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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Buy a Gun to Fight Terrorism!

Look, half of the political class in the USA can’t even figure out what to call it, which is quite amazing when you think about it…  They have no problem comparing Republicans to terrorists in silly, over the top speeches but they can’t quite seem to be able to make the leap when it comes to simply calling terrorism what it is.  Funny that.

Add to that, the same dopes want to bring over a bunch of Syrian refugees that we know are going to be stacked with ISIS members (we know this because they said they would do this).  Now, if you do the math (and Charles Krauthammer did the math), if just one percent of all of those refugees are ringers for ISIS that would be TWELVE Paris kill squads.  Folks, while the Statue of Liberty does read, “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”, it does not say “Send me your terrorists who would rather you convert to their religion or die.”  See the difference there?  Big difference between breathing free and dying.  Just for the record.

At the same time, we have a situation in this country that has police fumbling over how to keep their jobs rather than how to fight crime.

With this ongoing ridiculousness, call it what it is, buffoonery, there’s only one answer if you don’t want to become a lemming:  Arm up, baby.

Make your politician understand that you’re pissed…  Peacefully.  Buy a firearm, legally of course.

No, don’t bother calling your politician, they won’t listen anyway.  They’ll just try to convince you that you’re wrong, that “the intelligence community will vet refugees against all available imformation”.  Meanwhile, they simply and conveniently leave out that there’s no information available.

Brilliant.

Buy a gun.  Whether it be the Joe Biden special – a beanbag shotgun that you can actually, legally fire off the back porch without getting arrested [ED. There’s no such thing – unless you’re actually Joe Biden, who might get away with being so stupid as to fire a shotgun off his back porch, only because he’s Joe Biden.  On the other hand, having the Secret Service there affords him the easy ability to quibble] or a no $#!+ real pistol, believe me, the party in question watches gun sales numbers almost as closely as focus group results.

Then, learn to use it.  Train hard, train well, train smart, do it legally…  And if you see something that looks like what happened in Paris, light that shit up like a Christmas tree.

Or don’t.  You can duck and cover, shelter in place, be aware…  And wait on the Administration to swoop in and save you.  Good luck with that.  Just remember who threw you under the bus in the first place…

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Cycling for the Avid Enthusiast: Quality vs. Quantity

I’ve been cycling for four seasons now…  Avidly.  I love everything about it.  I love the bikes (some more than others), the teamwork (for roadies), the dirt (single tracks), the vastly improved relations with my wife, the clothing, the food, and still fitting into the same slacks size I did when I was 25 – I just fill everything out better now.

There is only one thing that really chaps my ass.  One thing that drives me up a freakin’ wall.  I run out of “want to” so I can’t keep up with the A group on Tuesday nights.

Now, I’ve made my peace with it, for the most part.  I’m truly just not willing to train as hard as the other guys do and I’m not willing to take rest days like they do.  Oh, I ride every day I can, whether you think it’s a good idea or not.  I simply don’t care, because it’s just right for my melon (the gray matter between my ears).

That said, I am fast enough to be of use and to enjoy myself with the eight to ten guys and three women I ride with on a regular basis.  That should be good enough…  Alas, I’m a cyclist and we all know it takes a little convincing to maintain that belief.

The question, however, is Quality or Quantity.  Both have their merits to the avid cyclist, but is one better than the other?

I’ve tried both but I’ll hold my opinion for just a minute.

Quantity

Now quantity comes with one blazingly awesome quality:  Normal people will think you’re awesome.  As in, “You rode a bicycle a hundred miles yesterday?!  What’d that take you, 15 hours?!”

“Nah, four and a half hours or so.”

That’s usually followed by a blank stare and a slack jaw.  If you’re lucky, even a little drool on the fellas lapel.

Or possibly you get a sucker…  “Yeah, how many miles do you ride in a year?”

