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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Why am I having a Difficult Time Losing Weight Cycling?

I love this question: Why am I having a tough time losing weight cycling?

“Ah, grasshopper, doth thou lackest honesty?”

The answer is simple, my friends, for those who can embrace honesty:  Results are equal to the effort put into achieving them.  Not less than, and certainly not greater than… though most wish the latter were true.  As a recovering drunk, I can relate – after I’d become I pickle, I wished and prayed I could to back to being a cucumber.  

We find losing weight difficult because we don’t push hard enough on the pedals, dear.  Well, that and we eat too much of the wrong crap, but let’s keep it on track.

Every cyclist on the planet needs an easy day once in a while (including the pros).  However, if your days are all easy, guess what?

Look at it this way, imagine yourself atop a mountain pass – you drove your bike up there on your car.  You unrack your bike and coast almost all the way down the hill, riding your disc brakes to the bottom.  It takes you 30 minutes.  You then take a bus back to the top to get your car…

Many will chalk that up to a 30 minute bike ride then reward themselves with some form of fast food goodness.  In reality, you put in slightly more effort than you would sitting on the couch watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  You will gain weight on the day.  That’s how it works, and that’s why it’s so hard.

Try this revolutionary idea:  The easy days don’t count.  

Lately, I’ve been walking quite a bit for work, upwards of three or four miles a day.  I don’t count that because, dude, it’s walking.  I do my regular evening ride and that’s what I count.  I consume an average of 400 calories less than I burn every day.  Guess what happens!  Every ten days or so. I drop a pound.

Expectations and intake must be in line with effort, it’s simple as that, if sometimes disheartening.  

Ride hard, my friends… because the other option is to eat twigs, leaves, roots and fungi.  


I ♡ My Gravel Bike. Dilly, Dilly!

Last November I rode, outside, just seven times the entire month.

This November I more than doubled that, sixteen times, and to quote Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, “I feel like a Hundred Dollars”.  Last November, 396 miles.  This year, 517 and counting.  Not only that, all of the outdoor miles have made the trainer  miles a little more bearable – Dilly, Dilly!  By contrast, in August I rode 29 of 31 days outdoors, 36 separate rides, and more than 1,000 miles.

We rolled out from Diane’s place Tuesday night, so Chuck, my wife and I rolled out from my place fifteen minutes before the 6pm start at a leisurely pace.  Our road was smooth sailing.  They’d just graded my buddy, Mike’s.  While it was passable, I’d definitely ridden worse, the dirt was loose enough the bike was squirrelly under me.

“Disconcerting” is an awesome word for that feeling, but I’m starting to become comfortable with the uneasiness of it all…  I don’t have much choice as hitting a graded road is fairly common this time of year.

We rode as a group but I was off the front for much of the first seven or eight miles.  Once I get going I have a funny tendency of getting into a zone where I just motor.  It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not good either.

When we finally hit tailwind I sat up a little bit and rode like a friend instead of Rudolph.

Funny thing about riding at night, you can be going 20 miles an hour, it’ll feel like you’re going 35.

I can remember several times, thinking to myself, “I can’t believe how awesome this is I love riding my bike! Oh my God I hope Heaven going to be this much fun!!!” at least a dozen times.  I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s the truth – I have that much fun riding.

There is a phrase that always made me smile, “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick!”  Could you imagine the smile on Jesus’s face if he really could have had a pogo stick?

That’s how I feel riding with my friends – and those gravel bikes extended my season, that joy of seeing life through the eyes of a kid, by at least two months.  Even if it’s only a few hours a week, it’s all good.

What a blast they are!  And for that I am grateful.

Sometimes Ya just gotta Ride!

After spending Thanksgiving up north with my wife’s family and limiting the cycling to mountain bikes and short rides (9-12 miles) so adequate time could be spent hanging out and playing cards, I was hurting for some decent miles by Saturday morning.  On our ride, I tried (poorly) to express my cagy feeling to my wife.  We had ended up with two cars up north because I picked up my nephew at the airport and I wanted to take mine home to ride with my buddies Sunday morning.

After discussing a few unwise options with Mrs. Bgddy, I came up with the bright idea of leaving early Sunday morning so I could get home and ride with my buddies just after sunrise.   My wife was okay with that one, so at 4:06am I woke up and got the coffee going.  A story does not begin, this early, without coffee.

I was packing up the car and loading the bikes at 5am.  I was on the way down the road at a quarter after.  Two hours later I pulled into my driveway and I was ready to ride well in advance of our 8:30 ride time.

We put in 29 miles and a little change in about 2 hours on dirt roads, dodging potholes the entire way.  While I don’t appreciate the potholes, it was something like 45 minutes into our ride that we saw our first car.  As I’ve written before, this time of year I’ll take potholes and slower speeds over traffic any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Originally we were just going to do our normal dirt road loop but we decided to add on a few miles to hit the two biggest hills I know of in our area, both on the same stretch of dirt road – I actually used all of my gears to get them done, too.  Chuck dropped off shortly thereafter to head home, so that left Mike, Phill and me.  We dropped Mike off at his place to get a couple of extra miles and Phill and I pedaled the last two miles home.

I pulled into my driveway, beating the melting roads which were turning into mud roads in a hurry, feeling sated, like I got a great ride in.  I love it when that happens.

I took a nap on the couch, then got to working on some maintenance items on the bikes.  My wife’s mountain bike needed quite a bit of attention.  The front derailleur was acting up and her seat post kept sliding down on her.  A cleaned seat post and quick-release collar and a new shifter cable later and I turned my attention to my gravel bike…  The derailleurs were suffering a little from some cable stretch which cause the front derailleur to rub a little bit in a couple of the easy gears and the rear to shift poorly.

After, it was dinner and Sunday night football.  A nice way to spend the last evening of a much-needed four-day vacation.  Oh, and a great way to burn off that three extra pounds I put on over the weekend!  Crap!

The Definitive Post:  How to Spot a Noob Cyclist’s Bike;  Conversely, How to not Look Like a Noob. 

It’s dark out, quarter past seven, and raining.  It’s been raining all day.  A sure sign the season is coming to a close – and a perfectly good day to write this post.

Let’s jump right in – How to spot a noob cyclist’s bike:

Your rear wheel spoke protector.  You need it because you don’t know how to keep your rear derailleur perfectly tuned.  I don’t need one because I do.  The single easiest way to spot a noob is that they’ve still got the spoke protector on their bike….  The bear is that you can’t remove it unless you know what you’re doing when it comes to tuning a rear derailleur – and I’m not giving that up for obvious reasons;  You’re liable for your own butt, in other words.  You also need a couple of special tools to remove the cassette so you can get the thing off in one piece in the first place…

Reflectors.  I know, they’re required by law.  Call me a rebel.  No self-respecting badass has reflectors on their race bike – even if the law requires the bike come with them.  My bikes did come with four each – they were taken off the bike before my first ride.  Seriously.  Also, you don’t need reflectors if you don’t ride near dusk or sunrise anyway.

Your bar tape says more about your ability to ride than you would like – and don’t worry, we all suck at the skill of wrapping at first.  Keep trying.

Notice how the wrap goes the opposite way to the center of the bar on each side?  You’ll also notice the tight wrap, no gaps, no loose coils.  If at first you do not succeed, try and try again (that photo was taken shortly after I installed the leather bar tape – once it had a few weeks to set up, I straightened out the bar end plugs).

A dirty drivetrain; there’s a difference between dirty/grimy and well lubed.  The latter is okay, the former, not.

