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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Right Or Wrong – How Soon I Exercise During a Cold or Flu

I know the stats and what the doctors say:

Cold in the head, exercise away.  Cold in the chest, stay on the couch.  Wait until the symptoms are gone.  Exercise too early and it will prolong recovery from the sickness.  Etcetera, etcetera, yada, yada, yada…

My experience, which is fairly extensive spanning over twelve years, is a little different.  I am not about to advocate against going doctors’ recommendations (that would be stupid) but I will state beyond a shadow of a doubt, for me, standard recommendations would require too much couch time.

First of all, I have trouble sleeping if I don’t get my daily ride.  I’m not tired at 9 or 10 pm and have to try to force myself to fall asleep.  Adding to my consternation, if I take more than a day off, I can’t sleep until the alarm goes off either.  This presents a problem when I’m trying to get more rest to recover from a cold or the flu.

I’ve been running and riding through colds or the flu for more than a decade and I can say for certain, if I follow a few simple rules, I recover faster and am much, much happier.

First, if the hair hurts, I’m on the couch.  We all know what I’m talking about here.  You’ve got the first day when you’re still trying to convince yourself that you’re not going to get sick.  Every once in a while this works, but I always take that first day off.  If my body is trying to kick something, the last thing I want to do is make that process more complicated by stressing it.  The next day, when I know the “I’m not getting sick” mantra didn’t work and I wake up with my hair hurting, I’m either on the couch (if I’m lucky enough to get sick on the weekend) or trudging through a day at the office (though I will take a day off if the bug is bad enough).  This is a day off from the cardio.  There is no chance I’m getting on a bike or running.

Next, it gets a little tricky for how I gauge whether or not I’m going to work out or not.  This last bug that I had really tested my “system”.  With this last bug (sore throat, chest cold, fever, the whole nine yards), I felt better on the third day but I knew darn good and well I wasn’t in any shape to exercise – let alone put a full day in at the office.  I was so wiped out, I ended up taking a nap in the fetal position on the thinly carpeted concrete floor in my office before I went home so I wouldn’t have any issues driving home.  I used a jacket I keep in my warehouse as a pillow.  Under normal circumstances I’ll feel good enough to take an easy ride after a couple of days, but not with this one and I knew it.  The third day was iffy.  Again, I felt much better than the two days prior – I could tell I was getting better, but at about 10:30 in the morning, my energy level just crashed.  I was on my way home from the office at 3 and I knew I was still too hit to ride so I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch.  Then the fog cleared yesterday.  My energy level, while still low, was rebounding well and I was feeling a little cagey.  Cooped up if you will.  I still had some symptoms, minimal congestion, still coughing (and I could still feel it in my lungs) but the sore throat and mild fever was gone.  I felt much better.  Now, if I were to follow recommendations, with symptoms improving but still present, I’d have stayed on the couch again.  Not in my world.

I went out for an exceptionally easy 16 mile ride yesterday, the slowest of the year as a matter of fact at about 17 mph.  On that ride there were a couple of times that I questioned the wisdom of the choice but I did keep going,  though I did slow down a bit.  I blew out a lot of junk from my lungs in the last half.  In fact, I have to imagine I looked pretty funny almost coughing up a lung cruising down the road.  On finishing I did not feel all that good and I thought that I’d jumped the gun just a little bit so I took a 20 minute nap, then had something to eat.  After dinner I was still feeling a little out of it so I took another 20 minute nap, and that did it.  I felt normal.  The rest of the night went very well and come 9 pm, I was ready for bed.  I slept straight through, like a baby, until 4 am (seven hours is a great night’s sleep for me, I’m used to six).

This morning, still with a little stuffiness and a touch of a cough, I do feel rested, clear-headed and ready to go.  I’m almost back to normal and am fairly excited.  Having gone through these phases before with recommended rest, I know if I’d have stayed on the couch yesterday, I would have had a much rougher night of sleep which would have left me drained yet again today and probably suffering from less of an improvement.

Feeling Itchy…

Three days was enough. I was still worn out, just plain old tuckered out, when I got home. Having been sick since Monday and off the bike for the last three days, I’d gotten to a point where I had a tough time sleeping. I took a 30 minute nap and dressed for a ride. Probably too soon, but I didn’t care… I was feeling itchy to ride. I took it very easy for my normal 16 miles (about 17 mph average after I split from Mrs. Bgddy and the kids), and worked some serious gunk out of my lungs.