“Meh, six or seven thousand miles.  Enough I could ride to La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) California.  And back.  And back there one more time, because I forgot my arm warmers.  Or, if I wanted to do a one-way trip, I could ride from my driveway roughly to Bolivia (just north of Argentina, but don’t cry for me because it’s all good).”

My buddy Mike, a formidable 62 year-old avid enthusiast, is a quantity kind of guy…  And he’s retired so he can afford to be.  He rides enough in a year to get all the way to Argentina, and not just the northern tip…  He’d have enough left over to actually explore the country for a minute before catching a plane home.

Quantity is more about sheer volume than speed.

Quality

Quality isn’t quite as Sexy.  Quality is for us working stiffs.  “Hey, I’ve only got an hour to get my smile on after a long day at the office, so I do what I can and then hammer the longer miles when I’ve got time on the weekends.”  This is the world I live in.  Interval days on the trainer in the winter.  Hill sprints (intervals) in the springtime, lots of time in the mountains on vacation…  The harder the ride you can fit into the short time you’ve got, the better.

Quality is pretty fun to talk about too:

“So how long does it take you to do that 30 miles?”

“‘Bout an hour and fifteen minutes.”

The problem here, of course, is that if you’re talking to a Time Trialist, he (or possibly she) will likely laugh at you.  Also, if you’re speaking to someone who has, God forbid, never ridden a bike, they’ll convert that into car travel time and likely be unimpressed.

That really doesn’t answer the question though, does it?  Which is best for the avid cyclist?

Whichever makes your face look like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Or this, this, this, this, this, this, this, or this, or this, this, this, and this:

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To get really fast, I have it on authority, it takes both.  Time and Intensity…  But we’re avid enthusiasts.  We are in it for the good times and noodle salad.

[ED:  If you were expecting this to be a serious post that actually tried to dissect Quantity vs. Quality, I apologize.  If you thought this post was a serious look at whether to choose one or the other based on the information presented, please put down the serious pills.]

A Not So Typical November Sunday Ride.

Sunday morning, for mid November, was almost perfect.  The temp was in the mid 40’s as the sun peeked over the trees.  For once I actually slept in – 5:50 in the am…  There might be three or four days in a year that I wake up so late so I woke up rarin’ to go.

My wife and I were supposed to meet our normal cycling friends at 8.

Coffee drank, dressed to ride, Venge polished and looking spectacular, we rolled out promptly at 8 and waited on the group at the end of our road… They crested the small hill about a half-mile from our road at 8:07. My wife and I clipped in and started out at 15 mph to warm up our legs. The group consisted of my best cycling buddy, Mike, Matt, the owner of our local shop, and Adam, an ex-racer who is exceptionally fun to turn a mile or 75 with.

Adam started in on me, just a tenth of a mile after catching us… “You know Jim, this isn’t all about fashion. You have to be visible.”

I retorted, “Hey, you might have a point about my gray and black jacket but you’ve got no standing when it comes to this jersey. This is Hi-Viz as you get.”

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I’m third from the front in the right line, just behind (and to the left, looking at the photo) Carla in the Hi-Viz yellow. That’s as bright a red as you get…

With a wry smile Adam snapped back, “No, red is never Hi-Viz. This color [pointing at his own HV yellow jersey] and that [pointing at my wife’s HV orange light jacket] are the only two ‘visible’ colors. See Jim, sometimes you have to choose function over fashion.”

I didn’t miss a beat, “Adam, I don’t remember seeing your flashing tail light. You know, sometimes you gotta choose function over fashion to be visible in the fall.”

He asked, as he faded back, “Hey, where’s your mirror”…

Dammit. Of course, he doesn’t use a mirror either.

We headed into the wind and saw two cyclists ahead, well three really… Carla on her single and Dave and Sherry on their tandem. The groans, including my own, were all you needed to hear. We were about to be pummeled repeatedly about the head, shoulders and quads.

Dave is fast. Dave and Sherry on their tandem are brutal but bearable. For a few of us. For others, they are a sentence to get dropped.

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Phill joined us shortly thereafter but much to our surprise, Dave didn’t ramp us up… He just matched our pace and kept it there.

