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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Relentless Positive Mental Attitude

For anyone into the fitness lifestyle, we see reasons to be negative every day.  This goes beyond reports on obesity, beyond those from one country pointing fingers at another for being “fatter” or more out of shape.  It’s worse, of course, than just the sick from obesity.  The pasty skinned addict, the bulbous, veiny red nose of the alcoholic…

We see it every day, as we walk down the street.  For some this can be depressing.  For others, it might even be a reason to throw in the towel, or worse, not even bother trying to get healthy again…

Since beginning the process of recovery, I’ve developed one main goal in life: I want to leave this world exhausted.

I want to be tired when I go to meet Jesus. I want to have made everything I could of the gift I was given all those years ago. See, my recovery is viewed as a gift because I didn’t do anything to deserve God’s grace, but it was certainly given. I don’t even know if I asked properly… I just said, “God, I know I’m supposed to be more than what I’ve turned out to be, so I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give staying sober everything I’ve got, if you just help me, please. Please God, help me”. I just kept repeating that last sentence until I fell asleep.

The next morning my DT’s weren’t quite so bad, and my desire to drink was gone. It was replaced with purpose. I took full advantage of it.

I can remember working a Fifth Step with a sponsor, geez, twenty-one years ago now. Not only did we wrestle through my past and find patterns that led to stupid decisions on my part, just before we were done, I kid you not, the clouds parted and the sun shone – and not in a figurative sense. Literally.

My definition of exhausted doesn’t include a hundred hours a week at work. “Exhausted” won’t be because I worked too hard, though hard work has its place. It won’t be because I was the world’s greatest dad or husband, though giving that my best is high on the list. It won’t be because I end up being the most knowledgeable recovered fella ever, either. I won’t leave exhausted because I played more than anyone else, though anyone who has followed this blog for a week or two will attest, I don’t miss my play time.

I hope to leave exhausted because I enjoyed the balance. Being a grand husband to my wife, a good father for my daughters, a hard worker for all of us, a kid at heart who knew how to play, and a sober man who indeed enjoyed the gift he was given.

This desire requires a relentless positive mental attitude.

Of course, living through and emerging from a hell on earth of my own making, even after a bad day, a good, positive attitude is never too far out of reach.

All I have to do is reach for it.


The Big Weigh In… A Weekend Warrior Cyclist’s Worst Nightmare

Rather than bother with a scale, I have monitored my weight by the belt hole and mirror approach.  About the only time I bother with a scale is when I see the doctor.

I couldn’t get over a mental niggle in the back of my melon though.  How much will I have to lose this spring to get to fighting weight of 170 to 171 pounds? How much damage did I do over Thanksgiving and Christmas?

These questions are common for the weekend warrior cyclist. Not exactly earthshattering, but important nonetheless.

I’m already working on getting back to square but I wanted to know for certain what kind of chore this was going to be. Well, part of me wanted to know… another part wanted me to bury my head in the sand.

I finally sucked it up and dug out our scale and put a battery in it. The news is good. 178 pounds, only 7 pounds over mid-season weight. To say “I can live with that” is an understatement. I can have that gone before spring even gets here. Not only does this mean I can be race weight through spring base miles, I will have the option to go lower if I can get the okay from my wife (truthfully neither one of us likes me that skinny, till I’m climbing a mountain, then I’m quite okay with it – not so much with my wife… when it comes to my weight, this is one of the times where it’s okay to say, “just push harder”).


Works better when one's butt is slender

In any event, I rode with my buds on the mountain bikes yesterday and it was spectacular. It was exceptionally windy and cold, well below freezing, but I’ve got my clothing figured out so well I’m at least comfortable now… And with a minimum of trouble. Leg warmers, shorts, thermal tights, wool socks, neoprene foot covers, thin tech shirt, thermal running shirt, thermal jacket, thermal balaclava, helmet, and I’m good down to 20 degrees (F, or -7 C).

Mike, Phill, Brad and I had an easy but exceptionally fun time. There was laughter, fist bumps and smiles all around. There were sprints for City Limits signs, planning for the early spring events and a profound gratitude for not having to be on the trainers.

