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Monthly Archives: April 2017

An Ode to My Rain Bike

You’ve been there, almost from the beginning, through thick and thicker, right up to thickest.  Through driving rain and even snow.

You went through more than one identity change for me.

You went from being my primary source of entertainment transportation to my Winter Trainer and “Break Glass in Case of Rain” bike.

Even though your little brother is faster, lighter and 14 years newer, you’re the bike that holds every time/distance record that I’ve got to date over 50 km and up to 100 mile times.  Everything except the Tuesday Night Club Ride 30 miles.  

You get the nasty miles nowadays…

And endure countless boring hours hooked to the trainer to keep my fitness up through winter…

And after all of those inglorious miles, after all that grit and grime, after all of the wind, rain and muck, with a little TLC you keep coming back for more.  For that I am grateful.

So let’s once more, into the fray my friend.  Though not as dramatic, at least it’ll be fun….

Proof that the 1X Drivetrain is an Abomination to Road Cycling that must be Abandoned Immediately.

From bike war, a bike from Somec and one from Alchemy:

F***ing abomination.  I don’t even think that bike would track down the road straight without the left shifter fin*!


Now, I’ll give you, those are technically cross bikes.  Actually, you know what?  Not even for a cross bike.

Balanced, wonderful, and awesome.  Beautiful.

I would pick a bike with the double crankset every single time – no matter how light or efficient they claim the 1x Drive might be….  and we’re not even talking about road bikes.  Road bikes don’t even enter the discussion because whatever that is on the Somec and Alchemy above, it looks ridiculous.  I may need a safe space** after seeing that.

Just sayin’.

*If you took seriously the notion that a bike may not track down the road correctly because it was missing the left shifter fin, this says more about you than me.  The statement was tongue in cheek and meant to illicit a laugh at its outrageous nature.  Apparently you missed it.

**The same goes doubly for the reference to the need for a safe space.  If you missed the joke, you’d better go find a safe space.

The Root of almost Every Social Ill is Fear.  What’s the Root of Fear?

The Root of almost Every Social Ill is Fear.

The Root of Fear is Dishonesty.

Period.  End of story.  Put a bow on it.  Just a thought.

And So Endeth the Streak: 56 Days Later

My string of consecutive days on the bike will end (unless a miracle happens and we don’t get the scheduled thunderstorms with 20+ mph winds [ED. This was written yesterday]).  56 Days, 1,454 Miles (26 miles a day, roughly).  Truth be told, I suppose I’m ready for a day off.



Some observations:

The first few weeks in March were short miles and duration because it was so cold and rainy.  It was nasty.  Starting in April, though, I’ve managed better than 200 mile weeks.  I made up for March with April, that’s for sure.

Last March I managed 776 miles.  This March was 639.  On the other hand, last April was 730 miles and I’ve already got 815 miles in for this April (with four days left in the month).  This is my best April, in terms of fitness and mileage, yet.

I am exhibiting zero signs of over-training.  I am still having a blast every time I go out on the bike and I’m as fast and strong as I’ve ever been.  The only thing that saves me is recovery rides, three of them, throughout the week.  This is my second year of putting in long streaks of consecutive days and as long as I stick to my plan (easy rides Monday, Wednesday and Thursday or Friday), I have no problem riding every day.

Lastly, I maintain a balance with life and cycling.  Cycling definitely makes having a wonderful wife, two fantastic kids and a good job even better!  I like to make sure to keep my priorities straight, let’s just say that.  Cycling makes the good stuff better.

UPDATE!!!  Hold the phone!

I got, for the first time in 42 years, a poison ivy rash last weekend after cutting down a dead tree in the back yard on Sunday.  On Monday it wasn’t a big deal.  A few spots and a little itch.  By Wednesday it was worse.  Yesterday was an explosion of itch on my legs.  It was unbearable.  I was given a prescription for Prednisone.  That’s right, baby!  Wiggins and Froome couldn’t get away with that on a TUE!  Steroids.

I thew back the first dose the second I got home and as I did the clouds and rain that had  been on and off all day, cleared up.  Even the roads dried.  I readied the good bike, got dressed and rolled.  The streak continues!

It’ll be over on Sunday though.  100% chance of showers and thunderstorms….  Unless we end up with a window, of course…  Stranger things have happened.  There should have been no way I was riding yesterday but I did.

57 days and counting!

UPDATE:  39 more this morning.  58.

The Cure for Stress-induced Insomnia





One badass bike…



Plus this:


One badass pace…


Equals Zzzzzzzzzz…..

*Disclosure:  The duration is correct for the ride, the average is distorted because the last half-mile is used as a cool down.  Our actual average for Tuesday night was between 20.8 and 20.9 mph.  For the “B” Group.  I use the time that we cross the finish line (City Limits Line) for historical reasons.

It’s been a pretty tough week at work.  I’m lucky if I get three or four hours of sleep a night.

Not Tuesday night though.  No, I made sure everything was taken care of before the club ride and ignored my phone until the ride was done.  I was out (asleep) before 9:30 and didn’t wake up till the alarm went off at 4:30.  Seven hours may not seem like much to normal folk but that’s an hour or two better than I’m used to getting on a good day.  Tuesday night seven felt like twelve.

No doubt though, a good bike ride fixes a lot of problems for me.

Specialized is the Most Successful Manufacturer in Pro Cycling for 2016

The guys at GCN compiled the top ten bikes and top manufacturers of pro cycling for 2016 and Specialized topped the list of manufacturers.  Scott, Cervelo, Pinarello and Giant did well, as you would assume but the Venge ViAS and the Tarmac were Sixth and First respectively.  It makes sense as the ViAS is a very “stage specific” bike – it’s only used by sprinters and Peter Sagan on specific stages of races.  The Tarmac, on the other hand (and also ridden by Sagan), is an exceptional all-around bike.  It’s light, stiff, fast, and “kinda” aero.

It should be fairly well known that we are a Specialized family with five Specialized bikes in the bike room.  My Venge, my wife’s Alias, my youngest daughter’s Dolce, my eldest’s Secteur Elite and my Rockhopper Sport Disc 29’er.

Chapeau, Specialized!

The Noob’s Guide to Tandem Cycling; Some of the What You Really want to Know.


I don’t make much of a kerfuffle about the tandem my wife and I bought last year but I have to tell you, I really love riding it.  You’ll note the stoker’s seat post is awfully long contrasted with other tandems.  We have the steep rake of the top tube that almost looks like a low-slung drag bike by the time it gets to the back end….  The bike is designed for a family, to allow for a stoker ranging from 4’2″ to 6’2″.

Originally our bike started out as a Co-Motion PeriScope Scout, a flat bar “Hybrid” but I had the drivetrain upgraded to a 10 sp. road bike rig with a 105 rear derailleur, 105 shift levers, a drop handlebar and a custom 130 mm stem so the tandem could be made to match my Venge as closely as possible.  I don’t have quite the drop, but it’s definitely close enough for government work.  That said, it fits like a glove.

The bike has it’s flaws, of course.  This one is pretty heavy – it’s a steel frame.  That, however, is the only major drawback (if you could call it one, most people love a steel frame – the ride, as one would assume, is astonishingly comfortable and forgiving).  I also don’t care for the disc brake calipers, but that’s a minor issue.  I suppose there is one more issue…  The bike wasn’t cheap, especially for a steel bike.  It topped out at almost $4,000.

So I pulled the tandem out of the garage a week ago and got it ready for another season.  I wish I’d done it last month as we have been on several rides that would have been fun to have ridden on the tandem… but we needed to build up the fitness for that bike.  On a single bike, I can do 50 miles and be bummed that it’s over too soon.  On the tandem, 30 miles and I can feel it all over the next day.  Arms, legs…  The tandem is a workout.

That said, if one has a solid relationship or marriage, I can’t recommend a tandem highly enough….  After you’ve gotten through the working together phase of the bike – and it’s a pretty steep learning curve.  That part isn’t much fun and it certainly isn’t easy.

However, and this is the important part, if we use the tandem for what it is good for, my wife and I (or daughters and I) going out for a nice, fun ride around the block (if the block is 16 to 50 miles around – it’s a big block) with my favorite person in the whole world, there’s nothing out there that’ll beat a tandem.  They are an absolute blast to ride.

To put a bow on this post, a lot of cyclists will think that having your significant other that close to your ear is a bad thing.  I am one of those lucky few who feels like he hit the lotto when he got his wife to say “Yes”.  We work our butts off to be happy – we work at our marriage, together.  

We put that same effort into riding the tandem.  If we didn’t, it’d be fisticuffs.

It’s a commitment. 

A Simple Bike Ride can make it all Worthwhile

We had enough in our group yesterday that I didn’t bother counting.  It was a lot.

Starting out it was a wonderful 50 degrees (10C) as people started showing up.  I’d gotten the grass cut on Saturday so the yard was looking quite good… and I was thankful because my driveway started filling up about 20 minutes to 9.  Then my yard along the road.  Then three more rode over.

