Woohoo! It’s about freaking time!!!
I should have taken a day off after my club ride yesterday but there was no chance I was passing up the nicest day of 2015. My wife and I kept it pretty subdued, but my God was it spectacular.
A little wind, a bit chilly, sun blasting though…blah, blah, blah.
I’ll skip right to the good stuff.
We’re 14 miles in. I’ve taken at least five pulls up front in wind that was a lot gnarlier than it should have been. I have no clue what our average was but it hurt. A lot. A quick glance at the computer, 22 mph. Yup, that’s why. The hills are coming up in three miles so I take a short pull and tuck in at the back to hide for a few. I thought about quitting. Maybe take a short cut. Then I caught myself. Not tonight.
One of the guys, and I don’t get this for the life of me, kept slightly off the draft so when I moved in behind him, I only got a partial break. After about twenty seconds of that, I pulled around him. Drove me freaking nuts. Anyway, we made it to the first set of hills, no worries, up and over. Unfortunately, my legs started cramping up when the road leveled out. I tried to spin them free in an easier gear… Seemed to work a little.
Hung on for the second set, up and over, no problem, but we started to fracture on the little downhill, a little more than a speed bump but we were all-out on the gas and hit 35. We started to spread out again, then a gap formed, then another – it was me, my buddy Mike and quite a few more behind him. Mike hit me with three golden words, “Reel ‘em in”.
I have no clue as to why that freaking mental Kung fu works on me but it freaking does – on the rare occasion he uses it. All of the pain left my body, instantly. My focus completely shifted, my breathing calmed and leveled off… And I was on it. Not only did I reel them in, I shot right by the lead guy, out of the saddle, legs jackhammering… I knew I was cooked and we were only a half-mile from our turnoff. I figured if I’m going down, I’m doing it in a blaze. My legs were hit, more cramping… I absolutely gave it everything I had.
Unfortunately, we still had ten to go.
Six of us hammered out that last ten. My turns up front were short but I went as long as I could, still leaving enough to sneak back in at the end of the chain. My only regret for the night was that I couldn’t give more for the five other guys in our little rabble. We crossed the line with an average of 21 mph – four tenths faster than last week, and it was awesome.
So, we got done, I ate well with several of the other guys, we laughed and talked about the ride – it’s always cool hearing someone else’s perspective. After dinner I’m driving home and everal points intersect in my melon to form an “ah-ha” moment…
No matter where my thoughts go on last night’s ride, no matter how fickle I want to get about choices I made regarding mileage or effort in previous rides, no matter how I want to pick apart any little part of how I stay fit, the important part can’t be denied by the melon committee: Last night I gave it everything I had and then some. I gave that ride, 29 miles (and change) in one hour and twenty-two minutes my very best all the way to the last tenth.
The melon committee nods in agreement.
How often does that happen? How often does your melon committee, at the very worst, admit, “Yup, you did good.”?
That’s why I give it my best. I love taking the fight out of the committee.
So here’s the scenario, and it’s not really all that hypothetical because it happened to me just yesterday…
You’ve been slogging out the miles in the cold all month long. In fact, for the first time ever you’ve only missed three days since the weather “technically” broke. Now, “broke” is a highly subjective term. In all honesty, it’s been cold and riding in temps below freezing is getting a little old. You do it though because t’s working. You feel spectacular, you’re fast and in better shape that you’ve ever been after the first month of the season.
So, you’re up on your normal rest day. You’ve got a club ride tomorrow and you know you want to rest the guns for tomorrow’s festivities… But, it’s 55 degrees and sunny out (albeit, crazy windy). What do you do?!
A). I don’t care, I have a plan and I’m sticking to it! Today is my day off and my butt is on the couch! Then you spend the rest of the evening staring out the window, lamenting what could have been…
B). Second place is first loser! Buckle up and hammer it hard! It’s sunny and 55! No warmup, you’re out of the driveway and on the gas! Woohoo!!! You pull a hammy on the first climb and limp home with one leg.
C). You decide to commune with nature and clean the yard, counting picking up sticks and raking the stones out of your grass and back into the shoulder as your “WOD”. Let’s see now… Carry the one, carry the three… 1,273 calories burned! You sit down to a feast, don’t skip desert and can’t imagine how you gained five pounds the next time you check the scale. [Ed. Tsk. Tsk.]
