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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why cycling is absolutely spectacular for weight loss…

1 pound in 2 days – total time on the bike:  Less than 3-1/2 hours


Doesn’t get much better than that.

Don’t ride it like you stole it.  Ride it like you bought it.

One of the quotes that drives me up a wall is, “Ride it (or drive it) like you stole it”.  On one hand, it is “cute” in a criminal sort of way.  On the other, what this world needs is not more hugs, kisses, unicorns, rainbows or Care Bears.  It does need more respect for one another.  Stealing someone else’s stuff is the ultimate lack of respect – and what is often done with stolen bikes could easily called sacrilege.

Call me whatever you like, “ride it like you stole it” is…  Just… Wrong.

I much prefer “ride it like you bought it” because it implies respect.  If I were to ride my bikes like I stole them, I’d treat them like crap rather than taking the time to maintain them.

Had I stole my bikes I’d leave them out in the shed where they’d be out of the way, in lieu of hanging them with care in the spare bedroom.  I wouldn’t spend time every week degreasing and lubing the chains, cleaning them meticulously so they maintain that new look for years, changing out the shifter cables every year (or as needed on the Venge – internal routing is the BEST).

I haven’t ridden a bike like I stole it since I was a kid – and no, I didn’t steal a bike when I was a kid.  My parents bought one for me and I treated it like a rented mule.

UPDATE:  A fella who goes by “writingbolt”, in the comments section, correctly points out that we ought not spare the paint job whilst pursuing our daily cranking of the pedals, instead taking it slow and steady so as to preserve the paint job.  Regular readers of this blog will know right away that this wasn’t the intent of the post and that I certainly don’t skulk about to preserve the sheen of the paint.  On the other hand, he’s got a point and it would have helped to clarify that in the post. 

UPDATE #2:  The Fossil Cyclist recommends “Ride it like you mean it” as a good way to be more inclusive.  Eloquently put.

Talk About a First-World Problem… To Trek or to Venge.

The Trek is a great workout bike – a fantastic rain bike.  She’s still got some speed in her, she’s got a triple for climbing ridiculous grades (even though there are none where I live).  She’s got new shoes and a brand new half of a drive train I just put on her yesterday (the cheap half).  She’s comfortable and sturdy enough for a hard workout.

However, and I accept that I am being a bit of a bike snob here, she’s a bit chunky.  She’s set up more for comfort than speed and her 13 year-old wheels and portly frame make “fast” a bit more of a challenge.  Our shop owner would laugh at me, suggesting that I don’t know what a heavy bike is – and he is technically correct as I believe he was alive when bikes still had solid rubber tires.  I’m okay with this.  

On the other hand I’ve got the Venge.  She’s sleek, lean and all about fast.  I can easily manage a mile an hour better on my average on that bike…  Easy.

So, with temps around 53 today (F, of course) and yet another beautiful day (eight of nine now and nary a drop of rain, I’m beginning to think the weather forgot that we’re in Michigan – we usually can’t make it three days without rain this time of year), I’m forced into a decision: Take the Trek or the Venge out today?

There’s no more moisture to worry about, the snow’s almost all puddles in yards and fields now.  The roads survived the winter fairly well so there are only a couple of potholes to worry about (and nothing bad enough to end the life of a rim).  The only problem is residual salt.  We haven’t had a good, cleansing rain in the two weeks since our last snow storm and salting of the roads.  There’s nothing there one can see, of course, that’s all gone but we just haven’t had that one big rain shower I like to see before pulling the Venge out.  The other guys all have their high-prices bikes out too.  Come to think of it, I’m the only one who hasn’t carted…  And there is my answer.

Guess what day it is!  Guess. What. Day. It. Is?

It’s Venge Day!  Woohoo!

This photo is from a brighter, warmer time…

Think of that Progressive Insurance commercial with that “It was the best day” jingle – only substitute my Venge for Flo.

I love my problems today!  Well, most of them…  I do have others that really do suck but they’ll work out in the wash.

UPDATE:  Venge Day was cold but spectacular, with one exception.  A mile in and I’m up front, feeling spectacular.  The Venge feels every bit as awesome as I remembered it and we’re rolling steady down a country road, no traffic…when we roll up of a farm field where the farmer had just sprayed maneuer to fertilize.  Unfortunately he failed to turn the sprayer off before pulling out a onto the road.  Yes, I had to roll through cow shit a mile into Venge Day.  Ah well, such is cycling.  47.65 miles in 2:32:30.  Great mileage for this early in the season – and it was reinforced just how special that bike is.  

