The Anatomy and Cost of a 16 Pound Road Race Bike

2013VengeCompIn all fairness, while all of the parts are what I actually paid, the bike itself was purchased on sale at the end of the season – I only paid $3,100 for the bike.  None of the prices include sales tax, so figure an extra $300 for that as well.

When I took the bike out of the box, with cages and bottles, it weighed 18.5 pounds.  As it’s shown, it weighs just under 17 pounds.  16.8 to be exact.  The main weight loss came with the S-Works crank and the wheels…  3/4 pound for the crank and a full pound for the wheels.  The weight savings in the stem was about 50 grams and the handlebar was nominal, maybe 25 grams.  Take off the cages and pedals and it’s 16.2 pounds, give or take.

An End to Stinkin’ Thinkin’: Part 2 Controlling Thoughts and Understanding Their Place

Part one is here.  I explain how I came upon the principles I’m about to lay out starting in this post…

Alright, we’re going to dig right in.  First of all, for this whole series of posts to work for you, one simple concept must be embraced:  We do not have to own the first thought that enters our noggin. I am not responsible for that first thought.  That first thought is not me.

The second thought is me. That’s the thought that matters. The second is the thought I own.

What is a dream to the brain?  Not the “wish I could vacation in a tropical paradise”, “be fit”, or “have a hundred million dollars” dream, I’m talking about the deep sleep dreaming.

On one hand, the dream is your subconscious taking out the garbage.  That’s all.  Thoughts, on the other, require my conscious mind sort through them and discard the bad, consider the rest and adopt the good.  As I wrote in the first post in this series, I’m going to use my alcoholism to prove the theory from time to time.  This doesn’t mean what I’m writing about only works for alcoholism.  Alcoholic behavior was simply my impetus to change.  It provided a level of urgency, let’s say.

I’m out mowing the lawn and the thought, “Man, a beer would taste awesome right now.”  My mouth instantly starts watering.  This is after 20 years of sobriety.  While those thoughts are rare, they’ve never fully stopped.  Now, must I consider this first thought with a second?  Of course not!  While that thought did enter my conscious mind, it has no validity whatsoever. A beer would absolutely have tasted marvelous up there on the lawnmower!  My second thought, however, goes to the results of drinking a beer:

First, I don’t buy a six pack, I buy a case.  I’m drunk before dinner, my wife is contemplating divorce before breakfast. I’m in jail within two weeks, unemployed a few months later.  Everything I’ve worked for over 23 years is gone in a matter of months.  This is what will happen if I drink alcohol. One beer will set off a mental obsession that cannot be overcome. I can simply crumple that thought up and throw it in the garbage, right next to my dreams from last night.

As another example, say the thought, “I think my wife is cheating on me” pops into my head.  My wife has done nothing to indicate this could be true, so it doesn’t deserve to even be pondered.  I crumple it up and throw it in the garbage (the real trick is where I go with that if I ponder it for that second thought:  What is wrong with me that I would think this of my wife?  Now THAT is truly something to consider.  Normally I’m not paying my wife the proper attention she is due and I must correct that immediately but we’ll get into this in greater detail in a later post). In the past, either of these thoughts could start a chain reaction that would leave me utterly panicked.

I am not responsible for the first thought, I am for the second…

In the bad old days, before I figured out how my melon works, I used to contemplate every single thought that popped in there.  I was under the mistaken impression that if a thought entered my head, it had validity and deserved to be contemplated. Indeed, I often used liquor to quiet it down.  However, once I sobered up I no longer had that escape from the incessant chatter going on up there so something had to be done, and quick!  You see, when a drunk sobers up, he usually has a trainload of trouble that must be cleaned up.  There’s so much wreckage, one cannot possibly clean it up fast enough to keep from freaking out. Panic attacks are common.

