Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 549-Weigh-in Day: My Bike Ride to Mount Fuji

Week 77
(Sorry, I don't have access to my scale here in Japan, so weigh-in info is not available)
Start Weight: 365.4lbs
Last Weigh-in: 278.4lbs
Current Weight: 2??lbs
This Week’s Weight Loss: ?lbs
Total Weight Loss: ??lbs
To Go: ??lbs
Miles Biked over the past 2 weeks: 87.63

Total Miles Biked: 2928.71
Miles to Go: 4571.29

GEOGRAPHY (Where I'd be on the map having started at my house in Salt Lake City, Utah, heading for Tokyo):
Pacific Ocean (2190 miles off the west coast. I am heading for the Hawaiian Islands which is 2650 miles from San Diego)

Weekly Bike/Workout Totals
Monday: 83.36 (to Mount Fuji-actual was 85+)
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:
Friday: 4.27 (previous week)
Saturday:

TODAY:
This has been one of the most memorable, and probably the most physically active weeks and months in my life!

It has been an amazing week of memories both of pain and exhilaration! This was the week of “The Ride!” Sunday morning, my wife, daughter and mother and father-in-law got up very early to catch a bus from Funabashi to Kawaguchiko, one of the towns at the base of Mount Fuji. I stayed home resting up during the day, preparing for the ride which would start late in the evening. To be honest, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t really get any quality sleep…I was just feeling too anxious. I’d get up and do something and then think that maybe I should lay back down so that I don’t lose out on any valuable sleep.

Well, finally around 5pm, I got up, and got my cycling shorts on along with gathering all my stuff to get ready to go get on the train. My sister-in-law Shizuko was going to be my escort to get from the Goko train station to Nippori station in downtown Tokyo. Earlier in the week I bough a bike bag that one uses when taking your bike on the train. So with my bike in bike bag in hand, I hauled my bike over to the train station, and got on the train with Shizuko. We rode for about 30 minutes and got off at Nippori. I made a call to Travis, my biking companion, to check and make sure we were going to meet him in the correct place. We went out in front of the train station and within a few minutes Travis showed up on his bike, all decked out in his cycling clothes.

I met Travis online about a year ago as I was looking in to what was involved with cycling from Tokyo to Fuji. He had done the ride and recorded his experience in an entry on the Tokyo Cycling Club’s website. We’ve been friends online for a year, writing back and forth, and he giving encouragement as my “sensei” as I’ve worked to get ready for my ride. So finally after a virtual friendship online, I finally got to meet Travis for the first time outside in front of the train station. I could tell immediately that he was a cool guy and it was meant for me to be guided down the road to Fuji by him. He brings years of experience of cycling to the table, but more important, he’s a very friendly man.

Outside the station with Travis looking on, I quickly built my bike, putting the front wheel and fender on. I said goodbye to Shizuko and took off with Travis to his house. Travis lives right in downtown Tokyo, so it was very busy with cars and people running around. He lives about 5 minutes away so we rode our bikes home, and carried them up to the 2nd floor of his apartment. I met his wife who had prepared a nice spaghetti dinner for us along with some homemade ginger ale that she made out of fresh ginger.

Both Travis and his wife were very hospitable and took good care of me. I had some problems with my derailleur over to their house, so he took some time to turn my bike upside down and work on getting my gears back to shifting smoothly.

After dinner, we took a few pictures and before I knew it our departure time of 9:00pm had arrived. We took some pictures together in and outside his apartment and then “shoved off” into the depths of Tokyo. I didn’t realize how far through Tokyo we would ride. We would head right through “Shinjuku” which is quite a hustling place, even on a Sunday evening. It was kind of funny as we rode down the road….I noticed Travis take a drink out of his water bottle, and when I reached down to grab mine, both my bottles were gone! I remembered that as we went to take pictures in Travis’ apartment, I put my bottles on his counter, and forgot to grab them again when we went out the door. We stopped and I ran into a 7-11 real quick and bought a couple of bottles of Evian water.

We biked through the city weaving in and out of cars and people. Some areas were bright with large neon signs blazing in the evening sky. After a while we had finally gotten out of the major part of the city and stopped for a break. We bought some drinks and food to keep us going. We cycled for 35 miles in the dark going up and down hills, over bridges, etc. It was kind of a bummer that it was dark because I think we passed through a lot of interesting scenery.

At about 1am in the morning, we stopped at Gusto Restaurant to sit down and eat and rest. My body was feeling the effects of exhaustion, and didn’t want to do anything but sleep. I knew that despite not really having an appetite that I needed to eat. I looked at the menu over and over with my sleepy mind and just couldn’t seem to find anything that looked appetizing to me. I ended up ordering seafood pizza and some banana chocolate pancakes. I ate about half of everything when I wasn’t sleeping. I basically put my head down on the table and slept. Travis woke me up abut 1:30am when the restaurant was closing and said it was time to leave. I was tired. My body had just gotten over jetlag the past week, and now I was asking it to stay up all night again. I think it was freaking out a bit. I listened to my body though and took advantage of maybe 15 minutes of sleep while in the restaurant.

