Monday, December 30, 2013


Hi ya'll. I know it's been a while, in fact I don't even know if anyone out there is still looking at this blog. It'd be cool if you were, but I have to remember that I am doing this for myself.

I must say that biking to and climbing Mount Fuji four months ago seems like a dream...Did it really happen? Apparently it did. I got home and expected there to be a big awards ceremony like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo had at the end of the first Star Wars movie. Well, it didn't happen. I got home and life started lifing. It's like I achieved my goal that I had been looking forward to for so long, and then what was there to do.

Well I let my hair down, stopped eating as good as I had, and didn't ride my bike as consistently as I wanted. It got cold, and I took a break. I also have been pretty involved with responsibility in my church, and after 10 years, was told I don't need to serve in that capacity anymore. So there have ben some big changed in my life.

So it's time to be accountable to all of you and let you know where I'm at. More than ever, I know that at all levels, life is about being accountable. Whether we check in with our selves, our friends, or not, sooner or later, there will be an accounting. This isn't just with weight, it's with our time, our money, our good works, etc. We're not just all running around on earth doing what ever we want when we want to. We get to account for it. It's a natural law. And I'd rather face the facts, deal with it now,  than put them off.

I know what kind of a physical person I want to be, and I admit I'm a beginner in all of this, and I am not at my weight loss goal yet. But, I've got to get back on track, and work towards my goals.

So let me tell you where I am. I'm actually back in the 300 Club again! I know, I know. It's sad, but it's a fact. I don't like it, but I have a choice. And I choose to get back up and head down the road less traveled. My wife occasionally tells me when I'm stuck, "Hey, you climbed Mount Fuji, you can do anything!" With that reality working in my favor, and having done this for almost 2 years, I have a track record that can help me.

Today, I weighed in at 325lbs!

Go ahead, boo me down! I deserve it. It's amazing how in 4 months one can go backwards really quick.'s part of my education. So I learned and now what?

For this week, I challenged myself to get on my road bike trainer for 15 minutes each day. Today, I kept my commitment. I know it's not much, but at this stage, I need to take baby steps back. Next week I'll up the time. I'm recovering from the flu this past week too, so I don't want to overdo it just yet.

So today is about checking in, telling you where I'm at, and being accountable. I know I need to be heading towards something...a goal like Fuji. But I haven't determined what it is. I was challenged by a friend at work to do LoToJa. It's a 206-mile one day bike race that starts in Logan, Utah and ends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I can't quite wrap my head around that one yet. I need to put something out in front of me though.

I'll check in on Saturday when I begin my weekly weigh-in's again.

Have a Happy New Year!


Maybe I should trade in the bike for John Deere

My cute daughter

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time to get going again!

Well, I jumped on my bike a few days ago, the first time since I got off of it on Mount Fuji 2 months ago. I only pedaled 5 miles, but it felt like 20. Its amazing how flabby and out of it one can get in just 60 days. I have been eating what ever I want, and have had no portion control.

I think there is a wall before me that I can't seem to quite climb over at the moment. I keep reaching for the top of it to get a handle on it, but it's just out of reach...dang!

So I guess I am putting my voice out there that I need a little kick in the butt. Anyone want to give me that nudge that I need? I'm usually pretty self motivated once I am humming along down the road and have made progress, but I feel like an old model-T right now that needs someone to help wind me back up and get me going again.


I'm probably 20-30lbs heavier than 2 months ago.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back home in the good ole US of A

I can't put into words what has happened over the last 3 weeks. It all seems so surreal it never happened. I know it did though 'cause I have pictures to prove it!

The flight home was bumpy and long. The 8-hour layover in San Francisco was not fun. But we all ended up in one piece at 10:30pm in Salt Lake City airport on Tuesday evening. Even the bike and my Mount Fuji walking stick that I checked on arrived in one piece.

It is so nice to be back home...where the streets are wide, the chairs are comfortable and where I can sleep in my own bed. Life seems easy here...but that is a little scary. Scary because sometimes easy means lazy. And lazy can mean not being totally conscious about life and the little eating.

Yes, I am heavier than when I left, and haven't rode my bike since I got off of it at the 2nd Station on Mount Fuji. It's time to cook up a batch of beans and get my good eating and riding going again.

