My Cycling is All “Fasted” Recently, and I Don’t Know Why (But I’m Not Complaining)

It's not been a good year for me so far, having been beset by all manner of colds, injuries, and other things that have made a big dent in my fitness. As I mentioned earlier in The Silliness of Japanese Medicine-Dosage Rules a couple of weeks ago, I topped things off with a horrible cold that put me out of commission for the better part of two weeks. The third course of antibiotics seemed to have finally done the trick, and now I'm looking to reclaim my life.

When in good form last year, I was about 86kg (190lbs) with little fat and a lot of upper-body muscle. But this bad year had taken its toll, and as I emerged from the bad cold a week ago, I found myself over 90kg (~200lbs) and without muscle. Ugh. Enough. Gotta get rid of the fat and start to rebuild muscle.

The upper-body muscle will be a challenge, since some nerve damage to my left triceps leaves them very weak. They're slowly coming back and have doubled in strength to about 30% of normal capacity, so at long last I can finally do a pushup, but it's a far cry from last year when I could do 50 pushups in as many seconds. I just have to wait.

On the other hand, loosing the fat is looking to be easier than I expected. Something about the recent bad cold changed my metabolism, and I was left without much apparent need to eat. I'd spend the day working, and suddenly realize in the evening that I'd not had a thing to eat all day, and even then wasn't particularly hungry.

In cycling, there's the idea of a short morning fasted ride, which means a ride done before anything's been eaten that day. The thought is that getting a good hour or so of exercise in the morning before taking in food will force your body to dip into its fat reserves.

Last Tuesday my metabolism was no different, and by noon when I decided to make my first short ride since the cold, I still hadn't had anything to eat. I did bring calories with me, expecting that the exercise would demand it, but I never felt the need during the 2½ hour, 40km (24mi) ride, and ended up not eating anything until dinner.

Well, that was fortuitous for my weight-loss hopes. I didn't expect it to continue for longer rides, but so far is has, over two more rides of 76 and 121 kilometers (47 and 75 miles). This post is about those two longer rides.

The first of those two was really interesting, as I explored a bunch of things that may or may not have turned out to be actual roads, which did indeed turn out to be very lovely roads. Here it is: @ Strava

It was a hot day, and it got even hotter as I passed through the city of Otsu:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
About 108°F

I wasn't eating anything (I brought food in case I needed it, but it turns out I never did), but I was certainly drinking a lot. Over the ride, I drank 6.4L (1.7gal)!


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus front camera 2.87mm f/2.2 at an effective 32mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.2, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos
Relative Cool
of a forest path

Having gained so much weight, I had no illusions of being fast, so I was happy to be in exploration mode. In poking around a small village tucked into the crease of a mountain, I found a short but steep climb that ended at a quiet shrine...


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/120 sec, f/1.8, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Namiho Shrine
Otsu City, Shiga

It's the step climb up to it that made it a nice find for me. There was a second approach, by stairs:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.8, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Sense of Steepness
rest of the path from the top of the stairs
( the road itself was steeper than this )

Neither the shine nor most of the roads in the area we even on the maps that Strava uses, so as I often do, I spent considerable time carefully adding them later.

I then made my way farther east, where I wanted to investigate what looked on Google Earth to perhaps be roads. Usually these are either off-limit construction-access roads, or unpaved paths that I wouldn't want to take on my road bike, so I didn't hold out much hope, but the first road I found was lovely, in excellent condition, and devoid of people and cars.

I made a Strava segment for it, and surprisingly, it seems that I'm the first to ever ride it: Kamitanakami Shinmeishin Tunnel Climb.

The road ends at another road that emerges from under an expressway:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 80 — map & image datanearby photos
Welcome Respite from the Heat

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Slightly Creepy Sign
giving the name of the expressway that the tunnel goes under

I don't know who this sign is intended for, since the roads in this area are closed to motor vehicles. Hikers?

These roads were in the middle of nowhere, and not connecting anything. In fact, one of them just unceremoniously ends at nothing.


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/3000 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Pristine Road
not used for anything

There was a little plaque saying Management-road End / Otsu Forestry Office, so I guess that's less unceremonious than this road from a couple of years ago.

Descending back toward civilization, I came across what seemed to be a small campground, along with the entrance to a mountain hiking road:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/350 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Sign For the Hiking Road

The satellite view makes it look like a normally-paved road, and it probably is, but it's closed off to cars, motorcycles, and even bicycles. (Wheelchairs, however, are explicitly allowed, and the ramps I saw leading away from the parking lot suggests that they're serious about that, which is nice.)

For my part, I continued exploring...


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/200 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Par for the Day
great-quality pavement, no cars, lots of nature

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/670 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Beckoning You For a Dip
the water looked to be perhaps shin deep, just inviting you to come in and cool down

The river had a lot of these pseudo-dams, and at one downstream I came across some people fishing...


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/670 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Father and Sons
quality time

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/440 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Civilization Emerges
The little boy told me that there's a campground a bit farther down

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/1100 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Campground

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/4400 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Ford

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/700 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
J. de Rijke

According to a little plaque nearby, Johannis de Rijke oversaw construction of a little dam nearby. I didn't realize it at the time, but according to his Wikipedia page, he's the guy responsible for the canal from Lake Biwa to Kyoto, running right in front of my house.


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus front camera 2.87mm f/2.2 at an effective 32mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.2, ISO 25 — map & image datanearby photos
Johannis and Me
we both need a shave

It was a lovely day of discovery, and of energy that seemed to materialize from nowhere. I even made a PR on a five-minute climb that I wasn't even trying on. It was just a great day.

I had a protein drink when I got home, but otherwise didn't eat anything between dinner the night before and dinner much later on after I got home.

Two days later (yesterday) I did another fasted ride, not feeling the need to eat in the morning before heading out. This one was much longer: @Strava


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice Field
in western Kyoto

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/750 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Vestiges of a Festival
it looks like they had an evening light-up event

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/140 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Morning-After Deconstruction

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 64 — map & image datanearby photos
Much Cooler
it got down to 22° (72F) on the slow climb up Mt. Atago

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus front camera 2.87mm f/2.2 at an effective 32mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Still
need a shave

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/610 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Rice-Farming Village

As a cyclist it's convenient to use my phone to take pictures, but as a photographer it's painful. The iPhone 7+'s camera is no match for an old Nikon SLR, as evidenced by a this shot from the same location five years ago.

Not long after this spot is a short fast descent that's pretty safe to go full power all-out on. I wasn't planning on giving anything much power this day, but once I got there I had a hard time holding back, so I went for it.

The nature of the road makes it safe at full power if you have the confidence to handle that much power in the mild curves. Unlike most descents, the limit is not in the safety of needing to be able to stop within your sight lines, or of worrying about oncoming traffic popping around a blind corner. Here, only a lack of power or a lack of raw bike-handling skills limits you. I've got a long way to go in the bike-handling department, and lost my nerve on a couple of the curves, so I was all the more pleasantly surprised when Strava Live on my phone told me that I'd made a new KOM (fastest time ever recorded).

Sadly, when I got home and uploaded the real track from my Garmin Edge 820, the calculations had changed and I had merely tied my previous record (which itself is the current KOM).

After a while was another fast descent, but about double the length. I've done my best (2 min 5 sec) on three separate occasions, and hoped to finally break that barrier, but no, my time was exactly the same. Four times. I guess I've at least got consistency going for me.


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/320 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Notice The Reflections
so that you don't notice I cut off the top of the monument

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/1900 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Low Water Level

Later on I came across the dam that seemed to be controlling the height in the lake...


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/670 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Adjustable-Height Dam

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/1250 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Gates All The Way Down

Farther downstream is the huge Hiyoshi Dam, which has a circular walkway over its spillway:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/700 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos

Some time ago I'd made a Strava segment representing four laps around the walkway, jokingly calling it the Hiyoshi Velodrome. But somehow on this ride today, I had it in my mind that the segment was just three laps, so I gave full gas for three and then coasted. Still, I missed my previous record by just a few seconds, so next time I'll make a PR (so long, at least, as I can successfully count to four).