Better, I’m already up 60 miles from my outrageously awesome 2015 with a week left in the month. Better still, I feel strong. I’m sure, if I tried real hard, I could find something to complain about but why bother?

The one thing in life it pays to be lazy with – looking at the down-side of things.

Works for me. C’mon, Spring! Get here already! WOOHOO!

The laughable gullibility of “As Seen On TV” gold coin buyers

You may have seen a commercial offering buffalo coins clad in 15 milligrams of 24 ct. gold for just under ten bucks.

I’ve always wondered how bad a deal this was,  because if they have it on a commercial, it’s gotta be a bad deal for the purchaser. 


Well, if the coins were going to cost $50 and they’re selling them for just ten bucks, maybe it is a fair deal…

I won’t prolong the agony.  There’s 63 cents worth of gold on one coin.  That’s it.  Not even two-thirds of a single dollar.

One of those coins that they’re selling for ten bucks is worth less than a dollar.  Not a bad return… of course, you do get a certificate of authenticity.  A proof positive certificate that you just got bent over a barrel boned.

Gold goes for about $1,200 an ounce today, and that’s generous.  The trick is the 15 milligrams.   There are approximately 28,350 milligrams in an ounce.  Do the math. 

Oh, and if you just bought a hundred of those for a thousand bucks and I just showed you that the purchase is worth a little more than fifty bucks, damn. Sorry about that.

Next time buy a carbon fiber bike. They depreciate like a car and cost a whole lot of money… but at least you can ride that a lot and lose a pound or 30.


Way better that a $0.63 coin that you paid $10 for

Update on the 5200… Almost Home

My wife and I went out for a ride with my buddy Mike, Diane and Adam for an easy 20 mile mountain bike ride at lunch time.  It was cold, to say the least, only a few degrees above my basement of 19 degrees (F).  I had four layers on and I was, well comfortable may be too kind a word, let’s go with not freezing.

We cranked out the miles and it was good.  We also made plans for tomorrow… The hot shower was better.

After a quick bite to eat, we went over to our screen printer’s house to pick up some new shirts we had made up for the swap meet on Sunday.

Then we stopped by the bike shop just to say hi… and found out my decals for the Trek are in.  They’re the perfect shade of red.  Now all that’s left is to scuff it up, apply the decals and spray on the clear-coat and I’ll be putting it back together.

The plans are for the bike to be completely blacked out.  Cages, housings, handlebar, even the King steering assembly is black.  The components are aluminum, and will stay that way until they’re fully worn out and need to be replaced.  The only red on the bike will be the TREK down tube logos and it’ll have a Made in the USA Flag on the seat tube. 

I’ll have my wife or one of my daughters take photos during the rebuild for a post… or three.  I toyed with the idea of doing a video to post to YouTube but truthfully, I only know about 3/4’s of what I’m doing.  That video might get a little long.  That said, it won’t be long now, and it can’t come too soon.  That Cannondale is even uncomfortable on a trainer for God’s sake!

A Full, Busy, Wonderful Week…

I managed 45 minutes each day on the trainer since Monday.  45 minutes is about the limit of my patience for that Godforsaken machine.  What I lack in time, I make up for in difficulty though.  I stayed in the hardest gear the whole time and I could feel the effort all week.

Today and this weekend should be the perfect capper.  We’ll be riding outside today, at least I think we will, around lunch time.  We’ll also be outside tomorrow, with temperatures just barely below freezing, more than warm enough for outdoor cycling.  I’m going to push for mountain bikes though because, to be truthful, there’s no way I’m riding my Venge on the salt-covered roads so I’m stuck with either the Cannondale because the Trek isn’t done yet (still waiting on the decals to go on before the shop can clear-coat it).

Then, on Sunday, my wife and I are going to go to have our first booth at a local swap meet to sell our tee-shirts.  Unfortunately we’ll have to try to figure out how to get a ride in as the temp will be decidedly above freezing…  After this past week, with temps hovering around -15 F (-26 C) with the wind chill, 39 (4 C) is going to feel like shorts weather.

It should be a fantastic weekend.


At the Beginning of the Day, It’s All About What Puts a Smile on My Face

Every morning when I walk into my office I’m greeted by a photo of my wife clapping for my eldest daughter who is holding a “magic wand” and is sporting a tiara in celebration of her first birthday.

This is a perfect way to start my day, for more than a few reasons, but not only for the couple you might think…

My wife and I were going through some tough times back then.  Sadly, I didn’t see much of an issue but my wife was not happy.  That’s how we guys do sometimes, we have to be clubbed in the head with a problem before we can see the light.  Either that or everything goes dark for a minute or two.  Then, once we’ve woken up and shaken out the cobwebs, we get the inkling that something might be off.  It is what it is.

Anyway, that being said, most people would think it normal to shut the door, if you will, on that part of our lives… not so much on my daughter’s birthday, but on the time that my wife and I struggled.  This is not the case for me.

There is no doubt that my little girl’s first birthday was a big deal and watching her grow up to be a capable, intelligent young lady has been an obvious highlight in my life.  That’s certainly a great part of starting out another big day.  On the other hand, while it would be a little ridiculous to say I “celebrate” the challenges my wife and I went through, I definitely don’t have to shut the door on that time either.  See, remembering what we had to go through to get to where we are has a few benefits.

First, remembering the tough times serves as a reminder that I have no desire to go back to that.  Put simply, it keeps me honest.  Second, it puts today’s much smaller issues in perspective so they’re a little easier to handle right away (rather than the alternative of “sweeping them under the rug”).  Finally, it helps secure our future…  What got us into trouble isn’t rocket science and to repeat it would be fairly simple – unless I learn from my mistakes.

That’s me, don’t you know?  They say and intelligent person learns from his mistakes…  A wise person learns from the mistakes of others.  I’ve got about 40 years before I hit wise so I have to work on intelligent.  “Dance with the girl who brung ya”, so they also say.

In any event, it was nice to start my day with a smile this morning.

My eldest in her first middle school swim meet… She’s the one who touched the wall in that second photo.  And if you notice, she kicked not only until she touched the wall, but after.  That’s my GIRL!!!

A Longing for My Venge Turns Up Some Intriguing Cycling Aerodynamics Information.

It’s the middle of January.  When I walked out the door this morning it was 12 degrees, and sadly that’s with an F after it, not the balmy C.  Yesterday morning it was so cold, snot froze instantly when I walked out the door.

My beloved Venge, sits waiting and ready in our (my wife and my) bedroom next to my wife’s Alias (the feminine version of the Venge).  The Venge got brand new cables and a new chain this off-season so when the temp tops 50, it’ll be like riding a brand new bike again.


A Venge isn’t for everyone, of course.  By today’s standards she’s a bit of a brute.  It’s a stiff bike, by comparison.  One of the stiffest on the market but that statement of reality is a little misleading.  Comparing it in terms of comfort to my old 5200 isn’t a even fair fight.  The 5200 is impossibly stiff in all the wrong places by comparison.

The Trek, with its 16 year-old technology, has a relatively small bottom bracket area while the Venge is all ass.  The chain stays are squared sturdy as well, compared to the Trek’s thinner tubes.  The trick is in the seat stays; thin blades where the Trek has thicker, tapered tubes.  The Venge offers just a little “give” here to smooth out the road (at least that’s how it translates to my butt).


The fork on the Trek uses tubes, the Venge, blades.  A tube for the head tube compared to a tapered, sculpted head tube, a tube for a seat post compared to a blade, etcetera, etcetera.  The leap in comfort is much like the leap from an aluminum bike with a steel fork to the carbon fiber Trek.  To say it’s profound is an understatement, and I can speak with experience on this because I’ve put considerable miles on all three types of road bike.  I own one of each.


In simple terms, when it’s all said and done, the Venge feels like a Vette while the 5200 is more like a Camaro.  Heavier, slower and a little less comfortable.  This time of year, because I won’t hook the Venge up to a trainer, I always long for those summer days, bombing down the road, without the bulky winter clothing, feeling like I’m sitting on a bolt of lightening.