Oh well, Japan and the time off from work was a wonderful distraction from our regular life. It was a blast and a memory that we'll never forget! However, as I was laying in bed last night at 2am, trying to fall asleep, I thought about the fact that I am only half way to my goal weight. It is Fall, and winter will be here soon. There is no time to waste in putting in the other 4500 miles that I set out to rack up by now...and there still is a lot of weight to lose, and a lot of change to occur.

Onward and upward!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 550-My Bike Ride to Mount Fuji (Part 2-The Hike up Mount Fuji)

If you haven’t taken the time to hear about my bike ride from Tokyo to Mount Fuji, you really should. You can read it by going HERE. This entry on my blog is part 2 of the adventure.

I will begin part 2 by sharing what happened after the bike ride on Monday evening. My family had arrived a day in advance of me by taking a bus from Funabashi. They checked into the Mizuno Hotel in Kawaguchiko, a beautiful hotel with probably the best iconic view of Mount Fuji! The hotel sits up on a hill directly across from the magnificent mountain. The other great thing about the Mizuno Hotel is that they have a nice Onsen that awaits its guests. For those of you that aren’t familiar with what an Onsen is, it is basically an indoor/outdoor hot springs bath house. Guests go there to take baths, and soak in the hot pools of water after a long day. To most Americans, this could be an embarrassing experience bathing in front of others, but it is actually a real awesome experience where you enjoy the epitome of the Japanese culture. Onsen’s are a necessary part of just about any hotel or resort you go to in Japan. Some Onsen’s are very old and look a little scary because they’ve been around for 100+ years, but there are a ton of very modern Onsens.

In the olden days people in the villages or districts would gather in the evenings together and bathe. Modesty wasn’t really a factor in those days as men and women would bathe together in the same pools.

Now days, there are separate sides to the Onsens so that the men and women bathe with their own genders.

Anyway, I give you that background as you can imagine what I did when I got to go to our hotel for the first time after the bike ride. I went to the Onsen to bathe, soak and just relax after one of the craziest days of my life! There was a nice big window in the indoor pool, or you could walk to the outside pool and enjoy the view of Mount Fuji outside. Unfortunately the men’s outdoor pool has a nice view of a telephone pole, but the indoor pool has a nice view. My wife said that the women’s outdoor pool has a marvelous view.

Also, we reserved a Japanese style room so there are no chairs or furniture per se, and there are no beds. In the evening while you are off to dinner eating in the hotel, the staff comes into your room and lays out your futons for you. So after dinner when we came back to our room, our nice fluffy futons (a very thin mattress with a down-like cover) were waiting for us. You can imagine that it took me about 10 seconds to fall asleep.

I might mention at this point that I hired a cameraman to take the train to Kawaguchiko where he would stay the night before the climb. I reserved a room for him at K’s House, a hostel for backpackers. I wanted to be careful to get a good hostel because some can be pretty crappy. K’s House though is highly recommended and gets great reviews, and Robert, my cameraman said it was a great place to stay. Usually in a hostel you can bunk up with other people for pretty low prices. Some rooms have 5 bunk beds or 10 futons so you could be sleeping with other strangers in the room. That’s a little daring in my opinion, so I reserved a private room for Robert that had a private bathroom. After the bike ride, on the way home, we stopped and met Robert and made sure that he had money and was all set for dinner, and getting up early the next morning.

The hike to Fuji began at 4:45am on Tuesday, August 27, 2013. I spent a few minutes getting my GoPro footage downloaded from the day before along with my SDT750 HD Camera’s footage. I had back up batteries, headlamps, and energy gels, etc., to pack in my backpack. My entire family, bless their hearts, all piled into the car rental that my father in law was driving, and we went and picked up Robert at about 5:15am. We then went to a Lawson convenience store and Robert and I loaded up on stuff that we wanted to eat and drink while hiking during the day. You’d think that Mount Fuji would be a pretty remote hike, but despite it’s remoteness, there are many many huts (small buildings) that feature places for hikers to sleep and buy food and drink. Obviously the higher you hike, the more expensive the prices get. We just made sure that we got all our stuff at Lawson’s, and then we wouldn’t have to throw our money away on the mountain.

I think I bought some onigiri (rice ball with surprise filling) a potato salad sandwich and a ham sandwich along with some Koala no March (chocolate filled koala bear shaped treats. Yes, my daughter says just about everything in Japan is “ridiculously cute.”) I also bought a Coke and lots of water. Again, I’m not a fan of caffeine, but got it to help perk me up and give me some sugar. I might also add that my wife wanted a Coke Zero, which I bought and unknowingly shoved in my backpack. Her drink became a stowaway all the way to the top of Mount Fuji and back! Ha ha ha.

With food loaded in our packs, we took the 45-minute drive up to the 5th station. As we went up the hill, I have to say I was impressed at how far up the mountain I was able to bike the day before. I made it to the 2nd station, and that was a good 15-20 minutes up in our car.

We drove up as close as we could get to the 5th station, but had to park about a mile down the hill because of all the tour buses and other cars that were parked there. Climbing Fuji is a 24-hour event for the mountain. People are hiking the trails 24-hours a day to either see the sunrise at 4am in the morning, or just doing the hike at the time they wish too. The day before when we went to the 5th station there were thousands of people there. This morning, maybe there were hundreds. It was not crowded at all.

Robert and I got out of the car and took a few minutes to get our packs put together for the hike. We took some quick pictures together with our family, and then, walked up the road to the 5th station. Our plan was to do this hike in 10-12 hours round trip. So I told my wife that I would give her a call and let her know of our progress. Fortunately, my father-in-law let me take his cell phone with me so that I could call while on the mountain.

Robert and I took about 30 minutes buying sunscreen, gloves, visiting the restroom, and getting his camera ready. We shot a little video there at the 5th station, and then set off on our hike. By the time we got on the trail, it was already about 7:45-8:00am. We were already a bit behind schedule.

The first part of the trail is flat and if you think for a moment that it’s going to stay that way, you’re obviously wrong. On the flat part of the trail we passed tons of hikers that were just getting down from their descent after viewing the sunrise earlier in the morning. I’m sure that as they passed us they were laughing under their breath knowing what we were about to experience. Within 20 minutes or so, the trail began to change and we soon were walking uphill. I immediately thought of my hike to Box Elder Peak 3 weeks before where the beginning of the trail is fairly steep. Box Elder trails flatten out a tad, but not with Fuji. The trail as you can imagine is a constant climb, and the pitch can be pretty severe in most parts. I immediately started to feel my heart begin pounding and the sweat began to make an appearance. I was excited to be hiking and wanted to keep a good brisk pace, but soon discovered that this was going to be similar to the bike ride climb. I needed to find a good pace, and then knock it down a level. I can’t remember what excuse I made, but I asked Robert to stop hiking for a moment while I made some sort of an adjustment to my backpack. After a few minutes of resting, I began again, but this time taking the ascent slower. I finally found a good pace to hike at.

Within 30 minutes we had arrived at what I thought was the 6th station. I thought, wow, we’re making good time, but soon discovered after a quick breather, that we hadn’t arrived to the 6th station yet. This was simply the 6th station bathroom/first aid area. If you didn’t read my entry from yesterday, let me explain that there are 10 stations on Mount Fuji, with the 10th station being the summit. Most people begin the hike at the tourist headquarters at the 5th station. So as you can imagine, arriving at any station represents progress up the mountain.

Well, again, arriving at this first station was exciting as again, I thought we had arrived to the 6th station. After we hiked for another 30-40 minutes we arrived at another hut, and I though perhaps we had already arrived at the 7th station. But I realized very quickly that this was the actual 6th station. This was not going to be as easy as I thought. In fact I kind of thought that each hut that you see up the mountain was an actual station, but soon realized that there are huts that greet you before and after the stations. Some huts are just there and have no relation to a station at all. They’re just there to harass you. ;)

Actually, the hike from the 5th station up to the top of Mount Fuji is only about 4800 feet, which is less than a mile. But the fact that the pitch of the mountain is like 45 degrees makes it a very long and tricky climb. I say tricky, because as you look up and see the top of the mountain, it doesn’t look like it’s that far away, but then as you trudge along very slowly, you realize that it took an hour to move not very far up the mountain. In fact you look down and see that you haven’t moved very far and wonder if you’re even making any progress.

