I got an email from YouTube about some pranks that celebrities are pulling and this one is, to put it mildly, HILARIOUS:
And here’s Part Two in case you thought the first was a fake:
I laughed out loud. Where can I sign up for that!
I stumbled into a hotbed of controversy. Imagine that, eh? At People for Bikes, they’ve got a post up with several suggested do’s and don’ts when it comes to cycling… Some have merit and others are just plain silly. Like this one:
DON’T dress for the Tour de France. No matter how happy you are to toodle along on your bike, new riders will always be certain that they are holding up your ride. Ditching the team kit in lieu of shorts and tennis shoes goes a long way in making new riders feel comfortable.
Now that’s some damn silly advice right there. I’m going to make myself uncomfortable so a noob can be comfortable? Not in this lifetime dopey. I did my time as a noob and I’m not going back there for anyone. Shorts and tennis shoes, you’ve gotta be kidding. I can see leaving the matching kit in the drawer for the club ride, but cargo shorts and platform pedals on my Venge (or even the Hardrock for that matter)? The day will never come.
Here’s another disagreeable suggestion:
DON’T use the word “easy.” While it’s natural to try to alleviate a new rider’s apprehension by assuring them: “Don’t worry, it’s easy,” you’re inadvertently causing problems. If the rider succeeds, you’ve devalued the accomplishment. If they don’t, you’ve created a sense of failure. Instead, relate the obstacle at hand to other obstacles the rider has encountered.
Folks, I don’t know how to say this nicely so I’m not going to – and believe me, compared to what I could write on this one, my response to the first item was tame. If you’re that bad off, that I can’t use the work “easy” in a sentence for fear one might go all ugly in the head with it, I wouldn’t want to ride with you anyway. I need that headache like I need a hit in the head. A person not completing a ride would feel a “sense of failure” whether or not I use the word “easy” in describing it. What I dislike here is the whole notion that I should walk on egg shells. No thank you. If you’re such a delicate flower that someone can’t use the word “easy” without crushing you, you’ve got bigger issues to fix before you think about getting on that bike!
The rest is pretty tame – or is that lame? Yes, indeed it’s lame, but that’s not the point… In the comments section there’s a crazy dope trying to suggest that wearing a helmet does nothing to protect the melon. Seriously. It gets better though, he quotes a site that he thinks shows this, here. I’ll cut right to the idiocy:
This paper presents a mathematical model for comparing the possible benefits of fewer head injuries as a result of helmet laws with the negative effects of less exercise due to fewer people cycling. It notes that the amount by which helmet laws reduce injuries and cycling is controversial. However, the author does not present any new data with regard to these factors or the health benefits of cycling. Instead, widely cited estimates are used as inputs to the model to arrive at the net implied benefit.
For those who’s eyes glazed over while reading that, I provided the emphasis on the important parts. It’s a quack mathematical study using estimates. In other words, the study is bullshit. The important thing here, is if you run into one of these “no helmet” kooks, you know how they get their information – it’s wrong right from the start.
Now, I could cite real studies case-controlled studies but they all show that wearing a brain bucket is safer… All of them. (Fair warning, that link is safe for work in Sweden but not the US) Why bother?
Folks, this is specifically why we wear helmets every #*$*%&ing time we ride a bike without exception:
Warning: This is graphic. The photo is of a friend of a friend of mine.
The Second Rate Cyclist wrote a post about a little spell of dead legs he’s going through… He’s pretty bummed about it too. I can certainly understand, and have lived through, that consternation.
I’ve written about my own battles with dead legs, even as rare as the bouts were, my attitude about them has evolved. With the exception of dead legs during an “A” ride (I’ve never actually experienced this) which would certainly suck, I’ve evolved to relish dead leg rides.
