Java Snob


Who would have dreamed that a guy who used to drink firehouse coffee is now sippin away each morning on a cup of Aeropress.  It seems like only yesterday I was blown away by a cup of french press roast.

For the guy who has everything, I let it be known that an Aeropress would be welcome under the tree this year.  Sure enough, my first cuppa was on Christmas day.  I have to admit, I now understand what all of the fuss is about.

Using just a regular roast, it’s very smooth with no bitterness; and bonus points for being both fast, easy, and a quick clean-up.  My next thought is to find some upscale grind and run it through to see how it tastes.  I’m hoping I can resist the temptation to start my own roasting and grinding…

More HIIT Observations

Several weeks back I switched my High Intensity Interval Training protocol to 8 seconds of work and 12 seconds of rest.  It calls for working at 90% maximum heartrate and resting at 80.  Right now I’m up to three 8 minute workouts a week, and guessing about my heartrate based on perceived effort.

Since I no longer have a working heart rate monitor, I was searching the ‘net and discovered that there are now bluetooth driven apps that let you record heartrate if you buy the appropriate monitor, as well as neat little apps where you can put your finger over the camera lens and it takes your pulse.

Using the latter on my tablet, I recorded a resting pulse of 46.  This is in the middle of the day, after two cups of coffee.  In November, the PA at the doctor’s office recorded my resting pulse at 58.  In my rowing days, when in really good shape, my resting pulse could get into the mid to high 30’s, so that much of a change in this short of time has me curious.

On top of that, yesterday I had the Trucker out just to check it out and toodle up and down the street.  It’s purely an observation, but I rode up the street (a slight incline) in a bigger gear and noted my legs not getting fatigued; nor did I feel winded.

So this has me thinking that HIIT is having a positive effect on my aerobic capacity, but I need to verify it with a longer ride.  In fact, this has me pretty stoked.

There still is no weight loss, but I’m thinking that first the holidays have me eating too much sugar; and second, my weight training is keeping my appetite higher than I should expect if just doing HIIT alone.

My Experience with HIIT

A few months back I had to curtail any riding and focus on gathering firewood.  That’s the subject of another post to come, but at the same time I started researching High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as a means to stay in shape and lose some weight.

Interval training is not new to me.  When competing in crew, I’d begin the season with long steady workouts to build an aerobic base and form, and then switch to intervals when I felt I was in good shape.  Intervals would add speed and a definite mental toughness during races because they can be very hard to work through.

My primary source was Fast Exercise by Michael Mosley.  Because I have been lifting weights for upper body strength, I decided to do the aerobic component only by adding three HIIT workouts a week.  We bought a medium quality spinning bike, and I use an app on my Samsung tablet as a timer.

I started out doing three 15 second bursts with 90 second recovery, then worked up to 25 second bursts with 120 second recovery.  Recently I switched to the 8 second on/12 second off protocol where I’m currently at 6 minutes.  Interestly, I’m finding this new routine harder than the all out bursts.

Since I get blood work annually, I thought it would be a good idea to compare results pre and post-HIIT.  The results are both interesting and exciting:

Total Cholesterol:  Pre = 189  Post = 164  (This is a really impressive metric that I can’t point to diet change or any change in meds – only HIIT.)

HDL:  Pre = 47  Post = 35  (This is a little troubling in that this is the “good cholesterol”.  Ideally, it should have gone up and should be above 40.  I’m thinking that the recent change in protocol and some additional aerobic work might help.

Non HDL: Pre = 142  Post = 108  (Ideal is less than 160, and I’m wondering if the 108 is an anomoly because that’s really low.)

Triglycerides: I only have a Post = 64  (Anything less than 150 is good, and the PA told me she’s never seen one this low before.)

TC/HDL Ratio: Pre = 4.0  Post = 4.68  (Ideal should be below 5.0.  The drop in HDL negatively impacted this ratio.

Tryg/HDL Ratio:  1.8  (According to Grant Peterson in “Don’t Jog, Eat Bacon”,  anything under 2 is good.)

Blood Glucose (fasting): Pre = 85  Post = 78  (Anything below 100 is good.)

What hasn’t happened:  HIIT in itself is not a weight-loss program, although there is data to show that prolonged HIIT results in weight loss due to suppressed appetite.  I haven’t lost any weight, but I’ve also been putting on some muscle and my waist has gone down slightly.  I notice, however, that my weight has more to do with eating healthy than working out.  If I can stay away from sugar and carbs, I notice the difference.

I don’t feel like I’ve gained any aerobic capacity.  The HIIT workouts are so short that I can’t see how they would.  I’ll continue to steadily increase the 8/12 workouts with a goal of 20 minutes 3 times a week until Spring.  At that point, I plan to get back on the road bike and build up my base.  I should point out, though, that the workouts are tough for as short as they are – my legs are stiff the following day.

Strength:  For an old guy, I continue to impress myself.  The weight lifting, usually a short intense workout twice a week, has made a difference with cutting wood and other tasks in general, and I continue to work through plateaus and steadily add weight.

So my impression is that HIIT is effective, and I”m eager to see if I can drop some weight after seeing how these other figures have changed.  It’s very motivating.


What the Heck?

