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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Wen 1800 Watt Portable (Camping) Generator Review

My buddy Bill and I have been using a 5500 watt Honda generator for electricity at our hunting camp site since the 2009.  A 5500 is quite loud, very heavy  (100+ pounds) and can really suck through some gas.  On the plus side, with everything we’ve run, we never challenged it.

This year, now that I have the camper we’re staying in, my father-in-law, a retired electrician, recommended picking up a 1,000 watt generator for it.  Once I found out you could get one for less than $200, the search commenced immediately.

After a considerable amount of debate, we settled on the Wen 1800 watt portable generator…  it had four qualities we liked:

High marks in shopping site reviews…  The only people who didn’t like it had a tough time writing a complete sentence without a misspelled word.  From Home Depot to Walmart, most gave it exceptionally high marks.

It was rated as quiet, less than 65 decibels…  Nothing I hate more than having to shout over the generator.

Runs on regular gasoline…  Many of the generators under 1300 watts are two-stroke and run on a gas/oil mixture.  No thanks, too many steps when it’s freezing outside.

It sips gas…  5500 watt generators are awesome but 10-12 gallons of gas for a long weekend gets silly.  The Wen said it got more than six hours on just 1.5 gallons of gas.  Nice.

It’s light.  At just 51 pounds I don’t have to worry about my wife being able to lug it around like I would my Generac.

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This was our first weekend with the Wen 1800…  It exceeded my expectations exponentially.  First, it is amazingly quiet.  In fact, in the woods, Bill and I couldn’t hear it running 100 yards away.  Yes, we actually checked.  Though we didn’t put a tape measure to it because that would be a silly waste of time.

It does have to be grounded with a metal spike in the ground (wire and spike not included) so that’s a bit of a pain, but other than that, it’s an excellent camping generator.  A couple of easy pulls (I’d lay money on my daughter being able to start it) and it’s up and rolling – and we got 7-8 hours on 1.5 gallons of gas.  In fact, the fuel economy is so good, we went through less than five gallons over a three night, three day weekend in freezing temperatures, with the furnace running almost constantly and with quite a few evening movies watched.

Equally important, it powered everything we threw at it and still had enough left to charge the camper’s battery.  The only time we made it work was to run the coffee maker, but it has an extra gear for the tough loads…  The Wen 1800 watt gas powered generator is a perfect camping generator.

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The lights don’t even flicker when we hit the brew button on the coffee maker.

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Hunting camp has never been so good.

Oh, I almost forgot!  The Wen retails for less than  $200.  Unbelievably awesome when you consider a decent 5500 watt generator goes for between $750 and $1,000.   

I couldn’t be more pleased with that purchase.  The only purchase I’m happier with is this:

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Gun Control Activists, Hunters, Democrats, Republicans Unite, Rejoice: Congress Sends Bill to President Outlawing Bear Attacks on State and Federal Land During Hunting Season! Bears Stunned, Vow Supreme Court Battle.

DP – Walla Walla Washington

In one stunningly bold and unifying move, Congress shocked America by presenting a Bill to the President that would effectively end bear attacks on deer hunters during bow hunting season.

The last pure bastion of the American hunter, bow hunters have been required, for decades, to carry a sidearm in the unlikely event that a bear attacks them and they lack the desire to become a bear burrito.  This will no longer be necessary as the President has said he will gladly sign such a groundbreaking piece of well-crafted legislation.

Bear attacks are responsible for dozens of deaths during hunting season as they look to bulk up for their long winter’s nap by raiding “picanic baskets”.  The DP interviewed one Yogi “the” Bear who was said to be incredulous at the notion that he would have to maintain a safe distance of 100 yards from any hunter lest he be charged with felonious loitering in the proximity of an unarmed hunter.  An offense punishable by not more than two years in a federal pen.

The Bill also sets up a penal system for lawbreaking bears that, in a stunning show of solidarity, will be staffed by PETA members who promise to show the bears a new, healthier vegetarian way of life to help them move to a more sustainable, kinder, caring adulthood. These re-educated bears will be affectionately known as care bears.

