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Monthly Archives: November 2015

My MAGIC CPAP Machine… Only $5,000.

If you know anything about CPAP Machines, you’re sitting there wondering how I got so screwed, paying five grand for a CPAP machine…

After all, a simple Google search will turn up dozens of CPAP machines around $300-$900.

Example:

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You’re missing something though… My CPAP machine is magic.  Mine works retro-actively in a mobile fashion when combined with a decent diet to ensure I never need a real CPAP machine to sleep:

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Of course, what I’ve spent on that bicycle isn’t representative of the cost of a normal bike, mine weighs about the same as a bowling ball – not much when you’re talking about a machine that can top 30 pounds fairly easily…  In most cases, you can get a fairly decent bike for less than the cost of a decent CPAP machine and still forego the mask…  Either way, inexpensive or exorbitant, being able to breathe freely without a mask strapped to my face is worth every freaking penny.

It takes some effort on my part.  It’s still a bike, you have to pedal it, but that’s half the fun anyway.

Try it, you just might like it.

Power Line: The Week in Pictures: Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee Edition

Power Line: The Week in Pictures: Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee Edition. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwsI7YkCc

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Bicycle Maintenance 101 with Professor Jim: You can’t Break it Bad Enough the Shop Can’t Fix It

The number one rule for maintaining a bicycle is that you can’t break a bike bad enough the shop can’t fix it.  So you may as well get after it.

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My steering on the 5200 has been vexing me since, I don’t know, a year after I bought the bike but it never rose to the level I had to mess with it…  Until two weeks ago.  This all started about six weeks ago when I started getting the bike ready for the fall. 

Being my rain bike now, the 5200 sees all of the nasty stuff I won’t ride my Venge in.  That means the lower steering bearing gets massively abused.  I noticed a little play in the fork on my first ride on the bike after getting it set.  Now when I write “a little”, I mean “almost imperceptible”.  I am a little silly about these things.

Anyway, the normal fix for this is ridiculously simple.  It’s a threaded setup (Trek went with threadless the year after my bike was made, in 2000) but it’s just as easy either way.  Loosen the quill stem, loosen the lock nut, tighten the lower set nut, tighten the lock nut, check for wiggle, line the handlebar up, tighten the quill, done.

Unfortunately when the sealed lower bearing is worn out and you tighten the stem up, it’s too tight for the bearing to operate smoothly.  In my case, the steering still worked, it just pinched a little bit so I could feel I the drag when I turned the handlebar.

So I’m sitting there Friday and I decided I’d had enough. The bike is going to be painted in a month or two and, against shop recommendations, I was going to get the steering sorted right now.

Having a bit of knowledge about the threadless system, I commenced to pulling everything apart, assuming it would look exactly like my ’91 Cannondale (that I’d serviced once or twice in the past).  I was mistaken.  I didn’t panic though, because I’ve serviced the threadless headset on the Venge a couple of times now and the 5200 was a mix of the old-school and the brand new.  Quill stem, sealed bearings and spacers… 

I took the fork off, pulled the spacers off, pulled the top bearing out, cleaned it and the head tube.  Then I pulled the lower bearing and gave it a spi… it barely moved.  I knew that meant a new bearing.

While I had the front end apart, I’d been wanting to lose a couple of spacers so I figured I’d take the fork in to the shop with the bearing and have it cut down while I was at it.

I disconnected the break cable and took the worn out bearing, the fork, the two spacers I wanted gone (so the mechanic knew how much to cut off of the fork stem) and the set nut (just in case – so the guys could see that it was a Shimano 105 headset) to the shop, figuring I’d either luck out and they’d have a new bearing or have to order one.

I walked into the shop and explained everything. Mike, the mechanic, looked at the bearing and immediately went to the computer to look for a replacement. No luck, though he said he could clean it and repack the bearings and get it close. Then we picked out a replacement assembly and settled on a Chris King, the only one available in the size I needed.

I picked the bearing up the next morning and had everything back together, properly adjusted (including the brakes) ten minutes after I walked in the door, and now my steering is properly loose and the fork is tight. It’ll easily last until I’m relegated to the trainer for the winter and can take my bike in for its new paint job. I’ll just use the Cannondale on the trainer.

Now, next to the set screws on a derailleur, the steering assembly is about as difficult as it gets. Well, maybe assembling an S-Works crank would be worse… Actually, yeah, that’s a lot tougher – but most people aren’t lucky enough to have to deal with that. Point is, the only really hard part of working on bikes is knowing the proper steps involved in making the repairs.

So look them up and give it a go… If you mess up, just take your steed and ask them to show you where you went wrong. You’ll likely get your bike fixed right away and you’ll learn something.

Just remember, if they hook you up, tip the mechanic.

Winter came just a little early…

Yep, a bike ride on the old Venge is pretty much out of the question today…

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We got a little snow yesterday.

So Endeth the Cycling Season?

