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Monthly Archives: September 2016

It’s that time of year again…

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, it’s that time of year again.  The truck is packed and I’ll be heading out the door to enjoy the weekend in the seclusion of mid-Michigan whilst, and at the same time, looking for an opportunity to put an inch-and-a-half diameter hole in Bambi’s dad.

This year, I decided I might try something new and give you a break… from me, while I’m out hunting.  It is now coming into October and last I checked there were only nine blank days showing no posts on my stats page since January First.

I think I need to take a weekend to unplug and enjoy the great outdoors as it was meant to be enjoyed:  Happy, and heavily armed.

Enjoy your weekend my friends, I will mine.

Weight-loss, a “How I Do/Did It”.  The Equations of Success.

The last time I wrote about my weight, I was at 177 and hoping for 175.  I’m between 172 and 173.  That was about a month ago.

My Body Mass Index was a healthy 24 back then.  It’s now an even better 23.5. 

My diet, meaning the conglomeration of what I ingest, is natural and home cooked.  I eat my fruits and veggies but I typically think of vegetarians, especially vegans, as misguided.  I believe a balanced diet is best.  But that’s just me, you do what you want, and leave my meat alone.  

Next, I limit soda to special occasions only.  Otherwise, as crazy as I get is an Arnold Palmer, God rest his soul.  Half the calories, all of the awesome.  Either that or I enjoy a good, flavored H2O.

Other than that, this is it:

The equations and order are very simple.  My initial weight maintenance formula is this: Miles + Fuel = W.  When I want to drop weight, I simply alter the equation:

More x Miles + Fuel = “W – R” or weight reduction.

If W isn’t dropping satisfactorily then I modify the equation thusly:

(More x Faster x Miles) + (Fuel x 0.75) = W – R.

On the occasion that still doesn’t work I would alter it again:

(More x Faster x Miles) + (Fuel x 0.66) = W – R.

Now, if that still doesn….

Just kidding, I’ve never even gotten to that last one.  You get the idea though.  The tricky part is looking at food as fuel.  Once I got that down, the rest was easy.  Have you ever passed on a piece of cake because it won’t help your ride in the morning?  I do.  A lot.  And it feels awesome.

It’s not rocket science… hell, it’s barely Algebra.

Tuesday Night Club Ride:  Defying the Taper Edition

I’ve never been a fan of tapering before a big ride.  I get the idea, I’m just not a fan and as a general rule, I will not comply.  A couple of months ago, in the midst of a thousand-mile month, I did hit a spell where I needed a couple of days off so I took them.  As far as an actual taper goes though, I’ve said for quite a while now, I’ll taper when I’m dead.

Monday, after an impromptu 86 miles on Sunday, I went on a hill climbing tour with my wife.  There wasn’t much flat, we were either going up or down and I worked a lot harder than I should have.

Last night, for the club ride, I was supremely thankful that we’d started the B Group because I knew my legs were smoked.  It was exceptionally windy too.  Phill and I were the only two to show up for the warm-up so it was mercifully slow – I was spinning easy the whole time.  7-1/4 miles, 28 easy minutes, give or take.

We lined up for the main event and I was sitting on my top tube when the A’s started to pull out.  Then Matt motioned for everyone to go with the A’s… and most started to go, so I went with.  I’d been wondering how I’d do with the big dogs anyway.

Long story short, I crushed it.  I pulled through and stayed in the rotation (though my turns were reasonably short, a minute or two max), hit the hills hard, matched a couple of attacks and even bridged two big gaps left by guys who were struggling to keep the raucous pace.

I was the last B guy to drop (on purpose, to regroup at the 2o mile mark with the other B’s).  To say I was stoked would be an understatement.  

The B guys came up the hill, one by one, and we quickly regrouped and were off again.  At the 2o mile mark we were at 21.9 mph for an average.  We took a minute to get back up to speed but once we got there, it was @$$holes and elbows all the way in.  Not only did we hold that 21.9 average, we raised it two tenths to 22.1.  We finished the 29 and change miles in 1:18:18.  Our fastest ever as the B group by more than a minute.

Go figure…  I worked hard on Friday and Saturday.  Then again on Sunday.  I worked too hard on hill repeats on Monday, then did my share to help our B guys put in our fastest Tuesday night average ever and I was strong straight through the finish line.

