I was at a meeting yesterday and the topic was, as read from the chapter “We Agnostics” out of the Big Book of AA, the Higher Power as you understand Him/it…
I always love the ego involved in those who won’t (for whatever reason) grasp the concept of a Higher Power. You want to hear an overuse of ‘I’ or ‘me’, just sit back and smile.
I had my fill of “I” and “me” yesterday.
When I sobered up, at my first meeting out of treatment, one old-timer said something to the effect of, “It’s bumpy. Best to grab your ass with both hands and hold on for the ride”.
Who has two thumbs and was grabbin’ cheek?
Twenty-five years ago, I’m sitting in the top bunk of a treatment center bedroom, shaking, sweating and hurting. DT’s suck.
Anyway, I’m laying up there in that top freaking bunk and life is sucking pretty bad. I’ve got enough trouble piled up that the whole entire State of Michigan decided I should sober up. I’d been through two weeks of groups at that point and the topic of a Higher Power came up in quite a few of them. Many of the counselors and other patients I spoke with told me believing in a Higher Power would help me stay sober, based on the instruction part of The Big Book (the first 164 pages). I had a problem with that, though. Being a Catholic from Confirmation, I was pretty sure God didn’t want much to do with me after how I lived the last six years of my life. I figured I was in a Fire and Brimstone time out.
So there I am and true as the saying is about atheists and foxholes, I begged for God (as I understood God at the time) for a deal. I’d give sobriety everything I had if He’d help me get through it. Twenty minutes before that was the last time I wanted to get drunk more than I wanted to stay sober.
When I made my decision to sober up, for real (that would be up in that top bunk) and made my deal with my Higher Power, I accepted that I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to sobering up. The best I’d done prior was two weeks, and they were two miserable weeks! I needed to be teachable, so I stowed my ego away and let others who knew better than I how to stay sober, teach me. I did as they said and I managed to put a few 24 hours together. I cleaned up the wreckage of my past to a point where life didn’t suck so bad. Then I got to a point where I didn’t want to have to go through all of that shit again and had something to work for, to stay sober for…
To this day I still remain teachable because as I grow in my sobriety, I run into situations that I don’t necessarily know how to handle. I take those situations to friends (usually my sponsor) and try to figure out the right way to handle them.
See, here’s the problem; We know that our problems are of our own making, for the most part, and that our lives using alcohol or drugs were based almost entirely on self-will run riot, right? Right. Folks, if my whole problem is a life lived on self-will run riot, the last thing I want to use to fix that is more self-will. This is why something greater than me worked where I failed. Miserably. Every time.
I can’t relate to those who think they’re so great that they don’t have to remain teachable.
Initial Observations on the Passage of Michigan’s 3′ Law for Passing a Cyclist – and Why the Legislature got it Right
Michigan didn’t have a hard and fast rule on distance required to pass a cyclist until Wednesday-ish.
The law won’t take affect till August of this year but I noticed a difference already, yesterday. I went out with the owner of our local shop and my best cycling bud, Mike for a 29 miler and was amazed by the fair clearance we were given. Amazed.
First, I think the Michigan legislature got it right with the law, exactly right.
Some advocates have been pushing for five feet and that’s been stalled in our Senate. Five feet of clearance is too much in my humble opinion. I ride in scenarios several times a week that would make passing our group virtually impossible requiring almost half a lane’s clearance to pass. If we’re riding in a double pace-line, as is legal per Michigan’s current law, an extra five feet is hard to come by, let alone judge. Three feet? Easy enough. As a construction professional with more than twenty years experience – I am acutely aware of the difference between three and five feet.
Also, and the importance of this cannot be understated, the new law allows motorists to cross a double yellow to pass a cyclist when safe. Believe it or not, there are motorists out there who would choose to buzz a cyclist (pass within less than a foot of a cyclist) to keep their vehicle inside the double yellow but get by a cyclist. Technically this is the cyclist’s fault as a motorist shouldn’t be given enough room to squeeze by in the lane – the cyclist technically shouldn’t ride that close to the shoulder of the road but it is in our nature to not want to “be in the way”. This observation of mine, that these motorists exist, is based on not only on supposition. I’ve chased more than a couple down. On my bicycle. They were quite honest at being challenged, too. “Well, I had to get by you and I can’t cross the double yellow”. In that particular case I was riding at 22 mph in a 25 mph zone and the motorist “had to get by me”. Folks, the mirror on his truck missed my head by inches. If I’d have turned my head at the wrong time, God knows. That provision is greatly needed for motorists. In fact, I regularly cross a double yellow when safe to get by a cyclist or pedestrian no matter what the law says anyway. It’s just the right thing to do and I’d rather get a ticket than crowd a vulnerable road user.
To wrap this up, the law is good for us, just a day after its passage in the State House and before it’s even gone into effect. I never would have guessed it would be so noticeable, so soon, but I can’t ever remember having so much room on a ride. Heck, we even had cars wait for us to turn at a four-way stop intersection… I almost played the lotto based on that alone!
I rolled out with Matt and my buddy, Mike yesterday morning bright and early. It was 24° (or -4 C most everywhere except ‘Merica) when we headed down the road. Better, it “felt like” 18. I won’t bother with the Celsius… it’s freakin’ cold.
I think Matt swore at Mike because it was so stinkin’ cold. I chuckled. Mike and I double-teamed Matt into coming out with us Wednesday – we actually went to his wife and asked her if he could come out to play. We all had a pretty good laugh over the whole thing.
The cold, or what it does to a cyclist, is almost humorous. Your muscles don’t really work right – the cold takes about two miles an hour out of you, maybe more. I don’t know why but the cold sucks the speed out of you, it just is what it is. That said, the cold still beats riding on the trainer, God forbid.
On this day, though, we had a couple of things going for us. First, the sun was out and it was brilliant. Second, the wind was fairly mild. What little there was happened to be dead into us on the way out. With the exception of a few miles it was at our back for much of the ride home.
I won’t lie, I was surprised… as cold as it was, I actually did have a good time and that’s pretty rare for a ride in the cold. Oh, and speaking of cold, we’ve only got a few more days of it before it warms up a little bit around here. About time, too.
What You Need to Know about Road Cycling to Enter into the Sport, whether You want to fit in… Or not.
Okay, there are two competing ways of looking at this. There’s the kumbaya way, where we’re all just happy cyclists who are out having fun and riding our road bikes, and nothing matters…. The cycling clothes you wear, the helmet you don, tee-shirt or jersey, shaved legs or hairy, let’s all just hold hands and be happy cyclists! Right?
I do subscribe to that way of thinking, too, at least partially. What matters is that we’re happy and we ride within our means (financially as well as capability), with a smile on our face. As that goes, damn “the rules”. Ride hard! Woohoo!
Now that’s well and good for a f***in’ Hallmark card but real life tends to be a little more… erm…. real.
Most people, while they want to feel good about themselves, there’s a flip-side to the coin; We also don’t want to feel self-conscious and out of place. This where real life enters into the mix and makes the dough a little sticky. If I’m anything, I’m a realist. I don’t believe in sticking my head in the sand, hoping the world will be a real-life musical because it isn’t. Ever. I also believe that saying and writing that road cyclists shouldn’t have to wear padded Lycra cycling shorts, while nice and lovely, is detrimental to noobs, because unless you want to explore riding a bike as an expensive form of self-flagellation, well you’re going to need a few things, no?
Here you have a woman who just wants to be a cyclist like her friend and she reads a kumbaya article about how all in cycling is Zen and we’re all a group of touchy-feely friendly people who wear anything we like and just push the pedals and enjoy each other’s company. There is no judging here, it’s all peace, love and spokes… So she shows up in a pair of coolots, some knee-high socks, a Dory tee-shirt and her matching Finding Nemo©®™ cycling helmet with a smile on her face – only to see 40 hard-legged road cyclists with skin-tight kits that match their bikes, aero helmets, and glistening guns.
How awesome is she going to feel waiting for the ride to start? Panicked, that’s how. She’ll want to throw her bike in the car and leave… Why would we want to do that to somebody?! That’s bordering on cruel and unusual punishment when you really sit down and think about it. If you want the picture of the out-of-place guy, you’ll have the tighty-whities hanging out of the cycling shorts, cotton tee-shirt half-tucked in, $15 Kmart cycling helmet riding a steel bike from 1985 fitted with down tube shifters that squeaks every time the crank goes around. I’ve met that guy, too.
Road cycling is a persnickety form of cycling. We ride fast bikes and wear fast clothes – even when we aren’t all that fast and need more practice pushing away from the table than pushing the pedals. In many cases our clothing matches our bikes, as do our cycling helmets, shoes, sunglasses and just about everything else (see above)… We wear these things because A) They look awesome, but also B) Because they make the ride comfortable. Riding any of my road bikes would be torturous without padded cycling shorts that fit well. Also, it would be considerably harder to keep up with my friends if I were riding in a baggy tee-shirt rather than a form-fitting jersey.
Let’s talk about the guns… The only reason I shave my legs is because doing so makes the guns look awesome.
That’s a period at the end of that last sentence. I don’t even care that it’s vastly more aerodynamic. Shaved legs look better on a bike. You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change that it’s a fact. This is the one area that any noob can safely choose to ignore, though. You won’t be ostracized for choosing to leave your legs hairy (though a trimming every other week with clippers goes a long way to keeping the guns tidy) – and you’d better be able to hammer out some hard miles.
In other words, we don’t wear any of that shit to make you feel bad or inadequate. We wear all of that crap because it’s quite necessary, especially when you ride faster than average (20+ mph for an average) and spend more than four hours on your bike at a crack. 20-30 minutes? No worries, but try cranking out a century wearing a tee-shirt, shorts and your underwear. The word “chafed” doesn’t do justice to the hell you’re in for when you step into the shower after the ride.
There are, however, ways to play around the edges. When I got into cycling I didn’t have much in the way of disposable income. I bought a used race bike from the local shop for $750 and fixed it up (meaning I cleaned it up real nice). I wore cheap shorts because that was all I could afford. I had mountain bike shoes and pedals for both my mountain and road bike because I couldn’t afford road and mountain shoes and pedals… same with my helmet. I still felt a little out of place with all of those folks out there with their $8,000 super-bikes and their new Castelli kit, but I hung in there and I bought a new piece of kit every now and again, when it could be afforded – and I never went high-end if I couldn’t absolutely afford it. I looked for sales at my local shop and pinched pennies at Nashbar if I needed something and money was tight. Little by little, I got to a point where I could not only ride fast enough to fit in, I accumulated the wardrobe as well – then I had to turn around and do the same for my wife. The most important part was learning to ride well, though. The rest of the junk is superficial.
The main point is this, my friends: Any noob cyclist can choose to feel like they don’t fit in. There are so many ways to feel uncomfortable out there I wouldn’t bother trying to list them. In the end, what fits us in is how we ride. If we ride strong and confident, a lot of the glitzy shit doesn’t matter. That’s what’s really not important; the glitzy stuff… You do need some cycling shorts if you’re going to be a roadie – it just is what it is. You don’t, however, need a $300 pair of Rapha bibshorts.
If after you’ve put in your saddle time, gotten your kit sorted, and become a solid cyclist, you still feel uncomfortable because you don’t have the expensive, glitzy shit, go see a shrink ’cause you ain’t right. You’re not supposed to compare your insides to someone else’s outside… and if you don’t know what that means, ask the shrink. Ride hard and hold your head up. Riding well is all your friends will really care about anyway.
My friend, theandyclark sent me this in a comment on my last post… I can’t tell you how glad I am to have fallen into cycling like I have:
You know those nasty, blended vegan, green goop smoothies… The smoothies they say are an “acquired taste” that, in terms of flavor, really come in somewhere between dirt and your lawn clippings?
I tried one. Once. It was much worse than I’d imagined it could be.
They are great for weight loss though. Blend one up, take a sniff of it (or a tiny sip if you must, to get maximum stomach turnage), then pour it right into the toilet. Save yourself the trouble of trying to choke that $#!+ down.
That and a cup of coffee, and there’s your breakfast. Three or four calories on the daily count.
Wait, I’ve had an epiphany! Why not just buy a bike, ride the wheels off it and opt for the bacon, egg and cheese bagel instead?
Yes, indeed. That’s more like it.
Four Days, 110 OUTDOOR Miles… And it’s about Time, too! But, the COLD – something about building character, blah, blah, blah…
Friday: 17.6 miles
Saturday: 33.5 miles
Sunday: 41.6 miles
Monday: 17.6 miles
Friday was cold, but it could have been worse. At least the sun was shining.
Saturday morning was worse. Well below freezing. It was so cold, only my buddy Mike and I were dumb enough to ride. Thankfully, not much wind and some bright sunshine kept it reasonable.
Sunday started cold but the abundant sunshine warmed things up quickly. I was underdressed so I started out chilled but within a half-hour, I was perfect.
After work on Monday I was tempted to put some time in on the trainer but the sunshine drew me outdoors into the wind. Oh yippee. You know, 38° (3 C) is a lot colder when the wind is hitting you in the face at, let’s see, 15 mph wind, 18 mph speed… 33 mph… crap, anyway it was cold and I was underdressed – and this time there wasn’t the warming up part from the day before. I was so cold I didn’t have to wash my long-sleeve thermal jersey – there wasn’t enough sweat to get it wet.
So now, because I write a blog about cycling and recovery, I’m supposed to offer up the normal B.S. about “building character” or something. Not this time. I want me some Spring, dammit. Riding in the cold sucks. I freaking hate the cold.
Still, four days outside still beats the trainer by a mile. Or 110.
On the plus-side, the Trek is handling (and looking) great…