How To Dress For Whatever You Call This Season We Are Having Right Now

A blogger from my neck of the woods – well, a couple of hours farther north. The neck gaiter is a FANTASTIC tip.

Fit Recovery on Cycling and Maintaining the Discipline to Ride Fast.

From the day I brought home my first road bike I was faster than average, average being about 16 mph – and I was riding an old aluminum framed bike with down tube shifters.  Oh, and the bike was about one or two sizes too small.

I didn’t care that it hurt to ride the bike a little bit, I was going to be fast, dammit.  I pushed that little bike just as hard as I could and I did indeed get fast.  I suppose I was fortunate, I was too cycling-dumb to know that riding a bicycle isn’t supposed to hurt like that so I simply pushed on, choosing to believe that the “pain was weakness leaving my body”.  Say what you will, it worked.

I brought home my second road bike just three months later and rode that one even harder.  Being a carbon fiber frame (and the proper size, thanks to Matt Assenmacher), riding fast was easier – but what average people do with an upgrade is they choose to enjoy the same speed with decreased effort.  I chose to translate the ease into more speed.  

Before long, I was invited to ride with the advanced group on Tuesday night.  I still can’t keep up with the leaders, who race regularly, for the full 30 miles but a group of six to ten of us hang on for the first 20 and then take a three mile shortcut to beat the racers back.

Still, on a fairly difficult little track with a few really nice rollers, we’re holding a 22 mph average on open roads.  With fewer hills, I can do even better, 24 mph over 60 miles or almost 22 for a full hundred.  My point in dragging out the stats is not to brag, those are nice speeds but they most definitely are not brag-worthy.  They’re good, above average, but nothing to jump up and down about.  The reason those numbers aren’t so great is quite simple:  I do have my limits.  I have a point where I say, “You know what?  That’s fast enough, that’s good enough”…  I have my limit for how hard I’m willing to work at being fast and I know I could do better with a little more ‘want to’.  The speeds are included in this post for context only.  

Now for the fun part:  To get even that fast hurt.  It was hard.  It took a lot of convincing the committee in my head to shut their collective yap and buck up.  And it is absolutely fun as hell.  Uh, well if hell were fun, which I can’t imagine it would be…but that’s…  You know what I mean.   

Sadly, natural talent and being thin will only get a person so far and for the vast majority, that’s somewhere south of 20 mph – oh, how I wish this weren’t true, er, for me at least.  

Being fast on a bike takes a lot of want to.  It takes training, hard work, a lot of sweat and commitment.  Fast takes discipline.

It should come as no surprise that the easy part is putting in the saddle time.  I can do that with a smile on my face.  The hard part is setting my mental bar high enough to follow through with my enjoyment of going fast.  

Performing above my natural ability, while I’m doing it, has points where it sucks.  Often, not always, I run into points where I want to quit pushing so hard and just enjoy a nice easy ride back.  In fact, last Sunday, one of the stronger guys I ride with pulled into the parking lot huffing and puffing.  He said something to the effect of, “It never gets any easier.  I worked my butt off all winter long and he [Greg – dude is unfairly fast] still killed me”…  There’s always someone faster.

See, to a point as I get faster, I am able to ride faster more comfortably.  There’s no doubt about this, my body gets used to the effort.  After a 20 mph effort at the beginning of the season I’ll be smoked.  At the end of the season I can do 22 on the same route and feel better afterward – I go through this every year.

That example is physical.  Where the mental part of that equation comes in is that I have to think myself into the willingness to push that hard, several times a week, just so I can hit that 22 at the end of the season.  I’ve written about this many times – I have to dig deep enough that I push myself till I puke, still knowing that this won’t be enough to keep up with the really fast guys I ride with.  That’s entirely mental.

One blessing I have gotten down to a science is the ability to be okay with telling my brain to shut up.  Jens Voigt is famous for “Shut up legs”, but the legs are not my problem, it’s my melon.  My problem is, “but I don’t wanna”.  My problem is, “this is too uncomfortable”.  My problem is, “I just want to take it easy for a bit”.  My problem is, “conditions suck” or “the road is too bumpy”.  The answer is a simple middle finger to all of that crap. 

The hardest thing I’ve done in cycling has been to make “shut up brain” the instant answer to those thoughts.  It used to be that I would contemplate them, give them validity.  I would let that first thought become a second and a third until I was off the back, only to spin easy for a quarter-mile then pick my pace up and find that I had plenty left in the tank.  That I could have done better.  That my brain was mistaken.  

The discipline is never giving into that crap.  As we used to say when I was a much younger man, that shit harshes my buzz.  The discipline is remembering that I am not the thoughts that enter my melon.  I am what I do with those thoughts.

I choose to be fast simply because fast is fun.  Unfortunately it just happens to be a shit-ton of work.  

First Casualty of the Season…

That little black spot on my arm?  Yeah, that’s a splattered bug.  First casualty of the season.  The really good news is that it was warm enough to go without arm warmers today!

60 F and sunny.  Thank the Lord!  I smiled the whole sixteen miles today.

Sunday through today:  136.74 miles.  It’s going to be a GREAT year.

It was a matter of time and Time ran out…  My “nothing says over 40 than…” moment.  

I never would have thought the words, “Nothing says over 40 like” would hurt.  I am over 40, happily so.  I make no apologies for skipping out on silly fashion statements that shout, “I respect no one, including myself”.  Fashion statements that might make me a little more hip, yet silly at the same time.  For example, the saggy pants syndrome, ear gauges and tattoos where they show (neck, forearms, etc.).  

Alas, the fella who writes PEDALworks wrote a post in which he mentioned single-spacing after a period.  In the comment section, I inquired about the reasoning behind the single-space.  He hadn’t replied as of this morning so I Googled a string that included “single space after period” and got this post:

Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces After A Period.

I actually got misty in my left eye.  No shit, solid as a rock me.  I can remember making fun of my long-since-passed dad about his being over 40.  Now I’m that guy.  Dammit, when did that happen?  The thoughts flashed through my head pretty quickly but they lingered as I read on.  It turns out that we now single-space because a word processor spaces letters more evenly than a typewriter, what I learned to type on, did.  Two spaces is so automatic that I didn’t even realize I used two in that first paragraph.  I did in this one too.

In any event, the author’s snark (snark that I use a lot btw) earned her some pretty stiff rebukes in her comments section.  Enough that she wrote another mea culpa post bemoaning her mistake, “ageism” and so forth.  Humorously, I knew reading the first post that the author was over forty…  How could you be “ageist” if you throw yourself under the bus and are simply writing a humorous post about single-spacing after a period!?  I digress.

Her post went viral and that brought the pissy-pants crowd out of the woodwork.  See, I was emotionally effected by the title.  I may be an awesome forty but I’m still forty.  I was, much as I’d rather dismiss it, affected by the post.

And therein lies the rub.

However, that’s not the end of the story.  Since when have we become such a silly, pants-wetting lot that for someone to poke a little fun becomes an egregious error?  Ageism?!  Firing someone simply because they’re old could be ageism – assuming of course, the old fella isn’t hitting on everything under 40 in a skirt.  Poking fun at the fact that there exists a group of adults who learned how to type on a typewriter is plain-old funny – even if that bus rolls over me too.

This claiming of politically correct moral high-ground for the simple joy of ripping someone a new ass is getting way out of hand – I touched on this in a post about holding the door open for ladies the other day…  The sad truth is, it says more about one who would claim indignation for things so trivial than it does about the original author.  

Write on Jennifer, you got me.

And before you head to the comments section to complain, I did a stretch as a bed wetter as a kid.  Touché bitches.

Cycling and the Mental Difference Between Limping Into Spring and Sprinting.  A Metaphor for Life, Somehow.

This time last year I was a bit of a basket case on my bike.  This reality showed up here, on the blog, but what made it into my posts was always tempered. First, I’m not a person who concentrates on much of the negativity that can creep into my melon – the more I allow negativity to have its place, the harder it is to beat it down the road so I used my doubts as a tool to motivate me.  For example, if I have a thought cruise through the grey matter that says, “You’re in trouble, keeping up is not supposed to be this hard.  You took it too easy through the winter.” I accept that this is true and that I simply have to work harder so keeping up isn’t quite the chore.  I don’t dwell on those thoughts and I don’t let them hold me back or get in the way of getting to where I want to be.

Now that I’ve got the year behind me, in hindsight, I hadn’t left enough sweat pooled under my  bike on the trainer.