That first thought pops into my head at 10:00 in the evening and I have to be awake at 4 am to get ready for work:  My God, I’ve got the credit card bill to pay!  And my head is off and running.  Then I’m thinking about rent that’s going to be tough to pay because I have to pay the credit card, then I wonder if all of my legal troubles are taken care of.  Then I wonder if there are warrants out for my arrest.  I’m in a full blown panic attack now.  “I think I’m dying”…  “I’m going to have a heart attack and die right here and now, my heart hurts!”

That was a real situation I went through 23 years ago now.  I literally thought I was going to die right there in my bed.  The pain in my heart was adrenaline, not a heart attack, but this is the hamster wheel.  My mind is jumping from one messed up thought to the next and I simply can’t quiet it…

The next day I talked to my sponsor about it.  First he excoriated me for not calling him in the middle of the night when all of that was going on so he could talk me down.  Then he taught me how to fix it.  To stop the hamster wheel.

The key is doing the next right thing at any given moment.  Once the day is done and I’ve done everything I could, I am done.  Period.  If thoughts creep in, the second thought is, “I’ve done all I can do today and I’ve done what is right.  Tomorrow is another day and when it gets here I’ll do what’s right again”.  I repeated this over and over again until the wheel stopped.  As soon as another dark thought popped into my melon, I’d repeat it again until I stopped thinking. Eventually my brain got the message: “There’s a new sheriff in town, you’re not in charge anymore, so shut up.” It did.

Think of this as a line.  At one end, I’m happy.  At the other is a full blown panic attack.  There’s a lot of space between those two.  At first it took me a while before I figured out that I was heading down the path to that panic attack.  The hamster wheel was already spinning before I realized it was even up and running.  As soon as I realized what was going on up there, I’d repeat that line until it stopped.  Eventually, that line lost its luster, and being a praying man I changed to a prayer that had to do with my recovery (I still use this):

God, I offer myself to You – to build with me and to do with me as You will.  Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will.  Please take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.  May I do your way always.

If you break that prayer down, it’s got everything – and when you’re hurting, that part; ‘”Take away my difficulties, that victory over them” might help another by my bearing witness that it happened’ Part is HUGE.  As I practiced this, the length of time it took to stop the hamster wheel shortened. I began to recognize the hamster wheel picking up momentum. Eventually, over the years, I got so good at this that I could stop the hamster wheel before it ever started turning.  I got so good at it, I could check myself immediately after the initial thought.

This is the first step to happiness and sanity.  There is a trick to it though.  It’s best when used humbly.  Just sayin’.

This is the work: Find something, a prayer, a saying, something you can use to crowd out those thoughts, that can shut them down. Use either of mine if you like…

With diligence and a lot of practice, sooner or later your brain will get the message. Practice makes perfect, and it can take A LOT of practice. While this started working immediately, it took me between two weeks and a month to get a handle on when the hamster wheel was going full-tilt. It took another several months to get to a point where I could stop it before it got started. While this is happening, start working on doing the next right thing at any given moment. The idea is to give that prayer or saying backup…

More tomorrow, for part three. I’m up to five now.

Unadulterated Bike P●Rn

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My winter perch…

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Missing the good bike…  Whoever said the bike doesn’t matter, they never rode one of these…

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My weekend perch, when it’s too nasty to ride outside…

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A gnarly mess after a wet weekend ride.  This is why I have a rain bike.

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Shiny!

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Fresh back from the shop after the paint job…

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Screw winter!  Ridin’, baby!

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One of the last times the Venge saw the great outdoors…

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One of my favorite photos of the Venge… and it’s all wrong, broke every staging rule there is… and I don’t care.

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Bike Shop Bike P●Rn

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Warmer days, riding with my buds.

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Cycling with my babymama (in the Elvis sense, not the classless “mother of my babies” sense) and my buds.

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This was a professionally done shot for my tee shirt line.  It’s my laptop background too. 

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Here’s to next summer, spring is just five or six weeks away!  WOOHOO!

