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Monthly Archives: January 2018

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Is there any amount of comfort worth owning an ugly bike? I think not…

Trigger (heh) warning:  While I embrace as kin all form of cyclist, from the La-Z-Boy recliner recumbent cyclist to the leisure and beach comber cruising bike rider to the weekend warrior cyclist, to the enthusiast and aged enthusiast alike, racers and pros, I wouldn’t want to ride with a few of those listed.  I’m too fast or they’re too fast, it is what it is, I like to ride with the fitter, faster crowd, but only to a point…  Just because I don’t like or wouldn’t ride a particular style of bike, that doesn’t make me right or the bike wrong.  You ride what puts a smile on your mug, and so will I.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

I was thinking, this morning, about how fortunate I am to know where I fit in the cycling world.  I know my place, I know where I fit, and I am happy with it.  It is a good place to be.

I read an article on Outside online about the new science out that says bike saddles don’t pose a threat to men’s… erm… health – even though back as late as 2005 there were still reports citing studies that did link “bike seats” to problems.  Toward the end of the Outside article by Eben Weiss, the author gets into some of the different saddles that have been created to bring more comfort to time in the saddle (thankfully, I ride a bike with a “saddle”, not a “seat”).  Which, in turn, brought about my line of thought as the discussion pertains to my Specialized…

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Let’s say they came up with some form of saddle that resembled, in size, one of those big-ass leisure seats (notice I switched to saddle to seat?  That was purposeful).  Let’s say it was the most amazingly comfortable saddle known to cycling, but it was more of a seat…  Would I put one of those big, ugly bastards on my Venge for comfort’s sake?

Say going from this:

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to this:

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You know what?  I wouldn’t.  My bike is set up well enough and the saddle is more than comfortable enough that I’d say, “No f’in’ way.  More comfort isn’t worth that.  It’s simply a bridge too far”.  There is a limit to how far I would go in putting comfort before cool.

Now, you come up with something that looks as good as my current saddle and is more comfortable… well, then we can talk.

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What “I Love You” Means in Recovery

I tell my wife I love her at least ten times a day. If ever there was a woman who knew her husband’s devotion, if he died tomorrow, I do my best every day to make sure she knows she is my sunshine. That’s not the “I love you” I’m talking about though.

We recovering folk, especially those of us “in the program” who frequently hang out with others in recovery or see each other at meetings, have a different meaning for “I love you”.  We rare few know that it’s hard to fall off the wagon if you’re sitting in the middle of the group on the wagon.  Those sitting around the edges, well they run into trouble as soon as the wagon hits a bump.

I love you, for us, is sexless, genderless, and devoid of class. I love you is not romantic. I love you has no possession or status.

“I love you” simply means; “I know your pain. I’ve been through the fire, too. I am genuinely glad to see you made it out the other side. I’ll do anything I can to help you stay on the right side of the grass and I know you’ll do the same for me.

Very few lucky people can know what it is to feel this love for any random human being. It’s perfect even though those who share it aren’t. If you ever wonder why recovering alcoholics go to meetings, that’s a good place to start.

If you do go, and you haven’t felt that connected yet, reach out to someone else and tell them you love them. It’ll be a little weird at first but sooner rather than later, you’ll see what I mean, and it is good.

Keep coming back and if no one has told you they love you today, I do.

A 175 Mile Week… in January?!

When last week started I hoped we would be able to ride a day, maybe two out of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weather service was calling for unseasonably warm weather but they’d mixed in a chance of rain for Saturday.

The first four days of the week were spent on the trainer. Nothing special, just 45 minutes a day, at 24-28 mph.

Friday turned out to be warm, up to 53° (11C) in the afternoon. I did 27 miles with my friends in the morning and 15 with Mrs. Bgddy in the afternoon. Saturday was still warm but the wind had picked up overnight. The first half of the ride, entirely into the wind, was almost comical. The ride home, however, was excellent. Thankfully we were on the tandem, too because while the tandem sucks on uphills, with a tailwind or into the wind, there’s nothing better. Then we woke up to a chilly but gloriously sunny Sunday start – and without wind. The temp had fallen, exactly as forecast to just below freezing. The sun warmed everything up quickly though, and we ended up with one of the best rides of the late fall/winter.

My wife and I decided a while back that we’d make a conscious effort to ride the tandem more often this year. We slacked off a little last year, but had a really good time when we did take it out. The trick is only taking the tandem on slower, base mile days because we tend to be a little slower on that than on single bikes. With the lack of wind, we headed northwest for the first half of the ride and let the wind push us home. We only averaged a little more than 17mph for the whole trip but the average didn’t fairly reflect our actual speed – I tend to be a little more careful at intersections when we’re on the tandem, so we’re naturally considerably slower at stop signs and lights.

Overall, it was one of, if not the best winter weekend I can remember spending on two wheels – and I’m here to tell you, if I hadn’t worked so hard on the trainer while hibernating, there’s no way I would have been in good enough shape to put in 100 miles over the last three days of the week.

On Being Fit Enough for the Bonus Miles

It’s the middle of winter in Michigan and surprisingly, the weather resembles March more than January the last few days. It’s been a nice break after a month and a half of temps 15-25 degrees below average, so we’re making the most of it.

Mrs. Bgddy and I ditched the gravel bikes for the tandem again. The wind was howling and I don’t mind the wind as much on the tandem. Thankfully Mike and Chuck were good to us when they were up front.

If you remember my post from earlier in the week, I learned a little something about riding the tandem with my wife. I learned how to be a little more efficient by taking just a little bit off of my pedal stroke. That post short, I was fighting against my wife by pushing too hard and not only was it not doing any good, I was doing myself in 15 miles into a ride. Not a big deal if you’re only riding 20 miles, but when you’re looking at closer to 30, running out of gas at 15 sucks.

The wind was out of the southwest and we were starting out stair-stepping the wind. West first, then south, then west, then south. The whole first half of the ride was absolutely brutal. Brutal. My wife and I took a big turn up front, something like three or four miles, and when we turned south I expected to struggle to keep up. Instead, Chuck took the lead and really took it easy on us so I actually had some time to recharge. Then Mike took over and kept that same pace – it was awesome. Unfortunately, we also had Doc Mike with us and he hammered the pace a bit (not his fault, he’s a bit of a horse). For our turns up front we tried to hold the pace that Doc Mike had set.

Speaking of Doc Mike, and finally getting to the point of the title, he asked me how I was feeling after 42 miles the day before. I wrote yesterday that my back’s been talking to me a little bit, and my back was certainly a mess in the morning, but I spent about a half hour stretching out before we rolled and that helped a lot. On the other side of that, the rest of me was feeling awesome and I hadn’t thought about the mileage wear and tear until Mike asked.

I love the fact that I’m in good enough shape that I can do what I want to do. 42 miles on Friday, 28 miles on Saturday, and whatever we end up doing today. I love that I’m fit enough to enjoy the bonus miles.

42 Miles and a Smile

Yesterday we had one of those unicorn days.  52° (11C) at the end of January? I can remember, maybe fifteen years ago, golfing at the beginning of January – it was even warmer, but we don’t see this too often.

On the other hand, my back is protesting over something.  I think I pulled a muscle or one of the bikes is off, but there was no way I was missing out on riding outside.  I sucked it up, suited up and rolled out.

The first eight miles or so were a little dicey.  The temp was just below freezing and the roads were a little sketchy due to a touch of frozen fog.  Fortunately it wasn’t so bad we couldn’t keep the bikes upright.  Then it started to warm up.  It went from 31 degrees to 40, fast.  I was on the Trek and something interesting happened… about ten miles in, my back loosened up.  The rest of the 27 miler was awesome.  My buddy, Mike, about three miles from home shouted, “This is so much FUN!”  I couldn’t have agreed more.

The Title of the post is 42 miles and a smile, not 27 though…  My wife had a meeting in the morning and couldn’t ride with Mike, Phill, Diane and I so after she got home I suited up again and put in another 15 miles with her on the tandem before taking the kids to swim practice.  So, 42 miles and a little bit of sweat.  My back is a little angry this morning, but it’ll hold together.  It had better.

We’re on the road on the tandem again this morning.  Winter in Michigan, there will be plenty of time to ride the couch and the trainer.  we make hay while the sun is shining.  End of story.

 

Mystery Blogger Award – Thanks to the Cheeky Cyclist

To be fair, I get blog awards fairly often but I rarely “accept” them by writing a post about them. It’s not that I’m not grateful, I just have a tendency to get busy – I usually have so many ideas for posts floating around in my head and so many posts half-written, I don’t make time to sort out an acceptance post. Before long I forget, and it’s all over. So, if you are reading this and nominated me for an award that I didn’t write a post about, thank you – I apologize for not writing a post about the award. I didn’t because I got super busy.

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So, I’m supposed to display the logo, but let’s just say their logo “isn’t me”, so I made my own.

I’m also supposed to list the rules (oh, and ask me why I don’t like these awards… rules?):

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

In all seriousness, I would like to thank the Cheeky Cyclist for nominating me.

So, three things about me….

  1. While I do write a lot about cycling, because I absolutely freaking dig it, cycling takes a distant back seat, call it the third row in a seven-seat SUV, to recovery. Without recovery there is no cycling. Without cycling there is recovery – it simply wouldn’t be as fun.
  2. I have a friend who is surprisingly pissed off that I’m so happy with my life. It’s so bad I have to stretch the truth when sharing at meetings and put in little “oh, but my life isn’t perfect” disclaimers to keep him from droning on about how I can’t possibly be that happy. My life ain’t easy but it beats my misery as a drunk (and it’s not life as a drunk that’s technically the alternative, it’s six feet under because my liver can’t take the amount of liquor my stomach can). I know it’s on him, but I stick with him because I’m hopeful some of my happy will rub off on him… Some day.
  3. The greatest, life-changing thing I learned in recovery is that not every thought that enters my melon has validity. Many people spend time contemplating stupid thoughts. From a recovery standpoint, I may have the thought “geez, a beer would sure be tasty right now”. I can simply discard that into a trash heap in my melon rather than give the thought weight, taking the time to contemplate it. I would never consider myself “f***in’ crazy”, but a few different life lessons not taken to heart, who knows. I’ve had some thoughts pop into the gray matter that turned my hair white…. I just know how to pitch them in the garbage where they belong.

Now for the questions….

  1. Do you have a goal in mind for your blog? I don’t, so much. Writing my blog is therapeutic and as long as it helps others in the process, I’m in good shape.
  2. Why do you blog? Blogging is an outlet for me. Also, I don’t consider myself a very good sponsor. Perhaps I’m being a little too hard on myself, but whatever… In writing posts I’ve found a way to help other recovering people (and those who are hoping to recover and their family members).
  3. What hobbies do you do outside of blogging? Well, that’s interesting… I never thought of blogging as a hobby. Anyway, obviously cycling. I don’t do much else as hobbies go, though I imagine I might pick up golfing again in the future. I stopped golfing when I couldn’t take my dad out anymore. We went out every Friday for years before Alzheimer’s had him teeing up and hitting golf balls at me. I really had to be on my toes, let me tell you! He almost got me the first time it happened. Anyway, it broke my heart that he couldn’t make it around a course anymore so I hung up my clubs.
  4. If you could stock up one thing for a lifetime supply what would that be? Bike parts!
  5. What is a dessert that everyone has to try? My eldest daughter’s carrot cake. From the frosting to the perfectly moist cake, my kid can make high-end steakhouse restaurant quality carrot cake. It really is something special. The younger is a French toast aficionado. We’re into this brown sugar trick lately, where you sprinkle brown sugar over the toast at a specific point in the cooking process to caramelize the sugar and create a crust on the toast… it’s freaking ridiculously good – and next up we’re working out a cream cheese frosting/syrup to take that French toast over the top… It’s really awesome.

So, that’s my stuff. My “nominees” – and don’t for a minute think you have to go to all of the trouble I did in accepting this, writing one of these posts out is a lot of work. Just know I think highly of you.

Biking to Work

Manu Stanley

Jolie’s Attic

Paula at Never a Dull Bling

Gail at Capable Fitness (Gail would have to be considered my “sister from another mister”, no doubt about it)

Tempo Cyclist

Bike Racing for Beginners

My questions for you would be the same as the one’s for me above…

This Award was made by Okoto Enigma.

Fitness, Reality and Honesty; One may be more than None, but not by much…

Trigger (heh) warning:  This post will delve into honesty.  Some people mistake reality and honesty with brutal honesty.  I am going to try to stay away from the “brutal” part, but you should know, I don’t sugarcoat shit and try to sell it, either.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

I read a post the other morning and my jaw dropped, just a little bit.  It was from a “This Girl Can” ad that shows a woman laying on the ground as if she were getting ready to do a full (guy’s) push-up… the caption says “One is more than none”.

Way to aim low.  One is more than none?  Just six months ago we had a local healthcare company put out a commercial that poked fun at the “one is better than none – now don’t you feel better” meme.  It went, “Imagine that one was good enough”… a fella comes into a gym,  does one push-up, and leaves.  I chuckled, of course, because that’s the way things go in the whole “self-esteem” industry.  We should all dumb everything down to the smallest possible amount of effort and celebrate that…  Thus, one push-up is more than none.  One marathon, well now you’re talking, but one push-up?  One century ride (100k or 100 miles, it’s up to you)?  Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I’ve got one important distinction to make.  There’s a difference between aiming low and starting off.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to buy a bike and crank out 100 miles on their first ride.  Expecting that out of someone would be stupid.  On the other hand, I find celebrating “one being more than none” equally ridiculous.  One doesn’t help..  Starting may, but the goal is more.  The goal is bigger.  The goal is better.

It’s not simply “do something”, ya know what I’m trying to say?

The core idea of starting a fitness program is to actually get fit.  One won’t do it – and herein lies the rub:  With the “self-esteem” movement, all too often reaching goals is rewarded and we don’t want anyone to feel left out so we dumb down the goals to such a ridiculously minute chunk, anyone can achieve it.  One is more than none.

This is completely bass ackward.

We need to celebrate the process.  The fact that I participate in three or four dozen 100k mile rides and a dozen 100 mile rides in a season is cool, but what I celebrate is the process of riding enough to be fit enough to do all of those rides.  I don’t celebrate that I am fast on a bike, I celebrate the process of actually being fit enough to ride fast.

What matters is the process, not the pieces.

I like to imagine this in terms of recovery, and I actually used to think like this, so I know what I’m talking about, and I’m not pulling punches…  Imagine we celebrate our first full 24 hours of sobriety.  When you’re a drunk you celebrate everything with?  Right, a drink, and with just 24 hours, you’re in no shape to fight back against that urge to celebrate with alcohol.  While I may be happy about that first day, it’s nothing to celebrate.  It’s only the start of the process of getting sober – I need to guard against spraining my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back for something so small, lest I end up hammered.  After that first 24 hours, the work starts.  After that first 24 hours I start working steps, making amends for being a loser, cleaning up the wreckage, and helping others to recover (preferably after I actually have something to offer).  So how about the first year?  Surely we can celebrate that, right?  Well, yes we can but for about 24 hours because we like to tell the noobs, “this is where the real work starts, the first year is a gift”.  This is the absolute truth too, the first year is spent just trying to stay sober.  The next year is spent fixing who we are as a person.  The second year is vastly more difficult.

I’ll be honest, the clouds break after five years but you’re not really basking in the sunshine till you hit ten – and by then you know darn good and well the work never stops.  There is no end zone.  There is no goal line.

Fitness follows the same principle.  Don’t celebrate the minutiae, the tiny pieces.  Celebrate the process.    Just sayin’.

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