Then, again to my surprise, Greg, Andy and one of his other racer buddies appeared on the horizon. Nobody groaned. We accepted out fate. Let the flogging commence… Four Cat 3’s? No way we were getting out of this unscathed.

They didn’t jump to the front as is usual though. They latched on at the back to get used to the pace…

“What sweet hell is this?” I thought.

The only thing that happened was that we kept our decent (for us B guys) pace and we talked about what a perfect day it was. The racers talked about Ice Man (the single biggest dirt race in Michigan – it brings out all of the strongest riders).

We easily had enough cyclists for a double pace line,
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almost unheard of in mid-November.

Into the wind, which was fairly formidable out of the west (technically WSW) we were just under 20. Guys and girls would take turns between a half-mile and a mile and shuffle back. Most took their lumps up front. I took plenty, only making it all the way to the back of the group one time.

The drubbing never came. Roughly 25 miles in and Greg, Andy and the third racer fella turned for home, and we finally headed east to enjoy our first tailwind of the day. Immediately, Carla, Dave and Sherry and my wife formed their own breakaway. My wife didn’t last long and started to fade back to the rest of us. I decided to see if they were going to keep us together or blow us up so I went to bridge the gap. As I came up on my wife, she asked if I was going to let them go… all I said was, “No” and I set to chasing them down.

Maybe a half-mile later and I was on them. I simply said, “You know, you’ve got a formidable gap”.

They immediately dialed it back. I almost fell off my bike (figuratively, of course).

ED: A quick note for noobs, here. There are two places I see a lot of noobs struggle in the faster groups… The first, when the pace surges to race pace, there’s nothing you can do – you either recognize it and make the jump to light speed or you’re off the back. The second is at turns and stop signs. The faster folks accelerate to speed after a slowdown or stop right now. They don’t take their time. It takes ten seconds of 80-90% effort to catch up after. Learn to become comfortable with acceleration.

The rest of the gang caught up and Dave and Sherry took the speed up to the low to mid twenties (mph), with the smaller group we were back to single-file.

A ways back, as the gaps started forming and I came back to help everybody catch back on, Adam told me that he was hanging back to enjoy the ride no matter what, so if I wanted to stay with the lead group, he’d look after my wife…  After slowing Dave and his wife down twice and bridging another gap, just ten miles from home I decided to stick with them to see how much distance we could cover.  It was Dave and Sherry on the tandem, Matt, Carla and I took the caboose position.  With the tailwind, it got quick in a hurry.  We went from 22 to 25, that fast and the speed climbed from there.  We passed 27 several times, probably north of that, but I really didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at my computer.

We turned north, with a cross tailwind and I hazarded a quick look back.  The trailing group was keeping up pretty well, they were only a half-mile back or so.   Unfortunately for them, we didn’t slow down even though the wind wasn’t helping as much anymore.  Uncharacteristically, I was feeling quite stellar.  Good enough that I was feeling quite guilty for taking up the rear for so long (but not guilty enough to do something about it).  We hit the home stretch, just 3-1/2 miles to go, heading east with the tailwind, and Carla, Dave and Sherry continued north to head home.

With that, it was just Matt and I.  I had plenty left in the tank and was happy to pull Matt the last three miles home so I asked him how fast he wanted to go.  He asked if we shouldn’t just take it easy so the others could catch back up and I loved the sound of that, so we just let the wind blow us home at an easy 20 mph.  The others never did catch up so a quarter-mile from my road, Matt and I said our good-day’s and I turned around to ride the last bit with my wife, Mike and Adam.

There was a little consternation with my wife because I left her without saying anything but that was easily made up for.

Believe it or not, there was no napping after the ride yesterday too.  No Lions game on the TV…  We quickly showered and went over to my hunting buddy’s new house to help him move in.  No rest for the weary.  Seven guys and our wives showed up to help.  We unloaded two storage units into a moving truck, a covered trailer and a pickup truck and moved everything to the house in four and a half hours.  Bill and his wife fed us in return.  We headed home at about 5:30, watched the rest of the Patriots game, then about five minutes of Sunday Night Football and I was out like a light.  8:30, and I slept like a rock until 4 this morning.

