Friday, July 31, 2009

Complete Canal Biker

DAY 21
32.03min going.
32.06min (PB) coming home.
Record daily total 64.09min
Weather: Fantastic.70F/21C degrees, puffs of wind.
CO2 Emissions Saved: 118.5kg

How long do you have to do something before it becomes a routine? Six weeks? Six months? A year? Not 21 days. But it is a start. And a finish. My Tour de France simulation is complete.

Tour Facts:
Tammie: 355km or 220 miles
Tour de France: 3500km or 2174 miles
Percentage of Tour de France Tammie managed in 21 Stages: 10.1%

Rabo Riders who fell: 8
Times Rabo fell: TBA
Times Tammie fell: 0

Minutes on bike: 1503
Calories: 9 per min, 35 per km, 50 per mile

Calories per day: 700
Total calories burned: 13834

Calories in a pound: 3500
Calories in a kilo: 7700

Days to ride off 1 pound: 5
Days to ride off 1 kilo: 11

Weight Loss
Expected based on exercise calories only: 3.9lbs or 1.8kilos
Weight gained: 6.2lbs or 2.8kilos
Weight lost during whole journey: 8.6lbs or 3.9kilos
Actual weight loss, first weigh - last weigh in: 2.2lbs or 1.1kilos

Goals and Quitting
The inner commentator says "Make a new goal or you won't stay with it." High school buddy John reminded me of a most excellent scene from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story with inspiration from fellow Texan bike racer Lance Armstrong. Very appropriate for today's decision to ride or quit. I changed the names:

When you feel like quitting from Dodgeball
Tammie Nolte: Uh, actually I decided to quit... Lance.

Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?

Tammie Nolte: Right now it feels a little bit like... shame.

Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Tammie. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever.

Biker's bridge on Leidse Rijn Canal
Fallen and Can't Get Up
Fresh out of good reasons and excuses to stop. Didn't ride as fast as the Rabo Pro Cycling team. Didn't ride as far as the Rabo Riders. My final stage was 5 days late. However, Rabo guys, I stayed in the saddle. I didn't fall.

Every Rabo Rider fell during the Tour de France. Gesink broke his wrist, kept riding. Oscar got shot in thigh with a pellet gun and kept riding. Falling down and getting shot down was not the theme here. Not physically anyway. Did catch the saddle point in the jacksey (pubic bone) once when trying to stop too fast.

Tour of Spain
This weekend, will work on a new goal. New challenge. I will continue. But I need to have a reason to ride and a reason to write. Vuelta Tour of Spain is also 21 Stages and runs from August 29 - September 20. The first four days of the Vuelta start in Holland this year. Need a training goal for all of August between the Tour de France and Vuelta a EspaƱa.

Favorite picture of whole blog taken today. Click on it, it will get bigger and prettier.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rocky Canal Biker

DAY 20
Time: Record in 32.01min
Record home 33.58min
Weather: Morning forgetable, maybe tailwind, blinding sun.
Afternoon strong headwind.
CO2 Emissions saved: 113kg

Tires smoking from speed on the way to work. Caught all the green lights. Raced the bus. Was very surprised at the stopwatch. Thought I must have a tailwind pushing me quickly to work. But look at my hair?

Shattered old to and fro records and daily total by four minutes: record 65.59min. Proud especially because of headwind coming home. Storm was perched on the horizon. On the bridge climb going home, 3 people had momentum issues and stopped and walked.

Breaking Wind
Decided this would be my Mont Ventoux climbing simulation from Stage 20. Rabobank won this stage. Could see people hopping off seats, so turned up the inner commentator who said, "You can pass all five of these people. Three of them are walking. Don't stop. Lean forward. Push."

Cue the Henderson Jr. High Band version of Rocky Balboa stair climbing music. Didn't think "quitters" because I was very pleased that 3 of them had quit. Just didn't want my momentum to hit the wind wall. Didn't want to join the quitters. Passed 5 going up and 1 going down.

Thighs for the Climb
Cannot imagine climbing for 25km/15 miles. Or even one. My climb was about 250meters/yards. Mont Ventoux has claimed many quitters. As far as I can assess and guess. If I climb 1km of Mont Ventoux, and then quit, I would still brag my ass off.

Wondered what kind of muscles tissue I was building with these climbs. Do I really want the legs of a woman who can comfortably pump my body weight? To move my weight up the hill, don't I need more thigh muscle mass than the Rabo Tour guys?

