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Monthly Archives: April 2017

It’s a Good Time for Men to Stand Up for Decency.

Brick Breakers: Will You Stand In The Gap – http://wp.me/p309wl-1Tu

No further comment necessary.  We men must stand for what is right, good and decent.

A Gift from a Friend, from Ireland

I met a blogging couple from Ireland and we quickly became friends, over the web of course.  A while back, the Unironedman commented on a post about a phrase I used being made to go on a teeshirt:  A High-End Bike won’t Fix Low-End Legs

I responded that it already was on a shirt and that I’d send him one.  I also included one for his wife, a spin on Namaste, “Namacycliste“.

He’d asked me to send him the cost and my wife’s paypal account so he could make good on the shipping costs but I simply got busy and forgot.

Yesterday I came home to find a package from my friend in Ireland, which held a wooden spoon that he’d hand made along with a note about where he’d obtained the wood.

Being a carpenter by trade and a wood butcher by choice, words cannot describe my gratitude.  While it came with instructions for care should I choose to use it, it has a place on a special bookshelf in the foyer of our house where my wife and I display our memories.

How to Fix a Creaky, Squeaky Water Bottle Cage… In less than 30 Seconds

My bike is an exceptionally well thought out work of art.  

Everything matches, everything has its place, and everything is as high-end as I could afford.

Now, I realize I lose a few style points for carrying big water bottles, but I ride big miles and we don’t stop if we don’t have to, so complain if you must, I’m okay with it.

With that out of the way, I have two Blackburn carbon fiber bottle cages that match the bike perfectly.  As you can see, the red one is the perfect shade of red too…  Even the Camelbak bottles match. 

Now couple that with my healthy obsession that my bike be perfectly quiet and this gets interesting.

It was with great consternation that I found the red cage creaks when there’s a bottle in it.  It creaks over every little bump in the road.  Just a small creak, most people can’t even hear it when I’m riding next to them…  It absolutely drove me up a wall.  I tried three different kinds of high-end water bottles too.  Purist, Polar, and Camelbak.  The Polar bottles worked the best but they were far from perfect.

It came to a head over the weekend.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I thought about buying a new Specialized cage I’d seen at the shop.  It was very nice, very carbon fiber and the red was almost as good a match as the Blackburn.  The only problem was getting it by my wife.  That wasn’t going to happen. 

As I rode my solo active recovery ride Monday, every time I rode over choppy pavement, I would place my hand on my bottle and feel where the vibration came from.  The upper lip was the offender.  I thought of trying anything from foam tape to exotic solutions…. then I decided to keep it simple:

Three tiny pieces of electrical tape on the upper flange was enough to tighten everything up perfectly.  

Last night’s club ride was the test.  Perfectly quiet, as it should be.

Fit for 2017: The Good Times, They Roll

I have a few things going on this year.

Recovery is the easy part.  It’s a daily reprieve, baby.  Work is work, it’s still there.  My relationship with my wife is freaking awesome, and with my kids is equally good.

As fitness goes, I don’t even know how I’m doing as well as I am.  I’m well beyond 50 mile shape already.  The distance is feeling a little short.  40 miles is almost too short while 50 is feeling like a workout but once we hit 35 miles I’m having to concentrate on not feeling a little down that we don’t even have an hour left.  I feel phenomenal, even at 46 days without a day off.  Better, I’m having so much fun I can hardly contain myself.

Saturday was our first real “shorts (bibs) and short sleeve” day of the year.  Leaving at 11 am (to allow roads to dry out) we did have some fairly extreme wind to deal with, gusting at times to better than 25 mph and sustained winds from 15-20 mph.  Even with the wind, it was warm, topping almost 75 degrees.  I realize for those in warmer climates, this is almost cause to pull out the spring jackets but for us northerners, it’s time to subject that pasty skin to some rays.  I had a smile stretched across my face the entire 43 miles.  I did mess up a bit though.  I only took one water bottle with me.  It wasn’t enough so I ended up trying to play “hydration catch-up” for the rest of the day.

Sunday was a little cooler but shorts (bibs) and short sleeves were still reasonable and comfortable.   I was a little tired for the start but felt better as the ride progressed.  The wind pounded our group again but we just dealt with it.  We did our time into the wind and then let it push us home.  My best fitness surprise of 2017 came over the last ten miles of Sunday’s ride.  I had been up front for a mile of crosswind when we turned to head east, with a 20+ mph tailwind.  I took a minute to let the group catch up and, on carefully checking over my shoulder that everyone was there, started to turn up the heat.  I took it to 25 and that was a little easy.  Another gear and 27.  I could see a Genesee County Line sign ahead so I really put the hammer down coming down a small hill that would barely register as a “grade”…  37-1/2.  Interestingly, I found out that one can still smile while pushing one’s bike beyond 35 mph.

My buddy, Mike came up for a mile-long turn up front and as we entered Durand I put the hammer down again and took that sign at 35 mph (dead flat).  Rather than drop back after everyone caught up, I stayed up front.  24 mph, 25, 26… And that’s when the howling protests from the back started, asking me to cool it a little bit.  I took it back to 23.5 and kept it there.  I took it all the way home, more than ten miles, only giving up the front for two miles all the way home.  I felt awesome all the way to my driveway – although Sunday’s nap was a fairly deep sleep and I needed it.

The point, however, is that last winter’s hard work on the hamster wheel trainer panned out better than I ever could have hoped.  2017 has started out even better than last year and I’m happy each morning I wake up to have another day on the right side of the grass, pumping air.

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Fixing a Cyclist’s Body, One Season at a Time: What I Did After Losing TOO MUCH Weight Riding a Bike.

I am 6′ 0″ tall.  This is me at 150 pounds:

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I know, the socks are all wrong (so are the shoes if you want to get technical, and the pedals too).  That’s not the point.  I didn’t know how to eat for all of the miles in this photo.  My legs aren’t great in that photo but they were starting to come along.  Fast forward four years and I’ve added 25 pounds:

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Cycling will have you dropping weight like it’s going out of style – if one is not eating too much.  20 or 30 pounds a season, easy.  Easy.  Now, often you’ll read advice on how to cut weight so you can be a little faster up a hill and while there’s something to that, it’s gotta be within reason, Grasshopper!  I much prefer me at 175 over the 150 pound me, I don’t care how slow the extra weight makes me climb a freaking hill!  I’d rather look like the guy in the second photo any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

So, what happens when you go too far, as I clearly did?

I had to learn to eat to fuel the next ride but not so much that I ended up with unwanted poundage.  It’s a delicate balancing act to be sure, but it is manageable, and much more so than it is just trying to manage weight by diet.

The flip-side to this beast is eating too much, and believe me it’s very easy to justify a candy bar or some ice cream after riding 20 or 30 miles.  If I don’t resist the temptation to overeat and if I don’t forego the vast majority of my cravings, I will manage to gain weight rather than lose it, even at 200 miles a week.

So what’s the balance?  Comfortably hungry.  All the time.  If I’m not some form of hungry at all times, I’ve eaten too much and I have to cut portions back.  If I’m ever “full”” after a meal there’s no doubt I’ve gone too far.  Now, being in a state of perpetual hunger can be a serious pain in the butt.  I get used to it though, and then that becomes the new normal and it doesn’t bug me so much.  Getting the balance right is how I make it work.  Well, that and a veritable $#!+ ton of miles.  We can’t forget the miles!

Oh, just so we’re clear;  The easy part is putting the weight back on after I’ve lost a little too much.  Four Words:  McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.  They never fail.

Shared from WordPress – “Read This if You Think Alcoholism is a Choice…”

Read This if You Think Alcoholism is a Choice. – http://wp.me/p8C8CK-30

Interestingly, there are a dozen “tells” listed for how to know if you’re an alcoholic.  Two is a problem, four is bad and six is extreme.  I exhibited ALL twelve.  That’ll let you know how far down the scale I was.