We don’t get too many days like yesterday (maybe three that I can remember).  We took full advantage of it.

Cycling and Some Down Time, the Good, Bad and Painful.

August and September were huge cycling months for me, more than a thousand miles each month.  August was a perfect 31 for 31 days,  averaging more than 30 miles a day. And it was good.

Then came October and hunting season I went from 200 miles a week to 50 or 60 on alternating weeks… I wasn’t sedentary, of course, I was hiking anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half a day, carrying anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds the whole time. Still, it wasn’t the same as rocketing down the road on the Venge.

The end of October into November, we were up north hunting two weekends in a row… Throw in some rain days and my mileage plummeted… 400 miles in October and I’ve only got 125 so far this month…

So, the bad and the painful of this little saga (and I do mean little): It never ceases to amaze me how much slowing down hurts once I’m used to riding on a daily basis. My back started hurting first, but not so much a simple pain reliever couldn’t knock it down… There were other little aches and pains too but nothing that amounted to more than thinking, “This aching sucks”.

There’s a good side to this though…

Now I’m back into decent mileage again… I rode Monday and Wednesday… 40-60 mph wind gusts Thursday and Friday meant off days but nice, if cold, weather meant my friends and I were getting some miles in this weekend. Now, like many amateur cyclists, I was all kinds of nervous about being able to keep up. My friends, who don’t hunt, have been riding while I’ve been up in the great outdoors. I assumed I’d lost some fitness to them.

I was wrong.

We started out heading dead into a gnarly 10-15 mph wind, me first. I was on my Venge and pulled for two miles and headed back. My buddy Chuck, on his brand new stealth Giant TCR Advanced Pro kept my pace and I’d really been working so it appeared as though my fears were confirmed. Mike did the same but Phill dropped us back 1 mph… For the first ten miles or so I thought I was going to be bummin’ but I just kept cranking on the pedals. Mike started struggling first. We were still heading dead into the wind and it was starting to pick up. He was staying up front for a mile or two but his speed was sagging. Then Phill… Chuck and I however, kept our normal pace. 25 miles in and I was still taking two mile pulls and we finally headed for home with a tailwind.

I was feeling surprisingly good. Strong even. I found myself pedaling easy at 23 up front, with plenty left but I kept it there so I wouldn’t blow Mike up.

At least for yesterday, I was completely wrong. The break did me well. I came out of the rest in better shape, rested and rarin’ to go.

Go figure.

I can’t help but wonder what that ride would have been like, had I thought myself into struggling rather than keeping an open mind.

You might want to read that last sentence again.

Now we’ll just have to see how today goes.

UPDATE: Even better than yesterday… Bridged a couple of gaps, easily, and just enjoyed the ride right up until I parked my bike. 42 miles and some change. Perfect weather and good friends.

Our friend Greg snapped this:
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That’s my wife, up front with Dave and his wife…. She does a fella proud. Enough cyclists for a double pace line in the middle of November?! Unprecedented yet awesome.

When a Bike isn’t just a Bike.

My first pair of in-line skates cost me $450.  Not speed skates, hockey skates.  The first thing I did was take off the brakes. After I wore out the bearings that came with them, i upgraded to ceramic bearings – I think I spent more than  $100 on a new set…  I don’t know where those brakes are today but I still have the skates and they’re still awesome and fast.  I just have to change the wheels from time to time.  They’re 22 years old, long enough ago Reidell actually made inline skates…

$450 is a bunch of money to spend on a pair of skates but I could average almost 20 mph over 16-24 miles if I gave it a good effort. 

That’s not the direction I took with my first adult bike.  I bought a POS from Sears and I hated it.  I maybe rode it a dozen times before I gave it to a newly recovering drunk who had no way to get to work.  No license, no money for a gas, let alone enough for a car payment. I never thought about riding a bike again… Till 2011.

