Yesterday’s ride was as good as it gets. After a great club ride on Tuesday, it was a perfect night for a victory lap. I actually tried to take a full hour to make it back to my driveway, covering the 16 miles sitting up to look at everything I normally miss with my head down.
The wind was negligible, out of the west-north-west in the single digits. Not a cloud in the sky. My bike is perfectly tuned and running like the precision machine it is. No creaks, clicks, ticks… just the whir of the chain as I fly down the road.
Wait, no, no, no flying down the road.
I purposely ignored the computer, or at least tried to. Just spinning. Spin, spin, spinni… Dude, who am I kidding. I look down at the computer. 18.3 mph. Into the wind. Oops. Downshift. 17.5… That’s better.
I couldn’t believe how many cyclists I was seeing! Normally I’m lucky to see one, I saw three before the halfway point – and my buddy Mike in his truck.
I stopped at the shop on my way home… I had five miles to go. 999, on the nose.
With the wind at my back I tried to keep it slow but I checked twice and I was north of 21 mph. I chilled out once I headed south, back home and pulled into the driveway at 55m:17s. It’s official. Unless I’m with my kids, my Venge can’t go 16 mph. It’s simply too fast*.
Anyway, I celebrated more, because life is sober is one big-ass celebration, with some cyclist food. Protein, to build muscles…
If you look real close, that’s butter pecan ice cream… Better than chocolate milk, methinks.
*Too fast is relative. If I’m climbing a 6% or better grade, I’ll guarantee you it can go slower than 16 mph. In fact, I believe I’ve had it down to 4 or 5 mph climbing an 18% hill. Forgive me for generalizing… I don’t know how slow I was going – I didn’t bother looking at the computer… I had my attention on the hill.
I’m going to pass 1,000 miles on my bike for the month of June in about an hour and a half. It took me 55 hours to get there, or just over an 18 mph average. This includes all miles – recovery miles, fast miles and more than 170 of the toughest, hilliest miles I’ve ever ridden.
Do the math and it’s less than 2 hours a day, about 1:45 a day, average. That’s not how I got there though, I don’t have that much time during the week to blow on a bike because, sadly, I have a job. Or should I say, I haven’t found anyone crazy enough to give me a couple hundred grand a year to ride a bicycle. Before I get into the breakdown, let add this: I only took one day off this month. That’s it, one day. I’ve ridden every single day other than the day I took off so I could drive up to a two-day 170 mile cycling tour. Also, I’ve only hit 1,000 miles two other times in the years I’ve been cycling (both last year) – and the second one, in September, was only because I did 385 miles in the first week of the month. The first, August, was done because I ride so many stinkin’ centuries in August (one almost every weekend in the month). This 1,000+ mile month was special because there was only one century the entire month, though I still hit a lot of long miles on the weekends, usually between 50 and 75 miles each day.
While I love the long mileage days (especially anything between 60 and 75 miles), I rarely put in more than an hour a day into cycling during the week (Tuesdays are the exception – 2 hours for the club ride). My trick this past month was to go decently long on both weekend days. Other than 40 mile Tuesdays and 110-175 mile weekends, I’m only riding 16-20 miles a day (that’s 50m – 1h:05m a day).
In other words, my fitness is relatively easy to fit into my schedule, and I’m a nut. Wait, I think they call us “avid enthusiasts”.
If you think I’m nuts, I’m okay with that. If you don’t think I ride enough, well try coming out of retirement and properly tending to your family before you start slinging mud. On the other side of that, if you’re thinking “I can’t do that”, relax… I didn’t think I could either, especially when 100 miles in a week was a lot. I would suggest you not sweat it and do your best. I am sure surprised where my best took me.
Ride hard my friends.
Sometimes a good idea needs a little chance, maybe call it fate, a nudge, to get started.
Matt had a flat when he pulled his bike out of his car and he was late getting started so I simply shooed the A guys at five after six. At first they paused and said they’d wait. I emplored them, seriously, go guys… we’ll be okay. Someone shouted from the back, “Yeah, you’re gonna drop us anyway!” And with that they rolled out…
There were twice as many of us as there were of them.
We started out fairly easy at 19 mph but we built up quickly and had a decent 21-22 mph pace heading into the north wind. I didn’t think twice about taking a turn up front, never struggled to latch back on after a turn, the neutral zones actually worked, and I rarely felt taxed enough to go all the way to the back.
It was a perfect ride. We all, including Mrs. Bgddy, finished as a group, I did more than my fair share and I had a big smile on my face the whole way.
I did not take the sprint. Even my wife beat me to the line. I handled the lead out. Sometimes you’re the sprinter, sometimes you’re the lead out. I was perfectly happy with it.
