I recently read an article in the MapMyRun Blog that had me smiling in one paragraph, and scratching my head the next.
I started cycling in my 40’s and have manage to put in 59,000 miles in that time (I’ll cross 60,000 this year if it ever stops raining), so I know a little about it. A little. Probably just enough to know I don’t know very much. In any event…
Here’s the tip on how to start cycling in your 40’s: 4. Looking to the Pros for Advice
Watching pro cycling can be great entertainment, and like anything else, you can learn a lot about the sport by watching those who do it for a living. However, trying to mimic certain things the pros do isn’t recommended for most older cyclists. Taking unnecessary risks when descending, riding through dangerous weather conditions and taking your daily cycling workouts too seriously as opposed to just having fun are all ways you can wind up being forced to take time off the bike.
Okay! So far, so good. In fact, I’d say the author, Marc Lidsay is right on the money. We’ve got guys who ride in our group who go all out every Tuesday and I don’t know as any of them actually has much fun. The whole idea for me is to enjoy my time on the bike! Yeah, I love to go fast, but a 25-mph average is a little over the top for my liking. I’m on board all the way with pushing the pace without making a job of it. And as far as descending too fast or riding through dangerous weather, well I don’t get paid to ride and I have a wife and kids whom I very much want to see after my ride (or in the case of my wife, during the ride) – sane cycling goes without saying.
Then the wheels fall off:
Choosing a bike or gear that focuses on speed instead of comfort and opting for a bike setup that looks cool and professional as opposed to one that fits your body’s geometry are two other important aspects of pro cycling you shouldn’t mimic. Instead, focus more on what feels good, fits your body type and allows you to have the most fun and be pain free when you ride. If you’re unsure where to start or what to buy, see a local bike shop and get a professional bike fit to determine what’s right for you.
I’m calling PC bullshit here. Look, if you want to drop $5,000 on a road bike then set the handlebar the same height as the saddle, more power to you, but riding a bike that’s got the saddle pegged and the handlebar dropped a little bit isn’t all that big a deal and it is awesome. See, the important part here is that we don’t have to put those who ride aggressive setups in a negative light to shine a positive one on setting a bike up properly until you get rid of the gut (that’s the “fit your body type” business – he uses a coy tactic to beat around the bush). See, the truth is, you can’t ride around a big gut in an aggressive setup. At the same time it’s also true that a fairly aggressive setup on a road bike is not uncomfortable if you don’t have one.
I’ve got friends approaching 70 who still ride fairly aggressive setups.
Now, would I recommend someone jump right into the sport on my bike? Hell no, that’d be crazy… and probably a little funny to watch, but working towards that is easy enough with a little want to.
My friends, riding a bicycle fast is a whole bunch of fun, especially in a big, competent group. I belong to that group that drops jaws as we go by on a sportive. We are smiling and talking almost the whole way and we’re not working all that much harder than those going half our speed. A very large part of why we’re so much faster is that we’re not sitting upright, using our upper body as a sail. If you notice in the photo above, the guys at the back are all sitting upright, more or less. The guys at the front are down in the drops, hammering the pace. That’s how we roll, baby, and there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s all right.
The whole truth…
The pros are paid to go to become limber enough to ride in extreme positions – and at the speeds they attain, it’s quite necessary. Whilst someone in their 40’s doesn’t have to fully emulate them, taking a page from them isn’t all that big a deal, either. The key is to ride in a manner that puts a smile on your face. If that’s upright and slow, awesome. If it’s low and fast, ride that ride with a smile. Do what makes you happy, not what some author says is the best or most comfortable.
A $17,000 eBike?! Where Can I Sign Up?! All of a Sudden My 38-Mile Commute to Work Can Be Done on a Bicycle?! HOLY $#!+
Specialized just came out with a road eBike. The S-Works version runs $13,500, but get this; it’s pedal assist up to 28.5-mph. And it comes in under 30 pounds. It’s three settings are controlled by an app you run on your smartphone. Disc brakes, carbon everything, and it looks an awful lot like a Tarmac… except at the down tube (where the battery is stored) and the bottom bracket shell (where the gears are stored). There’s a more reasonable version that’s a little heavier, but still delivers the same power that runs for $9,000.
The bells and whistles version, limited to a 250 model run, goes for a whopping $17,000.
Still, the system is good for 80 miles (120 with the extender battery).
Let that sink in.
In my case, if I can average 25-mph, my 38 mile commute can be done in less than two-hours (1h:35m to be exact)… and I get a fantastic morning and afternoon workout in without having to mess around after work. In other words, I would actually gain about 50 minutes in the afternoon by riding my bike home. Think of the gas money one could save whilst maintaining fantastic health.
Oh, it’s an exciting time to be alive, my friends.
Specialized does it through shop employees with measurements, angles and videos too numerous and complex to get into, they call it their Body Geometry fit (I had one, when I bought my Venge, and it was awesome). Long before that wonderful day and after a few months on my new (to me) 1999 Trek 5200, I went to the local shop complaining of immense pain due to my saddle after a steady increase of miles. Walter quickly measured my sit bones on a handy-dandy board with memory foam on it and handed me a Specialized Romin (143mm) saddle. The old, original saddle was a 155 – no wonder it hurt. The 143mm Romin, with its marvelous contours, just happened to be the exact saddle for me. I even put a second Romin I own on our tandem.
Fi’zi:k does it with an app. Hold your smartphone at your chest and bend over as far as you can… they match you to the proper saddle of their three different types. Not bad, but I’m in between saddles according to the app (or at least I was last I checked). Doesn’t that just figure? I can measure twice in a row and get two different saddles. Fortunately, luck got me where I needed to be previously, anyway.
Bontrager seems to have simplified everything and explained it so anyone from a leisure cyclist to a road racing cyclist can easily see what will likely be the best saddle fit for their riding style. It’s not, after all, rocket science. It’s close, though, once they really start looking into the science and how a saddle will affect a cyclist. Behold, simplicity and the Performance Postures (or as they like to call it in technical terms, “InForm BioDynamic Designs”):
To keep things moving, I’m a Posture 2. I ride an aggressively set up road bike (both of them):
Then they got into the contour of the saddle:
And followed that with the profile:
Without question, especially looking at my Venge up above and how much I love the Romin saddle, I’m a Posture 2 guy, and it makes sense now that this is all laid out above:
Now, will this way of looking at saddles tick everyone’s boxes and make them comfortable on a Bontrager saddle? I would land somewhere between “doubtful” and “not a freaking chance” – saddle choice is too personal and complex. That said, for me, it works and it makes sense.
Where this gets a little sticky is that saddle on my Trek, a Selle Italia. It’s basically a flat saddle with a minute curve to it. It’s a full carbon fiber saddle that weighs in at a miniscule 110 grams (Bontrager makes a 64 gram saddle, basically the weight of two plastic bottle cages, if you’re interested):
Contrast that with the saddle on my Venge (or one like it) on the Right and a Bontrager Montrose on the Left:
My friends, I may ride low but I am not flexible. I can barely touch my toes (though barely does count!). That little bit of contour in the saddle helps me rotate my hips forward so I can ride comfortably in the drops and on the hoods. I do have to make sure to bend my arms sufficiently when I ride with my hands on the bar top, though. Sitting upright isn’t comfortable on a contoured saddle like the two above – at least not the way I set mine up, with a 3° drop from back to front (measured the full length of the saddle).
People can get sucked into the wrong saddle pretty easy. Whether they’re in it for the weight, or just trying to get a cool-looking saddle… Folks, some saddles just fit some butts better than others. The more information you’re armed with, though, the better equipped you’ll be to help a knowledgeable person at a shop help you into the proper saddle… or try luck. It did work for me.
I was given a new prototype pair of Serfas tires, free of charge, to test. Each set came with a comment card to fill out and the contact info for the product manager. Rather than fill mine out once, because if I’m anything, I’m through, I took a photo of mine so I could fill it out digitally and send regular reports rather than a one-off, five line comment. I figured they’d want a little effort for what’s probably $80-$100 (or more) worth of rubber.
The tires are 25’s, maybe 26’s (they measured out same as my wife’s Specialized Turbo Pro 26mm tires). Other than the words “Prototype” and “Serfas” along with a set number, there are no other markings on the tires. After measuring my tires to determine they were indeed 25’s (not 23’s), I filled them to F; 107 psi, R; 110 psi and took them for their first spin.
Because I don’t do anything half-assed, their first feel was a 57-ish-mile ride with my friends. It was an awesome, if a little warm, morning for a ride.
The prototypes were nicely grippy, surprisingly so, as a matter of fact. After having spent the last umpteen thousand miles on S-Works Turbo’s and Michelin Pro 4’s, I was very impressed at the grip of the Serfas tires. The ride, on the other hand, felt a little stiffer than the S-Works and Pro 4 tires. On the first ride, I attributed this to the newness of the tires. Anyone who’s ridden a new set of tires knows they break in after a couple of hundred miles. Also, I didn’t necessarily think the solid feel was a bad thing. It wasn’t near as harsh as some other name brands that make a much less supple tire – especially those that don’t have a foldable bead (these do have a foldable bead).
Then came Tuesday night’s club ride. My best speed to date for a sprint, ever, was 35.4-mph, with a touch of tailwind. For Tuesday night’s intermediate sprint, I held 36.2. The feel on the club ride, again on decent roads, was still on the stiff side, but again, it felt more “fast” than punishing and slow. I really liked how responsive they were when I put the hammer down and how grippy they were in the corners – they felt stable, like they’re on rails in the corners.
Then came Saturday’s One Helluva Ride full century. They changed the route for 2019 so I was looking forward to riding on better roads. I don’t know what the ride volunteers were thinking but they actually picked worse roads for the new route. It was brutal trying to hang in there with a 20+mph group while dodging crappy roads. I hit a pothole so hard, I was sure I was going to pinch-flat, or worse, wreck a rim. Nothing. Not even a busted belt in the tire. When I didn’t have to pull over to the side of the road to fix a flat, or worse, call SAG with a busted rim, I was sold.
I just hope these tires come out before I wear this set out so I can buy another. Serfas is coming out with a decent tire.
Now is the Time to Take Advantage of End of Season Savings from Two of the Big Three American Cycling Gear Makers…
My friends, if you don’t keep track of deals on cycling equipment, now is the time to start looking for deals.
Want a racing saddle? Trek’s got a Montrose Factory Racing carbon rail saddle for $120 – $100 off the original price. They’ve got thirteen more saddle options on sale as well. Folks, that Montrose is only 170 grams! For a Hundred Bucks?! That’s a downright steal.
Cycling kit? Specialized is running a smokin’ deal on bibs – their top of the line pro bibs for just $100 – that’s $80 off retail price. Women’s too. (I picked up a pair for Mrs. Bgddy). Want something else? A jersey, gloves, or shoes? Check out the Sales page, by clicking here. I had to quit looking lest I get myself in too much trouble.
If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I’m a huge fan of Specialized’s clothing. Their high-end bibs and jerseys are fantastic and last forever (or relatively speaking as cycling kit goes). I also have several pairs of socks, gloves, shoes, and a helmet or three. I tend to be a rolling endorsement for Specialized.
If you’re not into America’s Big Three (Specialized, Trek, Giant), check out ProBikeKit’s sale as well, for some great high-end cycling kit.
Finally, Nashbar is back! They don’t have the same smokin’ deals anymore, but that’s not exactly a bad thing, either.
If you have a need for some new cycling kit or equipment, now is the time to start hitting the websites, while the getting is good.
If you’re not, if money is too tight, avert your eyes, because there are some great deals out there right now.
Since I’ve gotten back from the west side of the State, things have slowly gone back to a more “normal” state of affairs. I’m into the office early, which means I’m leaving early as well, and it seems like I’m pulling into the driveway before I know it – I’m home well before 5 pm. My drive is less than 45 minutes (I haven’t had less than a 38 minute drive to work in more than 23 years). Better, I’m able to stay up a little later and sleep in (if you can call it that, and most normal people don’t – I still have my alarm set for 4 am).
I rode what we call the “Deer Loop” with some friends yesterday morning, under utterly perfect conditions. 3-mph wind, not a cloud in the sky, and mercifully cool (low 60’s – perfect starting temp [16.7 C]). When I included “Deer Loop” in my Strava ride title, one of my friends asked in the comments, “Did you bring the deer magnet with you”. I laughed out loud – my buddy, Mike (aka the Deer Magnet) has a funny way of attracting animals so he hits them. He got a deer two years ago and a dog and a squirrel so far this year. I don’t know how many near misses there were, but I was there for a few with deer crossing just in front of us… and I’ve heard of many more than I saw…
Which leads me to the big plus: My mileage is heading in the right direction. Two weeks ago, with the long Fourth of July weekend, I managed to clock in more than 300 miles for the week. Last week, with a normal work schedule I was over 210 miles. I also popped over 4,000 miles for the year last week, so it seems I’ll still be able to have a decent year after the job and our crappy start to the Spring.
In other cycling news, the Trek is in for a paint touch-up. I put a gnarly gouge in the top tube when I had a wrench slip off the headset lock nut. It was bad – and just two days after I put an awesome new Punisher sticker on it, too…
Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re really good and looking up. Now if I could just drop about five more pounds! Dammit, they’re a lot harder to take off than put on!
I rode the one hundred mile ride through Hell, Michigan they affectionately call “One Helluva Ride” with a bunch of my friends yesterday, and more than a few new friends. It is, typically speaking, the hardest ride of the year. It’s hot as, well, hell, the roads suck, and it’ll beat the snot out of you – especially if you go out too fast, which is easy to do because the first ten to fifteen miles is a negative grade.
Our average speed was north of 23-mph (37-km/h) at the first rest stop. One of the lead guys through that front section (I took a long turn up front, too and I didn’t slow down, either), toward the end of the ride, said he kept looking back and everyone was there, so he figured the pace was good and kept it. For my turn up front, holding 24 to 25-mph didn’t feel so bad, so I held it.
We decided as a group to pull the reigns in after that first rest stop. We needed to slow it down or we’d literally be cooked later on. By the time we hit the second rest stop at 49-ish miles, our average was down to 21.6-mph. Unfortunately, as we pulled into the parking lot, several of the guys were fishing for white flags in their back pocket… One, an incredibly strong dirt rider on a gravel rig, said he’d have phoned it in had we not stopped at the rest area. He was starting to feel a little toasty… it was getting hot.
We were still holding it together at the third rest stop. Our average had dropped to 21-mph, though we’d lost five guys out of our group. I was still feeling pretty good and we only had 23 to go. Unfortunately, that 27 miles between rest stops hammered most everyone else. Four guys were doing better than I was, and a bunch were a lot worse off.
The heat cranked up like a sauna without the steam – it was just hot. Guys started slipping off the back and before we hit 85 miles, our eighteen man group was down to just five. And then they started throwing hills at us. Three of the guys left were mountain goats. They cruised up the hills with relative ease. Then there was Chuck and me. Mountain goats we’re not. I’m still trying to lose my last few pounds from vacation… I’m feeling a bit the fat ass. Jonathan, Vance and Mark tore up this innocuous looking hill and Chuck and I were just behind. Chuck had been dealing with the early stages of cramping, and about halfway up that hill, the hammer dropped on me. I went from, “meh” to “oh, $#!+” in one hill. I’m thinking, “what the hell, this hill is no big deal, what is going on?!” That’s when Chuck chimed in, “Yep, 7%”. It was one of those deceptive optical illusion hills. You’re dropping down to the baby ring and you’re like, “hey, I should be doing 20 right now”. Trying to keep up on that hill torched me. We only had seven miles to go.