I knew I was in trouble about three miles into our first club ride.  My breathing was screwed, my legs hurt a lot more than they should have and I didn’t, but did, want to be there.  It took me a month of Sundays (and every day in between, plus some) to get caught up.  I had to outwork all of my friends, who were as good as, or better, cyclists than me.  I did it, I caught up, but the process sucked.

Not wanting to go through that s#!t again this year, I hammered the trainer starting January 1.  Harder rides, harder gears, intervals that made me puke and want off the bike.  Dammit, I hated the intervals…  The first time was kind of cool, puked a little bit, it hurt, but it was alright.  It was the next time.  My lungs and heart were like, “Dude, are you a dumbass ‘er somethin'”?  The third I think, I even put that workout off a day or two.  Same with the fourth.

Then I made peace with it.  I finally came to the conclusion that I could pay now or pay later.  I tried “later” last year and it took me what seemed like forever to catch up.  After that, I was able to mentally get into a zone where I could deal with the interval workouts and I hit them even harder.  By the end of February I knew I was in good shape.  I could feel it – and more important, I could see it in the mirror.

We’re five days into cycling season and I’m very happy with where I’m at.  I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m even with or slightly better off than most of the guys I normally ride with.  This year I have no catching up to do so as long as I put in my saddle time and work hard, this will be a much more enjoyable season.  The mental difference this year over last, as you might imagine, is huge.  Instead of being tentative and trying to hide during rides, I’m out front working harder and getting stronger – and I haven’t even gotten my fast bike out yet.

All too often I can let random thoughts affect outcomes in my life, whether I take action or procrastinate.  Or, on the other hand, I can treat the negative thoughts, the fear-based thoughts that stand in the way, as what they are:  Garbage.  As I get on in this crazy world I’ve come to the realization that my dreams are often sloppy when it comes to garbage removal.  Every once in a while something slips through the cracks and I have to take those thoughts to the garbage can while I’m awake.  I often refer to my thoughts as the “committee” and it turns out, I have a choice in who runs the show.

Remember, just because a thought enters your mind, it doesn’t necessarily have validity.  Sometimes it’s just trash that the dreams dropped on the way to the garbage can.  I am better than the committee wants me to believe.

Fit Recovery on Opening Doors for the Ladies… Oh Boy.

Jabrill Peppers from the University of Michigan football team may find himself in hot water after “tweeting” about an incident with a feminist.  The woman became incensed that he held the door open for her.  Of course, I have a tough time imagining a life so good that this is what I have to choose to be angry about, but I digress.

The kerfuffle brings up a very interesting point, of course.  Most men, as boys, are taught as much by their mothers to hold doors open for women as their fathers  and typically it’s the father who backs the mother’s lesson up as the “right thing to do”.  In fact, in Jabrill’s case, he was raised solely by his mother (or so his tweet says).

Often the debate turns to “should men hold the door open for women”.  It is a mistake to get drawn into this.  Of course men should – without exception.  We should also, should we meet someone like the woman who chose to take offense at something so innocuous as a man respecting a woman by holding the door open for her, feel sorry for women of that nature who are so misled, misguided and disgruntled.  Think of how angry you have to be inside to get upset that someone holds the door for you!  Think of how little these people think of themselves that the act of a person holding the door open for them signifies anything thing more than, “After you”.  The truth is, that’s rather sad.

Mrs. Bgddy added that it’s not about a person’s sex, and I agree (in word and deed) that it’s not even about men holding the door for women, we hold the door for any person because it’s the right thing to do, it’s courteous.  Secondly, she stated that “anyone can tell themselves any story they want about why you’re holding the door, hopefully it’s just that you’re doing it because you’re a nice person”.  Amen to that.

The Cultural Issue…

The issue was raised yesterday on a sports talk radio show that I listen to, what do you do in terms of respecting other cultures in terms of holding a door open?  The instance they used, obviously, was Middle Eastern, mainly because they’re often easily identifiable by the clothes they wear… So, being in America, should I not hold the door for women who are required by their religion to wear the traditional Muslim garb of subservience?

Now that’s an interesting pickle from my perspective isn’t it?  I’m just an every-day American mutt, how should I know whether or not I should open a door for a Muslim woman?

