I took last week off the bike just eleven miles short of 8,500 for the year. As nice as the weather was, we didn’t ride one mile. My sister-in-law flew my wife, kids and I down to stay with them in Florida over the Christmas Holiday. It was 29 degrees (-2 C) when we left and 78 when we landed. That was the coldest day of the week. Most of the week it was above 82. Day One was spent at the pool. Day Two:
Wave jumping. Day three was spent at the pool. Day four, we were back to wave jumping again… too much wind for anything else, but with 5-7 foot seas, it was a blast.
Days five and six were spent snorkeling and it was spectacular:
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. After snorkeling on our last full day, all nine of us went to see Rogue One (phenomenal btw) at one of those theaters that have the leather recliner seats throughout the whole theater. Pure awesome.
Well, yesterday was devoted to playing a few last minute rounds of Spades before flying home…
How do you know when you’re not in paradise anymore?
Almost home (by way of Chicago)…
This all ends perfectly, though. We’re back with one more day left in 2016, and we’re riding this morning. Three hours from now I should be cruising over the 8,500 mile mark. What a perfect cap to a fantastic year.
UPDATE: 19-1/2 Spectacular Miles. The only thing better than a bike ride after a week off!
I don’t write much about it, but I take my phone everywhere I ride. No plastic bags, no pouches, no worries. Almost every photo I’ve posted on this blog was taken with a Lifeproof case protecting the phone that it was taken with. Over the last year or so, it’s been a Galaxy S6. This same phone has taken two tumbles from atop my Venge at speeds above 20 mph. No visible marks on the phone. No busted glass.
My phone still looks brand new (the case, not so much).
Then there’s this:
I won’t tell you how deep I was when I took those photos because I exceeded the recommended 6’6″ depth… Um, by a lot. I was, however, snorkeling, not scuba diving.
In any event, my case did fail on that snorkeling trip but it was only because I went too deep. There was less than one drop of water in the case and after I cleaned it and dried it out, it was ready to go again…. and my phone was not affected by the small amount of water that did make it into the case – I wrote this post on it.
My daughter busted the screen of her S5 recently, my niece, her iPhone, and my kids’ friends all have busted screens. I drop my phone from my bike, take it snorkeling and I don’t have a scratch. I quit caring about being super-cool carrying an unprotected phone long ago… all I care about nowadays is that it works.
I don’t take much time off of my bikes. All this talk you hear (or read) of rest days? When it comes to running, I get it. I could never run more than four days a week without feeling miserable. With cycling, all I have to do is vary my effort and I can ride every day without worry, trouble, injury, or anything else other than a smile (though I do recall two stretches of 30+ days that definitely required a rest day or two).
And I do. If I took 36 days off the bike last year I’d be amazed.
That said, this last week has been spent entirely off the bike. Entirely. No rides on the trainer, no rides on the mountain bikes and not even one mile on the Trek.
I looked at it as a preemptive week off. I didn’t want it or feel like I needed it, I just took it off, because. I’ve spent the week active, with other things….
I have a reason in mind: Come January 1, I’m going to put myself through the wringer so I can see some gains over last year. I finished the year with almost a thousand miles more that I put in the year before… and according to my regular cycling buds (who confirmed the hope I had), I finished the season strong.
Perhaps my timing is a little off as this is eating season, and I haven’t been on a scale in more than a few days, but I’m not too worried. A little hard work and a little hunger, I’ll be right as rain in a few weeks.
Oh, on a funny/interesting/nonsensical note, I’ve got 8,489 miles on the year – and I don’t know if I’ll get those last eleven miles to take me over 8,500 or if I’ll just call it good enough. Incidentally, that’s the equivalent of 3.63 trips from my house to San Diego, California… The miles sure do add up, one day at a time. Three years ago I thought it would be impossible to top 6,000 miles in a year. Not only was it possible, I did it all three years.
This time of year I always go through the same thoughts about cycling… Do I continue to keep track of my mileage or not? Keeping track is 99% useless. The only reason left that I do is that I know that, since 2011, I’ve run and ridden 35,039 miles, and I’ve burned just shy of 2,000,000 calories doing it, or 571 pounds… For whatever reason, I still think that’s kinda cool and if I quit keeping track, I lose those overall stats.
On the other hand, I’m not going back to my old sedentary life. The stats just don’t matter like they used to… There once was a time when seeing the miles add up helped to keep me motivated and excited about the streak I had put together. Those days are long gone. Anymore, just seeing my bike sitting in the corner is enough to get me suited up.
