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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sobriety is a Promise to No One

I’ll be cutting my Thanksgiving weekend short, by a few hours or so, heading back first thing tomorrow morning. If not for my wife and daughters I’d be heading back right now…

A good friend of mine, someone who had, I believe, more than a decade of continuous sobriety, has relapsed. I received a calm, yet defeated text from his wife last night asking if I could help…

Thankfully it was a batch text that also went to one other and he’s taking today so I can take my friend tomorrow.

This is how life rolls sometimes folks, for a sober fella. Somebody did it for me so when another reaches out, I’m not about to say no. On the other hand, it always does me good to see the disease at work, kicking ass. Seeing the destruction reminds me why we choose to remain humble, teachable… and content.

My life is absolutely spectacular right now. Exciting, fun, enjoyable… My wife and I are having more fun together over the last couple of years than we did on our honeymoon… But there it is, alcoholism, lurking in the background. Studying the armor, looking for a chink… Waiting for that perfect moment, that perfect lapse in judgment to swoop in and take over. A complete power grab in an instant. It’s often that fast.

All I have to do is stop working on myself, quit going to meetings, hang out with a bad apple or become cocky… That’s all it takes for me to turn my life to shit in a hurry. That’s all it takes for me to start down that path again, to give up, one precious gift at a time, all that is good in my life again to King Alcohol. Oh, it might not be instant, there’s a chance I could put on a good show for a week or two but the end would be the same. My wife sending a frantic text to my friends, asking them to step in before it’s too late, to salvage what’s left before I hit bottom again, alone and broken.

Wrapping up the vacation a little early is going to be a gift. I’m going to get to help a friend and see the destruction up close, for the cheap price of a few hours.

It is good to be me.

Happy Thanksgiving My Friends…

Best wishes for a fantastic Thanksgiving my friends… Unless you live in Chicago, in that case I hope your day is everything you hope for except for the football game.

I’m already starting off on a good note, I got ten hours of sleep last night. Sadly, with a whole lot of snow in the forecast, we left the bikes at home and brought our running shoes instead.

Have a great weekend!

The Case for Owning a Carbon Fiber Dream Machine Bicycle…

One of the hardest parts of owning a truly stellar bike, other than coming up with the cash, is feeling worthy enough to ride it.  Once many have acquired the bike of their dreams, I kid you not, it is exceptionally common to entertain the notion, even if just for a short time, the we are not badass enough to ride such a fantastic machine – we may even hear comments from others reinforcing the thought.  This happened to more than a few of my friends and I wasn’t immune either…
IMG_5184To add to my consternation, a short while ago I watched a video created by a guy who proclaimed himself a bike guru of some sort while deriding anyone who spends more than $700 on a bike… I have more than 6 times that into just my “A” bike. I considered his advice for a minute (maybe less) before penning a blistering post taking his argument apart…  Still, his video, in addition to my own ridiculous prejudice, culminated in an “aha” moment: Why should I care what someone else thinks about what I ride – and more so, why should I be so tough on myself for owning a nice bike?  It’s just a bike.
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I was caught up in the manufactured guilt of owning something nice.  Whether it be reinforced by snide remarks about what someone else thinks my bike should be used for or made up in my own melon, the real problem I must address is how I feel about this silly problem.  I didn’t even go all out, choosing to buy the best bike that I could afford to pay cash for rather than what I could afford to finance.  In other words, every responsibility I had to my family (and Uncle Sam’s piggy bank) was fulfilled prior to my bike purchase…  So why the guilt?  I have no frickin’ idea, it’s not like I plunked down $18,0000 for an S-Works / McLaren Tarmac, right?
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Of course not!  On the other hand, what if I had?  How about $32,000 on the 50th Anniversary BMC / Lamborghini collaboration?  Goodness no.
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Certainly the most expensive production road bike (not plated in gold or bespeckled with precious gems) would necessitate a fair amount of after-purchase guilt or criticism, no?

Talk about a great problem to have!  For a recreational cyclist, this should be the litmus test for whether or not you’ve made it in life.  Do you feel a little guilty, that you don’t quite measure up to the awesomeness of your bicycle?  Bam!  You’ve made it!  Send $20 a month to St. Jude’s and call it good.  I have since gotten over my guilt and come to fully enjoy my superbike.  Look, in my limited knowledge of cash (and actually having some), I can’t possibly get to a place in my head where I’d want that $18,000 Tarmac shown above.  I can’t imagine I’d ever need that 10-3/4 pound Trek Emonda for fifteen grand and I would have to kick my own ass just for thinking about plunking down more than $32,000 for that Lamborghini/BMC work of art – as beautiful as it is.  The truth is, I’m just too practical for that.  I have the perfect bike for me, one that I find cool looking and enjoyable to ride and one that I didn’t have to take a second mortgage out on my home to own.  It’s also just enough bike to keep me honest.  I ride the hell out of that bike, just as hard as I can and it keeps me fit and happy.

As for others and what they may say about your little slice of heaven on earth, a little bit of translation is required:

What you’ll hear is some variation of this:  Damn, nice bike, too bad you aren’t fast enough for it.

Whether it be tongue in cheek, uttered by someone who is vastly faster than you (and has a lesser bike), that translates to this:  Damn, I wish I could manage my life well enough to afford that bike.

Now, if that notion originates in your own melon and is simply reinforced by what you hear from others, pat yourself on the back six times and put in an extra 50 miles, eight weeks in a row as penance.

If nothing else, you should be a little faster.

Don’t look now, a real bike ride!

This weekend was supposed to be depressing. Warm enough to melt the ridiculously early five inches of snow we got last week, thus to ride, but with constant rain. Even if I wanted to ride in the rain, my schedule was packed, especially Saturday, with swim meets both days and my sobriety anniversary dinner Saturday night. I suppose it’s actually better that it was raining anyway. At least I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

Lo and behold, we caught a break yesterday. The rain sputtered to a stop while we were taking a nap after the morning meet and lunch (the girls ROCKED yesterday, Bella dropping up to 14 seconds on several strokes and Josie taking top tens in two events [6th and 7th] after entering them ranked in the mid-20’s in the 8 and under division – oh, and she had a 1:48 100 free but didn’t touch right so she took second instead of first in that heat – had she touched, she’d have taken a top 5 in that). The wind picked up enough to dry the roads to point we’d at least stay relatively dry. At 2:30, with the Lions clearly going down to defeat, I decided it was time to ride. Mrs. Bgddy and I were suited up and out the door by 3:00. It wasn’t a long or particularly fast ride but it was glorious.

We kept to the back roads around the house, talking and laughing the whole way until the misses split off at eleven miles. At that point I put the hammer down for a bit to see how fast I could run myself out of breath with a nice cross-tailwind. I cruised hard for a couple of miles before turning around to head home. I was slowed by the wind in my face but didn’t let up until I turned onto our street with one mile to go.

I hope that won’t be my last outdoor mile of the year but there is a chance so I wanted to savor that last four minutes. We’ve got more snow in the forecast starting this evening and this is Michigan so you never know…

You know I’d like to have spent more time on the bikes but as early winter weekends go, this was about as good as they get. Spending time watching my kids race in the pool, spending time with my best friends over a fantastic dinner celebrating sobriety and good clean living, a bit of time hammering on the bike and a whole lot of being in love with my wife.

It is truly wonderful to feel blessed, to feel lucky, after almost not making it all of those years ago. I’ve never “live my life like there will be no tomorrow” because I think the notion is too simplistic, but I do live it full. I loved hard, was a good dad, ate well, had fun and even got a ride in there. That’s closer to perfect than is possible for government work.

A Note to Specialized Bicycles…

To whom it may concern,

I’ve tried contacting your marketing department in the past because I was looking for some Specialized casual apparel that wasn’t boring and, not to put too fine a point on it, I didn’t have much luck. That contact obviously didn’t go very far so now I’m resorting to this…

In addition, with the exception of your outlet page, $30 for a tee shirt? Really? C’mon man, I know how much it costs to print a decent tee and charging $30 is crazy. Knock five bucks off of that.

Now, let’s talk design. How do you not have a black tee with a big red Specialized S on the front, nothing else? Second, take that same idea and put “VENGE” on the back… Please? I can have my own made but I’d rather not raise your ire as I know how you defend the brand.

And that brings me to one more important little note… Here are a few of the Venge 2015 offerings:
VengeProRace VengeProRace2 VengeUltExpert

Now, call me crazy but when Venge sales tank this year it won’t be because the bike isn’t awesome.  Ladies and gentlemen, I own a Venge…  I know how awesome, comfortable and fast that bike is. I’ve gone out of my way to dispel the untrue myth that the bike is too stiff to be comfortable (my review is one of my better hit-generating posts on this site)… How to put this nicely… I can’t fix ugly with a good post.

First, the gray, black and red Venge is close so I can almost look passed that (though a single color for the “Specialized”, red preferably, is a must)…but the green or orange with the back and gray seat post? What the hell were you thinking? “Hey, let’s try to out-ugly Bianchi”? I don’t mean to be rude but those paint schemes deserve a stern rebuke.

So, leave a comment in the comments below. To do so you’ll have to leave an email address. The comment will also have to be approved by me before it becomes public (which I won’t do)… In other words, you’ll be anonymous. Contact me and I’ll help you fix this mess. I’m not looking for a job either. I already have a great job. We can work out a simple consultation agreement. I wouldn’t even offer if I didn’t feel you folks needed some serious help.

How to get noticed by the high school swim coach (three years before high school)

My wife took the girls to an open swim at the middle school last week… It’s a rule for the kids that if you want to swim in the deep end you have to swim a length of the pool.

Isabella, being daddy’s girl, was a bit put off by this. She is on a travel swim team after all, so she dove in off the block and did the lap, butterfly.

Well, it just so happened that the swim coach was there and my wife heard him ask the life guard, “who is that girl and what grade is she in”?!

That’s my girl and that’s how it’s done. If she puts the work in, she’ll be a shoe-in for the team when she gets to high school.

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Coaching makes a difference…

Mrs. Bgddy and I are at the girls’ swim meet this morning. We’re less than two minutes into and this happens…

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Which team has a lousy coach?

Coaching matters.