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Monthly Archives: October 2016

GCN on How to Make Your Bike Look Pro

I’ve got four of the five (and I am flexible enough to be comfortable riding as my bike as set up):


Sadly, those $3,000 wheels are simply too much damage on the budget.  Now, technically you may note that I could actually drop my stem another 5 mm.  I tried it, it was just too much to get comfortable with, so where it is it will stay.

As far as my two cents go, having a bike the looks “pro” ranks right up there with… well, a bunch of other $#!+ that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that we’ve got a bike that we’re happy to ride…. well, in all fairness, let’s just skip the extremes, eh?

If you want more, try Seven Things You didn’t Know about Carbon Fiber:

The First Crappy Ride of 2016… Had to Come Sooner or Later.

It was supposed to be a perfect weekend.  Three days in a row, 33 to 40 miles a day.

Friday, 34 miles.  Cold, but we got it done and had some fun.

Saturday, 33 miles.  Warm and awesome.  Perfectly enjoyable.  As good as they get for late October.

Then there’s Sunday.  They were calling for rain so we were going to hope for the best and play it as it came.  It started raining at 7:30, just before daybreak.  It rained for two and a half hours.  Then there was waiting for it to dry out.  Mike bailed, then Brad, then Phill.  

My wife and I headed out the door at around 1 pm.  Our road was damp but not wet, and drying.  It was cold though, and with a brisk wind out if the north, it cut right through my thermal jersey.  45 degrees, cloudy, windy… and it started drizzling before we were done with our second mile.

We pressed on anyway and the barely there rain turned out to be short-lived.  The wind, however, was not.  I pulled the first seven miles, a headwind the whole way, and it sucked.  

My wife took the next mile and I took the lead after that, with a tailwind.  I was dressed for weather five to ten degrees colder, even with the tailwind I never really warmed up, though it was nice to climb the longest of the hills as fast as I was riding into the headwind just a couple of miles earlier.

It was home from there and I knew we were going to be short, just fourteen miles.  Under normal circumstances, call those summer, fourteen miles would simply be unacceptable unless it was going to rain.  I’m not a fan of taking an hour to clean and lube my bike, and I am okay with this.  Yesterday, however, was one of those “I just don’t care” days.  We took it home and parked the bikes in the bike room.  Just fifty minutes on the bike.  I’d almost have been happier riding the on trainer with a movie playing.  Almost.

Considering we’re a day away from November, I can live with this being the first crappy ride of the year.  I feel quite lucky we got this far into the year.

Cycling: Simple Tricks for Training to Ride Faster

Cyclists often, almost down the line, want to ride just a little faster. It’s a rare day you get one who is completely happy with where they’re at.  I have a few tricks I use to keep improving:

Train on inferior equipment. Seriously. I ride an older Trek as a rain bike and its wheels are in great condition, they’re just slow, painfully slow. By riding with my friends on training rides using the Trek, I have to work harder to keep the pace.  When I switch to the Venge with the superior wheels, I’m noticeably quicker and don’t have to work as hard to go faster. Try it, you’ll like it. Just remember to switch back to the good stuff for the big rides.

Spend time at the front of the group. Spending extraordinary amounts of time at the front of a slower group will absolutely help you hang better with a faster group… providing you cut back the time you spend pulling to reasonable levels. Such has been my experience. Try it.

When at the very back ride out of the draft. Only at the back, though.  I don’t necessarily like this one too much but I know a couple of guys who employ this simple trick.  Just make sure that when others come to the back you get back into like properly.  It’s not cool to mess up someone else’s draft for your selfishness.

Sprint up hills during training rides (more the speed bumps than actual climbs).  The perfect interval training session.  I use this regularly in during springtime training sessions.  It also helps on hill climbing all season long.  I even started to view climbing hills differently as I went along.  Most advanced groups will have a few people who attack on the hills.  If you’re already used to training fast on the hills, it won’t quite suck as bad when someone attacks.

Push yourself away from the dinner table when you’re full.  The biggest enemy of speed is fat.  If you want to be fast, be lean and mean.

My personal favorite:  Ride A LOT!  My friends, the best way to get fast is to ride a lot.  The more miles you ride, the stronger you become, the stronger you are…  My buddy Mike can get fast in the Springtime by sheer volume.  Of course, he’s retired.

Ride fast.  Train fast, ride fast.  How does one know what that is?  Start by slightly puking in your mouth… that’s training fast.  It tastes gnarly, for sure, but it works.

Ride fast… and hard, my friends.

Who do You want Running the Government?

Donald Trump:  Boeing 757

Hillary Clinton:  Boeing 737

During the primary, Trump spent a quarter that of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  Trump beat 12 other Republicans running in the Primary.  In Dollars, Trump spent $55 Million to beat 15 other candidates.  Hillary Clinton had to spend $174 Million to beat a cranky, old socialist.  In America.  Bernie spent $202 Million and wasn’t smart enough to know the primary was rigged from day one.  Trump spent $46 per Delegate.  Hillary $146 and Sanders, chuckle, $254.
Hillary Clinton will spend, roughly $1.3 Billion before this is over.  About half a Billion more than Trump. 

Trump’s plane has a gold-plated sink.  By the bedroom.  Hillary’s has standard seating.

This post isn’t for the Kool-aid drinking Hillary supporter.  I know, you don’t care how much it costs to defeat those wascawy Wepubwicans.  I know.  Just move along and comment if you must.  You won’t change my mind, even if you call me names and stuff and I know I won’t change yours…  You’re obviously okay with an astounding level of corruption, as long as it comes from your side of the aisle. I’m just sayin’…

OH YEAH!  By the WAY!  It’s October!  Surprise!  The FBI re-opened the investigation into her worshipfulness because of information gleaned in the investigation of Carlos Danger sexting underage girls!  

I’m not used to these things going our way!  What a treat.  If you haven’t seen VP Joe Biden’s reaction when a reporter lets him in on the fact that the emails came from Carlos Danger’s – AKA Anthony Weiner (no kidding) – computer…  It’s the best Joltin’ Joe ever.  I laughed for 15 minutes…  I’m not exaggerating.

Cycling in the Service of Others

One thing I’ve come to enjoy about staying fit on a bicycle is working up front for others.  My days stuck up front for a lead out are almost as fun as sprinting for the finish on Tuesday night.

Some times you’re the lead out, sometimes the sprinter.  If you’re exceptionally lucky, you can be both…

My wife and I rode with Mike and Chuck this morning, and Mike is coming quickly back to form from his triple bypass just a few short months ago.  Chuck rode up to our house, a six mile trip, and we all met up at the end of my road and rolled out together.  In sharp contrast to yesterday morning the temperature was almost double as we rolled out.  32 yesterday, 62 this morning, though the roads were damp yet again.  That’s life in Michigan.

I took the first turn up front and settled in as we headed into a decent 15 mph WSW headwind.  I kept it between 17.5 and 18 mph so as not to blow my wife and Mike up too early.  Sure enough, after a mile here comes my wife on the right to take the first Township sign.  I didn’t even see her coming up on my left.

I got on her wheel when I caught her and made her pull for another mile.  My wife was done and headed to the back after that mile.  I took the next and Chuck backed me up with a solid four mile turn.  Then Mike and my wife took a mile each and it was back to me and Chuck for several more.

Around mile 14 my wife and I made a charge for the Byron sign and I took it, but barely…  Mike called it right when he caught back up – my wife didn’t give anything up, she made me work for that one, hard.

In Byron proper Chuck split off and headed for home.  I knew the bulk of the remaining 20 miles were going to fall on my shoulders and that suited me just fine.  

I took my place up front and stayed there, heading north with a cross tailwind that was a lot more cross than tail.  Still, holding 19 to 20 mph was fairly easy.  I kept it pretty close to the middle of the lane too to give my wife and Mike as much protection as I could.  I don’t have a clue how many miles I spent up there but it was more than five miles.

From there Mike and my wife took a mile each and I was back up front.  

Then came the merciful tailwind and I spent all but a couple of the last twelve up front trying to work Mike without blowing him (or my wife) up.  It was a fine line and my wife hollered at me a few times to dial it back a little bit, which I did.  

As we pulled up to our road, we sat up and Mike asked if I’d been trying to work him.  I responded simply.  Of course.

This is what real cyclists do for each other.  Mike pulled me around courses for years until I got my cycling legs built up under me.  I’m just glad I’ve got the opportunity to pay him back.  And how about my wife, my best friend?  It’s not even a question.  I’d ride my @$$ into the ground for her.  That’s just what we do.

If you haven’t had this opportunity yet, try busting your butt for a friend.  I guarantee you it’ll do your heart good.  Twice.  Heck, your legs might be pretty appreciative too.

Taking a sprint after (or during as the case may be) a good ride feels like a million bucks, but working your butt off for a friend or two so they can have a better, faster ride… well that’s priceless.

The Venge Gets Hung Up…

The Venge’s days are numbered, for this year.

