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Yearly Archives: 2017

Early Winter Bike P⊕rn

With winter making such a quick entry here, I’ve been wanting to do a clearinghouse of some photos from the past year or two, some that didn’t make the usual posts…

Something to remind us that Spring is only, gulp, three months away….

There’s only one thing better than a bike ride….

There’s only one thing better than a bike ride….

I woke up yesterday morning feeling fantastic.  It was entirely unexpected, of course.  Usually, after a long stretch without a day off, the morning after the day off is a little rough.

Work was good, I got a lot done, then went home.  My wife waited to ride with me on the trainers.  I put The Bourne Legacy on the DVD player and we got to it.

Literally (really), ten seconds in and I shifted to a harder gear.  My legs felt spry, almost young.  I killed it for 40 straight minutes before downshifting to warm down.  It was awesome.

The only thing better than a bike ride is a bike ride after a much needed day off.

The rest of my evening was spent with a smile on my face.  I might not wait another 30 days before I take a day off again.

You know, come to think of it, perhaps the Title is a bit off.  Maybe it should have been, There’s only one thing better than a bike ride (when it comes to things you do with your clothes on).  Sorry, it shan’t happen again.  Probably

…In any event, I received an early Christmas present for helping a friend with some consulting work:

My friends, that’s a pair of Park Tool cable snips.  Up until yesterday I’ve used a pair of 45 year-old wire cutters that came from my father’s toolset.  They were amazingly sharp and worked excellently, but they distorted cable housings when I snipped them.  To fix the distortion, I had to stick thin nail in the housing end to bring it back to round.  I’ll still keep that nail handy, but the tool above is designed to cut cables and housings round rather than flat.  They also have a built-in crimper for cable end caps.

While regular (professional) wire cutters technically work on cables, a pair of cable snips belongs in my tool bag.  It’s the difference between getting the job done, and getting it done right.  I used one of the shop’s while volunteering to fix some Christmas donation bikes and I can tell you, they’re the cats pajamas.  If you work on your own bikes and don’t have a pair, I highly recommend you pick one up.

So that’s what a Day Off Feels Like?

It was the unlikeliest of days off.  47 degrees outside, sunny, if a little breezy… If ever there was a day for a half-day of hooky from work and a bike ride, it was yesterday.  Unfortunately, the timing was off.  I hate playing hooky (mainly because I can get used to doing it), it’s dark now at 5:30 in the evening and I really don’t like riding before 5 anyway (I don’t like the guilty feeling I give myself for not being available).  The dirt roads resembled the consistency of, well, baby poop, so they were out.  The paved roads were dry, but I’d be out alone and I really don’t like riding paved roads after dark.  It’s not my cup of tea.

I had plenty of time to ride the trainer before my daughter’s Christmas concert…

Then I realized it’d been something like 25 days since I last took a day off of the bike.  All I could think was, “Why?!”  Without much more, I sat my butt down on the couch and enjoyed an episode of “Chopped”.

In years past, I’ve always taken one or two days off a week during the off-season.  This year, I just felt like I was on a roll, so why not keep it going.

Well enough was finally enough.  Interesting, it was kind of nice.  I feel good this morning.  Almost recharged.  I should probably do this more often… at least until March.  Once March hits, Katie bar the door.

Does My @$$ Make Me Look Fat? And Other Fun Questions

I felt like a fat@$$ all summer long.  I’ve been topping the scales, in the afternoon when I’m lightest, at 180-181 for most of the year.  This isn’t all bad.  Some of that’s muscle because I’m a fair order stronger this year than I was last, and I did a fair bit of weight training during the off season last year as well – and even at 180, I’m still in the healthy range for any measure of BMI (new or old), and I’m even better off with the newfangled curve they have out now…

Still, my love handles, which at more like little lumps, were bitching at me when I looked in the mirror.  Nice, wide shoulders, fantastically muscular legs – and a midsection that is a lot less than impressive.

I have a problem with food, actually have for a while.  My problem is that I like eating it.  I have another problem;  I don’t smoke, so my taste buds actually work.

Anyway, you’d think a guy who rides 8,000+ miles a year on a bicycle would be thin as a rail, right?  Well, not when you eat like I do, you wouldn’t.  I love me a good burger.

That said, I decided to get a little drastic a while back and actually go on a bit of a diet and I’ve managed to drop somewhere between six and ten pounds, simply by eating a little more wisely, and that’s weighing myself in the morning too – I’m lighter in the afternoon, after I’ve ridden and rehydrated.

Eating wisely, when I’ve got the best excuse to eat whatever crosses my mind as “yummy”, isn’t always easy.  I still struggle at the gas station, when I’m picking up my morning coffee.  There’s a donut rack just five paces to the southeast of the coffee pots.  I still have to avert my eyes from the wonderful looking tobacco products on the wall, because I’d rather not stink like charred ass or have my mouth fall apart from chewing on tobacco instead of smoking it.  I flat-out avoid the alcohol aisle.  25 years sober and I still won’t go near it unless I can’t get around the aisle.

No, I am what I am, and I don’t tempt myself because I know the one truth that keeps me on the right path:  Spend enough time in a barbershop and you’re going to get a haircut sooner or later.

I stay out of the barbershop.

Why Cycling is the Perfect Activity for a Man’s Midlife Crisis

My friend and old sponsor had his annual Christmas party Saturday evening.  He’s lost 50 pounds in the last six months.  50 pounds!  Listening to him talk about how he’d done it (weights and elliptical), I was inspired all over again for my love of cycling.  Riding a bike (actually several of them) is my answer to a midlife crisis.  Some men cheat on their family (I’d say wife, but they cheat the whole family, kids and all, if we’re being honest).  Others turn to motorcycles, sports cars or snowmobiles (or all of the above).  Still others travel or get into some form of fishing…  Cycling ticks all three major boxes for me – still, after six years, I can’t imagine another way of wanting to maintain my fitness and sanity.

This shouldn’t be confused with taking the place of recovery or spirituality, of course.  While cycling can help enhance both, it can’t replace either.  Not for me, anyway – and I really wouldn’t want it to.

The Fitness

Once I hit 32 years-old, my skinny metabolism turned into a fat metabolism.  I missed this change and it tap-danced all over my gut.  I went from a skinny 150 pounds to almost 200 before I finally figured out what was going on.  Running fixed that for quite a while but I got into riding bikes as a desire to do triathlons to shake up my running a bit.  Within a few weeks I was happier on a bike.  Within a year I hardly ran anymore.  A year beyond that and I was cycling exclusively.  I felt spectacular, physically, and never looked back.  Today, I can lose weight at will, shock nurses and doctors with the fact that I don’t take any prescription medication at my age, and still have excellent bloodwork readings for virtually every test they can run.  Life, and fitness, are good.

The Friends

I travel with my wife and friends all over God’s green Earth to ride.  We do supported and unsupported rides.  We ride together, eat meals together and share laughs like we did when we were kids together…  We share life together.  I can’t imagine how having friends could be any better, and this includes my relationship with my wife.

The Toys

For those who choose sports cars as a hobby, they can expect to pay up to $500,000 for a Ferrari.  Worse, most people don’t know that purchasing the car is only half of the cost of owning a high-end sports car.  Maintaining one, now that gets expensive.  I ride the bicycle equivalent, or at least a McLaren, for an initial investment of $5,000… and yearly maintenance runs about $150 which includes a couple of new tires, a chain and a cassette – all of which I install myself.  I don’t need a Ferrari dealership nearby.  Just a free half-hour.

Interestingly, and perhaps controversially, my race bike cost $312.50 per pound, give or take.  On the other hand, a Ferrari 488 Spider only runs about $90 per pound.  The difference being my bike weighs less than my bowling ball.  A Ferrari?  A little more than 3,100 pounds, dry weight.

The upgrades are awesome too.  I wrote about my new brakes for the Venge last week.  They cost me $50 (Retail was closer to $150).  I installed them myself.

Try getting your brakes done for $150 on a sports car.  Brakes cost more than that on my Chevy.  Not only that, try to customize your high-end sports car like we can bikes.  Not a chance!

Finally, there’s the big deal…  This is the A-Number One reason to pick cycling over sports cars for a midlife crisis hobby:

To own and maintain five hyper-cars you have to be a Millionaire 200 times over.  To own and maintain five bikes?  Meh, middle-class will do just fine – and just remember one last important factor of cycling:  A car runs on your wallet.  A bike runs on your fat.

 

Six Years of Happy Blogging

Six-Year Anniversary.JPG

WordPress sent me a notification, as they do every December 17th, reminding me that it’s been a new blog anniversary.  I’d be willing to bet this reminder came in around midnight last night, so I was sitting in a theater watching the new Star Wars movie (flipping phenomenal).  I’ve written in excess of 4,000 posts (I deleted more than 1,000 a couple of years ago so I’m not quite certain what the exact number is anymore) and if I figure an average of 500 words per post – and that’s underestimating by A LOT, that’d be 2,000,000 words, and the blog has been viewed 615,000 times (I’m running a little more than 125,000 hits a year over the last four years).

There is no doubt the blog has been fantastically rewarding for me, but not in a “look at me” way – the number of people who have thanked my for helping them with a recovery post is simply awesome when a handful would have done.  I was going to quit writing a couple of years ago, and those comments kept me coming back.  I’ve finally found my way to help my fellow alcoholics, recovering and not, that works

So, my friends, thanks for sharing this journey with me.

Bike Radar Takes a Long Walk off a Short Pier and Claims Cycling Shorts are better than Bibs

Well, technically Russell Eich, writing for Bike Radar, took a long walk off a short pier, but I figured I’d hit you with a clickbait title just as Bike Radar’s Editor did.  Why not?

I could get into dismantling his arguments against bibs and for shorts, but why bother?  Some people like shorts better than bibs, and I suppose the world will spin on with that reality.  Personally, I think he’s bat-$#!+ crazy, but that’s just me.

Like Russell, I have thousands of miles on my legs.  Like Russell, I’ve worn both bibs and shorts extensively – and I even made some of his same arguments for shorts on this blog.  One of my most popular posts of all time explains exactly what I look for when picking out cycling shorts…  One problem:  I made the arguments before I tried bibs – or more to the point, at least I have ignorance as an excuse.  In fact, one of Russell’s very reasons for preferring shorts is my main reason for going with bibs.  For Russell, he says the waistband isn’t a big deal.  For me, the waistband on shorts drives me flipping nuts.  I suffer from tight belt syndrome and have written about it before (it’s one of my more popular posts of late).  If I wear anything too tight around my waist, I end up with severe back pain.  Same with a wallet in my back pocket – fuhgeddaboutit.  Within a week I’ll be hobbled to a point I’ll be hating life.  While the waistband on a pair of shorts isn’t nearly as bad as a tight belt for me, it does cause unnecessary pain and the way I see it, why ride around in pain if you don’t have to?  In my case, putting up with shoulder straps is worth not having a waistband.

That said and to put this simply, choosing shorts or bibs is personal.  Personally, I prefer bibs.  Mr. Eich apparently prefers shorts.  To claim that everyone who prefers the other is wrong or worse, daft, is over the top.

Of course, this, ahem, subdued reality doesn’t exactly generate clicks, either.

Bibs:


Shorts:

You say tomato…  I say keep your mits off my bibs, bro.

I Gotta Buy Me Some Bitcoin!  The One Economist Who got Me to Change My Mind…

Paul Krugman says Bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than the housing market crash.  I thought the same thing… till I found out what he thought.

Anyone who knows anything about economics knows you do the exact opposite that which is recommended by the Pulitzer Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman.

UPDATE:  My friend, and fellow cyclist who actually reported on the market for many years commented that, for once, Krugman might be right on Bitcoin.  I really have no desire or plans to buy Bitcoin, this post is more to point out the humorous “Do the Opposite of Krugman” rule.

Making the Most of My Time on the Trainer, Listening to My Heinie… err, “Body”

If you hadn’t guessed by the Title, I don’t like the “listen to your body” meme.  Listen to my body?  If I did that, I’d spend much more time eating and sitting on the freaking couch.  My body says, “Hey, smartass, cut this cycling $#!+ out!  Why don’t you take a day off or somethin’!”  I tell my body it will comply, and for the other 23 hours of the day I feel better for it.

With the onset of winter, more than a couple of weeks early, I’ve been spending the proper amount of time on the trainer.  Some of my friends, Titanium Henry and Brent to name two, are trying to push me into picking up fat bikes up for Mrs. Bgddy and me.  I’m not buying, though.  I know this is heresy, but I’m at a point where I’ve got so many bikes I’m feeling a little guilty for having so much wrapped up into them.  I don’t have room for my snow blower let alone another bike.

This year, while I do deride my time on the beast trainer on the blog, I’ve been enjoying it more than usual – I haven’t missed a day since the weather turned to crap, three weeks ago.  While I’m waiting for the first of the New Year to really kick it in the butt, I haven’t been taking it easy either.

More important, the trainer provides the perfect platform to dial in and fine tune the set-up on my bikes and cleats, if needed.  I don’t have to worry about traffic or balance and I can easily concentrate on how I feel on the bike.  I adjusted my right cleat a bit a couple of weeks ago and that worked out well.  I ran into another problem that required a small adjustment last night as well…  It turns out, with certain bibs, my Trek’s saddle is a little high.  I’ve got three pair with a thicker chamois and two are reserved for riding the Specialized only (I have a softer saddle on the Trek to smooth out the ride a little bit, otherwise it’s pretty harsh – the Venge has hardly any padding on the saddle).

So there I am putting in my time on the turbo last night and I just couldn’t get comfortable with the thicker chamois (we’re only talking a millimeter, it really shouldn’t matter).  First my hip was hurting, then my right foot, then my sit bones (all lower half of the body related)…  30 minutes in, I’d had enough.  I hopped off the trainer and went into the bike room to get my wrenches.  I lowered the saddle one millimeter.  Just one.  Foot pain gone, inside of the thigh pain gone, hip pain gone.

When I’m out on the road there are far too many variables.  Out of the saddle going up hills and during City Limits sign sprints, in the drops, on the hoods, on the bar top…  I’m all over the bike when I’m outside.  Indoors, I’m on the hoods, butt in the happy spot on the saddle, pedal, 90 RPM cadence for 45 minutes.  Period, end of story.  That much time in one spot helps to isolate little pains here and there, so I can really concentrate on what’s right and what might need tweaking.

One thing everyone will tell you about fitting bikes to the cyclist:  It’s rarely set it and forget it.  I had the set-up on the Trek dialed in for almost two years now, it worked fine.  No longer though.

So yes, the trainer (or rollers – pick your poison) sucks.  Use the time to feel your bike out.  If there’s a tweak needed, it’ll show up while you’re putting in your torture time.

20170420_162719

It makes you wonder… If they had the technology back in the medieval period, would they have had one or two of these in the dungeon?

Some photos from happier, warmer times:

The 2017 Cycling Season Officially Ends in Michigan… Yesterday.

It’s all over but the shoutin’, folks.  Oh, and I should clarify, Southeastern Michigan.  Up North and the Upper Peninsula don’t even bother cancelling school for 8″ of snow.  They just pull out the snowmobiles.  They called my kids’ school off before it even started snowing and they’re off again today.