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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Trainer Season Hits Early…

A little more than a week ago I was fawning on about our extended summer and how nice  it’s been for cycling.

Yesterday, it was cold enough that there was a little snow mixed in with the rain.  No chance I’m riding in that.  I’m an enthusiast, not nuts.

So I set the trainer up in the living room, placed my Trek in it, and fired up Star Wars The Force Awakens.  I threw a leg over, clipped in, and got to crankin’.

I missed cycling season two minutes into it and it’s not even entirely over yet.  Still, sweating it out watching a movie beats freezing one’s tookus off in the rain – and the trainer definitely beats going on a real diet.  So be it.

Fit Recovery’s Fall Cycling, Top-Secret, Ultra-Fabulous Training Plan.

I know what you’re thinking – if it’s top-secret why would he share it in a free blog post?!

Well, because it’s also ultra-fabulous!  I can’t keep an ultra-fabulous training plan to myself, now can I?  Of course I can’t….

Okay, so come in here, real close…  Closer….  Okay. Here’s my plan:  on Monday, I’m going to ride my bike, pretty fast.  Then, on Tuesday, I’m going to ride my bike, real fast… again.  Then, on Wednesday, now this gets tricky, I’m going to ride my bike again but a little slower this time.  For Thursday, I’m going to throw you a curve; I’m going to ride my bike!  I’m going to take it easy though… because on Friday, guess what?  I’m going to ride my bike again – and on Friday I won’t care what my pace is, simply because it’s Friday.

It gets really interesting for the weekend though!  On Saturday I’m going to meet up with all of my friends and we’re going to ride our bikes wherever we want to go, because we’ll be on the gravel bikes, pace won’t matter a bit.  For Sunday, I’ll give you two guesses what I’ll be doing but you’re only going to need one:  You got it, I’ll be riding my bike with my friends (probably a rinse-and-repeat of Saturday).

This is all weather permitting of course.  If it’s raining or snowing, we’ll simply take a day off until the weather is more favorable.  See, this is the end of the season, friends.  There is no training plan.  Training plans are for the two months of winter leading up to the spring!  Relax and have some fun, would ya?  Sheesh.

Cycling and Pace-itis.  It’s Real… And How to NOT Obsess on Your Average Every Ride.

I just read two posts, one from a really good friend and one written by a friend of his – both about what we can call Average Pace-itis.  The basic gist is simple;  Cycling enthusiasts place too much importance on Average Pace, choosing routes with prevailing tailwinds, that are devoid of hills, simply so one can pad their stats.  As Average Pace-itis progresses, the cycling enthusiast chooses increasingly easier routes to pad their STRAVA (MMR/Endomondo/RWGPS) stats….  All of a sudden, said enthusiast realizes they haven’t seen a hill in a month because it takes their average pace from 20 mph down to 18-1/2.

I have the very simple remedy.  Unfortunately this remedy comes with more side-affects than a new drug to market.  Fortunately, they’re all good side-affects:  Increased confidence, laughter, increased smiling, a decrease in obsessing over average pace…  Basically, it’s winning, but without all of the bat-$#!+ crazy Charlie Sheen stuff.

See, interestingly, I don’t exhibit any symptoms of Average Pace-itis.  I don’t, because I already practice the answer….

The key is to take one day a week, mine is Tuesday evening, to hammer out an easy route (ours is 29 miles and some change with a total of maybe a couple hundred feet of climbing – 47 km, 65 meters of up), preferably in a group.  The group I ride with was around 20 strong this season and, depending on wind direction and intensity, we could complete that route in 1:23:×× to our best, just a few weeks ago, of 1:18:23 or 22.1 mph for an average (or 35.5 km/h).  Pull out all of the stops, too.  The race bike, easy route, whatever works.  Our route is a loop, and this is the only rule:  You can’t do a Point A to Point B, taking advantage of a tailwind, and call it an average pace.  Doing so, without clarification, makes you a “poseur”, a fake.

Do this, and the rest of the week simply becomes training for the fast night.  Add a lot of climbing, triple the distance and drop the group size down to five or six on a Saturday?  The average pace drops to 18-19 mph (29-30.5 km/h) but hills make one faster on the flat and who cares about a Saturday anyway?  The pace day is Tuesday.

No more Average Pace-itis for said enthusiast.

This has been a public service post for all of humanity, care of Fit Recovery.

My Cycling World just got Dirty

The temperature is hoovering in the mid-40’s.  It’s dark out.  The lights get switched on and we roll out on the dirt roads.  25 miles later I’m bumping fists with my buddy, Phill before he heads home.

I’ve ridden on paved roads, maybe twice in the last two weeks, and one of those was on the gravel bike anyway (dirt roads were way too mucky after 36 hours of rain).  I’ve only taken one day off in those two weeks.

My friends, my cycling world got dirty.  In the cycling sense, of course.

