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Monthly Archives: August 2015

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Getting the Orange Sweat Stains Out of White Cycling Kit… It’s Easier Than You Think.

I sweat orange.  I’ve read it has to do with well water and sunscreen.  I do have a well and with 12-14 hours a week in the sun, I go through some sunscreen, but I have a water softener too so I technically shouldn’t get the stains.  I do though, and it pisses me off.  So much that I quit buying white clothing long ago…  I hate feeling like a slob even though I’m not, so it’s just easier to go with blue, black, gray or some version of tan clothing and I can avoid the problem altogether.

Then came cycling.  All but two or three of my jerseys have white in them, but only two have white in the collar.  My club kit has a white collar and I knew I was in trouble the second I opened the first package (I have two club kits – both large bibs, but I have a Large jersey for late in the season and an Extra Large for cycling between Thanksgiving and June – chuckle).

So I did what any self-respecting husband would do…  I left solving the conundrum to my wife.

I know, I know, I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already…  Look, my wife and I have a partnership.  She takes care of some stuff, I take care of other stuff.  What we have works and we are happy, so butt out.  That said, she solved my problem…

Three days ago, the collar on my mid-season jersey was orange:
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Not orange any more.  You’d be right to say, “Hey man, that’s gleaming!”  It is, ’cause my wife rocks.

So before we get to the simple, painless even, solution, let’s look at the problem.  Every now and again my jerseys don’t make the proper laundry cycle.  My wife has other things to wash before my jersey can make it into the washer.  Now being a guy and living in a very wet region with a well, I’ll wash anything after a ride, just to keep it from sitting.  My wife, on the other hand, being a conscious hippie, will sometimes let a jersey sit for 10-20 hours until we accumulate a decent load to wash.  The problem is that wait.  That’s why my stuff turns orange.  If it makes it right into the wash, it won’t stain.

So, what’s the answer?  My favorite Tide sport.  With the collar dingy and orange, my wife told me to soak the collar in a small amount of straight laundry detergent…  I just poured a couple of table spoons into a plastic cap, balled up the collar, stuck it in the detergent, rubbed it in a little bit and let it sit for a few hours.  My wife ran a load, maybe three or four hours later and that’s how it came out right there.  Easy as it gets.

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Why I Choose Cycling: Number 371

Saturday’s 70 miler was one of those perfect rides.  With an easygoing but solid 20 mph pace, and the company of most of my best friends, with two miles to go I was a little bummed we were done.

After taking my wife out to lunch, and after a much-needed nap, I went with my wife for another short ride.  Just ten miles, and exceptionally slow, but it hurt.  My wife wanted to get a ride in before our scheduled Sunday 50 with more of my friends and I wanted to keep her company.  I love cycling with my wife.  I slept well Saturday night but didn’t hold out much hope for having another perfect ride on Sunday.  Those are some slim odds after a decent seventy and a two-a-day on Saturday…

I woke up five minutes before my alarm.  I ate some cereal for breakfast and drank my prerequisite two cups of coffee.  Coffee does a cyclist good (maybe I should trademark that) [ED. A friend rightly pointed out  in the comments section that coffee/caffeine is a cardiophile’s friend – Runners love it too].  I shaved and readied myself, my Venge, and my wife’s Alias.  Fifty miles, one bottle of water, one of Hammer Perpetuem laced water.  One ERG choco-cherry energy bar and one Hammer Gel.  My wife asked for and got one Perpetuem and one Heed laced bottle.

We rolled out at 7:25 and waited at the corner for Mike, Adam and Diane on their tandem and Matt to appear at the crest of a tiny hill, about a half-mile east of us.  At 7:34 I saw the first helmet against the rising sun.  We clipped in and started, slowly, up the road.  They caught us in just under a mile and we had to give it a surprisingly fair kick to latch on to the back.  Well, my wife went to the back.  I knew my place was up front with the Tandem and Mike.  Phill joined us two miles later and we were off…

Fifty miles is a fair distance, you cover a lot of road and I ride with a lot of people who know the best local cycling roads like the back of their hand.  Good tarmac, light traffic and excellently scenic (at least for our part of the State).  We rolled steadily between 18 and 21 mph for 20 miles before stopping for a restroom break. I used the opportunity to fire down my ERG bar and once everybody was squared away we rolled out.

Diane and Adam had things to do so they headed for home early. Mike had been second bike and I was third the whole way so far but that was going to change. Matt doesn’t take turns up front anymore and we were protecting my wife, so that meant a lot of work for Mike, Phill and I.

Mike took the first turn, three miles and arm flicked me up front… We were into a fairly decent wind and I had to struggle to keep it at 19. I don’t know how long I pulled for but it was more than two miles and less than four before I flicked my wife to the front. I tried to head to the back but Matt and Phill opened a hole so I took third behind my wife and Mike. And we rolled.

Matt stayed in the back but Phill would come up now and again and Mike and I took the rest. We talked and rode and laughed. Coming into Byron we finally caught a tailwind and cranked the speed up to the low to mid twenties. With ten miles left I was getting antsy… not “I want to be done” or “I’m beat”, but antsy.

Mike was up front, I was second and Mrs. Bgddy was third. Matt and Phill were back. We were holding about 21 with a hefty crosswind… All of a sudden Phill comes around from the back taking the lead and bumping it up to 22.  I decided it was time to play so I signaled to my wife to come up and take my place to the right.  I watched her shadow move and took off.  The original plan was to simply take the front and ramp it up to 24 for a few minutes but nobody came with so I turned that into an attack off the front.  I stayed at 23 to 24 mph for a couple of miles before running into a hill.  I slowed down a bit to climb it and checked my six.  I had about a 200 yard gap and thought about sitting up and letting them catch me…  For a second anyway.  When I set back to pedaling, I easily took it back up to 23, so I decided to try to make the break last till the next intersection, about two miles up the road.  With Phill at the front I knew I had a chance, he knew I’d be back so I could watch over my wife.  If Mike took the lead, and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t sit for me attacking off the front, I knew he’d give it his best to run me down and worry about letting my wife catch up later.  I took a glance back, expecting my lead to have shrunk but I’d actually widened the gap, almost doubled it.  I put my head down and dropped the hammer – I didn’t bother looking back again.

They caught me with a quarter mile left, Mike and I sharing a chuckle before I tried to drop back…  After all of that, I think they were trying to punish me for the race pace – they wouldn’t let me back so I had to line up behind Mike and he didn’t let up much.  We turned north, five miles to go and with a delightful tailwind.  Mike pulled for a mile and I took two, at the end of which Matt and Phill broke off for home.  Jess took a mile then I took the next two.  My wife and I said our goodbyes to Mike and we turned for the driveway.  48 miles, on the nose, and another perfect morning to work on my tan lines.  In the end, I spent the entire 2-1/2 hours in the first three positions (of six).  I didn’t get, or need, any more of a break than that and that is a good thing.  I learned I’ve come a lot farther than I thought.  Two perfect days in a row.  I need to play the lotto.

The 371st reason that I choose cycling is that there are so many perfect days.

Total mileage for my week off on the bike:  220.
Last day off the bike:  July 11th
Total mileage since my last day off:  1,424

A New Way to Cycle for Fit Recovery…

With absolutely perfect weather on the horizon, Mrs. Bgddy and I are ready to take this show on the road, quite literally.  We bought a pop-up camper a month or two ago and we’re just about ready to launch. 

For certain, in a couple of weeks my wife will SAG for me at DALMAC.  This means that instead of having to pitch a tent, I’ll be cuddling up with my wife in a Queen-sized bed.  Not only that, our pop-up has a furnace…  Seriously, a furnace.  

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I’ve never been much of a camper, put simply, I hate tents. Our new pop-up sets up just as fast, is dry through even torrential downpours (we’ve tested it), and did I mention it has a freaking furnace?!

We bought that bad boy quite used, dropped quite a bit of cash on it to spruce it up, but it’s finally good to go. No more tents during hunting season, during family camping trips, and not at DALMAC. Next year, for Mrs. Bgddy’s triathlon we’ve already made plans to camp with her friends… Too frickin’ cool.

