Notice, please, that I didn’t use the word “intend” or “plan” or “think I can” in the Title? While this isn’t a foregone conclusion, as I still have to put in the saddle time, I have already started on the path….
I bought a turbo from a buddy of mine who had no use for it, expecting the same old results from winter training – maintenance of fitness. A beautiful Giant Cyclotron Mag II, for $40 (they retail for $180) with seven resistance settings that can be controlled by a dial that clips to the bar top.
It’s the quietest trainer I’ve ever used, but also the hardest to get the pedals around on. As you might expect if you’ve read anything I’ve written about cycling, I’ve got mine set on the hardest setting…. It’s not even marked as 7, it’s H.
I noticed the first time I rode on it, maybe two or three weeks ago, that this wasn’t my old Blackburn Track stand. The Giant elicited a burn in my quads that I hadn’t felt since Day 2 of DALMAC… and that burn came on pretty quick too, maybe two minutes into my 45 minute session.
I kept it up for a few minutes with my gear selection at 52/13, about 28 mph. I downshifted a gear and 24-1/2 was a bit more reasonable. I still went back to the 13 cog every once in a while. I was intrigued because that felt a lot like 23 or 24 on the road… certainly that can’t be, I thought.
I spent a few days on the trainer, between rain, cold and a 5:30 sunset. When the weekend rolled around I felt spectacular and was able to spend quite a bit of time up front. That was followed by another few days on the trainer, all the while increasing the time I spent in the higher gears. I even dabbled in the 12 for a bit.
When Friday rolled around, our last true hooky-worthy day of the year with the temperature expected to top 72 degrees, we had a great group of hooky players show up to ride at 9 am.
I spent a ton of time up front while we battled the wind heading out and it was rough…. but something unexpected happened in those first ten miles. I didn’t suffer like I normally do trying to hold 19 or 20 into a stiff headwind. When we headed back toward home and finally got a bit of tailwind, I was energized.
This was exactly opposite late autumn last year.
We finished the ride with only 32 miles but I could have easily doubled that. Subsequent outdoor rides have produced similar results, I’m happy to report.
Last night I came up with a fantastic trainer workout as I was watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the 23rd time, almost by accident. I shifted to the 13 tooth cog and gave that a go for ten minutes…. I know, most people warm up first. I’ve never been much of a fan. After that ten minutes my legs were burning quite well and I downshifted one gear and held that between 90 and 100 rpm. I figured that was good enough and I’d just spin the rest of my workout right there.
My breathing normalized and my legs started to feel better at the 5 minute mark. Then the cogs in my melon started turning… At the 10 minute mark, I shifted to the 13 again, figuring I’d hold that for five minutes. I went ten instead. Another downshift to the 15 tooth cog (it’s a 9 sp. on the Trek) and ten more minutes in the easy gear… I figured I’d do the last five minutes as a cool down… but when I got to the last five seconds I changed my mind. I shifted to the 13 and did the last five minutes in the harder gear.
When I got off the bike, I could feel it in my legs, more than if I’d have ridden 25 miles outdoors…. in 45 minutes.
And I still have the 12 and 11 cogs to go…
This aggressive workout plan won’t be easy to stick with over the winter. I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve historically shaded more toward sustaining some level of cycling fitness rather than building through the winter. It’s a long season (between 9 and 10 months depending on how willing I am to ride in sub-freezing temperatures) and I typically look at winter as my time off, even though I still put in 45 minutes a day, five days a week on the trainer.
On the other hand, if I can build on the guns through the winter while everyone else is maintaining, why not? Oh, that’ll make for a fun time next year!
My lesson learned here is that all trainers are not created equal. While my Blackburn did the job of keeping me at a good level of fitness going into last Spring, I would have been mistaken to hope I could get stronger on that trainer.
Well, that and I’m willing to throw rest under the bus if it means even the hope of hanging with the racers on Tuesday night next year…. and I was close to that at the end of this season. With just a little more ass and “want to”, who knows.
Trigger (heh) Warning: This post isn’t for weak-kneed, lilly-livered whiners. It isn’t for diaper wetters who would rather sit in a pissed-in diaper than change it. This is a post for big boys and girls. Buck up, camper. I do apoligize for the title. It’s click-bait. You have been Trigger (heh) Warned.
F@CK! I know a guy. Dude is fat, lazy, full of excuses. He’s a pretty great person and he is going to die soon. His body is starting to shut down on him.
I’ve wanted to shake him violently and slap him a few times when he got into the excuses. He suffered under the delusion that going for a walk or a bike ride would hurt, all the while I knew the truth: Laying on my fat ass for a few weeks hurts way worse than it does ten minutes after a sub-five hour hundred miles… and for those who don’t know, that hurts.
My friends, a friend I ride with rode through chemotherapy. He said it was the only thing that made the nausea tolerable. He wasn’t fast, but he was out there.
Another friend of mine was riding on his trainer six weeks after open heart surgery. Two weeks after that he was on the road holding a 16 mph average on beta blockers.
Another friend was out mowing lawns with a push mower days after having a pacemaker installed in his chest.
I fell at work Tuesday. I landed on my ankle after a 1-1/2 foot drop… Not on the side of my foot, I landed on my ankle and the outside of my foot. One of those stupid things – I should have been paying better attention and a temporary ramp should have been built. There shouldn’t have been a drop-off. That said, my ankle crumpled and I ended up on the concrete on my back. I tried to walk it off, covering three miles on site before heading home to ice it. I took yesterday off the bike (not work) and I’ll be riding again later today. I have a 50 mile ride tomorrow that I won’t miss because it’ll be raining Saturday and snowing Sunday. Trainer days.
I found this photo in a post:
Thinking about a plan also does no good at keeping my ass thin and out of a doctor’s office. Action does.
Ladies and gentlemen, the guy with the pacemaker once told me (shortly after the operation), “It’s real easy to talk tough about dying… till the bus shows up”. This encapsulates the insidious nature of obesity.
Get out the f@ckin’ door.
And if you’re one of those made to sit through those donut shop lies, don’t. Reject them for the bullshit they are. Chances are, someone you give a shit about’s life depends on it. Literally. You won’t be liked… Until your liar sees the light and thanks you for being an asshole. Trust me.
Sorry. I miss having my platform a lot more than I thought I would.
While I’ve got you here, if you’re newer than a year to my blog, I wrote a post a couple of few years ago about the month-long celebration I enjoy every November. It’s easily the best post I’ve ever written. Please check it out here… Especially if you want a quick glimpse into the hell that is alcoholism and the freedom that comes with recovery, or my hell at least.
On that note, today is the day of my 24th anniversary of sobriety and it’s fair to say I am quite stoked. Not posting over the last couple of weeks has been a blessing – there’s been a sense of freedom that’s come with not having to deal with posting, reading and commenting on other blogs. On the other hand, there’s a bit of a void because I’m not cranking out one or two posts a day. The hardest has been the fact that I’ve come up with a lot of great things to write about over the last several days and I’ve had to let those possible posts go. There’s one that won’t keep though.
I made a mistake when taking my inventory before I decided to take a break from blogging. Before I do take my leave I wanted to crank out one more post that explains this problem in depth because it’s important, especially in terms of recovery.
First, a bit of backstory. About ten years ago I had an amazing sponsor. He made me feel good about being me, just by talking with me – even if I wasn’t feeling so good about who I was. He did that for a lot of people. I would see him walk into a meeting and the whole dynamic of the room, filled with upwards of 40 recovering drunks, would change. I wanted that. I wanted to be able to help others feel that way about themselves. I wanted for my wife to have a husband like that, to know that I loved her so dearly that she felt relief when I walked in the front door at home. I wanted for my kids, one on the way and the other not even a dream yet, to have a dad that good. That’s why I asked him to be my sponsor. It’s a fairly straightforward process, really. If you want what someone else has, do what they do. I was going to learn how to help others feel like I did when I spoke with Mike from the master himself.
Sadly, cancer took him way too early, but not before I was able to learn some excellent life lessons about how he ticked and how I could use what he so graciously passed on to be a better me. After his death I asked a friend of his to take over where he left off and while he’s been different in terms of sponsorship, he has been fantastic.
This ties into the creation of this blog. For one reason or another, sponsoring newly recovered alcoholics has never been my strong suit. It’s not for a lack of trying, it’s just never worked out that I’ve found a noob who wanted to work at sobriety like I did. Let’s just say I’m a little more straight forward than most. That works where I grew up in sobriety but not where I live now. Let’s just say it’s a kinder, gentler program when compared with where I sobered up.
So, going back to my sponsor. I knew I wanted to be of use to others like he was for me, I just didn’t know how to do it so I did what any friend of Bill does in that situation, I asked my Higher Power for guidance.
Separately, and completely unaware, I was getting into cycling after having been a runner for a time, thought it would be fun to start up a blog that revolved around both fitness and recovery. I learned quickly once I started running how important fitness was to recovery. Put simply, fitness makes recovery easier and more enjoyable. Add to that a bunch of sober friends and it’s magic. The idea was to get into this with two of my running buddies. They didn’t want to, for a few varying reasons, so I went about it on my own. Thus, Fit Recovery was born. The rest is history, as they say.
Now, fast forward to my decision to take a break from blogging last weekend. This isn’t something I’ve taken lightly – I’ve thought long and hard about it over the last month. I skipped something though, without even thinking about it. I didn’t consult with the Higher Power. Typically, the way this works for me is, as I pray about something, I simply say “God (we say God to keep it simple), this is my plan. If this is not meant to be in terms of Your will, please let me know by putting a few roadblocks in my path. Also, please make them pretty big because I tend to be dense from time to time and I don’t want to miss them.”
Now I don’t know if it would have changed anything, if I hadn’t skipped that crucial step, but there’s definitely something I missed. Let’s just say I’ve run into a road block without even asking for one. In my post announcing my break and possible retirement from blogging I received a bunch comments, more than on any previous post. Some really rocked my little world:
So long Jim. I’ll miss your voice. In this small corner of England, in fact in my very small corner of the t’internet, I don’t know another voice like yours.
If we were all as honest as you, Jim, we might also admit there were times when the ones that matter most are not those at the end of a blog post, but in the other room, waiting for us to stop tapping away on the keyboard. I’ll miss the regular feed, and your posts will be of great help and inspiration to noobs like me all over the globe.
I started following you mid 2014 after sobering up and starting to take cycling somewhat seriously. I still can’t remember how I found your blog, truly believe it was one of those “it was meant to happen” instances. Since then your blog has been one of my top sites and is more often than not the first thing I click on when I open my laptop. Your insight into sobriety is very easy to digest and process for me, and your tips on cycling have been priceless. Thank you for helping me grow by leaps and bounds in both of these areas of my life!
Hey, I came to this blog via my other half … As a triathlon newbie and a friend of Bills it showed me how the program works in a really practical way.When my swimming coach critised my stroke I was able to curse her and then do a step 4!!!
My friends, my Higher Power gave me what I was asking for all along and not only have I missed it, I’ve been looking at letting it go. I am useful, just not in the traditional sense that I’d intended when I asked all those years ago. There have been comments like those above over the years that have kept me going but I never realized the depth of it until that last post. This put a serious hitch in my giddyup and I discussed it with my wife last week. Thankfully, she was able to put things in a bit clearer perspective for me because she’s not emotionally attached to the blog like I am.
The well wishes and especially the comments about how sharing my experience has helped other people has been emotionally uplifting and tough at the same time. I’ve never been a crier (I think my wife has only seen me drop a tear a handful of times in the last 20 years) but I’ve gotten a bit misty over a few of the comments. Viewing that as my road block to a clean break, I am going to reconsider the duration of my break and pray for some guidance in the matter. I know a break is the right thing to do for right now. I just don’t see it being as permanent as it once may have been. For now, it’ll be a six month break followed by an evaluation of where I’m at. If, in the end, I choose to return, I’ll just have to look at the advice of others who suggested I cut back to once a week on the posts.
In the end, being of use to my fellows is all it’s ever been about. While being sober and living a decent, clean life is unquestionably awesome, it doesn’t come anywhere close to helping another person enjoy life and/or sobriety just a little bit more. Being useful is where it’s at.
“To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain. Sure the sport is fun with its seamless pacelines and secret singletrack, its post-ride pig-outs and soft muscles grown wonderfully hard. But at cycling’s core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport.”
One Quick Tip for Cyclists: If Your Ride doesn’t Feel as Smooth as it Once did, Look at Your Wheels.
Several weeks ago I discovered a small problem while investigating a minor handling issue on the Venge.
For some unknown reason, bumps seemed just a little more jarring than they should have. There was the slightest “clunk” that shouldn’t have been when I hit a decent expansion crack in the asphalt. It just didn’t make sense to me. Originally I thought the fork might be a little loose but the simple “brake and rock” test showed the fork was solid. The handlebar turns like butter so it’s not too tight either…
I decided to pull my front wheel off and give it a once over. I took it off the bike and gently bounced it on the ground. There was a rattle that didn’t belong. I grabbed a stem nut I had in my tool bag and tightened down the valve stem to the rim (I don’t use them on the wheel while riding because they’re pretty useless). I gently bounced the wheel again…
Same quiet, almost imperceptable rattle. The next logical place to look is? The hubs.
Take the skewer off and bounced the wheel…. Still that little rattle.
Checked the hub….
See the gap and that o-ring? Yeah, we shouldn’t see either. Here’s the other side:
I unscrewed the lock cap from the left side, lubed the threads and tightened the cap again:
Rattle is gone and my bike handles like it was new again.
Now, in case you’re wondering why I lubed the threads (it’s Park Tool Polylube, the heavy lube), we do this because dry threads give a “false tight” because of the way metals and friction react when they’re tightened on each other. With the threads lubed, you get a true tight. Every threaded bolt on a bike should get lube (or Loctite) so you get a good, proper “tight” with the proper torque.
Now, it must be stated, this does not cause a major problem that most people would/will notice. I am extraordinarily sensitive to how my Venge rides. I noticed it because I’m ridiculously finicky.
PS. I was going to let this post go but I didn’t want my second to the last post to be one about politics and the topic is an important one to cyclists. After finding the problem, it just didn’t sit well with me to not write a quick post about it. Next Friday at 7 am Eastern Standard Time will be my last for the foreseeable future. It’ll make sense when (and if) you choose to read it.
A Note to President-elect Donald Trump; Don’t Fall into the Mandate Trap. It’s not a Mandate and We who Elected You have You on a Very Short Leash.
This will not be the post many of you were expecting. I didn’t come out of semi-retirement to be a sheep.
President Obama gave a very eloquent speech about President-elect Donald Trump’s win yesterday. It was awesome and the proudest I’ve been of the man since he was elected, the first time. It’s not that I don’t like President Obama either, I don’t like government and the way it wields power like a toy meant to keep sheeple in line, doing what the “educated” political class, and thereby government, believes is “good”, meanwhile that class jetsets about as if their rules don’t apply to them. That is un-American to its core.
That’s one hand. On the other is what I said immediately after President Obama was elected. “I hope we get the guy in the victory speech, not the big government guy I think he is. I hope I’m wrong about who he is and I’ll give him the benefit of doubt for now”. That is in quotes because that’s exactly what I said. I believed it too.
What we got was “Elections have consequences. We won.”
What we got was soaring debt and Healthcare that doubled in cost (including the spike in deductibles) in the four years after it was implemented. We got an anemic recovery from an economic collapse that started on the steps of Congress and Bill Clinton’s White House steps and trickled down through the banking system, real estate system, all the way down to suckers who believed they could benefit from an adjustable rate mortgage and lax lending policy. We also had Republicans locked out of negation for two years.
President Obama and Democrats started talking “mandate” the day after they assumed power.
Imagine my surprise when Paul Ryan started talking about a mandate last night. I jest, of course. I was not surprised. “Mandate” is establishment speak. Mr. Trump, you were elected because you’re not the establishment.
Go ahead and get rid of Obamacare because it sucks. Something like 75% of Americans hate it. Go ahead and shore up the Supreme Court. Fill it with Constitutionalists. Then do what you do. Fix the machine that is a flailing, debt-ridden American company. That’s your mandate. Drain the swamp, get us back to budgets and fiscal responsibility.
And unlike your predecessor, be the guy you promised to be in your victory speech.
The establishment will try to drag you into petty debates and distract you. It’s a big world and easy to do. Just please remember why you’re where you asked us to put you. And by all means, take every opportunity to remind Democrats that politicians are not the answer to problems. They’re a necessary evil that takes joy in creating them so we can rip each other apart with insults and ignorance. For a vote.
Always remember the guy in your victory speech. Be that guy and we can all do something good with it.
PS. Nice job, man. I didn’t see that one coming.
While hunting up north (“up north” is a term used in Michigan when we break from the lower quarter of the State to get away to the expansive, quiet north) over the weekend I had some time to think, especially on Saturday…
I was sitting in my blind waiting for a deer to mosey by and my mind started wandering to an honest assessment of where my life is at. This often happens near every one of my sober anniversaries and this next one hits at the end of the week, number twenty-four. During that assessment period I started thinking about some things I could be just a little better at… Having laughs with my wife, about how I treat her, being a little more frugal, and then there’s some room for improvement in the effort I put into my work… It’s not that I’m falling short on any of these issues, I honestly think I’m putting in a good effort. The rub is that I know I can do better.
Then there was yesterday… Sunday was the first day in almost 20 years where I didn’t worry about having my phone on me at all times. In fact, twice I left it back at the camp without thinking about it while my friend and I were out traipsing about the woods. My job is mostly to blame for this but the blog has something to do with it as well. To tell the truth, it was really nice to not care for once – and that’s where Saturday and Sunday came together for me.
On arriving home yesterday afternoon I talked to my wife about everything that I’d come up with while I was up hunting – after dealing with a few kid-related fires that needed to be put out. At first she played devil’s advocate to make sure I was serious about letting the blog go and once I explained everything in detail, she warmed to the idea that I might be more attentive, or perhaps less consumed would be a good way to put it…
So, I’ve made a commitment to let the blog go for the next year’s worth of 24-hours and see where things shake out. I’ll be deleting the app from my phone once the fervor from this post dies down. While this may be so long, it won’t be “I’m outta here for good”. I’m going to dabble with the blog from time to time and I’ll start looking into that book so many have been pushing me to put together (though I have ego issues with that idea – truth be told, I’m not all that important… even to myself. That creates a bit of a conundrum when looking at writing a book – or even putting one together from the posts I’ve written – about oneself).
Finally, to Shay-lon and the deutscherwanderwolf, thank you for the blog awards, they’re greatly appreciated. Second, to my friend’s Sue, the Tempo Cyclist, the Ragtime Cyclist, Dan, Titanium Henry, Elisa, Andy, Gail, Sara, definitely the Unironedman, Andy, MJ, Wayne, Stefan, Paige, Sandra… and somebody shoot me for being stupid enough to start naming names because I’ve failed to include a couple of dozen of the bloggers I should have – actually, no. Don’t shoot me. Scold me or something, but don’t shoot me. Anyway, to all of my friends, I hope to see you around. If not, good luck and Godspeed my friends.
God only knows what’s in store for me. And I’m okay with that.
The Fit Recovery Cycling Dictionary defines the word Recovery thusly:
A return to a state of happiness in terms of mind, health and strength.
If you went by the fact that I consistently write of my recovery from alcoholism as the basis for this blog, you would only be getting the part of the picture of what recovery is. Drinking was but a symptom of a much greater breakdown of my life that was in desperate need of repair. Obviously alcoholism was the beginning of my recovery, alcoholism created the desperation I needed to get the ball rolling. From there, once I embraced a program of recovery, taking to the task of repairing the rest of what was wrong with me became a natural progression. A funny thing happens once a miserable person like me tastes freedom and happiness: We want more. The simplest path, I found, was to lead a clean, honest, decent life in which I never crossed a goal line. There is always room for improvement. This keeps me on a path of constant improvement, seeking only happiness, balance, and to be of use to my fellows. While it’s not always easy (especially trying to keep the focus where it belongs – on me and my issues to fix), it is incredibly rewarding. The important point here is that recovery isn’t just for alcoholics and addicts. Recovery is for anyone who wants a return to happiness, health and strength. The only question that remains is how bad do we want it.
So I was all fired up about taking my Venge out for a ride yesterday evening. A few days from now, with the end of daylight savings time, my evening rides will be effectively over. I’m quickly running out of days acceptable enough to ride the good bike.
My ride started out fantastically. I was up shifting like a madman. 12, 14, 18 mph… 2o, then 22 where I settled down, into a mild breeze. I’d have been struggling to hold 19 on the Trek – a decent set of wheels makes a big difference.
Heading north I came upon our roundabout. My second favorite part of my ride because I’ve only had to slow down twice since they put it in and I can shoot through the intersection faster than cars can navigate the tight turns. It’s a rare day I have an advantage over a car.
Entering the roundabout (shown in the photo coming back the other way):
I saw an older Impala coming toward me from the right. I clearly had the right-of-way but I couldn’t see the driver’s face… I have this crazy rule I live by; If I can’t see the driver’s face I assume they’re going to do something stupid. Much to my chagrin, I sat up and slowed.
Sure enough, she didn’t even tap her brakes. If I hadn’t been paying attention, or if I had assumed she would yeild, I’d be a grease spot a fire fighter would be sweeping off the concrete with the aid of a couple bottles of Coke.
I let my momentum carry me right up to within a few feet of her door and I yelled, “Hey!” She jumped in her seat and quickly turned her head with a perfect “Oh, F***” expression on her face. She was so zoned out, she didn’t even see me till I shouted.
My friends, riding under the assumption that everyone behind the wheel is an idiot won’t guarantee safety, but it’s saved my bacon more times that I care to recount.
I continued on with my ride, not even shaken. The remainder was exceptional, glorious, and fast. Coming through town on the way back I held north of 26 mph for two miles after having to stop momentarily for two stop lights.
I finished the 16 mile route, stops and all, in 48m:36s. A 19.8 mph average.
While I could have made a big deal about the poor driving skills displayed by that young lady, or chosen to remain shaken by the event, the way I choose to ride made neither necessary or even reasonable. All turned out well in the end.
With the exception of the 2o second altercation at the roundabout, the remaining 48:16 was absolutely wonderful. I got my fast on and that had me smiling all night long.