Here’s how this works:  I am an American in America, the U.S.A.  It is our custom that we hold doors open for women.  If other cultures don’t like that, well they came to the wrong country.  If I were to move to France or Italy, I wouldn’t expect them to change for me because to expect so would be stupid.  It’s that simple.  I will not now or forever more, refrain from holding the door for a woman, under pain of arrest and persecution, because the act offends such a tiny sliver of a minority of granola crunching feminists that to worry myself over it becomes ludicrous.  In a world where we need more good, I won’t choose otherwise for a ridiculous few.  Hell, could you imagine?  A French Newspaper:  “Big Daddy Jim of Fit Recovery fame (LOL!) just arrived in France.  He finds body odor offensive so quick, everyone put on your deodorant for the week he’ll be here”.  Yeah right.

If you disagree, answer this question for me:  Should I disrespect my mother who taught me that to hold the door open for ladies was a display of respect?

You have the right to be upset at whatever you choose, it’s a free country.  On the other hand, I have the right to ignore you.  If you’re one of those who thinks I’m going to throw being a decent human being under the bus in support of whatever silly agenda or cultural difference you may have, well you’ve got the wrong guy.  In this ever-changing radical environment that pits women against men at every turn that has been created by ridiculous fringe groups and grotesquely silly “intellectuals”, the old adage holds true:  “No good deed goes unpunished”.

In the end, my wife is the only woman I answer to so I’ll defer to her.  Well, let me amend that…  My wife first and then both of our mothers (if they don’t clash with my wife) are the only women I answer to.

UPDATE:  It must be said, this post assumes that the man in this situation is not being a cad.  It assumes that the male is respectful.  Catcalls, whistling, grunting, the checking out of bodily parts, etc. all fall under “being a cad”.

UPDATE 2:  A person who goes by “browney237” commented that taking offense to someone holding the door open is a perfect example of a “first-world problem”.  Exactly.

Three Days, 90 Miles and a Great Start to 2015.

Not much bad to say about the start of this cycling season – I couldn’t have wished for a better start.  Three days in, just a hair under 90 miles (I rounded up by a half-mile or so)…  We had our first club ride last night and it was brutal.  At first it looked like we’d be treated to a rather subdued ride with several of the guys I ride with in the parking lot tending to their steed and getting bundled up for a chilly ride.

I say chilly but it was 45…  Last week it was like 20 though, in the sunshine, midday.  The week before that the mercury was hiding in the bottom of the thermometer, afraid to show it’s red ass.  In other words, it was arm warmers, leg warmers, jersey and a vest “chilly”.

We started out with an excellent 16 mph easy seven mile warmup.  I warmed up easily, just enough to be comfortable, within maybe five minutes.  By the time we got back, the parking lot had filled to capacity with the heavy hitters – so much for an easy first club ride.

I started out up front to get my first turn out of the way early…  At least that was the plan.  When I fell back a hole opened up about three riders back with a train of guys deciding to hide this one out.  “F@ck it, if that’s the way it’s gonna be, you never get fast at the back.”, I thought.  I took that spot and pulled like a mule every time I got to the front and it sucked.  I made it 14 awesome miles before I’d had enough.  Fortunately my buddy Mike dropped before me so when I turned around to take a shortcut, I bumped into him quickly.  I whipped around and got onto his wheel.

I had a tough time for the entire rest of the ride, all the way back to the finish line.  I pulled out front when I had to but they were short, usually 3/4 of a mile to maybe a mile and a half for the longer tries.  I did my very best and finished absolutely smoked.  Mike really bailed me out after I went out way too strong to start.  We hit the finish line at 29 miles and some change at a 20 mph average, right on the nose.  Considering the temperature (it cooled off as the evening progressed), that I was on my Trek and that last year the first club ride average was below 18.5 mph, last night was a huge gain over last year.  I haven’t even pulled out the Venge yet!

A few items of note:
1.  While the ride was hard and it did hurt a lot, it wasn’t as bad as last year’s first ride in terms of my legs giving me problems.
2.  Even though I spent more than twice the time up front than I did in last year’s opening ride in those first 14 miles last night, I was able to hang on longer than I did last year.
3.  All but two of my friends fell off before I did – and those two spent most of the ride hiding at the back.
4.  I’m in really good shape this spring.

Oh great interval workout, I shall never doubt thee again.

For the first time, quite possibly in more than a decade, when the alarm went off this morning I fell back to sleep for twenty minutes before I caught myself and woke up.  I still made it into the office with 25 minutes to spare, but my God is it nice to be tired!  I won’t be able to keep this torrid pace up of course.  I’ve only ever crested 800 miles in a month one time (maybe twice) and I’d top 900 if I had the time to keep this up.