I know there are folks out there who will disagree, but I know when I’m saddle ready. I could hardly contain myself when I got home – I need my fix that bad. Yesterday, on the other hand, there was no way I was getting on the bike. That’s how I know I’m good to go.

So I tooled about town and finally stretched my legs out and it felt good. I’ll see what tomorrow brings, but Saturday and Sunday, it’s on.

I’ll sleep like a baby tonight.

I Love Lifeproof…

I have a Lifeproof case for my iPhone, and have written about my affinity for it. My phone, which hasn’t seen the unprotected light of day, is still brand new. Not one scratch or wear mark. I’ve dropped it, sat on it, taken videos under water with it, and taken it on every single cycling, mountain biking or running workout I’ve been on since I bought the phone. The thing has seen some sweat, a few thunderstorms, a 54 mile ride in a rain storm and a dozen spills. To clean it, I just run it under a faucet and wipe it off.

Well over the last year and some change, wear started to show on the front face of the case so it’s time for a new one. Unfortunately the cases are anything but cheap so I’ve put off buying a new one. I’ll be heading down south for a much needed vacation in about four weeks where we’ll be spending half of our waking hours on or in the water and I must have my phone with me at all times, so I can’t chance a leak in the case. Time came to bite the bullet.

Now, the back of the case is in perfect shape, it’s the front that shows the signs of constant usage (50-100 calls a day, five days a week and 10-20 on the weekends). Imagine my surprise when I found on their website that they’re selling just the front face, and for half the price of the full case. Being cheap, I was just a bit more than happy.

My new case face showed up yesterday, in plenty of time to test it and install it before vacation.

For my money, my experience with Lifeproof has been exceptional from day one. If you want to protect your iPhone from almost anything an active lifestyle will throw at it, I know of nothing better. In my experience, Lifeproof protective cases are perfect.

This post is unsolicited. I paid full price for all of my Lifeproof products – the stem/bar mount holder, the armband holder and the belt-clip holder, case and the new face.

Here I Sit Broken Hearted…

Here I sit broken hearted, tried to… Now you should know by now, that’s not how I (usually) roll.

I’m staring outside, the sun is shining, the temp is a perfect 71 with not even a hint of breeze or a cloud in the sky. Alas, the Tigers game is on and I am not blistering down the road on my trusty Trek 5200 with the advanced club guys… And I miss it.

I am sick. Not a little bit sick, I’m sick. My hair hurts – even the one’s I shaved this morning. I’m so stinkin’ sick my 5 o’clock shadow hurts. It hurts to breathe, to move, to sit still. I have a sore throat and another one at the top of my lungs from coughing so hard.

Still, I got 3/4’s of a very productive day in at the office. Working alone has its benefits when you’re ill – nobody to infect.

I am sitting here because I am part cocky and part stupid. Everyone knows you don’t kiss your spouse on the lips when she’s sick (with, you guessed it, a hacking, wheezing sore throat). I’m Bgddy though. I’m fit as an ox – heck my immune system does push-ups while it’s waiting for the next bug to eviscerate. My once fried liver does downward dogs. My pancreas? Planks. My heart? It’s so strong and sure, I can feel my pulse in my pinkie toe – without even touching it! I don’t get sick. I’m a cyclist. When I have dreams, I wake up with my legs pumping. I am HEALTHY.

Remember, cocky and a little bit stupid.

I had a most delectable Sloppy Joe (or two) for dinner this evening. It tasted like the organic Mac and Cheese, which humorously enough tasted like the four potato chips I ate – and the Gatorade I drank.

Sweet, now my big toe is cramping up.

Well, I suppose I needed a few days off anyway.


You Don’t Wear WHAT?! The Laugh-Out-Loud Search Term of the Month…


That’s why you’re slow. Man up (or woman up as the case may be). Wear Lycra. Be fast.

There is no question that super human feats of cycling strength can only be performed in Lycra. I don’t know if there’s a study proving this out, but if there isn’t, it’s only because this is a universally accepted fact. It would be like the consensus in global warming – only if there really was a consensus.

Cycling without Lycra would be like Superman without his cape. Batman without his Batmobile. Hell – Robin without Batman!

Look at it this way, there’s a slower group that goes out before we do on Tuesday nights. There’s a guy who rides with them – he’s old enough that they were writing on stone tablets when he was a kid. His first bike had stone wheels! Dinosaurs would to look at this guy like he was lunch!… He wears Lycra. Of course he looks like hell in those shorts but it absolutely cannot be argued, the man has class and the respect of everyone out there (late 70’s, rheumatoid arthritis and he still rides 10,000 miles a year – that’s right boys and girls).

Not wearing Lycra is akin to showing up to an advanced club ride with plastic pedals on a Barbie mountain bike (note to self, I just might have to try that once – that would be hilarious!). Folks, there’s just some crap you can’t get away with and showing up to a club ride in cargo shorts is one of them.

Here’s the reality, at least with the folks that I hang out with in Fly-Over County, Michigan: Only a true loser would care about what you look in cycling shorts. Why? Because no matter how you think you look, you’re out there doing what it takes to lose that butt you’re so worried about in the first place! So the real question is why would you base whether or not you ride comfortably on the opinion of a loser? That’s what you really have to ask yourself. Cycling, while it is a fashion show – I always match and look awesome (red bike, white bidon cages, blue bar tape, red/white shoes, blue jersey, white shades and helmet), is a workout. If you don’t end up sweaty and looking disheveled after your ride, you didn’t push hard enough. After all, the goal is to shed ass, not pick some up!

The point is folks, yes you do wear Lycra – even if you think you don’t. HTFU.

*A caveat here: i look good in Lycra (if I do say so myself – and I obviously do), so I parade that stuff all around town without a care. Of course that’a because I eat well and put the miles in, so there’s that. In other words, and as I like to say, my butt is bought and paid for with miles, sweat and even a bit of blood.

Finish Line Ceramic Wet Lube Early Review

I’ve been given the opportunity to check out Finish Line’s Ceramic Wet Lube on my chain by my local bike shop.  I’ve been a devotee of Boeshield T-9 ever since I started cycling and I’ve used that exclusively which puts me in a unique position to give the Finish Line product a good comparison.  I’ve got over 9,000 miles on Boeshield and I haven’t strayed because I am so utterly pleased with its performance.  While out on my Saturday ride I stopped into the bike shop to pick up a new bottle but they’d run out since the last time I was in and were expecting a new shipment shortly.  To tide me over, my mechanic gave me a 1/4 used sample bottle of the ceramic wet lube to try out in exchange for feedback.

Saturday evening I completely cleaned and lubed up my 5200 so I would be able to really pay attention to any differences – and there were two…  One good and one not so good.  First, I applied the Finish Line in the same manner that I normally apply Boeshield.  I double degrease the chain – I run it through a chain scrubber once, wipe it down and let it dry while I attend to cleaning the cassette, and then I run it through a fresh reservoir of degreaser again, then wipe it down and let it dry.  After allowing at least six hours of dry time, I then apply one fair drop of the lubricant to each roller.

First, I can say without a doubt that the Finish Line product is noisier on the chain.  Not by much, it’s barely perceptible, but it is just not as quiet as a fresh coating of Boeshield.

On the other hand, there’s less friction with the Ceramic Wet Lube – the ride itself is much smoother.  Now, would a straight up noob notice the difference?  Probably not, but I could absolutely feel the fact that the pedals really were easier to push around.  In fact, on my Sunday ride (an easy recovery pace), with a fair wind that hurt as much as helped, I was able to maintain an easy 18.7 mph average without much effort at all.  In fact, when the wind was helping I was pushing one gear harder than normal (for that condition) with no increased effort.  My recognition of this is based solely on perceived effort, but I can tell you for certain, I’ve got enough miles on that bike to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ride is indeed easier.  It also helped into the wind – for the effort that I put out, I definitely would have normally been in a lower gear.

This is only a first ride analysis.  I’ll have more in the following weeks on durability and any other issues that might pop up.  I can say for certain, at least so far, my interest in the Finish Line Ceramic Wet Lube is piqued.  I never would have expected the first ride results.

Wooow! I Feel Good!

Wooow!  I feel good…  Though I won’t go so far as to say I knew that I would now…

I woke up this morning feeling a little rough. A little bit sore, a little bit stiff… Feeling a little bit old. Once I got moving though, it was all good.  This has more to do with a shortage of sleep than of actually being or feeling “old”.