For clarity, I commented that while being an alcoholic was not a choice, getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk, was always a choice.  It should be treated as such.

Happy Easter, My Friends.  Ride Hard, Live Sober, and Be Happy.

Ride hard, my friends.  Because it’s what we do.  In one form or another.

Happy Easter

With Cycling, if You Need Rest Days, You May be Doing It Wrong. Kinda.

38 days in a row, 1,076 miles, and we’re just starting to get into the good miles (50+ in a day).  

My average pace is between 17 and 18 mph this early in the season.  In May and June I’ll hit 19, easy.  Shedding all of the bulky clothing is worth 1 mph alone!

Now those are averages.  My fast days are closer to 22 mph, my slow days, 16.  My mediocre days are between 18 & 20 mph depending on my mood and who I’m riding with.  

Each and every day, I ride.  I only take a day off when the rain stops me.

I don’t take rest days, not because of a need to lose weight or even to ride daily.  There’s no need whatsoever. 

I ride every day because it’s fun.  I ride daily because riding makes me happy.  

I like to borrow from a phrase and modify it to say, “I’ll taper when I’m dead”.  If the pros can do it, and they can, then I can do it too, only slower.

On a bike, rest days are vastly overrated.  With running they’re almost indispensable but the question is how not why though, when pedaling to happy destiny.  It’s about having a good plan and sticking to it.  It’s about knowing, and sticking to, one simple concept; As amateurs, our easy rides aren’t easy enough and our hard rides aren’t hard enough.

I ride with a guy who is every bit as strong as I am but on most days I can wax the floor with him.  I have use of the perfect system that keeps me riding hard after more than a month straight while others struggle with two decent days in a row.

I plan my hard days out and ride easy accordingly around those days….

My friend rides willy-nilly, no planning.  When the mood strikes him, he rides hard, even if it’s the day before a planned tough ride.  If that wasn’t bad enough, and it is, he takes days off at the worst times too.

What I’ve learned over the years with cycling is that days off are just as detrimental, if not more so, than riding too hard before a big day in the saddle.  Taking a day off before a big ride is just about the worst thing I can do.  Taking a day off requires a day dedicated to spinning my legs back up just to get my legs to 100% so if I take a day off the day before a big ride, I’ll struggle the whole next day to keep up.

I find it better to ride easy before a big day than to take a day off.  Period, end of story.

Then there’s the dreaded hard ride before the hard ride.  I’d argue that the day off before the big ride is much worse than the back-to-back, but the back-to-back is bad enough if I’m not used to it.  Eventually I’ll be able to string four hard days in a row together though, by the end of the season, but I have to work up to it.

I’ll just get right to the schedule to simplify it, and also add that it’s been four years since I suffered any kind of injury that slowed me down (it didn’t stop me, just slowed me down)….

My hard ride days are Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday…  So, Monday is an easy day (15-17 mph average).  Tuesday is my fastest day (21-22 mph over 30 miles with the club).  Wednesday will me a mediocre or easy day (18-20 mph average depending on how my legs feel).  Thursday is an easy day.  Friday is mediocre and longer (17-18 mph, 30 to 40 miles).  Saturday and Sunday are hard, long rides, though we tend to take one of those long rides a little easier in the beginning of the season.

Monday comes and I do it all over again.  Two, three, four weeks in a row, it doesn’t matter.  Five weeks, even six.  I only get into distress when I try to do too much on those easy days, it’s simple as that.  

Interestingly, my wife was the only one who could get me to slow down enough to enjoy the easy days.  Going for easy rides that she could enjoy became my easy days and they’re two to three miles an hour slower than I would do on slow days a few years ago.  I truly believe it’s the slow days that made me faster.  In fact, I’m quite sure of this.  

I know this because I’ve tried every other combination I could think of eliminating the slow days.  One day off a week, two….  Nothing I could do had me feeling as good and as fresh as no days off with two or three slow days a week.