Wind Breaker or Climber
Most people passed me today on the flat. I passed the most on the climb. Decided that I should be categorized on the Rabo Team as a climber or certainly a broad shouldered, ample wind breaker. I'm no sprinter, either. Quite sure Team Leader Kniebel isn't up tonight deciding where my biking skills would best fit the squad.

Upper arm needs own blog
Trying to figure out my body chemistry and reconstruction during my canal training. After 40, women lose bone density. Exercise replaces it, somehow. In just three weeks, have acquired dense bones (again), meaty thighs and the formidable forearm of wrestler Andre the Giant.

Supportive co-worker Marisol took this pic while screaming "Go Rocky Go" or "I love you Rocky" or was it "Hurry up, the light's green, all I can see in this picture is your formidable forearm."

Trip in: 3 passed me, I passed 6
Trip home: 7 passed me, I passed 9
Total passes today: Record 15

Song of the day: Rocky theme song and stair climbing tune

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Top 10 Canal Biker

DAY 19
Time: 39min from auto shop
35.30min personal best tie
Car in shop again, on mechanic's 3-speed
Weather: Morning drizzle annoying but not evil.
Afternoon, inconsequential.

CO2 Emissions saved: 107.5kg

Picture here: Climbing bridge hill, sweat/rain on forehead, Rihanna singing Umbrella Ella Ella. Can't hold umbrella ella ella while snapping pictures, checking stopwatch, changing Ipod, typing SMS and riding. Haven't fallen yet. Two days left.

Since Tour de France finished on Sunday, I've been getting the questions "Are you going to keep riding?" or "Are you still riding?" or "Why are you doing this anyway?" Will sprinkle post with pictures of the day where my tongue played a lead role.

Top 10 Reason to Start Canal Biker Tour & Blog

10. Became carless. Old 1988 Volkswagen didn't pass inspection.

9. Owned 4 bikes, broken or flat tired bikes.

8. In memory of former co-worker Menno van Voorthuizen who recently lost the cancer battle. Menno used to ride his bike down the same piece of canal when he was in high school. He encouraged me to start. He rides along some days.

7. Love water. Love canals. Dream home would be on a canal or beach or river or pond or lake.

6. Need to trick self into exercise. Forces me to be accountable, measurable, responsible and other personal development words.

5. Am not the poster girl for physical fitness and actually the opposite body type of the Tour de France professional bikers. Not trying to achieve this unachievable fat-free, lean, spindly frame. Just think it is ironic and hilarious to compare my pork-chop-self and turtle-ride to pro cycling.

4. Day job has me writing serious, businessy, financial, investory, professional, analytical, agricultural, gray pin striped, very corporate articles for work. Needed outlet to be silly or emotional and develop own style and own voice for my inner biker without anyone saying 'we cannot write that.'

3. Friends and family always very encouraging about my writing. Book publishers don't care if 90 year old Aunt Alyce thinks I am brilliant and reads religiously. But I love knowing Aunt Alyce gets a daily print out and others are following my riding and writing.

2. Have lost 34 pounds since August 2008. Body hit a plateau and wall for a month. Thought I could bust the wall by peppering my life with exercise. Long way to go to be held up at 34 pounds for 8 weeks now. Gaining in the first 2 weeks of the ride was damn annoying too. Will weigh on Friday to get the full Tour results.

1. For the journey. I am pretty. I am sporty. I am a good writer. I am funny. All this gets buried in daily life. Buried in my serious writing job. Buried under some belly blubber. Buried 23 years ago when I played basketball, volleyball and golf competitively. Buried in a green lime Jell-o mold of self-imposed insecurity.

Some people have never known me as pretty, thinner, and athletic. Some people don't know me at all. Some people don't remember that Tammie. I do. I want to find her again with my 40+ life experience and confidence.

I have made progress, have bettered my time, become stronger and faster, committed to the writing and the riding. Pouted about it too.

Don't judge me. Don't underestimate me. Will run you over with my crap gearless bike in a slow speed chase. Then will take an artsy black and white picture of you, and write about you cynically in my blog. I am Daily Canal Biker.

Trip in: I passed 2, 2 passed me, even.
Trip home: 5 to 4, MY FAVOR!