I can remember, not entirely too long ago, believing that 40 was a big mark representing a shift in how long it took for me to recover from a workout. Back then I was only running (probably with a bit of bad form) and recovery did seem to stretch out a bit. With the addition of cycling to the routine things are much different though.

While there’s no doubt I’m no longer 18, there’s no question that I feel better at 42 than I did at 40 and what I find interesting is exactly what I consider an acceptable amount of pain nowadays.  For instance, if I really want to know what pain is, all I have to do is take a week off from cycling.  The balance between pain related to exercise and pain related to lethargy has always been a hot topic for me.  This is so partially because I used the excuse quite often to justify gaining weight and not doing something about it – and partially because I hear the excuse used now that I do have excellent control over my weight.

When it comes to cycling, I can ride ten days in a row and feel marvelous, as long as I’m not going all out every day.  When I go more than 10 days, up to 14, without a day off, I do tighten up a bit and my legs feel a bit clunky.  That said, when I take more than a couple of days off in a row, that’s when I start to feel old.  That’s when I feel the aches and pain others have attributed to age.  Put simply, I hurt a lot less when I keep moving.

The thing that really saddens me about this reality is that so many people who could otherwise be active and mobile try to use ‘pain’ as their excuse to keep from getting off of the couch when in the vast majority of cases, becoming active would alleviate many of the symptoms that people complain about in the first place.  It’s a sad state of affairs for certain and I wish that I had the silver bullet solution.

In the end, all I really can do is try the best I can to lead by example – and know more than most about the research that’s been done on the subject that supports the fact that my experience is the norm, not the exception.

1000 Marbles

Morning Story and Dilbert

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it. I turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business himself.

He was talking…

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Summertime Bike Maintenance

After a nice 42 mile ride yesterday I got the idea that it was time to degrease and lube the chain so after the ladies and I got back from taking my dad out for ice cream I got to it. I started at 8:45 pm.

First I degreased the chain and cleaned the cassette. On finishing that I noticed a salt deposit in the rear brake cable stop (the thing that holds the cable housing to the frame) so I decided to give her the works.

First, I loosened the back brake cable bolt and pulled the housing out. I cleaned the frame, housing and cable, then lubed the cable and put everything back together. Then I wiped down my bike and lubed the cables. Next, I pulled the seat post (after I made sure the height/stop mark was still there – Sharpie markers work great to mark saddle height on the seat post*) and cleaned and lubed that. Finally I pulled the quill stem, cleaned and lubed that and put everything back together. In other words, I did a lot.

Total elapsed time: 29 minutes

I’m finally starting to get the hang of this stuff.  I knew nothing about bike maintenance when I started out, heck I had a tough time degreasing the chain and cleaning the cassette in a half an hour let alone all of the other stuff I did last night.  The only thing I can attribute the efficiency I finally have is the fact that I’ve done these things so often that the steps are finally starting to click – I don’t have to think about whether or not I want to loosen the brake cable to clean the cable stop because I know I can easily put everything back together without having to mess anything up.  I don’t worry about hitting the quill stem bolt with a hammer because I know it’s okay to do it (that’s the only way to free it up on my 5200).  I know the parts to lube (anything metal to metal or aluminum to carbon) because I’ve either discussed it with the mechanics at my local shop or researched the issue online.  After two years, I know just about every place my bike will creak or groan and what to do to fix it (bikes are not supposed to creak or groan).  I can index adjust the shifting on any one of our seven bikes in a matter of minutes (instead of 1-1/2 hours on my first attempt two years ago).  There are two reasons for this:  Whenever possible, rather than take my bikes in, I tried to fix them myself first (suspension issues not included – I take shock problems to the shop).  As I work on fixing little maintenance issues, I’ve become more efficient and knowledgeable at getting them squared away.  More importantly, I’ve watched the guys at the shop work on bikes – especially the owner…  He’s so fast and efficient that I was inspired.  I paid very close attention to how he moved from one step to the next.  Finally, I use the Bike Repair app to make sure that I don’t miss an important step on a new maintenance item.  That took a little getting used to, but now I can fly through the guides.