Incidentally, one of the last things to do will be to build a bike rack that I can strap to the roof of the camper (I am fully aware of the precautions and have worked around all of them).

Next year will be a season for exploring and camping in luxury. Now all I have to do is figure our how to shoe horn a 60″ big screen in there.

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Taking the Week Off on the Bike… Without Actually Taking a Day Off…

I rode my bike every day this week.  It was supposed to rain three days this week in the afternoon or evening so that should have meant I’d finally get a day off after 36 days in a row.  No such luck…  Or, can you really call rain lucky?  I think not, but that’s just me.  It actually did rain on Tuesday, but cleared up before the club ride and warm up (at 5 pm).  Then it rained again on Wednesday afternoon, before I got home.  My wife and I went out for a ride on the mountain bikes.  Thursday rain was in the forecast again, though it was supposed to clear up by noon.  It rained, it cleared up by noon, but it stayed cool, cloudy and windy, considering the 80’s and 90’s we’d had just days before.  My wife and I rode 16 miles.  Yesterday was glorious.  Mostly sunny with a minimal wind, all day long.  It was wonderful.  I got a little more than 22 in.

My lightest week over the last five was 232 miles, my heaviest was better than 250.  This week, I might surpass 200 but only if we get all of our 120 miles in between today and tomorrow morning.  In fact, the only really hard ride I went on this week (so far) was on Tuesday and the tough part of that ride only lasted 13 miles.  Tomorrow’s going to be relatively easy, maybe an 18 or 19 mph average over 50 miles and today we’re planning on 70 and I’m guessing we do between 19 and 20…  Decent, for sure, but nothing like the last five weeks where we’d ride a century on one of the weekend days.  For Mountain Mayhem:  Beat the Heat, we averaged 17 mph and we were one of the first 105 mile teams across the line.  17 in those hills was plenty fast.  The next weekend we did the Assenmacher 100 pre-ride at just a smidge under 20 mph.  For the actual Assenmacher I averaged 20.5 and could have been faster but chose to enjoy the last 40 miles rather than push the pace.

In other words, I took a week off without missing a day.  This week was the first time since I bought a bike that I was actually looking forward to a rain day.  Normally they come at the worst possible time and I’m bummed out that I’ve gotta take a day off or choose to ride in the rain.  It’s a good problem to have.

Next week I’ll pass my total mileage for 2012.  A week or two later I’ll pass my total for 2013.  I’ll pass 2014 before October is done – assuming, of course, I remain healthy.  Life is, most certainly, good.

UPDATE: 68 glorious miles in 3:25. 19.8 mph average, with only one stop at the halfway point. A spectacularly awesome ride – one of those, “This is exactly why I love cycling so much” rides.
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Rear Derailleur Index Adjustment… In 1 Minute (or less) Or Your Money Back…

How is your bike shifting?  A little slow, one way or the other, either up or down the cassette?  Up the cassette is an easier gear, down is to a harder gear.  Simple.  Right?

Well, until you’re out in the middle of a hilly 100 miler, you’re shifting a ton and your cable stretches a little bit…  All of a sudden, you shift to an easier gear and… hesitation.  Man, I hate that.  You?

Now, this post will go over the entire gamut of the rear derailleur adjustments to keep you flying and shifting smoothly…  And with a minimal amount of hassle.

First is the in-line adjusters, one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread:
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The in-line adjusters are very simple, once you pick the correct one.  See, my shifter cables run under the bar tape (or inside the handlebar now) so the adjuster on the right operates the front derailleur (left shifter).  The adjuster on the left operates the right shifter and rear derailleur.  If they’re set up properly, you simply turn the adjuster (the one on the left, that operates the right shifter) the same way that shifting is slow…  This is tricky of course, if you don’t know your righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.  So, say you’re slow going up the cassette to an easier gear.  You simply turn the barrel adjuster away from you so the little silver piece moves to the left.  No more than a quarter turn at a time, preferably an eighth.  Your shifting should improve immediately.  Easy as pie. If it’s hesitating going down the cassette, twist the adjuster the adjuster toward you.