The first 35 miles of the ride represented the flat part of the ride. Form this point on, the climb would begin as we started riding up into the mountainous region where Mount Fuji lives. The road we would use is called Doshi Michi (road.)The climb was not bad, but was just a constant climb. Some of the grades would get a little hairy for me at times and I’d have to take it very slow, or stop and let my heart stop pounding. When riding at night with a sleepy mind, things get a little fuzzy and I remember going over huge bridges, up steep dark curves, seeing cargo trucks buzz by, and the back of Travis’ bike.

At one point, the grade got to be so steep that I had to stop. Again, I felt my body wanting to shut down. From my hike up to Box Elder Peak a few weeks back, I learned that that feeling is a sign of needing to eat and drink. We stopped by some vending machines on the side of a road in the dark, and I remember buying some drink and guzzling it down, and pulling out a packaged hotdog in a bun that I had bought earlier in a convenience store. I was amazed at how I scarfed it down. My appetite had returned and it felt good to actually want to eat something. Dealing with sleepiness, loss of appetite and exhaustion all add up to feeling not very good. Then on top of that, it was cold, and then with the humidity in the air, it started to sprinkle. Of course Travis had his rain coat and another layer of clothing to put on. Somehow, my jacket was sitting in my wife’s suitcase as she comfortably slept in her warm hotel room in the shadows of Mount Fuji. It wasn’t doing me any good. I had a sweat soaked t-shirt in my backpack that I pulled out and put on. Even though it was wet, it helped keep my a bit warmer.

I slept a bit while shivering, and then again remember hearing Travis tell me it had been 20 minutes, and the sooner we get back on the road, the sooner we’d get to Mount Fuji.

As I look back on that scene, it seemed somewhat of a slight nightmare. I had to push on despite the physically straining circumstances. It was probably about 3am when that occurred and knowing that the sun would come out in an hour or two gave me something to look forward to.

Despite the continued climb, things started to brighten up a tad. The sun soon came out and I could see the tree covered mountains that we were climbing through, and the quaint little villages that were located there. And then, we got our first glimpse of Mount Fuji peaking through miles of other mountains that were in the foreground. It was a morale booster for me as I actually could see that we had made progress towards our goal and that this crazy all night ride was actually leading to our destination.

We continued to pedal upwards. Travis had warned me that the tail end of the climbing portion of the ride had some pretty steep hills. The last 2 miles go from a 6% grade up to a 9% grade. After having to stop and rest multiple times, Travis taught me a great lesson that helped me get as far as I did on the next portion of our ride. He said to find a comfortable rhythm that you can hold and then drop it down a notch. Even if it seemed too slow, it allowed my heart rate to not over-do it and allow myself to not have to get off the bike and rest. This allowed me to ride for longer periods of time without breaking.

I will say though, that at 280lbs, or what ever I am right now, that there is only so long that you can push only so much weight up a certain grade of hill. The tail end of the climb was brutal for me as I had to work heard to get this big body up the steep grade. We finally reached “The Tunnel, which is the top of the climb where things get to change, and we got to start feeling some wind in our face.

It was sooooo good to feel a hill from the other side!! J We coasted all the way down through a little village and right before my eyes around one of the corners, the majestic Mount Fuji appeared in the distance. It was exciting, and it was scary, as this was the mountain that I had come to meet.

If you watch my little video featurette below, you’ll see the scene where Fuji appears around the corner.

My legs were so tired, and I was grateful to only have to pedal a few more miles to our next resting point at the Royal Host restaurant in Fujiyoshida. There were a few more small hills to climb before we got to the restaurant, and I was sick of hills by then. It was all I could do to make my legs climb another hill. Within a mil of our stop, I had to rest, and grab a drink, as I was out of water. We found a vending machine and I bought a Dr. Pepper and joyfully guzzled it down. I am not a caffeine drinker, but I will admit that I drank a couple of Cokes and a Dr. Pepper to help me through the sleepiness.

The next thing we knew, we had arrived at Royal Host. At that point, we were about 70 miles into the ride! We met my family there. I ate 2 breakfasts, and a bowl of soup. Travis I believe had a few breakfasts too.

I haven’t mentioned too much about Travis’ struggles through the ride. That is because he didn’t have any! It seems like he was Mr. Miagi from Karate Kid. He guided me, was patient, taught me along the route, and did I mention patient? Travis was a shining light for me through the entire experience. I couldn’t have done it without him. What a dude!

I heard that Travis slept at the restaurant, but I don’t know for sure because I was too busy sleeping after breakfast. My wife shot some video of that, and I look like I am in a coma.

Then again too soon, Travis said, “Are you ready?” I have to admit that as I went to the bathroom and was pondering the next phase of our bike ride, the climb up Mount Fuji, I thought about quitting. I was soooo tired, my legs were tired, I’d been up for 14 hours all night, and still had 18 more miles of climbing in front of me. But as was the case with so many other phases of this experience, I pushed through the doubt despite the overwhelming feelings of wanting to quit!

I handed off my backpack to my wife now that they were close by to this part of the ride. This gave me less weight to have to worry about. We stopped at the Lawson convenience store across the street from Royal Host to get some drinks and then took off.

There was a long 2 mile stretch that leads up to the toll gate of the Subaru Road, the road that takes you up the mountain.