Song of the day: Always makes me cry... How to Save a Life by The Fray. Makes me think of Menno riding the canal.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bionic Canal Biker

DAY 18
Time: 37 going, stopwatch quit,
38.36 coming back at night
Weather: Gorgeous almost cold, going in. Sweating coming home.
CO2 Emissions saved: 102kg

Green Day
Do you have the time, to listen to me whine...lyrics to Green Day song. Listened to 'old school' Green Day to keep me going at night on the way home. Tour de France finished Sunday, but I am a few stages behind. Just 3 stages left on my canal tour. Will continue until Friday then decide what to do with my life, body and canal biking career.

Black Day
Camera on BlackBerry is black. Stopwatch stopped. Tried to add up the time on all the Alan Jackson songs up to 'I'm in Love with You Baby and I Don't Even Know Your Name'. Then realized it was on random play. So calculations by song length wouldn't help unless I remembered each song that played. Didn't.

Fresh legs today. Good thing. Met up with Cheryl Sampley's husband's brother Troy and two of his young buck students in Amsterdam. Guys were on the last leg of a European tour.

Nudie Runner Companion for the Day
Troy is experienced, well-traveled world traveler and more claims to fame. He is an occasional nudie runner. Type in to see if they are flapping through your city soon. Very awesome that someone would have the balls to run balls free with all your bits on display for public airing. Not something I can consider. More because of the actual 'running' part. But high five Troy.

Free Water Not Free in Europe
Like most Texans, they were overdue for some free chips and salsa and free ice water. Neither available in Europe. The 18yo boys missed breakfast tacos and were done with croissants and Frosted Flakes on the 'Continental Breakfast' list.

Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll Tour
Walked for two hours around Amsterdam and added this to my CO2 saved calculations. Showed them what 18yo boys want to see. Red Light District, menu of weed selection in the coffee shops, Sex Museum, Erotic Museum, Hemp Museum, Torture Museum, Live Sex Show, Banana Bar and all the finer upstanding corners of Amsterdam.

Famished Tourist
Boys had said 'we just ate frites'. Heard they were on a tight budget, so I didn't worry about grazing for 3 hours at an Amsterdam restaurant. I missed all the clues that they were hungry, like 'what's your favorite food here?' Am now the embarrassed tour guide who doesn't feed her tourees.

Probably walked 5 miles/7km. Add that to the 15miles/20km that I had to bike to and fro, and we have us a biathalon. Guys should have pushed me into the canal for the triathlon experience. I would have to tread water for 45-60 minutes for me to find a way to exit the canal or a crane to hoist me from the murky browness of the Amstel.

Trip in: 9 people passed me
Trip home: 1 to 1, late in evening, no one on the roads, could sing like no one was listening and dance some weird head jerking, handlebar swerving bike dances like no one was watching.

Song of the Day: Basket Case and When I Come Around from Green Day Dookie album. Latter video on trial for being SO 90s!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Canal Biker

DAY 17
Time: 34.30min(PB)going to work.
35.55min(PB)coming home.
Weather: Good enough to wear my suede jacket going in.
Dubious enough that suede jacket spent weekend at work.
CO2 Emissions saved: 93.5lbs.

Feel my Face
Cousin June from Colorado commented, "Biking must be serious stuff judging by the look on your face." Honestly, am challenged to smile, breathe, concentrate on forward motion and take pictures, at the same time.

Decided on Day 4 Wet Canal Biker post, that the ride was dang hard, and sometimes unpleasant. And I was wet. And not closing in on happy. Decided to take real pictures of myself and how I feel. I often chop off my double chin which is easier on my ego, but the smileless faces are real.

If You Just Smile
Today, I wanted to smile and minimize the perplexing look in my eyes and forehead. Needed something to smile about. On the way to work, pedaled with head down, worked out some aggression and frustration. Broke daily record with 34.30, a personal best and cracked the 35 minute ceiling. Not much smiling or picture taking.

Me passing 3rd biker
Pass or be Passed
On the way home, it would be my last trip with the 3-geared mechanics bike. Third gear all the way. I passed two people before the bridge climb. Smile. I passed one more lady struggling with a little climb, some wind resistance, and the vacuum I create with my speed while overtaking bikers. Smile. Two very professional riders passed me about 15 minutes in. No smile. But light bulb moment.

Fire in Eyes and Thighs
Thought if I kept up a strong pace, could win the pass or be passed ratios today. Smile. A young, skinny girl in front of me was riding leisurely, I focused on catching her. Thighs were burning like a campfire. Then the clouds parted and a hand reached down and stopped her bike. Smile. She started digging in her purse and I might have screamed "YEEHA", threw head back and laughed, as I forged on. But all the time remembering to snap today's profile picture at the top.

Catching the Bus
Half way home with the overtake score me 4, them 2. Looked behind me. Saw the bus coming, but no people on bikes. Smile. Lone Ranger theme was not on my Ipod, but should have been. Caught the bus at the bus stop. Smile. I got the green, bus had the red. Had to make sure no one passed me and keep my speed up. Light bulb. Decided to race bus to next bus stop. I won. Smile. BTW, this is the same bus stop where I used to QUIT after 10-minutes of riding to work. Smile.

Happily passing the bus for the first time. Guy in blue shirt just finished 125 mile walk in 4 days. See medal and the gladiolas. Hats off to Bus Passenger
Later, looked back at pictures and I am damn happy. Noticed at the bus stop picture, a man with a blue shirt and red gladiolas. Had seen the red gladiolas on TV because of the closing ceremony of Nijmegen 4-day Walk of the World (NL-Nijmeegse Vierdaagse). Walkers must achieve 50km/31miles each day for 4 days. Grueling. Shoes are worn down to nubs, blisters on blisters, and all the pains of walking 200km/125 miles in 4 days.

Walking 50km a Day
Read some of the press releases to find out how many people started (41,205), and how many finished (TBA). This year had two research studies on participants. If the temperature was above 25C/80F, then a university would study effects of heat on body. If below 25C, then they would study the 280 overweight people who entered this year. Yes, they knew how many chub-chubs made the attempt. A weigh in? Argh.

Glory for the Common Man
The glory is that you started and finished each day within the time limit. The glory is also the medal and the gladiolas. Everybody in Holland knows about it, it is top news for four days. Brits come over to do it, too. Of all my co-workers, only one guy has a medal. Rene did it as a sort of joke in college, and said he would never do it again. Not a selling point. You only have to do it once for the glory, sort of like climbing Everest for the common man.

Who's IN?
Sign me up for next year's walk and study of chub-chubs. Registration starts in December. Put it in your vacation calendar for next year, "Walk 125 miles in Holland in July with Tammie". Who is with me? Smile. Serious smile.

Trip in: 3 passed me. I passed 0.
Trip home: 2 passed me. I passed 5 bikers. 1 bus.
First time I win! Tied for the day.

Song of the day: Chatahoochee from Alan Jackson Greatest Hits Collection, complete with orginal video of Alan water skiing in his Wranglers and cowboy hat.

Me beating bus to bus stop. Smile.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sustainable Canal Biker

DAY 16
35:03min (PB) to work, 37.01min home
Weather: Morning overcast, hint of rain, but no rain. Afternoon, sunny, comfortable.

Days Gone By
Tomorrow is three weeks since I started the canal ride. In three weeks, have improved my time by 20 minutes going to work and 10 minutes coming home. Remember 55 minutes on Day 1, with two water and oxygen breaks?

Time Trials at the Tour
Knew today was the time trial at Tour de France. Pushed self to pump legs consistently and hoped for green lights. Racing against myself, and today I won. Best overall total time 72.04 minutes.

What's Your Time?
Have a small following of very encouraging people at work. Coworkers who take one look at me in the morning, without a 'hello' or 'good morning', but start with 'So?' or 'What was your time?' People who think it is a blessing for my bike rides and health that the '87 Rabbit is in the shop. Makes it compulsory for me to ride the bike to work, mine or the mechanic's rapid riding 3-speeder.

Bomb on Wheels
Not a blessing that I was sold a rolling bomb. Gas tank leaks when full. Exhaust pipe corroded and faulty. Start switch not connected properly. Seen any movies where the exhaust, starter and gas tank are involved in some kind of explosion? Mafia movies. John Grisham movies.

Mistaken for Terrorist
Would probably be hauled off to international court in Belgium if I tried to park next to the American Embassy in The Hague. How does previous owner Jeroen sleep at night? He watched me pull away from his mama's house with my son strapped to a busted gas tank. How do I sleep at night?

Saving Carbon Emissions
Calculated the daily C02 production of my Rabbit going to and from work. Mind you, there is no leaky gas tank option or a 1987 button. Where I have been unable to lose weight, I have found a new way to feel some compensation for my rides. My car trip would produce 2.5kilos/5.5lbs of carbon dioxide everyday.

