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Monthly Archives: November 2017

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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.

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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):

https://safeshare.tv/x/ss57fc550e202a8#v

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.

Still Crankin’ Out 125+ Mile Weeks…

Autumn is giving way to winter, and not subtly.

I have to rely on the trainer two or three days a week for some of my miles but here we are at the end of November and I’m still managing to crank out 125+ mile weeks.

Having our gravel bikes has been a season extender, no doubt about it.  We’re getting miles in that would have either been gotten on the trainer or not at all.  Sunday, we rolled out at 8:30 am, the temperature just barely above freezing.  As is typical for Michigan this time of year, we left under cloud cover with no hope of sunshine.  It had rained all day Saturday so we were riding paved roads – while it was close to freezing, it needed just a shade more cold to tighten up the dirt roads.  We weren’t rolling out for a mud-fest.

18 miles in, I had one of those “what the hell are we doing out here… and how fast can we get home” moments.  For some, those moments are fairly common; not for me.  I’m almost always happy to be out riding.  In this case, the temps were actually starting to drop and it was snowing.  Not hard, really, but it was snowing nonetheless and it was beginning to get to me.  As we entered a park, Chuck stopped to adjust his handlebar.  We rode on to do a one mile loop around the park to stay warm and when we came back around Chuck and James were gone.  Matt, Mrs. Bgddy and I headed for home after trying one more loop to find them.

We ended up with 32 miles on the day by the time we rolled into the driveway.  While I was fairly comfortable for the whole ride, the trip went a long way to helping me remember that cycling in badass weather makes one a badass…. and it was still better than the trainer.  That said, I do like that 125+ mile a week stretch for this time of year.  

The ALMOST Perfect Bicycle Paint Job… Goes to Giant this Year

I have been a great fan of Bike War, darn-near since its inception.  I happened upon a recent heat-to-head pitting a Merida against a Giant.  The Merida is great, the Giant is beautiful.  ALMOST perfect.  

The only thing keeps it from “perfect”  IMHO, is?

Anyone?  Bueller?

The white lettering should be black.  Better, the white is too prominent, it sticks out and slaps you in the face, so if Giant had done black lettering with a white leading edge to help frame it and make the “Giant” pop…. now that would be special!  The “Propel” on the fork, because its prominence, would get the same treatment.  The top tube “Propel”, because of its smaller size, could go either way…

A few years ago, we were subjected to a movement, and I chose the word “movement” carefully, of obnoxious paint schemes on bikes.  Specialized, my personal favorite bicycle company, was one of the most offensive.  Specialized has since corrected their course, as most others have, and for that we should all be grateful.

In the case of the Giant Propel above, they’re pretty close to perfect.  

One of those Beautiful, Shiny Coins…

I’ve wanted to be worthy of receiving one of those special coins.  Not one of the normal “year” coins they give out on anniversaries, one of the painted, urethane coated coins.  I’ve never said a word to anyone about the desire.  I figured it was selfish and an ugly part of my ego, to be ignored.

20171119_065654.jpg

After picking up the coin on the left at my meeting early yesterday morning, we went out to a dinner my wife put together for some of my closest friends – even three of my best cycling buds were there with their wives.  It was, in a word, awesome.  We had a lot of laughs and some great food, and my wife, teared up, presented me with my first ever shiny coin.  Another friend gave me a 25 year keychain with the number of days in 25 years engraved on it – a special “thing” between us as he kept track of how many days he had sober at every meeting he went to for something like six years.

I’m not going to try putting the emotions I felt into this post – it was too good, and I don’t want to mess it up.

It was some kind of alright, I’ll say that.  One day at a time.  Best day in a long time.

It’s a Good Start…

I’m going to pick up my 25 year coin – actually, as this publishes, I’ll have had it in my pocket for about 20 minutes, my sponsor having presented it to me at my third meeting in as many days.

As he announced the occasion, in front of a bunch of friends, he’ll no doubt work in that the 25 “is a good start”.  He’s been saying that for the last fifteen years or so, every time an anniversary of mine rolls around.

I would be willing to bet there are a few people out there who were surprised to read that a guy with 25 years would be going to three meetings in three days.  Well, many of us get a little squirrely leading up to anniversaries.  It didn’t happen to me this year but it has in the past, so I figure “better to be safe than sorry”.  I up my meetings every year around my anniversary so I can be prepared should my disease try to sneak its way out of the corner I have it boxed into.

That said, twenty-five years is a good start.  It’s truly been a 25-year winning streak – and that’s why I keep coming back.  I don’t want anything to do with the misery that came with drinking.

Thanks for sticking around, my friends.