Actually, I’m kidding with the title, being a cyclist – not dabbling around the edges, but actually being one of those guys is fun as hell (if I were a woman I would have said girls so don’t get those panties in a bunch, eh?). There are some very important rules to know and understand about being a cyclist though – some of which cannot be broken and others, well that depends on where you live. The point is, don’t take as gospel everything you read on them there interwebs.
I was invited by the owner of my local bike shop, two years ago, to ride with the advanced club cyclists – I’d been cycling (riding a road bike – mountain bikes do not count) for all of three months and could already hold a 20 mph average (solo) for 13 miles. Now, unlike most noobs who will show up with their tightie whities sticking out of the waistband of their cycling shorts, I actually did some research before I showed up because while I may have been a noob, flaunting my noobishness embarrassingly is unnecessary and detrimental to one’s inferiority complex.
Unfortunately, and this goes almost universally across the internet, Rule #33 had me scratching my head. I’m not quite a Yeti but I’m a furry fellow for certain. I had been trimming my arm, leg and chest hair for years because there’s nothing worse than driving down the expressway on a summer’s day, windows down, arm on the sill, feeling great about life – only to arrive at your destination with what has turned into a 2″ “fro” on your left arm while the hair on your right rests neatly against its arm. Equally troubling is the fact that, at least for men, once you reach a certain age – and I’d reached it – hair stops growing on your head while growth escalates on a Biblical proportion everywhere else on your body. As a bonus, trimming said obnoxious body hair only takes 20 minutes every two weeks. That’s not a whole lot of time needed for proper manscaping – that’s a drop in the bucket. Broken down, that’s only 1/1008th of those two weeks.
So I’m faced with a problem, because while I didn’t have chicken legs back then, I had been a runner for a decade before I bought my first bike, my legs certainly couldn’t be considered “guns” or, as they are now, “cannons”. Who can forget the “No-No” commercial, the first one, that showed the short, chubby guy burning the hair off of his man-boobs with a smile on his face? Well folks, that’s the dilemma. How can you shave your guns when the muscles aren’t chiseled enough? You end up the equivalent of bald man-boobs! Who gives a shit if you’re hairless when you look like you could start lactating next week?
Well, my legs weren’t near that bad but you get the point… I really had to think long and hard before I broke out the razor… But I did.
Now that my sisters have grown accustomed to complaining at summertime family functions about the fact that my legs look better than theirs, I realize that I may have made a mistake when I shaved the “guns” for the first time. You see, only a couple of the (many) racers in our group shave their legs. It isn’t until you get to State Championship level that the practice really kicks into gear. In other words, there I am for my first club ride and? Anyone? Just short of man-boobs for legs. Dammit! How did I put all of this together? My God, you’re the quizzical type today aren’t you… The owner of the LBS clued me in the day after I shaved them down for the first time.
Well, the story has made its rounds and we all have a laugh about it from time to time… Because I still shave them daily. Even through the winter. Why, you may ask? I still shave my legs because Mrs. Bgddy likes it now. Well, technically I do too because my legs look freaking awesome – even Patti Ann Browne would be like, “Dude, those guns are awesome”! What’s that? Who is Patti Ann Browne? Just Google the name and see what shows up in the drop down list… The first one!
Getting back on track now that you’re done tinkering with Google (and tried adding “boobs” – and turned the “safe search” off, Geez, REALLY?)… The point is, I never had to shave my legs in the first place! Rule number 33 doesn’t apply in flyover country! AND, by trying to avoid looking like a noob, I looked like a shaved noob.
Now that, 775 words in, gets us to the point of this whole post in the first place: Be careful with the razor! Once your legs reach porcelain god status, you have to really be careful getting around all of the nooks and crannies – and watch out for the ridges too because those bastards bleed forever after you’ve sliced the skin off!
This post became timely for a friend of mine so I thought I’d reblog my own post… How to beat the committee in your melon.
Retiring from a drunkard’s life at 22 was quite possibly the brightest thing I’ve ever done. I won’t bother getting into the whole “mommy sat me on the toilet seat sideways” sob story (she didn’t really, I just think it sounds funny and accurately portrays my belief in excuses), suffice it to say, at 22 years old I was told by a physician that I had the liver of a 60-year-old drunk and that if I didn’t stop, I’d die – very early. He gave me eight years, max. And I had that discussion when I was 21 – I drank heavily for another full year.
So here I am, healthy as an ox. Now, in the group that I run in, it’s a common saying that if you sober up a horse thief, you’re still left with a horse thief. Believing that, I changed everything in my life…
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Only a quarter of our normal group showed up for the last club ride of the season. It was cold, but not too bad but we had to start at 5 just to make sure we could get done before the dark consumed us. We started out easy, as is usual, and with a steady breeze out of the northeast, there were a few early miles that were uncharacteristically tough – this is good news. The pace was outstanding – one of those paces I could have kept up for hours. A couple of riders peeled off the back and we actually contemplated waiting for them for a bit but they motioned to keep going, so we did. The pace picked up a bit from there once we tightened the formation.
We cycled through the rotation, everyone doing their part. It is rare, but I was feeling quite chipper so I wound up being one of the horses. There was going to be no getting spit off the back this evening. I was strong up the hills, struggling at times but I felt it. Two-thirds of the way through I knew I had the legs. Finally, sweet Jesus, after all of this time (this year) I had the will to hang with the lead group.
I motored up the hills, I was light and I could feel the power coursing through my quads. No pain, only power. No doubts, no hesitation. I’d pull just a little too long then duck off to tuck back in – and was recharged within a half-mile. Where was this coming from! Up a decent roller, spinning an easy 90 cadence and pulling away from the group. I was dancing on the pedals (I finally understand what that feels like – quite remarkable actually). I was doing it dammit! YES!
Only five to go and I felt awesome. Four… Three… We formed into a single file pace line… Shit, I almost missed it, but I was there. Two to go, 26 mph into the wind – my buddy Mike, two behind the leader, just in front of me, motioned for me to pull up and he was off the back. Only three of us left. One mile to go and I was in the perfect position. The fast Mike dropped the lead and tucked in behind me (humorously enough the guy in front of me was named Mike too – that’s a lot of Mikes). The lead Mike slackened the pace a little – less than half a mile to go… At a quarter-mile, I sensed the Mike behind me starting to come around – then I saw his wheel out of the corner of my eye. All of a sudden the Mike ahead of me picked up his cadence – the sprint was on…
Everyone gets dropped…
I picked up my cadence and just as the back Mike was even with me on the right, I upshifted twice and broke left, in the drops, out of the saddle – I’ve seen Sagan and Cav do this a hundred times. Everyone gets dropped, I let loose of two grunts and put every pound of force I had in my legs to the pedals. Back and forth my Venge rocked. I pulled even with the front Mike. The back Mike, the fast Mike was coming up though…
Everyone gets dropped…
100 yards to go and there was no way I was going to let it be me. 28 mph into the wind… 50 yards, and I was alone. Up front.
Everyone gets dropped but the guy who wins the sprint, and last night was my night.
Now, for the rest of the story – I hope I wrote the first part well… Maybe brought you with me a little.
I was one of six B groupers who showed up for the final club ride of the year. There were only two A guys, Mike and Mike. The A guys kept our pace just to have a nice ride – they could have knocked the hell out of me, right up until that last few miles.
Still, proof positive, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and again. While it may very well have been a weaker field, I ended up being the strongest of those who showed up and that is saying something. A fitting, fun end to my awesomely fun season.
To my real racer friends out there, please don’t take this post as some kind of cocky, “yeah, I kicked their ass” post. I know very well that it was only a club ride – and one with a weak field at that. On the other hand, I was the one who showed up, eh?
According to a recent study out of Denmark, women who jogged regularly increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years. But long-term benefits shouldn’t be your only motivation to hit the pavement. Here are some immediate perks to those who run:
Improved sleep patterns
An increase in serotonin, dopamine and endorphins
Feelings of relaxation and happiness (thanks to the brain chemicals listed above!)
Improved self-esteem and confidence
Ah, Michigan. 1/20th of the State gets half of the revenue sharing and the guy running for their top job, the Mayor of the City of Detroit, claims that they’re treated like second class citizens. But that’s not the sad thing: That’s the kind of bullshit that will get the guy elected.
