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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Daylight Saving Time… It’s My Favorite Week of the Year for Sleep.

You read that title correctly, and I wrote it properly.  The week of Daylight Saving Time, where we spring forward, is my best week of sleep of the entire year.

Normally, because I’m so awesome, I’m an early riser.  I mean 3 am in the morning (Lady Redundant Woman) early riser.  So, from the day we fall back in November, all the way into March, I’m waking up earlier than normal.  This means an average of five or six hours of sleep at night.  Sometimes I might get lucky and run into a seven hour stretch but it’s rare.

Then we spring forward, and for some crazy reason I still fall asleep at 9 in the evening, but I sleep all the way to the alarm at 4:30 am in the morning (Lady Redundant Woman).  I get a full week at better than seven hours of sleep, and it is awesome.

So yeah, I know, complain if you must.  I’m in all of my glory.

Still had to bust out a ride on the trainer yesterday.  It was snowing when I put foot to pedal last evening at 5:30…  I’ll be indoors again tonight – but we’re heading for a warm up this weekend and we’re already making plans to make the best of it.

😀

Tired of being stuck inside; 33 COLD miles

I’m showered, fed, and sitting on the couch in my fleece night pants and robe, wool socks on my feet. I’m still cold…

I almost texted my friends to stay home. My buddy, Mike called and bailed. I hoped nobody would show, then this text popped up from Chuck:

On my way riding over don’t leave without me

I thought, “Well, here we go. It’s gonna be Chuck and me.” I laboriously pulled on the rest of my layers, put my shoes and full foot covers on… hat, gloves and neck gaiter. Thank God it was sunny because it was cold.

I wheeled my bike outside, prepared for that butt-clenching, whoa! It wasn’t that bad, though, as long as you remained in the glorious, stupendous sunshine. I cleared my computer’s trip counter, threw a leg over the top tube and clipped on. My driveway faces west to the road. I got to the road and made my right to go meet Chuck and bam, right into the wind. It wasn’t very strong, the breeze, but holy $#!+ was it cold.

About a half-mile up I met Chuck and we headed back to my place, just in case somebody showed up late… and Doc Mike did, last minute. Mike’s a bit of a horse, and we were on the gravel bikes. Oh boy.

15.9 pounds, aero everything, ultra-fast

23 pounds. Not aero. Not fast.

Bummer, dude.

The three of us rolled out, having picked a route into the wind so we could let it push us home. After four miles I knew it was going to be a decent ride. It was cold but the sunshine tempered it just enough.

17 miles out with a headwind, 16 back home with a tailwind and little north of 17 mph for an average (close to 18).  While it was, without doubt, frigid cold, the presence of the sun kept it enjoyable well beyond my expectations.

We ended up with a little more than 33…  It was certainly better than polishing the leather couch with my butt.

Spring Forward? Well, it’s something Forward, but it doesn’t Feel much like Spring…

The robins are outside my door waving protest signs demanding we bring global warming back…

Sunday Weather

Sadly, that’s not a European weather report – if it were, it’d be awesome. No wind, sunny skies and room temperature to start with the high hitting the low 90’s after lunch? Sign me up for some of that! In about four months… Folks, the normal temp for this time of year is in the low 50’s (11 C) so you can get that -8 C, or 17° F, is a little bit off.

The clocks have moved forward this morning, as they do, but it sure doesn’t look anything like spring around here, with measureable snow on the ground. Still, we’re going to pull out the gravel bikes and soldier on at 10 am as it’ll be a balmy, sunny -4 C… Looking at the bright side of things, at least there won’t be much wind.

1999 Trek 5200T

All dressed up and a bunch of places to go… it’s just too damn cold to go that fast!

We’re not entirely sunk, though. On one hand, while Tuesday night club rides are set to start in three days, there won’t be many who show up this week. With a high for the day just below freezing and 15 mph winds and a spot of snow in the forecast, only those who really need a story to tell their grandkids in 20 years are going to show up. I already spoke with one of the leaders of the A Group and told him there wasn’t any chance I’d be there.

On the other hand, immediately on the other side of that gnarly Tuesday, the temps are supposed to moderate starting on Thursday, culminating in a nice normal temperature day for a Sunday ride. From there it’s supposed to stay cool for another week, but it looks like we should at least stay above freezing. We’re almost there…

“Don’t Judge Me, Bro”… and Other Laughable Commercials tied to Recovery

Lately, on several cable channels, we’ve been treated to a commercial for yet another recovery center in which an a long-haired actor playing an addict, thinking out loud, blames his dad for judging him for “having a problem” and thereby making him feel bad… then using the fact he’s butt-hurt as an excuse to continue using. Fortunately, the treatment center won’t judge him for “having a problem” so he can try recovery.