Now, I won’t go so far as to say anyone should do things my way, or suggest the conventional wisdom is wrong.  I’m simply saying I’m more resilient that I thought I could be considering what conventional wisdom allows.  With one exception:  Conventional wisdom says my hard days aren’t hard enough and my easy days aren’t easy enough.  

With the notion that my hard days aren’t hard enough before tapering, everything makes sense.  Those four hard days in a row weren’t quite as hard as I thought they were, even though they were a long way from easy.

The takeaway is twofold.  First, I’m stronger than I often think I am.  Second, there’s a fair amount of room for improvement.

Both are very good things.

How to Watch the Debate with Someone Who Sits Across the Aisle…

My wife and I love each other dearly, until election year rolls around.  Because politicians like their voters divided, it seems they’ve figured out a way to keep us fighting non-stop, as election seasons stretch out for almost an entire year and a half now.  Better to keep us pissed.  Sometimes it gets a little tense in the Casa de Big Daddy.  We’ve watched snippets of debates together, my wife and I, but normally we skip the process altogether for the sanctity (and serenity) of our marriage.

This year, I wasn’t about to miss the $#!+storm.

My wife and I managed to civilly get through it.  It was touch and go for a while though.

Now, put us in a politically charged situation and one of us is coming away pissed, nine times in ten.  Humorously neither of us can understand how the other can be such a dolt for believing what the other believes.  This leads to tension.

So after the debate we watched the movie Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  And we laughed.  Hard.

We went to bed a couple of hours after the debate, happy.

The trick was comedy.

So, whether your wife is a brain dead liberal, or your husband is a brain dead Republican (or whatever the party system/gender/party mix you happen to have), simply pass the popcorn…  Then watch something that makes the both of you laugh afterwards.  It’ll knock the ice off and help you to remember that politicians are like $#!+: In the end, they’re necessary but dammit sure do they stink the place up.

I Brought a Venge to a Jaunt Around the Block and a Real Ride Broke Out…

I walked out the door yesterday morning hoping for 40 to 50 miles.  It was cool, only 45 degrees and it wouldn’t be warming beyond the low 60’s before we got back… or so I thought.  I wore tights, a long sleeved thermal jersey, and I was comfortable.  Not warm, but not cold either.  Just right.

I was riding with my wife, Matt, Mike, Chuck (his wife ended up coming along as well and they brought their tandem) and I was hoping for a few others but nobody else showed.  So be it.  We rolled out at a fair but challenging pace for Mike, about 19 to 20-1/2 mph.  I was feeling the miles a little bit after two days and a whole lot of time up front so I only spent a couple of miles at a time pulling the gang.

My wife and Mike dropped at about 12 miles to head back with Mike who is really coming around fast from his open heart surgery…  He’d put in something like 70 miles between Friday and Saturday so he needed an easy day.  Chuck and his wife stayed with Matt and I as we continued out to Byron.  When we got to town, we headed further west and started talking about how our ride would shake our.  Chuck and his wife wanted 35 miles but Matt and I wanted more.

We settled on meeting up with the slower group and letting Chuck and his wife head home from there, only ten miles from the meeting spot.

There was a decent turnout of slower guys and two tandems that showed up.  We rolled out together, Matt and I with 20 miles under our belts already.  I worked myself to the front to find out where they were headed, and that’s when things got interesting…  They were heading out to Laingsburg.  Brad said it was only 25 miles out there but I knew better.  I went back and talked to Matt and he said he was good to roll.

It was gonna turn into a long one.

Truthfully, I was more than a little worried about the distance – my math put us in “Oh, crap, I’m gonna have to work” territory.  It’s been three weeks since I topped 60 miles and after two tougher days?  I just soldiered on, thankful that I was at least with a slower group that the one I’m used to riding with.

Sure enough, we pulled into Laingsburg with 50 miles.  We were at least 35 from home…. and we thought we were going to have headwind all the way home.

So here I am, 35-ish miles from home, and all I’ve got left in me is one Gu and one bottle of Gatorade.  I’d eaten a banana 30 miles ago and I was hungry.  I bummed $5 from Matt and got a big bottle of POWERade, a Payday (King Size) and a small can of Coke.  By the time we left I had two topped off bottles, and I was feeling much better after the candy bar and Coke.  I figured I’d save the gel for the last ten miles or if I found myself close to a bonk.

Fortunately the wind had shifted and the worst we got was crosswind.  That doesn’t happen too often.

The return trip was fairly uneventful and the tandems took the brunt of the pulling, though I definitely did my share.

