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Monthly Archives: September 2019

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Quick One-liner Comebacks to Yell Back at Motorists Whilst You’re Cycling

We all encounter that motorist who insists on ignorantly telling us how to ride our bikes while munching on their third donut from behind the wheel of their pickup. Or better, how about that random person who yells at you to “get off the road”…. and you fail to come up with a quippy comeback so their taunt just wafts out there like a stale fart.

Well, this post is for you.

  • Let’s start with the best; “Get off the road!” The easiest I’ve ever come up with for this one actually elicited a shocked, “wha?!” from the person who yelled at us. I simply shouted back, “Oh, shut up”. It was beautiful. This works for just about anything.  It’s super easy to remember, and quick.
  • “Don’t you have to put a foot down (when you stop)?” I love this one. They saw you stop at the stop sign, but can’t simply be content that you did… so I like this response: “Do you?” Or, “I will when you do… you first.”
  • “Single-file!” Oh, how I love this one, because a person really does have to be stupid to yell this one out in my State. We don’t have much time for our quippy response – it’s gotta be quick and it’s not like we can quote the two-abreast section of the law in two seconds. For this one I like, “Read the law.”
  • “Wear a helmet!” “Where’s yours?” is a fantastic response. Look, I almost always wear one when I ride. I always have one on when I ride with my friends, but I ride like a pro rides. Safer, yes, we don’t race, but we are bar to bar and wheel to wheel at great speeds. Helmets are a necessity for us. On the other hand, if I’m testing a repair I made, there’s no way I’m donning a helmet. If you don’t want to wear one when you putter about the neighborhood, that’s your choice. Besides, you don’t wear a helmet to go for a walk, and driving is certainly more dangerous than riding a bike and I don’t see a helmet being a requirement for driving any time soon!
  • Now, before we go any further, you can add “dummy” to any one of these for a little punch. It’s a little mean, yes… kinda like yelling “get off the road” to a complete stranger, but let’s remember it’s better to be attractive than an @$$hole. Still, “read the law, dummy” is a lot better than just “read the law”. Just sayin’.
  • “Don’t you have to stop at a stop sign?” You want to wrankle someone? “No, didn’t you know they changed that?” It will only be true if you live in Idaho, but it’ll be funny. Incidentally, there hasn’t been a reported accident attributable to the Idaho stop since it was enacted in 1982.  Again, just sayin’
  • Finally, be fair… a buddy of mine almost became someone’s hood ornament because he took a turn too wide, once. The motorist said something and he simply said, “You’re right, I apologize”. He didn’t drop dead from admitting he was wrong and apologizing.  The motorist’s jaw dropped, though.  He didn’t expect my friend to admit to his mistake.
  • Speaking of, a friend of mine blew through a stoplight a while back. The motorist next to me rolled down his window and asked, “Aren’t you guys supposed to stop at red lights? Could he have gotten a ticket?” I simply smiled, and said, “Absolutely he could have, but that’s not why I stopped. I stopped because I don’t do well against a car.” We both chuckled and he drove on when the light turned green.
  • When we are wrong, we can be pricks or ambassadors. Most times it is wise to choose the high ground first because being an ambassador will go further than the other option.

We don’t have to be a doormat to anyone, just because we ride a bike.  Just remember, before you decide to get too angry; you’re not only responding to a jerk to satiate your own righteous indignation.  Your reaction to a motorist will probably have an affect on the next cyclist that @$$ sees as well.

If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list with a link and hat tip.

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My Buddy’s Birthday Ride – One to Remember

Last year on my buddy Mike’s birthday ride, he had a heart episode (he went in to have a stent put in a fourth artery shortly thereafter), Jonathan got stung by a bee at the halfway point, and had a severe reaction (just hives, thank God), and I hit a squirrel – dead nuts, square in the ribs.

Yesterday, our luck was much better. Mike’s ticker is fixed, Jonathan had an itchy afternoon but was no worse for the wear, and while that squirrel managed to run to the side of the road, I have a feeling he didn’t last very long after. Sadly, most of our normal group had other things going, so it was just Mike, Diane, and me. We picked Phill up on the road and Greg met us a few miles after that.

We picked the Assenmacher 100k for our route, because it’s almost four miles more than 100k, and Mike needed to hit 69. Greg was our horse and took most of the first… um, carry the three… 57 miles up front? It turned out to be a perfect morning. A few clouds here and there, but wonderfully sunny for the most part. Warm, even balmy for this time of year, temperature, and calm winds rounded out another great morning for cycling.