I was up at the shop yesterday, playing around with different stems (I settled on a 110 instead of a 120 – but that’s a really long story, I’ll get into that in its own post because my thinking on a silly stem is really complex and it should make a neat post for the enthusiast) and it just so happened that my buddies, Phill and Mike, were up there too, along with Matt (the owner)…  

So there we are, the four of us talking about how much fun we’re having in the dirt, and I see a look on Matt’s face that we don’t get to see very often.  He smiles, and says he can’t wait to get out there with us – here’s a guy that’s been into bikes and the industry for longer than I’ve been alive, mind you…. the look was enthusiastic excitement.  The look on his face showed how I feel when I ride – and on the face of a guy who’s been everywhere and seen everything there is in bikes?!  Friends, that’s a conversation I’ll remember for a long time.

We wrapped up the conversation on a special topic to me; How lucky we are, as a group and club, to have such a great bunch of friends to ride with.  I follow blogs, written by authors the world over, and what we have is rare.  

It’s going to be really cold this morning, and a little windy, but I’ll give you three guesses where we’ll be, but you’ll only need one.  The lack of traffic alone makes gravel road riding worth it.  Being able to cruise around with a bunch of friends in that setting is simply awesome.

I should add, this whole gravel thing is a post season thing, maybe an off day in season thing, but the asphalt is still where it’s at.

Are You sure You’re an Alcoholic? Part 4,375

I love to make light of recovery.  At first, there was simply too much pain.  I can remember being jealous of those who could laugh while I was such a mess.  It’s easier now that I’m a little older.

For those who question whether or not I can drink, when I really don’t want to go through the process of explaining that I’m an alcoholic, or for those who don’t need to know that I’m recovering, I go with the tried and true, “I’m allergic.  My liver doesn’t work like most people’s and if I drink alcohol, my liver just can’t process it right and eventually it’ll shut down.”  I just leave out the part about drinking so much that my liver literally can’t keep up.

For those I can trust I usually go with, “The whole State of Michigan wanted me to quit drinking – it said so on all of the paperwork…  The People of the State of Michigan vs. James L…  I simply complied.”

I heard a new one last night that really got me going, and this one has a lot to do with the disease concept.  Imagine a cancer patient.  Now, imagine if cancer patients could stop their cancer if they simply went to a few meetings a week….  The line for those meetings would be out the door and into the street.  That one wasn’t new to me, I’ve used the example a number of times in the past.

In that same vain, and using a cancer patient as the example again as one would relate to the “Are You sure You’re an Alcoholic” question; Imagine you’re talking to a cancer patient and you ask, “Are you sure you have cancer?  Maybe you were just going through a phase.”

At that point the cancer patient says, “Yeah, we’re going to wait until that Stage Two cancer progresses to Stage Three or Four and then treat it.  You know, once it’s really aggressive and jumping to different parts of my body.  Just to make sure.”

Said nobody, ever.  You treat it and move on.  Anyway, I liked the way that put things in perspective.  I am a recovering alcoholic and I can have all of my misery back, in a hurry.  All I have to do is take a drink.

They Say Cycling in Bad Weather Makes One a Bad@$$

They say cycling in bad weather makes one a badass…

I say putting in enough miles that one can take a day off when it’s crappy outside is even more badass.*

8,140 miles for the year so far.

*This obviously doesn’t apply to anyone who lives in Ireland or the UK.  I realize you have to ride in the rain over there, or you simply don’t ride.

An Early Recovery is not Being Cheated – It’s the Exact Opposite

A friend, the other night, came up to me as we were bowling (I bowl on a sober league) and asked if I could share my perspective with him, as a person who recovered young.  He said that he was sponsoring a young guy who was struggling.  Not with the steps, he was putting in the work, but with feeling like he was being cheated because he had to sober up young.

I could relate.  I got over that 299 months ago.  

I made peace with sobering up young two weeks into recovery because I knew quitting drugs and drinking would stop the pain.  I quit digging, in other words.  

Once I made the decision to quit, I gave up on the notion that I could ever drink successfully.  I had exhausted all other options.  I had tried everything I could think of to control my abuse.  It was like trying to stop a freight train with a pea shooter.  Talk about Don Quixote!  

Maybe if I aim just right, and jump to the left as I shoot the conductor in the forehead with my pea shooter, he’ll stop the train….  Yeah!  That might work!

As time went on, it became easier to leave that “cheated” feeling in my past. I went from having to quit to wanting to stay quit.  And with that, the pain went.  As the pain went, let’s just say it was easy to not want the anguish back.

I was watching the lead up to Monday night football last night.  They featured a story about the Eagles quarterback and his tie to a young kid who’d died because of cancer.  The kid was ten when he passed, and I was in full-blown tears watching the story.

That poor kid would have given anything to be able to get rid of his cancer by going to a few meetings and doing some steps.

Cheated?  I cheated death and got an awesome life in the process.  I wasn’t cheated by sobering up at 22.  I was cheating.  

It’s all in the perspective.

The Last Perfect Day of the Cycling Season

It’s a rare day that we know that we are up on the last great day of a season.  Rarer still, that the day lands on a weekend.  That the last perfect day of the cycling season arrived on a Sunday is like winning the lotto – a second time.  That’s exactly what happened this year.

We rolled shortly after the sun came up, we had a decent breeze from the south.  We had a small group to start, just Mike, Matt, Mrs. Bgddy and me.  We picked up Phill and Brad along the way and met Greg, and Dave and Sherry on their tandem, shortly thereafter.

I ended up pocketing the arm warmers and rolled the rest of the ride in comfort, only wearing a short-sleeve jersey and bibs.  This late in October, that’s exceptionally rare….  Perfect.

It was a perfect way to spend a perfect morning with friends.  Just short of 56 miles on the day.  The pace was perfect as well, about 18.6 – not too shabby for a windy day.

One more Reason Being a Cyclist is the Best Thing EVAH!!!  In One Equation….

From Tony at One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age)
For women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) – (4.7 x age)

For me, once you include the special multiplier, the number works out to 2,952.

That’s how many calories I get to eat in a day.  Sometimes I go a little over, sometimes I’m under.

I am, obviously, outrageously active:

1.2 points for a person who does little to no exercise
1.37 points for a slightly active person who does light exercise 1–3 days a week
1.55 points for a moderately active person who performs moderate exercise 3–5 days a week
1.725 points for a very active person who exercises hard 6–7 days a week
1.9 points for an extra active person who either has a physically demanding job or has a particularly challenging exercise routine

I picked “A very active person” even though I’m probably “extra active” – better to err on the low side, I figure.

My number, should I choose a sedentary lifestyle, would be slightly over 2,000 calories.  Great if you love eating twigs, leaves and seaweed.  Not so much if you’d like to fire down a burger now and again.


How Many Bicycles do Cyclists Need to do Everything and Go Everywhere?! And the Bike that Revolutionized Cycling

Two months ago I had all of the bikes I’d ever need.  I’ve got a mud bike, a mountain bike, a racing road bike and a rain road bike,  and a tandem (for rides with my wife or daughters).  I could go anywhere and do anything.  Or so I thought.

Then we, my wife and I, bought gravel bikes and our cycling world changed for the better…

Yesterday, we took my wife’s gravel bike in to have a few items looked over and she started talking about fat tire bikes for winter cycling and I almost fell over.

I actually feel like I’ve got too many bikes.  Me.

To go anywhere and do anything, an avid cyclist can need up to… let’s see, carry the one…  Six bikes.  A road bike, a gravel/cyclocross bike, a time trial bike, a mountain bike, a fat tire bike, and an all-arounder or touring bike.  Figure an average cost of $2,000 each and you’re really talking about some money!

There is one glaring problem with the whole “how many bikes” mess:  If you want to do any one thing well, you simply need a bike specific to the discipline.

  • I can do a triathlon on a road bike, there is no doubt.  If I want to do my best at the sport, though, I would need a time trial bike.
  • I can ride my mountain bike in the snow but if I really want to be as stable as possible, I need a fat tire bike.
  • I could ride a time trial rig in a group but I have to be at the front of the group or slightly off the back at all times (because all but a few highly skilled cyclists can pull off a TT bike in a group – call it 2% of all TT cyclists.  The problem is, the other 98% all think they belong in that 2%).  No, you need a good road bike for group rides if you’re going to be good at it.
  • The gravel bike could be thought of as a luxury, until you try to put 28mm tires on your road bike, only to find that the sides of the tires rubbed all of the paint off of your chain stays (today’s road bikes are beginning to allow for wider tires, but not the aero bikes, because clearance has to be tight to keep the bike aerodynamic).
  • You obviously need a mountain bike with suspension for those tough trails.
  • The touring bike is necessary for the zombie apocalypse and commuting – so that obviously can’t be done without!

Six bikes…  And we haven’t even cracked the necessity of rain bikes yet.

We can narrow this down though.  I think I can get this down to three or four.

  • Dude, you don’t need a triathlon bike because the run and the swim mess up a perfectly good bike ride!  A bike ride shall never be proceeded or followed by a swim or a run.
  • Take the fat tire bike and give up the mountain bike.  You can ride the fat tire bike on trails or in the snow.
  • Road bike, rain road bike, and gravel bike….  That’s four.

Now hear me out (or read me out, but that seems rather odd, written).  As a roadie, the gravel bike is one of the most versatile bikes on the market – and it is completely revolutionizing cycling.  A decent gravel bike can be a mountain bike, a cross bike, a road bike, a commuter, and a touring/zombie apocalypse bike.  The gravel bike should be one of the most important on the list of bikes one needs.  With a decent gravel bike, you can put knobby or slick tires on it, add some aero bars for a triathlon, or panniers and a rack or two for touring.  The gravel bike can do almost anything well.

Had I to do it over, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t buy either mountain bike, nor my rain bike, nor my first road bike (my Cannondale).  I’d have gotten the gravel bike first, then the Venge, then the tandem.  Instead of all of the bikes I now own, I’d be down to three.  Well, maybe the first mountain bike for a mud/muck bike.

Of course, they didn’t have gravel bikes back then, so there’s that.  The point is, I thought I needed a lot of bikes to do everything from ride single tracks to ride with the club.  The reality is, if done conscientiously, all of those bikes can be narrowed down a little bit to keep the clutter and cost to a dull roar.