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Monthly Archives: June 2018

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A Prayer Answered on an Otherwise Gloomy Day…

The Weather Channel had forecast rain over the weekend, while Dark Sky said overcast, but only a slim chance of rain.

The Weather Channel appeared to be wrong and we rolled out at 7:30am Saturday. I chose the Trek due to the chance of rain, but opted to go with my best set of wheels as they roll a fair bit faster. It was the first time I was able to use my Trek for the intended purpose I used to justify upgrading the bike’s drivetrain in the first place; to make swapping wheelsets betwixt the two bikes as simple as possible.

The wheel-swap took seconds and two turns of the rear derailleur’s barrel adjuster. It worked perfectly.

My buddy, Phill was the only one to show, and my wife was riding, so it was just the three of us.

Our ride was fantastic… I’m trying to think of the phraseology to describe it… It was slow-ish, but enjoyably slow. Simply put… it was fun. We pulled into the driveway with 42-1/2 miles in 2:22:21, an 18mph average.

The joy I get from spending time with my wife on two wheels is as good as it gets.

As for the prayer answered, I commented on a post early yesterday morning. The blogger is a preacher and his devotional for the day really hit home for me, so I let him know that in my comment. In his reply, he added, “I pray you are able to get in a couple good rides this weekend.” 42 miles without a drop and the forecast had called for rain just a few hours earlier… I’d say it worked. Couple that with the enjoyment factor, and it’s enough to make a fella smile.

For a capper to the morning I took my father-in-law to the newly renovated bike shop so he could see how far it had come…. I also took the pedals and bottle cages off the Trek and slid it into the car. While my dad was looking around I took the Trek out and wheeled it to the back of the shop where I used their scale to learn its official weight* with the good (read that, light) wheels.

My buddy, Mike was being pretty cocky, suggesting I’d wasted my time (and money) upgrading the bikes. He said, “Look, when you get down to 18 pounds, let me know”.

18.45 pounds (8.37 kg). And yes, I let him know. Pre-upgrade, the official weight was just over 19 pounds. So, for less than $300, the Venge dropped from 15.9 pounds to 15.5 and the Trek dropped from 19.1 pounds to 18.5… my friends, that’s the cheapest half-pound I’ve ever cut from a bike, and I cut it from two.

*Official weight of a bike: The proper way to weigh a bike is without the cages, pedals, saddle bag, light, etc. attached to the bike. While we all ride with those things, especially the pedals and bottle cages, they don’t count against the weight of the bike – pedal weights vary… some are heavier than others. Obviously, water bottle cages vary as well… with those things removed, everything is apples to apples.

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Not Just another Friday Ride…

My wife is the strongest female cyclist I ride with regularly.  I can’t say “that I know”, because I know a pro, a one-time Olympic cyclist, and the most unlikely Canadian…  The first two are no-brainer’s (hell, they’re stronger than I am).  The third, well, Sue just doesn’t make any sense.  She’s a diesel locomotive.

Then there’s my wife.  That girl is cycling in rare air, let me tell you.  Normally I hate the whole “it takes a village” phrase, but in the case of my wife, many in our club took to helping her become an excellent cyclist.

We rolled out yesterday morning, bright and early… wait, it wasn’t bright.  It was sprinkling but the temp was nice and there was hardly a breeze to speak of.  My Weather Channel app showed a zero percent chance of precipitation.  Sheesh.

We had a slight tailwind on the way out, Jonathan, my wife and me – just the three of us.  I took the first couple of miles and eased it up to 20 mph.  Jonathan took the next turn and kept it between 20 and 22.  My wife took the next turn and dropped down into her aero-bars.  She was up to 24-1/2.  She does that… and then wonders why the pace gets out of hand, usually blaming it on me.  We rolled with it, though.

We raced into town between 20 & 23 mph before turning around to complete the first half of our loop.

Surprisingly, we kept the pace pretty strong once we lost the tailwind.  The three of us simply cruised, a thing of cycling beauty.  My wife would take one-mile turns up front.  I’d take two and Jonathan, well he was serving his penance for taking too much time off the bike – he was taking three and four-mile-long turns up front… and I wasn’t about to tell him that wasn’t necessary.  Heading for the home stretch, the wind started picking up a little bit and we were headed directly into it.  We kept a great pace, though, and the length of the turns up front shortened.  We put our heads down and reached for the drop bars for the last six miles.

We rolled into the driveway with just over 31 miles with a 20 mph average, right on the nose.  I was happily surprised by the average.  A little fast for a Friday, especially with the big weekend miles looming, but it was a really fun ride.  The three of us worked together like a finely tuned machine and it was fun to be a part of that.

Here’s to the weekend, my friends.  Ride hard and keep the rubber side down.

Maybe the Fitness Crowd would be Well-served to take something from the Recovery Crowd….