Losing Air Weight
On the bike up to now, I have kept 40kilos/88pounds of pollution out of our Dutch air. Should focus on my sustainbility and CO2 weight losses, instead of BMI and 'muscle' weight gain. Should keep riding until I match my body weight in CO2 compensation.

Somehow it is easier to lose 5 pounds of polluted air, than it is to lose 5 pounds of body weight. How much does air weigh? Losing 5 pounds of air is much more impressive skill, task, goal. Focus on what is achievable. How much air did you save today?

Trip in: 5 people passed me.
Trip home: 3 people passed me.

Real Dutch scene, woman traveling on bike with bouquet of flowers, and a tractor in the city

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Most Improved Canal Biker

DAY 15
Time: 38.13min longer route
36.05min(PB) back, in 3rd gear
Weather: Morning was cool. Cloudy. Sprinkles. Afternoon was dry. Little headwind.

Lame Rabbit
Drove lame Rabbit to mechanic this morning. As a true Dutch gesture, mechanic has a couple of loaner bikes for patrons. Asked, "Can I borrow your strongest bike?" The mechanic gave the bike a couple of whacks on the seat, squeezed the tires and put some extra air in for me. Can you imagine offering a loaner bike to Americans at Wal-mart, Jiffy-Lube or Firestone?

Fast as a Gazelle
Mechanic's bike was an old 3-speed Dutch Gazelle with a hard leather Brooks seat. THREE speeds. WHAAA! Today I flew down the canal in 3rd gear, mostly. NO ONE, count them, NO ONE passed me. Granted, after 9:00 so most people already at work. But, third gear is like having an extra hamster on the wheel. No wonder so many people pass me rapidly on my purple gearless cruiser. Need gears. Not a lot. Three.

Good Vibrations
Could have made butter in my backpack while riding over the bricked street sections though. Chub-chub on really full tires, my eyeballs were rattling just as loud as the bike. Was like riding a cheap vibrating motel bed for a quarter to work. Teeth chattered, too.

I am in the reflection on the light. Tried to improve this fluke shot, but first fluke was the best.
Serious Biker Woman
Arrived at the same time as another fellow colleague and damn serious biker. Coworker was in full gear, gray padded professional biker shorts and red sleeveless tank top made with that stretchy sporty fabric that sucks to your body. Not sure if that is the catalogue description. I've seen guys roll up to the building in Rabo orange and blue biking suits. But this was the first woman seriously clad.

No Choices, Just Ride.
She rides 15km/10miles to and from work a day. Her advice, "I ride every day. No questions. I don't ask myself, are you going to ride today? Then I would have to decide every morning. Maybe, but it's raining or naw it is too cold today. No matter the weather, I ride. I don't talk myself out of it. I don't give myself the choice."

Locker Room
My new biker hero showed me the shower facilities. There's a waiting list for the guy's locker room facilities, but plenty of lockers in the girl's area. I can get my own high school looking gray locker for storing freshness spray and power bars.

Full Package
Not sure why the guy's locker room is so popular. Male biker shorts reveal what is usually concealed. Give a preview of the full package. Think the smart ladies are camping out in the guy's area. May see if I can also get on the guy's waiting list.

Red and Sweaty Swagger
Girls keeping asking if I am hot, sweaty, stinky. Yes, but not in that order. My colleagues know when I walk in the room that I rode the bike. Not because of sweat or stench, but a red flushed face, no make up and a John Wayne swagger from a hard leather saddle on today's bike.

Retro Moment

As a pre-teen during basketball summer camp, every year I would get the 'Most Improved' award. Not 'Best Dribbler', 'Fastest Fastbreaker', 'Best Defender', 'Most Offensive'. After the third time, I cried (was 11ish). I was the best at nothing except getting better than when I showed up on the first day. No glory in 'improving' at a sport camp where the objective for everyone is to improve.

Most Improved Award
Gave myself the 'Most Improved Canal Biker Award' today. Was faster, mentally stronger. Even borrowed a bike to ride. Was better today, with a better attitude. Better than yesterday. Better than when I started. Will send the Rabo Guys some fan mail and share my award, but don't want to make them cry.

Trip in: 0 passed me. I passed 0.
Trip back: 4 passed me. I passed 3. Actually chased down two who passed me and repassed. Felt like a pro.
Boats passed: 1, passed my first boat, going the same direction.

Song of the Day: You're the Best Around from Karate Kid Soundtrack with accompanying karate tournament montage.

Passing the boat on the canal, and jogger at the same time.