I laughed out loud. What a steaming pile of shit.

Let me be very clear, I judge other alcoholics and I expect I’ll be judged. Alcohol and drugs don’t force people to do stupid things. Choice does – stupid doesn’t happen all on its own. Getting behind the wheel of a car when loaded is a choice for which someone should be judged. Those who steal to feed their habit… Those of us, myself included (long ago), who tear apart their family with stupid decision after stupid decision deserve to be judged and pushed to the curb like the refuse we are. Now, if we really wanted to argue this, the fact that I have/had a drunk/drug problem may not be good enough to judge someone over. The reality that I did stupid shit? Entirely judge-worthy.

Whining about others judging you for being an asshole won’t make you any less so.

As an example, I’m working with a new guy who systematically hit me and several of my friends up for small emergency loans – one actually fell for it and loaned him $20. Then, to get paid back with a Fifty, he gave the guy’s eight year-old son another $30 so he’d come back with the $50 (both dad and son disappeared), now he’s into my buddy for $50… Look, addicts do what addicts do to get by. The same night he hit my friend up, the guy called me a couple hours later (at 10 in the evening) saying he needed me to bring him $20 so he could put gas in his car so he could get to his daughter who was in the hospital. I didn’t know he’d already gotten $20 from my friend, either…

What has two thumbs and said, “Sorry man, I don’t do financial bailouts”? “You need a ride to a meeting? Great, I’m there for you. You want to go out to dinner? I’m buying, every time until you’re back on your feet, but I’m not going to loan (or give, as the case would be) you any money.”

So, I shouldn’t judge him? I should act like his “my kid’s in the hospital” story is real and give him the money? What if the story is real, after all, and he’s telling the truth? Maybe I should ignore all of the laughable holes in his story while I’m at it. He can’t even drive

Yeah, only if I want to prolong his agony.

I’ve done that dance already. I only sobered up and fixed the wreckage I created when I ran out of options. If I’ve got suckers out there who will bail me out whenever I do something stupid, what reason do I have to stop doing stupid things?

I’ll just skip to the chase. None. I quit drinking and using because I was cornered and I’m not about to let someone out of theirs. Having lived through the cleanup myself, I know something most people don’t; it is only through doing the hard work of sobering up and cleaning the wreckage of our past that we can be free of it. The more it hurts to sober up, the easier it is to stay sober because we don’t want to have to go through that hell again.

The easier it is to sober up, the easier it is to give up and relapse as soon as things get tough (and they do have a way of getting tough from time to time).

So, my friends, don’t fall for that guilt-trip “don’t judge me” bullshit. Judge away. You’re not doing your tornado a favor by pulling the wool over your own eyes.

Why the World Sucks. In a Nutshell.

Trigger (heh) warning: This is going to be very difficult for certain people to read.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!

That excerpt was taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (page 62). If you think it’s a bullshit statement, it’s likely because it was written for you.  The truth tends to hurt.  It did for me the first several times I read it.

The most important line in that paragraph is “So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making”.  Victimhood, blaming our troubles on some other outside force, is the root of many problems in the world, and almost everyone engages in this dishonest practice.  Rather than simply going on a diatribe about how, ironically, all in life ain’t fair, I offer something better: another way to look at victimhood so that one can have something better than playing Don Quixote against “society”…  A solution.

In recovery, we learn something early on that is akin to cheating at life, when it comes to seeking out happiness; That we are powerless over other people, places and things.  I can’t change any of the three.  What I do have the power to change is me, or more important, the gray matter between my ears.  If I wait on others to change before I let go of the hurt that was inflicted on me (real or imagined), I’ll die miserable.

Oh, how I wish this were not the case.

I know many of the excuses to shy away from adhering to the principle laid out above, I’ve uttered quite a few myself, but the story ends the same every time.  If I seek to be a victim, I will be miserable because people won’t change just because I think something is unfair – nor should they, necessarily.  What if my perception is wrong?

My problems are of my own making…  My reaction to external stimulae is what creates trouble in my life.  Once one can embrace that their problems are of their own making, they find that there’s actually something that can be done about them.

Do it or don’t.  My happiness, thankfully, doesn’t require anyone else’s participation.

As a final point, I should add that we shouldn’t shy away from advocating for fairness, goodness, equality and decency.  Ever.  When we take that advocacy so far that it negatively affects our lives, though, that’s when we’re doing it wrong.  Ultimately, attraction rather than promotion (or worse, coercion) wins the day.

Just How Much Cycling is Too Much Cycling for the Body to Handle?

I know, you read that Title and thought to yourself, “Well self, I’m in for an even-handed look at exactly how much cycling is too much for the body to handle”. See, that’s because you know me as an even-handed, level-headed kind of guy.

The answer is very simple, and while I could give you a very simplistic algebraic formula to figure out just how much the body can handle, a lot like the equation to figure out how many bikes one needs, it ends up working out to; more miles than you’re currently riding.

That’s neither even-handed nor level-headed. It isn’t right, either – though it’s close.

The proper number of bikes in one’s stable is said to be N+1, N being the number of bikes currently in one’s stable…

My friends, I don’t care what equation you use, that’s enough bikes for someone who doesn’t have a personal mechanic to take care of all of those freaking bikes! Once you figure in my wife’s four bikes, my kid’s bikes… well folks, at some point you just have to say someone can stick that formula where the sun don’t shine!

The same could should be said for some over-simplified formula that says dryly, “Um, more miles” – as true as that could be, there’s no need to be obnoxious about it, eh? See, mileage is finicky. If I can ride twelve miles a day, surely I could do fifteen, and if I could do fifteen, why not twenty? Then let’s kick it up a notch on the weekends, and shoot for between 120 and 160 total miles for Saturday and Sunday.

How about days off? I’ve taken two so far this year. January 15th and last Friday for my wife’s birthday. Simply put, I don’t burn out (or at least haven’t yet). On the other hand, I’d rather not find out what it takes to burn out…

I would argue all day long that early in one’s foray into cycling, days off are a necessity. Building one’s fitness up, and more important, getting one’s bikes set up to work for their body, taking time off helps the body transform until one doesn’t need time off any longer. I simply don’t need days off like I used to, nor would most people.

I got this wacky idea a few years ago that if there were people who could ride 70,000+ miles in a year, riding as many as 200 miles a day, each and every day, why couldn’t I ride fifteen or twenty without days off? The pros, in the middle of the biggest bike race in the world, still spin on a trainer for a few hours on their rest days (two in the 21-day race)… What is all of this hub-bub about days off?

My friends, put simply I have been unable to find my limits because there aren’t enough hours in a day.

While I do run into tired days and days that are packed with too much to shoehorn in a ride, it’s rare that I am required to take a day for physical reasons. For the tired days I simply ride slower than normal, say 20-25% slower, and I’m fine.

Now, for those who have stuck around this long, I’m going to go somewhere dark, somewhere I normally won’t tread…. When we read tips and articles related to fitness, almost to a ridiculous degree, rest days are pushed as a matter of requirement yet we hear so often of people who push themselves to extremes – why the disparity?

It’s either, I need to take between one and three days a week off, or there are people out there who can go 70,000 miles in a year – or the pros who can go 21 of 23 days at close to max effort and still choose to spin their legs up on their two rest days. What gives?!

For other activities like running, lifting weights, activities high on impact, there’s no doubt the body needs recovery time. For cycling? My friends, if attention is paid to proper nutrition, electrolyte replacement, active recovery days and above all else, bike set-up and equipment, days off go from “I need a day off” to “I’ll take a day off next week”.

My answer is, “I don’t know, how much time do you have?”

I’ll leave you on this note; Many people like to say “listen to your body”. While I don’t disagree, when it comes to cycling I would add a little “don’t sell yourself short” to the saying: “Listen to your body, just make sure it knows you’re the boss.”

The Dirty Little Secret of the Tree Huggin’ Hipster Crowd: They’re only Happy if They’re telling You how You’re Doing it Wrong. And now they want Your Bicycle.

Trigger (heh) warning.  Hang on Baby Jesus, this is gonna get bumpy.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

Here we go…  My Google feed is finally getting around to figuring out that I’m a little more interested in bicycle news than today’s ignorant liberal political rubbish.  So what did my Google feed crap out at me?  Liberal bicycle political rubbish.  Dammit.

The second paragraph gets right into it:

In all the excitement to proclaim bicycles the answer to congested roads, polluted city air and our own health, the materials used to manufacture those bikes often get overlooked.

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, I predicted this years ago.  My one mistake was in a lack of understanding why and it’s the why that’s important.   The author goes immediately into explaining why we shouldn’t be riding on a carbon fiber frame, and then why we should choose bamboo in its stead.