My first bike, a garage sale POS, was unimpressive, four sizes too small, and miserably heavy. I paid $20 for it. Then a friend who belonged to the same running club took pity on me and sold me his backup Trek 3700 base model mountain bike for a hundred bucks… My company was just crossing the five year threshold back then and we were still on an “I can’t believe we’re doing this” beans and weenies diet. For the first time in my life though, at 41 years-old, I had a bike that really worked… well.

That simple base model Trek mountain bike was my first, “This isn’t a bike, this is happiness on wheels!” bike.

I suppose that’s just the best way to put it… Happiness on wheels.

I’ve since gone through four more upgrades, each bike better than the last, to a point where I’m finally at those $450 inline skates in a bike…

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Now we all like to say that it’s not the bike that matters, it’s the engine that really counts. You’ll hear, from time to time, that components don’t really matter once you get passed the mid-grade level (Shimano Claris or 105, SRAM Rival, Campagnolo Chorus) or that you don’t need a carbon fiber frame, that steel or aluminum is just as good…

There’s a lot of truth to that notion. There’s a lot of BS in it too.

For instance, I have a 16 year-old Shimano Ultegra groupset on my rain bike… Those components work better than my 2013 105 groupset on my good bike. The difference is noticeable, obvious. The performance of my carbon fiber frame, compared to my aluminum frame is so outrageously better and more comfortable, I’m having a tough time putting it into words without coming off “over the top”.

A bike, for me, used to be a way to get from point A to point B, simple as that. Or, a bike was just a bike.

Today my bikes are my escape, my way of taking the longest amount of time I’ve got available to get from point A back to point A. Today my bikes play a huge part in socializing with my friends. Where many people throw parties or go out for a night on the town, my friends and I, my wife and I, go for a ride. My bikes are my means of staying fit, trim and healthy, of staying grounded, level and content in an otherwise chaotic world.

So yeah, a bike may just be a bike to most, but not to me… and for that, I am grateful.

The point is, my friends, if your bike isn’t going to be “just a bike” for you, don’t be afraid to splurge a little bit, responsibly… A nice bike is worth the investment.

So you want to be a pro cyclist?

I thoroughly enjoy this guy’s posts…  He puts everything so simply and perfectly….  If you haven’t happened across his blog yet, check it out. From the perspective of a one-pro cyclist… In this post: What not to eat…

A bit of nostalgia – http://wp.me/p6Enpd-3X

You want me to pay for WHAT?!

Illegal immigrants.

We can’t ship illegal aliens back?  We can’t round them up and put them in detention centers and ship them home?  It’ll break up families?

Hey, if 10 or 15 million taxpayers decided to simply quit paying taxes, do you think you’d hear those same arguments?  Do you think the head of the IRS, who illegally targeted legal citizens and conservative groups for government intrusion (government sponsored rape, from the sound of it), would say, “Well, you know, we just can’t find them, and even if we did, if we did anything about it, it would break up families to take their money.  Kids would struggle with hunger.  So we’re just going to let that go.”?  I don’t think so.  It would look more like this:

10 to 15 million people would have everything the government could get, confiscated, each and every one of them, without a second thought.  And within a year.

Just sayin’.

I’m not saying I’m for deportation, I like some of the other proposals floating out there – guest worker programs and such, with capped registration periods…  I’m just saying, if the shoe were on a different foot, you wouldn’t hear the government whining about enforcing the law.

Next, these goofy kids who are complaining that they want free college and they wish for the government to confiscate money that rich people make to pay for it…  Well, I’m not in the top 1% but I’m in the top 10, so I’m going to take this personally.