We rolled at two minutes after nine, not a cloud in the sky and with only a mild breeze.  It was a day made for cycling and I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face.

I could go on forever about the ride, it was that awesome.  It was also quite fast for April (49 miles, 19.3 mph average) and I really didn’t have to spend all that much time up front till we got to the last fifteen miles.

I went through some interesting thoughts on this ride that I believe are important and I wanted to share them.  They’re a bit of a change in heart.

First, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I want to ride with the A guys this year.  Do I want to be one of the slower A guys or one of the fastest B guys?  I’d bet you can guess which would be more attractive but maybe not why.

I love going fast and I’ve been trying to get fast enough to ride with the A guys for six years now.  However, the A guys turn every ride they do into a sufferfest race.  We B guys, on the other hand, ride hard but a few miles an hour slower – not too fast to be able to talk and laugh through much of the ride.  There’s so much more fellowship in our B group.  Staying with the B group means riding with my friends and wife and being able to enjoy a vastly rewarding fellowship.  Riding with the A guys means I’ll go fast.  Real fast – and it would hurt.

Second, up until this year I thought all I wanted was to go fast.  I was sure of it.  Right up until I got fast enough to jump groups.  Go figure.  After all of that BS about “it doesn’t get any easier, you just go faster”, I’ve discovered the one thing that beats being fast:  Being happy.

The important aspect to all of this is that, while being fast plays a part in my happiness, riding with my friends and simply having a good time is what makes all of the work, bill paying, and the hum-drum of normal everyday life fun.  That’s really what matters most.

The weekly wrap-up:  211 Miles, 12,557 calories burned (give or take), 11 hours 15 minutes (give or take).  Average pace 18-3/4 mph

A Sweet Day for a Bike Ride;  No Place I’d Rather Be than In the Saddle

Obviously, any day which happens to be dry, above freezing, and with winds under 20 mph is a good day for a bike ride.  I’m not talking about good.  I’m talking about sweet.

It’s rare, in April, for we Michiganders to get a perfect Saturday for cycling but that’s exactly what we had yesterday.

Single digit breeze, abundant sunshine and reasonable temps.  It started out cool, of course.  This is Michigan, but it did warm up quickly enough.

We put in two hours and 20 glorious minutes for 43 miles on the nose.  

We were heading home, 38 miles on the computer, and I was bummed we only had five to go.  It is what it is though.  I had grass to cut so I decided to settle for the 43.

The good news is I only need 38 miles to top 200 miles for the fourth consecutive week… and today is supposed to be nicer than yesterday!  

It is good to be me.

It Takes Two to Tandem, 2017 Edition

I pulled the tandem out last weekend, cleaned it up and transfered some measurements over from my wife’s road bike.

I’d been looking forward to putting some miles on it since.  I don’t know what it is about that bike but I just love to ride it with my wife.

Wednesday evening was the time.  We had some ugly skies to the immediate south but it was supposed to stay south of us.  My wife and I mounted the steed, pushed off, and away we went.

First, I’d forgotten how much more work the tandem is than my single bikes.  It’s a lot like marriage that way though, riding a tandem:  More work but A LOT of fun.

I had to bust my ass for an 18 mph average but my God, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

My buddy Mike had decided to join us and provided comic relief by chiming in, “Yeah, I like this [drafting behind a tandem] a lot better!”

I had so much fun, I’d bet Democrats are meeting as we speak to try to figure out how to raise my taxes because it’s simply not fair, in these tumultuous times (that politicians created in the first place), for a man to have as much fun as I did.

There’s just something special about riding that bike with my wife.

Most guys will joke that they wouldn’t want to have their wife that close to their ear but I love it.  While I struggle with keeping an eye on the speedometer and thus, trying to push the pace a bit, I really enjoy being able to talk with my wife while we’re pounding out the miles.

After a few funny reminders that we were on a tandem, we found our rhythm and we cranked out some quality miles.  While I did have to work a bit harder, the balance to that work is being able to cut through the wind.  If you’ve never ridden a tandem, riding one into the wind is truly a beautiful experience.  Where I’d normally be in the drops, trying to kiss my stem cap, on the tandem, it’s simply head down and go.

As we rolled home on the final mile we exchanged fist bumps with Mike and pulled into the driveway.  Dinner was extra good Wednesday night.  And I slept like a baby.

Over the last couple of days I’ve given up trying to figure out why I love riding that tandem so much.  I simply moved on to acceptance.  It’s good enough for government work.