We pulled into the elementary school parking lot where everyone met with 75 miles on the trip, with an average pace of 18.3.  Not great, but considering the crowd and being this late in the season, I was happy enough – and that left just Matt and me for the last ten to my house.  I fired down that last gel.

Now, you might think we’d take it easy for the last ten.  We got a bunch of bonus miles in on the day, we hadn’t ridden that far in weeks, and it was only ten more miles, and there were only two of us.  To that, I would simply say you don’t know me/us very well.

Matt set the pace.  20-1/2 to 22 mph with the crosswind, with a long two-mile turn up front.  I took over next and matched pace.  Same distance.  Matt opened it up when we turned north and were blessed with a tailwind… 24-25 mph for three miles.

That left me the final three back home and I kept the crosswind pace.  I flagged just shy of home and arm-flicked Matt up to take us in.

In just ten miles we jumped our average up by three tenths.  We showed up for a jaunt around the block and a real ride broke out.

Makes me chuckle thinking back to the old days when I had to plan a ride like that out so I wouldn’t bonk.  A stop every 20-30 miles, on board fuel, potty breaks.  Today I can just roll with it.  And for that I am grateful.


Is Cycling Safer with a Light on the Back of Your Bike?  This Cyclist Says It is…

Tony, “One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living past 100,” and I were kicking around a little theory about why cycling with a blinky on the back of a bike is safer for a cyclist in reference to my post about Trek’s ABC’s of Awareness, which boil down to “be seen”.

I wear bright cycling clothing that matches my bike.  This is both a good and bad thing as my bike is red… on black.  Red sticks out excellently well.  Black?  Uhm, matching the road surface is not advisable if you have a desire to be seen.  So basically I have a lot of red and white in my jerseys because black is basically cycling camouflage.  

Two years ago I bought a new headlight and blinky (blinking taillight) for our once-a-year Halloween night ride that signifies the end of the season for our advanced Tuesday Night Club Ride… then I bought the same light for my wife…

I’ll just cut to the chase for brevity’s sake:  Every cyclist I’ve spoken with, every one… 100%, has stated that they are treated better by motorists if they’re sporting a blinky when they ride.  Day or night.  

As of a few weeks ago, every time I ride alone, with my wife, or in a small group, I ride with a blinky.  With all of the reports of bicyclists getting mushed by motorists lately, I decided I owed it to my wife and kids to do everything I can to bring it home alive.  

Over the last couple of years, my wife and I both have noticed a difference in motorists driving patterns when we’re sporting a blinky over when we’re not.  It’s a subtle difference.  Fewer attempts at buzzing us (I can’t recall one with a taillight on), a little more room as a car passes…

Now, I know what some will say about putting a blinky on their high-end carbon aero bike…  I used to think the same way…. used to.  Left seat stay:

I use the Serfas Thunderbolt for one reason:  A police officer pulled over a friend of mine to complement him on his blinking light.  He said that he could literally see it flashing a mile away.  

That was the light I wanted on my bike.

There are four settings, two low (solid and blink) and two “blind you” settings.  Now, I don’t want to blind motorists so I use the low setting which is more than enough.  Unlike most lights on the market, even the low setting on the Thunderbolt can’t be looked at directly from close range without causing one to recoil.  The light is bright is what I’m trying to say.

It also fits on any kind of aero tube you’d want, without scratching the paint, and without any special tricks needed (like zip ties) – in other words, I don’t need a saddle bag to attach it to (because I’m too cool for a saddle bag).

The left seat stay is the perfect location for a taillight.  It doesn’t get in the way, it shines at motorists rather than down at the ground and in a small group it’s better on the eyes for those drafting behind you.

I know this because all of my cycling friends rely on a Thunderbolt, and that’s mainly where we prefer them.  Simply put, other than the Garmin interactive radar taillight that costs more than a decent mountain bike (with the computer you need to run it), the Thunderbolt is the best blinky on the market for the fashion conscious cyclist.  It’s small, the brightest light on the market (that I’ve seen or know of), weatherproof (in my experience), rechargeable (6-7 hours on a charge in low-blink mode) and it won’t screw up my paint.

What more could a fella want?  Oh, yeah… motorists appreciate it and treat me better when I use it.  

Serfas gave me nothing for mentioning their blinky.  No free stuff – they actually don’t have any knowledge of me or my blog (that I’m aware of).  I mention their light because it is the best.  In my experience.