This is how my thought process evolved on this: After my second or third bout with them last year, I realized that dead legs are the product of hard work; you can’t come by dead legs phoning it in. If I’ve got them, I’ve paid for them. Also, once I’ve got them, it’s not like I can wave a magic wand and rid myself of them. I simply have to take it easy for a short while to let the life come back, and surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, they will. In my cycling youth (what, that’s about two years ago now [chuckle]) I would try to push through these little dips in performance. I would get angry, maybe take one easy recovery ride, and try to mash my way out of the funk. Invariably this would make recovery even more difficult and drawn out (though it did eventually work)… Almost subconsciously, I stumbled upon an epiphany – and it took the Second Rate Cyclist’s post to put it all together.
My initial thoughts about dead legs, that they were the bane of my existence, was a misunderstanding: Cycling with dead legs is a gift, to be enjoyed: It’s the perfect time to enjoy a really nice bike ride, solo, with my wife, and/or the kids. The scenery that I’m almost always working too hard to notice, the air flowing through the melon bucket, the sunshine and the delicate awesomeness that is road cycling… With absolutely no agenda. No stats, no meters ascended, no average speed, no max heart rate… No worries. Dead legs make it possible to enjoy the fruits of my hard work! To simply love cycling because anyone who’s ridden through dead spots knows that the quickest way to recover is to either take time off, or take it very easy.
So, while I do taper a bit coming into a big ride (so I don’t have to deal with dead legs in an “A” ride), dead legs will not be a cause for consternation this year, they’ll be a time for celebration.
Cycling, as in life, is a matter of perspective.
I wrote a post the other day about being honest with oneself, the importance of rigorous honesty. Well I thought I’d follow that with a good example of the stupid things people say in recovery, Bgddy Jim Edition. Indeed, to thine own self be true.
So to set up the scene, it’s November 18th, 1992. Approximately 9 am and I haven’t had a drink in 8-1/2 hours. Thankfully I haven’t started shaking yet but I know that’s coming. I’m just twenty-two years-old and sitting in the hallway outside of the president’s office of the toughest in-patient treatment center in my State, with my mom. I stink. You can smell the liquor seeping out of my pores. It’s my first stint in-patient and I’m here to avoid a jail, maybe even prison, sentence (if you don’t know the difference between jail and prison, consider yourself Blessed). I have no desire to stop drinking and fully intend on completing the program and heading right back out to get hammered, several months from now. I was told, a year ago, that my liver enzymes were so messed up I’ve probably only got about eight years left on it. That’s seven years now and I don’t care. Besides, what do doctors know anyway.
My mom, sitting next to me, starts to cry. She says she doesn’t want me to have to go through this and I see a splinter of light through the dark haze. I try to convince her that I don’t have to stay, that I can change without treatment if she’d just take me home (thinking hey, I might be buzzed yet tonight). She says she wishes we could just go home but that I need this. The light at the end of that tunnel was a train and it ran me over.
I’m called into the office and we begin my intake interview. The whole thing is a haze anymore except one question: “This is a difficult program. What makes you think you can make it through”? I answer, “I have a lot of willpower” – and I meant it.
Two hours later I was in the middle of a gnarly hangover shoveling pig shit (think Hangover, 1 and 2 only worse [but no transvestites - good God in Heaven]).
It took six months of sobriety before I figured out how full of BS that answer, and I, was. On the day of that interview, I couldn’t go two consecutive days without a drink. I have the willpower of a potato. I’m a weak, fragile drunk, just trying to get out of trouble. I’m a liar and a cheat. I’m one of those guys who would steal your dope and then help you look for it, cursing the loser who took it. I am lower than a snakes ass and I know it, left to my own.
Not any more. I know my flaws. I know my weaknesses. I know how important honesty is. I know that self-knowledge, awareness, is helpful but ultimately useless against a drunk. Twenty-one years later I can laugh at that interview. Now I can participate in events at the farm as a winner, as one of the success stories. I can donate corporate money to the farm, from my corporation. Two years ago, at my first Ride for Recovery, I spoke for a moment with Jim (still president of the farm) and thanked him for saving my life. I introduced him to my wife and told him about my kids and how great my life was, nineteen years sober. I think this year I’ll ask him if he remembers my willpower answer – I doubt he will because I’m sure he hears a lot of stupid things said there, but it sure will be a great laugh if he does.