An End to Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Part 1: There is an End in Sight; No Gimmicks

This is the first post in a series, so far, of four posts.

Depending on who we are and what we believe, the human mind can be anything from a beautiful place of wonder, awe and love to a cesspool of depravity.  The rarities are the poles.  Call it the notion that there’s a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us.

Either way, and wherever one fits on the spectrum, our conscious minds consist of thoughts. How the thoughts get there, God only knows, and I certainly don’t care.  To me, they just happen and knowing this is good enough.

It’s what we do with these thoughts that makes a difference.

Not unlike the poles mentioned earlier, betwixt good and bad, we also have a wide spectrum of what thoughts mean to people.  Take my wife, who truly believes that almost every thought that enters her head has validity and should be pondered.  There are others who could be bothered, if they cared.  The same rules apply here.  Most of us are somewhere in the middle.  The closer you get to the poles, the rarer the air.

This series of posts will be have to do with what I’ve learned about my brain over the last 20 years and change of sobriety, and how I learned to deal with my thoughts as they pertain to my very real and nefarious alcoholism.  This series, the concept behind dealing with thoughts, does not require one be an alcoholic.

I have no degree in psychology or psychiatry.  I am a professional only in my day job – and in that alcoholism, whether you believe it is a disease or not, is one of the nastiest, most destructive problems of the mind and body we know of.  Half of the “disease”, if you will allow me the dalliance, involves thought, reaction to thought and obsession.  By the way, it’s that obsession part that renders willpower utterly useless, for those who don’t know.

What I am offering is not necessarily an end of “stinkin’ thinkin’, I do not believe there is an end zone that one can cross, but a complete mastery of it, which thereby ends the toxicity.  I started out applying these principles to alcoholism, found they worked so well that I should apply them to all aspects of my life.  The following is why I’m such a happy guy…

Finally, for those who have an overactive mind, with a fair amount of practice, there is a fair chance you can end up with peace and quiet. I’m talking about the ability to shut down the hamster wheel in our head, at will.

No gimmicks, no silly posing or body movements, no special tricks and no smoke and mirrors. No bullshit.

I know this works, because I was once hopeless. Today, I’m free… or close enough to it to jump up and down and be happy…

I had no choice in learning this, for me it was life or death. Then it became misery or happiness. I chose life and happiness, and will pass on what I’ve learned. Free of charge, for anyone who can use it.

There is light at the end of this tunnel and it isn’t a train. It’s freedom. And freedom is sexy, baby.

Stay tuned….

Power Posers… or is that Poseurs, Get Their Comeuppance.

I always, always get a chuckle when people claim that yoga poses or some other body poses are responsible for mental, and/or hormone changes in people.  While I do believe yoga does a body and a person good, as any physical activity would, there are some who go too far in their claims about the good silly things can do.

I happened upon a particular knee-slapper at Powe Line

In the linked post, the author links to an article on Slate that blows the lid off of “power poses”.  It is said by the original power poseur that just by doing a couple of simple “power poses” for a couple of minutes a day one can expect to “change your life and hormone levels”.  Honest to God, it takes all kinds.  If you believed this possible, your mug shot belongs in the dictionary next to the word “gullible”.

John Hinderaker hits the nail on the head:

Generally speaking, social “science” studies that garner newspaper headlines fall into two categories: 1) they advance a liberal agenda, or 2) someone is making money. The power posing story falls in the latter, more benign category.

There’s more though…  I’ve read a couple of posts in the last week or two promoting arm swinging as a way to balance and center one’s life.  Honest to God, you just swing your arms back and forth for ten minutes and it’s supposed to help you do anything from center your life and change your outlook on it, to help you lose weight.

Oh, if life were that simple!  We could have world peace if we all would simply swing our arms back and forth for a few minutes a day!  I wouldn’t actually have to pay those pesky bills, babysit my employees and worry about my sobriety!

Truthfully, the fact that people fall for this stuff astounds me.  Yet, I can’t deny this:  If it makes them feel better about themselves, as long as they’re not using it as an escape from what really needs to be attended to in life, who really cares?

Looked at in that light, I guess it’s not that big a deal.  It still makes me laugh though.  Read the whole linked post, it’s worth it for the chuckle.

A perfect 170 mile week…

I love my 5200 now that it looks badass.  It’s quite comfortable but it isn’t without its problems.  There are two to be specific, but whether they’re bad or not, well that’s up to one’s way of looking at things.

My Venge is on the higher end of 16 pounds.   It’s light.  It has a ridiculously light headset, a light fork, a light frame and light wheels… a light handlebar, a light stem and a ridiculously light crankset (one of the lightest in the industry).  My Trek, on the other hand, is four or five pounds heavier and I can feel every one of those pounds on a longer ride.  Add to that, my additional six pounds and after 35 miles my legs are cussing up a storm.

The second problem has to do with the wheels.  The wheels on the Trek, which came with the Venge originally, are heavy and slow.  The wheels I now have on the Venge are light and fast.  The wheels on the Trek are so slow, I can feel the difference riding the two bikes.  They’re so slow, I’ve contemplated putting the Venge’s wheels on the Trek just to see how much of a difference it makes.

On the other hand, riding the Trek the way it is now will absolutely help later in the year when I’m pushing a lighter, faster bike down the road.  Add to that, the fact that I’ll be six pounds lighter as well and I should be in phenomenal shape.

That said, while it’s fair to say it’s the engine, not the bike, having a fast bike sure doesn’t suck!

The last two months have been phenomenal, but mostly for outdoor cycling.  Indoors, I’ve lacked a little bit of want to, especially early in the season.  Thankfully I’ve been able to make up for that outdoors though, whether riding mountain bikes or even road bikes.  I live far enough north that we’re usually snow-covered and frigid enough that only the toughest (craziest?), most dedicated cyclists are going to bother with riding outdoors.  While I can certainly understand the desire to ride outdoors under the gnarliest winter conditions, I can’t justify the cost of the bike and all of the winter gear required to do so comfortably when weighed against the benefits… at least not at this point in my life.

That said, when I started cycling five years ago, my limit was 50 degrees F (technically it was 55 but there was no way I was giving up the chance to ride outside for five degrees, so call it 12 C).  Now I can deal with temps down into the 20’s but once it gets below freezing my enthusiasm wanes.  This year, with El Nino, our normally brutal January and February have been quite reasonable for cycling.  While I can’t ride during the week for a lack of daylight and time, Fridays and the weekend days have been less than perfect but more than good enough to suck it up and put in quite a few outdoor miles.

Last week was my first perfect week of 2016.  seven days on the bike in a row – four on the trainer and three on the road for a total of 169 miles and some change.  The majority of that, more than 90 miles, was outdoors.  In the  process I managed to lose two pounds of my seven that have to go by spring.

Things are about to change though…  This is Michigan and I knew from the outset that we were never going to ride this great weather all the way to March.  We’ve got snow heading our way and the temperature is going to make a nosedive.  It was inevitable.  We’ll be relegated to the trainer for at least a week.

The problem will be next year though.  I’ve been through enough Michigan winters and El Nino’s to know what comes next.  We’re going to pay dearly for this winter.  We always do.

When Winter Skips the Lemons and Goes Right to Lemonade, Bring a Bucket! And Your Bicycle!

Winter in Michigan sucks for cycling.  Oh, sure, I could buy another bike, with fat tires and ride through just about anything but I still hate the cold.  For me, it’s like cycling in the wind:  Riding in the wind sucks when compared to a nice, sunshiny, warm, summer’s day… but we ride anyway ’cause riding in the wind bests not riding at all, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

It’s Saturday, February 6th, and it should be 40 degrees colder than it currently is.  The first week of February is always the worst of winter in our neck of the woods.  I should have ridden on the trainer yesterday morning.  Heck, today too for that matter.  El Nino is a beautiful thing for Michigan.  It always has been.  Not necessarily for the skiing industry but for cyclists, 27 degrees (F, -2 C) is just chilly… and awesome… and cause for celebration.  And a bike ride.

My wife and I set out exactly at 9 yesterday morning, slowly turning the cranks to our meeting spot less than 1/4 mile from our house.  She on her Specialized Alias, the perfect aero hybrid between a road bike and a triathlon bike, and I on my newly spiffy Trek 5200, once the most dominant race bike in existence.

My wife and I both had a top layer Specialized Element 1.0 jacket/jersey… mine red, hers hunter orange.  Mike and Chuck appeared on the horizon not even a minute after we pulled up to the meeting spot so we started, heading west, to get our legs and blood moving.  They caught us a couple of minutes later.  Chuck on his black bike, red jacket and red helmet.  Then Mike, dark gray bike, red jacket, red helmet… did I mention that my helmet is red too?

Yep.  My wife made a joke about it.  We were so close, a non-cyclist could have mistaken us for members of a pro team.  Mike even rides a 5200 as his winter bike too.

It was chilly and fairly windy, but the sun was coming up and we were riding our bikes!  Outside!  In February!

We picked our buddy, Phill up a few miles later, heading dead into the wind but just before we did, we passed our first Township limits sign, a little more than a mile from our house.  I almost always get out of the saddle for it but this time, I figured we’d just ride and I let Mike know not to worry… and that’s promptly when Chuck came around me with a smirk on his face.

Mike was beside himself and my wife and I were laughing our butts off.

Chuck said, as he passed Mike, “Hey, if you’re going to make it that easy…” and just let it trail off.

We continued on and Chuck asked me about my seat post collar a short while later:

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He said, as we’re cruising down the road, “So when are you going to put a black collar on that seat post?”

I replied honestly, that I’d considered a black collar but I liked the contrast and how it tied in the brushed aluminum of all of the components.

Chuck retorted, “Well, you can be stupid if you want to.”

Ah, the joys and pressures of being an avid enthusiast.  Mike and I both cracked up.  If I had to guess, my wife rolled her eyes at what was sure to amount to yet another ridiculously expensive purchase we could ill afford…  Chuck was joking, of course, and we all had a great chuckle over the shot, but you know what they say about humor and in this case, mockery… There’s a little bit of truth in it.  Not that this matters to me though, I’m sticking with my decision if for nothing else, just to bug Chuck.

Rolling into Byron, my wife had taken a great turn up front, maybe two miles into the wind, really strong.  She peeled off to head back and that left Mike first, me second and Chuck third, followed by Phill and my wife.  I was in the drops making the most of the draft so I could take the City Limits sign and that’s when I noticed Chuck’s wheel out of the corner of my eye… he was moving to box me in.  It was early but I went anyway – I really didn’t have much choice, it was either get boxed in or go…

Chuck tried to hang with me but I hammered him.

Now, the tough thing about the Byron City Limits sign is that, not 300 feet after the sign, there’s a pretty decent hill, so if I sprint for the sign I have to keep a little bit of my lead and get to the top with a decent head of steam so I don’t get dropped.  Chuck broke off and headed home on the other side of town where we turn around to head back home.  On the way we decided to add on seven or eight miles to the end…  Phill split off for home first, then my wife, leaving Mike and I to the extra miles.

Our ride was nothing special as far as speed goes, it wasn’t fast at all in fact, just 35-1/2 miles in two hours, but it was definitely enjoyable.  Rather than lemons, the weather gave us lemonade.  We brought a bucket, and our bikes.

More lemonade on tap for today as well. I should end up with a whopping 170+ miles for the week.

DALMAC

380 Miles in 4 DaysSeptember 4th, 2015

July 2013 Lake Burton, Tiger, GA

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