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Monthly Archives: January 2019

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What Are Cyclists Doing With Their Winter? Now is the Time to Get Fit – Don’t Wait Till Spring

Our friends in the southern hemisphere are enjoying their summer right now, and hopefully some of us northerners are heading down that way to bask in the warmth a little. For those of us who aren’t so fortunate, we’re hunkered down as winter hits with a vengeance. It’s so cold in Michigan, with the windchill, it doesn’t matter whether you put a C or F after the temp, it’s darn-near the same. We hit -45° last evening… actually, and I didn’t know this was possible, but the temp’s so cold it flipped: -45 F is -42 C.

Anyway, no riding outside today.

Now is still the perfect time to be cranking up the pace to get ready for spring. With less than six weeks left before we’re outside pedaling again, why wait? Up in the great north, at least before Zwift, most would wait until the spring thaw to really kick their fitness in the pants. I like to take advantage of the natural lag in “want to” of others and hammer January and February so I can enjoy my spring ramp up to speed.

Push the hard gears on the trainer, my friends, we’ve only got four to six weeks of winter left. If you start now you’ll be amazed at how much fun spring is while everyone else is working double-time trying to catch up to you.

Remember, riding fast doesn’t have to be as scientific as its made out to be. Just train to push harder on the pedals and the rest will work out in the laundry.

Ride hard, my friends.

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‘Learn to Code’; It’s Okay for Me, not for Thee. The Origin of the Meme and What Whiners won’t Tell You Through the Crocodile Tears…

Trigger (heh) warning:  This post is political in nature and, unlike certain subjects in the news, is actually based on real facts.  It also has some opinion in it, but mostly facts.  Anyway, if you don’t want to read a political post based in fact and reality, move along.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

I published a post a while back about little boys who don’t know how to can’t change a flat tire as illustrated in an insurance commercial. I was criticized as being equally lame because I couldn’t, oh I can’t even remember at this point, something about building a webpage. I still get a chuckle out of my reply, “Seems like someone doesn’t know how to change a flat.”

Back several years ago, when then President Obama decided it would be a good idea to kill the coal industry, snarky journalists left-wing cheerleaders twattered and wrote that the soon-to-be laid-off coal miners should “learn to code”. That meme came from another earlier meme in which some silicon valley kid suggested the homeless should “learn to code” so they would no longer have to be homeless.

Well, folks, the meme is back! This time it’s being rightly hurled back at the same media types left-wing extremist hacks who flung it at the coal miners as they were recently “laid off” from Buzzfeed – that would be the same Buzzfeed who just got kicked in the nuts by Robert Mueller for peddling in fake news – and Huffington Post.

Wait, you didn’t know the Michael Cohen “if true” story was fake? Well, you do now.

Anyway, now that “learn to code” is being thrown at the hacks who once used it on hard working, blue collar coal miners, the vast left-wing conspiracy theorists who are left, including some higher-ups at Facef*** are treating it like some kind of hate crime.  Free speech for me, but not for thee – another variant.

LTC

Try this, media hacks – and this goes for FOX, too – try a little less opinion and stick to the facts. And remember, “if true” should never be use again. Second sign of fake news, right there, only slightly behind “unnamed (or anonymous) sources close to the [insert target of fake news hit-piece here]…”

Perhaps it’s not fair, though, to place all left-wing hack reporters under the same umbrella.  Maybe that’s going to far, no?  I mean, after all, it’s not like they were all called deplorable… or how about racist because of who they voted for… or something like that.  The guy is orange for God’s sake.  Come to think of it, there’s a great anti-racism joke in there somewhere.

Anyway, enough politics for another few months.  Learn to code boys and girls, because reporters created their own lay-off.  Keep it up.

On Laying to Rest My Father’s Best Friend

My Uncle Lou died on the 21st. Five years, to the day, after my father. The two were inseparable back in the day.  Every Thursday they during golf season (April to October, maybe November) the two would play a round of golf then head over to Windsor (Canada) to Ings, their favorite Chinese restaurant.

My Uncles Al and Lou and their sons, Ron, David and Louis all played a huge role in my brother Chris and my childhood – also with my younger brother Joe and my sisters, but Chris and I were the perfect age. Uncle Lou’s daughters as well.

