I am not a super-fit hard-core anything. I know - shocker. But I am an enthusiastic participant in outdoor activities, and have recently moved “cycle touring” up to the top of my favorite pastimes.
Now, one would think that piling 50lbs of gear onto one’s bicycle, and going out and riding about 50km per day with it, up and down hills, on gravel, cobblestones and “Edmonton surface” would be a pretty good way to shed a few pounds. If one thought that, sadly, one would be (mostly) wrong.
Brent and his friend, Doug, rode across Canada two years before we met. Brent is fond of saying that you gain weight for the first three weeks of a cycle tour, and then the weight starts coming off. He did drop a bunch of weight on his big tour (after his initial three weeks of gain), but he also gained a shed-load of weight in the first year afterwards.
In the early days of our relationship, Brent decided he’d like to take me to do the Golden Triangle, which is a supported tour in the Canadian Rockies, of approximately 317km over three days. “Woo-hoo,” thinks I, “this will give my metabolism a great kick in the arse and I’ll come back a lean, mean cycling machine”. Wrong. I trained some before the tour. I did most of the tour (although I dropped out of the last section due to exhaustion and traffic dangers). I came back about three pounds heavier than I’d left. “What the pudge?!” thinks I.
A few years later, and a few more pounds in the upward direction, Brent suggests that we take a month off and cycle tour in Australia. Taking off a full month from work was a pretty big deal to me at the time, but hey, when the love of your life wants to take you off to the other side of the world to see what that’s all about, you go. And, “Woo-hoo,” thinks I, “three days may not have been enough to kick my metabolism in the arse, but a full month!? That will for sure send me back a lean, mean cycling machine!” Wrong. I came back about three pounds heavier than when I left. I blamed it on cycling less than we’d planned (scary scary roads in Tasmania), and eating more Australian licorice than I’d planned.
A few years later, and even more pounds in the upward direction, Brent and I were off for a six-month tour in Europe. That’s right folks - SIX MONTHS. “Woo-hoo,” thinks I, “if Brent is right about the three weeks thing, then a six month tour will surely send me back a lean, mean cycling machine!” You can see where this is going. Wrong. I came back about the same weight as when I left, which was dreadfully high for my tiny frame. I had even planned for appropriate weight management for the trip. I would rein in my calories when we stopped riding, manage my caloric intake very carefully when we got back to Canada, and I would blog about it, which would keep me on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, we stopped cycling a full month before our trip was done, instead of cycling right to the end as planned, and no, I didn’t do a very good job of reining in my caloric intake for that last month. When we got back, it was winter and I had crippling tennis elbow, so I was not active enough, and I didn’t do a very good job of reining in my caloric intake that winter either. My weight increased more yet.
Two years later, we headed back for a month of touring in Germany. I may not be a hard-core super-fit anything, but “stubborn” I can do. I’m determined this time to get some weight loss out of this tour. I joined a gym the November before, started diligent calorie tracking, and started training for the tour, which would be the following June. By the time of the tour, my weight had come down and stabilized at about seven pounds lower than my highest. I still had the pipe-dream about coming back lighter than when I left (yes, “stubborn” I can do). True to Brent’s mantra, I seemed to have gained weight for the first three weeks of the tour, which, let’s be honest, was pretty much the whole trip (we didn’t ride for the last three days). But, hey, I dialed back my calories for those three days, and have been tightly managing my calories since we got back two weeks ago. I’m staying good and active (it’s summer this time), and my weight is drifting down slowly. I came back at about the same weight as I left, but that includes some extra muscle (so, I guess, some fat gone), and the weight is drifting down.
Hope springs eternal. And if it doesn’t work out this time, well, there’s always France in 2019. You know, because the meals and portion sizes in France are healthier than in Germany…