The most important thing in my life is my recovery. Without recovery, there can be nothing good in my life. There can be no happiness. There can be no wife, no kids, no job, no house, no pets, no cycling, no real friends… I would give up all that is good in my life to stay drunk or high, that’s just how it is.

For that reason, my relationship with my Higher Power, meetings, and the maintenance of my recovery come first. Before everything else, because without recovery there can be nothing else.

All too often I hear people make excuses for their lack of fitness. Some are legitimate, of course; single parents have it next to impossible once the kids get into the extra curricular activities at school. On the other hand, we know that if you don’t move it, you’ll definitely lose it, and bad things happen when you lose it, especially when we age. Once we’re advanced in years, even assuming we can find some time in retirement, it’s usually too late and the lack of fitness has taken its toll on the body. From there, it’s not even an uphill battle to extend life or at least stay out of the hospital/doctor’s office, it’s near vertical.

For that reason, I look at my fitness much like I do recovery. I can take time off here or there, even if I usually choose not to, but I have to be vigilant with myself about staying fit because in the end, it’s all about quality of life.

I have been on the sedentary side of life, where everything was sitting around the house, playing video games and eating. I live in less pain today than I did then, and I’m 47 instead of my late 20’s. My quality of life is vastly greater today than when I was inactive.

Today I make the time for fitness. I don’t let excuses get in the way, I just set aside an hour to get my butt out the door. I have to, or I’ll have my painful, miserable life refunded.

Fitness is a lot like recovery in that way. Just a thought.

A fit life is a happy life, though misery and pain can be refunded… Just have a seat on the couch, kick your feet up, and stay there.

My Trek 5200t is Done… and it’s not a “t” anymore

That’s right, my friends. My 19-year-old, 1999 Trek 5200t was just brought into the mid 2010’s.

No more hokey cables running into the upper hood, no more nine speed, and no more triple crankset…

The Trek is now a lean and mean 20 speed with a compact double (50/34) crankset. I’ve wanted to simplify the shifting on that bike for a while now.

I didn’t dislike the triple, it was awesome for climbing hills, but hitting the easier two gears in the big ring was too much to ask from the derailleur cage. I could hit all but the smallest cog in the middle ring. In the little ring, I was limited to the seven easiest (biggest) cogs. In other words, five of those 27 gears didn’t work anyway!

Notice the cleaned up front end of the bike… Compare that to what the bike looked like last week:

The upgrade was not a small project. I had to use every last bit of knowledge I had about building bikes… or maybe more aptly stated, assembling bikes . The set screws for the derailleurs, the b limit screw for the rear derailleur, chain length determination, I even learned a few new tidbits about bottom brackets as I had a new Ultegra English bottom bracket assembly installed to work with the modern crank.

I wasn’t expecting the bottom bracket to come in until Friday but I put the rest of the bike together anyway. Shifters, cables, housings, derailleurs… I re-used the leather bar tape because it’s black and leather and awesome. I did opt for Bontrager “b” end plugs over the wooden plugs for effect. The wood plugs are cool, they just seem out of place on a veritable race bike.

I got a call yesterday afternoon from the shop. My bottom bracket came in, so I hustled my bike over there and had it installed. With the new crank on, I headed home to complete the final adjustments and install the chain… Then I took it for a test ride. A couple of minor barrel adjustments were all I needed to get the steed running like a top. 21-1/2 miles at 19-mph. It was perfect. Better than that bike ever behaved.

All said and done, I love it. It was worth the headache. By a long shot.

This is my 5200 in photos over the last seven years:

And finally…

Tuesday Night Club Ride; Sometimes You’re the Lead-out Edition

I had no desire to play for the sprints last night.  I got home from work, my legs are a little lethargic after last week, and I just wanted to ride.

The warm-up was mercifully easy, I don’t think we cracked 20 mph with a tailwind.  I milled about the parking lot welcoming new people (there have been quite a few of late) waiting for the start.  Once I’d attempted to get everyone fitted with the proper group and the clock hit 6pm, we let the A guys get about a half-mile down the road and headed out.

We had perfect conditions for the ride.  Cloudy, upper 70’s (25 C), and a mild, single-digit breeze out of the east.

We rolled at 6:01, starting out quite easy at about 19 mph.  Two miles later we were pushing 24-25mph, exactly where we should have been.  As has been usual, I didn’t bother dropping all the way to the back of the group after a pull.  Whether it’s a fear of getting dropped, or not minding the work, or the simple truth that hanging out in the back is a lot of work with all of the yo-yo’ing that goes on back there, I just went back far enough that I figured I could get a bit of a rest and got back in line.