The main impetus behind the legislation was to help hunters avoid having to break the law by carrying a loaded firearm during bow hunting season.  While those who possess a concealed carry permit could carry a sidearm, those who didn’t possess such a license were required to break the law if they were to thwart an impending bear attack but now that the attacks will be illegal from the moment the President signs the Bill into Law, hunters will be free to leave their firearms at home because no bear in his right mind would break the law.

And therein lies the rub.

Now, the sad thing about this farse of a “news article” is not the ridiculous nature of Congress and the President attempting to control things beyond their control. They do that on a daily basis.

The sad thing is that you didn’t know the Federal Government is blocked by the Constitution from passing laws dictating what States will do with State land. Well, that and the fact that you think passing laws will stop bad people from being bad. But hey, let’s not be negative.

Efficient Mobility

I’m up at deer camp again and today will be a complete waste for hunting till about five this afternoon… so I’m making the best of it by working on a bid for a condo project that’s due next week.

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We have no power, other than a small generator, but I can still do my job as if I were sitting in my office. 

This kind of portability wasn’t cheap ($23,000 give or take, with the software – but that’s not including the camper, camping stuff and the generator) but at times like this it’s worth every penny. 

I love it when people complain about technology (myself included at times, with how easy it is for people to get a hold of me when I don’t want to be gotten a hold of)…  Without technology I’d be wasting this day twiddling my thumbs.  Instead, I can get some fun work done, sipping some hot coffee.  It’s all good.

I love my job.  Well, most of the time.

Need an Energy Drink for a Boost? You’re a Sissy.

Now that I’ve got your attention and started off on the wrong foot, let’s go a different direction with this…

I would love to tell you I’ve never downed an energy drink, that a Monster never appealed to me.  I’d be lying.

I had just started a construction company, a fairly big one too.  Not that being a trunk slammer is bad, but try funding an office with a warehouse plus two cars, a mortgage, a wife and two kids on good looks and want to…  It sounds frickin’ awesome but it’s hard as hell.

I was working late, staying up late and with all of the stress, not sleeping well before waking up early (3:30-4:30 am) and doing it all over again.

In addition to a daily pot of coffee, I turned to energy drinks every now and again to stay awake for my drive home from the office, often not knowing if I’d have the cash to make my once-a-month salary.  Every penny I made over that went back into the company.

I used those drinks, maybe a couple of dozen times, to push myself farther and harder than people are supposed to go, right?

Wrong.

I used those drinks to work harder at the expense of learning how to work smarter.

I used those drinks, over a period of three months or so, as a crutch because I was a sissy.

It’s been six years since I felt a need to drink a Monster.  I’m coming up on my ninth year in business (five is darn-near impossible if you look at the stats).  I’ve done better than a Million Dollars in sales (another near-impossibility), in each of those three years and I may double that next year (with a little luck, double and a half).

I get more, deeper, satisfying sleep.  My only vice being a need to ride a bicycle go work out any residual tension from the day.  No booze, no drugs, no pills…  No crutches.

I learned to work smarter, not harder.

Energy drinks are for sissies.  For babies. People who rely on them are to be pitied, even looked at as “sickly” or “weak”.

They’re for people who would rather rely on a quick rush (usually followed by a crash) instead of doing the hard, disciplined work.  Energy drinks are worse than that, though….

Energy drinks aren’t a typical crutch, where once one can walk on their own steam, they can’t wait to set the crutch in the corner to conduct observational experiments on its ability to collect dust.  Energy drinks are far more insidious.  Before long, the user can become reliant on its use, come to need it to perform even menial tasks.

Given enough time and reliance, they become a shortcut to the long road, because once you grow up and set them aside, you’re going to have to learn how to walk without the crutch before you can run.

Wings my ass, that’s an anchor.

Just a thought.

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Is this November or MAY!? The nicest Tuesday Night night ride weather ever.

That’s right folks, November 3rd and it was almost too warm to wear my Sugoi Zap jacket that I bought specifically for this ride…  Unfortunately, the nice weather brought out a lot of guys who normally wouldn’t bother.

