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Monthly Archives: June 2016

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To the People of the UK: I’m going to lose a lot of money today but your freedom is worth it.

I never would have guessed that the people of the UK would extirpate the bureaucracy that is the EU, for their freedom.  You will understand, in time, where we were 240 years ago.

My friends, I am going to lose a lot of money today, because of that vote.

Your freedom is worth it.

Look, I don’t know anything about what’s going on over there, but the way I’m seeing this played out, this is a repudiation of political bureaucracy.  A shedding of the EU’s repugnant rules and regulation handed down by the powers that be outside of your own country. 

Of course the bureaucrats are going to waive their hands in the air and scream from their perch on high, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”!  They always do when their grip on power and endless money is threatened. 

The truth is simple.  Bureaucrats, to justify their existence and worth, eventually overreach their welcome.  In a bid to be all things to all people, they end up losing sight of being useful to those they’re beholden to in the first place.

As to whether or not it was the right thing to do, I have no opinion. It’s what you did. I hope it works out well for you.

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When in Doubt, Bonus Miles.

Mrs. Bgddy was unnecessarily worried about how Tuesday night’s tandem ride with the club unfurled.  She wanted to ride with me Wednesday night, if just for a bit because she’d ridden earlier, but wouldn’t go so far as actually saying so.  Being the astute observer I am, especially when it comes to my best cycling bud, I missed it completely.  Fortunately once I’m beaten repeatedly about the head and shoulders, even I can sense something’s up.

My original plan was for my normal 16 mile route and Mrs. Bgddy wanted to ride with me for three of them giving her another six.  We bumped into Diane on the road though, so I figured we could go the other way and ride with Diane to her road.  We rode with her for five miles and that gave me almost 20 minutes on the way back to talk things over with my wife.  Bonus.

Works been pretty stressful lately.  I’ve been sleeping a little rough.  I’m just a little off….

When in doubt, bonus miles. 

Rather than just get my 16. When Mrs. Bgddy pulled off at 10 miles, I kept going and still did most of the route I’d originally planned on.

I ended up with an awesome 24 miles, unprecedented for a weeknight other than a Tuesday, and I actually managed to stay slow ending with a 17.4 mph average (1h:22:50).

I pulled into my driveway and all was right in my world.  A good ride on my bike never fails to deliver.

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If you wondered what awesome looks like, that’s it.

UPDATE: I got another four bonus miles yesterday evening as well… 99 miles for the week, already – and we’ve got a nice long weekend planned as well.

Thursday Bike Pr●n… For Justl: Bow-chica-wow-wow Edition

Chuckle.

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That’s a pair of cycling shorts, btw…

Climbing Hills on a Bicycle. For Beginners. Pt 2 – The Nuts and Bolts

You know you’ve found the right group to ride with the first time you come to a 16% grade, the group entirely shatters within 100′, but everyone comes together at the top and rides off into the sunset… (Technically, you never ride into the sunset – cars can’t see you as with normal conditions when you ride into the sun and we don’t want to be dead cyclists.  It’s just a colloquialism)

I’ve spent some time thinking about my last post related to climbing and while it was well received, I wanted to get a little deeper.  I simply ran out of space.  Specifically, I wanted to expand on, or better answer, one key point:

The consequences from even a tiny mistake are huge.

Truer words have never been punched into this keyboard, but what are the mistakes and consequences?  That was covered a little bit in my last post, but there’s more to it than that because mistakes can be recovered from and on that very same hill – if we don’t panic.

Now, what’s the first thing you do when you find you’re in too high a gear or you get boxed in around other cyclists – worse, you’ve been sucking a tandem’s wheel all day and you know it’s rude to pass the tandem on a hill but they’re slower than you.  Now that’s a pickle!

Here are some rather simple mistakes:

  1. You get boxed in, cyclists to your left, right and front which means you have to slow down and can’t choose your comfortable cadence up the hill.
  2. The aforementioned tandem rule.
  3. Too high, or too easy a gear for the hill you’re on.
  4. Misjudge the length of a hill, miss a false flat, or turn a corner to see that hill rise into the heavens.
  5. Go too hard into a hill only to [Insert any of the items in #4 here].

In that first post I covered momentum as it pertains to keeping the pedals turning over at a comfortable rate but in each of those scenarios above, you’ll have to think fast and change up your strategy – especially when your breathing starts to pick up and you get close to hyperventilating.  Don’t panic!  Here’s how I handle those situations:

We’ll start with item number one, getting boxed in.  I climb decently so depending where I am in a group when we hit a hill I may have a few slower climbers ahead of me that I have to navigate around.  Know this, it’s a rare day that you’ll stay bunched in a group going up a hill (unless you’re in a race – in which case, you’re reading the wrong post).  If you’re in a comfortable gear for the hill you’re on, stay in that gear and slow down your cadence.  Get out of the saddle and grind for a few seconds while traffic clears ahead of you.  DO NOT try to increase your cadence while you’re out of the saddle, you’ll burn up.  You want to grind easy till traffic clears.  As soon as you see a gap, take two or maybe three good, hard pedal strokes and sit back down…  The momentum you just created should be enough to get your spin started again and you’ll blow by the grinders.  This works meticulously for me, I use it a lot.

The tandem rule, item number two.  It is rude to out-climb the tandem you’ve been mooching a draft off of all day.  If you can grind it out behind them, do so.  If you start overheating, spin up the hill, leave them in the dust, and make your apologies at the top of the hill.

Item number three.  This is for the steep grades – 15% and greater, when it’s tough to simply shift your way out of a mistake.  I always approach steep, punchy hills with care.  Going into a hill that you have to grind up, out of the saddle, is no fun in too easy a gear, it’s almost as bad as too hard a gear (but not quite).  I like to go at these hills with a little momentum from the bottom, then shift to the easier gears right before the incline really goes up.  Just last year on DALMAC, after 90-ish miles, we hit a long, not steep, three mile ascent.  I spun up it easily and came to a sign marking a turn.  I’d left many of my friends in the dust.  Breathing was good, gear selection was good…  When I rounded that corner I was presented with a sign that read something like “Steep Grade Ahead”.  I thought to myself, “C’mon, how bad could it be?”  18%, that’s how bad.  90 miles in, after a three mile climb.  I panicked when I saw the hill.  As soon as I got to the base of the hill, I went all the way down to my granny gear (36/28).  It was too hard to spin in that gear but too easy to grind because I could turn the pedals over too easy.  My cadence kept increasing when I wanted to just plod up the grade – I had to slow my speed to much to grind up the hill in that gear.  I made it about 2/3’s of the way up before I dismounted and walked my bike up the last 100 yards.  18% is not too steep to downshift, but it is to upshift.  It’s not a mechanical problem, it’s a mental problem.  The trick is to start in too hard a gear and quickly downshift until you find the right gear – don’t automatically assume you need the granny gear because grinding out of the saddle in the granny gear is pretty easy.  The trick is to throw the bike forward just a bit to shift.  If your equipment is well-tuned, it’ll work.  Then, do what I didn’t do in that instance:  Become Determined.  I lost my determination because I was tired and wanted the pain to stop.  I could have hip-checked my bike up that hill (I’d climbed much harder hills than that), but I lost focus.

Item number four…  Misjudging a hill’s length.  If you haven’t had this happen, keep riding.  You will.  You turn onto a road and see a steep hill.  Looks to be about 1/4 mile so you start spinning up it.  Your head is down and you’re spinning away as your breathing starts to quicken.  You know your close so you look up to see that the steep part is almost over but the hill actually stretches on for another mile.  Don’t panic.  Rather than upshift when the grade gets easier, stay in that same gear and spin at your normal cadence, maybe a few rpm less, until your breathing slows back down.  Then upshift a gear or two and continue climbing as you normally would.  This works.  All I can say is Brutus Road.  There’s a reason it’s named Brutus.  Sick bastards.

Item number five is the same fix as number four.  Don’t panic.  I broke my chain on a climb last year during Mountain Mayhem:  Beat the Heat.  105 miles of relentless hill climbing and I was at mile 17.  When I shifted going up a hill, from the big ring to the little ring, the front derailleur must have hit my Missing Link just right (and I probably had it backwards) and the whole thing flew apart.  I found half of the link but not the other.  My friends went on and I called the SAG Wagon and waited by the side of the road.  Not content with sitting idly by, or cashing in my day so early, I started looking for the other half in the road.  After a quick prayer and looking skyward, I looked down and there was the other half, right between my two feet (I kid you not).  I called off the SAG wagon, put my chain back together and charged after my friends.  I knew there was a rest stop at mile 22 so if I could just make up a minute or two I was sure to catch them.  I was hoping for a hill but I wasn’t ready for what I got.  I made a left hand turn and there was an 18-20%+ monster staring right back at me.  Now, I had a bit to get to the hill and I certainly had motivation, but I wasn’t without doubt.  That’s a big hill after hammering out three miles to catch my buds.  I knew Mike would be slow going up so I took a minute to spin up to it and recover my breathing.  Once I got to it, I downshifted till I found got one harder gear than I should have been in and I rocked that hill out.  I caught up with my friends at the rest stop and rode the rest of the way with them.