We came up to first sprint lead-out and the pace was a bit slow.  We were into that mild breeze but heading down a slight hill… we were pushing 24-25 but should have been closer to 30mph.  I hollered for the guys up front to pick up the pace and when it didn’t happen, a group of us went around and showed them how it’s done.  One of the A/B guys went by us so I jumped on his wheel, figuring I’d get a good lead-out… we were only a quarter-mile from the City Limits sign, but as soon as I got on his wheel, he flicked off leaving me at the front to control the lead-out.  I did what lead-out guys do.  I picked up the pace a little more and watched the sprinters go.  To tell the truth, it was kinda nice not being smoked after that first sprint.  I just rolled across the line with a smile on my face as the group re-formed.

I did the same thing for the final sprint.  I just did my part to keep the pace for the group and handled some of the lead-out duties.

We crossed the line with a 21.2 mph average (34.2 km/h).  A little slow, considering the conditions, but it ended up being a really enjoyable ride.

It never ceases to amaze me how lucky we are to have the people we have to ride with and the great roads to ride on that we do.  It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s pretty damn close.

An easy bike ride is good for the soul… and legs

Here’s my last week on the bike:

  • Monday (last week):  20.5 miles at 17 mph (easy)
  • Tuesday:  Warm-up 7 miles (easy), Main 29 miles and change at 21.5 mph (hard)
  • Wednesday:  Off Rain/Travel
  • Thursday:  84 miles with a bunch of climbing @ 17.7 mph (hard)
  • Friday:  95 miles with a bunch of climbing @ 17.5 mph, ending in the rain (hard)
  • Saturday:  46 miles with a bunch of climbing @ 17.7 mph (hard, but mercifully short) Top speed on the day: 49 mph.
  • Sunday:  35 miles at 18.7 mph (moderate).  I spent a bunch of time up front but the pace wasn’t all that bad.  Still, my legs were absolutely smoked and I spent half the ride wishing I was back in bed.

So that brought me to Monday… yesterday.  It was better than 92° outside (33 C) and exceptionally windy – nasty hot for Michigan and the wind made it feel like you were in a furnace duct.  Not at the end of the duct, mind you…  In the duct.  I had a choice; ride or not.

I was so very tempted to stay in the air conditioned comfort of my home, but I suited up anyway.  I know what happens if I take a day off just before the Tuesday night ride… it hurts worse than if I’d ridden hard the day before.  I started out with a goal of around a 17 mph average.  Any faster and it’s counterproductive.  Much slower than that and I simply can’t stand going that slow.

I started off protected from the wind, heading north.  After a mile of hot, but easy, spinning at around 18-19 mph I made a left turn to head west… and that’s when I got out from behind the protection of homes and trees.  The full blast of the wind hit me dead in the face.  I tried to ride in big ring but just couldn’t sustain it in the blast furnace.  I shifted down to the baby ring and managed to spin at around 14-15 mph for two miles till I headed north again.  After a loop around a subdivision and another mile north, I had a couple of more headed west before finally turning south, then east, for a little bit of a push.

Still, rather than do something silly and try to get a speeding ticket with the tailwind, I just concentrated on keeping a good cadence.  I tinkered with my in-line adjuster to bring my rear derailleur back into adjustment after some cable stretch and headed for home.

Sweat started dripping from the bill of my cycling cap.  The heat was oppressive, but bearable, and the pace was comfortable.  I started to think about how lucky I was to be out riding.  I thought about how thankful I was to be healthy and on the right side of the grass.  I thought about how lucky I was to be riding one of a couple of spectacular bikes I’ve got…  I swiped another bead of sweat off the bill of my cap…  I thought about how lucky I was to just be in the moment, enjoying a Monday.

And before I knew it I was home.  Smiling.  17.28 mph average.

Every once in a while, a day off of cycling is called for.  More often than not, what I really need is an easy day on the bike.  It does the legs, and the soul good.

Life is almost always better on two wheels.

Some Mornings, all I can do is Hold On till the Aleve kicks in…

Yesterday was a ridiculously productive day, for a Sunday. I made the most of my wife and kids heading out of town…

By 4:30 am I had my computer running like a top again. I wrote a post waiting for the computer to boot. I rode at 7:30. Showered and napped by 11. I had my Trek torn down so I could install the 105 component set from the Venge by noon.

Over to the shop to order a bottom bracket at 12:30 (oops). Lunch at 12:50. I had the shifting sorted out on the Venge by 2 (small kink in the shifter cable for the rear derailleur – had to install a new internally routed cable). Then I took a break for an hour before beginning the process of putting the Trek back together. I slowed it down considerably at that point; better to do it once, right, than speed through and have to redo shoddy work. Dinner at 5:40 (pulled pork sammiches and a salad). The Trek was back together at 8:30 (with the exception of the crank/bottom bracket)… I watched Justice League, and was out at 10.

And I mean OUT.

On waking up this morning I was on the sore side of the ledger. My friends, by sore side, I mean I was hit. All I could do was hold on for the Aleve to kick in.

Ten minutes later I could breathe a little better without it hurting. Ten minutes after that and I was feeling like me again.

Sadly, it looks like rain this evening, so it’ll be a day off the bike. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though. 318 miles last week…. woof.