So I was cruising the interwebz last night searching with Google for Venge stuff and I happened on an article written about an interview of a person who works for the software company that did the fluid dynamic software for the Specialized McLaren Venge (Mclaren apparently uses their software as well). The Venge stuff is kinda cool, but this is what caught my eye”

Consider that the typical drag coefficient (a non-dimensional quantity that is used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in a fluid environment) of a professional cyclist crouched on top of a moving bicycle ranges between 0.7 and 0.9. Assuming that the bicycle is highly efficient and the rider is aerodynamically streamlined, let’s estimate the Cd to be 0.83 and his/her frontal area to be 3.2ft2. If we consider that the rider is traveling at 20mph he/she feels approximately 3.27 pounds force from the aerodynamic loading acting to slow him/her down. In comparison, a typical touring bicycle and upright rider with a Cd of 1.0 and a frontal area of 4.3 ft2 feels approximately 4.4 pounds force at 20 mph[i].

Based on the aerodynamic effects and accounting for minor differences in rolling resistance, the touring rider must put in approximately 27 percent more horsepower to keep pace with the professional rider and bicycle.

So let’s look at this in terms of watts. On our normal Tuesday night club ride, when we’re pushing out 28-30 mph, we’re putting out around a normalized 250 watts (normalized means you average it out, you take out the 400 watt peaks and the 100 watt valleys). For a person on a touring rig, they would have to put out a whopping 342 watts, normalized, to keep up. But it’s worse… That 27% is good at only 20 mph. As speed increases, drag does exponentially, so that 348 is likely closer to 400 by the time you hit 28. My friends, that’s Jens Voight territory right there. And you ain’t Jens Voight.

Nor am I, but I’m not one of those who try to convince everyone that the setup of a bike doesn’t matter much.  In any event, while I can’t possibly ride in the same position as a 30 year-old (let alone a 20-something) professional cyclist, it obviously pays to minimize that frontal area as much as possible.

Sadly, I can’t make spring come any sooner.

The Recovery Recipe: Relapse Or Recovery, What One Needs to Never Look Back

While reading A Walk In His Shoes I did the old, “Don’t open that door!” thing we do during a horror flick while reading about the author’s early recovery. Let’s just say the door was opened more than once which led to quite a bit of calamity. That got me thinking about writing a post that has everything to do with recovery but not a lot to do with Twelve Steps (for those who might be averse). These are some of the other things that make recovery possible. In my experience, one can always tell who will make it and who won’t by whether or not they are willing to do these simple things – in no particular order.

Recoil from drugs and alcohol as if from hot flame. This means exactly what it implies. Alcohol especially, and drugs are everywhere. Hiding, unfortunately, doesn’t work.

Disassociate from wet places and wet faces.  We say if you sit in a barber shop long enough and you will get a haircut. Best not to walk into the barbershop in the first place. Old friends and acquaintances have to go. I stopped hanging out with my best friend on the planet since I was five years old when I quit drinking and it was the right thing to do. Same thing with bars. No more. Even now, I have three criteria I have to meet to walk into a place that serves liquor. 1. I have to have a valid, honest reason to be there. 2. I have to have an immediate out (my own car, parked close by with no chance of it being blocked in).  If my mind starts getting squirrelly on me, I’m out. And 3. I have to be on solid spiritual footing. That last one is tough to meet, especially early on.

I need a support group that is comprised of sober friends and a sponsor or two who know everything about me.  About how I used, about how I manipulate, everything.  I even had a sponsor early on who spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with my mother to learn some of my manipulations and conniving ways.  Seriously.  Dude was a freaking ninja.

Surround yourself with sober/straight people. Even the guys I ride with are sober. Several of them simply don’t drink while a couple have more sobriety than I do – and that was entirely by chance. You attract what you are, to an extent, so because I was healthy and sober, most of the partiers don’t want to have a lot to do with me anymore. Of all of the people close to me, none are practicing addicts or alcoholics (unless I’m helping them to recover).

Fix the wreckage of the past. This is a must. We drink and get high to escape. We have to fix what we want to escape from. Simple as that, and hard as it is. It’s best to have help with this, specifically from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Learn to do the next right thing at any given moment. We also call this “good orderly direction”. This goes back to that escape thing again. If I am constantly doing the next right thing, I won’t have anything to escape from. Eventually.

Continue to assess one’s motives and situation, honestly.  Alcoholics and addicts are master manipulators.  We simply don’t care about anything but getting our next fix.  Well, when you take the drugs and drink away, the manipulator is still left.  We like to say, “If you sober up a horse thief, he’s still a horse thief”.  In simple terms, we have to fix that horse thief part too.

Finally, there’s the spirituality.  While this is certainly not a requirement, I needed all of the help I could get.  I came from a Catholic home so I had a fairly good understanding of God but all of the fire and brimstone of the Catholic religion was tough for me to grasp once I decided it was time to quit drinking.  First, I was not a good kid.  I broke many of the Ten Commandments and here I was asking God for help to get better…  Why would He possibly take pity on me after I’d done so much wrong?  I know people whose fear runs a lot deeper than mine and sometimes it’s hard to square.  Why save me?!  My concept of God had to evolve just a little bit.  My own father was able to forgive me over time – and that’s the way I started looking at God.  Certainly He is greater than my flesh and blood dad.  Whatever works, I know people in recovery who believe in their heart that there is no God and they do just fine too.  Their guide is more of a “the power of one alcoholic working with another to remain sober”…  In the end, it’s whatever works.  Including one of my old sponsor’s standby for those who are having a difficult time grasping spirituality:  “Just start with believing that I believe”.

And I most certainly do.

ADDENDUM #1:  Get Active!  I’ve been active, between rollerblading, running and now cycling, for 18 of my 23 years sober (give or take a year) and my active years are vastly more memorable and enjoyable that the inactive years.  I started out rollerblading almost immediately after getting my driver’s license back.  After a couple of years I went into my inactive phase…  I still stayed pretty active, with softball, a little bit of rollerblading and a lot of waterskiing/swimming, but after I got married I slowed down a little bit – and things got a little glum in my recovery.  There were other factors, of course, but fitness, or lack thereof, had a lot to do with that.  My wife got me into running maybe fourteen or fifteen years ago now and I’ve stayed exceptionally active since…  I use my daily bike ride as an escape now.  I’m never gone for very long and rather than cause problems, cycling gives me a chance to free my mind so I can better concentrate on the “next right thing” after I’m done.  Fitness is an immense part of my happy recovery.

I have been practicing these things consistently for more than two decades.  While I learned all of them early in sobriety, it took a while before I finally gave in and did it right.  Thankfully I didn’t get drunk in the process.  It is normal, early on, to look for the easiest, softest way to get sober.  This is it.

A Review of “A Walk In His Shoes”, a story of tragedy and recovery by Dustin and Dallas John

My name is Jim and I am a recovering alcoholic. Have been for more than a few twenty-four hours. I have been following Dustin John’s blog for quite some time and he recently published a book with his dad.

A Walk in His Shoes

In a recent post he offered to send bloggers a free book for an honest review. Being me, I couldn’t take the free book, I bought mine. I’d want someone to do the same for me.

I started the book, A Walk In His Shoes, written by Dustin and his dad, Saturday morning and I couldn’t put it down until I was done (about 10 hours for the 280 page book). The following is my review.

A Walk in His Shoes is a gripping, if painful, account of a journey through addiction from the perspectives of a young pup in recovery and his father and mother. A brilliant idea that absolutely floored me. I only wish my pops were still on the right side of the grass, pumping air so I could copy them.

First, the journey into the bowels of addiction. Rarely am I so thankful for my high bottom recovery but in this case, with every new twist of the story, all I could do was thank God as I watched Dustin pull the lever as he was standing life’s toilet.  His descriptive account of his addiction is among the best I’ve ever read.