First, you can lick my sweaty a$$#0£€ after a century ride, you petulant f@(&.  Second, you’re dumb enough to assume that I’m too stupid to miss the cap…  Folks, I can legally make it work out so I’m  $500 under the cap, each and every year, without suffering consequences – and you can bet your sweet ass I would.  In fact, it wouldn’t even be that hard…

See, as major corporations, our tax estimates have to be a little more intricate than “estimates”.  My accountant does monthly financial reports for my company that go into the tax portfolio…  I know, to the dollar, how much I’m going to get nicked by the IRS.

All I have to do, if I get close to making too much, is simply turn down work.  “Nope, sorry, too busy.”

My corporate tax rate stays at 50%.  By $500.

Now, here’s the real bitch, you confiscatory pissants…  The people whom I pay to do the heavy lifting, the hard work of building your $#!+, would obviously have to be laid off during those pullbacks to keep me under the cap.  In other words, your ridiculous desire to make someone else pay for something you want has unintended consequences (get used to that word, it actually has real meaning once you leave the nursery) that hurt people you never intended hurting.  The f@(k I wouldn’t, too – to avoid going from 50% to 90%?  Are you kidding me?  And if you think I’m harsh, look at all of the companies that cut hours to avoid Obamacare…  Who got hurt?  The workers, not the corporation.  Nice work.

What do you think this is?  Look at it this way, let’s use One Million Dollars in income as the cutoff – now, if this really was the cutoff, I’d have little chance of ever attaining it, that’s just too much to hope for for what I do, but I digress…

If I make $1,000,000 right now, the government takes half, or a little more, between State and Federal taxes.  $500,000 goes to me, right?

Now let’s say we get into confiscation taxation (Unconstitutional by the way, equal protection under the law…  it isn’t challenged now because it’s not worth the fight, but it would).  If I make $999,995, I keep $499,997. But if I make $1,000,005, I only get to keep  $100,002.  Making Ten Dollars more means I have to pay an extra $400,000 in taxes?  You’re frickin’ nuts if you think anyone will get close to that.  In fact, rather than college, maybe you should go back to grade school for some remedial classes because you are truly dumber than my left nut.

Of course, it’ll be graduated, the confiscation… but whatever.  You get the idea.  I’m not going to get anywhere near any cutoff, wherever they put it.  My kids would be the best-paid floor sweepers in America before I allowed that to happen.

Finally, while we’re ranting about stupid political crap (that’s the Royal “we”, there’s only one of me), allow me to express, with glee, just how beautiful it is to watch those Liberal bastions of miseducation, the “corporatized” universities, struggle through this.  To see that bogus education turned around to impale those who taught it in the first place is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen in politics.

Unfortunately the kids didn’t get the meme (memo):

We don’t actually believe any of this shit.  We just use it to f@(k Republicans.  We’re supposed to be immunized by teaching you this drivle in the first place!

7,000 Miles!

My first year, after moving from strictly running to triathlon, I logged in what I thought at the time was a pretty impressive 1,800 miles (and some change).  My second year I rode, ran and swam 5,300 miles – and I was pretty sure that this was about as good as a fella with a full-time career could hope for…  Then I broke that with 5,600 and change the next.  Last year I beat it again but I was just shy of the 10,000 km mark.

This year, that was my goal.  6,250 miles.  The 10,000 km milestone…

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I had 6,984 miles when I snapped that photo yesterday afternoon.

I started off with the idea that I’d do an easy ride, kind of a tour of awesomeness to cap off a really fun year.  You know, don’t bother looking at the computer, just keep the head up and enjoy the view?  You know how that went.  Sure, I started out slow…  My second mile was right at 3 minutes.  My third? 2:50.  Fourth?  2:40.  Dammit, I just can’t help it!  From there, I made a deal with the knucklehead speed demon in my melon committee and dialed it back to 19.

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I stopped by the LBS to say hello to the owner, a close friend of mine and a truly spectacular guy to turn some miles with…  6,994.5 miles with 5-1/2 miles to my driveway.  Finally, on that last mile, I took off my sunglasses, wrapped them around the back of my neck and sat up.

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In the failing light, honest to God, I timed it to the exact mile.  7,000.  On the nose.

