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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Trigger (Heh) Warning…

And if that simply isn’t possible,

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Cycling, and How I Will get Faster Over the Winter… On a Trainer.

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.

Nobody Ever Lost an Ounce Making a Plan…

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

Ten minutes after 107 Miles

Two seconds after 72 miles… after 100 miles the day before, 99 the day before and 106 the day before

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.  

My 24th Anniversary… And Something I missed when Deciding on My Break from Blogging

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.

Cycling Quote: How to Know if You’re Doing It Right…

“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.”
Scott Martin

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.