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Monthly Archives: November 2018

How to Sprint Faster?! The Position Best Optimized for the Sprint

I read a great article that looks in great depth at the position pro sprinters adopt to get a few extra mph-km/h out of their sprint.

Did you know the average pro sprint finish is right around 40-mph and lasts less than 20 seconds?

The best I’ve ever done, without a howling tailwind, is 34-1/2 so I’m fairly stoked about that, but the forward position the pros sprint in? I can partially get there, but at 48 years-old I think it’s just a bridge too far.

Still, for a fairly huge change in positioning on the bike, they say you can get as much as an extra 5-km/h out of your sprint.

For your average weekend warrior like me, that’s the difference between 34-1/2 and call it 37-mph (once you consider I’m almost that low already).

Whether a sprinter or not, give the article a look. It’s quite an interesting read.

Outside: Standout Road Bikes from Our 2019 Test

Outside: Standout Road Bikes from Our 2019 Test.
https://www.outsideonline.com/2366646/best-road-bikes-our-2019-test

From gravel bikes to a 25 pound pedal assist e-road bike (seriously!), the article at the link above has got a little bit of everything. Enjoy.

All I can think of lately is what I could do with an extra 30 watts. Oh my.

Idle Hands and Early Recovery; Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds, Get Busy. The Path to Sobriety has No Familiar Faces on It.

I’m working with a new, young fella in recovery. His story is next-level tragic next to mine. In fact, I have what some call a high bottom. The depth isn’t important, though. What is important is that I was ready to stop digging.

So my new kid is fresh off a relapse. He texted me Sunday (oh, how I love recovery by text message…) that he’d been on a bender and wanted to know if we could meet up. I explained that he should probably sleep it off rather than trying to drive stoned. Then he wanted to know if we should talk. I explained we should wait till he was straight as I don’t waste time on counseling whilst wasted.

I texted him on Monday and asked if he was ready to talk and caught him at the perfect time.

The conversation was good and productive, and once we got through the pleasantries of his relapse, we got to its cause: down time. Thankfully, I just happen to be a master at managing down time. Unfortunately, I only know one way to manage said down time, and it takes effort and sacrifice.

Those two things aren’t popular.

First, to those not in recovery, this information will be invaluable to you if you know someone in recovery (or who needs recovery). Second, for those in recovery, I’m about to share the only way I know to make recovery work in a world where alcohol and drugs are everywhere. You may disagree or have a different way. I am okay with you doing your recovery how you see fit. I’m also definitely okay with how I do mine.

Down time, the time not spent in a meeting, is the enemy of recovery. Simply put, we relapse when we lose an argument that happens in our head. Sadly, in the beginning if we have the argument, we lose the argument. It’s hard to have the argument sitting in a roomful of recovering people. It’s hard to have the argument when you’re actively working the steps or studying the Big Book.

Let’s look at when it’s not difficult to have the argument:

  • Sitting around doing nothing
  • Hanging out with using friends
  • Sitting in a bar
  • Sitting in the dope dealer’s livingroom
  • You get the frickin’ idea
  • This isn’t rocket science
  • If you sit in a barbershop long enough, you’re going to get your hair cut.
  • Don’t sit in the barbershop

In 26 years of continuous sobriety, I’ve been to five bars. Total. I should add here, I was a drinker. I liked my drugs, too, but they scared me a lot. I didn’t handle drinking very well so I wasn’t too adventurous with anything else, lest I really mess myself up.

Anyway, the first bar I walked into at six months sober. I wanted to live vicariously, so I went into my old dive to have a chat with the owner… who lamented having not seen me for so long, followed by trying to convince me that I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic because I’d never been kicked out of his bar. It opened my eyes. I walked out still sober, but what I’d done was the opposite of smart.

That was the second stupidest thing I ever did sober.

The first was going into a bar with an old using buddy of mine at six months and a week of sobriety, for his Birthday. I had a near beer and a half. Even with that infinitesimal amount of alcohol in “non-alcoholic beer”, my body and brain remembered. I was as close as one gets to a relapse without actually relapsing. I found out the hard way, “non-alcoholic” means “not for alcoholics”. I made my apologies and left.

It was immediately after that last trip to the bar that I took my program seriously. I swore off every old friend I had – meaning, when they came around or called, I actually told them I would never be able to hang with them again, effective immediately, because I had no control over what I would do when we were together. This included my best friend in the whole world since my parents moved us to Michigan when I was five years-old. I cut my old life off completely. That’s the sacrifice.

I had to make a decision; sober life and a chance at happiness, or misery. I was out of options with drinking and I was quite tired of misery.

From that day forward, I surrounded myself with people in the program. Sober friends only. For more than a decade I chose only recovering friends.