In other words, I stuck with it until everything clicked.  The owner of my local shop often advocates tinkering – you can’t mess up anything that we can’t fix on a bike, he says.  There are those who have no mechanical sense whatsoever, and for their own sanity should stick to taking the bikes into the shop for maintenance.  For those of us with even a modicum of mechanical savvy, we should tinker away – it’s the best way to become efficient at what are mostly simple fixes, as long as the proper steps are followed in the proper sequence.

Happy wrenching.

* PS.  I’ve seen people use tape to mark their seat post for saddle height, usually electrical tape.  I much prefer the Sharpie permanent marker method because eventually the tape will fail and leave you a gooey mess to deal with.

Is it possible to be happy at any weight?

I read an interesting post at a food blog that I have followed for better than a year.  In that post the following was presented as if it were a personal axiom: You can be happy at any weight.

Now, if you know me (or have read more than a few of my posts), you read that pap above and said, “woah, this should be good”. Well, you’re right. I held back in my solicited comment though…

Here’s the truth… It is possible to fool yourself into believing that you can be happy at any weight.  After all, if you throw enough shit against a barn, some is bound to stick, as the saying goes.  Please allow me the dalliance of breaking this down a bit more politely – and with a touch of personal experience.

Being skinny (6’0″ – 130 pounds) sucked. No matter how hard I tried to eat my way out I was stuck at that weight. Weight lifting helped a bit but I was always self-conscious.  I hated being skinny.

Then I quit drinking and shot up to 150 almost immediately.  I was almost happy at that weight, finally.  I had a full six-pack but was still just a bit light.

Then I quit smoking cigarettes and things got messy.  Within a year I put on 45 pounds and acquired a double chin.  I was definitely not happy.  I tried to BS myself into “learning to be happy” heavy but that lasted less than 24 hours.  You see, once you put a plug in the jug you’re issued a finely tuned bullshit detector – it fits right on the tip of your nose.  With that bullshit detector, you not only can detect the bullshit of others, it works even better on your own bullshit.  Sadly this pretty much means you can’t bullshit yourself anymore – and trying to be happy heavy was, at least in my world, an entire load of bullshit.  In other words, the only way for this to be possible would be to lie, accept that lie, and become happy with the lie.  Well, to even attempt that would be, put simply, ridiculous.

You see, another trait that comes with a program of recovery is the ability to project how one will act in response to certain thought experiments.  I’ll put it in simple terms:  Say I decide to pick up and drink.  I can project with absolute certainty how that will work out 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years and more, down the road.  I can do this because I know how I think and how I drink.  It’d start out with a beer after cutting the grass or a day on the beach.  Once I had one, I might as well have a few more to get a decent buzz.  Within two weeks I’d be getting hammered every night.  Within 2 months I’d be right back where I left off 20 years ago.  Within two years my health would start to fail.  Within ten my liver would start to fail.  These aren’t guesstimates, they are certainties because there is one constant in any scenario I can make up:  I am a two-fisted drinker; one in each hand and a case between my legs.  This will never change, no matter how much self-knowledge I possess, no matter how much I lie to myself, and no matter how badly I want it to be different.

How do I know this with such certainty?  I’ve tried everything to make the eventuality of the outcome different already.  It’s very simple.  I can’t drink successfully.

My weight follows the same logical path.  I cannot, no matter how much I want to believe the lie, be happy as a fat man.  No more than I can be happy at 130 pounds.  I can say this with certainty, not because I possess any special mystical powers.  I can say this with certainty because I know it’s a lie.  Once I know for certain that I’m lying to myself, there’s no palatable way to accept the lie.   In other words, once you understand the destructive nature of bullshitting yourself and you learn to stop it, the ability to use it as a defense mechanism in other aspects of your life dies because you know the misery it leads to.

Sure, I can put on a happy face and lie to you.  I might even be able to make it seem convincing, but in the end I’d be miserable because I know damn good and well that throwing shit against the side of a barn with the hope of some of it sticking is stupid.  Eventually you get tired of your barn smelling like shit and you have to wash it off.

You can decide, if you so choose, not to like this reality.  You can choose to ignore it, you can get angry when your narrative is challenged or you can choose to believe a lie.  Unfortunately none of that will change the truth or “make you happy”, and you already know this.  Being happy is skipping that whole process altogether – or not having to clean the shit off of the barn in the first place and riding a bike, going for a run or swimming across the lake a time or two – or doing all three, one after the other, in rapid succession.