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Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Political Ad – I Just Can’t Let This One Go…

Fair warning: This is a racy post and a racy topic. I inserted the “Continue Reading” button for a reason. Don’t click on it unless you’ve got your big boy/girl pants on.

UPDATE: It makes sense now…

(more…)

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Versatile Blogger Award… Thank You!

Sandra, over at A Promise To Dad, a fellow fittie and child of a father with Alzheimer’s, conferred on me the Versatile Blogger award.  I am deeply grateful.  I lucked out in meeting Sandra over the ether – in fact, she bumped into me… she read and commented on a post I wrote when I was struggling with my father’s losing battle with Alzheimer’s.  I read many of her posts about her struggles with her dad’s disease and they really helped me through a tough time.  I ran into problems when he started losing control of his speech and other normal functions –  I even had to start prepping his food for him when we took him out to eat.  It’s since gotten a lot worse and had I not read one simple line, one simple thought, I don’t know how I’d have gotten through this as well:  He’ll never again be as good as he is right now.  Understanding this allowed me to stay in the moment rather than confusing the past with the present or worse, the future.  Every once in a while you hear (or read) something exactly at the right time that changes everything – that’s what Sandra did for me.

So thank you Sandra, it is much appreciated.

     So, according to the rules, in addition to linking to Sandra’s post, I’m also supposed to list seven things about myself and “Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)”.

In no particular order:

iswimbikerunstrong:  Very cool blogger.

Canadian Hiking Photography:  Unbelievable Photographs and a wonderful blog.

Beech Creek Project:  This guy is a brother from another mother that I’ve never met…  He’s been on hiatus for a bit, but his posts and the photos that go with them are incredible.

The Power of Run:  Kimberly is quite quirky and completely awesome.  Her fitness transformation makes an incredible story.

Jesus Was A Road Runner:  The blog name says it all.

All Seasons Cyclist:  He isn’t kidding – he rides in weather that makes me think twice about running in – and I run in weather so cold that I have to worry about my eyes freezing shut (technically it’s the eyelashes that collect moisture from the eyes running from the cold – happened last year).

Springfield Cyclist:  Every once in a while you bump into someone who you can tell is “good people”.  Tracey is one of those guys.

Elisariva:  Elisa’s posts are always thought-provoking and sweet enough to make honey bees stop and scratch their heads.  She’s a training animal.  Very inspiring blog.  In fact, she deserves the Beautiful Blogger Award (that came with the Versatile Blogger Award) a lot more than I do.

Sip, Clip and Go:   I can still remember the first post of Karen’s that I read…  I was surfing the WordPress reader under the search “cycling”.  What do I see but a bright red high heel with a mountain bike cleat attached to the bottom…  She’s just started getting into cyclocross racing.  Great blog.

Bike v Car:  Hands down my favorite blogger – evah.  The man is hilarious.

Velo Quips:  Hands down my other favorite blogger – evah.  If you want to learn about racing, this is (and isn’t) a good place to start – you’ll see..

Seven things about me:

1.  I love winning blog awards, but I hate coming up with seven new things about me every time I win one.

2.  I hate coming up with seven new things because while I have great self-esteem, my ego is quite in check and coming up with new things is sometimes tough.  This may seem odd, or slightly hypocritical, considering item number one but it works in my melon.

3.  I started reading “Finding Ultra” at the urging of a buddy of mine – and as sexy as vegetarians can make the lifestyle sound, I don’t care how good you think it can make you feel, there. ain’t. no. way.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand why someone would choose a vegetarian lifestyle.  I’ve always viewed vegetarianism as a “as long as you’re happy and don’t try to push it on me, we’re good” kind of thing.

4.  As much of a big deal as I make about speed and average speeds in cycling, I really don’t care how fast I am – just as long as I’m going as fast as I can and I’m able to smile while I’m doing it.

5.  I don’t race very much.  First of all, I don’t have to pay someone to know I can ride a bike a butt-load of miles or run real fast…  I can find that out for myself right outside my front door.  Secondly, I do belong to a tight-knit group of friends, all of whom are fitness minded, so I have more fun running with them than running with a group of strangers…  Racing just isn’t as much fun.

6.  I swim like a fish – I’ve never worked out for a triathlon swim, I just show up day of and start swimming.

7.  Recovery didn’t come easy for me – I first got a toe wet at 18 years-old after a party that got just a little out of control…  Got a little too hammered and got so sick from it I burst a blood vessel in my throat.  My clothes were completely caked in dried blood and I almost died Jimi Hendrix Style.  It wasn’t until I was 22 that I really gave recovery a chance, and haven’t had a drop since.

100 Miles To Go…

100 miles to go – well, technically 98 but who’s counting.  I started off the year with a goal of 4,000 all-purpose miles by December 31st.  I blew by that in early September – and now I’ve got just under 100 miles to go to hit 5,000.

I’d put a guess at sometime next week.  Earlier in the season I’d have that done before Sunday, but I haven’t put those kinds of efforts in for a couple of weeks now.  I’m all about maintaining my fitness until next season, but I’m in my third week of a much-needed break (50 miles a week instead of 150-200) that I’ve been enjoying thoroughly.  My diet has reflected this cutback as well – I’m not eating anywhere near the food I was at my peak…  I was really quite nervous about the transition but it’s gone a lot better that anticipated.

I did have to set my break aside for a few days though – we just went through a two-day summer that absolutely required a couple of good rides.  On Wednesday I remembered to bring my bike home but left my shoes at the office – so I was mountain bike-bound.  I went out with the wife and kids for a couple and then followed that up with a nice 16 mph dirt road ride.  Then, yesterday I went out for a nice 16 miles in 20-30 mile per hour winds.  It was comical to say the least.  My fourth mile time, on the way out, was 2:15 seconds.  I hit 33 mph – on the flat.  Of course, on the way back it was hard to maintain 13 mph – and the miles where I had a crosswind were laugh inducing because I had to lean into the wind so much…  But at 80 degrees – in October, I couldn’t have possibly cared less.  I had a smile on my face the whole time.  The weather over the next several days is going to be much cooler (30-40 degrees) but I’ll probably go for a couple of rides in between a run and cutting the grass/leaves.

Who’d have thunk it – 5,000 miles in one year.  That’s a pretty big deal for me. – about 10 times what used to be normal.

A Recurring Cycling Search Theme: Is X mph over X Miles Fast (or Good)

Here’s a search that led someone to my blog:  “cycling 14 mph over 45 miles good”.  Of course it’s good – dude, you just rode 45 miles!

For everyone out there on the internet, listen up, because I wondered the same thing when I started out – what’s fast, what’s not, so on and so forth.  I Googled the same things.  The truth is there are too many variables to put everything into nice little speed categories.

For instance:

14 mph is slow for a road bike, but pretty decent for a mountain bike – especially over 45 miles.  But that’s not the point.  If you spent three hours on a bike, unless you’re dogging it, that’s still good!  Who cares if it’s fast or not, you’re movin’ baby.  I can, however, throw out some pretty common numbers:

For a road bike – less than 40-50 miles, no drafting, 16 mph is slow for relatively flat roads, but not so bad when you’ve got a lot of steep climbs (to borrow a phrase, Aaron).  18-19 mph is pretty quick (on the flats, but fast with a lot of hills) and 20-21 is pretty stinkin’ fast.  If you’ve got a decent group add 3 miles per hour to each of those…  Yes, drafting works that well, and yes, you can sling-shot too, but there are limits for us mere mortals.

For a mountain bike – less than 35 miles, on roads (dirt or paved) – NOT Trails, deduct 3 miles per hour, so 13 is slow, 15-16 is pretty decent and 17-18 is fast.  If you’re on a trail, depending on the technical nature of the trail, 10 average miles per hour can be pretty fast – On a local trail I ride, I can manage 11 mph and I’ve been told by people far more knowledgable than I am that I’m in the top 80-85%, on the other hand, if it’s an easy trail, that’s slow…  Trails are too subjective to put a good figure on them.  Here’s the best way to figure out whether you’re fast, slow or somewhere in the middle on a trail…  When you go out, if you’re passing a bunch of people when you hit a straight sections, congratulations!  You’re fast.  If you’re being passed by a bunch of people when you hit a straight, you’re slow.  If you’re not being passed or passing people, than you’re about average…  UNLESS, it’s a slow day on the trail, in which case I give up, you’ve got me.

Now, this is for the weekend warriors, for your charity century riders, for your fitness nuts.  Pros and racers are a hell of a lot faster than that.  Figure mid 20’s to 30 mph in a pack – as far as I know – and admittedly, I don’t know much, I’m not a pro or a racer.  Put it this way, the Prolog at this year’s Tour de France was just shy of 4 miles (3.97678 to be exact)  in length and it was being done in the low 7 minute range (7:13 -7:30 for the top ten, the top 175 finished under 8 minutes) – that’s less than two minutes a mile folks, 34-35 mph.  That’s fast.

Here’s the best way to tell whether or not you’re fast on a road bike…  If you’re feeling cocky and think you’re fast, I can offer you this: Walk into your local bike shop and ask what day, place and time the local advanced club ride meets. If you can keep up to the end, you’re fast. If you get dropped within the first 5 miles you’re not. If you hold on for a good 15-20 miles, you’re pretty damned good. That’s the best way to know where you stand because that takes all of the variables and throws them in the garbage can.

What I do know is this:  If you’re working hard, breathing heavy and sweating over 45 miles, it really doesn’t matter how fast you’re going – you are getting fit…  And at the end of the day, if you’ve got that and a smile on your face, does it really matter who thinks what is fast?  I think not.

Noobs Road Bike Mainenance Checklist… More Than Just The Easy Stuff

For my first year of cycling I was pretty regular with cleaning my bike, cleaning and lubing the chain and make sure that everything was in good working order. Unfortunately I found out the hard way that I wasn’t quite doing enough so I decided to put together a few of the items that have given me fits – to hopefully save you the same grief. This list, by the way, is in addition to the standard, normal maintenance items.

1. If you have a quill stem remove it, clean it, grease it and reinstall it at least every six months max (I clean and regrease mine once every few months). If, while you’re riding – up a hill in particular, when you’re putting some stress on the bars, if you hear (and feel) a creaking noise coming from the stem/bar area, this is the likely culprit. You’ve got metal on metal and those parts have to be adequately greased to keep from creaking. To do this, loosen the bolt on top of your stem… You do not loosen the headset nuts! If your stem doesn’t loosen up, bang on the bolt with a mallet – rubber mallets will not work if it’s really stuck, go with one of those rawhide dealios, or if you don’t have one, place something on the bolt to absorb some of the blow of a regular hammer – don’t directly hit the bolt with a steel hammer… Too many bad, expensive things could go wrong, because you’re probably going to have to give it a pretty good whack to shake things loose. Remove the stem and lube all of the parts, including the stem shaft, and reinsert it and tighten it back down. You want a very healthy tight – but to be specific, consult your owner’s manual for the correct torque. Personally I don’t use a torque wrench, I just tighten the hell out of it without stripping it, but I’d be an idiot to recommend you do that only to have you sue me because you tightened it too much and broke your bike.

