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Monthly Archives: August 2012

They Call It A ROAD Bike For A Reason

A Note To Motorists, Bureaucrats, Public Planners and Fellow Cyclists…and Jerks

Ladies, gentlemen, cyclists and miscreants,

We road bikers don’t want to be on the road any more than some motorists want us there but they call it a road bike for a reason.  I’ve had to deal with being buzzed (where a driver in his/her vehicle purposely tries to get as close to a cyclist as possible without actually hitting them), I’ve been yelled at, heck I’ve even had a 2-liter bottle of soda thrown at me (fortunately the punk kid wasn’t a very good shot – he led my by about 5′ too much, just missing my front wheel at 20 mph – and I was in a bike lane).  Beyond that, even following the rules of the road, it’s a dangerous hobby and it certainly is nerve-racking at times.

To stay as safe as I can be I choose very specific routes to ride.  Where possible I ride on road-side bike paths – considering that I’ve only got about three miles in my home town that’s not much, and where it isn’t possible I limit myself to roads where the traffic isn’t dense with the exception of one road.  Technically it should be one of the more dangerous roads to ride on – Old US-23, the service road to the expressway that stretches from Ohio all the way to the tip of the Michigan mitten (and southward as well).  In Livingston and Genesee counties the service drive has a 55 mph speed limit and is highly travelled which means it would normally be off my list of roads to ride on – but it’s got 3′ shoulders.  I can travel for miles without ever having to cross the solid white line separating the driving surface from the shoulder.  It’s one of the safest roads I’ve ever ridden on, next to Miller road which has a bike path on the section I ride, it’s also the busiest road in Genesee County.

The roads that I have had problems on only have a 6″ shoulder.  I’m forced to ride as far right as practicable but on the driving surface, which I gladly do, but that puts me in traffic.  Cars are therefore forced to navigate around me, dodging in between oncoming traffic.  As their speed is between 35 and 45 mph and mine is between 20 and 25, this can make for difficulties and frayed nerves.

So, to the policy makers and public planners and bureaucrats alike, you want us to be fit and active – to stay out of the medical system as much as possible, yet we are greatly limited in doing this because drivers have a tendency to lose their minds a bit when they see a cyclist on “their road”.  Please help us by giving us a shoulder when new roads are built.  We don’t even need three feet – two would be great.  This gives us (and traffic) a little bit of a safe zone so that vehicles don’t have to cross over the yellow to get around us.  We don’t need the dedicated bike lane painting, we don’t need the signs letting us know we’re indeed in a bike lane, we just need a couple of feet so we don’t have to interact with traffic so much.

To the cyclists, please follow the laws of the road.  Travel on the proper side of the road (that’s going WITH traffic).  I realize you think it’s safer to see the cars coming, but that’s because you are naive and/or ignorant.  It’s far more dangerous to ride against traffic – by an order of magnitude.  Stop it.  Stop at stop lights – they should never be run.  I happen to be a proponent of rolling stop signs – but only if I’ll have the right-of-way, or if there is no other traffic present because it’s far faster to get through a stop sign and get out of the way of traffic to do a slow roll rather than unclip, stop for a three-count and get going again…but follow the law and use your head (to avoid accidents, not to field test your helmet).  If you’re riding alone or in a group of less than three, don’t ride two-abreast on a busy road please.  The rule/law is “as far right as is practicable” – if you’re riding solo, anything left of the first four feet of road is not “as practicable”, it’s self-centered and rude – you’re doing your part to piss vehicle drivers off for the rest of us – please cut it out.  Finally, if you cut someone off or almost run a pedestrian over, you’re the jerk, not them – especially the pedestrian (no matter how stupid they are).

As a final note to the bureaucrats…  Now that some states have begun limiting or banning mountain biking trails, you will be pushing more and more of us out onto the roads.  Call that an unintended consequence, call it whatever you want, but we have a desire to maintain our fitness.  Please help us do this by giving us a couple of feet on each side of newly topped roads and new roads so we can, if we follow the law in our state, make it home to kiss our wive’s, husbands, sons and daughters.

Oh, I almost forgot – to the miscreants…  You do have a license plate you dope.

Thanks,

Big Daddy Jim.

A Big Day For Big Daddy!

I entered into a drawing for a new pair of Pearl Izumi Try Fly IV Carbon cycling shoes over at College Tri – and won!   Those bad boys are going to look good on the 5200 (and, er, uh…my feet)!  Special thanks to College Tri, please give him a look if you get a chance.

Also – and this is with a special wink and a nod to Elisariva (who should be looking to the heavens and rolling her eyes in…  Three…two…one) I was asked (and have accepted) to review a new fit/diet tracking app.  Now for those who have read more than a couple of posts on this blog, I don’t have an eating problem – I pretty much eat whatever my little heart desires, so this should be funny!  I’ll release more info on that as it becomes available.  I can assure you, I will be as honest and forthright as humanly possible.

Resting Heart Rate…

Mrs. BgddyJim was laying with her head rested on my chest the other evening and she remarked that it was funny how slow my heart beats now. I don’t exactly make it a point to check it that regularly but…

Last year my resting heart rate was around 58 and I was quite happy with that. Even with a fairly regular running schedule I’d only ever been able to get to 70 beats per minute (bpm).

After two cups of coffee, and in the middle of work Friday morning, I checked it again… 52.

Here’s the chart of import:

Heart Rate Chart: Babies to Adults

AGE Beats Per Minute (BPM)
Babies to Age 1 100 – 160
Children ages 1-10 60 – 140
Children age 10+ and adults 60 – 100
Athletes: 40 – 60

That last one… Athletes: 40 – 60 and I’m smack dab in the middle. I love that!

I once did the math to figure out how many fewer times my heart would beat in a year because I dropped from 70 to 58 bpm… It worked out to 6,307,200. It’s now at 9,460,800 fewer beats per year because I’m even more fit.

Being fit doesn’t guarantee that I’ll live a longer life – there’s even an outside chance that I could die of a heart attack… I know a lot of people point to certain people of fitness who have died early as “evidence” that fitness doesn’t really matter that much. My standard response, of course, is “Yeah, like Jack LaLanne“. I’d rather my odds at 155 lbs with a resting heart rate of 52 than my odds at 195 with a rhr of 70.

Click on the link and listen to the speech… That’s what I’m talking about, baby! WOOHOO!

In all seriousness though, the idea that someone would die early because of fitness, or that one should be content with becoming a blob because a couple of popular runners died sooner than some believe they should have, is preposterous.  I would say it is more likely that those folks would have died a lot sooner had they not been fit.

Road Bike or Mountain Bike. Which Is More Popular

Well, that search question led someone to my blog, “What is more popular, the road or mountain bike”?  I’ve never really delved into “which is more popular” because the answers to questions of popularity are usually highly subjective and based on experience.

The question can be answered fairly though, the mountain bike wins hands down – so much so that most people don’t know that the road bike is the more comfortable of the two – but the point can absolutely be argued against legitimately.

Even with the advent cheap shocks, mountain bikes are much less expensive and much more dependable – especially in terms of bent rims, flat tires and such.

Look at it this way, retail on my road bike (and admittedly, it’s high-end) was $2,600. My mountain bike, while a decent bike is only entry-level high-end, but cost less than $400 or consider that I bought both used… $700 for the road bike and $100 for the mountain bike. The mountain bike is far more accessible considering cost.

Beyond that, when you consider the versatility of a mountain bike contrasted with the limits of a road bike, that the mountain bike is more popular only makes sense.

However, the limits of a road bike notwithstanding, from a social standpoint, the popularity of cycling clubs is something to behold – though some of the tailgate parties I’ve seen thrown by mountain bikers are amazing in their own right.

So to recap this fairly (at least IMO), the road bike slightly edges the mountain bike in terms social standing while the mountain bike trounces the road bike in cost, reliability and durability (or just about everything else).

Sexy baby.

Now, there is one more factor that I didn’t cover because it is a bit vain… So vain, in fact, that I doubt many road bikers would even cop to it (and may even argue against).  While mountain bikes are generally reliable, durable and cost-effective, road bikes have a quality that a mountain bike can’t touch:  They’re sexy. Fair or not, nothing beats someone in matching kit, helmet and sunglasses… Toned, ripped muscular legs turning the crank as they glide down the road at better than 20 mph…  I get more “wow’s”, happy honks, waves and hello’s on my road bike than I have gotten on my mountain bike –  we’re talking a 50-1 ratio.

I’ve covered everything I can think of at the moment – if you’ve got anything to add, please feel free.

A Man, A Kid, His Bike And A Quest

I had nothing going on this morning.  Nowhere to be for three hours and I’d never gone on a bike quest in my state. Matt likes to say about his long Sunday rides when asked where he’s going, “I’m going to walk out the door in the morning, find out which way the wind is blowing and I’ll head into it”. The only time I’d ever done that was down in the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina… That was not to be the case after today. I was going on a quest – to climb, to assault my legs, to get them to a point where I could say, “shut up legs”!  I’ve never done that, gone on a ride without a set route that to follow. I knew where I wanted to go, but it was a highly irregular path and my only plan was to ride more than 50.  I also decided before i left… No average speed, no lap times, calorie counts or worrying about how many ounces of water I’d consumed… I was just going for a ride. I did track the ride with Endomondo, but the sound was off.