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This has been a spectacular year, but what have I got to show for it?  After buying my wife a really nice Specialized Alias for Christmas last year, we were able to turn at least a few thousand miles together and she’s now a regular part of the group.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours with my wife and friends staying in tip-top shape and having a fantastic time of it.  I’ve been able to eat like I mean it for all of the calories I burned.  More than anything though, or maybe this wraps that all up with a nice red and black bow, all of those miles gave me peace.  As with my friend, Dan (from Iowa), cycling brings me closer to my Higher Power – it gives me all of the best this life has to offer, makes every relationship I have, better.

It may sound a little silly, but riding my bike makes everything that much more bright and enjoyable.  All of our trips – Kentucky, Boyne City, Lansing to Mackinaw in four days…  Camping with my wife (or that awesome suite they upgraded us to for free in Kentucky for the Horsey Hundred)…  Going for rides with my daughters and my mother-in-law and step father-in-law…

Folks, those who have also been bitten by the cycling bug will know exactly what I mean.  Cycling makes looking at life through the eyes of a child  (while maintaining the responsibilities of an adult), easy.  And as we all know, that’s the key to a happy existence.

And this, just a week before my 23rd sober anniversary…  I picked a good month to put the plug in the jug.  November is Gratitude Month.  I am definitely that.

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Cycling: It gives you a great, um… Smile.

Thou Shalt Not Quit… Or, Conversely, Thou Shalt Continue to Quit: But Let’s Keep it Simple, Shall We?

My life is awesome, there’s no doubt about it.  People often ask me how it came to be that I’m such a positive guy – if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, perhaps the question has even crossed your mind…

My regular response to the question, “How are you doing?” is this: “Spectacular, if I were doing any better, they’d pass a law against it because they’re jealous.”

There are a few really good reasons for my contentment with life, and only one of them has to do with riding a bicycle.  The biggest is pretty simple though:  I have low expectations.  When I sobered up, I didn’t expect that everything would get better all of a sudden, I expected that I’d have to work for things to get better and then I hoped that things would right themselves.  If they didn’t, I did what I could to make them right and if that didn’t work, I did what I had to do to accept the situation (or person) for what it was.  That work, by the way, was learning how to do the next right thing in any given situation.

This encompasses a lot though, it’s not a one-liner that can go on a bumper sticker.  Accepting and forgiving someone who has entirely taken advantage of you, or worse, assaulted you in some way, ain’t a walk in the park (I know, it happened to me).  I went through a lot of sleepless nights, still have them from time to time, to be as happy as I am.  One thing is for certain though, I wound up with a good life because I didn’t quit.

One of the cool bumper sticker slogans that I currently enjoy is, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outside”…  My wife and I are friends with a couple who, on the outside, have it all.  She’s a high-paid attorney, he’s a high-paid construction engineer.  They have a three story house on the lake, nice cars, fancy clothes…  In fact, I know quite a few people who have put them on a pedestal as “having it together”.

Their daughter sees more of daycare workers than her parents.

Where the mistake is made when we see them, on the rare occasion they actually have time, they give the appearance of having it all together at dinner on a Friday night but we never see the sacrifices they make to have that façade in the first place.  For instance, the husband normally works from 7am to 8 pm and even has to throw a Saturday in there now and again…  Folks, there ain’t no way (I know that’s a double-negative, it’s for effect) I’d work hours like that.  I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve got for those hours, no amount of money is worth trading in my enjoyment of life today, with the hope that I might live long enough to enjoy it later.  See, that’s really the trick.  What’s missing is the desire to give up what someone else is willing to give up to get what they have.  In my friend’s case, he’s willing to trade in evenings with his family for a little bit (not much, mind you) more on a paycheck.  Once I look at the full picture, there’s no way I’d want what he has if I had to give up what he does…  Make sense?

Why, you may wonder, is that a key to happiness?  Looking at the whole building, rather than just the façade, completely demolishes envy.  Plain and simple.