Your hoods aren’t lined up and square.  This one will lead to neck and shoulder pain, not just a raised eyebrow from a friend:

A dirty bike will betray a noob cyclist every time.  When you get back from riding in gnarly weather:


Clean it up before you ride again.  It should look like this before your next ride (UK cyclists are excluded here.  If you had to ride in that much rain, you’d let your bike go from time to time too):

Simple as that.  I clean my bikes once a week, whether they need it or not.

Shifting!  This one doesn’t need a photo.  If you push your shifter lever to change the gear and the chain clicks several times before it shifts, others will notice.  It normally takes between two and 30 seconds to fix this… If you know what you’re doing. It takes two minutes to three hours if you don’t.  How do I know it can take three freaking hours?  That’s what it took me the first time I tried.  Now, if you shift weakly, this can also cause the same skip.  You have to know the difference between a weak shift and a need to index your rear derailleur.

A wobble in your wheel.  I am a seasoned, well-versed, fashion conscious, mechanically inclined cyclist.  I suck at truing a wheel.  Most noobs think you tighten spokes to pull the rim back into true.  This is not the way to go, as you’ll pull the wheel out of round.  You have to tighten some and loosen others.  So, to get around this, I take my wheels in to get them trued if I see a wobble.  I check them regularly.  Whether you have the wherewithal or not, wobbly wheels are a noob’s dead giveaway.  Things happen, of course, but you don’t want wobbly wheels.  Again, I’d provide a photo, but I don’t have wobbly wheels.  Sorry.


A dry bike.  A dry bike is a squeaky bike.  A squeaky bike should be annoying as hell to you.  If it isn’t, make it so.  A dry bike, one that hasn’t seen a lube bottle since some time last season, makes very distinctive noises that are very easy to pick up in a group.  They’re squeaky.  Bikes that are lubed regularly, are whisper quiet.  Lube regularly the following (not including the chain which should be every 250-400 miles):  Rear derailleur, front derailleur (at the pivot points), the brake caliper pivot points.  Once or twice a year, take the crank apart and lube it (clean it first, obviously), and do the headset once a year (more if you ride in a lot of rain).  Lube the wheels once a season, including the cassette body (or as needed).

Now, this can be a lot of work, especially when you’ve got a lot of bikes to maintain (I have, including my wife and kids, more than eleven to take care of).  This is what the off-season is for.  Change the cables, take apart the headset and cranks to clean them and lube them…  Do a couple of bikes a weekend while the snow is flying (if you live in a climate that gets snow, or use a rain day).  After a while, you’ll become efficient at the tasks and they’ll go a lot faster.  Of course, every once in a while, you’re going to run into that front derailleur cable that takes a half-hour to change and index.  It happens.

Take care of your bikes and they absolutely will take care of you.  The easiest way to spot a noob is to look at their bike.  This has been a public service announcement from Fit Recovery.

Are Road Pedals Better than Mountain Pedals (spd) on Road Bikes?  (The Question is NOT are they more Efficient)

I’ve been watching “The Bike Fit Adviser” series on YouTube and I like a lot of what John has to offer.  Put simply, he has a tendency to go off the reservation on a topic every once in a while.

Pedal efficiency, the difference between a Look style vs. SPD, is one of those topics.  

It’s easy to pooh-pooh the notion that road pedals offer greater aerodynamics or offer an advantage in actually getting the pedals around the cranks – you’re talking about such a small gain, it becomes inconsequential unless you’re a pro where every little difference matters.

That’s not the end of the narrative, though.

I’ve ridden both, and over long distances, enough to know that there exists a huge difference between the two and it has nothing to do with aerodynamics or pedaling efficiency.

Grocery-getter or cyclist?

The first thing to determine is what style of cycling will we be taking part in, because this matters in the decision-making process.  If you’re going to commute or take rides up to the grocery store, if you’re talking about trips up to 30-40 miles (48 to 65 km) at reasonable efforts, what difference there is between the two pedal styles won’t matter.  It’ll be more advantageous to not walk like a duck when you get where you’re going.