Now if you know your geography, and that I live in southeastern Michigan, you know there are no mountains to climb. So how does one climb when there are no mountains?  How can one assault one’s legs on what amounts to just a bit more than rollers?  One goes to where the hills are concentrated and as they come up, one climbs those hills three gears higher than one would normally climb them. Instead of slowing going up a hill, one picks up speed. I actually got the idea from the way I run. I attack the hills and let gravity pull me downhill to recover from the effort… This way, while everyone is suffering up the hills, I’m picking up the pace – and smiling.  I figured why can’t I do that on my bike?

So off I went, to climb the hills that gave me fits in the last 20 miles of the Tour des Lacs – twice.

Chilly Start- Low 60’s

I hit every hill I could find on the way out to The Preserve golf community on Old-23 and I climbed every one of them three gears higher than I felt comfortable with.  On some I’d hit the crest with a nice head of steam, on others I misjudged and was in too high a gear so I did what I could to muscle through.

Then there were the sweet descents. Often I was too gassed to really fly down the hills but I didn’t care. I had the satisfaction of the climbs that stretched a smile across my face as I descended.

I turned around when I started getting tired, stopping by the running club for a quick bite before heading home… I shut the tracking software down at 50 miles and took it easy for the last mile and some, happily wiped out.

In the end I climbed 1,300 feet… Not much unless you consider that we’re close to pancake flat where I live… Final total for the last 7 days: 249.5 miles – not too shabby, well I’m happy with it.

After getting home, showering and getting a bite to eat, we headed back down to hang out at the running club – for a dip in the lake. The cool nights have chilled the water but it sure felt good on my legs.

         

Squeeeeeze – Don’t Suck… The Water Bottle

Oh the nutty sh!t I can come up with.

If there’s one crazy thing I’ve learned as a noob cyclist – without the help of the internet, it’s squeeze the water out of the bottle, don’t suck it out. If this makes you scratch your head, listen up because this tip is worth about 10 seconds every time I take a drink. Over 100 miles, that’s a lot of seconds.

The reasoning is simple. When you’re actually working on that bike, you’re breathing heavy. You have to stop breathing heavy to suck water out of your water bottle. Once you’re done you’ve gotta catch your breathing up so you can get oxygen to your now deprived muscles… It takes at least 20 seconds to recoup and during that time you’ll ride slower.

If you squeeze the bottle, forcing the water into your mouth you can continue to breathe while your mouth is filling – and squeezing the water out will fill your face 2-3 times faster than trying to suck. With practice, taking a good drink can be done in a second, maybe two at the most.

If you squeeze, the recovery time is minimal (if at all) so you don’t lose pace.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m crazy? Watch the cycling championships going on in Colorado right now.

The clip is a little harsh in the language – make sure the sound is down if kids are around. If you’re a nun, don’t press play. (P.S. My mom was a nun – or technically very close to it, so don’t give me any grief).

Obama Administration Strips Lance’s Titles…

Yes, you read that right. President Obama stripped Lance of his Tour de France Titles. If you’re a Lance fan, and most anyone who rides a bike is, if you want to place blame, according to the way the politics work in certain circumstances, blame the president. Or look at it this way… If FEMA’s reaction to Katrina was Bush’s fault, guess what.

Truthfully, because I actually do have a character and morals that matter more than bullshitting people (unlike many left wing activist reporters), I’ll tell you straight up that I’m not exactly being straight factually, though what I wrote in the first paragraph would have been the lede in the New York Times and Washington Post had the president had an (R) after his name. Those institutions of pseudo-wisdom would have prettied it up, stripped much of the boldness from the statement, but would have said the same thing.

The thing that I don’t understand and (much like the aforementioned press) won’t bother to research, is how the USADA has the authority to strip Armstrong of anything… Especially a title he won in France! Thus my tongue-in-cheek laying of the blame on the White House lawn like a stinky pile of dog poo.

In fact, the move by the USADA stinks even more than the doo-doo. Actually, to hell with it. After this, I’m pushing my Congressman to open an investigation into the USADA. That’s right folks… If you love Lance – or hate the over-reach of one more pseudo-government organization pulling this crap, call or write your Congressperson and demand an investigation into the USADA. Technically, that’s how it’s done in America.

Of course, the really funny part is that most of the second place guys that the titles could go to retired with far darker clouds over their careers, than that of Armstrong, for doping.

That’s alright fellas, you can give ’em to me… I can average 20 mph on automobile congested streets and I’m squeaky clean – I haven’t even had a beer in 20 years, let alone any dope.