For my happiness, I’ll never quit…  Or should I say, because technically I did quit drinking, I’ll never quit quitting.

Have an awesome day – and if that’s not possible, lay the foundation today that will lead to happiness tomorrow.  That’s the work.

Or not, I’ll be okay either way.

 

A Bike Ride Will Make It All Better…

Now, I was an active kid.  In the winter, we’d lace up our hockey skates.  Wait, let me back up a second, we had hockey skateds because the girls had figure skates, and you’d frickin’ kill your friend, if he was unlucky enough to fall in close proximity to you, by impaling his skull on the front teeth or that goofy prong that sticks off the back.  I know this because my goofy ass parents told me it was okay to play hockey in a pair of second-hand figure skates…  One of my friends fell, at exactly the same time, as I dug those stupid frickin’ teeth into the stupid ice, as I was digging in to chase down the puck.  What do you think happened?  Yep, the back little sticky-out part went right up his nose.

Folks, you say blood doesn’t bother you.  When you’re ten and it’s pouring out of your friend’s melon because you had your stupid girly ice skate, that your mom said would be okay to play hockey in, up his frickin’ nose…  Dude, suffice it to say, there’s just some $#!+ you can’t unsee.  We had brand new hockey skates that Christmas, and that’s the last damn time I ever wore figure skates.  I digress.  A lot.  Oh, and I’m old enough to call figure skates “girly” and get away with it, Brian Boitano, so don’t get me started.

In any event, we’d lace up our hockey skates at around 10 am on Christmas break or a weekend (I’m old enough to still call it Christmas break too) and we wouldn’t see my parents till it got dark, at 6…  Dinner time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I could have eaten a horse and gotten away with it back then.

Then, during summer months, I’d get on my bike and ride seven miles to my best friend’s house just to play basketball and shoot BB guns.  Then I’d still have to ride home after a day of playing basketball, “Does it hurt to get shot in the ass with a BB gun? Why yes it does”, and “Hey, let’s see how far I can jump your BMX bike into the pond without breaking a bone”…

Other days, it was baseball from 9 am till dusk, a quick dinner followed by a neighborhood game of kick the can.

However, not once did my mom ever say to me, “Jim, (She just called me Jim back then, because I was not big and far too young to be a daddy…) why don’t you go for a bike ride?  It’ll help you feel happier.”

Why is that?

Anyone who has gone for a good, hard bike ride knows you feel like a Million Bucks after.  Everyone knows that you feel like you could kick a grizzly’s ass after a fast 10k run…

Folks, I don’t tell my own kids to do that to improve their attitude.

Think of the difference we could make in the world if we did though.  What if our kids learned early on that when life sucks, the best thing to fix that perspective is to push on the pedals real hard for an hour or head out for a good 45-50 minute run… It took me three and a half decades of pumping air to figure out that I could use fitness as an attitude adjuster…

So, after work yesterday, I went out for a ride…  Actually, I wrote “after” but lately it’s just been a continuation of work, broken up by tiny periods of sleep…  Saturday, Sunday, 6, 7 o’clock in the evening (that’s a long day when you’re out the door at 5:30 am)…  hell, I was on the phone most of the time when I was in my hunting blind – I had to recharge my phone mid-day just so I had enough battery to handle the afternoon calls…  It’s not a wonder I didn’t see many deer.

Anyway, as soon as I walked in the door we threw on our cycling stuff and headed out the door…  16.62 miles and 56 minutes later, I was right with the world again.  Fortunately that “right as rain” feeling is short-lived, I’ll have to do it again, tomorrow (and Wednesday through Sunday too, just to make sure it sticks).

I’ve talked about this with my girls, of course, explained that I ride because it makes me feel so much better, but I’ve never actually sent them out for a run or ride so they can get their head straight…  It’s interesting, don’t ya know?  I’ve been into running, triathlon and cycling for fifteen years now and this whole concept just dawned on me.

Good food for thought, methinks.

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Better than a figure skate up your nose…