The in-line adjusters aren’t fool-proof though.  Twist them too lose and your cable will rattle in your shifter handle – for that reason the in-line adjuster should only be used while you’re riding and then adjusted with the barrel adjuster at the back of the rear derailleur as soon as possible.  Just be sure to screw the in-line adjuster back in first, before you index the shifting.

Next, to adjust the index on your rear derailleur with the barrel adjuster at the derailleur, either do it on a stand (easier) or with the bike upside down if you’re in a pinch. Just pay attention to which way you’re turning the adjuster if the bike is upside-down.

Now remember, this is just an adjustment, not a full indexing so don’t mess with the set screws and don’t bother with half of the other crap in the web tutorials, they’re only necessary for a full indexing.

First, shift to the smallest (hardest) gear in the back.  Make sure you turn your in-line adjuster in all the way (turn it clockwise)… Then start turning over the pedals and take your barrel adjuster and twist it, one way or the other, it doesn’t actually matter, until it the chain starts clicking…  Now, turn it the other way until the chain starts clicking again…  Dead bang in the middle should be the perfect setting.  Turn it back to the middle and try shifting up the cassette.  If it shifts crisply (very little lag between the moving the shifter and the derailleur moving the chain), then shift back down the cassette…  If it’s slow going down the cassette into harder gears, simply turn the barrel adjuster clockwise.  Keep in mind, you’re pedaling all the while.  If it’s slow going up the cassette into easier gears, turn it counter clockwise, a quarter or an eighth of a turn at a time…  Fine-tune it until the shifting lag is the same both up and down the cassette.

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Because you tightened the in-line adjuster down (or at least got it to the middle), when your cable stretches you’ll be able to give the in-line adjuster a quick twist and get your shifting squared away, quickly and easily.

That’s really all there is to adjusting the rear derailleur.  For bigger problems, if these simple steps don’t vastly improve your shifting, then you can take it to the shop to have them figure it out.
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Now, for the smart alec who will complain that it took more than a minute, besides the fact that you need a bike maintenance course, I can’t give you your money back.  You didn’t send me any to begin with.  Sheesh.

Twenty Years of Lust, Love, Hard Work, Arguments, Fidelity, Devotion and Happiness; Ultimately.

Today’s post will be rather short and sweet as my wife and I went out last evening, for a bike ride and dinner, to celebrate being a couple for twenty years.

On August 19th, 1995 we went on our first unofficial date together.  We met at a dance, danced the night away and went to a local boat launch to drink coffee and learn something about each other.  We talked for several hours, about Elvis and the Beatles, about Star Wars and sobriety.

As fate would have it, Jessica was the woman God made for me, as I was the man He made for her.

We’ve been through good times and bad.  We’ve been richer and poorer.  In sickness and health.  My wife has been my best friend since that day; my hot, smokin’ babymama (in the Elvis sense, not the seedy “mother of my babies”).

We would go on to marry, to make a commitment to God and have wonderful children and build a beautiful life together…  Through faith, hard work, and dedication.  Forsaking all others,  till death do us part.

Our successful marriage didn’t come easy though.  It took struggle, work, compromise, understanding and doing a whole lot of stuff for the other that we didn’t want to do – and it ultimately took making a conscious decision to be married, not two people living single but together.  As my good friend Mike once said, “Jimmy, sometimes you wanna throw ’em like a dart but you just gotta love ’em”.  Truer words have never been spoken.

Today is a good day.  Good times, noodle salad.
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Or, in my case, good times, 14 oz New York strip, and cheddar mashed potatoes… Good enough for government work.

[ED.  Just in case you’re wondering, my drink is an Arnold Palmer – half-and-half lemonade and iced tea.  Also, an hour before the photo of my wife and I on our mountain bikes was taken, it was raining.  I was CERTAIN that I’d finally get a day off…  Well, it cleared up so we went for an easy 14 mph spin down the dirt road, ten miles out and back.]