Of my fondest childhood memories, the whole family would head over to my uncle Al’s Christmas evening.  After dinner we would play tag outside and hit the Towne Club or Faygo soda… Hard. Our older cousins would try to convince my parents to let us see that year’s Christmas blockbuster with them (they tried hard for Aliens in ’86 – I was 16 – but to no avail).  The evening would hit its crescendo when my Uncle Al pulled out his acoustic guitar and my Uncle Lou, his accordion.  They’d play for hours – and you could always tell how intoxicated they were by the amount of clothing left on the two.  First the jacket would go.  Then the tie.  Then the dress shirt… and that was it.

The thing that really sticks out now is how much I’ve always felt a part of that family.  My mom’s side of the family married into theirs.  In fact, my mother’s father was 100% Irish and my Uncles’ side of the family 100% Italian.  In the US, there’s a pretty big gap betwixt the two).  My dad was raised Italian and Polish but was adopted – while raised in the heritage (my Grandpa Tony came literally came over on a boat), we were there by marriage.  We should have been black sheep – invited, but always on the periphery of the family.  That wasn’t the case though.  They welcomed us in like we were their own and still treat us as such now that we’re all aging.

The funeral service was beautiful (Catholic mass) and the luncheon afterward was something I won’t soon forget.  My wife and I, and our kids, talking with all of my favorite cousins… God, I missed that.  I don’t get choked up very often, but when I do I make it count.  Such was the case yesterday.

Saying goodbye to my Uncle Lou was tough, but his end came at a good time.  He, like my father when he passed away, was suffering from dementia.  None of that matters now, as was pointed out numerous times yesterday, my dad and Uncle Lou were undoubtedly on heaven’s golf course together again.  I’d be willing to bet they’re playing 36 holes a day, just to make up for lost time.

I just hope, for God’s sake, He’s got a legit Chinese restaurant up there.  With those two back together, He’s gonna need it.

The Hardest, but Best, Time, of Year, for Losing, Weight.

Please forgive the use of the Shatner Comma, the man is a genius.

I digress.

How many times during the winter months have I sat before a full plate and thought, Ah. F*** it. The damage (from Holiday season) is already done? In the past I’ve always defaulted to, “I’ll lose the weight when the miles pick up in the spring”

If I had a dollar for every time, the Ican wheels on my Venge would be Enve’s

The last two winters have been the same. Up to 180+ pounds, then wonder why I do that to myself as I’m trying to thin down while getting fast at the same time, followed by a resolution to be smarter next winter.

Well, this year I got tired of the same old boring crap. I’m doing something about it. I still got up to my buck-eighty, barely, but was only there for a minute and I’m already on the way back down.

It’s all about the food…

I’m not about to preach to anyone about what they should eat.  I’m no fan of vegan diets (and even less a fan of vegans).  Vegetarians are a bit more balanced, but there are still huge gaps in nutrition that have to be made up with supplements.  Personally, I like fun foods – after all, part of the enjoyment of life is enjoying what you need to fuel it.  I’m for a balanced, tasty diet.  I also happen to enjoy the calorie-dense foods which means I have to watch my portion sizes.

As an example, I’ll use pizza – almost a universally enjoyed food.  I’ve got friends who can sit down and kill a whole large pizza – between, approximately, 2,500 and 3,500 calories, give or take.  My usual is half that, or normally about four slices.  Any more and I’m asking for trouble on the scale.  Less is unnecessary.  I can eat fun food, I just have to be smart about it.  The flip-side to that coin is, if I can’t be smart about it, I can’t eat it.  90% of the population can consume alcohol in moderation.  I cannot, so I don’t even try.  That’s how it goes…

Learning to be hungry…

After the Holidays, when I decided to go on a diet, and I use the word “diet” loosely, it took a couple of weeks to get used to being hungry again.  It only lasts a couple of weeks and my body adapts.

I’m down five pounds, already and I’m hoping to be 170 pounds, five pounds lighter than I was at the end of last season, when I get into the spring mileage increase.  From there it’ll be a drop of another five and I’ll be exactly where I want to be.

Winter really is the perfect time to shed a few pounds.  I’ve wanted to try this for a few years now, and I’m stoked to be heading in the right direction.  Spring is going to be fun…

Genesee Wanderers & Affable Hammers Tuesday Night Club Ride A, B, & C Group Guidelines

My Friends, I decided to post this so new folks to our club would have a place to go so they can get an idea of what will happen when they join us for a Tuesday Night Club Ride. The following is for the A and B Groups – we have a pace for everyone.  If you can ride a bike for ten miles, we have a group to can put you in. Just show up. Joyce, Matt, Dave, Todd, Jonathan, Brian, and I will get you fitted. All you need to know is the pace you like to ride at.

These “guidelines” and I use that word loosely, are not club rules or club policies. The intent of this post is to give a new cyclist an idea of what to expect – that is all.

First, before we get into the groups, please do us all a favor and follow a few simple courtesies for us.

  • Don’t bring your time trial/triathlon rig to the club ride unless you know how to use it – which specifically means no use of the aero bars in the pack.  If you’re ignorant enough to think you’re good enough to use them in the middle of a group, that says a lot about you and your misplaced arrogance.  You’re not that good, you’re lucky.  On the horns only unless you’re leading the group out. This is a rule because others like you have crashed others in the past.  We would all like to go home to our wives, husbands, kids, and grandkids with all of our skin intact and bones whole.
  • Leave your ego in the car.  We’re all out for a fun time on a Tuesday night.
  • Be safe.  Remember your hand signals and verbal cues.  Don’t stop pedaling at the front of the group and be mindful when you get out of the saddle to climb what few hills we have (some would argue that would be none).

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The A Group

The A Group is the fast group. There aren’t many rules, other than “it’s a 33-mile race on open country roads”. You should know going in, this group is only for seasoned racing-paced cyclists. The group average is currently between 24 & 25-mph over 33 miles. Put in perspective, the Tour de France average is 27-mph on closed roads. The key word is “average”. To maintain a 25-mph average, they ride consistently at 28-32-mph. While they mimic a race, there are still aspects of a club ride involved. There’s a pace-line, usually single-file, and each cyclist will take a turn up front. If you can’t pull through, either stay at the back, opening up a hole for the stronger cyclists who do the work to pull you around the course, or fall off the back.  Do NOT fail to pull through – even if you’re only up front for ten seconds, take your turn.  If you don’t, you’ll piss everyone else off.  They will attack on a hill and drop you.  It will be on purpose.  Stay at the back if you can’t pull through. Typically the turns are rather short, unless you’re name is “Todd”. If you’re a “Todd”, well buck up, camper…  There are attacks on hills and a sprint finish at the Lennon City Limits sign. The sprint exceeds 35-mph. If you don’t know how to ride in a group, better to cut your teeth with the B or C group. The A Group often devolves into an “everybody gets dropped ride”.  Be warned.  If you are dropped, don’t fret.  There are markers painted on the road before turns to let you know where to go.  They are color coded for each route.  Follow the arrows on the road.

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Look at the tire on the bike on the right… that dude hung on at a 21.5-mph pace for 26 miles on his mountain bike… he only dropped in the last couple of miles.

The B Group

The B Group is the prep group for the A Group – or it’s the home of cyclists like me, who simply don’t want to work so hard their tongue is always dangling precariously close to their spokes… The B Group is more a club ride than a race, but it is still very fast.  Like the A Group, it is not a “no-drop” ride.  There is one regroup after the final hill in a set of hills on Parmenter Road at the Shiatown Park left turn – we wait at the top of a small hill just after the turn for anyone who got dropped on the last hill. We wait, depending on the night, anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. There are two sprints for the B Group – one at the Vernon City Limits sign shortly after the regroup and then the final about eight miles later at the Lennon City Limits – between 32 & 35-mph for each. The B Group’s average is currently at 23-mph for the 30-mile (actual distance is 28 and change, with an easy cruise back to the church parking lot after the sprint). To make our 23-mph average, we ride north of 25-mph for most of the course.  Now, if that seems a lot like the A Group, but with one regroup, you’re right. Here’s where the B Group differs, we normally don’t attack on hills and we try to keep from turning a club ride into a race. That said, if you’re worried about the pace, try the C Group your first week, then the B’s if you find C too sedate. If you end up dropped off the back, just make sure you weren’t the first to drop – if someone drops before you, you can wait for them to catch up and ride back together.  Otherwise, same as the A Group above, look for the arrows.  Also, myself and several others have route maps in our vehicles.  Ask around.

The C Group

The C Group is the prep group for the B Group.  The C Group starts getting close to the “no-drop” style of ride that many from the east coast are used to, though it’s not all unicorns farting rainbows, either.  Currently, we don’t use leaders and sweepers and candlestick makers to get through the ride.  We’re still a little wild, wild, Midwest about it, though this is subject to change.  The C Group’s pace is currently 17-18-mph (I believe some come in above 18 later in the season, in the 18.5-mph range).   It’s been years since I’ve ridden with the C Group so I don’t know which route they take, but their routes are marked as well.  Some will take the 30-mile route, others the 24. Look for Brian P. or Jim H. and they’ll be able to get you with who you want to ride with.  The C Group will be more helpful in getting the whole group around the course.  Still, please make sure you’ll be able to fairly keep up – we want everyone to have the best time they can and if you can’t hang with an 18-mph average pace, you’re not going to have fun with your tongue dangling down by your spokes all evening long – we’ve got a group that will be more your speed…

TBC…

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder… The True Joy that is Cycling Remains.

Life has been absolutely hectic lately.  We’re up against a hard deadline at work and we’re running out of time before lawsuits start flying.  On the plus-side, we’re on the last trouble floor before we get into some breathing room.  The building is absolutely beautiful and one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever been a part of.   On the other hand, this is my view every morning:20190115_0740481207915555796467100.jpg

That’s downtown Detroit, and the reports of its comeback aren’t exaggerated.  I’m glad and fortunate to be a part of the resurgence.  On the other hand, good Lord is it sucking up a lot of time and energy.  Work has meant cycling is a little sketchy.  I missed a day on the trainer due to a late shift Monday, then another Friday for bowling.  Put in context, I didn’t miss a day in December.

I came down with a cold earlier this week but it really showed up Friday.  That ruined my plans of going to work Saturday morning and banking some easy time off for my upcoming springtime trip to the hills of northern Michigan.  I’ve got three weeks of vacation anyway, but four sounds much better.  No sense in not banking time off now, when it “feels like” 7° (-14 C) for a few days in May when it’s 75° (24 C).

I slept in Saturday morning and decided to try to sweat my cold out.  My wife and I hopped on the bikes/trainers just before noon and, enjoying the movie Ender’s Game, I ended up staying on the bike for a little more than an hour.  I simply got lost in the movie and didn’t even notice time passing.

Doctor Martha Castro added in a comment to my post yesterday, “We cyclists feel a lot younger than we are.”  It got me thinking about how lucky those of us who are truly bitten by the cycling* bug are.  Not only do we get to feel years, or even decades younger than others, we get to thoroughly enjoy that which preserves our youth at the same time.

There’s no doubt, we are a lucky bunch.

* I toyed with the idea of just using the generic “fitness” to describe the bug rather than specifying “cycling”.  Runners, walkers, cross-fitters… there are plenty who feel the same.  It just didn’t have the right feel when I tried to put it to ether.

 

Co-Motion Tandem Bicycles – The Tandem Perfected

Just a few days to Christmas and my wife and I took the tandem out for a spin. It’s not unprecedented to be riding a road bike that late in the year – I gave my wife a Specialized Alias for Christmas four years ago and we were able to take it out for a test ride – but it is rare to be comfortably riding paved roads that late in Michigan.  I love taking that bike out for a spin with my wife.  It puts a smile on my face (almost) every time.

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Our Co-Motion as it was brought home, set up for my daughter at the time…

Our Periscope is on the heavy side, but my God is it comfortable. Our tandem is good ol’ fashioned steel – a good explanation for its comfortable nature (and its weight).

Interestingly, of all the tandems in our club, better than 70% are Co-Motions and we have two triples, a Co-Motion and a Santana. That I know of, other than the Co-Motions, we’ve only got two Santana’s and a Cannondale in the club.

The only down-side I can think of, Co-Motion tandems are anything but cheap. Our tandem is only a couple steps above entry level and it’s the second-most expensive bike in our stable. On the other hand, looking at the welds, one can’t come away without knowing the bike is next-level top notch – you can see a fair bit of love went into that frame.

While our tandem is no lightweight, it’s a pure joy to ride (a Co-Motion $9,600 Macchiato is a svelte 24 pounds for a tandem – ours is closer to 40 pounds if I had to guess, including mud guards).

Our tandem will never be a svelte rocket ship. Instead, it’s a pleasure cruiser that still has quite a bit of giddyup. While we could drop a a few thousand Dollars into shedding some serious weight (a lighter wheelset, a carbon fork, and a lightweight crank and Gates carbon timing drive would go a long way), I just don’t see that as being necessary for how my wife and I use the bike.

That said, my experience with Co-Motion tandems has been exceptional. I have no complaints whatsoever, nor have I ever heard anyone complain about theirs. And with all of the cranks and prima donnas in cycling, that’s saying something.

If you’re looking for a tandem, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Co-Motion.