January 19, 2007

School presentation and the Childhood Obesity Foundation


Presentation for the grade 5 class at the Calgary Science School

I was invited to speak at my Nephew Nicks school on Thursday - What a blast that was! I had a great time. It was whacky hair day which is why some of the kids in the photos look a bit strange. Didn't want you to think that was the current style in Calgary or anything...

I showed Critical Power and a short introduction video I have been working on which touches a bit on the 24 hour HPV record with Critical Power, my Ironman triathlon success and the new Trans Atlantic Expedition.

After the 10 minute video I talked about some of the science behind Critical power streamliner - like aerodynamics and gearing, etc. The kids really thought that was cool.

I finished my talk with a short discussion about the obesity epidemic. I have established a relationship with the Childhood Obesity Foundation, a registered charity whose mandate is to identify, evaluate and promote best practices to avoid childhood obesity.

The focus of my health warning is that we all need to start using our human power more to avoid the health problems that stem from a sedentary lifestyle. My message to the kids is that we are living in a sort of unnatural environment where we spend most of the day sitting in a chair, working, watching TV, in front of the computer or playing video games.

Since homo sapiens first walked the planet 100,000 years ago, our natural environment probably consisted of walking the distance of a marathon every day. Our environment has undergone a dramatic change over only the last 100 years or so (probably less), and evolution can't keep pace with this drastic change in lifestyle. As a result, we're getting fat and suffering from a host of diseases associated with our sedentary ways.

To put the last 100 years compared to 100,000 years of adapting to our natural environment into perspective, I showed the kids a roll of toilet paper. "If I unrolled this entire roll of paper down the longest hallway in the school, it would be a time line that would represent 100,000 years. Now, the last 100 years would be about 1/2 of one single square of paper at the end of the roll." In truth, we have been evolving for about 3 million years. 100 years of drastic change over 3 million years of evolution would be a single, tiny square compared to 40 entire rolls of toilet paper! How on earth can our bodies adapt in only one square!

Later, the kids sent me a list of questions. I thought the questions were good, so I reprinted them here with my answers:

1. Why are you doing this?

I like to experience nature in the natural way (through physical
effort). I want to live a long, healthy and happy life, and know that
to do this, I must stay active! What better way than to devote my life
to active challenges. To really 'feel' life is to grow, and personal
growth requires continually challenging myself by venturing outside of
my comfort zone. I live to inspire and motivate others. I would like
to convince the world that they can accomplish anything they put their
minds to.

2. Are you going to do any other feats?

Always!

3. How often do you race?

This year I will do 3 Ironman races and a marathon and a half-marathon
(maybe two). You can't really do any more than 2 or 3 Ironmans a year
- way too much

4. How long have you been planning to paddle across the Atlantic?

You mean "PEDDLE". Since I got back from setting the 24 hour record in
July of 2006 (not long). When I got home after setting the record I
was in the enviable position of asking myself "OK, now what next?" I
made a list of all the adventures I have ever thought about doing and
picked the Atlantic crossing.

5. How hard was it to make your bike?

VERY hard. Harder than you would think. When I started, I didn't even
own a single tool! I bought a TIG welder after about 20 minutes of
instruction from the salesman and learnt it all on my own by trial and
error and asking TONS of questions! I got a LOT of help. That is one
reason why I always offer advice to others (pay back and pay forward)

6. What made you want to do this?

I used to follow the stories of a friend of mine who rowed half way
around the world! His stories about the sea were mesmerizing for me
and I always thought that was something different that I would like to
do someday.

7. How long did it take you to build the bike?

About 2 years with plenty of learning along the way

8. Will you be doing any more record breaking?

I would like to take a crack at the human powered hour record someday
possibly. That's a tough one because I am getting older (I'll be 46
years old in March) and young guys have a definite physical advantage
when it comes to short distance speed (but not as much of an advantage
for long distance endurance)

9. How did you feel inside the bike?

Cramped! But it was pretty cool to be zooming around the track in that
space capsule doing 60

10. Did you have any sponsors?

No sponsors for the 24 hour record

11. Did you build more than one car/bike?

Yes, I built a velomobile to start with so I could learn more about
how to build bikes like this. Pictures of the "Rocket" velomobile are
here:

http://www.adventuresofgreg.com/RocketMain.html

12. What are you going to do after you cross the Atlantic Ocean?

Eat lots! And enjoy the things that we all take for granted: A warm,
dry bed to sleep in, fresh fruit, a roof over our heads, green grass,
trees and most of all I get to re-enjoy my family and friends!

13. What was it like to be in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii?

Pretty hard core! And humbling! The best in the world go there. I had
a 70 year old man pass me on the run. In the swim I was passed by a
BLIND person, then a one-legged man!!!!

14. Are you nervous about crossing the ocean?

oh ya!!

15. What was the hardest part of the bike invention and record breaking?

Well, probably designing and building a bike capable of breaking the
record. There was plenty of trial and error and many very frustrating
moments! But, you learn how to persevere and finish what you start!
I'm glad I did because there were many, many times I wanted to give
up.

16. How much will your boat cost?

I think the whole expedition might cost between $100,000 t0 $200,000

17. Do you consider the dangers of crossing the oceans?

Yes. I did an assessment:
http://www.adventuresofgreg.com/HPB/09-27-06.html and
http://www.adventuresofgreg.com/HPB/09-29-06.html

As I said in my video: sitting on the couch and watching TV or playing
video games eating junk food all the time is WAY, WAY, WAY more
dangerous!!!!

18. Do you get paid for breaking records?

Nope - I wish!

19. What do you do to train?

Ride my bike, ride my bike, ride my bike, ride my bike. Then I ride my bike.

20. What is the top speed of the boat?

We don't know yet, but we hope that it's cruising speed will be about 9 kph.

21. Will Critical Power be used again? For what?

If I need to defend my record, I may take another shot at the 24 hour
record with Critical Power.

22. Once you are done the boat, what will you do?

Test it. I plan on taking the next couple of summers and going to the
ocean off Vancouver and Victoria to learn more about what it is like
to be on the ocean for extended periods of time. I also need to learn
more about how my boat Within will handle rough ocean conditions. This
knowledge will then be used to build a brand new boat that will be
much stronger and may be built by a professional boat builder.

23. Are you going to try anything out of the boat?

Sorry - I don't understand the question??

24. How do you get enough money to make your bike and your boat?

Well, I worked very hard for many, many years at a couple of
businesses that I started when I was young. I was lucky to be able to
sell one to a very big software company called Adobe.

25. Do you do anything else for a living?

nope

26. How do you feel about your upcoming journey?

Kind of scared

27. How do you go to the bathroom in Critical Power?

I have a bathroom right on-board! A flexible tube allows 'waste' to run into a collection bag which gets pumped out at a pit stop.

28. What do you like most about completing so many projects?

You know - it really isn't at all about the destination, but oh, so
much about the journey! Can you tell me what you think that means?

29. How did you feel about being very healthy compared to many other
kids that are not very healthy?

Wow - lots of questions! I want to help kids become healthy and more
importantly, to teach them that they have to start becoming more
active NOW, because it becomes habit forming at this young age. When
they get older is when the real problems start and it becomes very
hard to change bad habits.

30. What other adventures would you like to go on?

One of you nailed it yesterday: To build a human powered airplane!

31. Are you nervous to use the human powered boat across the ocean?

Yep!

32. Will you still beat more records after you go across the ocean?

I hope so!

33. Do you think you could get more world records?

I hope so!

34. Are you ever going to become a pro triathlete?

No - I'm way too old.

35. Are you planning to do other Ironmans?

Yes - I would like to continue to do them. I'm doing THREE more this
year alone and hope to qualify for Hawaii again. It's an addicting
sport!

36. Do you do any other sports rather than triathlon?

Marathons, 10 km races, 5 km races and half marathons.

37. What inspired you to design and build a bike and pedal for 24 hours?

This is really strange, but believe it or not, it was an article in
Popular Science Magazine that I read about 10 years ago. It inspired
me so much that I never forgot it.

This is a topic for another presentation: I believe that it is your
INSPIRATION that makes things come true for you. That Pop Sci article
inspired me and I was able to visualize myself winning a record
someday in a cool looking bike like the one I saw in the magazine. Not
only did that come true, but I also got into the magazine!!! And, I
never even called them. They contacted me out of the blue - they heard
about it off the news wire and initiated contact with me.

38. Do you have a trademark on your inventions?

No - probably no new technology worth protecting

39. Why do you make records and set challenges?

Like I said, we have to continue to challenge ourselves

40. Will you use your bike again and break your own record?

Yes, I would like to do that someday. I have VERY fond memories about
both record attempts

41. Will you build other things (besides the boat)?

Maybe an HPA (do you know what that stands for?)

42. Do you always think you can do it?

No, but I am not afraid of failing.

43. What will your boat be called?

"Within" because human power is the power from within

44. I wonder what you are going to do after traveling in the Atlantic Ocean?

sleep

45. What/who is the biggest inspiration you have or had?

Two fictional characters:

This is funny, but true:

1. Forest Gump because he wasn't afraid to try anything
2. Kramer from Seinfeld because everything he did, he did with ALL of
his heart and sole.

46. Where did your interest in obesity education stem from?

It is a serious problem and I feel like I can help make a difference
by inspiring others to become active.

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