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Monthly Archives: November 2018

What is Fake News? This’ll Do.

The use if the term “fake news” has been met with some consternation. I thought I would share an example from one of my favorite blogs that just might clear things up for you. In the end, it is quite simple.

Misleading, eh?

Fake news isn’t so much about the news being fake, it’s about manipulating a story to promote a Democrat, liberal or progressive agenda.  And yes, while we’re at it, FOX does this too, to an extent, but FOX is no match for the vast array of liberal media organs that masquerade as “fair”.  They’re anything but.

Are Carbon Fiber Road Wheels All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Forgive the pun. I couldn’t resist.

For approximately 2,556 days as an exceptional cyclist, give or take, I was under the impression that the frame was the most important part of the bike to be carbon fiber… well, fork too, but you get my point.

Having ridden a smashingly cool, old-school 1991 Cannondale SR-400, I can honestly tell you, friends, compared to a carbon fiber rig… wait, there is no comparison. Seriously. Riding an alloy bike on anything but perfect roads is a bit on the sucky side. Still, it beats walking. And mountain bikes (just in speed, ladies and gentlemen, just in speed). Chuckle.

Having gone from that Cannondale to a full carbon Trek 5200, it’s the difference between riding…. um… something really uncomfortable, and hopping onto a limo:

Not a super-stretch, of course, a really fast limo, like a Dodge Challenger limo (yes, they actually do exist). The point is, the Trek was outrageously more comfortable than the Cannondale, especially on our chip seal roads. To put the difference in perspective, I went from 17-mph up a particular hill, to 18-19-mph. Simply put, for those not in the know, the additional comfort of the carbon fiber bike translates directly into speed. Even though the aluminum bike is vastly stiffer and transfers power from the pedals to the rear wheel better, the vast comfort improvement of carbon fiber makes the ride faster (modern alloy frames are a notable improvement over old-school.

However, my experience over those 2,556 days (give or take) was limited because I had two sets of alloy wheels (a heavy set for rain and train on the Trek and a light set for big rides on my Venge).

Then I bought a set of carbon fiber wheels for the Venge. Before the new wheels, the Trek was more comfortable than the Specialized by a slight but noticeable margin. After, it was a whole new ballgame. The Venge is on par with the Trek, and maybe even a little superior. The geometry of the Venge is vastly superior to that of the Trek (modern compact frame compared to old-school standard) so the comfort of the Venge was, and still is, superior in the geometry of the bike. The Trek always excelled in smoothness of ride… sadly, only us super-geeks know the difference. There is a difference, though.

Then there’s the aerodynamic benefits of a carbon fiber wheel. I chose 38mm wheels because we deal with some crosswind here in Michigan. I wanted a wheel I wouldn’t be nervous about in the wind. I could have gone with 50’s but chose the 38’s instead. The difference between that and a 25mm aero alloy wheel is surprising. Without gushing too much, the aero wheels are easier to keep up to speed. It’s like a few extra free watts. Free watts are good.

Finally, there’s the weight advantage. My carbon fiber wheels are a little more than 100 grams lighter than the shallower alloy wheels. That’s a quarter-pound lighter than a spectacular set of alloy wheels, with the aero gains. Enough said.

Having ridden approximately 52,914 miles on alloy wheels and a little more than a thousand on carbon fiber, I can tell you without doubt, the carbon fiber wheels bring a surprising level of comfort and speed* to a ride. Up until this past September, my fastest rides were all on the Trek. With the carbon wheels I’ve managed to put in two rides that were much faster than the old “bests” and I finished feeling much better than I had during the slower rides on the alloy wheels. The faster rides on the carbon wheels took less out of me, in other words.

In a sentence, they’re worth it if you’re going to be riding fast enough to get the benefit.

* The speed part of this is a little tricky. There isn’t much of a benefit below 20-mph – at least I can’t feel it – between the alloy wheels and carbon fiber. It’s when you start topping 20 and 25-mph that you begin to notice the improvement.

How to Look Cool on a Bike as a Noob, According to Me… This Should Be Good.

I liked the article I mentioned the other day about what Brian Holm thinks is how to look cool on a bike… it was fun for me to write about, at least. Now it’s my turn, but I won’t be as minute in my detail.

  1. Everybody looks like a dork at first, unless you have a metric $#!+-ton of money. I’ve only known of one person to pull off “noob” and “outrageously stylish” inside of the first year. One. He’s got that metric $#!+-ton into a few bikes… Funny thing is, all of the miles haven’t been able to work their magic yet, so he’s 40 pounds overweight riding outrageously awesome race bikes. Add to that, he takes a lot of coaching – his skills are no bueno… so, in other words, he’s got everything, but he still looks a bit the dork. I was unquestionably dorky for three years before attaining awesomeness. It just takes some time. Get over yourself.

    Also, if you can bear it (or would that be bare it – damn), look a little closer at the handlebar on the mountain bike… yep, aero bars on a mountain bike.  Super-dork.

  2. Get a bike and get your butt on it, first. You’re going to go with platform pedals first because most noobs freak out about being clipped in. You’ll come around once you realize “clippy pedals” are vastly superior… right up until you decide to go all retro and go back to platform pedals. And realize you blew all of that consternation and energy over nothing. Just remember, clipless pedals are the best thing since sliced bread.
  3. You go commando under the cycling shorts. That’s a period at the end of that first sentence.
  4. If cheap is all you can afford, go cheap in what you buy.  Cheap is better than sitting on the couch.  Cheap also has a tendency to look it, though not always, so be suspicious of deals too good to be true. Don’t be too suspicious, though. Great deals exist, but it helps to know what you’re looking for. Sadly, that takes experience.
  5. Riding in a group, you will make a mistake every now and again. Be gracious about it when you do. Don’t get all indignant and take it personally when someone barks at you – we’re all just trying to get home with our bones intact and our skin free of leaks. And then, later down the road, remember that you screwed up in the past as well, when someone else screws up. Be gracious about that, too.
  6. My friend, you know who you are, even though you couldn’t be considered a noob, that’s why I was cool about it. And why it’s all good. Don’t ever think badly about it again. It happens to all of us. Even Dave.
  7. Ride your bike.
  8. Ride your bike some more.
  9. Even more.
  10. Not there yet…
  11. …Eventually you’ll figure out your idea of cool once you’ve seen it enough.  Then do that.
  12. The last two are most important; Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  13. It’s all small stuff. It’s riding a bicycle, not rocket science, for God’s sake. Go have some fun.

Getting to a Place in One’s Melon where Recovery can Work

Half-assing recovery won’t work.  People try to hold on to their old way of life, just little bits and pieces, but recovery won’t really work until  a person is willing to let go completely.  Failure isn’t always instant of course, which leads to a false sense of comfort or worse, accomplishment, but in the end the wheels always fall off for the alcoholic. 

It’s sort of like gravity; you can fight it for a bit, but sooner or later the sudden stop is going to get you.

So the magic happens just before the sudden stop, that’s where I needed to be to be willing to quit.  In my case, the evolution was pretty impressive – how it all happened.  I went from a whole heap of trouble to a fifth chance, to in-patient treatment (certain I’d be drinking again as soon as my court requirement was met), to DT’s, to that profound point where I knew there was no more running, inside of about three weeks.  

Friends, I went from positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’d drink again, to ready to quit in just two weeks – and I’ve managed to hold onto that willingness for decades with the simple knowledge that if I choose to drink again I will go from a wonderful life to that point just before the sudden stop in no time (if I had to guess, it would take three weeks to lose my job, another two before my wife left with the kids – and that’s generous – and give it another month or so before I was in the gutter with nothing).  That’s how alcoholism and addiction works.

The only way I know to really enjoy sobriety is to remember just how close that point of sudden stop is from where I’m at right now.  Anything less and I’d probably get cocky.  And anyone who knows anything about recovery knows there’s no room for cocky.


How I Helped My Spouse get into Cycling… from Her Perspective, but Through Me… Ummm.

Another oldie but a goodie… This is the post for the guy who wants to help his significant other, of the female persuasion, get into cycling.

I didn’t go with any other combos because I don’t have the experience to tackle that.

Bike Porn Vs. Reality and a Wonderful, If Simple, Cure for Depression

This one is an oldie but a goodie that’s enjoyed a resurgence of late.

You know me, the pun was abso-freaking-lutely intended…. and without the letdown.

Alright, with the Eating Over, It’s Time to Get On with It (or Back to It, as the Case May Be).

Thanksgiving is the one weekend a year where I, along with much of America, lets everything go that’s related to a diet.

Fortunately, everything still fits properly as far as I go, so I haven’t gained too much weight. Still, I walked out of the in-law’s house feeling a whole lot bigger than when I walked in (the scale says I definitely gained a few, but I know a lot of that was water weight from pain and inflammation – once that dials back a bit I’ll have to check again).

My wife and I took the gravel bikes out for a 20-miler Sunday after making our way home – a good decision as we got 3″ of snow yesterday. It was the Trek on the trainer after work.

That out of the way, rather than wait until Christmas, it’s time to get back on the diet program and lose a few before Christmas dinners. My lose goal is to be as light as I was going into Thanksgiving – a cool 170 pounds come springtime.

It never ceases to amaze me how much life hurts when I’m inactive.  Just four days off and I felt like I was 70.  Two days back on the bike (and in my normal bed, the bed up north was horrible) and I’m back to pain-free and sleeping like a baby.  I always feel sorry for the “exercise hurts too much” crowd because I know the reality; polishing the couch leather with my butt hurts a lot more.