We all laughed and shared fist bumps after the ride – and we all agreed this is the better way to enjoy a Tuesday night.
The B Group is born.
Oh, and we finished just shy of a 21 mph average. We actually finished faster than if we’d started with the racers, done the whole 30 mph thing, and gotten spread out and dropped along the route. More than 29 miles in 1h:22m.
I haven’t written about recovery lately as I’m pretty much in full-time cycling mode but I am reminded of recovery every time I get on a bike. When it comes to recovery from addiction, there are many facets to the diamond that is adding fitness to the mix…
In a nutshell, I have a history, though distant, of giving up everything and anything that brings me joy for a drink. Once I start, there’s no stopping the freight train until it’s all gone.
The story doesn’t end there, though.
Recovery isn’t all that enjoyable without fitness, without getting out to move. Out of the 23 years I’ve been sober, only six of those were what I’d term sedentary years. My first year and from years five through ten were spent on the couch (work not included – and I did have physically challenging jobs, especially through those five years).
My first year was understandable and not all that bad. All of my energy went into learning how to live a sober life. With a good foundation, I branched out looking for enjoyable activities that would round out, add balance to, my life and give me a smile or two. As a naturally athletic kid, I went for rollerblading first, then softball, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then came a gap that lasted five years. Along with that gap came five years of stagnation in my recovery and about 45 pounds. I didn’t take a drink in that time but I was dry as a popcorn fart. Specifically, being dry is a period of not drinking but also a time lacking in progress as it pertains to being a better me. Recovery is just as much about being a good, contributing member of society as it is about not drinking. As is commonly said, if you sober up a horse thief, you still have a horse thief. The idea of a recovery program is to fix the horse thief part while we’re at it.
Enter physical fitness, and in my case, cycling. After a period of running, about nine years, I grew bored. I actually started out quite against running but it beat getting fat and I was starting to push maximum allowable density… Anyway, I decided I wanted to get into triathlon, thinking a bike ride and a swim might make that run a little more enjoyable. After a year I realized the swim and the run were messing up a perfectly good bike ride so I switched to cycling almost exclusively except for leisure time with my wife and kids.
Cycling checks a lot of boxes for me. The physical activity clears my mind and sets off dopamine receptors in my melon like a brilliant fireworks display. If you didn’t know, those same receptors fire up when alcohol or some other drug enter the system of an addict. Let’s just say there are very nice benefits to fitness in recovery. It’s not an intense “high” but if the recovering person pays attention to it, it’s very nice.
Then there’s the bikes themselves…
Lived properly, a life of recovery needs the drop of a little cash from time to time. Choosing to live a responsible lifestyle is easier when one rewards oneself from time to time. I’m big on the rewards part – and what better way to reward oneself than with something that runs on fat rather than a wallet?
Now, we recovering folk strive for better than to be a glum lot. We’ve lived through and hopefully emerged from our own little hell that we created. Therefore, when it is responsible to do so, we take the liberty of rewarding ourselves for a job well done. Choosing cycling is probably a little bit rare, but now that I understand just how much can be done with it, as far as road trips and other adventures go, I recommend it to any recovering person looking for a fun way to burn off some energy and calories – and as a way of setting some endorphins free.
These are just a couple of the reasons cycling appeals to me, where fitness and recovery intersect. The list is truly too long to put into one post but for now, this covers quite a bit. In recovery we like to say, “If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backward”. There is no end zone in recovery. There’s no finish line. There is no resting on one’s laurels – oh, how I wish this weren’t true. There is always something to work on.
Choosing a fitness activity, sticking with it, and taking a reasonable amount of time out of every day provides a recovering addict or alcoholic with something they very desperately need: A break.
I walked out of my office after a
brutal run-of-the-mill Monday… The door opened with a whoosh and I was hit in the chest by the heat.
As I drove home I could feel the day weighing on me. My shoulders slumped a bit after I settled into my long stretch on the freeway.
It was five degrees warmer at home. Less wind. I was sweating by the time I hit the front door, less than 50 feet from my car. It was that hot.
I sat down on the couch, AC blasting cool air at me… after reading two posts I fell asleep.
Fifteen minutes later, on the nose, I woke up with a decision to make. It’s so freaking hot out there and my legs are fairly smoked after a big 250+ mile week during which I didn’t even need an 80 miler, let alone a century (I almost always need one century in there to make 250). In other words, a day off could easily be justified. My last true day off the bike was 10 or 11 days ago, I think.
I walked into the bike room and looked at my Venge. Dude.
I made my way into my bedroom and dressed to roll. Headsweats, helmet, shades, gloves, shoes, water, pump the tires up…
For the first time, I think since I started cycling, I really didn’t care how long it took to complete my 16 mile loop.