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/2300 sec, f/1.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
On The Velodrome

This velodrome has appeared on my blog before, here and here. I actually visited the dam once long ago on a family trip, chronicled here.

Anyway, I then moved on to the destination for the day, a waterfall I'd seen on a friend's ride last week. From the map it looked like there were two approaches, and I took what turned out to be a 10% climb to a reservoir above the waterfall.

I guess everyone else actually followed the plentiful signs down below, because Strava tells me I'm the first to ride up here. But I like exploring, and I like steep climbs, so I'm happy to be here.

There was a sign for the waterfall pointing down some rough steps, so I made my way


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/120 sec, f/1.8, ISO 25 — map & image datanearby photos
Above the Waterfall

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/30 sec, f/1.8, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Just Above
Leaning over, I could see some people waaaay below. It's a tall waterfall.

Once I realized that I was above the waterfall and that it was very tall, I opted against hiking down, so hiked back up the short distance to the road, and coasted down.


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 40 — map & image datanearby photos
Steep but Beautiful
it doesn't look like it, but it's a 10% grade

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/120 sec, f/1.8, ISO 25 — map & image datanearby photos
Finally There
Kotodaki Waterfall (琴滝)
water drops about 40m

iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 3.99mm f/1.8 at an effective 28mm — 1/120 sec, f/1.8, ISO 25 — map & image datanearby photos
Relaxed Atmosphere

Then I high-tailed the 50km home, still drinking a lot but not feeling the need to eat any of the food I'd brought.

I made good time, so threw in a little bonus climb at the end, just before home:


iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back camera 6.6mm f/2.8 at an effective 57mm — 1/120 sec, f/2.8, ISO 20 — map & image datanearby photos
Flip-Side View

The cemetery is something I normally see from above, such as in this view, but on the Rt. 1 climb out of Kyoto, for a moment you have this view, at least if you poke the camera through a hole in a chain-link fence. (The orange building at the top is part of the Kiyomizu Temple, seen in the first picture on this post).

I ended up drinking 7.2L (1.9gal)! That equates to 7.2kg (16 pounds!) of drink. Yet, despite all that, I lost almost 2kg during the ride. Most of it was water loss that came back by this morning, but not all of it.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Thanks for the full story.

— comment by Rick H. on August 28th, 2017 at 3:12am JST (3 weeks, 2 days ago) comment permalink

Glad you’re feeling better.

I would suggest, though, if you’re spending hours and hours exercising with no food and literally gallons of water, you may want to consider electrolyte replacement. Mostly I don’t think they add anything to workouts, but in this particular situation, I don’t think it’d be a bad idea.

Of course, if you are *feeling* fine – as it seems, and you’re not having cramps, funny heart rhythms, headaches, etc, you are probably OK. Just something to think about, though.

I’m drinking various sports drinks, like Pocari Sweat. Exactly what depends on what’s available in the vending machines I happen to come across.—Jeffrey

— comment by Marcina on August 28th, 2017 at 4:40am JST (3 weeks, 2 days ago) comment permalink

Love the photos of the waterfall and cemeteries.
Adding people is perfect context.
Such beautiful adventures as always
Now that I won’t be riding up to Fuji’s 3rd station, I want you to do it in my place.
The coverage will be much better, and I know you’re keen on views!

— comment by Ash on August 29th, 2017 at 6:13pm JST (3 weeks, 1 day ago) comment permalink

I happen to be fasting this week. I really enjoy it.

And, there is tons of research suggesting that fasted exercise is very good for you.

Of course, there’s so much sugar in Pocari Sweat it’s doubtful you’re actually fasted. There are non-sugar-based ways to boost electrolytes, too, if you look.

The first 1.4L was water I brought from home, with electrolyte powder (https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B00BWNOSL6) that had a total of 18 calories. After that, it was whatever sport drink I could find at vending machines, which ranged between 140 cal/L to 250 cal/L (the max indeed being Pocari Sweat, of which I had 1L). Fasted “enough” 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by Zachary on August 30th, 2017 at 9:59pm JST (3 weeks ago) comment permalink
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