Where the discussion gets interesting is when you look at changing up the style of cycling and/or increasing the distance and pace (50+ miles, 18+ mph average [80 km @ 29 km/h]).  

At that point, it’s time to ditch the mountain bike shoes and pedals and go for a road setup – and for some reason John just skips right over this….  The spd mountain bike pedals have a tiny cleat contrasted against a Look or Shimano road cleat so the load is transferred from the foot to the pedal over a smaller surface area with a mountain pedal/cleat rig.

The smaller cleat causes “hot spots” of pain on the ball of the foot.  I know this happens because I’ve ridden thousands of miles on the spd pedals.  The further and faster one rides, the more the feet will hurt with the effort.  

It’s not about position of the cleat, either.  It’s about stiffness of shoe and the size of the cleat.  More cleat surface area will cause less deflection in sole of a shoe, will cause less pain over a long, fast ride.

Period, end of story.

Spd pedals on the road rig, circa 2012.

I rode mountain pedals on the road rig because I was too poor, at the time, to afford mountain and road shoes.  Today times are better and I can afford both, so I ride Look pedals and cleats on my two road bikes and spd’s on my gravel and mountain bikes.  

The road rig favors how I ride road bikes, the spd pedals and cleats on mountain shoes mean I can walk on dirt roads and in fields without worry of gumming up the cleats/pedals.  

Finally, the pain associated with riding spd pedals on road bikes isn’t so bad it can’t be lived with, I’d simply rather not with as many miles as I ride on the spd’s. 

That’s the short and curlies of the pedal debate.

Are Hydraulic Disc Brakes worth the Money?

This could have been my first two-word post ever:  F— Yes!

I own a gravel bike with mechanical discs and a mountain bike with hydraulic.  They’re not even in the same class, the hydraulics are simply that good.

Now, in terms of a ranking brake systems, for what I’ve ridden, it goes like this (best to the rest):

  1. Hydraulic disc
  2. Mechanical disc
  3. Every rim brake setup there is

If you can afford the upgrade to hydraulic disc from mechanical, do it.  They’re worth it and fantastic.

Mechanical Disc

Hydraulic Disc

Caliper rim

Cantilever Rim

Nothing more need be said about the subject.

I hadn’t Lived, ’til I Wore a $25 Pair of Wool Cycling Socks

I couldn’t figure out what all of the hub-bub was all about when it came to wool socks.  “Who would pay $25 for a scratchy pair of socks, anyway?!” I thought…  This was, in case you hadn’t guess, before I started cycling.

I’ve almost worn holes in the first pair I bought and I always have three pair in the rotation.

Wool socks, while hardly necessary for a full life, are one of those items that are only unnecessary until you’ve owned a pair.  Once that box has been opened, there’s no closing it.

I hadn’t lived until I bought my first pair, Specialized Merino wool, winter thickness.

It’s been five years since the last time I had truly cold feet.  Merino wool socks are not scratchy and they are warm.  If you spend any time on a bike in temps at or below freezing, you have my word, you haven’t lived until you’ve cycled in wool socks.  

$25 is a steal for that level of comfort.

Winter is the Perfect Time to Dial in the Cleats…. A Tale of Woe and Victory

I rode all year with my right foot bugging me, just a little bit.  The pain wasn’t unmanageable, but after 80 or 90 miles it was quite intense.  “Searing” is a good word, and the intensity of the pain matched the effort – 20-22 mph average, it was intense, 18 wasn’t too bad. The pain started at the bottom/ball of my foot, toward the outside of the foot, and once it took hold the only thing I could do to relieve it was stop riding.  Five minutes after I was off the bike, I was back to normal again, like nothing was amiss.

I got home a little early the other day, so after I cleaned up my wife’s mountain bike and put a new chain on it, then got mine squared away (cleaned), it was time to spend my normal 45 minutes on the trainer.  I decided that, while I was attending to all of this maintenance stuff, I should have a look at that cleat – so I did.  I posted a link to a video that changed how I looked at my cleats a few days ago and I wanted to test what I learned.

I climbed up on the trainer and pedaled until the pain started to flare up.  I concentrated on how the right foot felt different from the left… then I got off the trainer and looked at both cleats on the bottom of my road shoes.  The right cleat hung over the edge of the sole of the shoe by maybe an extra two millimeters.  It also looked to be just slightly forward of the position of the left cleat, maybe a millimeter or two.  I marked where the cleat was with a pencil then loosened up the bolts.  I slid the cleat to the right so the overhang matched the left cleat, then flipped the shoe around to look at the position of the cleat, making sure to hold it tight to the shoe’s sole so it didn’t slide around too much.

With the shoe upside down, I matched the cleat angle to the outline I’d done with the pencil but back (toward the heel) and over 1-2 millimeters.  I tightened the bolts, got on the bike and continued.  My heel was hitting the crank arm if I moved around too much.  I got off the bike and adjusted the cleat to get a little more clearance for my heel.  My heel still barely hit, so I adjusted one more time to push my heel out…

And pain-free cycling.  

I will endure a $#!+ ton of pain to ride my bikes, but no pain is kinda nice. 

There are a few things at work here:

  1. I had my cleats set by a professional, using Look’s alignment system just this past spring.  
  2. My last set of road shoes hurt too, I thought it was a problem with my feet related to the toe box of the shoes, so as long as it wasn’t causing lasting damage or injury, I figured “meh”.
  3. The pain?  Imagine hitting your thumb with a hammer, but not bad enough to break bone, but on the bottom of your foot.  The pain was considerable.
  4. The pain isn’t limited to the right foot.  Both hurt after 100 miles, but the right was always vastly more intense.
  5. The actual problem has to do with some syndrome that I don’t remember the name of.  I wrote about it earlier this year.  That said, some of the pointers I picked up from that video, mainly moving the cleat back a little more to keep pressure off the toes, made sense and I wanted to see if I could better my situation.
  6. Dude!  It’s awesome!
  7. The off-season is the perfect time to tinker.  We’re riding on the trainer, so all we have to worry about is how the ride feels.  No traffic, no balancing, nothing but how the changes affect the feel on the bike.

The point I’m getting, my friends, is this:  if you can set yourself up so you can’t fail (ie. the pencil outline of the cleat on the sole of my shoe), don’t be afraid to tinker with things.  Try to improve your cycling experience.  Watch some new videos, try new things.  Some will be a bust, but some, like this one in my case, will be homeruns.

Holy CRAP! You Think You’re Good on a Mountain Bike?

I lost count at 34 places on this route that I would have died.  Be sure to check this video out, “Dan Atherton Sends It Down the Hardline MTB Track”

This is absolutely awesome (fair warning, I’d make sure you pee before you watch this – so it doesn’t happen whilst you’re watching this):

Is Pinarello’s Marketing of their New eBike Sexist or Do some People need to be Angry to be Happy?

I read a neat post on an uproar over Pinarello’s marketing ads for their new road eBike.  First, some backstory.

Last year, in the off-season, my cycling buddy Mike, my wife and I would regularly go out for dirt road rides on our mountain bikes.  Every once in a while, Diane would join us on her cyclocross/gravel bike.  I have a Specialized Rockhopper 29er, my wife has an almost identical Trek Marlin 29er.  My buddy, Mike has an older Stumpjumper 26, a hand-me-down from a friend.  My wife wanted a gravel bike so she would have an easier time keeping up with us, as Diane did.  I suggested against the idea, because if she got used to taking it easy on a gravel bike while we were on mountain bikes, that would adversely affect her fitness next season – at some point she would have to play “catch up” and catching up always sucks.

Gravel Bike

Mountain Bike

Back to the Pinarello kerfuffle… My wife would buy that Pinarello tomorrow, if we had the cash, for the exact same reason.  Hell, I’d think about buying one to keep up with our 24 mph average A Group for the same reason [ED. I wouldn’t, because I’d likely be excoriated for being a wuss].  I have to stay on track though, I don’t want to mess up the narrative….  Yet.

Along comes Pinarello and their new eBike, the Nytro.  Their ad campaign featured a young lady who wants a Nytro so she can comfortably keep up with her boyfriend and his cycling buds [ED Exactly like my wife, ahem].  The other side of the ad features an older fella who works too much to train but with a Nytro, now he doesn’t have to miss a Sunday ride with his buds.

Pinarello got my wife and me right – though in all honesty, I have my normal friends to ride with.  I don’t need an eBike to ride with the A guys (and yes, every one of the regulars in the A Group is a male of the species.  I only know of one woman who can ride with them.  She’s a pro).

So, the question is, is Pinerallo, who marketed almost exactly to my wife and I, sexist for doing so?

My wife absolutely does not want to work hard enough to keep up with us boys.  So if Pinarello’s marketing is sexist, my wife would have to be as well.  If anyone thinks my wife, because she wants to ride with us but would like a little assist with an eBike, is a male chauvinist, it’s because they are one of two things: ignorant or stupid.  Pick one, or be bold and go with both.

In this age of faux outrage, masquerading as care for real issues, I grow tired of the chattering masses who take umbrage with human nature and the differences between men and women and try to use those differences as a means to prove sexism.

It seems increasingly more common that some people simply have to be angry to be happy.

Observe:  Is Pinerallo sexist for marketing to women who would love an extra assist to keep up with the boys on Wednesday night, or are those who are angered by the ad campaign sexist for picking on Pinarello and for believing that women who want the assist are lazy for not wanting to train hard enough to keep up in the first place?  Touchè.

My money goes on the latter.

Unfortunately, my problem is that I’ve taken that latter tact with my wife.  She’s so close to fast enough to hang with us.  With a little more effort and willingness, she’d be right there.

Hey, isn’t that sexist?  In my case, I’m a sexist either way just because I was born a male, but that’s the point.  In truth and reality (neither of which actually matter), it’s simply how this works.

The simple fact is, you (especially if “you” is a male) can’t win, and the whole narrative is designed that way.  On the one hand, you have real sexism – all one needs for proof is the implosion of Hollywood (which I’ve been watching with glee, those pompous, arrogant @$$holes).  On the other, you’ve got this faux sexism that is used to bludgeon someone just for the sake of hammering them.  Call it bullying – I think that’s the new buzzword of the decade.

As I’ve also shown, for those who claim faux sexism, you can flip the narrative on them – you just have to be quick enough to do it and that ain’t easy.  For real, no BS sexism, the narrative can’t be flipped.  There is no justifying Charlie Rose walking around butt naked in front of female colleagues – you can’t flip that narrative, the behavior is just plain wrong.  It’s that fake narrative that we can work with.

The trick is to first reject the premise of the narrative in the first place; in this case, “Pinarello is sexist for suggesting that women need an e-assist to keep up with the boys”.  Pinarello didn’t suggest that at all, the hucksters added that to the narrative to justify their angry reaction (that’s the rejection of the premise).  What Pinarello did was offer an option to women who don’t feel they can or want to keep up with their spouse or boyfriend on a bicycle.  They offered the same option to men, if you were paying attention.

The trick is flipping the narrative:  “Claiming that women simply aren’t willing to work hard enough to keep up with the boys is sexist, and that means you’re a chauvinist.  You need to stop that sexist shit that permeates our society and gives men cover so they believe they can abuse womyn as a result.”  Women often simply have different priorities, and what really works for society is men and women living in harmony – if that means a spouse buying an eBike to keep up, who cares?  The important thing is the couple gets to ride together – whether the wife or the husband is the stronger cyclist.

Bob’s your uncle.

Just hopefully not a pedophile uncle.