Here is a photo of the bike, and I use that term loosely, used to showcase bamboo bikes for the article:

Bamboo Bike.jpg What an ugly, misshapen piece of junk… and she only paid $835 to build it.

What’s interesting is the amount of deception (or perhaps it’s ignorance but I have my doubts) the author uses to frame his argument.  For example:

It’s also incredibly wasteful. Most people replace a racing bike every three years, adding to carbon fiber scrap, says James Marr, founder of the Bamboo Bicycle Club and a former wind turbine engineer.

Did you get that?  A wind turbine engineer?  Windmill anyone?

Personally, I own two carbon fiber bikes, a 2013 and a 1999 and my wife owns a 2014… Let’s see, my buddy Mike, a 2003 and a 2014… The point is, I know of only three carbon fiber frames, warrantee claims all, that were ever discarded between all of my friends (and we’re talking upwards of 20 friends and dozens of bikes) and none were as soon as three years.  The statement simply doesn’t make sense.  Who would scrap a $2,000 to $10,000 (frame value from $1,500 to $7,000) bike in a few years?  Folks, nobody – and I mean nobody, scraps a bike every three years, let alone most people.  The average lifespan of a carbon frame is better than steel or titanium and vastly longer than aluminum.

Maybe we should look at the source of that data, though… the founder of the Bamboo Bicycle Club.  Now, I could see getting rid of that bamboo piece of junk in the photo above after a few days but there’s no way I’d give up my Venge or my 5200.  Even if I did, I’d sell the frame off rather than scrap it!  To suggest otherwise is one of two things, disingenuous or dishonest.  Take your pick.

Look, I could bother with going through the rest of the article but the whole thing leans in that particular direction – disinformation from tree huggin’ hippies which leads us to the obvious conclusion that we should be using bamboo to build our bikes as long as we “rel[y] on production standards, for example avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and ensuring natural forest is not cleared for plantations.

Okay, so as long as we don’t use a method that creates reliable bamboo and we grow it on the moon, we’re good…  We’ll just gloss over, for now, the urethane coating used to shine up the bamboo on that ugly bastard in the photo above, and the epoxy used to lash the pieces of bamboo together.  I’m sure they’re produced from iceberg lettuce fibers or something.

SO, in conclusion, the hipster author of the article wants us to ride ugly, creaky, slow, impossibly heavy bikes that will have a shelf-life a quarter that of a carbon fiber bike because?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Because some people can’t be happy unless they’re making everyone else miserable with their restrictive, fascist ideas of how everyone else should live.  Too harsh?  Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

Hipsters these days are nothing special, nor are they creative.  They simply like to come up with ways to make a name for themselves by pointing out how everyone else should live, thereby proving that, because they can see the intricacies in their ideas, they are better than you.

Because Tom can see that making a bike out of carbon fiber is a messy process, even though carbon bikes are vastly safer than that homemade piece of shit shown above (especially at 60 mph), we should all ride in a way that Tom sees fit (slow, with no excitement whatsoever) so we can all be “sustainable” and sit by the bamboo bike bonfire singing kumbaya.  He’s smart, after all, and we should all bend to his will because he is.  The fact that he’s willing to bend the truth to prove it is just a bonus.

My friends, do the opposite of what the author of that article proposes.  Go out and buy the most expensive, lightest carbon fiber (or steel, or aluminum, or titanium) bike you can reasonably afford and ride the wheels off of it.  Not to get groceries or to save gas or CO2 (which you exhale with every second or third pedal stroke), though feel free, but ride a bike because it’s fun.  If you want to play Don Quixote with global warming, go right ahead, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re better than anyone else for that choice…

20180131_124641
My middle finger to do-gooder tree huggin’ hippies? Not quite, they’re not that important.

I would have to kick my own ass if I were pretentious enough to suggest we should all be building bikes out of bamboo.  People who consistently seek to influence others, bending reality and truth in the process, should be teased often and repeatedly, relegated to the lower levels of human existence.  They are naval lint.  They are a vile, fun-hating group.

So, from all of us fun-loving, happy people to you; do shut it.

This has been a public service announcement.

 

What to Do, what to DO? One of those rare moments when a trainer ride trumps the great outdoors…

I should have wanted to ride outside after a full day at the office yesterday. Dude, choosing the trainer over even my most mundane route? Never! Until yesterday.

North wind, barely above freezing, clouds on the increase… I just didn’t have it in me to get home and get all duded up just to be cold for the 55 minutes it would take me to ride the 17-1/2 miles. Nope.

Riding in the cold, for me, is one of those things. I don’t do it because I like it, I do it to get fit for warmer rides. After two big days outside, I simply didn’t have to put in a third.