Then came my third trip to a bar. I was with the woman that is now my wife and we went out dancing at a huge place called “Industry”… Think N.I.N, Ministry, etc.

  • I had a valid reason to be there (other than wanting to get drunk or live vicariously through someone else getting drunk).
  • I was on solid ground with my sobriety and working diligently on productive recovery. I was spiritually fit.
  • I had an easy way out if I started to get squirrelly.

The only way I will walk into an establishment that serves alcohol is to have those three items satisfied. If one is off, I won’t go. Period, end of sentence.

The fourth time I walked into a bar was for a business lunch. The three items were checked and I even spoke with a sober friend before. This was only, ten or eleven years ago.

The last several bar trips were to see one-time huge national bands at The Machine Shop with my wife. It’s a bar that seats 300 or so. We saw Scott Weiland, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Spacehog, and a couple of others that my wife likes… Again, all three items on the checklist were met – if I can’t meet all three items, I go to a meeting instead, until I’m in a position to meet the three items.

When my recovery is on solid ground, the argument in my head is impossible to lose. Not only have I been able to handle situations which used to baffle me, I’ve grown enough to be able to shut down and win the argument in my head. This was once impossible.

My friends, that’s how it worked for me. I would advise, though, skipping the near misses. I barely made it through them. It could be said that I got lucky. It could also be said that God helped me through them. I choose the latter, but whatever works.

Celebrating the Specialized Venge; Six Years of One of the Slipperiest Bikes Out There.

The Specialized Venge was rolled out for the first time in 2012 as one of the first “aero” road race bikes. Today, it dominates as one of the slipperiest bikes in cycling clubs the world over.

We have five of the first generation Venge’s and one ViAS in our club, between the A and B Groups. The closest representation of another super-bike is the Trek 7 Series with just two. While we have every major manufacturer represented, only the Specialized Venge has such strong interest.

It can be argued, fairly, that the first generation Venge was the perfect aero bike. It was possible to make the bike mountain climbing light (14-ish pounds) with the right components (close to the UCI legal limit) and enough cash, but where it was extraordinary was that it could be made to be within a pound of that for a reasonable sum ($6,000 give or take). If you look at the second generation ViAS, the initial high-end version was more than 18 pounds. The less expensive versions, one would assume, were better than 20 pounds. They’ve worked the weight down a bit, even with disc brakes, but today’s ultra-aero comes with a fairly stiff weight penalty.

Anyway, for those of us who have been fortunate enough to own one, we are a part of a special group of cyclists; those who know exactly how fantastic it is to ride one of the slipperiest road bikes ever made.

On the New WordPress Editor…

I would like to thank the folks at WordPress for kicking out their new editor.

You’ve managed to produce a product that has pissed me off so much, I’m honestly thinking about hanging up my blog for good.

Nice work. 

UPDATE:  There is a link that is supposed to let you switch back to the old editor.  For some, that link won’t work.  If you want to continue using the old editor, next to the settings chainring in the upper right corner, you’ll see a triple dot.  Click on it and scroll down to the bottom.  It’ll say “use classic editor” or something like that.  Click on that and it’ll switch back to the good editor.

Here are a couple of screen captures to make this easier:

Old Editor 1

Old Editor 2

Ain’t nothin’ but a thing, chicken wing…

On Friday, my friends and I had an uproarious laugh that one of the guys on our bowling team had taken “the under” on me making it to Sunday for my 26 years clean and sober.

I add “clean” due to its increasing importance in the minor squabble over whether or not doing drugs amounts to a relapse or not. Most sane people can laugh that one off, but I didn’t add that for them. There are, sadly, some very sick people out there who won’t feel the full freedom of recovery because they’re too afraid to fully quit.

In any event, “the over” won the bet.

It’s a party, baby.

The Silliest Argument there is for not Wearing a Cycling Helmet on a Bike: They Increase the Chance of Injury.

I read an article that touched a nerve. This is the last line:

Feel free to use your head as you see fit.

I commented on the article by adding, “Including as a means of stopping your bike”…

There isn’t much that gives me the vapors like the argument that a bicycle helmet shouldn’t be worn because it increases the chance of injury in a bike crash because the whole argument against helmets is predicated on the absurd notion that if one simply rides like a grandma, one won’t ever fall over because they’ll never encounter an unexpected situation. And the reason it drives me nuts is I used to think that way, right up until my eight year-old daughter fell directly in front of me – it was either I go down or I run over my little girl. I chose to go down and when I did, missed the pavement with my noggin by less than an inch. The fact that I didn’t split my mush was pure luck, nothing more.