Let me explain here that there are 10 stations up Mount Fuji. A station is basically a landing point where you can take a break on your ascent up the mountain. Some hikers will actually start at the very bottom of the mountain and hile to the top passing all 10 stations, but most hikers, either drive, or take a bus to the 5th station which is the starting point for the hike up mount Fuji. The 5th station has tons of shops, and on a busy day, thousands of people that are looking down at the amazing view and then turning around and going home, or looking up at the summit and preparing to hike to the top.

Originally when I had my vision of Mount Fuji 18 months ago, I envisioned myself biking to the base of Mount Fuji, and then going up to the 5th station and beginning the climb, like everyone else. But somehow along the way, I decided to throw in biking up to the 5th station. The idea was to say that you got as high up on the mountain as literally possible on a bike.

Well, we began the ascent up the actual mountain itself. I remember thinking that these hills seemed just as steep as the ones I had experienced at the tail end of Doshi Michi. I took what Travis had taught me abut not overdoing it, and slowly pedaled up the hill. These hills average 5% grades, but I tell you, these seemed steeper. I took it easy and pedaled slowly, within inches of Travis back tire. I’d just give it all I could as climbed and climbed. I’d hope around each corner things would flatten out for a moment, but most of the corners would reveal more grade. Going around each corner without the pitch ever really ever letting up was mentally defeating to me. After an hour or so, We made it to the 1st station. I was so tired and exhausted, and the mental game had started long before then.I would stop and have to take a break. I’d then let my heart rate get back to normal and get going again. I’d start doubting whether I could make it to the 5th station. I started thinking about every one at home that would be wondering if I could do this. I thought about all my training, and that I maybe should have trained more.

I’d again get weighed down with exhaustion, and have to stop and take a break. The road isn’t very wide, and there really isn’t a biking lane. I remember slumping over my bike with heavy breathing, as buses would whiz by within a foot or two of me.

I remember Travis telling me that I could walk the bike up cause I’d at least be moving up. I did so knowing that this would be considered a sissy-type thing to do for cyclists, but I had to face the reality that at the rate I was going, we were’nt going to get to the 5th station very soon.

The mental game continued and I entered into this space in my mind where it was no longer “I can do this!”, to, realistically, “I cannot do this”, and then it turned into “I don’t want to do this anymore.” In the minds of athletes, this is a place that the great ones don’t go, however, despite in my own little world of what I can do, it finally came to the point that I couldn’t do it anymore. I finally decided that I would just get to the 2ns station and call it quits for the bike portion of my ride. I tried to ride as far as I could, but ended up walking my bike for a while. I yelled up to Travis that I just couldn’t do it any longer and was quitting. I knew that he had realized that probably a lot sooner than I did. I thought about beating myself up for not continuing to continue on, but knew that would do no good. Instead of focusing on the defeat and the reality of not making it to the 5th station, I chose to focus on the fact that I had:

-Rode my bike 85 miles
-Rode my bike from sea level (0 ft) to 5100 ft.
-Rode for a total amount of elevation gain of 7493 ft.
-Have lost almost 100 pounds
-Weighed 365lbs 18 months earlier.

I had originally set a goal to weigh 210lbs when taking on this bike ride. So I was doing this with about 70lbs of extra weight I had originally planned on leaving at home.

Travis told me to get on my bike and arrive to my family pedaling on the bike, instead of riding it. I laughed, and got on my bike and climbed the last 50 yards to the 2nd station. My family could tell at the 1st station that I was looking pretty tired, and by the time I arrived at the 2nd station, I think there plan was to convince me to stop. I had already decided that and we all celebrated a good run!

I learned from this experience that riding up Emigration will not be a challenge anymore. And riding Millcreek at this stage for myself will be a very doable thing. After doing my bike challenge, I realize what I am capable of right now, and what I am capable of once I get to 210 again! I’ve learned that anyone, despite how crappy you may feel, can push through the hard times, and get to your destination. I’ve learned that you don’t have to try and be a super hero and do something physically impossible. Accept the fact that you’re where you’re at and work hard to get where you want to be.

The list of lessons can’t even be shared in this blog as there are things that I have discovered about myself at a personal level that I could never effectively communicate.

Anyway, we pulled the front wheel off my bike and somehow stuffed it into the back of our rental car that my father-in-law had been driving. I was so glad to sit down and shove food into my mouth and let myself rest in the car.

Of course we wanted to drive up to the 5th station to take a look at the surroundings and for me to get an idea of what tomorrow would bring as part two of my challenge would begin with my hike to the top of Mount Fuji.

Travis, asked if we wouldn’t mind if we took his backpack for him while he biked up to the 5th station. We too his backpack and I swear within about 30-40 minutes, he had arrived at the 5th station! Now that’s inspiration. It was good for me to see him in action and how a real cyclist just takes it on so eloquently. I got out and gave him a congratulations hug on a great ride! He again, was such a great friend to take on this ride with me. To me it was the biggest ride of my life, to Travis I am sure it was a walk in the park.

Travis of course wanted the experience of coasting down Mount Fuji on his bike. I of course was perfectly happy to sit in my comfortable car seat and enjoy the ride down the mountain. Travis and I said goodbye at the 5th station and he took off. Later on in the evening I got a message from him that he had arrived down at the Kawaguchiko station, and was able to get on the train and head back okay.

Wow…what an experience, and this is just the first part. The next day was my ascent and pilgrimage to the top of Mount Fuji. I will share part two in tomorrow’s blog entry…there’s too much to share today so I will write tomorrow!

So, how was your week?

Don
---
The video below is a sampler of our bike ride, and my climb to the top of Mount Fuji.




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Travis and I after dinner at his house in Tokyo. About to set off on the big ride.

1:30am at the Gusto restaurant. I had no appetite, but tried putting this and seafood pizza in my mouth.

Mount Fuji from my hotel room at Kawaguchiko.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Follow my ride on Twitter at: @210AgainDon

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow evening I begin the big bike ride from Tokyo to Mount Fuji. If you're interested, I will be tweeting my progress along the route and would love to have you enjoy the ride with me. To follow me, find me at:

@210AgainDon

Don

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 543-Bike First Aid and Test Ride

It is like crazy humid! And it rained today. Now I know what it feels like to bike in serious humidity...it's a bit more difficult. The air is thicker and so breathing is a bit more labored.

Yesterday I took my bike to get the handlebars, pedals and a few other things reattached after the flight from America. There was nice grandpa at a bike shop that got the bike basically up and running, however, after leaving his shop I noticed that the gears were slipping...especially going up hills. He wasn't really a road bike-type bike shop, but I was glad to get the first step in getting my ride put together.

So, today I took the bike back to a different bike shop to get the gears working. Needless to say, it needed some major tweaking all around. Many of the lines to brakes and gears were loose and needed adjusting. Also, after the adjustment, I took the bike out for a spin and the handlebars actually twisted sideways. Yikes! Let me point out though that the handlebars weren't put on by this bike shop...it was the bike shop from yesterday. Anyway, the owner quickly adjusted them too. Whew! I was literally riding on a ticking time bomb. I'm glad he tweaked the entire bike! Now it rides like a charm!

The guy that fixed my bike, Oshigamo Kazunori, and the owner of the Oshigamo Bike Shop, was a true professional. He was down on his knees looking at every piece of my bike. He changed out a gear line, adjusted the brake tension, adjusted the derailleur, lubed up this and that, and even took my bike pouch that has the tools in it and readjusted the position of it. He was on his game! I felt so relieved that he was the one working on my bike.

I bought a few CO2 cartridges and a bike bag. In Japan, if you're taking your bike on the train, you need to cover it up. So I have a bike bag ready to go for when I head over to Travis' house.

My father in law took me out for a "training ride."  He needed to wash his car and so I followed him out to a car wash on my bike. While he was washing his car, I took a spin around the block a few times. It gave me a little practice in riding on the left side of the road. The roads here are very narrow and there is not much of a bike lane in town around here. I imagine that that is par for the course for most of the roads in the country.

I finally made a quick call to Travis and yes, he is Australian! Love his accent. It was good to finally talk to the guy I've been emailing over the past year. We'll talk tomorrow again. Also, My cameraman Robert is really busy and I may not be able to meet with him before the ride. We'll do a prep phone call to talk through a few of the details. I trust that he's going to show up to this gig!

Anyway, We're having good times here and it's nice to be in this country that I love so much. At this very moment I hear the train coming down the track and stopping at Goko Station that's about 50 yards away. My in-law's house is in kind of a quaint little location.

Tomorrow is prep day as we get ready to move the entourage to Kawaguchiko, one of the cities at the base of Mount Fuji where we'll be stationed. My wife and daughter will head there with my in-laws on Sunday, and I will meet up with Travis for the big ride.

It's a little surreal being here in Japan, riding my own bike on the roads. I have ridden my bike all over Salt Lake City back home, but now it's weird to actually be here with my bike, ride the streets of Japan!

Weird, but cool!

Talk to you tomorrow,

The owner of the bike store getting my bike in working order!
The guy that worked his magic for me!
A little welcome sign waiting for us at my in-laws home.

My mother-in-law is trying really hard to feed me healthy while I prepare for the bike ride.



This was lunch today with my father-in-law. Japanese Noodles with some sort of yummy fish.

My father-in-law showing me how to eat noodles.

I got real hungry later on in the afternoon and found some Taco Yaki to eat. No that's not mexican "Taco", Taco in Japanese is Octopus. I'm not a big fan of octopus, but when wrapped in these little bread balls with a special sauce, mayo, and fish flakes, they're quite yummy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 540-Arrived in Japan on Tuesday---Techno blackout

Ohaiyogozaimasu!

We arrived in Japan on Tuesday afternoon at 3pm. We flew on Boeing`s new Dreamliner and I can see why they call it that! Nice smooth ride, more legroom, auto tint windows, fade up and down cabin lighting, etc., etc. It was a pretty cool and comfortable ride over the Pacific!

We were picked up by my inlaws, whisked off to eat a quick pasta lunch and then rode the train to Matsudo. My bike, I am happy to say, arrived in one piece although it is multiple pieces. I`m taking the bike to a "Jitenshaya-san" to have the handle bars and a few other items put together. Some of the local bike shops here have been closed for their weekly closure, or for Obon. So today, we will hopefully find someone open.

I`d try putting it together, but I`m not that experienced and don`t want to risk any problems on the upcoming ride because of faulty know how.

We`ve been here for 2 days and I have discovered that since we chose not to use cell service while we were here due to the great expense, that I am feeling very disconnected from the world. I brought my laptaop and can`t get it to connect on my father-in-law`s DSL service. I was planning on using Wifi while here, but they don`t have it. So our family`s ipad, laptop, ipod, and 2 iPhone can`t connect us to the outside world...HELP! This has been a lesson to me on how connected to the cloud we all are. I`m actually typing this on my father-in-law`s laptop which is Windows and somewhat in Japanese. I can`t upload any pictures or video for the time being. However, yesterday I ordered a Wifi receiver that should arrive today that will allow me to take the receiver where ever I go in Japan and have wifi connection. I can then Skype phone calls, check email, browse the web, etc. so I will finally feel like I can connect to the rest of the world.

Anyway, we`re here! Last time I was here, I couldn`t have imagined sleeping on the floor on a futon, but being about 90lbs lighter, I am not only sleeping on the floor, but doing it comfortably. I`m bikurishta! (surprised)

Well it`s 6:30am, been up for an hour, and getting over jetlag. It rained a little yesterday and is very overcast. Hoping that the weather will not be too hot.

Anyway, that`s it for now. Hopefully I can get some pictures and video up by tomorrow.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Don-chan yori

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 535-Weigh-in Day: 278.4lbs

WEEK 75
Start Weight: 365.4lbs
Last Week: 284.4lbs
Current Weight: 278.4lbs
This Week’s Weight Loss: 6lbs
Total Weight Loss: 87lbs
To Go: 68.4lbs
Miles Biked this Week: 33.93

Total Miles Biked: 2841.08
Miles to Go: 4658.92

GEOGRAPHY (Where I'd be on the map having started at my house in Salt Lake City, Utah, heading for Tokyo):
Pacific Ocean (2103 miles off the west coast. I am heading for the Hawaiian Islands which is 2650 miles from San Diego)

Weekly Bike/Workout Totals
Monday: 5.45
Tuesday: 6.46
Wednesday: 14.95
Thursday: 7.07
Friday: REST (Bike shop packing bike)
Saturday: REST

TODAY:
This has been a good week. I didn’t get in any long distance rides, but I did do some good hill climbing. On Wednesday, after work, in temperatures in the high 90s, I decided to just do a good constant climb up to 1300 East. I remember doing this route last year and huffing and puffing like crazy through the first 5 miles. On Wednesday, I was huffing and puffing, but I felt I had some good control of the climbing and just worked through it. There was definitely improvement from last year.

I ate on the mark this week and have seen the weight coming back down to where I was before I fell off the wagon a few weeks ago. I’m getting back into the zone I was in, and that’s a good place to be as I am close to a week away from Fuji!

I have gotten the travel plans from Travis, my biking buddy in Japan, pretty much finalized. We’ll be meeting for dinner Sunday evening before we take off. Travis has been a great support! I’ve expressed my excitement, yet anxiousness about the ride, but he has been there calming me down. He came up with a motto for the ride which I like…”We don’t have to get there fast, we just have to get there!”

My cameraman Robert is ready to go. I’ve bought extra SD cards for all three of our cameras. For any video buffs out there, we’ll be shooting things on:

-Panasonic AF100
-Panasonic SDT-750
-GoPro Hero2

Of course everything will be shot in Full 1080p HD!

I’m meeting Robert in Shinjuku (a district in Tokyo) this coming week to go over the plan of attack for our shoot. It’s one thing to find a good cameraman, it’s another to talk them into hiking to the top of Mount Fuji with you…and shoot along the way. It will be a fun adventure.

I understand that once you’re to the top of Fuji, you can hike around the crater. It takes an hour, but there is a post office half way around that you can drop letters, postcards, etc., off at and they will put a Mount Fuji postal stamp on your letter. Now that is a cool thing. I’ll have to see how our timing is going once we arrive at the top. I’d love to send a postcard to myself from the highest point in Japan. If you’d like me to send one to you, simply send your request on the back of a $50 bill and I will take care of it ;)

I dropped my bike off at Highlander Bike to have them pack it up for the flight on Monday. We’ll be flying United Airlines, and I’ll be checking in my Jamis Bosanova road bike under the plane. The bike literally is being disassembled, handlebars and all, and carefully packed in a box. My plan once I arrive in Japan is to go find a good local bike shop that will put my bike back together again for me.

Of course the Mount Fuji ride is the focus of our going to Japan, but after the ride we’ll have a couple of weeks to hang out with my wife’s family. They are awesome people and we’re hoping to be nice to them ‘cause the population of the house will almost double in size with the number of people living there. It will be crazy especially with a “Okiina Gaijin” living there.

BTW, it’s FREE DAY today and I’m enjoying a Little Debbie’s crappy pastry and a bowl of Rice a Roni. It’s all I could find since we’re cleaning out the fridge in prep for the trip. L

I will be blogging every day from Japan, sharing pictures and video clips of all the highlights. Please comment to me on the blog if you have any questions or special requests while in Japan.

I can’t believe the time has come! Fuji is right around the corner, and I am looking to getting this ride and hike done so I can stop dreaming about it every night ;)

Don


Here is current picture of Mount Fuji a few minutes ago! :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 528-Weigh-in Day: 284.4lbs

--> WEEK 74
Start Weight: 365.4lbs
Last Week: 278.4lbs
Current Weight: 284.4lbs
This Week’s Weight Loss: +6lbs
Total Weight Loss: 81lbs
To Go: 74.4lbs
Miles Biked this Week: 70.06

Total Miles Biked: 2807.15
Miles to Go: 4692.85

GEOGRAPHY (Where I'd be on the map having started at my house in Salt Lake City, Utah, heading for Tokyo):
Pacific Ocean (2070 miles off the west coast. I am heading for the Hawaiian Islands which is 2650 miles from San Diego)

Weekly Bike/Workout Totals
Monday: REST
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: REST
Friday: REST
Saturday: 20.77 miles

TODAY:
The past 7 days have been life changing! I have had a paradigm shift. My outlook on my challenge to Mount Fuji changed so much that my world was flipped upside down. I have been on one of the biggest roller coaster rides. I’m still on that ride and the hills above on the ride are looking bigger and crazier than ever.

Let me try and explain…

Last Saturday morning, I got up at 2am ready to bike to Alpine, Utah (35-miles away). Once in Alpine I was going to meet my brother and hike up to Box Elder Peak. I was more than excited to do this ride, even if it was early.

I woke up, packed my backpack and got everything ready to go. I noticed my back tire was looking a little low so I got out my trusty ole CO2 cartridge and went to top off the air in the tire. BOOM! The Presta valve blew off! I froze. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. Within a nanosecond my day had changed. I didn’t have another tube, and to get to a Walmart that might sell one would put me behind schedule. I needed to arrive in Alpine by 7am.

It was so frustrating, and my excitement fizzled out. As my wife and I talked, we realized that perhaps there had been some divine intervention, and there was a reason this solo ride out into the dark was not supposed to happen. Read on, you’ll see why.

It’s hard to climb back into bed when you’ve had your heart set on riding. Oh well. I took my cycling garb of and tried to go back to bed for a few more hours.

Come 6:00am, the alarm went off and I popped up throw on my hiking clothes and went out the door. I met Dallin around 7am at his house. We gathered some water and a few additional items and drove up to the beginning of the trail.

Dallin had bought me a pair of walking sticks that I can’t recommend enough. It’s like having railings along the side of the trail. Box Elder Peak’s elevation in 11,101 feet. Alpine is already at an elevation of 4950’ so the climb would be about 6100’.

My friend Travis who will be biking with me to Fuji, wisely encouraged me to do a hike before I come to Japan so I could get a feel for what it would be like. I haven’t gone on a serious hike since 1987. 26 years ago! I remember the pain that I went through, but was prepared to experience it. The hike was fairly steep, but had occasional flat areas. I remember feeling so happy to finally walk in level ground through a meadow or an occasional level area. We stopped every half hour or so to take a quick breather, and to drink or munch. I brought along a GoPro and a regular camcorder to be able to videotape the adventure. I’m glad I did because I think it was an epic hike that I will never forget.

We bumped into various Boy Scout groups that had done some over-nighters on the mountain, and other people that were out running part of the trail, or out for a nice early morning hike. None of them was heading to the peak though.

The hike wasn’t terribly bad as I was willing to keep pressing forward despite the tired legs and heavy breathing. I do remember having to stop about every 5-10 minutes to catch my breath. I would get a little light headed and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Looking back now, I think despite eating along the trail, I needed to eat and drink more. The one thing that was working for us was that the temperatures were perfect. It was a nice sunny day, and I would say it was probably about 78 degrees. We got a little burnt, but I’m not complaining.

For some reason I had in my head that this hike was going to be maybe an 8-10 hour round trip. I was wrong. We didn’t even get near the final ascent until around 3pm. Most of the trail has an obviously marked path, but as you get towards the beginning of the hike to the peak, the terrain turns very steep, the trail is harder to see, and you start hiking on shale. It’s slippery, and if you’re not careful, you’ll fall, and possibly even break one of your walking sticks…like I did.

Again, despite rugged and slippery, we kept making our way up. Dallin was patient with me. I think he could have gotten to the top an hour or 2 earlier. He allowed me to take breathers and was a kind hiking companion. Towards the top, Dallin 4-wheeled up to the peak with my video camera and was able to film my reaching the top. It was a fantastic feeling with the most amazing views all the way around! I’ve got a video clip to share with you, but you cannot compare seeing the vista with your own eyes!! All my life I’ve always looked up to Mount Timpanogos and Lone Peak to the North of Alpine, but today I could glance sideways, and a little downward to view those iconic mountain ranges.

I was so glad to be to the top! Box Elder Peak is a peak in Alpine that looks down from the corner of the North and East mountains. My entire life (49 years) I have looked up at that peak and always wanted to hike to it, but never thought I would. It’s just too high and to far away! But I made it to the top! Wow!

We sat for maybe 20-30 minutes at the top while the wind blew ferociously. You could see Utah Lake and the mountain ranges way beyond. You could see down the back side over Silver Lake and Tibble Fork…and on forever. Dallin had occasionally pulled out his little Ocarina (triangular shaped flute/recorder) and played it, and what better place than Box Elder Peak to play it. So while I was enjoying the magnificent view, Dallin provided the soundtrack.

Again, I have caught much of this adventure on video so I look forward to editing up a little feature.

Now, back to reality…here is where the hike turned a little scary, and what spawned the beginning of my paradigm shift.

According to Dallin’s GPS, it was 8 miles+ to the top, but that might be a little skewed since GPS isn’t always correct when hiking. It felt like 20 miles to the top. Anyway, it’s about 4:45pm when we begin hiking down, and remember, there is only so much daylight left. On the way down, I quickly noticed that my warn out shoes that I chose to hike in have an area inside the shoe, in the toe region that was wearing out, and thus my toes on every step began pushing up against this plastic stuff inside the shoe. I knew I wasn’t wearing the best shoes for the hike, but discovered quickly that this was going to be a challenge. Again, each step came with pain. At one point I stopped and put on another sock to pad it a little better. That helped, but not for long. Then, I took my shoe off and wore it like a sandal, letting the back of my foot hang off the shoe so my toes wouldn’t keep mashing into the front of the shoe. That didn’t work too well as my shoe would come off.

Remember, this is all down hill hiking and beyond the shoe issues, our knees are getting a great work out too. We took a 15 minute detour onto another trail thinking that we’d get down faster, but once that trail started getting hard to follow, we turned around and back tracked back to our original trail.

Well, I started getting thirsty and had drank the rest of my water and Gatorade, and we were still hours away from getting off the mountain. It seemed that no mater how much we hiked down that we weren’t getting any closer to the bottom…we were way up in the mountains. Dallin made the comment that we were running out of daylight. I knew that, but didn’t really think about what that really meant. After a few more hours of hiking, I could tell I was getting weak and feeling very thirsty. Dallin would hand me one of his bottles of water every hour, helping me stay somewhat hydrated. I brought 64oz of Gatorade, and 64oz of water. I probably should have had twice as much water. A lesson learned.

It started getting dark, and there are thick trees in the area we were coming down, so it’s getting even getting darker. We were still about 3 miles up the mountain when it was really getting dark. I was running out of steam and my toes were hurting bad. Dallin made a quick decision and said that he was going to run down the mountain and get some flash lights and Gatorade. Fortunately we had cell service and he was able to call his wife to bring those items to the head of the trail. Dallin took off and I tried walking as much as I could until it was just too dark to go any further. I found a rock in the middle of the trail and sat down on it. I was so tired and my mind was tired.

My mental state was a little weird as I started to have strange thoughts. I wondered if we should call search and rescue to come up and carry me down in a stretcher. I surely did not feel like I could walk any more. I wondered if we should camp over here on the mountain. But we didn’t have a tent. I started feeling like I wanted to lay down on the ground and just fall asleep. I called my wife and let her know what was going on and that I didn’t know how the evening was going to end. I told her not to worry, and that Dallin had run down to grab some light and hydration.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sat in the mountains in the dark, but it was a little creepy. It was pitch black except for some of the city lights that I could see below.

I didn’t know how long I would sit there. I called Dallin and he had reached the bottom and had gotten the supplies from his wife. He was on his way back. He told me to start eating everything I could in my backpack so that I could get my strength up. I didn’t want to eat, but I found an apple and forced it down, along with a sandwich and some cookies. After eating I quickly sealed the wrappers and core in a plastic bag as I didn’t want any bears to sniff out my food and come get me (ha ha.) I sat on the rock with my head down, trying to regain my strength. After a little while I could feel the fog from my mind start to clear a bit. I think I realized the importance of eating, even if you don’t want to. I had been in a state of weakness due to under eating.

I sat in the dark and then thought I saw a light moving in the distance. Was that Dallin coming with his flashlight? After seeing the movement many times, and then noticing that it was way above trail in the trees, it couldn’t be Dallin. It turned out to be headlights on cars from across the valley driving up the hill. I was a little let down. When would Dallin arrive?

I think I sat on the rock for 90 minutes before I heard my brother yell my name. I yelled back and saw the trail down below me start to light up. It was my rescuer! My brother Dallin had run down the mountain 3 miles, and then run back up. He came with a flash light and a lantern. And a big bottle of Gatorade that I quickly gulped down. I had regained my strength enough that I could stand up and begin walking as Dallin led the way with the lights. We continued to descend down the trail for what seemed like forever. Every few minutes I wondered if we were almost there, but we weren’t. 3 miles is a long ways when your hobbling slowly down a rocky trail. Finally just before midnight, we got off the mountain and found my van waiting patiently where we had left it 17 hours earlier.

I couldn’t have been happier to see that van. And ohhhh, how it felt good to sit down on the cushioned seat.

Well, my brother had rescued me and fortunately without any intervention from anyone else. It could have ended a lot worse. I learned a lot, and discovered that all those things that you hear about being prepared actually are true.

Next time I will take more water and Gatorade. I’ll wear hiking boots and not crappy shoes. Anyway, according to the skewed GPS readings, our hike was 16 miles. And can you imagine how I would have felt if I had biked to Alpine in the morning. I’m sure I would have made it up the mountain, but who knows how much higher I would have been on the mountain when the sun went down.

As I took in the feelings of exhaustion and thought about how great the hike was, yet how scary the ending could have ended, I started to wonder how I could actually pull off the hike up Fuji. Not that I couldn’t do it, but how could I bike all night, bike half way up the mountain, and then find the energy to hike to the top of Fuji and down…all before sun down?

Today, I am 81 pound lighter than I was when I started this challenge 18 months ago, however I still have about 75 more pounds to lose. I have had great success getting the weight off, but the fact is, I am still physically unable to do things the way I would like. I don’t think I have the endurance to pull this bike ride and hike off in 24 hours.

Well, after I got off the mountain last Saturday night, I was starting to consider cancelling my bike ride. It didn’t feel right to do that, but my mind was telling me that I am not able to do this challenge yet. I started considering putting the ride off for another year until I was down to my goal weight.

I won’t get into all the details, but through the entire weekend, and into Monday, the day of my wife’s any my 25th anniversary, my mind was exhausted from the hike, and from the mental wrestling that was going on about whether or not I am going to do the ride. A few tears even came as I considered taking this dream that I’ve had for 18 months and letting it go. Something didn’t feel right about that.

I talked to my wife about it, pondered personally, and also thought I should ask the opinion of Travis, my biking companion in Tokyo. I wrote Travis a long email expressing my concern about my ability to do the ride. He wrote back with the solution. We will focus on Monday, Aug 25th on riding and getting to the 5th station on Mount Fuji. Once to the 5th station, we’ll bike down the mountain. Travis is going to take the train back to Tokyo at that point. He will be unable to climb Fuji with me. I will go back to my hotel, rest up and then meet my cameraman in the morning to get an early start at hiking up the mountain.

So instead of trying to do everything in 1 day, I will do it over 2 days. I feel that is the WISE thing to do. I want to finish this challenge, not push so hard that things fall apart and unravel before me. And even doing this over 2 days will be a good challenge for me.

Well, is that the longest blog entry I’ve made?

Well it’s not over.

Today, Dallin and I decided to get up early and bike up American Fork canyon. It is has some nice 8-9% grade hills. We got going at about 5:30am when it was still dark outside and rode a few miles to the mouth of the canyon. It was a nice ride into the blowing wind! I haven’t been on my bike in a while and I could tell. Within an hour or so as we hit some of the 8-9% hills, it was all I could do to muscle though them. I had to stop about 3 times, rest and try and figure out how I was going to continue. I literally gave up 3 times, and had even talked myself out of doing the bike ride to Fuji. I seriously felt like I just do not have it in me. Well, after stopping for the 3rd time, Dallin again rescued me by insisting that I continue on. So I got back on my bike and just started pedaling no matter how hard it was. The rode eventually flattened out a bit so I could recover. Instead of heading up through the Alpine Loop, we took a left at the junction and went up to Tibble Fork another 2 miles up the road.

We sat and talked for about 30 minutes while I shot a little time-lapse video. Then we got on our bikes and glided down the canyon in freezing temps! I bet it was probably 45 degrees on the way down. We finally caught some of the sun coming through the canyon and things warmed back up.

By then end of the 20-mile ride, I had survived. I am discovering that this is a mental game. I mean I’ve always known it, but it really is coming down to having to mentally work my way through this adventure. I guess if I can mentally win this thing, that I will hopefully be a stronger individual.

When I got home, I did a little research into what the grades look like that I did today compared to what I will do on the Fuji ride. It’s going to be hard, but I will make it, and survive to tell about it. I know I will have to rest and take some breathers on some portions of the ride, but I will do what it takes to make it to the end.

Well, I hope I haven’t bored you, but this is where I’ve been over the past week. I almost called off my ride it’s been so hard mentally to work through all of this. Calling it off would be the easy thing to do, but we’re not about easy anymore. One thing I want to be able to do though is to enjoy the ride too! So I should smile a little more and have a little fun too. For heck’s sake, how often do I get to go bike to Mount Fuji?

My weight is fluctuating. I can say that after my hike to Box Elder, that I had new muscles that were born! Some of them didn’t stop hurting until a few days ago. I’ve got to believe that there has to be some muscle growth in there. But, I need to ride my bike well this week so that I can get a little more weight off as I got o Japan. If I could be in the 270’s that would be great. 265.4lbs would be the 100 pound mark, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Maybe by the time I leave Japan.

Well, I’m tired, and am going to bed!

I’ll post a video on this blog tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Don


Todays ride to Tibble Fork via American Fork Canyon. 1700' climb

Last week's hike to Box Elder peak.

Dallin taking a snack break before we ascend the final leg of the hike.

50 feet from the top! (Video frame)
10 feet from the top! See Mount Timpanogos in the background. (Video frame)

Finally after looking at Box Elder peak for 49 years, I climbed to the top of it! (Video frame)

A couple o' bros on the windy peak of Box Elder!

My hat kept blowing off so I tied it to one of the walking poles. (Video frame)

Dallin serenades the gods from the top.

Alpine, American Fork, Highland, Lehi, Orem, Saratoga Springs, etc., below.