Tuesday Night Club Ride: A Little Help for My Friend Edition

It was supposed to be raining yesterday evening for the club ride.  I’d have been at home, finally taking a day off the bike and having dinner with my wife, celebrating our 20 years as a couple…  The skies were cloudy and it was hot but with a wind out of the south between six and eight miles an hour, we weren’t likely to have anything blow in on us so I was riding – and I felt better last night than I’ve felt in weeks.  I felt fast.  My legs felt lively.  It defied logic that I felt that good but there it is.

I led for the whole seven mile warm-up, averaging near 16 mph, sitting up there with McMike feeling marvelous.  Phill, Chuck and Brad were along with us and they weren’t really close enough to catch a draft, so saying I “led” the warm-up is really more about explaining the lineup.  Somewhere along the way, Brad said that he was going to keep it to the short route.  He’s going through chemo and he didn’t want to push it too hard, for too long.  I thought about it for five seconds and offered to ride in with him.  I wanted him to ride in knowing that his boys have his back and I’m off of some huge mileage and on no rest for more than more than a month…  It made sense, at the time.

We rolled out just past six.  Chuck and I up front and it was fast right out of the gate.  We started at 19 and took it up to 21 with a crosswind.   We led for just over a mile before turning right to catch a tailwind.  The pace jumped to 28, now.  It didn’t come down,  with the exception of one stop for traffic at a busy intersection, till we turned southwest.

Into a headwind we were between 23 and 24.  I took enough turns up front that I lost count at five.  I felt spectacular, strong…  Good.  I’d say it’s been three weeks since I felt close to that spry and I’m sure the fact that I knew I only had to hold on for twelve miles improved my attitude considerably.

The rotation into the wind was pretty quick, 30 seconds to a minute, and even though the group was pretty big, we didn’t have more than 14 of us who did all of the pulling.  With only two miles to the intersection where Brad and I would split with the group, I was one bike from the front again and we ran into a bit of a weird scenario.  Matt found himself close to the front, second bike to be exact, and he’s usually not  up that far, so when the lead bikes pulled off to drop back, Matt went too.  That tends to create a bit of a traffic jam up front, not to mention that the guy who was third now has to catch up with me…  I picked up my speed, considerably, to clear the mess of cyclists dropping back and I probably held that just a little too long.  Chuck hollered at me to give him a chance to catch up – and he was right, I was a little too overzealous…  So I soft-pedaled for a second to let him catch up.  We were even-up for about ten seconds and Chuck tried to drop the hammer on me.

I noticed his cadence pick up before his speed, so I matched him.  Before I knew it we were passing 28 mph into the wind and there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth behind us.  One guy was yelling to back it off but Chuck was intent on putting the hurt on me.  We kept accelerating.  I dropped off the front and let him beat me.  I was smoked anyway and it seemed like the right thing to do after I pissed him off, even if it was unintentional.

For the first time that evening, I dropped all the way to the back of the group, ninety percent of the way to hyperventilating.  Once I caught my breath I asked Brad if we were still heading back early.  He replied in the affirmative so we backed off a little to let the group make their right so we could check traffic and make the left to head home.  We made thirteen and a quarter miles in 34 minutes – almost a 23 mph average on open roads, stopping for stop signs and the whole nine yards.  Folks, that was fast.

I took the lead and let Brad draft me the whole way back, between 16 and 20 mph.  I won’t lie, I was a little bummed out that I’d chosen to cut out early.  I had plenty of leg left, even after all of those turns up front…  It would have been an awesome 30 miles, probably a record (Phill later texted me that they’d done the 29 miles [and change] in 1:16, a minute faster than our previous best).  Brad and I talked about his health, how he was doing and his plans for the following year.  He hadn’t felt well since June so this season was pretty much a bust.  Even though I had wished I’d kept going, after the eight miles back, I knew I’d done the right thing.

We made the trip back, almost eight miles, in decent time and ended up just shy of a 21 mph average overall.  We packed up and headed over to the restaurant for dinner.  I’ve had plenty of times where I needed help from my friends, Every now and again it’s nice to have some to give back.