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Monthly Archives: January 2014

If God Had Intended…

If God had intended on humans being vegans…

Bacon would grow on trees.

Steaks would be grown in a garden.

Fish would be…  Well, Jesus fed the masses with fish and bread so I guess fish could still be fish…

Hamburger trees would be everywhere

And broccoli, brussels sprouts and tofu would taste um, not nasty.

I was perusing the interweb for more funny vegan photos and I came across this quote from Gandhi (I don’t know if it’s attributable or not and I won’t bother taking the time to find out):  “There are many causes I would die for.  There is not a single cause I would kill for”.

Gandhi wouldn’t die for many causes – dying is kind of a one-off deal.  You don’t get to re-die for another cause.

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Finally, I always assumed some of the cooler martial arts moves seen in the movies were impossible in the real world…

Damn-ninjaNatasha Romanov, played by Scarlett Johanson used that very move in the Ironman III and one like it in the Avengers.

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I’m… WHAT?!

I have been battling minor anger issues related to my father’s passing away last week.  I’ve had to watch my tongue (or completely hold it on a couple of occasions) with my wife and kids.  I’ve had to stop listening to some of the radio programs that I often disagreed with but certainly didn’t have a problem with.  I’ve also had to be aware of my acceptance with the kids – I am an exceptionally laid back guy and my kids are very good so my having a problem with how they’re acting is exceedingly rare.  When little things started bugging me last week, I really had to step back and try to figure out what the hell was wrong with me.

I was out with a bunch of recovering friends last night and one of the guys began talking about how angry he used to be, decades ago, and the root cause for that anger – fear.

I rolled that around in my head a little bit, the root cause of most anger can be traced back to fear.  I know this to be true…  A lightbulb appeared over my melon and lit up.  All of a sudden many of my struggles over the last week with my father’s passing started to make sense.  Other than the usual feeling a little more mortal, I connected a few dots to see a pattern beneath the obvious.  There is an underlying irrational fear, with my dad gone, that a part of my support network is gone as well.  Trying to wrap my head around this entirely is proving difficult so early on but there it is.

You see, the truth is my dad hasn’t been available to offer knowledgable assistance for almost two years now – I’ve already been on my own, and have made it just fine so far.  This is the irrationality.  For some unknown reason though, his being gone puts a finality to it that I’m struggling with.  My dad was always there to bail me out.  Even though I haven’t needed his assistance, other than offering suggestions on how to deal with stress and life, for more than two decades, it was always there if I did…  And now it isn’t.

So the wife, kids and I arrived home shortly after figuring all of this out last night and feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I settled down in bed to watch a movie on my phone…  I may have made it three minutes beyond the opening credits before I was out.  I slept like a baby, better than I have in several days.

Now that I’ve identified the fear, the root cause of this irrational anger I’ve been feeling for the last few days, I’ve got something that I can work with – and on – so I can do something about it.

Define Funny…

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That’ll do.

The Noobs Guide to the Proper Bike: Why? To Thine Own Self Be True

I have written a number of posts on the “how’s” of cycling, how to pick the right mountain bike, road bike, the right bike in general, even whether to upgrade an old bike or buy a new one, I’ve even touched on the tiny details of why in some of those but with spring approaching, I thought I’d give a go at the larger “why” of purchasing the proper bike because, depending on how big you go, we could be talking about a lot of money here.

Now, I am (to a small extent) a vanity cyclist.  I match my jerseys and helmets to the color schemes of my bikes, dabbled with a red, white and blue theme on two of them, removed all reflectors from bikes that will never see a moment of dusk on an open road, removed the spoke protector behind the cassette that most noobs leave on their bike because not only do they not know any better, they don’t know how to keep their rear derailleur in adjustment so the protector becomes useless plastic.  I ride with a reasonable drop from my saddle to the handlebar, a hard saddle because I know it’s more comfortable when the bike setup is right…  I also, before I ever rode a mile with another cyclist, made sure I could handle my bike.

Let me start by saying there’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with being a noob or in not doing any of the things above except the last item.  In fact, there is a decent contingent of folks out there who are anti-vanity cyclists, who dress in ways that mock the system.  To me, it’s all good – look as goofy as you want.  I ride how I ride, on the bikes I ride, in the clothes and accessories I ride in to please one person:  Me.  What anyone else thinks of me, other than whether or not I know how to handle my bike in a crowd, is none of my business anyway.  Let me tell you, there’s a lot of freedom in that last sentence.

That said, there are a few things to consider that can save a lot of time, consternation and cash in picking the right bike the first time (well, probably the second time to allow for a change in heart).  First, it helps to know what you’ll be using your bike for ahead of time.  You want to go fast?  Road bike, carbon or aluminum/carbon mixed frame/fork, 23 mm tires, hard gender specific saddle, saddle a minimum of three inches above the top of the handlebar (flexibility notwithstanding).  Want to go far comfortably with no concern over speed?  Road bike, 25 mm tires, carbon, steel or aluminum frame (carbon fork), saddle 2 inches to level with the top of the bar, decent gender specific saddle with a bit more padding (2-5 mm thick).  Commuting?  See the last setup for the road bike but eliminate the carbon frame – or go with a straight handlebar hybrid (with or without a suspension system for the front).  Versatility?  Do you want to ride your bike on rougher roads, dirt roads and even a few trails while being able to head out on a club ride from time to time?  Cyclocross bike without a doubt (a great cross between a road bike and a hybrid):  Saddle 1-4″ above the bar top (depending on speed desires – if you want to switch, get a bike with several spacers below the stem – you can raise or lower the bars to your desire [this goes for all road bikes btw]), decent saddle, two sets of tires (two sets of wheels is helpful too though you have to be careful about the cassette wear and the tuning of the derailleur).  Only interested in commuting and playing in the dirt?  Get a mountain bike, front shock, decent mountain bike saddle – maybe a set of slicks for commuting.  Aggressive single track mountain biking?  Think about a rear shock too – helpful but not entirely necessary.  Training for and racing in triathlons?  Now this one is a bit trickier because Time Trial (TT) bikes don’t play well in groups.  If you’ve got the cash and you want to race tri’s and go for the regular club rides you’ll get a road bike and a TT bike.  If, however you live a middle-class existence (like me) and can’t afford both, go for a road bike that can accommodate a tri setup (Specialized Venge for the guys, Alias for the ladies).  With the road/tri mixed bike you get the best of both worlds – and I can tell you from experience with the Venge, by swapping the spacers under/over the bar, I can set it up with the proper drop to the aerobars too, I lose nothing.

Once the usage is determined, all that’s left is sizing, color (don’t settle), pedal and shoe choice and the fitting (where your local shop sets the bike up specifically to the way you ride).

Now here’s why all of this is important:  I’ve made every noob mistake that I can think of, pretty near.  Wrong saddles, my first road bike was too small, wrong gear, helmet too big, cheap shorts…  Any one of these things without diligent investigation could lead a person who is less of a cycling nut than I happen to be to hang their bike in the garage to collect dust.  Riding on a saddle that’s too wide for your sit bones HURTS.  Riding on one of those cushy granny saddles for more than 15 miles HURTS.  So does trying to fit a 6′ tall person on a 54 cm compact frame (I invested in some components that made it bearable).  Cheap shorts?  Literally a pain in the butt (amongst other things).

More importantly than those above, picking the wrong bike for the way you want to ride leads to boredom.  If you’re bored on your bike, it’ll turn into a rather expensive dust collector.  A bike as a dust collector leads to a less fit, less healthy, less happy you.  I like happy people – especially happy cyclists.  The point is, when starting out, be true to yourself – and the local bike shop folks.  They don’t want to put you on a bike you don’t want any more than you want them to.

The Stable is Complete!… For now

I finally got down to fixing up my Cannondale, the last bike in the stable this last week…

I ordered a saddle from the Specialized Outlet the other day for my Cannondale and stopped by the bike shop for some new bar tape on Tuesday, ironically about 30 minutes before my dad died.

Last week I had the frame straightened, stretched and manipulated for new wheels so that bike, finally, is complete and looks good.

What started this was a ride on the Cannondale, the last ride of the season, with the Specialized Romin saddle from my 5200.  The setup of the Cannondale just doesn’t work with that saddle.  First, the Romin has almost no padding. With an all aluminum bike (not even a carbon fork), the lack of padding simply hurts too much over the long haul, even with $150 shorts.  Second, the C’dale is a 54 cm frame, small for a 6′ tall guy so the seat post is raised quite a bit over the top tube to get the right saddle height.  I’m also a bit particular about keeping the stem down so what I end up with borders on a pro setup, without the masseuse or flexibility.  With a drop like that, I end up putting a lot of pressure on a few places that don’t take pressure too well.  While I know better than to buy a granny seat, having an aggressive saddle with just a couple of more millimeters of padding made sense (at least so far)…and it just so happened that they had such a saddle on sale in the outlet for only twenty bucks. 

The only two things left are trying to find a nail polish to match the Cannondale’s blue paint (no easy task) and to fix a couple of the decals.  If it comes to it, I have a feeling I’ll be able to pick up some model paint in the right color and that will work just fine – actually in this case that might be the way to go as the finish should match better with model paint.  I’ve got time for that though, that’ll be something for when I need something to do.

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Sometimes it takes years to understand ‘Why’…

Often it can take years to understand the ‘why’ of something, for everything to take shape in such a way that one can see the full picture.  If lucky… or perhaps more properly stated, if we are paying attention, we can look back and have that “ah-ha” moment.   That moment of clarity when we understand that not only was the work necessary, it was worth it.

I’m going to break my anonymity a bit for this post, I hope you’ll survive, I know I will.  I wrote yesterday about feeling a little bit sad about my first day back at the office.  While it is advised to let it happen and roll with it, I don’t like being sad, about anything.  I talked to my wife for a few minutes about how I was feeling and got on with my day.  I was taught long ago to “feel it” until I’m ready to change that feeling, until I’m done with it and ready to take action.

Action I took.  I felt sad until I was tired of it and then took to fixing it.  I left the office a little bit early to drop some paperwork off to the proper people on my dad’s behalf and called my sponsor and talked things over with him on the way.  The conversation maybe lasted ten minutes and we talked about the five stages of grief and how I could move forward, a few books I could peruse and so forth.  I dropped off the paperwork and by the time I got home I was in a much better place.

Once in a great while though, you get to see the ‘why’ happen in a matter of hours.  Sitting on the couch about 7 last evening and my brother called to say that he was feeling odd because he was going through an unexpected sad/melancholy stretch that he couldn’t quite put his finger on…  Imagine that.

I gave him a chance to talk about what he was going through then explained what I’d gone through earlier – and more importantly, how I dealt with it and turned the situation into something positive.  When the conversation wound down we both resolved to pick the phone up a little more often.  Folks, I’m here to tell you, it just doesn’t get any better than that in my world.

Expectedly, I feel like a hundred bucks today.

Unexpected Sadness…

Between bowling yesterday and heading into the office today I was hit with an empty feeling that I just can’t quite put my finger on.  I certainly understand it, first day after the funeral, first day back to work…  The funny thing is that I half-expected that I’d simply be okay – with all of the time that we had through my dad’s deterioration I assumed I’d be more prepared than I turned out to be… 

Apparently this is going to take a little more work than I thought.

Fortunately, I know the formula:  One day at a time, the next right thing at any given moment.  Rinse and repeat.  Say my prayers, eat my vitamins, and ride like I can make the wheels fall off.