Dallas, Dustin’s dad, gave a heart-wrenching account of watching his youngest son’s descent into the abyss and seeing the difference in the story based on point of view was refreshing.

The addiction part of the book, about the first half, was the most riveting for me to read but is so for a very specific reason.  Being a recovering alcoholic myself, I know the schemes.  I also know what it looks like when someone is ready to recover.  My anxiousness had more to do with willing him to get there than of watching the train wreck.

Unfortunately, reading the recovery portion of the book proved difficult for me.  The recipe for the proper cocktail, if you will, for recovery (no matter how one chooses to recover) is simple.  If one gets this, they recover.  If not, they relapse.  It’s that simple (I’ve witnessed this thousands of times over the last little while).

Even more painful from my perspective, was the conclusions his father reached after Dustin started on his road to recovery. When he started in on hoping his son would have the willpower to stay clean I almost did a spit-take (we recovering addicts and alcoholics were absent the day they handed out willpower.  Stubbornness, we have that in spades, but not so much willpower).

Simply stated, it’s hard for me to watch someone try to skirt around the necessities to find an easier softer way, even though we all do it, because we also know this is a life and death struggle.  See, I’ve never relapsed.  Not once.  I’ve had a couple of close calls but close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, as they say, so it’s hard for me to watch relapses because to me they’re unnecessary.  The tough part is that I’m wrong about relapses, we have to go through what we have to go through to get where we’re going, but this fact doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

I am a harsh critic when it comes to recovery books. I’ve been around for long enough that I’m a little jaded because I’ve seen success and more than enough failure to know what works. In fact, I almost didn’t read the book because I didn’t think I could give it a fair shake. I was wrong. I am, without doubt, glad I did. I’m a better person for having read it and it is absolutely a must read for parents with an addict in the family.


My sponsor’s sponsor gave me my six month coin almost 23 years ago now, and when he presented it to me he said, “Jim, I promise you, if you keep coming back and work the steps, you’re life will get so good you’ll think it can’t possibly get any better. Then six months later you’ll realize it did.” I’ve been there dozens of times since.

Dustin’s is one of those stories. The book he and his dad wrote is, in a word, fantastic.

If you’ve ever been touched by an alcoholic and wondered, “What the F*** was he/she thinking?”  This is the book for you to read.  I’d lay odds A Walk In His Shoes will help you to understand.

Also, as with any recovering alcoholic or addict, there are several points in Dustin’s using section and dozens in his recovery where I could see God working to help him (a few he recognized himself). If you need evidence that there is a God and every once in a while there is a nudge of help, read this book. Also, on the same note, if you know there’s a God and believe in the fire and brimstone kinda Fella, the folks who believe God Burns the wicked and is vengeful, read this book. Finally, if you are an addict or alcoholic who believes that God could, or even would, turn His back on you, that you cannot be forgiven and will never enjoy the sunlight if the Spirit, read this book.

All of our stories are like this, but Dustin’s ability to give it vivid color makes his salvation all the more obvious.

Progress on the 5200 Refurbishing

I stopped by the shop the other day and picked out the decals for the 5200 from VeloCals.  If you’ve been paying attention, it’s going from red with orange and gold flake to dead black so I can match it  to my other bikes…


So naturally I want to keep it as close to original as possible while still adding a little bit of my own touch to it so I went with solid Ruby Red Trek down tube decals and I’ll have the Trek head badge and an American Flag (the bike was hand-built in the USA) on the seat tube…  Other than the chain stay protector and a few well-placed paint protectors, that’ll be it as far as decals on the bike.  Like I bought it, I’m going to keep it minimal.  Jet black, ruby red “TREK” down tube decals and that’s about it.  No 5200 decals, no flashy stickers, just black, a splash of red and brushed aluminum parts.  I’m also changing out two of the cable housings that were white (The front and rear brake cable housings).  I’m going black all the way around.

Shouldn’t be long now, maybe a couple of weeks and I’ll be able to put it all together again.

Truthfully, this is the part I hate… When we’re getting close, but still not there yet.