When a pissing match breaks out, the last thing I want to do is jump into the middle of it.
Two friends of mine did exactly that last night. The idea simple enough: Two grown men who think they know what God wants and both are arrogant and ignorant enough to think they’re right.
There’s no way either is winning that argument and anyone who gets sucked in will be collateral damage.
I just picked up my stuff and walked.
Why bother taking that with me through Christmas? Why take sides?
This morning is a bright new day… and I don’t have any baggage from last night.
Know this, I sobered up young. I was only 22 when I put the plug in the jug and I’ve yet to look back at 46. I once had an old-timer ask how I could sober up that early, adding “I spilled more than you ever drank!”
I replied, “Well, if you hadn’t spilled so much you’d have sobered up a lot sooner.”
It was a perfect moment, he had no come-back.
There was a lot of fear back then, on my part. On one hand, I really didn’t want to die a drunkard’s death and my days were numbered and short at that. On the other, I was afraid that my days of fun were behind me at the ripe age of 22. Hell, I was just barely old enough to drink legally when I chose to, with the help of the whole State of Michigan, up and quit.
At first, cleaning up the wreckage of my past was enough to keep my attention. Once the bulk of that was behind me, I needed some fun. STAT!
Now, there’s one important rule that I applied to myself that many who relapse choose to ignore: I must surround myself with recovering and/or sober people. No exceptions. Period, end of rule. Years later, once I popped my melon out of my sphincter and could react to alcohol as I would a forest fire (run!), I could relax a bit as long as I could meet three requirements:
- I had a good reason to be in the proximity of drinkers.
- My program was solid and my spiritual foundation was strong
- I had my vehicle ready for an immediate departure, if necessary. No getting parked in, no excuses.
Well, not so much. I truly believed in surrounding myself with sober people, for too many reasons to count. It just makes sense.
Within months of sobering up I met a guy at work who loved rollerblading and he didn’t drink. He wasn’t sober like I was, but that didn’t matter…. I knew I wouldn’t get into trouble hanging out with him. I didn’t know much about skating but I’d played quite a bit of pond hockey when I was a kid so I bought a ridiculously expensive pair and learned to use them. Matt and I were inseparable most weekends all summer long. I started taking solo trips out to a local Metropark after work and before my meetings. Before long I was putting in upwards of 60-80 miles a week on my skates (my best was 40 miles in one day, over the course of three hours).
It was one of those solo trips that opened my eyes. I wanted to see how fast I could do the 8 mile loop. 24 minutes and 32 seconds. On roller blades. I decided on a second loop but at an easy, enjoyable pace. Two miles into that second loop and I was overcome by a feeling that I was okay. Everything would work out and I was going to make it, sober. I was half-way between getting misty and jumping for joy. I did both.
It was the first time I’d ever felt that way, that I was going to be okay, without chemical enhancement. Ever. [ED The freedom that comes from fully, honestly working the steps came later – it took me a while to fully get through them]
My friends, after being a basket case for years, I can’t describe the joy and relief. Actually, yes I can; I was free.
I didn’t know it then, it took the better part of 15 years to put the pieces together, but that freedom was tied to my being sober and fit. Of course, I had no chance at the latter without the former, but let’s not split butt hairs.
Then there was a period of lethargy, video games, food, and weight gain.
Then, once my butt (and gut) had reached maximum allowable density, came running and the point of enlightenment. I didn’t love running but it was a great escape from the difficulties of life for an hour or two, three day or four days a week. Three of those days I ran with friends in sobriety, and my wife.
It was the escape. In fact, when I looked back on it, that’s exactly how I used alcohol. Well, with the distinction that with alcohol I didn’t want to, and eventually couldn’t, come back.
If you’ve been reading this page for any length of time, you know cycling is next.
Nowadays it’s 45 minutes to 1 hour four days a week, two hours two days a week, and three to five hours one day a week. The only days off are due to rain or having to work late… During the summer months, both are rare.
I ride just enough that when I’m pulling up to my driveway, I’m ready to tackle the world as it is again. I get my escape, but I want to come back.
Another interesting tidbit, almost every one of my cycling friends abstain from alcohol. Only three, of the dozen or so, are sober in context I am. Life is wonderful that way. Sometimes stuff just works out… if you believe in random crap working out against impossible odds. I don’t, but that’s just me.
Trigger (heh) warning: Oops, it think this was supposed to be before the photo of the fat lady singing. If this caused you to pee your pants, my bad. Sorry.
Power Line: Mid-Week in Pictures: Electoral College Graduation Edition. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwzqKgtDI