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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.

Anger is My Choice: The Confession of a (Once) Angry Man

It all started over a stubbed toe….

Well, let me back up a bit. We were up at the in-law’s house for Thanksgiving with my wife’s sister and her family. That may read messy but it isn’t – it’s a party. Food, card games, laughs and as much fun as a person can have. Everything from cooking, to cleaning, to household chores are treated as a team effort so max fun time is possible.

It’s not perfect, though. The beds at the in-laws’ are a step up from plywood hard, but just one step. This leads, over several days, to me being very sore. Also, the temps this year were far too cold to enjoy cycling, in the single digits most mornings (that’s Fahrenheit, folks – negatives for the Celsius people) so we didn’t get our daily rides in – we didn’t even bring our bikes.

After four days of pain and no fitness outlet, combined with the knowledge that the diet upon returning home will have to be drastic, the good times can become strained.

So, the last morning there, my wife and I are having some normal life struggles with our eldest and she’s preoccupied. My wife is projecting a little “cranky” as well. I’m in the bathroom to shave while she’s doing her makeup and she’s taking up the dead middle of the two-sink counter. She’s after her makeup double-time, obviously agitated – and this is usually my fault, though this year I’ve done nothing that can even approach unkind, untoward, or uncaring for weeks.

So I’m fighting to shave with a quarter of the space I should have and… enter the stubbed toe.

[The main point there being that this didn’t start with a stubbed toe, it started two days prior]

Normally, when I stub my toe, I simply lose it for a second until the pain subsides. Add in the other stress and my wife’s off behavior and it’s a perfect blend for a zero to full blast instant tirade….

But I’ve been in a really good space lately with my 26th sober anniversary last week, and I think that changed how I would normally react. My thinking slowed down to snail’s pace, so I experienced each thought..

Wow, that didn’t hurt so bad. I wouldn’t have stubbed my toe if [my wife] wasn’t standing in the way. Why is she acting like that anyway?!

At this point the intensity ratchets up a bit.

Even if it didn’t hurt, I should be angry…  I should blow up…

And that’s right where I normally start to lose it, but I didn’t. Normally it happens fast, too. Blindingly fast. My thinking was so clear at that point – normally it’s like a roomful of cats in my melon just before a meltdown, but with nothing else going on, I could see the progression of each new wrinkle. I set my razor down and walked away for a few seconds… I thought,

I’m not going there today. It’s not happening.

I went back and picked up my razor and finished the last few swipes. Then I asked my wife what was wrong and followed that with, how can I help?

There was no fight. We talked about what was eating at her and the solutions. It ended well, my wife and I holding hands all the way home, the kids sleeping in the back. We unpacked and took the gravel bikes out for a ride, choosing not to invite anyone else, we just rode together.

I came to the realization that what once used to set me off in a rage, no longer held sway over me. I don’t have to fly off the handle anymore, not like I used to. Paying attention to each individual thought as it flowed through the gray matter was a breakthrough. The transition was always too fast and chaotic to grasp previously.

Not only is losing it a choice, it simply isn’t me anymore. There’s plenty of room for backsliding if I’m not careful, though… and in the future, at least I’ll have this experience to build on.

This is one of the unsung benefits of long-term, continuous sobriety; I accepted and dealt with my drinking (and drug) problem long ago so I have plenty of time to work on other, smaller things that led to the drink, like my anger issue.  Most normal folk don’t bother to look that deep inside to fix what’s wrong with them.  It’s far easier to concentrate on playing Don Quixote with all things external – you never run out of things to set you off when you choose to be angry at things you can’t control in the first place.

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling; On Being a Weight Weenie – All at Once or Over Time?

We’re into winter now, more than a month early, but here we are. The Venge hasn’t seen the light of day for close to a month.


Every once in a while, I’ll walk into the bike room and pick it up, marveling at how light the bike is after all the upgrades. It was three pounds heavier when I brought it home five years ago. Considering you can feel one pound on a hill, three is a pretty big deal. What’s really crazy is the amount of money it cost to drop those three pounds, but no sense crying over new carbon fiber… because carbon fiber is freaking awesome. I digress…

There are two ways to go about being a weight weenie. First, the cheaper way is to go all in right off the bat and buy the best bike you can afford. The cost up front is great but if you’ve got the cash up front, it’ll beat the second option…

Option two – what if you don’t have the cash up front? The other way to go is to buy the low-end high performance bike and upgrade the $#!+ out of it – this is the way I went. The cost in going this route is greater, but you’ve got the luxury of time to get the bike where you want it. I needed the time because I didn’t have the $4,500-$5,000 up front.


While it’s easy to go for the big items first, every little bit counts. Going with a $80 Ultegra cassette in lieu of a $30 SRAM model. A $60 chain over the $30 model. Carbon fiber cages over the molded plastic. Lightweight cable housing over the heavy, cheaper budget housing. You can knock 150 grams (more than a quarter-pound) just by going from a $100 saddle to a $300 top-of-the-line saddle. A stem that retails for $165 instead of the stock stem – call that 90 grams. A $500 crankset? Three-quarters of a pound over an alloy model. Lightweight carbon fiber wheels? A little more than a pound right there. Lightweight tires? 30-100 grams. Decent pedals? Another 50-ish grams.

Folks, when you start adding all of that up, it’s quite a bit of weight. In the case of my Specialized, a shade more than three pounds…

Even after all of the money I dropped on my Venge, having to do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing. I still like the “over time” method of upgrading a bike. It makes sense for someone who doesn’t have a great deal of disposable income to drop on a bicycle. I paid more in the long run, a lot more, but having spread it out over time has meant no financing was required. I was able to pay cash for everything, and no debt is good debt. Also, and this is the best part, because I upgraded the parts over time, I was able to pick out the perfect matching parts for my steed. The bike I have now is vastly better looking than the one I brought home.

As for the great Eddy Merckx and his quote, “don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”…

I prefer doing both.

UPDATE: The Omil made a fantastic point in the comments a lot more eloquently than I did; building your bike over time is enjoyable because one takes an active role in the evolution of the bike.

Well said, by friend.

How to Look Cool on a Bike, According to Brian Holm

A fun article to check out about how to avoid looking like a doofus on a bike – something that I take very seriously (as we all know).

While I agree with the crux of the article, and with seven of the nine bullet points, I couldn’t agree more (can we say “bullet” points still, or is that a trigger [heh]?).

I’ll just focus for a second on two that don’t fit. First, under “A racing bike should look like a racing bike” or “Don’t look like a triathlete “, the main rule is a bike should have white bar tape. So sayeth Brian Holm, the director sportif of Etixx Quick Step in 2015.

One could imagine I would have a problem with that rule:

While I couldn’t possibly argue against a race bike looking like a race bike, as mine is a perfect specimen, it is inarguable that white bar tape could fit on my race bike. Impossible.

In fact, and this is a little funny to me, if you look at Brian’s photo in the article, you should be able to pick out the delicious irony. Raspberry flavored.

Second up is no cycling cap under the helmet. He’s got a point, it’s hard to argue, but I just don’t want to follow this one. Brian is in opposition to the Velominati rules as well, which state cycling caps may only be worn when engaged in a cycling activity… Well, you can’t wear one on the bike and you can’t wear one off it? Forgive me if I call Bull$#!+.

The rest are rock solid and right on – especially the sleeveless jersey rule!

Enjoy! And comment down below if you must.

UPDATE: Sheree, in the comments section, makes the excellent point that these items don’t apply the same to ladies. A woman can pull off a sleeveless jersey without batting an eye. A guy couldn’t do that with enough makeup to make Tammy Fae Baker, in her hay day, blush. Except whilst in the process of completing a triathlon.

Also, short shorts are unquestionably a no-no for a guy, but fantastic for women.

Call it a double-standard, it is what it is, boys.