Let me mention here that just like when you’re riding a bike up a hill, there is a threshold point where you can only pedal so much weight up a certain incline. And there is a fine balance of having to maintain a heart rate that allows you to function and not overdo it, other wise you have to stop and take a rest to let your heart settle.

I found for me, and noticed that probably with most everyone else, that you had to walk like a zombie, putting one foot in front of the other in what seemed like a snails pace. The constant temptation was to stop and rest as your brething is always pretty heavy. I kind of got a rhythm going with my breathing so that I turned my hiking into a little walking and breathing dance. Then as I made my way forward at a snails pace, I’d be temped to stop and rest because its just such a monotonous action to move up a hill so slow. I found myself always wanting to take a rest but would simply just tell myself, “No. I’ve got to get up this mountain.” I had to push through the pain and monotony and keep going.

Robert is a young guy in his late 20’s. He’s a skinny guy. He only brought a fanny pack. But his challenge, which probably wasn’t really one, was that he got to haul his camera and monopod up, and run around and videotape my climb. He did great. I think it worked well as my pace needed to be slightly slower. This allowed him to hike up ahead and get shots from above, or stay behind and get shots from below. We kind of got a shooting rhythm going.

I saw some pretty amazing people up on the mountain that day. And my hike turned into a spiritual experience as I had thoughts come to me about how hiking is a lot like life is. My sister who has been on some pretty good hikes shared with me that she had had that same insight about hikes…and their parallels to life.

As I hiked up the trail, I saw very old people, probably in their 70s or 80s who were moving very slowly up the trail. I wondered how they were ever going to make it to the top. I then realized that the climb is not a race, it’s a journey, and that we’re all trying to make it to the same destination, even if some of us get there at different times.

I saw one man who was literally on all fours crawling in pain. I could not believe he was even on the mountain. I wondered why he was there. This was no place for crawling. But I couldn’t judge him. I had to give him the benefit of the doubt and had to respect the fact that he was there for his own purposes…and he, despite his groaning in pain, and looking like he was in the most pain of his life, was there---doing it! I asked him if he was okay and he didn’t respond, possibly out of embarrassment. I told him to Ganbatte (hang in there!) A few minutes later I saw him at the next station that we were all climbing towards. He made it.

I saw a young father with maybe an 8 year old boy hiking up between the 5th and 6th stations. I wondered why a father would bring his child up on this scary and dangerous climb? I then had an impression that perhaps he was allowing his son to experience, not the entire hike, but a sampling of it. I was right, as a little while later I heard him tell his son, “Mo, kairimasho ka?”(shall we go home?) I was touched that a father would take the time to come all the way to the mountain to let his son get a taste of what it was like to hike Mount Fuji.

I also saw a group of adults that had about 10 little children that were coming down the trail up. They also brought these kids to have a small taste of the climb.

One thing was for sure, we were all humbled by the climb, and to each of us in our own way, we were moving in the direction and at the pace we needed to go for our own experience.

One part of the trail, about half way up, consisted of a climb up lava rock. Most of the trails were fairly hike-able, but one portion was literally a mini rock climb. There was no obvious trail other than metal poles with chains poking out of the side of the trail. Each hiker would not ascend the rocks the same way as some rocks were too high of a step for some hikers, so a different approach would be made. During this portion of the hike I kind of freaked because I had just gotten a good rhythm going when the hike was no longer just walking. Now it was climbing and holding onto rock and chains to pull one’s self up. This obviously took a lot longer to navigate and I was already concerned that we were behind schedule. I don’t know how long we hiked on the lava rocks, but I was grateful when it stopped. I don’t know why that part of the trail had to go over the rock. It was not fun, but it’s now an interesting memory.