UPDATE: Important note – once you get the stem out (you may have to loosen the brake cable to do this), DO NOT try to clean out the tube with a towel and your finger – there’s a 75% chance you’ll get your finger stuck in there and once it’s in, it ain’t coming out… I was 30 seconds from walking my bike out of the spare bedroom, through the living room and dining room, into the kitchen – finger stuck in the steerer tube – to get a stick of butter. I was not laughing (though you probably are). All I could think of was, “holy shit, Matt’s gonna laugh his ass off if I have to call him about this”…

2. Remove your seat post, clean it, grease it and reinstall it. Carbon bikes with carbon seat posts are different – this is for alloy/aluminum frames and/or posts. If you have a CF Frame and a CF Post, there are other products you use but if you have an alloy post and a carbon frame (as I do) or vice-versa, and the post fits snugly, grease it. This is the cause for fretting all over the internet – many folks believe that it is bad to grease an aluminum post that goes in a carbon frame. If you’re heading to the comments section, please hang on a second… I’m going by what Craig Calfee says – and I guarantee he knows more about carbon fiber than you do. Here’s the problem – at an atomic level, your alloy/aluminum post is charged differently than your carbon fiber frame – this difference causes corrosion to occur. Throw in some sweat that drips down (or salt water for short) onto the post during a ride (if you’re riding fast enough it will get a good dousing as the wind pushes the sweat drops back – happens to me all the time) and you’ll be lucky to extricate your seat post with the jaws of life. If you find that after you’ve lubed your seat post that it slips, clean the grease and search the web – there are remedies posted all over the place. The general rule is if your post is snug going into the tube, use lube… Loose? Skip it. No pun intended…

3. Once a year (or maybe twice) disconnect your brake cables and clean out the zerts on your frame. Your shifter cables shouldn’t be too big a deal as long as you’ve taken care of them throughout the season.

4. Clean your brake pads. That’s right, your brake pads. Slivers of aluminum can embed themselves into your brake pads under normal riding conditions. They will wear out your rim over time. Remove the pads and use a sharp pointy object (I used a safety-pin and a good set of tweezers) to get the aluminum bits out of your brake pads. Also, if you happen to use the back brake more than the front, it doesn’t hurt to rotate the pads from time to time.

That does it for the easy oddities – there are a couple of other issues that I find when I ride with other folks that get surprisingly little attention… If you’ve got a nice bike, it deserves these:

5. Clean that nasty lookin’ cassette when you clean your chain. This is a photo of my cassette just before I’m due to clean it again (Friday). If your cassette doesn’t look this good after you’ve cleaned and relubed your chain you are doing something wrong. Cut it out.

6. Wash your bike and lube the exposed cables every time you clean and lube your chain (every 250-400 miles depending on the lube you use). If you don’t feel like going through the effort, at least wipe it clean with a damp towel. If you happen to be single and wealthy, it is always best to hire hot women (or men for the ladies) to do this – as shown here:

If you are married, let your imagination run riot, mate – try to get the wife out there in a bikini, there’s no telling what that might lead to. Now, if you’re of the fairer sex, and are offended by this, fear not! I regularly wash my wife’s bikes in only shorts or swim trunks – she get’s the glistening biceps, pecs and the whole nine yards, while getting her bikes cleaned… That’s right folks, I give too, and that’s the idea. If you need bike cleaning tips, I just happen to have written about the subject a time or two. For winter cleaning – I cheat… Being a master of the universe that I am, I have a warehouse at my office that I clean my bikes in.

A clean bike is a happy me.

How I Handle Wrong Way Riders – A politically correct guide

In my post entitled Legal Cycling In The USA Part Two, I reviewed some Michigan and Ohio bicycling laws. One had to do with riding on the wrong side of the road, or against traffic. Hilarity ensued in the comments section, A blogger who goes by the handle iswimbikerunstrong posted this comment:

“I’m not quite sure what to do when I’m riding on my bike (with traffic) and see another cyclist approaching in the same bike lane or shoulder but going against traffic? Should I stay to the right, stay to the left, or just punch him in the face as we pass”?

I wasn’t going to let that go…

“If it’s a him, punch him in the mug.  If it’s a her, generally I would say bark some kind of rude command, like “get on the right side of the road” or something, but as touchy as some folks can be about that… I don’t know.  To avoid assault charges though, a simple, “dude (him or her) you’re on the wrong side of the road, ya dope” will do”.