I’ve got the bottom steering bearing from the 5200 in the shop.  Just the bearing…  Now, I thought I’d taken that apart once before.  Uh, yeah, that hadn’t been taken apart since it was put together in 1999.

Funny thing about the steering bearings – they’re easy to ignore, until the steering doesn’t work right.  Well, I’d had enough with mine so I took the whole thing apart to clean it up to see if I needed a new bearing.  I did, the bottom one.  I cleaned everything up and took the offending bearing to the shop.

Skip to the standard bicycle story…  I needed to buy two of those bearings ten years ago because they don’t make them anymore.  So now I’ve gotta buy a whole new steering assembly, it’s ordered and on the way.  It’ll be installed when the bike is painted.

In the mean time, they cleaned the old one up and repacked it so I’m going to pick the bearing up today so I can at least ride the bike for the last month of the season. 

Perfect, right?

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Uh…

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Crap.

Originally they were calling for 3 to 5 inches.  We’re up to 6 to 8. On the funny side, we were planning on a club ride for tomorrow.  So much for that.

Ah well, it’s supposed to head back into the 50’s so no, this won’t be the end.  However, it’s definitely time to pull out the trainer and dust it off. It’s just a matter of time now.

Today, it’s swim meets all day long until we head out to dinner in Fenton at my new favorite BBQ Restaurant to celebrate my 23rd Anniversary, my youngest’s report card and my oldest’s 3.93.

Ah, life is good.  It sure as hell ain’t easy, but it is good.

A Funny Look at Different Horn Honks…

Car Language – http://wp.me/p5kHs3-ky

The Ignorance of Cyclists Supporting a Carbon Tax

I read a post this morning written by a cycling friend.  He is a true granola crunching, cycling instead of driving, “what are you doing about your carbon footprint” cyclist… They’re looking at a carbon tax in his home Country, and he makes it sound as if he would escape much of the tax because he commutes to work on a bike.

Unfortunately he’s looking at this whole thing as a citizen, not a politician.

Allow me to explain how this whole mess works, start to finish.

See, first, this whole notion of a carbon tax starts off as a conversational topic to separate people. The aloof people who care, opposed to those little people who aren’t smart enough to get it. Foodies are the same… “Oh, you’d be NON-GMO too, if you really knew what was going on.” All the while, science clearly shows that GMO foods are clearly less obtrusive than cross-breeding. Still, good luck convincing the true believers of this (same thing with immunizations btw) but I digress…

From there, the politicians get a hold of it and turn it into a tax on businesses and abusers and the do-gooder can rejoice for saving the universe. The businesses really don’t care too much because they work the cost into the price of everything they make but they also figure out how to exploit loopholes.

The politicians spend the money before it rolls in because they have smart people crunch the numbers so they know exactly how much is going to come in. These smart people fail, however, to take into account that businesses aren’t run by stupid people either, so when those loopholes are exploited, the government’s take comes up shy of target… That’s when the government turns to the average working stiff. See, all tax collectors and politicians know that average people go to Bob’s tax service to get their taxes done. They don’t have lawyers and teams of people leveraging the system. The average guy (or woman, of course) is easy money.

The politicians go after cars first, and the count up the Billions. They cover their shortfall and spend the rest. Everything is wonderful. So wonderful, the politicians spend the money a decade out… Meanwhile the people switch to bicycles and revenue plummets.

The world is saved, right?!

Wrong. Government can only expand, otherwise your hurting babies and helpless women, so they go after cyclists because they’re pumping out carbon too, in the form of CO2.

All of a sudden, mister fancy pants cyclist starts getting hammered for riding that extra 30 km on the way home from work because he’s pumping out extra CO2. His carbon footprint is 150 km a week, plus leisure rides on the weenend, over what politicians deem necessary.

Mister fancy pants is no dummy though, he’s not paying. See, the cycling tax is calculated on a cell phone app, so he just rides home and leaves his phone there so he can turn out some free miles. Politicians, who already counted and spent the money, get wind of the no good, dirty, rotten tax cheats so they make every new bike off the line be fitted with a GPS device that tracks mileage for taxation. They require a retrofit device be placed on all old bikes and the police are given devices that check to make sure your bike has its legal GPS chip… It’s for your safety, see? Those chips are also seen by computers in all vehicles so we never have to have bicycle accidents again.

Mister fancy pants sends out his $90 a month in additional taxes to save the world. At least he can take solace in that.

He still takes out his bootleg mountain bike from time to time, a 2015 Stumpjumper from a long-lost day when he could exercise in freedom and peace… without big brother looking over his shoulder.

Ah well, freedom is never really free. Mister fancy pants was a part of a movement to save the world. At least he can take solace in that.

Cycling in the Cold: You Sweat, You Die and What to Wear

With late fall on us, we’re into the tough cycling season now.  More days than not, it’s easier to stay inside than it is to suit up and ride.

The common thinking is that riding now won’t matter for next season anyway, so why bother?

Well, there’s truth to that line of thinking… as well as some fallacy.