See, the nature of the night ride, the last club ride of the season on the first Tuesday after Halloween every year, is a friendly calm pace around 18 mph (average).  Riding in the pitch black, with lights, we normally won’t ride in a tight pack – it’s loose, just enough to be work but slow enough that we’re not worrying about potholes.  To put it simply, it’s a B rider’s fun day.  Men and women of all stripes show up for the ride – the C and D riders expect to work pretty hard while the B guys sit at the front doing the work of driving the pace.  It’s as close to a no-drop ride as we get.  It was with this knowledge that I pressed my wife to come along.  Thank God she’s as strong as she is.

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We rolled out in the fading sunlight on a perfect evening for cycling.  Low to mid 60’s (F), no wind to speak of and a fairly decent sized crowd.  As you can see above, I had to play a little catch up but all was right as rain before the first half-mile.

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We formed up and a lively pace was set.  Nothing ridiculous, maybe 20 mph give or take (who knows, you can’t see your speedometer in the dark).

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The photo above was the last chance I had to snap a picture though…  About four miles in, once the group sorts itself out and the faster guys work to the front, we ran into a common problem for fast people…  Their idea of taking it easy is a lot faster than a slower person’s.  While I was never in any distress about getting dropped, I was working and I know if I’m working, some of my friends (and possibly my wife) are struggling mightily to hang on – especially Brad, who is going in for his final round of chemotherapy (today actually).

About six miles in, the pace really took a turn and started to climb even higher (after looking at my data on Endomondo we were around 23 mph) so I left my spot about sixth bike and went up to the front and said, “I know we’re all having a really good time right now but one of our goals tonight is to not drop the guy on his last day of chemotherapy”.  That got the message across.  The pace was brought down to a more manageable 20-21.

That lasted for maybe another seven miles before we started to splinter again.  Reports would be shouted to the front that we were losing people but the pace pressed on.  Eventually, when Brad and Phill dropped with my wife, I’d had enough so I went back to ride with them…  There’s no doubt I could have stayed with the lead group, 22 is no hill for a mountain climber, but I’d be damned if I was going to leave my wife and two good friends to slog it out in the dark.  My buddy Mike was thinking the same as he went off the back shortly before I did (I was at the front so when I dropped back and didn’t see my wife, I just let them go).

Mike and I worked our asses off to try to bring the three of them back but we just couldn’t bridge the gap without cooking my buddy Brad.  We were headed up our one big hill and noticed that Matt had fallen off the back, about a quarter-mile ahead of us so we set to reeling him in.  On cresting the hill and heading down the back side we noticed that the group had stopped to wait for us.  We pulled in behind them and did a head-count.  We’d dropped one guy along the way and he didn’t know the route.  His friend (a newer guy to our group) brought him because he’d correctly heard that this wasn’t going to be our normal Tuesday night pace…  Oops.  Matt, Dave, the new guy and I headed back the way we’d come to see if we could find him.  After heading up the road two miles, Matt and I were together and the other two were a bit farther ahead and I saw two headlights turn back towards us.  We figured it was them so we turned around and headed back toward the main group where we waited for the three to come over the hill.  Several minutes later they still hadn’t come over the hill.  The decision was made that we would head back and send a search party if need be.

With Dave and two of the other fast guys up the road, the pace for the final ten miles was a lot more reasonable.  We kept it between 19 and 20 but even there we still had to dial it back a time or two for Brad or my wife.

We pulled into the parking lot and I had an odd feeling this year – and a lot of the other guys were thinking the same thing…  It was a great ride and while it was slow enough that I could have stayed with the main group, the pace was just too much for some of the others to enjoy the ride.  It left me a little bummed out that we had guys struggling.  It’s not supposed to be that kind of ride.

Power Line: Extra Bacon on My Hot Dog, Please!

Power Line: Extra Bacon on My Hot Dog, Please! http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIw2ePW_CY

For a sober view of exactly what went into the numbers that went into the reporting hype about red and processed meats making the headlines last week, including the one-liner about red meat being compared to smoking, another of those “it takes an intellectual to say something so stupid” lines, unless smoking isn’t as bad as has been reported, take a look at the link above.