I had a bunch of great excuses for being a drunk at my disposal, if I had chosen to cart them out. In the end, they’re all bullshit and I know it. Excuses are like opinions – only they stink worse. In the end, I can stay sober if I want or I can be a drunk if I want. I can be fat or thin if I want. Now it’s all a choice, because I know one thing about my excuses: What I use for excuses are just things that happened to me. They’re just a genetic predisposition. They’re fake. They’re what I use to get you to shut the hell up so I can do what I want to do without you giving me s#!+ about it.
To thine own self be true. Anyone can believe the lie, that you’re a drunk, or fat, or depressed because mommy sat you on the toilet seat sideways. I’ve used them all and I finally know better. You’ll have to sell stupid somewhere else – and don’t feel bad about the desire to do just that. I didn’t feel bad, and believe me, I tried to sell that crap everywhere. The only difference between someone stuck in their own shit and me is that I was lucky enough to have people in my life who didn’t buy it… And let me know they didn’t.
Now, is being straightened out comfortable? Of course not. It would be much more comfortable, in the short term, to be a victim. Of course, I’d more than likely have died by now, and that would have sucked.
I’ve developed and started a new training plan for cycling that’s going to be awesome! I will become a better, faster cyclist because of it and I am posting it here, for the benefit of all new cyclists that they may reach, even exceed, their goals.
To start, a decent cycling base is a must. Start before the snow melts (if you happen to be unlucky enough to live where it snows) on the trainer. Alternate hard efforts (30 – 45 minutes) incorporating intervals, medium efforts and easy efforts. For the easy days, concentrate on high cadence (100+ rpm) and perfecting a “circular” cycling pattern in easy gears.
Once the snow melts and outdoor cycling can commence on a regular basis, I want to build frequency, concentrating mainly on building distance at first, then adding speed, or intensity. I am already an accomplished cyclist so I won’t have to worry too much about the technical aspects, but if you’re new, now is the time to work on important things like cycling in a straight line (I’m not kidding) and paying close attention to your surroundings while maintaining a consistent pace and tempo. The importance of this phase cannot be understated because it will come in handy later.
By mid to late spring, you want to be in decent enough shape and have enough miles under your belt that you can join in with the advanced group – an average of 18-19 mph is helpful, even necessary. If you’re not quite there yet, increase your intensity by short strides. Cycle at your normal pace until you warm up and then kick it for a stretch until you have to slow down to your normal pace. Rest for a few minutes and hit it again. Rinse and repeat – you will get faster, and in a hurry. To aid in this process, attack every rolling hill you come across. Instead of slowing down going up a hill, make it your goal to speed up. Now, in the advanced groups you should find that there will be three distinct groups: The racers, the mid-level cyclists and the slower crowd. If you’re not planning on racing, you want the mid-level group. They’ll be the one’s who hang on for the first 15-20 miles of the club ride but fall off when the pace really picks up. This is the group you want, this is the group I hang with. They should be just a little bit faster than you, but if you stay in their draft and take short (but fair) turns pulling, you’ll be able to stay with them. As the weeks build, work on taking longer pulls up front. Use the group ride as one of your hard efforts and solo rides as medium and easy efforts (same idea for the easy efforts as you used on the trainer – slower speed [16-17 mph] with a high cadence).
Before you know it, you will be faster. Not only will you be faster, you’ll be keeping pace with the 21-22 mph group and enjoying a very nice draft so you’re only going to be working hard when you’re second from the front and pulling up front. The rest will be 30-50% less effort.
