I saw a funny newspaper headline the other day… Something to the effect of: Michigan loses $430 million in revenue because of online sales.
I had a hearty chuckle. Here’s the other way to write that headline:
Michigan consumers are so tired of getting soaked every time they turn around, be it the gas tax, income tax, sales tax or property tax (we get hammered with all of them – and we’re not even talking about Federal taxes) that they’re turning to the internet to save a measly six percent.
Don’t ever think that the papers aren’t ass deep in the politics business. Only a political hack would write that Michigan is losing money.
I started this season in a bit of a panic, followed by acceptance that I would be slower. What followed that was unexpected to say the least. Being only my second year cycling and at 42 years-old, when I started out slower this spring than last fall – after training doubly hard through the winter, I thought I peaked last season, that last year was a fluke of epic proportions and that I rode faster than I ever would again.
At the end of last season my easy recovery ride pace (solo) was between 18.5 and 19 mph. This spring I was struggling just to hit 19 with a hard effort. It doesn’t help that my miles are down over last year because the weather was horrendous and I was spending more time riding with my family – infinitely more enjoyable but nowhere near as “productive” – at least for me.
The only major thing I changed early this spring was how I looked at hills. In southeastern Michigan, we don’t have many, but what we do have I started climbing in a higher (harder) gear than what I cruise in on the flats. Other than that I tried to be patient and just enjoy riding. My wife and I spend a week every summer in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee or Georgia and we started riding down there last summer – that was probably the most fun I’ve had on two wheels so I wanted, at the very least, to be in better shape for that this year than last. Even if I wasn’t as fast. At the beginning of May I started showing sparks of brilliance. By the middle of May my speed was coming back and I was noticeably stronger. In the last two weeks, my season turned around. I’m back – and better than before.
The real question, at this point, is do I bother to try to sort out why. I’m staying with the fast guys a lot longer than I ever could last year on club ride Tuesday, but some of that is strategy – I know how to hide a little better towards the end of the ride and, humorously enough, I don’t get beat up on the hills anymore either though. Now on that same 33 mile ride, I’m averaging more than a mile an hour faster than last year’s best – 20.6 mph.
To be truthful, I don’t know if I really care that much. I was quite content where I was last month, so I can simply just be happy with where I’m at. I realize that this is something akin to sacrilege in the sporting community – if we’re getting faster than why not keep pushing to see just how fast we can get? I will to some extent, I suppose, continue doing what I’m doing but the truth is, once I get to a point where I can keep up with my Tuesday group, and maybe even inflict a little punishment of my own, I’m calling it good.
Right now I’m in a bit of a perfect zone – I have relative balance between family, work and exercise that I just don’t want to change. I’m faster and stronger, I’ve been eating like a cow over the last two weeks and I lost two tenths of a pound, and my wife is, for the most part, happy.
I’d have to be an idiot to mess with that.
After 45 miles on Saturday, I was having a tough time figuring out what I wanted to do today. I could go long again, only at an easier pace, or I could hang out with my buddy Tim and play in the dirt – or both.
I opted just for mountain biking out at Holdridge, followed by some softball practice with the girls. Tim and I got our signals crossed so I ended up doing the easy 2 mile North Loop twice waiting for him to show up. When he finally got there we got right to it. I was happily surprised to keep up well with him (though I believe he takes it easy so I can). That said, I felt quite good considering yesterday’s ride and turned in a personal best for that loop.
I don’t know what the deal is but I’ve really been having fun on the mountain bike lately. Call it a great change of pace I guess. I do have a tough time justifying the fact that, once drive time is taken into account, I can ride 35 miles on the road bike to just ten or fifteen on the mountain bike. Still, mountain biking is a ton of fun and it’s a heck of a workout.
On getting home, the girls and worked on batting in the front yard for a bit before dinner. After that it was Harry Potter on DVD, then Transformers on TV. Then bed time.
It promises to be a crazy week. At least I did what I could for my sanity this weekend.