If you live where it snows in the winter, you’re either riding a fat bike, a mountain bike with studded tires or you’re sweating puddles under your bike on a stationary trainer.  Either way, you’d have a bit of a point.  Where this gets dicey is that you’ll undoubtedly gain confidence riding in the cold because you’re obviously a badass and knowing that will absolutely help to make next season faster,  stronger and better.

I once had a cutoff for cycling:  50 degrees (12 C).  Four years later and that’s 20 degrees (-6 C), and the funny thing is I wear almost the same clothing for 30 degrees that I did for 50…  The difference being, I used to sweat the same as I would if I were riding in late August or September.

You sweat, you die.

I watch the survival shows, Dual Survival and Dude, You’re Screwed being my favorites.  I used to be keen on Survivorman but I’ve since come to see Les as a bit of a drama queen.  One of the favorite refrains, whenever cold is involved, is “you sweat, you die”.

I go through the same thing when I go hunting… It’s 30 degrees out and you’re going to be sitting dead-still for hours at a time so you’d better have a bunch of layers and warm outer clothing. On the other hand, we have to hike a mile into the woods over some very hilly terrain. To beat this, we unzip our bibs and jackets, keep hats in the backpack, wear only light gloves out… and we still have to watch our pace so we don’t sweat. If we go too fast, we’re going to break a sweat. Clothing soaks up the sweat, gets wet, and you’re screwed. If you make it an hour or two sitting there like that, you’re mega-tough… and possibly hypothermic.

Cycling isn’t much different, minus the drama… “You sweat, you die” becomes “you sweat, you pedal faster or go home”. Sweat too much and you will get cold and miserable as soon as you slow down and getting warm again takes much longer than under cool weather conditions. Period. End of story.

My goal, when I’m out in the cold, is to have no more than four small blotches of sweat on my base layer when I get back… two under my arms, one on my chest and one on my back. Achieving this is rather simple. If I’m just a little chilly at the start, by the time I get warmed up I’ll be good.  It’s well publicized that this is the way to go but personally, I had a tough time grasping how chilly “chilly” should be.  Put simply, If I think, “This is gonna suck”, that’s chilly enough.  Three miles down the road I’m not even thinking about it any more.  If, on the other hand, I have enough clothing on that I’m thinking, “This isn’t so bad”, I need to shed a layer.

Where I run into trouble is my legs. They hate the cold. It’s like they refuse to work properly below 60 degrees so this makes for trouble when I’m riding in temps 40 degrees below that.  Generally speaking, and this is because I’ve never bought a full pair of tights (which I’m sure would help considerably), when it’s below 40 I resort to a pair of knee warmers over my leg warmers…  This, at least makes the freezing temps bearable.

So, with the exception of my legs, I’ve adopted a minimalist approach to the cold that I’ve found works quite well…  Going from the ground up, full merino wool socks (an absolute must), toe covers or foot covers (below freezing), leg warmers, knee warmers (if necessary), cycling shorts, base layer (I’m partial to 32 Degrees Heat wear lately – one of the best base layers on the market and they go for less than ten bucks at Costco), jersey, long sleeved jersey (or jacket for under 35 degrees), neck gaiter, hat and melon protector…  Full fingered gloves are obvious.

Last Saturday was a perfect example of when I get my clothing right.  It was 36 degrees out (maybe 1-1/2 C) and I had on my base layer, a light long sleeved jersey and a thermal long sleeved jersey…  I thought to myself going out, “This is going to suck”.  Three miles later I was comfortable and other than the fact that I didn’t wear my knee warmers over my leg warmers, I was perfectly comfortable all morning long.  When I got home I had the small tell-tale sweat blotches but I wasn’t soaked with sweat…

So, if you’ve avoided riding in the cold because you get too cold, try shedding some layers before you give up on early spring and late fall cycling.  You might just enjoy it a little more..

[ED:  As a caveat, I ride faster than the average bear (19-20 mph average)…  If you’re slower, say 12-15 mph, you may not have to worry too much about sweating.  Take that into account before you shed too many layers.]

Why Daughters Are the Best….

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That’s my anniversary card, picked out by my youngest.

Enough said.

The Beginning of a Month Long Celebration – 2015

A few years ago I wrote a post, that others have said was my best ever.  I can tell you this, I sure loved writing it – and I thought it was my best:

November is a special month for me. I celebrate every single day of the entire month. I celebrate having the ability to have a wife and two fantastic daughters. I celebrate being on the right side of the grass, pumping air. I celebrate being able to love my wife. I celebrate having my business and a home, food on the table and two cats. I celebrate running and cycling. I celebrate having friends. I celebrate having a family. I celebrate having some of the best in-laws on earth. I celebrate having 10 fingers and 10 toes attached to two hands and feet and two arms and legs and a big ole’ slow pumpin’ heart… I celebrate, for 30 straight days, the fact that I can celebrate all of this because of one simple, profound decision made 20 years ago this November 18th…

Click here for the rest, if you haven’t read it yet.