The wind was ridiculous. Instead of cooling me down it was like being blasted by a 20 mph furnace out of the west. I just went to it. The second mile, heading west, made me laugh out loud. 15 mph, in the drops and spinning like I meant it.
Later on, heading west, was laughable as well. 27 mph, keeping up with traffic, soft pedaling.
I rolled into the driveway smiling, 16 miles on the nose, in an easy 55 minutes. It wasn’t my slowest ride on a road bike, that goes to riding with my kids, but it was among my slowest solo rides on the Venge ever.
My gut, that fat guy inside me just looking for a flaw in the armor, hates my Venge. It hates my love of cycling. It hates that I’d rather ride slow than not at all. It hates that there’s no quit in me.
My gut hates that there are no flaws in the armor. The rest of me digs it though.
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Brexit…. Guns and Ammo.
How often do we see simple political issues turn ridiculous, only to have one side resort to calling the other names? He’s a racist because he thinks the US should have the same immigration policy as Mexico (i.e. If you’re caught here illegally, you go to jail or prison till we get around to shipping you home). She’s an liar because she attacked Republicans for proposing a Bill that would have fixed the loophole in the No-Fly, No Buy Law that the Democrats love so much – that loophole being a current secrecy and lack of transparency, without being able to face one’s accusers (the government) and mount a defense so that one may be removed from that list (which currently is exceptionally costly and very difficult).
Brexit… The Leave campaign was based on lies while the Remain camp simply resorted to exaggerations. Give me a break. Exaggeration is lying, sparky.
I’m not immune myself, which makes writing this post extra fun. I constantly make fun of vegans as intellectually challenged. Or better, how about the new trend in addiction treatment, “evidence-based” treatment alternatives? That one is probably my favorite of late because it is so virulently dishonest at its core.
There are all sorts of warm and fuzzy words jumbled together to describe what “evidence-based” is, but the simple way to put it is this: Evidence-based recovery is not a Twelve-Step Program and is devoid of that which is known as a Higher Power. My question is this: If you’re so intelligent and your idea of the way things should be is so excellent, why can’t you just come out and say it with a straight face? This is the “why” behind evidence-based recovery: We can’t regulate AA because there are no leaders, we can’t make money on AA because it’s free, and we can’t make it so only someone with a degree can administer it because any addict, regardless of educational background, can help another addict to recover simply by describing their own experience, strength and hope… So we have to demonize and get rid of Twelve Step Programs so we can administer recovery from on high. Basically, we’re going to do the exact same thing but we’re going to call it something else with fancy lingity (language, I like the word lingity because it’s funny) so we can make money off of it.
Look at the gun legislation that the Democrats shut the government down over last week with their insignificant sit-in. After all of the back and forth over the last twenty years, they finally had something that we all could agree on in “No-fly, no-buy”. Even the NRA, given the right legislation, would have backed it. Democrats wouldn’t have it though – and it’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because they’re smart. Democrats want a law that they can bend and manipulate later on so that they can eventually bring about an end to private ownership of weapons with a simple change of rules. This would be the easy end-around to actually crafting real legislation that a fair majority of people could agree with.
Another favorite of mine is “Universal” background checks. They’re not universal, they’re “Federal Background Checks”. Why use the word “Universal”? To spread ignorance among the followers. The other side won’t let “Universal” background checks pass because they know what’s next. The bureaucracy simply changes the rules by executive fiat to make it so difficult to pass a background check that you effectively can’t buy a firearm anymore. They end-around the Second Amendment of the Constitution the easy way, simply by passing a Law taking control of background checks that currently reside with local and State governments. Of course, you’ll never see that on the brochure though, because only the most hyper-partisan hack would agree that this was a good thing. This provides the perfect backdrop for a clash amongst the citizenry. I’m mad, you’re mad, I’m an idiot, but so are you. Exactly the way politicians like President Obama want it… That’s the only way they can control us. When we’re pissed and ignorant at the same time.
The real target for our scorn should be the politicians and they way they continue to stage these silly battles to keep us at each other’s throats…
…and if you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot. Or I am.
A 74 mile ride yesterday, a ride that by all accounts should have been a great, fairly easy 20 mph ride, ended up taking a lot of want to by the time we were done. I started struggling at around 48 miles… Probably a bit of over-training.
After a shower and a nap, my wife and I took the kids out to a friend’s house.
After that it was a nap before we were off to Diane and Adam’s house for a cookout, a lot of laughs and getting to know a couple of longtime club members. My contribution?
You know it. Noodle Salad. As good as I could hope for.
After today’s 55 that’s 258 for the week and I only need 67 more to crack 1,000 miles for the month. It’ll be tight but I should be able to get it done.
Today is a party day… It’ll be a nice breakfast for lunch followed by an enormous nap. The clouds are already building for rain.