I just didn’t want to be cold again. Dammit.

So I hooked the Trek up to the trainer when I got home and put in my 45 minutes watching The Martian. And it was good.  Well, it was better than being cold for an hour.  Sadly, unless the forecast changes, we don’t have much to look forward to over the next six or seven days.  Cold, a lot of snow, and not much really good for riding.  Ah well, this too shall pass.

An Almost Perfect Weekend for a Bike Ride.

Friday proved unwise for a ride. We got a little too much snow on Thursday. Throughout the day, though, the clouds broke and the sun warmed the roads enough to melt everything off. Saturday was good for riding – a little cold, mind you, but good enough… 29 (-1C) at the start and 37 (3C) when we pulled into the driveway with 35 miles (56 km).

Sunday was marginally better for temperature but with the better temp came the dreaded wind out of the northeast. Really, it was much worse.  I’d have preferred the colder temp – and it got worse as we went. We started out into a northeasterly wind but shortly before we turned back for home, for what should have been our blessed cross tailwind push, the wind shifted to dead east. We ate wind the entire 39 miles (63 km) and our 17.3 mph average (28 km/h) was proof enough that something wasn’t right. On the plus side, we were all smoked when we pulled into my driveway.  I don’t think any of us had an easy go of it.

In all, a 167 mile week with one day off and only one day on the trainer, it was a great week.  149 on the road, this early, is something to cheer about – especially when one factors in the “feel good” aspect of outdoor cycling.  While the trainer may burn a few calories and allow one to keep most of their fitness, it can’t compare to riding outdoors and the fantastic feeling of joy one gets on completing a ride.

Sadly, it’s back into the freezer for us after today.  We’ve got snow in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday…

…and that’s why I ride a bike. Reason MMCMLXXIV

My friends and I rolled at 10am yesterday, in some of the best sunshine we’ve had in months. Sadly, in March, in Michigan, sunshine usually means cool temperatures. Yesterday was no exception. It was, shall we say politely, brisk for a bike ride.

Just before we rolled I texted in an order for a new pair of shoes for Mrs. Bgddy that will match her bike (and the rest of her kit) perfectly… after I picked up a new helmet for her birthday that matches as well. Black with pink pinstripes for the helmet, white with silver accents for the shoes. It’ll be impressive when she’s all duded up:

This post could have easily been titled: Six signs you’ve graduated from cyclist to enthusiast. Coming in at number one: You don’t have to wait for the bike shop to open to order a new piece of exquisitely matching kit. You’ve got the owner of the local shop’s cell phone number (because he’s one of your best riding buds) and can just text him what you need*. Anyway, I passed “digress” a while ago…

We put in a nice 35 miles with five of our friends in some tough, breezy conditions – it was one of those days that there seems to be no place to hide. Even when there was a draft, the best place to be was second or third bike because the last couple in the pace line were always in the ditch**.

My buddy, Mike got caught in the ditch and was quickly spit off the back. I’d gotten the City Limits signs I wanted so I went back to bring him back to the group with seven miles to go. Once we got back, I spent the next four miles in the ditch, hating life.

With just three miles left, Winston dropped off the front and Phill left a gap between him and the tandem who was taking the lead. I shot the gap and took up position behind the tandem, second bike, so I could finally get a break. I was smoked. Over the next two miles I recharged and finished with a smile on my face.

My head can go to some pretty dark places when I’m riding in the ditch to help a friend. At first it’s not that big a deal. I’m strong and I can hammer pretty well. I obviously don’t have a confidence problem, and I love helping a friend. Four miles in the ditch’ll challenge that perspective massively. Two miles drafting behind a tandem and I’m all better, cruising along, smile on my face again.

Later, on the way to watch my eldest perform at a band competition, I stopped by the shop to say hey and make sure the shoe order went in without trouble. Matt showed me a bike he was working on for a customer that came with photographs, printed on second-use printer paper. The first use had photos of a stent in an artery. Matt said, “Let’s hope we never have to experience that.

I replied, “And that’s why we ride a bike”.

Part 2,974. Because my body works better on a bike.

*This is a most important point… I know to never abuse the privilege of having the cell number of the local shop owner. I am not selfish enough to use that number in an untoward fashion.

** The Ditch: In a cross-wind, the ditch is the side of the road (or lane) where there’s no room left to get in the echelon for a draft, you’re stuck riding directly behind the cyclist in front of you. You have to work just as hard as the person pulling the group. The ditch is where cyclists go to get dropped.