There is no imperical scientific data that suggests riding with a blinking light causes motorists to treat cyclists better.  None that I’m aware of anyway.  I don’t need it, because I know what I’ve experienced on the road, and all of my friends agree:  A rear blinky means better riding.  Period.

Resting Heart Rate? What’s that?!

My, “I’ve woken up, watched some news and had a cup of coffee” heart rate is 42 beats per minute.

Sad fact is, I can’t measure my “haven’t rolled out of bed yet”, real resting heart rate…  I’m too tied up looking forward to that first, glorious sip of coffee….  ah well, good enough for government work.

The Tempo Cyclist reminded me this morning that it’s been a while since I measured my “resting” heart rate (RHR), almost a month.  I have always been on board that the RHR is a decent measure of general fitness, so the fact that it’s dropped by 10% in the last month is welcome news.
I rode this morning with my wife, Mike and Brad.  38-1/2 miles, at an average of about 17 mph.  Two long days in a row for Mike, so I took the tempo down a bit.  I spent a ton of time up front again and did it on two sips of my wife’s Gatorade… I’d given Mike my bottle because he was so excited to ride, he accidentally left his on the counter at home.

By the time I dropped Mike at his road, I was hit.  I spent a lot of time in the headwind on the way home and I was cooked.  

That said, man was it a nice ride.  I love fall cycling.

Paybacks aren’t all that bad, amongst friends. On bikes.

My buddy Mike is well into his recovery from his open heart, triple bypass.  He’s been riding, on the road, for almost two weeks.

Yesterday was to be a new milestone for him and while my wife has had time to ride with him throughout the week, I finally got to tag along yesterday…  Nine weeks after getting sewn up and he was jumping it up to 30 miles.

My wife took the first mile up front while I became acquainted with their normal pace.  Just a mile and a quarter from our driveway is our first Township Limits sign so I took that.  My wife has been paying attention though…  I soft pedaled waiting for them to catch up, but when they did, my wife got right on my wheel and said something to the affect of, “You want up there so bad, you can pull”.

So I did.  I got in the perfect gear to spin between 18 and 18-1/2 mph and kept it there.  Five miles went by.  Ten…  18 to 18-1/2 mph, the whole way.  17 uphill, 20-24 downhill.  Coming into Byron, the halfway point, my wife launched a sprint for the sign and I let her go…  Too early I figured – but she didn’t quit, she just kept after it and absolutely smoked Mike and I.  It was rather impressive.

We stopped at the gas station for a pit stop, then headed out on our way again.  I took the front and quickly realized it was going to be a bit of a long ride home.  The wind was starting to pick up and was right in our face.  Same story though, I kept it around 18-ish.  We rolled over 24 miles before my wife came up and took a mile.  Mike took a mile a little bit later then I took the rest.  I pulled for 28 of the 31 miles.

Mike would comment on the fact that I’d been up there so long but with all of the riding I’ve done this year, holding a steady 18 mph pace for my friend was easy.  There was something else to it.  I said, “Mike, you’ve pulled for me over more miles than I care to count.  I’ll return the favor any time.”

This is how we roll.

The one thing that really makes me pause to think is that this can’t last forever and that reality really bums me out.  I try not to think about what it’ll look like when we can no longer ride together, but I’ve gotta tell you, it’s just too damned depressing to think about.  So I don’t.  I simply can’t imagine it getting any better than this, so I push pondering about what I can’t possibly see aside and focus on enjoying every mile I get with my wife friends.

One time, long ago, my sponsor’s sponsor gave me my six month coin and said, “I promise you, if you keep coming back [read that “stay sober and work the steps”], your life will become so good you’ll think it can’t possibly get better.  Six months later you’ll realize it has.”

I love it when this happens… and that it still does.

The End of the Road…

34,000 miles, I’ve only found the end of the road once.  So I turned around and started looking for another with the hope that last one was an anomaly.  After all, have you ever tried riding a road bike with 24 mm wide tires through sand?!

Before I sobered up and started living right, it would have been a different story.  I’d have kept going till I drowned in the lake under the delusion that my eyes were surely deceiving me.

And for that, I am grateful.

Bike Pr●n…  Because. BIKE Pr●n!

The sun was hitting my office funny late Monday morning.  I made it to the office early so I could take some time to clean my bike after the weekend before work and thought it would make a neat picture as I was plunking away on my keyboard.

One might think I would grow tired with snapping photos of my bike.  Not so!  I liked that one enough to make it my new lock screen photo.  Something intelligent about shadows, blah, blah, blah: