Time to Get Our Burn On!

The Grumbys will begin the great Undaunted Porridge tour in 71 days. What are we doing to get our burn on in the midst of the Portland Snowpocalypse? Will we be physically ready to tackle this little bike ride?


Portland Snowpocalypse

The Horror!

For those of you who haven’t been in Portland during the winter, it’s treacherous! We had almost an inch (gulp!) of snow on February 20th and it was terrifying. Fortunately for us, our local media, city officials, and company leaders are here to look out for our safety. Here’s an actual* conversation that took place:

Local Media: We’re seeing our first snowflakes here on Sylvan Hill. Look! It’s sticking to my jacket!

Local Media Anchor: Oh! The humanity!

Portland Public Schools Superintendent: We’d better close the schools tomorrow.

Large Multinational Corporation: Well, if the schools are closed, we’re closing too!

Mrs. G: Sweet! I’ll get an extra hour of sleep if I can work at home today!

Mr. G: Do you think the patients on ventilators will mind if I take a Snow Day?

*This may or may not be true. OK. Maybe this wasn’t an actual conversation. But similar people said similar things.


Getting Our Burn On

To ready yourselves for the Grumby Fitness Plan, check out Mr. Grumby’s favorite Planet Fitness ad:


On the Bike

When we’re not in the midst of the Portland Snowpocalypse, we have a few favorite training rides around the city. I’ll turn the keyboard over to Mr. G. to describe a few of the routes that he has logged with Ride With GPS:

[Mr. G here!] Although we do like riding, I don’t consider us “avid” cyclists. We don’t ride 65 miles in pace lines with spandex-clad weekenders. But, even though we try to stay in reasonable shape by working out off the bikes (see below), the best way to train for a bike ride is to ride your bike, if for no other reason than to get saddle time in. And, it’s fun. And, with Portland being as lumpy as it is, even short rides include hills that provide a serious burn, deep down in here. There is no shortage of places to ride in the area, and we try to take advantage at least once a weekend. Here are 3 of our favorites:

Cemetery Hill

Distance: 24 miles

Elevation Gain: 1786

Average Moving Speed: A blazing 9.4 mph

Highlights: A mostly flat route until a 450 foot climb through the beautiful Riverview Cemetery. It is a popular bicycle route and they have placed directional signs for bikes to keep them on a single route. We did the hill twice, which made a 900 foot climb in 6.4 miles.


Mt. Tabor Loop

Distance: 18 miles

Elevation Gain: 926

Average Moving Speed: 9.4 mph

Highlights:  A dormant volcano in the middle of the city where the city’s water reservoirs are. This was one of our favorite places to walk the dogs.

Gresham City Park

Distance: 37.5

Elevation Gain: 1161

Average Speed: A blazing 10.9 mph!

Highlights: Mostly flat route to a nice city park.

[OK – back to the Mrs]


Mrs. G’s Off-Bike Routine

If the weather is not co-operating for a nice bike ride, here’s what I like to do:

Stairwell Circuits for Cardio Fitness

From ground level to top floor, our apartment building has 5 flights of carpeted stairs with sizeable landings. For each circuit, I climb the 5 flights 5 times and use one of the mid-floor landings to do one of the following for each flight:

  • 30 pushups followed by a 30-second high plank
  • 60-second wall sit
  • 2 15-second sets of alternating high & low plank
  • another 60-second wall sit
  • 30-second side planks on each side

The whole circuit takes about 17 minutes and I do at least one each day that we don’t ride.



Mr. G. and I walk at least 2 miles each day. This is pretty easy to do, since we don’t have a car.


Tai Chi Foundation Exercises

I’ve found that the “Jongs” that Mr. G and I learned in our Taoist Tai Chi class are great for joint health and maintaining core strength and flexibility. I do 50 reps each of these 6 exercises 2-3 times per day:

  • 4 movements with arms and torso to loosen wrists, forearms, shoulders, and hips
  • Dan Yu slow squats (great for hips, knees, ankles, and feet)
  • Tor Yu – this one is hard to describe … kind of like a slow rotating lunge
  • I add one set of 17-rep standing leg raises (to front, side, & back) to these 4 exercises



I’ve learned from multiple injuries that relaxation is a vital component of physical fitness and muscle and joint health. My 10-minute nightly routine focuses on stretching and relaxing all of the areas where tension might build up throughout the day:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Hips
  • Sometimes knees and ankles

Other forms of relaxation that I find beneficial are daily meditation and a guided Yoga Nidra for Relaxation a couple of times a week.


Mr. G’s Off-Bike Routine

Try the Mayor of Portlandia’s method of strengthening your core!

[Mr. G. here again] When I’m not eating cheetos and ding-dongs … (ha ha ha) I try to climb at least 20 flights a day. I have had some intermittent knee issues so I try to work with that and not re-injure. Now that the knee is pretty stable, I really need to start doing some high-intensity intervals (HIIT) and some strength training in as well. I have noticed in the past that when my core is strong, cycling is easier.


Are We Ready?

Getting used to sitting on a bike for many hours a day will take some time, but I think that we have the appropriate levels of “getting our burn on”. We’re not training for a cross-country race, riding huge miles each day, or trying to enter any Elite Athlete clubs. We’re planning on a 40-mile per day average at a relaxing average speed of 10mph.

As our friend Andrea said, the best way to look at this journey is as a long series of little bike rides. We’ll wake up the first morning, take a little ride, and enjoy the day. The next day we’ll do it again. And so on, and so forth. If we get tired or stuck in a gnarly hail storm we’ll take a break.

What we’ve heard from other touring cyclists is similar to what famous baseball legend Yogi Berra (maybe?) said, “90% of this game is half mental.”

What do you think, GrumbyReaders? Am I full of crap or will we be ready to hit the road in late May?













  4 Replies to “Time to Get Our Burn On!”

  1. March 14, 2018 at 5:49 am

    I think you’ll be ready! Cemetery Hill sounds sweet! How do you stay seated on a bike for so long? My “posterior” can’t even take sitting on a desk chair very long.

    Have you ever had any ankle or achilles problems? I’m having one now (I’m pretty sure it’s achilles as opposed to plantar).

    • Mrs. Grumby
      March 14, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Hi Mrs. G! It’s all about having the right seat (saddle), a comfortable riding position, and gradually building up time on the bike. I find sitting on a bike more comfortable than sitting on a desk chair. Probably because my body feels best when it’s moving.

      It’s been a while since I’ve had ankle problems. I haven’t ever had any trouble with my achilles tendon, but have been through plantar fasciitis a couple times (ouch!). Hopefully ice, anti-inflammatories, rest and gentle stretching will bring you some relief!

  2. March 20, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    For a flatlander like me, those look like some challenging rides! I usually have to rely on a good stiff wind to get the necessary burn on the bike. Can’t wait to get out, if only this snow would melt. : )

    • Mrs. Grumby
      March 21, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Hey MMM. Thanks for stopping by! Here’s to the arrival of spring and some warm-weather riding!

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