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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Cycling on a Budget; How to Look like You Spent $15,000… on a Fraction of That.

Road cycling is an expensive sport. A new entry-level bike runs a Grand. A decent bike is three or four times that. A top-end bike is north of $12,000 and can be painted, if you’re lucky, by an Italian fella who won’t commit to a timeline. You’ll get your bike after he decides to get to it.

Once we’ve got our bike sorted, then we’ve got pedals, shoes, a helmet or two… Great. The pedals run north of a hundred bucks, the shoes are double that, easy, and a decent helmet can cost more than most people would expect to pay for a big box bike.

Then we have the joy of looking at clothes. Because you’ve heard of Rapha before, you check them out… only to find a pair of cycling gloves that costs more than that aforementioned big box bike. For a pair of gloves!?

In fact, that’s exactly what I thought when I saw the $175 price tag.

Then you’ve got the $250 bibs and the $175 jersey. Times four. You swear. Your spouse rolls the eyes.

Folks, if it were really that expensive, I couldn’t have afforded to get into cycling, let alone my wife, too.  Don’t sweat it…  I’m not from the government, and I really am here to help.

There’s an art to looking good, on a budget. You’ve got to balance what you need with what you can afford.

You don’t need the $3,300 set of Enve wheels. $600-$800 will do fine. The bike? Buy used, $750-$1,500 (just be sure to get the right size). Shoes? Specialized Torch 2.0, one of the best deals on the market for a carbon fiber shoe – $150. Find a decent helmet on Competitive Cyclist, Pro Bike Kit, or Nashbar $100-ish – or hit the local bike shop. They’ll have something that will work – the lid I’m wearing in the photo above was purchased at the local shop. Bibs and jerseys? Clearance rack at the shop, or one of the aforementioned sites. Better, try Coconut bibs and jerseys on Amazon or eBay – you can’t go wrong there, for the price.  I don’t know as I’d try a century in one of the Coconut kits, but the bibs would be good for a metric.

So that’s the easy stuff. The trick is putting that budget stuff together to make it look good.  Kit yourself out in the most expensive clothing and put you on a Pinarello, you’re going to look pretty good – in most instances you do get what you pay for.  On the other hand, there are workarounds to a $#!+ ton of money.

First, eat less and ride more. If you look good, what you wear will look good.

Second, match what you wear with your bike.  It may seem cheesy but it looks cool when everything matches up.

Third, don’t go baggy on the jerseys.  If you’re bigger and feeling self-conscious, do what it takes to get yourself out the door.  Once you’re at a weight where you can, start switching to the tighter fitting kit.  You can’t look cool with five pounds of stuff in your back pockets and the back of your jersey sagging halfway to your knees.  That’s no bueno.

Fourth, bibs.  Not shorts.  The bibs hold what little gut you’ve got left, in.

Fifth, baggy bibs are bad.  Always.  The proper size is preferable but one size too small is better than a size too big and a droopy ass.  They should be fairly tight, but not ridiculously so.  Beware of sausage legs.  Return a pair of bibs that give you sausage legs.

Sixth, and perhaps this should be first, keep the bike clean and well lubed.  Your bike will make a distinct sound if it’s not lubed regularly.  It will sound dry when it’s ridden.  Others will notice that you don’t take care of your bike and you will feel self-conscious when yours is the loudest bike in a group (this can’t be helped with all of the kind, false-hope words in the world.  You can try to ignore it but you won’t be able to).  Better to just take twenty minutes a week to clean and lube your bike.

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Seventh, learn to ride in a straight line.  Playing “dodge the draft” is not going to win friends.  It will, however, influence people – but not in a good way.  Learn to ride well.

Eight, smile.  You’re out there to have fun.  Give fun your best effort.

Nine, and this is another important one, think about how you affect the cyclists you ride with.  Nothing makes one look bad like selfishness.

Ten, shop the clearance racks.  It won’t matter that it’s last year’s kit.  Purchasing clothing out of season is a great way to save a veritable $#!+ ton of money.  This includes internet sites – look for the clearance items.

To wrap this up, there are several things one can do to look good and competent on a bike that don’t have much cost whatsoever, just value.  There are ways around much of the expense in cycling – I only paid $750 for that Trek in the photos (though I’ve got extensive work and cost into getting it to look like it does in the photos).  One thing that will save a lot of cash is research.  Know what you want before you buy and you won’t waste any of your hard-earned cheese on something that ends up collecting dust.

Then there’s one final piece; if you want to look awesome, ride awesome.

 

Taking the Gravel Beast Out for a Spin…

It rained yesterday, on and off, from about noon till 4:30 in the afternoon.  I’d planned on taking the Trek, my rain bike, out but as clean as it is (shiny, baby), I was having a tough time wanting to take it out the door knowing it was going to get gnarlied up.  I mentioned this in passing to my wife who said, matter of factly, “Why don’t you take the gravel bike?”  Why don’t I, indeed, I thought.

It’s funny, when I start to think about how silly a few pounds is, comparing the Venge to the Trek.  That is until I take my 23 pound gravel bike out for a ride.

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The Diverge is almost eight pounds heavier than the Venge, five heavier than my Trek.  Getting that beast up to speed takes a little bit of effort!  On the other hand, once it’s rolling, keeping it up to speed isn’t all that bad.

So, my buddy Chuck and I went out for what was supposed to be an easy ride – he brought his A bike, so it was an easy ride for him, and I had the beast so it was quite a bit more work for me.  After lollygagging around for the first few miles, as is normally the case on a Wednesday evening (after a hard ride on Tuesday evening), we actually got after it a little bit.  That’s when I figured out the Diverge wasn’t so bad once I got it rolling.  I was cranking out 21-mph easily enough and I was able to sustain between 20 and 22 without much more effort than I put into my Trek.

What makes the Diverge reasonable is the 28mm tires (I can go up to 32’s, but it came with 28’s and I’m going to ride those till the threads are popping before I replace them).  On fairly rough pavement, and at 70psi, there’s enough give and enough roll for the aluminum bike to be quite comfortable, while maintaining enough firmness to roll well.

While I wouldn’t go all crazy and start spouting off that an entry-level gravel bike isn’t all that different from a high-end race bike, it certainly wasn’t all that bad, either.  There was even a little excitement at the upcoming gravel road season.  Not too much, mind you – it’s a little early for that, but I’m not going to grudgingly pull out the gravel bike when the day gets here, either.

Lest we not forget, with just a second lightweight set of wheels and slick tires (for speedier rides), the gravel bike is the most versatile bike on the market.  You can do anything on a gravel bike (or a cross-bike for that matter).

“We have to regulate every aspect of people’s lives.”

I read an interesting post the other day, that I felt rose to a level of import for me to comment on here. Typically I like to keep politics off of my blog because it’s a dirty, ugly thing, politics. Typically I’m going to piss off a lot of people. I can leave sides out of this one, though.

I have a distrust for politicians equal to my love of all things cycling. If you’ve read more than a couple of posts on this blog, you know already, I am a cycling enthusiast of epic enthusiasm.

Politicians, are, for some reason or another, a necessary evil. I can accept this (or would that be except that? I digress). The second oldest profession is necessary, to the extent the first is said to be. I prefer the arrogant shits be kept on a very short leash, though.

It once was that Democrats were supposed to be the guardians of freedom. Those days are long gone, as is demonstrated by the gaffe uttered by one Jesse Dominguez as an explanation for why he voted to ban plastic straws in Santa Barbara, California. Someone had the temerity to ask, “What’s next?!”

“Unfortunately, common sense is just not common. We have to regulate every aspect of people’s lives.”

Now, when I use the word “gaffe”, I’m I’m not talking about the dictionary definition of gaffe: “an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder.” No, that’s too good for that knucklehead. The definition of his “gaffe” is “unintentionally telling the truth without hiding said truth in a bunch of bs jargon.”

Better, here’s his explanation/walk back:

“A few weeks ago I made a string of words in a rhetorical fashion about regulation and they were not taken as rhetorical and that’s my fault so I want to apologize.”

That’s a pretty impressive string of words alright. Here’s the best part; I’d be willing to bet he believes his constituents are dumb enough to buy that horseshit excuse.

Short leash, ladies and gentlemen. That f*cker forgot who’s boss. Time to vote his ass back to his fast food assistant manager’s job and remind him.

In a funny twist of irony, Mr. Dominguez has proven his own point, that common sense is indeed not common enough, even for cocky politicians. Common sense dictates that this is the United States, a free country. Mr. Dominguez has obviously missed that memo. As I wrote earlier, it’s time to send him back to fast food. Where they’ll use plastic straws. To remind him daily that this is America, and he is obviously an idiot.

Notice, please, I did not get into sides here. This post is about freedom from politicians, of any stripe. That should have made the five freedoms in the First Amendment, six.

Tuesday Night Club Ride: My Hot, Rockin’ Wife Kicks Butt Edition

Last night’s club ride was a rarity as cycling goes. As a group, we’ll see one or maybe two days like that all year long, where the wind is so negligible, it doesn’t factor into the ride.

Unfortunately, it was also fairly hot, sunny and muggy… 86° (30 C).

Mrs. Bgddy didn’t participate in the warm-up because she’s the volunteer coordinator for the upcoming Assenmacher 100 so she wanted to make some calls and do a shorter warm-up. I rolled with the boys for the normal 7+ mile loop. After, we gathered at the start and waited for everyone to get rolling. Just with the ease of the warm-up, I knew it was going to be a fun evening and I wondered if the A guys would finally crack a 25 mph average. They’ve been close a few times this year.

They left a minute after six, we rolled a minute after them. I worked my way up front because I like to take the first pull. If we go out too fast, we tend to have a slower overall average. If we take it out easy, say 19-20 mph, then pick up the speed in the second mile, we tend to fly.

The draft was perfect as I tucked in back after my turn up front. 23-24 mph felt easy (36-38 km/h), but the group was a little unruly – too many people trying to hide at the back tends to be our downfall – my lack of trust in certain wheels is mine, so I tend to take way too many turns up front rather than just drifting to the back and bridging if necessary. Thinking about it, in all seriousness, it just might be a patience thing.

The ride, thinking back on it, was a bit unremarkable. It was fun, as all bike rides tend to be, nothing really stuck out as impressive. I took two turns up front in the last three miles of the intermediate sprint and tried to launch a decent 34-mph (54-km/h) sprint just behind Toby, but I didn’t have enough leg… but that’s when I noticed my wife, just a couple of bikes back. Not only was she hanging with the group and taking her turns up front, she was participating in the sprints. I took second, my wife third, and we exchanged fist-bumps on the way into town.

From there, I took another turn up front, but this was a shorter one. I could feel the effort and needed to recharge a bit for the final sprint just eight miles up the road. We were fast on that last leg so I tried to stay toward the front so I didn’t get stuck behind someone who decided to drop. We went from a double to a single pace line as well, so that made it a little easier.

Coming into the final sprint, we were between 24 & 26 mph and cranking pretty good. Chuck came around at about 28 and Toby said, “There we go”, and went with him. I followed. Then, with way too long to go, I launched an attack. I went around Chuck at 32 and rather than let up, I tried to keep it going. I held Toby off all the way to the last 50 meters and took second in the sprint from the front. I was happier with that than winning the sprint – that push took some effort, baby.

I reached into my pocket and shut Strava down. I turned to see where my wife was behind me… I couldn’t see her and was bummed, thinking she’d dropped in the last couple of miles when we kicked it up. I turned forward and slow pedaled on – and that’s when I saw her pink helmet up the road. She hand’t dropped. For her to be way up there, she must have been right on my heels at 32 mph!

Sure enough, my wife, one of only two women who can hang with the B group, hung with the lead group and participated in the sprint. We spent the next ten minutes hi-fiving and sharing different aspects of our ride. We’d turned out a remarkable 21.6 average for the 28 miles. Mrs. Bgddy’s got some oomph to her! Better is sharing the speed and the stories with her. No longer is her side of the story “I dropped four miles from the finish”… Now it’s, “I was right with you”, and that’s as good as it gets.

UPDATE: I failed to properly mention in the post; not only did my wife keep up, she led us out for the final sprint. Dude, seriously. She’s badass.

What a Day Off Looks Like in a Cycling Enthusiast Marriage…

It’s a rainy Monday and I’m not riding today – my first day off in a long, long time – in fact, my last day off the bike was in June. I’m not over-tired, of course, I ride “smart”, but a day off every now and again doesn’t hurt either.

Unfortunately, a day off the bike isn’t necessarily a day away from bikes in the life of an enthusiast. A day off in a cycling enthusiast marriage is even more hectic.

Rather than chilling on the couch like most normal people, I tended to the bikes. My Venge got a cleaning of the drivetrain. My Trek, a longer cable housing at the shifter to improve shifting (worked like a charm), and a cleaning of the drivetrain, along with removing the crank to clean the dirt out of the bottom bracket bearings. I cleaned the drivetrain of my wife’s Alias and tended to her crank as well, before wrapping it up by cleaning the drivetrain on her gravel bike. All in the space of a couple of hours.

This ritual, the cleaning of the drivetrains and cranks, is quite normal in our home. The cranks are a little less needy, but the chains and cassettes can always use a good cleaning – especially when we’re putting 250 miles a week on the bikes.

It’s the only way I know of to keep them looking like this:

The Specialized at the top is a 2013, the Trek at the bottom left is a 1999 and the Alias at the bottom right is a 2014. Cycling is an expensive sport as it is. Clean bikes last longer and require fewer replacement parts. Besides, keeping them clean keeps ’em fast, quiet, and pretty.

A Couple of 100k’s for the Weekend

I was able to ride a couple of 100k’s over the weekend. My Strava account shows the first, but is short in the second because I won’t start or stop the app near my home – I actually broke with tradition this one time, just so I’d have the loop stored for future use because it’s one of my favorites and we managed to stretch a hundred k’s out of it – normally I will only track rides that start and finish a goodly distance from the house.  While Saturday’s hundred was tough, as Chuck and I were taking turns up front for three to five miles, yesterday’s hundred was spent behind the wheel of a tandem.  It was glorious.

The loop came up four miles short, so I had to improvise a bit, and that took me to a segment I’ve wanted to try to snag for some time, but because I never track rides near my home I don’t have Strava going when I ride the segment three times a week…  Well, this was the one time, and I had a crossing tailwind too.

I looped my bike around and got out of the saddle, cranking the speed up for all I was worth.  By the time I hit the segment start I was at 26-mph and holding, enough to take the KOM.  I was in the drops and putting down the watts… and a halfway there I entirely ran out of gas.  Instantly.  I was cruising along just fine and the strength just left me.  I sat up, pulled my phone out of my pocket and shut the app down.

I took it easy the last mile and a half home.

The “feels like” temp was well into the 90’s when I rolled into the driveway thoroughly spent.  A nice lunch, a nap, a little tinkering on the Trek, and we went out the community pool my kids swam at for the summer season.  A great cap to a perfect weekend.  I don’t even remember falling asleep on the couch last night.  I woke up around 11, though, and went to bed… It took me less than 30 seconds to fall asleep once my head hit the pillow, and I didn’t move from that spot until I woke up.  That’s how I like living life; when it’s time for bed I’m so tired I can’t help but falling asleep.

Riding a Bike never gets Old.

It never ceases to amaze me, the fun I have on a bike.

Cycling never gets old.

Every time I get my bike ready I’m struck a little giddy.

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Every time I clip in, I’m thinking about how lucky I am that I’m not stuck in that daily grind that everyone talks about.

Every time I take that last pedal stroke, I’m glad I’m done and able to be back at it.

Every time I ride I’m grateful for that short respite from being an adult…

Because every time I’m cruising down the road at 25-mph, I feel a little bit like a kid again.

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The one thing You MUST get right for Recovery to Work… if Your goal is to get Better.

Having seen more people come in out of the storm, then turn around and march right out to face down a tornado than I care to recount, I will let you in on the one thing I did right when I decided to sober up – about two weeks after my back was against the proverbial wall:  When I finally gave up and asked God to remove my desire to drink, I was entirely ready to lose that desire.  And after I asked, nicely, the desire to drink was lifted…

This is a scary proposition for newly sobered up alcoholics.  A number of reasons pop up that seem to make holding onto the notion that we’ll be able to drink successfully one day, necessary.  What will I do with the rest of my life?  How will I ever have fun?  Why can’t I just enjoy one drink like everyone else?  What about business prospects? How will I ever entertain people again?

The answers to those questions are simple:  I’ll enjoy my freedom immensely.  I hadn’t had fun drinking in quite a while, I was managing the decline as the saying goes, and the decline SUCKS!  I simply can’t.  I’ll figure it out.  The new friends I meet won’t need drinking to be entertained… but seeing those answers when we’re not out of the haze yet is almost impossible.

One way or another, this noise must be ignored, fought, pushed back against, relegated to the scrap heap.  The good thing, though, if you’re experiencing these thoughts, you’re close.  Your addiction is against the wall and it’s trying anything it can to get you to leave just a little wiggle room.  If you just take that last little step to pushing it down into the cage, you’ve got a real chance at meaningful, lasting, enjoyable recovery.  Freedom is close.

The one thing we have to get right, without fail, if we want to salvage a life out of what we’ve created, we must be done.

That’s the only thing I got right when I sobered up.  I stopped fighting to stay drunk.

One last point, now that we’ve decided to put the monster in the cage and be done; just remember, even though your addiction is in a cage, there’s no lock on the door.  Don’t get cocky.

The Controlled Use Fad has Normal Recovery Community Baffled; How can One Recover from Abuse if One can’t Stop Abusing? A Humorous Take.

Controlled (ab)use is a nonsensical, feel-good, “when bad ideas happen to good people”, impossible method for recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, made up by people who aren’t afflicted by the disease (or possibly by some who are and simply hate not being high – either way…).

At the heart of the issue is the attempt to cure a symptom of a bigger problem.  Imagine trying to cure cancer by cutting your toenails, and that’ll get you close to how kooky the concept is.  Close, mind you.  You’re not quite there on the kook scale yet.

So here’s the idea, laid bare for the silly proposition it is;  I am an alcoholic.  Now, by alcoholic I mean I am a butt-ass drunk.  I destroyed my liver before hitting my early twenties.  I am one of those assholes who would get loaded, fall asleep at the wheel, super-drunk, and crash into a bus of nuns out on a 2am joyride heading home from the casino, singing “Jesus Loves Me”, killing everyone but me.  The drunk never dies because the drunk is loose at the time of the accident, by the way.  You get me, though, right?  Are you good and pissed?  Excellent, let’s proceed.

I am a f***ing drunk.

The idea behind controlled (ab)use, in a nutshell, is this:  My drug of choice is alcohol, and because I like drinking rather than doing drugs, crack cocaine and heroin (or a combination thereof), or better, meth, should be just fine for me to use.  As long as I control that use.

Of course, they never frame it like this, where you go from a more benign drug like alcohol to meth, it’s heroin to pot, or pain pills to booze, or better still, heroin to pain pills (duh!)… the point is, control, for the vast majority of addicts and alcoholics, is fleeting at best but normally just pie-in-the-sky.  We’d be better served to try to control a charging elephant by stepping in front of it.  You first.

That’s how the recovery community, whether they’ll express it as I just have in polite company or not, looks at controlled abuse.  If you’re an alcoholic or an addict of my type, and you hear someone trying to sell you on controlled abuse, run away.  Fast.  There’s simply no such thing.

Our only hope for a sane, happy life, is to be done with abuse.  We have no room for abuse of any kind.

50,000 Miles. On a Bicycle

I crossed over 50,000 miles on a bicycle a week or so ago, since I started riding in May of 2011.

Some of the things I’ve seen from the saddle simply wouldn’t be noticed from behind the wheel of a car.

That’s a bald eagle…

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” — Ernest Hemingway, US author


“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” — Arthur Conan Doyle, British author

Some of the things I’ve seen from the saddle couldn’t have been seen from a car because I’d never have driven the roads. I go places on a bike I’d never bother otherwise.

I have friends, I never would have been lucky enough to meet, were it not for cycling.

There’s no question my wife and I are a happier couple for all of the riding we do together.

I’ve circled the Earth twice on a bicycle, and I’m very much looking forward to the next two.

Seeing the world from the saddle of a bicycle is as good as it gets.