All this dust-up about ebola and nurse Kaci Hickox thumbing her nose at the Governor of Maine, and not a single reporter comments about her boyfriend’s Pug:


Vicarious Touring

When you have a job, family, bills, and other people who depend on you, the idea of chucking it all and heading across the country on a bike is pretty much just a dream…for now.  I both satisfy and feed that urge by following others’ travels.

By far the best source has been Crazy Guy on a Bike.  Recently I stumbled across Self Propelled by Geoff Winslow.  Not only did he take a good trip across the US, but he took great pictures, and most of all, he took the time to write well about it.

I’ll put it like this: One of my all time favorite books is Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon.  It chronicles the journey around the country of a man who hit spiritual bottom, and how he finds himself by looking both outward and inward.  Mr. Winslow’s blog has the potential to be just as good a book.  I hope he considers it and finds a publisher.

Highly recommended reading.

Lightening the Load

No riding to brag about lately.  Any free time I have is pretty much focused on firewood, and I’m still way behind.  But that’s not to say that I haven’t been dreaming.

I decided to sell off the Primus Eta Packlite since it is a bit large for just one person and I haven’t been using it much.  Instead, I put together a small titanium kit with a canister mounted burner.

The best deal on titanium pots seems to be Toaks, plus they provided excellent service and fast delivery.  The stove is a Chinese knockoff of the Pocket Rocket for $10, plus another $9 for the base.  Thrown in some folding stainless utensils for another $6 and we’re good.





The Kitchen: 900 pot, 450 mug, 300 bowl.  Stainless utensils, canister stove, Esbit stove.

The Kitchen: 900 pot, 450 mug, 300 bowl. Stainless utensils, canister stove, Esbit stove.


The yellow on the mug is a Snow Peak “Hotlip” – nothing more than a piece of silicone to save from burning your mouth since ti transmits heat so easily.  The orange band on the bowl is the same, only from Toaks.  Based on some internet advice, I also added strips of fuel line tubing to cover the handles on the pot and mug.

The weight difference is pretty noticeable, although I don’t have any figures.  The whole kit also takes up a lot less space.

For coffee I had been using a LiTech pot with a press adapter, but honestly, cleaning that in the field is a pain; plus the pot gets committed to coffee while I have to wait to heat water or anything else.  I’ve decided to go with a small pour over system for now which should be good enough.  Looking at two extremes, I always have the Via packs if I need to go ultralight, and I’m curious about the Aeropress.   Decisions, decisions….

Heavy Camping

Once a year, on Labor Day Weekend, we attend Family Camp.  We load up and trek to East Waterford to a somewhat remote yet very appealing campsite with several families from our church.??????????????

As you can imagine, the dynamic is quite different from bike camping.  Even though I take some of my lightweight kit along, most of our gear is “heavy”, with an emphasis on convenient.  You can see the big tent, which gets used once a year, as well as the canopy for meals, which also gets used once a year.  We have electric and access to a water spigot.  The campsite has warm showers and a freezer full of ice.

Our family is one of the few that uses a tent.  Most others are accomplished car campers with trailer units ranging from pop-ups to 32′ condos with bump outs and canopies.  To their credit, these owners make frequent use of their trailers, either travelling over the summer or setting up at remote sites similar to owning a cabin in the woods.

The other difference that takes some getting used to for me is the proximity to other people.  I’ve concluded that my true personality is introverted, because I like the aspect of getting away either by myself or with a small group where we can share more intimate and deeper conversations.  Family Camp is more about general socializing with a large group, often boisterous and fun loving.

Fortunately, we are usually able to set up in a quiet area and people know us enough to realize that our family enjoys time alone, so we can mix it up – general socializing at times and quiet reading or conversation among ourselves.

Because of school and job schedules, I got to go out by myself on Friday and set things up, and spend the night by myself.  I got some hiking in, caught a fish with my Popiel Pocket Fisherman, found my winter Montbell bag to be quite comfortable on a chilly night when even the trailerized campers were complaining about the cold, and I listened to coyotes carrying on in the middle of the night, which I have never heard before.

By Saturday the family arrived.  Red had prepared enough food for a month, and brought along more “stuff” that the manly-man in me had to complain about.  We dealt with bugs, building fires, and all the typical camping stuff that resulted in a pretty nice time.

Sunday night we were greeted with a thunderstorm. The big tent still had a small leak through the rainfly, so I improvised to cover that up with a tarp and then moved into my Kelty for the night which I just happened to throw in the truck.  That gave us a bit more room to arrange things away from the damp floor, plus I am the early riser of the family, so it worked out.

Still, with heavy camping and rain, there is always so much more to clean up and dry out.  It will take about a week of hosing stuff off and letting it dry in the sun so we can put it all away dry and pull it out next year.

At the end of the day I don’t regret heavy camping because it’s nice to get away with the family to relax.  Still, I have to confess that my heart is really into bike camping with a lot less gear to worry with.  The whole trailer thing does seem to be a lot more convenient, but we’d need to use it a lot more than once a year, and I’m not sure the fam would be into that.

So I’ll continue with my S24O’s and mini-tours; and I’ll just have to grin and bear it one weekend a year for heavy camping.