Now I’ve never called another cyclist or bicycle rider (as the case usually is) a dope – that was more for humor – but how do you handle wrong way cyclists?

Before I started cycling seriously and even though I knew riding on the left (right in the UK) was wrong and I hated seeing it, I would let it go when I passed them on the road.  Now that I am an honest to goodness cyclist, and I actually understand how dangerous the practice is, letting it go is out the window.  I’ve become a one-man wrong-way righting crusader.  I’ve actually turned around in the middle of a training ride to ride along with people so I could take the time to explain the dangers of riding on the wrong side of the road – usually I reserve the “decent” treatment for mothers and children.  I maintain, by choice, the ability to assume that they simply don’t understand how dangerous it is.  With men or boys, the treatment is a quite a bit different.  This is disparity is greatly due to the fact that Mrs. BgddyJim was a wrong-way rider when she first started cycling.  She mistakenly believed that she was safer if she could see traffic coming as we do while we’re out running.  It took some gentle work, but she ended up seeing the light.  With men in particular and often boys, right or wrong, I’m a lot more no-nonsense in my approach.

Now the fact that I treat women differently than I do men can be looked on as either a good thing or a bad thing.  I am decidedly more courteous to women and children while more gruff with men and young men…  If you’re a “men should be chivalrous and decent to women so that they aren’t intimidated off their bike” kind of woman, you’ll likely think this gesture noble.  If you’re the type who looks for chauvinism in everything a man writes, well I can’t do much for you because you’ve already made up your mind.  You’re welcome to post a comment, but good luck convincing me that I should be treating men and women the same, my eyes usually glaze over after the first sentence.  If you’re a man and take offense, please pull up your Scooby Doo Underoos and buck up, would ya?  You’ll get over it…  Some day.

Back to the topic du jour, what is the proper way to deal with a wrong-way cyclist?  Well, I know two things:  Punching one in the mug is out of the question and so is letting it go without a word.  There is a middle ground – and what I do works.  In extreme cases, if it’s a male riding a bike the wrong way, I’ll make an absolute spectacle of the situation.  As they approach, I check over my shoulder – and if it’s safe I signal that I’m moving left and watch over my shoulder to make sure there are no vehicles coming while slowing down and give them the old, “hey, thanks for being safe and riding on the wrong side of the road”.  If I can, I’ll add “and putting my life in danger”, but we’re usually out of earshot before I can get that in.  For a female I do the same lane shift but keep it to, “you are on the wrong side of the road”.  Also important, is that I always give them the gutter – I don’t leave anyone (male or female) the option to come left around me, especially if there is no traffic present – First, if you’re coming up on someone dumb enough to ride on the wrong side of the road, they obviously don’t know what they’re doing – otherwise they’d be on the other side of the road, yes?  Of course, so I don’t want to be locked into a specific line while dealing with someone of that nature – I want to have the out in case they do something even more stupid than riding on the wrong side of the road.  Second, the wrong-way rider can have the gutter with all of the potential problems that come with riding in it.  Now, this takes some judgment, keen handling skills and the ability to read traffic and what the other cyclist is doing – all in a very short amount of time.  Caution must be king.

The most important thing I must remember is that the goal is for everyone to get home safely.  The hope is that the wrong-way cyclist in the situation comes away with a better understanding of just how foolish they are being by choosing to ride on the wrong side of the road.  I must never sacrifice the goal for the hope because in the end my wife and kids need a productive husband and dad, not for an idiot that we don’t know to learn a lesson.

Up next:  Part Two – Dealing with people who walk on the proper side of the road – but in the bike lane…  Oh yes I have.

Sorry To Be Short…

I only got one post in today so I apologize, but it’s 80 degrees out and I’m slammed at work.  On top of that the World Series starts tonight…  I’m taking it easy for today on the blog so I can shoe-horn 10 hours of activity into 5 hours.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jim