Neon Spandex…

A woman who goes by the name of Neonspndx started following my blog today…  Now you can’t miss a name like neon spandex so I had to check out her blog, which is quite good.  At first look (check out the name of her blog! :D), she and I think a lot a like, so do check her site out.

The reason for the post, however, has more to do with the name she goes by.  When I was about 14 or 15, spandex had just become popular.  Cycling shorts were all the rage, but not for riding bicycles in.  We wore spandex shorts, with longer t-shirts to cover the sensitive areas that…  well, you get the idea, just as one would a pair of cargo shorts nowadays.

The most popular of the spandex shorts was a black front and back with neon green side panels.  My best friend Art was the first of our little click to get a pair and that necessitated my getting a pair as well.  My mother, who left the convent because she wanted to have kids (that’s right folks, she was two inches from her vows – from being a nun, when she left to become a nurse), did not like those shorts.  She especially did not like those immodest shorts on her 14-year-old son.  Add to that the fact that I was terribly skinny as a kid and she was beside herself.  She did, however, eventually cave to the pressure.

So every time I wore those shorts, there’s my mom, absolutely bitching about my neon green paneled spandex shorts.  The year was 1984(ish).

Fast forward to about 2002, and my buddy Kyle and I went to see Vince Neil (formerly of Motley Crue)

play with another hair band that I loved as a kid – Slaughter.

At that concert, one of the last major concerts I saw – and I’d been sober for almost ten years, I saw a guy with long “hair band” hair, and a cut off t-shirt…with those same damned neon green spandex shorts…absolutely bombed, dancing to one of the songs.  It was one of those, “holy cow dude, did I look like that” moments that you just can’t shake.  It was hilarious…

So here I am, I’d just gotten back from a ride, and I’ve gotten a notice that a person who goes by the pseudonym (or handle?) Neonspndx is now following my blog.  I’ve long since gotten over the horror of those days, and now being over 40, those memories don’t have the negativity attached to them – they’re just awesome!

What an excellent blast from the past.  Thanks Neonspndx.

The Idea Is To Wear Diet and Exercise Like A Track Suit…

Diet and Exercise Should Be Worn Like A Track Suit…

When I run, I run because I want to.  If I don’t want to run, I don’t.  If I don’t want to run twice in a row, it’s time to look at what’s going on in my life that’s sucking out my will to run.  I’ve never had a day where I didn’t want to ride – well, maybe when it’s snowing outside and I’m stuck in my office watching a movie while I’m spinning on the trainer…  Believe it or not, that does get old after three months – but if I ever do have a day where I don’t want to ride, I won’t…  As long as that doesn’t turn into two, or three.

When I eat, I eat what I want, as much as I want and when I want.  The trick is, what I want is generally healthy, in proportions large enough only to maintain my weight (which is actually a considerable amount of food considering my lifestyle) and I eat when I feel hungry.

This is the goal.  Some people will never be able to attain this, it took me years to get to a place of balance in which I didn’t have to pay a lot of attention to what I eat.  It took years of trial and error to get the physical exercise, intake and food choices to balance.  It took sacrifice – I missed Coke hourly, for weeks, when I finally gave it up.  When it came to snacks I had to learn how to say no thank you – something that’s not fun when you’re staring at a menu with “Death By Chocolate” on it.  I had a different goal back then.  It wasn’t anything more noble than “don’t get fat”.   That goal has changed over time, from don’t get fat, to run faster to run longer, to run stronger to eat healthier, to cycle farther, then faster, then longer, then a triathlon, then to give up soda, then a metric century, and a full century…  So I’ve finally gotten to a place where, at least for the fitness/diet part of my life, everything works.  I don’t gain a lot of weight or lose a lot of weight, week to week.  I’m relatively happy with my performance even if I do want to get faster, and I pretty much eat as much of whatever it is I want to eat…  So that’s it, right?

Not so fast – I live my life with the understanding that there is no End Zone though I have found a place where I can be satisfied with where I’m at.  Notice, please, that I didn’t use the word “happy”.  I didn’t use the word happy on purpose because for a long, long time I had to find “happy” in the search for balance, in the trial and error.

I don’t do all of that work, all of the riding and running, limiting fun foods and soda, to turn around and lead a miserable life with some ridiculously strict diet and exercise regimen…  The point is…

The idea is to wear fitness and diet (and life) like a track suit…  Not a straight jacket.

For a time, of course, a straight jacket was necessary – especially when it came to snacks and soda.  As well, vigilance is, and always will be, a must because the misery of having to go through all of that sacrifice to get to where I am now is out there waiting for me should I choose to slack off.

Jens, What Do You Say To Your Legs?

That is hilarious.