Pay particular note of the occurrence of colorectal cancer (it’s plummeted, not risen over the last five decades or so) and the laughable math they went through over in the UK to show how many more people could expect to get butt-cancer because they eat red meat…  10 per 1000 more when compared to those who eat the least meat.  That’s it.  Ten per thousand.  Let me put this mildly; as fit as I am, I’ll take my chances, now pass the lunch meat and mayo (and you’d better put that Miracle Whip back in the fridge where it belongs, gimme the real stuff!).

If you want to be more well-informed than your typical hypester, I can’t recommend Power Line highly enough.  They do the math, rather than rely on a newspaper as Gospel (or the Lancet as the case is…  Check out the post to find out another nonsensical item they published but had to back away from – it’s a big one).

In the mean time, I’ll have some extra bacon on my hotdog and hamburger…  What backyard cookout is complete without all three?  None to my knowledge and experience.

Oh, and while we’re at it, may as well throw in a bottle of Coke or two*… (The key is to read the fine print: The scientists don’t actually know of it’s the pop or the lifestyle that leads to problems. My guess is the latter.

*I stopped regularly drinking soda (aka pop, soda pop, “fizzy drinks” or sugary beverages) long ago. I still partake from time to time because nothing puts a smile on my mug like an ice-cold Coca-Cola 80 miles into a century. Nothing. I stopped because I didn’t like the idea of having to work that many “stupid calories” off.

Why do amateur athletes dope?

This post was written shortly after two, one male and one female, of the top three (men and women) finishers at the New York Gran Fondo were busted for doping

Being an amateur athlete has its challenges, but when does the stress of not being fast enough finally get the best of one?

That’s really the question.

I’ve thought about doping myself, and this is why…

I ride, as I’ve made abundantly clear in the past, with some very fast folks. I’ve been trying for three or four years now to finish with the lead group. I’m just not strong enough and my aerobic capacity is not great enough that I can make it beyond the 20 mile mark of the 33 mile ride.

Partly I have myself to blame. I won’t not do my share of the work. I won’t hide except in specific situations (I did once on a century with the same group and made it 80 miles at near a 23 mph average pace on open roads – the 33 mile lead group usually finishes between 23 & 24).

However, if I had a little help, call it an easy ten percent boost, I could hang with the big dogs. No, money wouldn’t fall from the heavens and the pats on the back would subside after the second time in a row I stuck with the lead group, but I would be in an elite group of cyclists. I would be riding with the fastest of the fast. Masters champions, a national triathlon champion and categorizes racers… Rare air for a businessman with a family and too many responsibilities and a lack of “want to” to train like those who make my lungs burn on a weekly basis.

This is how it starts.

Little to no thoughts of consequences, after all, who would know? It’s just the Tuesday night club ride…

Fortunately I have a cooler head about such things so I haven’t bothered beyond the odd thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat if…” Unlike some, I have the ability to think beyond silly desires to the consequences tied to such actions, and getting busted by a doping board at a Gran Fondo is not what I’m talking about.

All too often I see knee-jerk reactions claiming evil intentions or a need to be better than others at any cost as the culprit that leads to artificial means of performance enhancement.  I don’t claim to know anything beyond my own experience but I will say this:  I’ve been tempted to go that route to just keep up with the local club guys.  I can’t imagine how tempting it would be if there were actually something riding on it.  This isn’t, of course, an excuse for anyone, including pros. Cheating is cheating, even if everyone is doing it.

It is more to say, however, “Meh, I get it”.

To wrap this post up, if not for my friends, Matt our local shop owner, Mike, Chuck, Phill, Brad, Big Joe, Carla, Allen, Adam and Diane, Mike and Diane, Ron, and especially now, my wife, I don’t know if I’d have found happiness in just being me… If not for them, maybe the temptation to ride with the A crowd would have been too great. I’ll never know now, because all the dope in the world can’t make what I’ve got better.

While I do find doping repugnant, I can certainly understand the desire to fit in.  For those people, I simply feel sorry for them.  It’s as though they’re sick – there’s something wrong in the head that they listen to that says, “I have to be better, faster, stronger than what I’m capable of under normal circumstances”…

But for the grace of God, there go I…

As a PS, if you click on the link above, I actually very much agree with GFNY’s policy of allowing those who have tested positive for banned substances to ride in the event after they’ve served their suspension (WADA’s is Two Years) but they’re banned for life from competing in the event.  They have to start at the back of the field and their times won’t be recorded.  This lets them ride and be a part of the “society”, but definitely punishes them harshly for their past misdeeds.  My hat is off to them.

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What is it like, cycling in a group that’s been riding together for years at speeds in excess of 30 mph

This post is dedicated to a fellow blog-friend/triathlete because she asked what it’s like to ride in a fast group.

Our club is fairly merciless unless you’re one of the gang.  If you’re new, but you seem like a decent person and can ride well, one of the gang will drop back, if you’re struggling, twice to help you bridge a gap (after that you’re on your own)…  On the other hand, if you’re a poor rider and are perceived as a threat to the group’s safety, you’ll be dropped immediately, if not sooner.  We don’t stop for dropped water bottles (lost one myself), flats, or anything else – and once you’re off, there’s no getting back. My first day I was off the back and didn’t know the route… I had to catch someone else who had fallen off after me and follow him back. He and I are good friends today.

This has been a cause for consternation for me, because I’m just shy of “fast enough”.  I can, however, stick around for the first 20 miles or so – before the club ride turns into a race… I, along with several friends of like ability, ended up forming a group of our own that splits off at the race point so we can ride back together, rather than in splinters.

We start out easy, usually with me and my buddy Mike in the lead.  18-20 mph depending on the direction and intensity of the wind.  It takes a quarter-mile for the group to form up and for everyone to latch on.  After that, we use the next mile to spin up the legs.  Meanwhile, everyone is catching up on how they did in the latest race or the fun they had over the weekend kicking out miles.

Mike and I, unless we’re into a stiff headwind, drop off the lead at the first turn, a mile and some change into the ride.  The racers take over from there (usually), and the pace picks up to the mid twenties, call it 23-26.  A few years ago that 26 was the upper limits of our cohesiveness but not anymore.

At 25-26 the talking slows considerably except amongst the fastest of us.  I stop entirely at 25 and above.  Not necessarily because I can’t talk but because I love the exhilaration of rocketing down the road and talking makes that a little more like work than is enjoyable…  There once was a time when I had to give my full concentration to maintaining my line and position, to watch the wheel in front of me to make sure I wasn’t too close or too far.  This takes a lot of energy and is quite unnerving but after a year or so, I got to a point where I now know where I am by my relation to the cyclist in front, not his wheel.  This means I can look up the road, several cyclists ahead, and see what the group is doing, not just the guy immediately in front of me.  It took a lot of practice to get there but now I can see a surge coming before it happens.

We hold that 24-26 for about 7 miles, until we hit Shipman Road.  It’s a sharp left turn as the road runs southwest – a rarity in corn country.  With a north or east wind (helping – or a light breeze) the speed gets crazy, instantly, so I have to be ready to hit the gas as soon as we clear the gravel-laden corner.  Within 200 yards we hit 28 mph.  With a helping wind, we pass 30.  With a headwind, ugh. With a cross headwind (fairly common), the group shatters. You can’t fit 25 to 40 people in an echelon.

Most of the talking ceases on Shipman, except for a few sentences from the Cat 3 racers (we have three or four among us).  It’s at these high speeds that being able to judge wheel distance by the cyclist becomes hugely important.  Bleeding speed by feathering the brakes to hold one’s place can only be done while I’m still pedaling – if I pause, it’s just too fast to hold my spot properly…  On the bright side, at that speed I rarely need brakes anyway.  We’ll hold 27-29 for four or five more miles when we hit our first set of decent hills.

There’s a group of three or four cyclists who hide in the back the whole time – if you do the math, we’re 13 or 14 miles into the 30 (or 33, depending) mile ride.  I’m not normally one of those who hides but I have a time or two.  In fact, one of the faster fellas once suggested I’d do better to hide more, to take fewer turns up front…  That was the day I coined a phrase.  I thought about his suggestion a second and replied, “Yeah, but you only get faster at the front.”

This is not entirely true, but it sounds badass so it stuck.

I’m generally maxed out in the upper twenties to low thirties (44-50 km/h) unless we have a big tailwind (a rarity – in fact, only twice in the last two years) so I’m holding on for dear life…  It’s here that I finally hide for a bit.  There’s a particular intersection three miles before the hills start where we cross a major arterial road.  There’s enough traffic that we always come to a full stop, the entire 15-25 person group, before crossing (we’re 25-40 people strong at the start).  At this intersection, no matter where I was when we got to the stop sign, I fade to the back of the pack so I can rest for the hills.  For the next two miles, the pace slows a bit too, generally 23-25 as everyone else preps for the hills too.

The third mile, with the hills in sight, the pace slows down to the low 20’s… but it doesn’t drop much once we do hit the hills, maybe a mile or two per hour.  Gear selection here is critical.  Too high a gear and you’ll blow your lungs out your nose.  Too low a gear and you’re dropped because a hundred-twenty cadence up a hill is frickin’ ridiculous and you can’t accelerate if there’s a surge  (there’s always a surge).  Once we crest the last rise (there are four or five with false flats in between), we are treated to a gentle decline and the pace picks up to 26-ish, rapidly.

We always lose a few in the hills, sometimes me.

From there we merge onto a major thoroughfare before making a left and hitting the next two hills…  The group always jockeys to be at the back of the pack (I often wind up second or third bike off the front) because, while the first hill is easy and usually done at a sane pace (unless a jackass attacks – and I mean jackass in the actual meaning of the word, stubborn mule), the second hill is a butt-buster and is usually hit unreasonably fast (I’ve climbed the hill at 23 with the main group – 19 is fast with my friends.

Climbing hills in a tight pack, at least for me, is tricky.  I can climb better than many so if the pace is slower I often find myself soft pedaling to keep my proper place in the group unless the lead guys are on the gas (in that case I have to push to keep up).  It all depends who happens to be the unlucky leaders of the pack.

Next up is our first major downhill of the ride and you’ve gotta be ready.  Coasting down the hill would get you maybe 20-22 mph.  Pedaling down it easy, maybe 24-25…  We hit 38, on a slow day (sometimes topping 40).  Now, if you’re not ready for that surge, this is where you get dropped.  Fortunately, with the downhill, you can stretch the spacing a little bit and still get a decent draft so I don’t have to be right on the next person’s wheel.

Then we come to the hill that all of us B guys get dropped on – I’ve only ever made it twice…  The hill, the only real hill on our ride, is about meh, a third of a mile long with a false flat just before the top…  on a good day, I can hit the top at 16.5 mph…  The main group tops it just shy of 20.

From this point, the pace picks up for another before settling back down to race pace till the home stretch five miles where it’s back up to 28-30 depending on the direction of the wind… but I never see that.  I’m a “B” guy.  We form up after the  big hill and take a three mile shortcut – usually four to eight of us who don’t make that last hill.

Rather than just take it easy, we keep a fair pace.  Down a short hill, up another, to a long, gentle climb before a long, slight, decline over three-quarters of a mile that has us topping out just shy of 30 mph.  Our group, depending on who is with us (ahem), is the picture of working together.  The strong guys (myself included) take long pulls, the older and less strong take shorter turns, but we all do our best to keep a nice pace going, call it 22-24 mph.  Our normal “B” group rides together a lot, maybe 3,000 miles a year together (my buddy Mike and I have to be closer to 4,000) so each of us is very aware of how the other rides.  Little idiosyncrasies are known and planned for. Chuck and Mike climb out of the saddle but are seated for the first quarter of a hill… I have to be at least 12″ behind their wheel so when they stand and fade back, I won’t hit their back wheel (getting out of the saddle causes one to fade back unless you pedal into it – if you’re not ready when that fade happens it’s, uh, disconcerting). Phill gets a little dodgy at the end of a turn up front (side to side) before he pulls off. I don’t know what I do wrong but the guys I ride with could tell you… It’s nothing big but I’m sure I have my ticks. My wife takes turns at the front that are too long (a common rookie mistake)… Matt doesn’t signal when he’s done with a turn, he just looks back once or twice to make sure he’s not being overlapped, then just pulls off to the side and stops pedaling for a second. Oh yeah, I tend to speed up when it’s my turn up front. If the pace is 18-1/2, I take it to 19-20. If the pace is 21, I go to 22… It’s not that I’m trying to be difficult, I just want my friends to feel that I’m useful… This is a gradual thing too, I don’t shoot straight off the front, I just gradually wind the pace up.

We each know our strengths and weaknesses so we work together exceptionally well… A well-lubed machine going down the road for that last ten miles. Talking resumes again, generally about what happened in the course of that first twenty miles, though the pace is generally fast enough that the lead person just plows the road till they’re at the back and can breathe again.

We have sprint points for two city limits signs, one at the 22 mile mark and one at the finish but unlike some groups, we each do our share until the sprint… If that means I’m lead-out then that’s me (happened to me last Tuesday). If Mike’s lead-out then that’s him, same for Phill, Doc Mike or Matt… In the end, that first twenty miles is right at our threshold while those last ten are right at the edge of our comfort zone…

Of course, then there is TT-Guy. Basically, he alone can make the lot of us look like a bunch of Frankie-First-Years… But I’ve written enough about him.

Now, for stronger cyclists the speeds I mentioned in this post are decent but nothing special. For those who average 18 mph on their own on a good day, they may seem a little unattainable. The truth is, it’s not all that bad but we’re used to riding fast. I think the best way to describe it is that it’s not all that different from an 18 mph except that everything happens a lot quicker. This is why it’s so important for rookies to cut their teeth on slower rides (I worked with my wife quite a bit after she decided she wanted to give the club ride a try. We spent a month or two riding on off nights going over positioning, wind directions, braking practices and hand signals – basically, I tried to hit everything she’d run into over the course of a ride, or at least the trouble spots that I ran into as a noob)…

In the end, after all of this is written, there’s one glaring thing this post is lacking that I simply couldn’t figure out how to work into the post and it’s exceptionally important.  Riding in the mid to upper 20’s as a group isn’t much different that riding in a slower group, except that everything happens so fast, it’s really tough to put into words how quickly you have to react to little things…  Little corrections, adjustments in speed, a slight wobble every now and again, a strong crosswind.  All of these things make learning on the fly really difficult.  For instance, I wrote earlier that I’m pretty much maxed out in the upper 20’s (28 or 29) without a tailwind.  Even though I’m maxed, I still have to be able to pay attention to what’s going on around me.  If I’ve got my head down and I’m pushing for all I’m worth when we roll up on a stop sign, I’d run right into the back end of the guy in front of me and at that speed, it’d be a catastrophic mistake. Put another way, at 25 mph, you cover 36 feet (about 12 meters) in one second. Put in this context it should be easy to grasp just how fast things happen and how important it is for everyone to be on the same page… This is why faster groups are so exclusive and a little “edgy” when it comes to who gets to play.

On the other hand, once you get used to the flow, it’s a lot of fun.

What Camping is Supposed to Be…

If you remember my pop-up camper, I wrote about it a while ago…

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I’m out in the woods, deer hunting camp.  It’s 40 degrees outside, raining and plain nasty.

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We’re not in a typical campground… No power hookup, no other campers 20 feet away, we’re in the middle of nowhere yet it’s 65 in my pop-up camper…  Setting the thermostat a 70 is just too warm.  I’m watching the Bourne Legacy.  I have a belly full of pizza and I put in two hours of hiking today.  Saw a deer in the morning but it didn’t come in.  Tomorrow is another day, should be a good one.

Anyway, daddy’s come a long way from tenting this trip five years ago.

Now all I have to do is convince my wife to come with.  Of course, I haven’t had a shower in three days, so I’m not holding my breath…  Well, technically…