I brought with me one of my aluminum hiking poles that survived the Box Elder hike 3 weeks earlier. But I learned from that hike that having 2 poles is a must! I bought a wooden walking stick that you can buy at the 5th station for the hike up. The stick already has a wood burned stamp on it of Mount Fuji. Then at just about each station AND at almost every additional hut on the way up the mountain, you can stop and pay 200 YEN to have someone wood burn a different stamp onto your stick. The idea is that when you finish your climb, that you’re about $40 poorer, but you have a beautiful hiking stick with wood burned stamps on it. After shelling out about $15 on stamps, I soon realized that this is also a slight scam. I guess it’s cool to get the stamp of each place, but at the same time, is it really necessary? Anyway, I stopped getting the stamps until I finally reached the top and then got the stamp of the Jinja (temple) that is on top of Mount Fuji.

Anyway, getting this hiking stick and getting the stamps on it has been something that I wanted to do so I can bring it home and get it and a few other things mounted in a shadow box to remind me of the incredible day.

Initially as we began our hike late, I set a new arrival time for about 1pm. As we got up the mountain at what seemed like a snails pace, Robert and I soon realized that we weren’t going to make the 1pm mark. Soon 1pm became 2pm, and then 2pm became 3pm. We’d taken some rest breaks, ate lunch, shot video, etc., and so our hike was now at the 7 hour mark! I’ve heard estimates that you should be able to do the hike to the top in 5-6 hours. I started to remember my hike to Box Elder Peak in which I got stuck 3 miles up on the mountain when the sun had gone down with no light or water. I didn’t want to get stuck on Mount Fuji in the dark. But the reality of things was that if it took 4 hours to get off the mountain, being at the 3pm point would mean that we weren’t going to be off the mountain while it was still light. The sun is down by 7pm. Yikes! Fortunately, we had plenty of food and water, and I brought our Petzl headlamps! So this time, I was prepared.

Well, we just kept pushing and pushing, walking amongst the zombies, and at 3:45pm, I walked through the gate to the summit! Talk about an exciting moment! There was actually a point during the hike where I recalled the pain of my previous days bike ride, and was feeling similar pain. I thought for a moment that perhaps I might not make it to the top. But that thought didn’t last very long. Even if I had to hike late into the night, I was getting to the top and accomplishing my goal and dream!

Robert had walked through the gate earlier and had positioned himself and the camera perfectly to get the moment that I walked through the gate. I did a little fist pumping and then walked a few more feet up to the landing. There at the top is a Jinja (temple) that awaits all those that arrive at the top. We went in and I got my walking stick stamped with the Jinja’s summit woodburned stamp. Robert bought a few goodluck charms for his girlfriend, and I bought one for my mother and father-in-law.

There weren’t very many people at the summit. We took a few pictures for other people as they posed for their memorable moment, and then we asked them to take our picture. It was a little surreal to actually be there at the top of Mount Fuji. This was the place that I had dreamed of climbing I could now tell people that I had hiked to the top of Mount Fuji! I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my family. My wife answered the phone and said, “Where are you?” with a little smile in her voice. I announced that we had finally made it to the top!

One of the things I wanted to see when at the top of Fuji was the volcano crater. About 50 yards away behind the Jinja is the crater of the mountain. We walked over to take a look and it was really strange to see the massive opening. It looked like something you’d see on another planet. It’s just not a sight you see everyday.

Robert and I stood in awe looking over and taking pictures of the huge crater.

Initially I had hoped we’d have time to hike to the other side of the crater. Apparently there is a weather station and a post office that you can drop letters and postcards off at and they will be stamped with a special postal stamp. We were running way behind and it was just a little after 4pm so this time we weren’t going to the post office. We quickly walked over to the exit gate and began the long descent down. Fortunately the trail down is a separate trail from the one we took coming up. These trails are long wide man-made trails that zig zag all the way down. I’ve heard of some people running down. I wouldn’t dare. The rocks and soil are just a little too unpredictable and it’s very easy to slip and lose your balance. The last thing one would want to do on this mountain is to break a leg or sprain an ankle. I made sure that each one of my feet and both of my walking sticks were well planted in the soil with each step. There was no way I was staying up on this mountain any longer than I needed to be.

As the sun started to go down behind the mountain, you could see the cool sight of Fuji’s shadow on the clouds below. As it got later and later the shadow stretched for miles and miles out on the cloud covered sky.

