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Monthly Archives: June 2018

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.

Nothing much to Say…. at the Moment.

Sometimes life gets messy. You’re cruising right along and everything is great, and then bam.

The wheels fall off…

The weekend was fantastic. Lots of miles (I’ll end up with something like 320+ for the week. The Venge performed great, but there was a slight hiccup in the rear derailleur. There were two gears the derailleur didn’t like much so I installed a different cassette yesterday evening. The result was not good.

I’ve obviously got something I didn’t do quite right when I put the bike back together last week. I’m going to have to go back through and find a tutorial to redo that rear shifter assembly from the shifter back. Something’s a little loose so the derailleur won’t come into adjustment right.

On the plus-side, my wife and kids are heading out of town with the entire family so I’ll be alone all day to work on my bike…

Unfortunately, that’s the least of my problems.

My computer crashed Friday. A hard crash. Blue screen loop of doom and the whole nine yards. I’ve got the most important files backed up, so I’m not entirely pooched, but I’ve got some issues to work through. I’m currently restoring a previous version of my operating system, hoping that works.

Otherwise, I could be looking at a new computer which would be ugly… A lot of extra hours involved in getting things back to normal.

I own a small business, so I’m my IT guy.

So I’m typing this up at 4am on a Sunday, whilst my family sleeps, so I can hopefully get a jump on fixing things before Father’s Day gets rolling. My computer is restoring, after several attempts at fixing it using other tricks.

Point is, sometimes life throws us curveballs. Sometimes the next right thing is putting your head down and getting shit done so you can write about the results later. I know one thing in life; the answer is never do nothing. It’s never “look at how crappy my life is”. It’s never bemoaning my difficult lot in life. It’s never looking at life’s challenges as some “God/world/universe is out to get me” scenario. The answer is never curling up in the fetal position, hoping things will get better all on their own.

They won’t. They never do, not in my experience.

Even if I don’t quite know the next right thing to do, there’s always something I can do… Even if it’s just asking God to reveal the next right step.

Well what do you know… My computer is fixed after two days of screwing around with it. Now I’m on to more pressing matters. Like drinking my coffee so I can get ready for my ride in a few hours. I’ll be riding the Trek, though. Sadly, the Venge might take a few minutes to sort out.

I should have done a better job putting it together in the first place.

Get Fit with Friends; the Answer to Flab… and Boredom

I write, often, about the bonus of riding with friends. This week, the second unofficial weekend of summer, my friends and several hundred other cyclists drove up to the Traverse City/Interlochen/Empire area for the Northwest Tour.

The ride is SAG supported but there are no rest stops… once you’re on the road, you’re on your own for food and beverages. It does bring more money to the local economy this way, though.

There is more laughter and fun story telling than one could hope for in a year over the weekend. We camp together, eat together and ride together. Better, we motivate each other to make the best choices for our health, fitness, and wellbeing.

Life, as I’ve enjoyed it, doesn’t get any better.

Today is our final day, sadly. Our last 72 miles in a 250 mile three-day stretch. Seeing a few friends I haven’t seen since last year, I was reminded why I enjoy cycling so much.

Fit friends know how to enjoy life.

If you don’t belong to a cycling group or club, try to find one. Your life will never be the same. Mine is vastly better.

Mission Point Ride with Friends – the Best way to See Mission Point is from the Saddle of a Bike

My friends, I’ve posted a photo drop of a recent ride through Mission Point, north of Traverse City and right on the 45th Parallel at the link above.

If you haven’t heard of Mission Point, it’s a bucket list ride. There are routes for it on most major fitness apps… We left from Interlochen State Park and it was an 84 mile round trip.

One of the most scenic rides I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing, and my wife rode the whole thing with us this year.

Another “Yet” in Addiction that I won’t have to Experience. Recovery is Damage Control against “Yet’s”.

My friends, as an addict I’ve done some pretty repugnant shit. I was a liar, a cheat, and a thief as well as an addict.

Many people complain about the stigma associated with addicts. I am not one of them – I earned every bit of that stigma. You want to say I was a loser? You would have been right. I was. Honesty is the best policy and I was a tornado in the lives of anyone I came in contact with. What people like us do creates that vaunted, much maligned stigma. The point of the stigma and recovery is to sober (or clean) up and choose not to be that asshole anymore. Without the stigma you’d have people trying to just sober up rather than fix what’s really wrong. No thanks, that kind of recovery is for losers and I choose not to be one of those… Yet.

The other day, driving down to Ann Arbor to pick up my daughters’ team swimsuits I saw a friend of my wife’s working the expressway exit ramp. Not panhandling, mind you, she’d become a crack whore.

Now I suppose I shouldn’t use the term “crack whore” to describe her, even if it does fit, because I wouldn’t want to offend the sensibilities of a certain segment of… Oh, f*ck that. She fell far enough to literally be a crack whore.

My friends, that is a “yet” for me. I haven’t ever been a crack whore… yet (or any other drug whore, for that matter). That “yet” is out there waiting for me, though. If I choose to pick up.

So, most of you are probably wondering, did I stop and save her from her life of drugs and prostitution?

Um, no. I sped away from there as fast as I could and called my wife. Let her deal with it. I’m a married man, folks. Jesus dealt with whores, but he was a lot better at that temptation stuff than I am. I got the hell out of there. To thine own self be true. I have no business in the presence of that crap… lest those “yets” start becoming “oh yeah, I did that yesterday’s”. No thanks.

As for your stigma, cry me a river… played on the world’s smallest violin.

Tuesday Night Club Ride; How Fast is Fast Enough Edition

First, I hate Michigan weather. A 15% chance of rain in most States means there’s no way you’re getting wet. In Michigan, there’s a 100% chance you’re getting 15% wet.

You guessed it… waiting for the main event after the warm-up last night, we ended up 15% wet. The sky opened up for about five minutes.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad.

We rolled at 6:01, just after the A guys left. The ride was great, fast and fun. My bike performed perfectly and was fun to ride. Still, I got pipped at the intermediate sprint because I tried to go around Toby too soon – he grabbed my wheel and used my draft to slingshot around me. Dude has another gear, man. I thought I had him played but he got me by a full bike length.

The final stretch was crazy fast, though. With a straight crosswind, we hammered at better than 24-mph for five miles, tearing the group apart. Approaching the City Limits sign I was in perfect position a couple bikes back of Toby. I simply waited for him to go and hopped on his wheel. He’s a short fella, so getting a draft wasn’t easy. I started my sprint with my nose a couple of inches from my stem. I waited till we were inside 100 meters to go, though, and when I shot around Toby, I countered his attempt to grab my wheel by shooting all the way to the right side of the lane after coming around wide to his left. I think he actually mumbled, “dammit” when he missed my wheel. He didn’t give up, though. He poured it on and started around me, to my left. I put everything I had into my pedals and lurched my bike at the last second, taking him by inches.  The lead-out was 27-mph, we crossed the line at better than 35.

It was perfect. We crossed the line at 1:18:45 with an average for 28 miles of 21.5-mph…

Later, my buddy Chuck texted, suggesting maybe it was time we tried to jump up to the A group, citing that we’re spending a lot of time up front and we’re not as hammered as we once were to stay with the B Group.  He’s got a point, but I’ve been through this line of thinking before;  I have no pressing need to ride with the A guys…  While it would be pretty cool for the STRAVA account to show a 24-1/2-mph average, that’s never what I’ve been about, big average speeds.

I still fall back to what my buddy, Winston said yesterday after the Assenmacher 100:  “I just rode a hundred miles (in 4h:17m and change) and didn’t enjoy one of them.

I rode 100 miles in five hours and enjoyed all but four of them.  I’d much rather that.

You can’t get Fit with the same Thinking that had You Polishing the Couch with Your Heinie in the first place.

I had an awakening in the summer of 2001. A change of heart, an eye-opening experience, a spiritual experience of sorts. Call it what you wish; I woke up one morning and saw myself as I’d become in the mirror – not as I once was. I was overweight and on my way to chubby, and I had a choice to make right there in front of the mirror: Get fat or get fit.


I chose the latter and my life hasn’t been the same since, and the following is how I did it…

First, I made a decision standing there in front of the mirror. It was get fat or get fit, one or the other. No middle ground, no “gray area”.

Second, once the decision was made it was time for action. All too often you’ll see people bullshit themselves with “preparing” to change, or “planning” to change before they take action, and there they flounder for months, in misery. That wasn’t for me. Again, others may need “gray” to justify their bullshit, and I’m perfectly okay with others choosing that way. I knew all the planning I needed:

  • Put shorts on.
  • Put t-shirt on.
  • Put shoes on.
  • Run.

I hated running, and I don’t use the word hate lightly, but I did it because I didn’t want to get fat more than I didn’t want to run.


Third, after I realized I couldn’t outrun a bad diet, I came to the conclusion that I had to make more changes. I did so, without hesitation (even though I didn’t like it much).

The most important aspect to stopping the madness is to embrace honesty. I had to be honest about my reality. Only then did my thinking change enough to alter my situation. Einstein once said that you can’t fix a problem with the same thinking that created it. Getting fit follows the same concept.

Change the thinking that created the problem, or live in the problem. It’s simple as that.