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That’s us at the end.

Remember, hills may not be your friend, but it’s kinda tough to get away from them if you ride a bike.  This is a good thing, too.  Practice makes perfect.

Ride hard my friends.

Join Us on the Road… The Assenmacher 100 August 21.

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Read that ride cost again…  $15 for a fully supported, rest areas stocked with food, ride.

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If you can be in the area, I’ll be the guy on the smokin’ red on black Venge in the Affable Hammers kit…
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Unless I’ve somehow pissed you off with one of my Holier than Thou posts.  In that case, I’ll be in the Botrager/Trek kit, riding a leisure bike.  😀

Wednesday Venge Pr●n

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Just gotta love it when, after years of tinkering around with different accessories, everything comes together just right.

Ooh, no pun intended.

Dammit.

Oh, crap… It’s Wednesday too.

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Tuesday Night Club Ride: Tandemonium Edition

That’s right, my friends.  Tandemonium met the Tuesday night club ride last night.

I was nervous going into this.  My wife and I just managed our first 20 mph ride on the tandem a week or so ago and we are a little slow on our own for the big group with a 19 mph average and we need to be at 20 or better.  I wanted it though.  I wanted to see how we could do with the big dogs on Tuesday night.

The warm up was spectacular.  We pulled the group the whole way at an easy 17.2 mph and all of that worry faded to the background. With the wind, strong as it was (19 mph WNW), and the ease with which we were plowing through it (one of the best benefits of riding a tandem over a single bike), I was excited to see what we could do.

We were off the back inside of two miles.

Now, don’t read that as if I were upset, angry, sad or any other negative at that point… The truth is we got dropped because I wasn’t strong enough to keep us with the group and we just weren’t ready. We weren’t strong enough as a team.

We went from 24 mph down to 18-19 mph immediately, and I had to bust my ass to maintain that… My buddy Mike faded off the back to stay with us but it got ugly and it didn’t get much better over the next 18 miles.  After picking Mike up, we spent the next seven miles up front and I knew we should be able to maintain 18-19 mph, even into that nasty wind.  Eventually we caught Matt who was shaken off the back as well and we split duties up front.  My wife and I were maintaining pretty well, especially when we turned south, with the wind in our back right pocket.

We struggled up the first set of hills with a missed shift (I have to get the front derailleur adjusted in a little better – it was a mechanical problem) and I was starting to run out of gas from the extra effort.  When we turned east, with a tailwind, things got worse with a series of hills, even with the tailwind.

Mrs. Bgddy was fading fast and I wasn’t doing much better.  Fast forward and once we caught up with our friends Mike and Diane on their tandem, things got better.  We were able to hide for a bit and that recharged my batteries considerably.  Unfortunately, as soon as they pulled off the front and we assumed the position, my wife stopped putting power to the pedals.  Our speed dropped from 21 all the way down to 18-1/2 and I knew she was done.  I tried to keep our speed up but it was, strictly speaking, impossible.

We ended up waving everyone along and finished the ride at our own pace – and I got pretty snippy in the process.  Some of the issues we bumped into had nothing to do with the engines, but some did.

We learned a lot last night and before the bike was in the trunk of my wife’s SUV I’d apologized for allowing myself to become agitated.  I knew she’d given it her best and I was simply frustrated that my best wasn’t good enough to make up the difference.

Riding tandem isn’t as easy as I’d hoped.  As good as we both are on our single bikes, I’d assumed we would progress a little faster but that’s my big problem.  The truth is, and I came to this at the end of the ride, we’ve been riding a tandem for all of a month.  We’re just not “there” yet.

Even though we struggled through the last half of the ride, I’m looking at the whole thing as a plus…  At least we know where we are.

Besides, that was my biggest problem yesterday – and that’s definitely a good thing.