The next three miles were plain ugly. I even thought about getting SAG’ed in for a few seconds. My feet were hot. The one bright side, with the exception of the unrelenting sunshine, was that I’d picked up a new Specialized Jersey – one of those crazy-high priced pro style deals, and it was absolutely amazing how cool it kept my upper body in the intense heat. As I’m suffering along, the performance of that jersey crossed my mind more than once.
I didn’t call SAG, of course. I decided I’d let everyone go if I had to. I was going to take the hills easy, coast down the descents, and hold 20-ish on the flats… and before I knew it, I was still with the front crew, for the most part, and we crossed the 97-mile mark. I relaxed a little bit, “No matter how pooched I am, I can ride three miles”, I thought. We navigated the neighborhoods of Chelsea until we could see the fairgrounds. Chuck with renewed life, said, “If I’m not at a hundred when we hit the parking lot, I’m going to get the extra”. Not me. I rolled into the parking lot with 99.8 miles and I was freaking done. I didn’t even ride my bike to the rack. I got off and walked it.
I’d had enough.
Some watermelon, Gatorade, water, more watermelon, a half a turkey sammich, and a shower later and I was starting to feel okay again. Chuck had driven and I managed to stay awake till we hit my driveway, but I was half asleep when I wheeled my bike into the house. My nap was awesome.
This is not going to be an easy post to take – especially if you’re a negative person who likes to blame your problems on others… Good luck!
Positivism doesn’t happen on it’s own. I didn’t wake up this morning and realize my life was spectacular enough that I can now go about being a happy positive guy. Shit just doesn’t work like that. For anyone.
There are constant forces at work to drag us down, right? People who wrong us and make us angry? People, places or things that make us this, or make us feel that?
Well yes there are, but they only count for anything if I want to be dragged down. And stay down. That isn’t me.
The trick to relentless positivism
I have to completely divorce myself from the outside world when it comes to concentrating my energy on my attitude. The second “you” enter my train of thought, I’m pooched. People, places and things are entirely out of my control. It’s not about how the outside world is, but how I perceive it and how I then, in turn, react to it.
My positivism is not an accident….
If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you know I was working on a difficult project a couple of hours’ commute from my house. Each way. We were given a target date when the owner was going to start moving furniture in. My boss, just back in April, confided in me that he thought it was an impossible goal, that it wasn’t going to happen – there was no way the owners would be moving in on time.
My team beat the date by three weeks. It’s been an ugly process getting there, but we’re there. We blew the budget, of course, because you can have something built fast, built well, and built inexpensively… you only get to pick two. The owner picked fast and built well and we delivered. It cost an arm and a leg.
I gave that job everything I had, every day. I didn’t miss a minute of work, not even to have a crown fixed that I’d accidentally loosened on a Jujyfruit the day before I was to start – I put that crown back on and ate on the other side of my mouth until I had an open vacation day four months later that I used to go to the dentist. There were several days I’d have to stop at a rest area on the way home to take a nap because I was getting too tired to drive safely. I had only had three waking hours a day for my family. My wife and kids got to a point they told me they missed me… but I still took that job by the horns and I made it my bitch. One day at a time.
On my last day, several of the foremen from the other subcontractors told me how much they were going to miss my positive attitude on the job, that I was a light on that site.
Folks, that four months (and some change) out of my life was hard. My car broke down twice, I had that tooth issue, my glasses broke, my phone was stolen, the owner’s management team rode us like red-headed rented mules… there were a dozen other little things that could have brought me down but I didn’t budge. I just kept motoring ahead, one day at a time, with my eye on the prize.
My friends, not letting that outside stuff get to me was, plain and simple, a choice. At each opportunity to fail or fold, I thought to myself, “Is this the thing that you let bring you down?” Each time I answered “F*** NO.” I became so relentlessly positive that I got strength from making the choice to stay positive, to keep winning. Just the act of acknowledging the difficulty and that I wasn’t going to let it break me made me stronger, more resolute. More positive.
It wasn’t always easy. I wasn’t perfect. There were times the drive really got to me. The look on my wife’s face when she said she and the girls missed me… driving down to work without my glasses was scary as hell (my eyes are not bad enough I couldn’t pass the State’s eye test – my driver’s license did not require corrective lenses, I’d just gotten so used to seeing perfectly…). One particular time, when my team and I were on the hot seat to get some critical work done and we were struggling to produce, that one almost got me. I quieted up for two days… but then I realized what I was doing to myself and I asked that most important question. “Will this be the thing I let bring me down?”
I bounced back the next day.
I have a choice of whether or not I will let an event or another person bring me down. Every single day. I don’t know what God’s plan for me is, but if my past is any indicator, He’s got some big plans and I’m going to have a lot of fun fulfilling them. Either I can get on with it, or I can curl up in a ball on the floor and stick my thumb in my mouth. It’s my choice.
That stack of drywall you see under the bridge is all we’ve got left on a job that needed more than 2,000,000 sf. That’s it. There’s so little remaining to do, I’ve worked myself right out of the job – there’s nothing to gain by having full-time project manager-level supervision on site anymore so I was sent back to the office to save money.
I don’t have to be perfect, or mistake-free. I don’t have to be the best, or the strongest. I just have to give it my best and care about what I do. I have to choose to remain positive. The key to being positive is choosing to be positive, and refusing to let my negative thoughts get in my way.
I can choose to quit and ball up in the fetal position tomorrow. As long as I remember that tomorrow never gets here.
I’m a snorkeler. I love it. I can’t spend enough time in the water – I’m only limited by the amount of sun my skin can take, but once I’m covered thoroughly, I’ll stay in the ocean for hours. And, before you ask, I’m a cyclist first. One wildly expensive hobby is enough. That’s why I don’t scuba dive. I know I would love it. I know.
Recently I had the pleasure of going on a cruise with my sister-and-brother-in-law, their and our kids. It was absolutely fantastic, but the highlight was snorkeling the west bay of Isla Roatan, Honduras. Drop-offs so stunning you’ll swallow seawater. Too many types of fish to catalog with an encyclopedia at your fingertips. Turtles, cuttlefish, rays, eels and surprisingly, a lack of sharks (I’m told the east bay is a different story).
I was in the water for six hours. We were on the last bus back to the ship. Six of the best hours I’ve ever spent in the water – and I can’t wait to go back… Next time for a week, though. One day wasn’t near enough, and that’s just for the west bay. We’ll need another week for the east bay!
Put simply, Grand Cayman was very nice (especially Sunset House, though Eden Rock was nice, too), but that was a warm-up for Roatan. If you’re a snorkeling or diving fan, put the island on your bucket list. Then move it to the top of that list.
If you’re trying to use apps to get routes to your Garmin, you’re likely frustrated. I was. Or maybe I was doing it wrong and I just lost patience… If you’re like me, relax, this is going to be simple. This takes about five minutes, once you know what you’re doing… so, about the second time.
First, open the Ride With GPS route in a web browser on a computer, and after you’ve created a free account. Export the route to a .fit file (that extension is said to work best for Garmin). Download the file to an easy location to access on your computer (I have a folder for this purpose). Plug in your Garmin and open the drive in a folder to view files. Open Garmin, then Courses… that’s where you drag and drop the new file into your Garmin. *It appears instructions for where to deposit the .fit file can differ (see the comments section below).
Now, I use my laptop for this if I have a good wifi connection. If I don’t, my tablet or phone both work fantastically, as long as I use the browser rather than the app to open the RWGPS route. Also, I transfer the file from my phone to my laptop, then to my Garmin, but that’s just a USB chord connection.