That notwithstanding, we’re approaching winter, quickly. It’s not nasty enough to put the Venge up quite yet but we’re getting there. Tonight is the last club ride of the season (except for next week’s night ride), jackets are mandatory gear, as are full-finger gloves. Hats under the helmet are needed more frequently… Heck, I had to use lights at 5 yesterday evening.
Trainer season is less than four weeks away, barring a weather anomaly. Time to don the running shoes, to put an old tire on the 5200 and clean it up for office use… Time to dust off the DVD collection and pay up the Neflix subscription…
By the time February rolls around I’ll feel like the Dunkin Donuts “time to make the donuts” guy. Time to ride the trainer…
So, how do I, the Mahatma of Mileage, the Prince of Pedaling, stay motivated?
Dude, it’s not rocket science. Heading into spring a fat-ass*, needing to drop 20 pounds to get back up to speed, sucks. A boring hour a day, four days a week, for three months, is nothing… I’m looking at what; maybe 60 days overall, to make sure my shorts fit in the spring? No problem.
*On the use of the word fat-ass… I have been pleasantly plump, perkily pudgy if you will. Not outrageously so, but overweight nonetheless. I have no hang ups with the term, or using it on myself because I have nothing against reality.
Harry Connick Jr.’s Star-Spangled Banner at the Boston-St. Louis game this evening was the classiest I’ve seen in at least a decade. No BS, no ridiculous flourishes, no garbage.
Thank you for that Harry.
It’s not up on Youtube (that I’ve been able to find) but here’s one that’s pretty close from before the Daytona 500:
The way I see it, the toughest thing to grasp when dealing with fitness – whether well aged or newbie – is the pain. What amount of pain is good, which pain is bad, how much before it’s time to think about time off… The pains and their causes are never-ending.
For instance, I was out for a ride last Wednesday. I rode up to my local bike shop, and then rode five miles or so back home. About two miles into the return trip I felt a twinge in my left leg, like my hamstring tightening up. I pushed an easier gear for a mile or two until it loosened back up…which it did. Once I got home I took a long hot shower and felt fine so I forgot about it. The next morning I woke up and my left leg was sore, actually just to the right of my hamstring. Now, this is where we get into the pickle. The tough among us will, maybe, take a day off while the more “conscientious” might book a doctor’s appointment and take a week or two for recovery.
By the end of the day I felt quite a bit better. Not perfect, but I was in nowhere near the pain I was in the earlier. Thursday I got lucky because we ended up getting rained on so I had a day off anyway. On Friday the pain was gone completely. I rode up to the bike shop, got my Venge fitted properly, and rode home – 20 miles plus the spinning for the fitting. Then I rode 37 yesterday as if nothing ever happened. We had a rain day on Saturday so that day was shot again. This morning? No pain, no stiffness, I’m fine and looking forward to rides this afternoon and tomorrow evening (we’ve got rain returning on Wednesday and Thursday so I’m making hay while the sun is shining).
The point is had I been the nervous type I’d have been out for no good reason – and then the question is where’s the line?
This is how I handle pain… I’m a guy first, so I don’t go to the doctor until it’s absolutely necessary (which usually means at least a couple of weeks after the pain won’t go away on its own – or more aptly put, a week after I should have gone to the doctor).
The main rule I live by is this: People are generally sissies. We look for ways to get out of doing what is good for us. We want to reach a goal but are rarely willing to do what it takes to get there – we look to little aches and pains to justify not working as hard as we could. This is my default position on pain and 90% of the time I’m right.
Now, there are exceptions to the rule. I know when I’m in trouble and I’ve gone too far. I know this because I’m afraid that I will have to take time off – these are the exceptions. Everything else? Gotta muscle through them so later on down the road when I’m hit with one of those “screw this” moments, I’m well equipped to beat it.
So, when you say “listen to your body”, I’m saying “you better buck up sucka, ’cause I’m not done yet”. This isn’t to say that the notion, or those who use it, are wrong, I’m just not one of those people who can wisely use it.
Why? Because by nature, I’m lazy. I can’t do lazy like most people. I try, oh how I wish I could, but for me lazy is an infectious disease. That disease hides in the shadows, waiting for a viable excuse (host). It’s okay, you’re heavy because you’re big-boned. It’s okay, your heavy because your knees are bad (or you don’t want them to go bad). It’s okay, hand me the pizza, potato chips and a diet Coke.
That shit is just not okay with me.