20180615_1646038915718981329657979.jpg

On the other hand, I know why the argument is made – and that’s what’s important; the ridiculous idea that a government should make helmets mandatory. Hell, the idea that a government can make wearing a bicycle helmet mandatory – or that politicians believe they have the right to regulate the lives of people to such a tiny degree is simply disgusting to me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise once you know I live in the United States. Most of us, at least those who paid attention in our history and political science classes, feel uneasy about government rule, as should be the case.

Actually, let me amend that paragraph… In Europe, South America, and Canada, over-regulation is expected. It’s the norm, so the notion that a population of people should be the petri dish for politicians bent on regulating the lives of their constituents to a point where all they have left to worry about is being happy and following all of the f***ing rules is nothing new. In the United States, it’s something of a turn (excepting California and New York, of course – residents of New York are so stupid they don’t know how to drink soda pop or put salt on their food. They need politicians to regulate those things for them… heh).

Before I go off on a tangent, which I’m precariously close to doing, I wanted to take a moment to interject some sanity into the discussion because if you don’t know how the argument works, you may end up believing something that simply isn’t true.

Let the silliness commence:

in NYC despite increases in helmet wearing they found the grand sum of zero safety benefit, in fact safety went backwards post helmet wearing and post rules for children. So we do know what happened after helmets became more commonplace. You can repeat this in every country you choose to look at incl UK where helmet wearing has increased significantly.

Zero safety benefit? We could call this, “what good people do with bad information”. Exhibit A:

My friend’s melon still looks the same after the accident that cracked his helmet. Here’s the helmet before the accident, lest someone gets the idea that he was a noob who didn’t know how to properly ride his bicycle:

wpid-wp-1438169069829.jpeg

The jersey says “National Champion”, and it was actually earned. That’s not a “Fred’s Smokehouse Ride through the Park Champion” jersey. I’ve heard him explain that his helmet saved his life and I believe him. I have two more friends, both who cracked their helmets – one had a guy’s chain brake in front of him, the other simply passed out because he was dehydrated… neither had lasting injuries or repercussions because they were wearing a helmet. Zero safety benefit? To claim that is simply wrong.

Another favorite of mine is the canard that cyclists will ride in a manner more dangerous to their health if they wear a helmet; the old “they feel impervious to injury” argument. What a trailer-full of horseshit. The argument assumes that, if we’re not going to wear a helmet, cyclists will trade in their 15 pound race bikes for a beach cruiser with a bell and a basket on the front where we can neatly store our balls when we go for a leisurely cruise around the block to burn twelve calories. They assume a cyclist will turn into a bike rider if they don’t wear a helmet… Wrong.

That’s not what happens. We cyclists don’t trade in our balls for a leisure bike with tassels streaming out the handlebar ends. No, we ride as we normally would, just without a helmet. And the rare accident increases exponentially in severity. Instead of a broken collar bone, we end up with brain damage and the need for a nurse to change the diapers we now require because we have a tendency to crap our pants.

Folks, you can buy stupid if you want, but don’t expect me to jump off the “stupid” cliff holding your hand – even if you do think it’ll be a soft landing.

No thanks.

Funny thing about recovery, you tend to get exactly what you’re looking for. There’s just one trick…

I went to a meeting with my sponsor last night. It’s an interesting time for us. He was hit by a truck in May, doing a good samaritan deed on the side of the road. He wasn’t in a car accident. He was hit by a truck going 50-mph. That he isn’t dead is a miracle in and of itself. He’s getting around on a walker now, and will shortly be progressing to a cane, but he still can’t drive. So once a week I pick him up and take him to a meeting. We follow that with dinner and some wonderful conversation.

Being able to spend a couple of hours a week with him has been invaluable. It’s an interesting time in my life and helping him while he’s helped me has been dynamic.

As the Title says, I get what I need in recovery, but there’s an “if” and I’ll get to that in a minute.

We read a story out of the Big Book last night, on page 499, “There’s nothing the matter with me!”

The last paragraph struck a chord with me last night. It made me smile:

You find that big people discuss ideals, average people discuss things, and little people-they just talk about other people. And you realize that if you put this all together, you get a little humility, a little tolerance, a little honesty, a little sincerity, a little prayer-and a lot of A.A.

A sponsee from a while back sent me a text this morning that he’s coming back after some road tests that didn’t end so well (do they ever?) and he asked if I was able to work with him again.

I responded that it just so happened I was in need of someone to work with, so it looked like it would work out for the both of us…

The funny thing about recovery, the trick, is you get exactly what you’re looking for… as long as you’re looking.

It’s getting close now:

Six Reasons why Using a Trainer is the BEST way to get Fit? Wait, Really?

I recently read an article over at Road.cc in which the author supports the conclusion that the lowly turbo trainer is the best way to get fit.

Forgive me if I don’t jump on the CycleOps M2 right off the bat… even if the author generally makes some good points. It’s safer, yep, especially in the winter months. Less prep time, less cleanup, yep again. Easier to hit target efforts and heart rates, check. No worrying about traffic, check.

Now, it wouldn’t be a Fit Recovery post if I didn’t go a little contrarian on the article. If there’s one thing that’s wrong with the world in which we live, and I mean this seriously, it is over-the-top hyperbole.

Indoor training can be more time efficient if you don’t have the luxury of 25 hours a week to ride your bike.”

Wait, twenty-five hours… a week?!

Okay, sparky, let’s hold on a second. I ride a ton for a working guy. I’m going to hit 10,000 miles this year (or get damn close) and I’ve only got one week the whole season where I got within sniffing distance of 25 hours. DALMAC weekend, during which I ride 380 miles with my friends in four days. I had 445 miles that week. Every other week besides that one, I was between 10 and 15 hours for the week. Even with prep and clean up, I’m not getting over 17 hours total for a normal week.

If it’s worth it, we should be able to seal the deal on the actual merits. We shouldn’t have to make $#!+ up.

Another fun point the author claimed, is that indoor training is fun. Look, the way I took the article, the author is trying to make the point that indoor training isn’t all bad – and it’s not. In the winter months, when it’s dark, cold and wet (or icy), there’s no doubt, a trainer can suffice for those few months. The new programs available, Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy (etc.) go a long way to making the indoor training experience tolerable (I’m still partial to the old, Insert Star Wars movie into DVD player, crank Bose Digital 5.1 surround sound to 11 method), but let’s face reality here; compared to the great outdoors, with all of the bells and whistles, indoor training goes from soul-crushingly boring to livable… at best.

Indoor training is still what you do if you must. Outdoor training will always be preferable to knock off the rust.

The One, Simple Inescapable Truth about Training to Ride Faster on a Bicycle

I can still remember my first ride on my brand new, never been ridden until I rolled it out the door, Specialized Venge.  I had just removed all of the useless weight (reflectors, etc.) and set the saddle for height and fore/aft position and pumped up the tires that still didn’t even have a scuff on them yet (after the photo session, of course – it’s only brand new once).  The moment of truth had arrived…

I donned my finest kit, strapped down my shoes (I had Pearl Izumi Tri shoes at the time), put my helmet on, and rolled out.  I started fairly easy at first, not wanting to wreck the ride by pushing too hard, too fast, and too soon… sounds like a tragic comedy, actually.  Coming up my favorite stretch of road (at the time), I was absolutely flying.  Faster than I’d ever gone on that section of road.  A wry grin stretched across my face as I pushed harder on the pedals.  My first ride on a real, honest to God, super-bike…

And then it hit me.  I had no more excuses.  If, from that moment on, I wasn’t fast, it was the fault of the engine.

It was a sobering reality.  When I set out for my first ride on my brand new super-bike, the last thing I was expecting was an “oh shit” moment, but that’s what I got.

I didn’t know it back then, but I did have a few small excuses left.  The Venge was a bit heavy out of the box and the wheels that came on the bike were cheap junk, but today all of my excuses are out the window – I literally have everything an amateur cycling enthusiast (with a mortgage, a smokin’ hot wife, and two kids) could want in a bike:

As a member of the B Group in our club, having gone from an average on the exact same course, over 30 miles on Tuesday night, from 20-1/2-mph to better than 23-mph (we were toying with 23-1/2 at the end of this season), there is one simple, inescapable truth about riding fast; if you want to get fast, you have to get used to pushing beyond your comfort zone.

I have my limits, of course, and I think that’s a good thing.  I have a solid core of friends I like riding with and I don’t feel it’s necessary to get much faster than they ride.  In the end, it’s all about being happy, anyway.  I had to pay the piper in puke to get here, though.  There are months spent on the trainer, pushing harder gears than most normal folk would bother putting up with.  There are the spring miles used to get ready for our first 100k of the season at the end of April that we like to do at a 20-mph average…  There are entire two or three-hour rides where I’m thinking, “Dude, why do I do this to myself!?”  When I’m down south, on vacation in the mountains and rather than sitting back and relaxing, I’m hammering up the steepest damn hill I know of so I can get back home and be a little stronger on our version of “hills”.

Most people who struggle to ride fast think the folks at the front are up there hammering the group down the road, passing bon-bons back and forth, talking about the latest market changes and the fed’s quarterly plan for the interest rate.  Nope, they’re struggling too, just like everyone else.  Some have just learned to push through it a little better than the average bear.

While all of the trinkets and do-dads are worth a mile an hour (maybe 1-1/2), in the end, what really matters is the engine.  A high-end bike won’t fix low-end legs©.