D). A perfect opportunity for a recovery ride! Still, it’s so nice out you decide on the race bike. Who cares that the thing is so awesome it cannot be ridden at speeds below 20 mph unless you’re riding dead into a gale-force wind… You’ll ride it slow, this time. Really… See B.
E). A perfect day for a recovery ride! You even opt for the rain bike and keep it to a speed that you’d be embarrassed if your friends saw you riding that slow and have a spectacularly enjoyable ride, coming in at about 16-1/2 mph. You feel like a hundred dollars.
I knew exactly what we were getting into this morning – we planned our ride out so that as the wind got stronger, we’d be heading home with it at our backs… And it actually worked!
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, for once the weather report was perfect.
We headed out at 9:30 with clear, sunny skies, temps just below freezing but rising, and mild winds at about 10 mph. We headed out directly into the wind – three guys who rode Barry-Roubaix yesterday, me, Mike, Matt and Phil. Dave, one of the guys who did B-R, was on his tandem with his wife (thank you for the shelter Dave and Sherry).
I was feeling surprisingly fantastic heading out and worked myself up the the front a few times but once I got to second or third bike it got tough hanging out with the horses who’d pull for two or three miles at a time. Mercifully, Phil did a spin class yesterday that had him pretty worn down so he had a tough time holding on in the wind. We had to wait for him a few times.
Somewhere around the 18 mile mark, Mike and I decided to drop from the big dogs, even though we both felt good enough to hang, to help Phil and Matt home. That turned out to be a fantastic decision. It meant Mike and I were in for some work as we’d be the only two pulling for the next 20 miles but we’d be at a pace that would make trudging through the wind livable.
Right on cue, the wind picked up from 15 mph to a sustained 20 with gusts up to 30… And we were heading back. We were laughing, Mike and I, taking 3-4 mile pulls at 25 mph, soft-pedaling so Phil could hang. Temps were already approaching the 40 degree mark and it felt like a heat wave.
We ended up with just over 37-1/2 miles in a little over two hours and it was my most enjoyable ride so far this year. Go figure, it should have sucked. The wind should have been a pain in the ass and pulled the joy right out of me… Not today though. Even with all of the work, I finished the ride with a smile on my face and an immense amount of gratitude for my Venge (and for taking the time to get used to riding in such an aggressive position on my bike). Having ridden a little more upright for so long on the Trek, I can really appreciate being able to cut into the wind so well. Honest to God, it’s badass. Now it’s nap time… After finishing my chocolate cherry smoothie:
Yes, it tastes way better than it looks.
568 miles for the month, a little light this week at 126, but I can live with that.
This cycling helmet retails for $160:
Now most people who ride a bike will, ironically, ask if I hit my head, paying that much for a bicycle helmet. $160 is a lot of dough when you can buy a helmet that protects the dome just as well for $40 or $50.
Now, I ride enough to know that the helmet is worth the money, and that’s the important part. This is the inside of the helmet:
FRONT?! No shit Batman! Here’s the back:
Now, first things first: The necessity for that sticker is not without precedent. There are photos on the Internet showing folks riding with their helmets backward. In 100% of those photos… All of them, they’re wearing cheap helmets.
The point, of course, is this:
If you’re dumb enough to drop $160 on a freaking helmet, you’re smart enough to know which is “Front”.
Wait, that didn’t come out right.
It being a Saturday, I’d normally be riding with my buds. It being cold as all get out we decided to go it alone today and meet tomorrow morning for a 50 miler. When I woke up this morning, we were into the “feels like” temps. 8 degrees (that’s -13 C). Ugh. I decided it prudent to wait to ride until the sun had a bit of time to warm things up a bit…
In the meantime I read a post written by Dan in Iowa that reminded me of why I dig cycling so much. At noon it was only 27 and with the wind it “felt like” 14. What to do, what to do!
I suited up, decided on 20 miles and hit it. Ten of the first eleven miles were into the wind. A pair of leg warmers and knee warmers, wool socks and toe covers wasn’t enough. My upper body was fine in my Specialized Element 2.0 jacket but everything below my thighs froze and that whole 20 miles was work. None of that ride put a smile on my face.
Still, I couldn’t help but be glad I rode… Tough miles always come in handy later in the season.