It’s a long walk down off the mountain and it started to get dark about 6pm. By 7pm it was dark! I pulled out a couple of headlamps, and gave one to Robert and put the other one on. I noticed that there were other hikers that did the same. The hike down in the dark was a little eery. The zigzagging trail soon changed to man-made tunnels constructed to protect hikers from possible rock slides coming from above. Then the trail started to turn into man-made stepping stones which was really annoying. They made a fairly solid trail, a notch harder to walk on due to the potential of the flat rock being slippery. I imagined that this part of the trail would be hell for hikers descending in rain or some sort of precipitation.

As we got lower we soon merged into a lower trail that hikers ascending the mountain used also. It was cool to see all these headlamps going up the trail. It looked like a long line of fireflies moving up the mountain. The night before from my hotel room, I could see a long line of sparkling lights flowing up the mountain from afar.

I saw a sign that said something like 1.7 kilometers to the 5th station. That’s really not more than a mile or so, but it seemed like our arrival at the 5th station would never come. We kept walking and walking and walking. Finally, after what seemed like 3 miles, we arrived back at the little village at the 5th station. All the shops were closed and small groups of hikers that were either arriving off the mountain or were preparing to hike were gathered. It was a little past 8pm when we arrived back. Our entire hike had taken 12 hours.

We needed to get Robert back to the train station for his ride back home by 9:19pm and it’s a good 45-minute drive down off the mountain. My father-in-law put the pedal to the metal and got us down in record time. It was so nice to be sitting back in the car again on a comfortable seat! We arrived at the train station with 25 minutes to spare. Robert packed, and got on the train and left.

It was 9:15pm and we were all hungry. So we went to Royal Host to have dinner. The last time I was at Royal Host the day before was not a very good memory. So I was glad to come back and make a better one. I had some spaghetti, and treated myself to a hot fudge sundae! I deserved it…plus I was craving something sweet. I had been eating non-tasty stuff all day on the mountain. It was time to eat something that actually tasted good!

I might add at this point just for fun that I had bought some hiking boots a week earlier that I hadn’t broken in. They worked like a charm for me! My feet felt great, thought hey were very tired from the hike.

We went back to the hotel, and again, I went and jumped in the Onsen, smiling and thinking about where I had been that day!

I was satisfied! I was proud of myself. I finally after having anxiety and worry over the past year or so about the bike ride to Fuji and the climb up the mountain, could now relax and smile with satisfaction! Finally!

My day on Mount Fuji will be a day that I will never forget. I will never forget the other people that I saw while hiking. I will never forget that man that was crawling on all fours. There were so many things I saw and heard while on the mountain, that I didn’t share here that will only have special meaning to me.

I am grateful for this fabulous experience, and that I set the goal to challenge myself to bike to and climb to the top of Mount Fuji! I did it!
Beautiful Mount Fuji from my hotel room at the Mizuno Hotel in Kawaguchiko, Japan.

Me and Robert Cook, my DP, before we take off on the hike.

The first part of the trail is flat. But will soon change.

Taking a moment to stock up on some energy.

Many huts dot the trail on the way up the mountain.
The city just to the right in the background is where we stayed for 3 days.

A look up the mountain as the huts and mountain disappear into the clouds.
The trail changed from fairly hike-able to crappy.

Climbing the lava rock was not fun.

Looking up at the span of lava rock.
I would say the pitch of the mountain is 45 degrees.

Looking up to the summit from the lava rock.
Robert carries his camera up the trail.

My hiking stick being wood burned with a stamp.
Wood burned stamp at my walking stick.
Making my way up the trail,
At the top of this span of trail, you can see the gate to the summit.

Each side of the gate have a dragon protecting the entrance to the summit.

A little fist pump for a hike well done!

This is me at 12,389 feet. Tokyo is at sealevel.

The mysterious looking crater at the top of Mount Fuji.

The trails down the mountain are steep and zig-zag back and forth for forever.
At about 6pm you could see Mount Fuji's shadow as the son began to go down behind the mountain.

Stairway to Heaven.

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+)
Friday: 4.27 (previous week)

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?

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

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

Mount Fuji Summit

What a day! I hiked to the top of Mount Fuji today! Details to come.

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:



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'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 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!