As the season wears on, and after 30 or 40 days in a row, I will take a day off for weather, even if it’s two days in a week.  When you ride as much as I do, riding in the rain isn’t all that necessary, and a day off now and again is kind of nice.  But only kinda.

Where this gets important is for those who do want to lose weight…  On a bicycle, they’ll be able to burn extra calories every day, rather than a few days a week.  Ride hard my friends.

UPDATE:  A friend pointed out in the comments section below that he has a few medical conditions that require rest days to recoup after a ride.  Because I’m a bit ignorant at times, I have a tendency to not take preexisting medical conditions into account in my posts… simply because I don’t have any.  This caveat must be taken into account.

The Cyclist’s Cookbook:  Barbecue Bacon Burgers with Homemade Onion Staws

This is cyclist food at its best, and highly recommended after anything north of 50 miles…  Less than that and you’ll have to skip meals to afford the calories, and we wouldn’t want that.  Would we?  

Bigddy’s Barbecue Bacon Burgers.

First, bacon on goes into the oven at 450, cut in half on a cookie sheet and rack.  Bake until your approximation of done.  Don’t fry it.  Bake it.  A little less fat.

Make your burger patties… Third or half-pounders.  I’m partial to half’s lately.  Sprinkle them with Montreal Spicy Steak Seasoning (or regular) and douse with a bit of worcestershire sauce.  Set them aside for the time being.

For the onion straws, slice an onion thinly.  Break the slices apart and dunk them in water.  Then dip them in flour and fry in preheated oil in a frypan.  Fry till golden brown.  Set aside when done.  We use vegetable oil, feel free to use whatever method you can.

Pull the bacon out of the oven, it should be done by now.  Set that aside.

Time to get the burgers done.  Grill ’em to a perfect medium-rare (or medium if you must).  The best quality ground beef you can afford.  The better the beef, the tastier the burger.

I recommend putting the barbecue sauce on the burgers while they’re on the grill, just as they become done, but that’s just me.  My personal favorites are Famous Dave’s Natural, Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet and Sassy, or Weber’s Sweet and Spicy.

et voilá!

Now that’s the proper carbs to protein ratio for refueling muscles!

Oops, I did It Agai…. Err. Um, Yeah…

I rely on my wife, and sometimes my friends, to keep a leash on me the day after a hard ride because I have a problem.

I lose my mind just a little bit when I ride alone.  I simply can’t help it.

You see, I start out with the right attitude.  “I’m going to take it easy.  Take an hour to do the 16 mile route, or a little more for the 17-1/2″.  It starts out so well.  200 yards/meters in and I’m sitting up, spinning my legs at a wild clip for the 17 mph I’m going….

And then I realize I’m atop one of the greatest aero road sprint bikes ever formed out of carbon fiber and resin and trace bits of aluminum…

“Surely I can up shift one gear.  That won’t hurt!  This is too easy anyway.”

Then, “I’m pedaling so easy, maybe one more gear.”  I look down at my computer.  It reads 20.6 mph.  I’m riding into the wind.

Oops, I did it again.

“No sense in slowing down now”, says someone in my melon committee.  I like him – unlike a few of the other @$$holes who roam around up there, stirring up crap, this one gets me.

25 mph, I’m down in the drops, with a bit of a tailwind, just happily pedaling along.  26 mph.  27.  My chances of taking an hour to complete the route were left in the wind long ago, and I’m not on the short 16 mile route…  Finally, I decide to relax a bit, with five miles to go I slow the speed down again.  Less power, same cadence.

I pull into the driveway, 56 minutes and a few seconds after I rolled out.  17-1/2 miles.  That works out to something like 19 mph and I can feel it in my legs…  And it feels good.

Hopefully my wife will wait to ride with me this evening so I don’t have to “Oops, do it again.  Again.”

I’ll need an actual, real easy day before the long weekend rides.