Gabrielle Glaser is on a one-woman mission to debunk Alcoholics Anonymous. She’s three very important things: Published, angry and ignorant as hell. Sadly, she may even have a growing audience, though that says more about the audience than it does what (or whom) she’s attacking. At the heart of her disdain for all that is AA is the absurd notion that she should be able to drink with control rather than abstain. Now, I think the notion that any alcoholic could somehow successfully consume alcohol in moderation is bat-shit crazy, but hey, do what you want! It’s a free world, right? Well, not really but you get what I mean. The point is, I’ve tried all of that “moderation” crap and it doesn’t work for me. Jesus man, if there was a way I could successfully drink moderately, believe me, I’d have found it. Once the receptors in my brain pick up that first drop, I’m off to the races and you won’t be able to stop me with anything less than a Howitzer. Well, maybe something considerably smaller, but I digress.
In any event, she contacted AA for a comment on her last attempted expose and their response was “AA has no opinions on outside issues”, and hers is definitely an “outside issue” – but this lackadaisical attitude of AA often drives many members up a wall. We want verbal or written retaliation, retribution, for AA to defend a way of life that has saved more wretches than the song brought tear to eye.
An example of one such attack would be Gaby’s assertion that AA’s success rate is between 5 and 8 percent. I have, myself, fallen for this slight of hand… When put in the proper context, it’s not, of course – only a dipshit freshman in statistics would make the mistake of looking at AA so obtusely – or someone who intended to deceive those who read their work. It’s closer to 100 percent than it is ten. In twenty-two years, I have never seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed the path. I’ve seen plenty who have half-assed it fall flat on their face but that’s a whole different can of worms. Now, of those who are sentenced to AA, only a small handful manage to get or stay sober for any length of time but only that handful who make it have any desire to be there and do what it takes to finally be free of the bondage of alcoholism. You can lead a horse to water but if that horse happens to be a drunk, he’ll pass that water up for a beer any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Choosing a life of sobriety is not easy. It requires a level of honesty that many people find uncomfortable. It requires a devotion to humility, service and respecting others (even those ignorant dopes who tread on us to sell a book). It requires that we alcoholics give up the escape – and it requires that we make a decision to do so of our own free will. Of those who walk through the door with their court paper in hand, how many end up with the willingness to make it? One in ten, if you’re lucky. The rest of them are marking time until they’re out of trouble and can drink again. You can’t possibly put that failure on AA, unless you’re that freshman or looking to deceive people.
Then there’s God. It helps if we embrace God, or a Higher Power, however it isn’t a necessity. Those who choose to attack AA, whether ignorantly or deceptively, mischaracterize the program as requiring a belief in God while an entire chapter of the instruction portion of the book (just 164 pages) is devoted to atheists and how AA can work for them, if they so choose. We have room for any drunk who is tired of being sick and tired. That’s just how we roll.
So, why the ignorant and deceptive attacks? The answer is quite simple: Alcoholics Anonymous is free. Free of charge, free of regulation, free of governance. There are no leaders in AA, only trusted servants – and those servants have no authority over any individual or group. Alcoholics Anonymous requires no paid professionals (though they sure do help in treatment, most can get along just fine without them). Finally Alcoholics Anonymous is, and forever shall remain, anonymous. In short, Alcoholics Anonymous can’t be sold or controlled. Most “progressive” weak-kneed liberals fear what they cannot sell or control, and therein lies the rub.
Now, here’s why AA does not and never should respond to such attacks: You can’t fix or debate stupid anymore than you can stop AA. You’d be better served outlawing churches, coffee makers, resentments and friendship. Short of that, Alcoholics Anonymous will move on, it will survive such attacks, ignorant or deceptive. In other, simpler words: You can’t put that genie back in the lamp. We, as a whole, are above retaliation because retaliation will not serve the betterment of those who seek refuge, who seek a better life, who seek to finally be free at last, of alcohol. If we try to debate stupid, or worse; bitter and stupid, eventually we will be dragged down to that level.
Better to let the whirling dervishes whirl.
Of course, as you can see, I don’t mind taking a poke at dopes for sport. Ah well, we never claim perfection. I do not represent AA in any way, shape or form. My opinions, as expressed here in this post, are my own and are not sanctioned in any way, shape or form by Alcoholics Anonymous. AA’s response to Gaby Glaser’s article was “AA does not have any opinion on outside issues”. AA may not, but I don’t mind throwing in to set the record straight once in a while.