands the same as stretching, just smaller amounts per step/stroke/whatever. Also, if I don’t stretch after a long bike ride, everything goes bad faster.

Other Stuff
* There are other body stretches I should do, but I don’t suffer when I don’t do them. The /r/bodyweightfiness has good enough reference that I mostly ditched all of the other lists, charts, and PT printouts for it.
* Aspirin for NSAID since my family has a history of clots, and Ibuprofen/Naproxen increase clot risks when used long-term.
* Hot Tubs/showers are awesome for relaxing muscles, preventing cramps, etc.
* Extra salt when I exercise, because I’m a salty guy. Seriously. I cramp up if I don’t get enough, and this could be 1-2 grams of salt per liter of water consumed, depending on the temperature outside.