I rode with a whole pile of friends yesterday morning, 34 miles in just a little less than 2 hours.  1:59:59 to be exact.  It was slow, but with the starting temperature below our overall mileage, meaning it was freezing or 0 C, I wasn’t expecting much.

The ground was a little damp too so there was absolutely no way I was taking the Venge out.  Also, with the night ride coming up on Tuesday, it just makes sense to hang the Venge up for warmer, kinder days.  

Now, you may wonder how a simple night ride could have any bearing on why I’d hang up the Venge…

Good luck hanging a light from that handlebar.  I’ve tried, and short of zip ties and a ridiculous amount of DIY rigging, it just isn’t going to happen.  I’ve tried, with expert help, and there’s nothing out there…

No, it’s the round bar of the Trek or nothing.  In this case, awesome has its limits.

Ugh.  I Hate Rain Days….

My legs feel better than they’ve felt in four or five months.  It’s been raining non-stop for two days.  Not a gnarly, driving rain, just constant.  It was supposed to clear up yesterday and for about 30 minutes it appeared it would… the sun even broke through the cloud cover for a couple of minutes.

It was drizzling again, thirty minutes later so I cancelled our planned evening ride.

I know… my friends in the UK are thinking, “Wait, you don’t ride in the rain?!”

I don’t.  It rarely rains often enough here to bother, we just use our rain days for rest days.  The bikes stay clean and all is well.  Well, in Spring and Fall we can get a stretch of gnarly weather now and again.

Normally this isn’t a cause for concern either, I simply take a pair of cycling shorts, shoes and a tee-shirt to the office, along with my bike and trainer and I get my ride in at lunch time.  Perfect!

Until the weatherman and the Internet screw that up.  The rain was supposed to clear up yesterday morning according to the weather powers-that-be, so I decided to skip the trainer and ride later.

In any event, I wound up with a nice nap before my normal Thursday meeting.

We’ll be riding all weekend long, if the weather holds of course.

Obviously, like everyone else on the planet, I cut my food intake by a third over those two days… because we all know that we don’t need extra calories till after we’ve already burned them.  Right?

And I’m lucky I’m not fat.

I’ll leave you this day with a photo of my bike room/wrench room.  You want stress?  Try wrenching on a bike on carpet…  It does make one efficient though:

Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary:  The Definition of Carbon Fiber.

The Fit Recovery Cycling Dictionary defines “Carbon Fiber” thusly:

Carbon Fiber

ˈkärbən ˈfībər


See also:  Awesome

Enough said.

How I Exercise through the Tough Times:  No Rest for the Weary, and Other Brilliant Crap.

We’ve all had those days where we just want to, after a tough day, put on our pajamas, curl up into a ball on the couch with Bourne Legacy playing in the background as we drift off to sleep.

Let me tell you, I have had a lot of those as the days have gotten shorter and markedly colder.  My body, if I “listen to it”, is saying, “Yo, you’re stressed the f*** out and you need to sleep for a week.  Or two”.

It hits me, like a warm blanket and curling up with my wife on the couch, on the way home from the office.  My eyes start to drooping, my head lowers just an inch, and my shoulders drop just a little.

By the time I walk in the door my body is saying, “Aw yeah, let’s take a little nappy”.

Only one member of my melon committee is saying, “But dude, we gotta roll!”

I hate that feeling.  I want to be excited about having the opportunity to ride after work!  I hate those days where “meh” sums up how I feel about my daily ride.  But they happen.

Some days I do take a fifteen minute nap before I ride, and that does the trick.  Others, I know what happens if I close my eyes…  I’m out for the count.

These are tough days.  Those were once days off.  I used to give in and curl up, not caring about the ramifications.  I used the dopey, “Well, my body says I need a nappy, by golly I gotta nappy… 😥😂😍😢”

Not today.  And certainly not yesterday going back more than five years…

My penchant for wanting to stay home and lick my nuts (in canine parlance) used to be unbeatable.  I was incapable of putting up a decent fight against the desire to take a rest day once the melon committee got involved.

Today I have a different attitude.  And a bike.  It’s the days I want to throw in the towel that are most important for me to get out the door and take my daily two-wheeled stress medication.  It’s those days I have to get it done.

I no longer fight getting suited up, even if I have the thought now and again that I’d rather not.  I just do – and once I’m suited up, my heart starts a pumpin’ and there’s no holding me back.  Ridin’ baby!

This is my simple trick to always staying on Go:  I suit up and show up.  Once I’m dressed, the rest works itself out.

There will be plenty of time for sleep later, when I’m dead.  Till then, Rollin’, baby!

Interestingly, I’ve never woken up from a nap or a deep sleep smiling like that.  I have, however, finished every bike ride except two with that smile on my face.  That would be two, out of one thousand five hundred eighty-seven. Give or take.

Understanding Pace Line Cycling; a few How To and Where to Be Tips for Cycling with an Advanced Group!

I had a very interesting scenario unfold last night at the club ride that was the impetus for this post.

An older woman who has been a cyclist for some time and is currently the stoker on my buddy, Brad’s tandem (and a good one at that), rode with us last night for the final club ride of the season.  With her years of experience and riding with Brad on the tandem, I expected that she’d fit right in.

My expectations were clearly too high.

She was all over the place.  Hanging out in the wind half the time, to the left side, to the right side… trying to horn in on someone else’s draft when she started tiring out…  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Now, it gets better because I ride a lot with Brad… she slid over next to me and started carrying on a conversation (we were in a single file pace line).  As she starts to tire out, she began crowding me out of my spot in the pace line.  Befuddled (and with plenty of gas in my tank), I opened up a gap and said there you are, if you want my spot so bad, take it.

I stayed away from her the rest of the time she was with us, which wasn’t very long the way she was riding….

Being me, I want everyone to fit into the group.  I want to be welcoming, as others were with me, and to be accommodating wherever possible.  That makes my pet peeve, having someone in the group who doesn’t understand how they fit into a group, a little difficult.  It’s a struggle, though I’m glad to have the problems I do.  Everyone should be so lucky.

In any event, before I get into this simple post, please allow me the dalliance of an explanation:  I am not talking about the old ladies’ no-drop 14 mph average ride here.  We’re talking about the big boy and girl “you’d better keep up or we’ll see you later” ride.

With that out of the way, something occurred to me before I was able to get upset about the way things were unfolding:  The woman in question was used to riding with the 15-16 mph average C group, where hanging out side-by-side is not a big deal.  With the 22 mph average B crew, especially when you’re jumping up a group, there’s simply no room for that – even I have to be careful to pick and choose when I want to ride up alongside someone for a chat.  Too long doing that and I’d drop too – which is exactly what happened to the subject of this post.  She was off the back within ten miles, and we didn’t wait for her (my wife went back and rode her to the parking lot, but even my wife noticed small issues, like she was often on the wrong side of the wind to get a good draft).

When I see people riding like this, I assume there are others, and unlike the government, I actually am here to help.  If you’re new to a group, try these simple suggestions (oh, and just because I call them suggestions, it doesn’t mean you should choose to be a punk and ignore them…  When you jump out of an airplane they “suggest” you pull the ripcord before you hit the ground.  Go ahead and try to cheat that one):

The first lesson of cycling club is:  Do as the others in cycling club do.  If you see a perfectly smooth line of cyclists executing a perfect pace line, don’t try to show everyone how awesome you are by riding next to someone else.  Get in the pace line and wait until there’s a break and others sit up.  You won’t look awesome as you’re fading off the back over the horizon, so don’t try to be cute.

The second lesson of cycling club is:  Don’t ever, if you’re in a double pace line, ride in the middle of the two lines.  The only exception is if there is an odd number of cyclists and you’re the last one in line.  As soon as the two at the front come back, either make a gap for them if you’re too weak to pull through or pick a side.  If you try to stay in the middle with cyclists behind you, you will hear about it and it won’t be pretty.  Expect lots of cussing and talk about the social status of your mother.  And know this; You deserve it.


The third lesson of cycling club is:  The goal is to make it to the finish line with the group.  If you’re struggling to hang on, stay at the back and out of the way so the others can work.

The fourth lesson of cycling club is:  Be someone the others want to have around.  Be selfless as you can without getting yourself dropped.  Ride well and be considerate of those riding with you…. this is the best way to not only be invited back to ride with the group on the scheduled night, it’s the best way to get yourself invited to the weekend rides as well.


The fifth lesson of cycling club is:  Don’t try to pull too long at the front when you do pull through.  If you’ve paid attention to the first four lessons, the group will want you to ride with them.  You do no good off the back and on your own.  We were all once where you are, just doing your best, struggling to hold on.  We know for a fact that your time up front will improve as the months roll on, so be smart about it…  Ten, twenty or thirty seconds up front is plenty for noobs.

These tips are all for advanced pace lines.  When you’re in the no-drop rides, they’re social events.  When you’re in the advanced rides, the socializing happens before and after – and between hyperventilating breaths while your out on the road, whilst (and at the same time) trying to keep from getting your tongue wrapped up in your spokes.  Don’t try to do too much, just your part will do nicely.

This has been a cycling public service announcement brought to you by Fit Recovery.