Now, if you’re new to cycling, this plan might sound pretty cool. If you really don’t know anything about cycling, it may even seem revolutionary. It’s not. This is actually, pretty much, how I got fast on my own. It’s nothing special because there is nothing new under this sun, it’s just a matter of phrasing.
Look at the Galloway method of running and walking… You will not run faster if you walk. If walking for a few seconds every mile was faster, you’d see it practiced in competitive athletes. Walking is, after all, slower is it not? Well, not entirely because we hear of plenty of runners who knock time off of their personal bests by walking for a short time every mile or so. How could this be?
The Galloway method is just like any other diet or training plan. Joe Freil’s triathlon training plans, and all of the different methods of cycling: Hill repeats, cycling in a circle, lifting on the back stroke, “scraping mud off of your shoe”… They all work for one reason only. They’re all based on changing the one thing that boosts performance the most. Your mind. You only have to run at a hard pace for a mile before you get a respite. Then you do it again and again until you get to that last mile… This changes the focus to something much more attainable.
These training plans get you to believe the very most important thing: I can – or better, I will.
Special Thanks to Tisch at 90in9 for inspiring this post, you inspire so many cool ideas for my posts. I appreciate you greatly.
UPDATE: One last note… There is no such thing as “cycling faster with less effort”, unless you take the draft into account for “less effort”. The truth is, you get used to the harder effort – the “suffering” becomes the new norm. In other words, “it doesn’t get easier, you just go faster” – to borrow a quote.
I love a great looking bike. A friend of mine from the Tuesday night club ride sports a beautiful white and silver Assenmacher Light Bicycle. At just over 21 pounds, it’s impressive for a steel bike. Seriously. The paint job is only a few years old and is immaculate. The down tube shifting drivetrain still shines like new, as does the cassette, chain, hubs and wheels. There are no decals on the bike, the head badge and logo are hand painted and beautifully done. Here are a couple of other Assenmacher examples:
My bike(s) are a little different. My Cannondale is old-school, but my Trek is a custom painted Red-Orange piece of art, and my Venge, while Specialized almost got carried away with the advertisement, they still kept it somewhat subdued:
While there’s no doubt that the Venge is a straight up, brand new, carbon fiber race bike, Specialized didn’t use every square inch to slap its logo on the bike. Even worse, and I’m seeing this a lot more often, is a manufacturer’s propensity to put the company’s website address somewhere on the bike.
A note to manufacturers: If I can afford a $3,000+ bicycle, there’s a 98% chance that I’m smart enough to find your website without your needing to put it somewhere on the bike. The offending item here is the dreaded “.com”. Take a look at this otherwise beautiful RTS:
The RTSCARBON.COM on the wheels looks, I hate to say, cheap – and the 2013 TTR7 shown above is anything but. In fact, it’s so expensive they don’t even list prices on the website (which took exactly 0.56 seconds to find with the brilliant search query: “RTS Bikes”). Maybe I’m finicky, or just a little older, but it’s like buying a $50,000 Cadillac only to have the dealership stick an ugly sticker that doesn’t match the vehicle on the trunk lid.
No bike company, that I know of, is more egregious than Canyon:
Sadly, they have some exceptionally cool looking bikes and are priced very reasonably (their top Aero Road Bike is only $6,000 and the Speedmax AL 9.0 shown above is a reasonable $2,500. Now, I did take some time to peruse their website (0.30 second Google Search for “Canyon Bikes”) and it appears as though someone is getting the message over there. Not all of their bikes have the “.com” on them. Still, I spent more than three grand on my Venge and I guarantee you, if it was marked up like the Canyon or the RTS, I wouldn’t have given the bike a second look…
Mine was an impulse purchase. I walked into the shop, never intending on buying a new bike (I was looking for a pair of shorts or a new jersey or something) and there she was sitting on the most prominent display spot in the shop. I can’t emphasize this enough… With that “.com” on there, I’d have walked right by.
This harkens back to the idiots who took money to have a website’s address tattooed on their body, usually the forehead. What kind of fool do you have to be to defile your body in that way for a few grand?
Maybe it’s just me, but every time I see that “.com”, I think “dirty, seedy, ugly”…
Please, guys, get rid of the “.com” on the ride.
Caution: This is one of those no gibberish posts. If you want someone to lie so you can feel good about yourself, try heading down to the local donut shop to see if they can help you out.
I read a post this morning that really got me thinking… The post in question was written by a child and there is a chance that the statement I’m about to highlight is more literary flourish than reality, but I’ve heard this before so I figured that I would refrain from linking the post simply to protect those involved in the event the child wasn’t quite clear on the intention of the statement while still dealing with the topic.
That said, the topic I’m about to take on will be a difficult one because it will deal with standard excuses people use to justify overeating. The same discussion about excuses is instrumental in recovering from alcoholism – and believe me, I’ve had to embrace the uncomfortable reality that I used some seriously stupid excuses to stay drunk. The background is this: As alcoholics, we build a construct in our head – excuses to shut down prying conversation into why we act the way we do for the sole purpose of preserving the ability to continue. Recovery, actually putting the cork in the jug for good, one day at a time, demands rigorous honesty with oneself. Translated into normal English, we who choose to be exdrunks have to refrain from bullshitting ourselves with the excuses used to justify our overindulgence.
How many times have you heard someone say that they have to clear their plate of what they put on it because of some lesson learned as a child?
For a kid, the idea, even the lesson, makes sense: Kids have a tendency to overfill their plate with foods they like or the reverse for foods they don’t care for. When they become full and attempt to push away from the table, they’re told things like “there are starving kids in Ethiopia…” What ends up being reinforced is this: If you overfill your plate, you must overeat to avoid wasting food because Ethiopians, even though there’s no chance of putting the leftover food in a plastic bag and shipping it to Ethiopia, would be grateful to have that food. Over time this lesson, given the right type of person, morphs into a need to clean one’s plate as an adult – or so they say.
There are several well intentioned purposes for the “clean your plate” discussion. Healthy kids can be notoriously skinny when they’re young. In order to bulk their kid up a little, a parent may advise to eat more than what is comfortable – rather than advising to eat more often. Maybe a parent wants the over-filling of the plate to stop so in many cases the desired emphasis is on overeating rather than refraining from putting so much food on the plate. The idea is that overeating is uncomfortable (to most people), therefore the youngster in question will choose to put less on their plate rather than risk feeling uncomfortable again. This works in most people. Unfortunately, in a minority, the kids learn to overstuff themselves rather than to knock off a bad behavior – they take the lesson opposite that was intended and chaos ensues.
I’m here to tell you that might work as an excuse for a kid, as an adult the notion that one must overeat, that one must pass comfortably full to clear one’s plate, is a bullshit excuse. It’s complete and utter poppycock, plain and simple. If one wishes to recover from overeating, getting to a place where the excuse can be seen for what it is, demands rigorous honesty. If you lack this honesty you will (continue to) fail.
The truth is, nobody is required to act in a self-destructive manner. Nobody has to clear more food from their plate than is necessary to fill one up. There is no requirement and certainly no shame in emptying some food into the trash bin because you made the simple mistake of putting too much food on your plate. In fact, if I were overweight, I would suggest that the bigger shame would be that I didn’t throw away extra food.
In short, the “clean your plate” excuse is no good. In fact, what using the excuse does say about the person who uses it as an adult: You simply lack the ability estimate accurately the amount of food your body requires when you are putting food on your plate. Maybe try shooting for the low side next time, eh? You know, if you’re so concerned about hungry Ethiopian kids and all.
That last point is the key to discovery and understanding: Ever notice that it’s always an over estimation – too much food on the plate? Well if you were such a bad estimator you’d fall on the low side every once in a while. Stop telling yourself lies – you’re the only one who believes them. Everyone else is just avoiding the confrontation of having to call you on it.