We hammered (hammered is really not the word – there was no hammering going on, we kept it at a smooth 21-23-mph… the uphills were easy, at worst, and there was a very nice flow to our ride, but how do you put that into an adjective? The proper word escapes me) cruised (thanks Omil – see comments) out the miles, quickly raising our average from a meager 16-ish mph when we met Greg, to a quick 19.8. Our first stop for the day was at 30 miles. I didn’t need more than a restroom break and to eat the banana I had in my back pocket. It certainly wasn’t a long stop and we were off again.

From that point on, we simply had a nice ride. We didn’t stop again, which in hindsight was a mistake – 70 miles is too far with only one stop, for me anyway. We hit headwind at the 50 mile mark and it got a little ugly for a bit. Greg kept the speed at 20, which was good for me, but we were too far to the right with a headwind off our left shoulder, meaning we were all in the ditch. Mike and Diane were in the pain cave and off the back in a hurry. Greg eased the pace up and I moved out left to give Mike and Diane a draft. I had my radar on the bike, so I could move right whenever traffic was picked up. The headwind went on for thirteen miles and I was getting hungry. I’d survived the trip, and it was starting to heat up, on two small bottles of water and a banana. I could have downed a gel at that point, but left it in my pocket.

The final seven miles were fairly easy, around 20-mph with a crosswind. I was tired but I was up front for much of the trip home. It was Mike’s birthday, so I figured I’d give him a break. He came up for a pull somewhere in that slog home, for a mile or two, and I took the rest. I was tired and a little dehydrated when I pulled into the driveway – enough I had hot spots on my feet (this only happens when I’m undernourished and dehydrated) and didn’t even bother to check my distance before I stopped.

I turned my computer off at 69.98 miles. Oops. I was inside the house before I realized what I’d done. I contemplated going back out for the last two hundredths, but decided against that foolishness. I added “good enough for government work” on the Strava ride description and took a shower.

All in all, it was an uneventful but incredibly enjoyable ride – exactly as it should be, considering the previous year’s events… The most interesting conversation of the day went to eBikes, and I’ll have more on that at a later date.

Road Cycling and Saddle Height; Down to the Last Millimeter

I’ve been struggling, a happy struggle mind you, with the saddle on my Trek 5200. Specifically, the height of said saddle on said 5200.  The fore/aft location is darn-near set in stone, as I prefer my kneecap to line up with the pedal spindle per the normal setup of a road bike.

First, that Montrose Pro carbon saddle is one fine saddle and some the best money I’ve spent on that bike went to that saddle. It’s got the perfect blend of lightweight, flexibility, and padding for a long distance saddle. I can even wear my thinner chamois bibs for 70+ mile rides on it – bibs I once only wore for 25-35 mile rides on inferior saddles.

My biggest issue has been getting the height dialed in so my Trek feels like my Specialized, though.  So, second would be the disclaimer that I’m notoriously picky about saddle height. Obsessive isn’t really a good word, but it comes pretty close to reality.

When I picked the saddle up, I first set it just a touch too high (my measurement is exactly 36-3/8″). I lowered it once because my keister was hurting. Then I lowered it another bit because it still hurt my heinie and by that time, my back was hurting and starting to seize up on me every now and again.  The second lowering did the trick, and that’s where I left it for DALMAC. I rejoiced for the weekend because the saddle felt excellent, with only a minor flareup of baboon @$$.

It wasn’t until I got back and rode the Venge a few days, then took the Trek out once more, that I realized the saddle on the Trek was a little too low. It felt it at the time, but in reality, it wasn’t by much.  It just felt… off.  It felt like I wasn’t getting my full leg extension, that I was working just a little too hard.

Well, Saturday afternoon I raised the saddle up to test my theory, thinking maybe I lowered it too much the last time. I didn’t raise it much, maybe 1-1/2 to 2 millimeters:

With the heightened chance of rain on Sunday, I rode the Trek. At first he saddle height felt right, or better at least.  I was definitely getting full leg extension, and I felt a bit stronger.  40 miles in, I was antsy in the saddle and my back pain started in again.  I knew I’d raised it too much. There was too much pressure on the sit bones. On coming back, I split the difference and lowered it by about half… and nirvana!

I rode with my buddy, Chuck Monday night, picking my lightest pair of bibs, and I could tell instantly, I nailed it.  Finally.

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I almost can’t believe it, the infinitesimal amount I’m talking about, but I’m here to tell you, that millimeter made a difference (actual difference once I lowered the saddle is half the gap shown above between the seat post and the marker line).

So here’s what was messing me up; having the saddle high helps keep your butt up and your head down – it’s aerodynamic.  Having the saddle up also allows for a stronger pedal stroke.  Unfortunately, having the saddle too high also hurts like hell.

Does it help that I’ve got the Venge to contrast what I’m feeling on the 5200?

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*Does it or doesn’t it help to have a phenomenal race bike to contrast my other bikes against?  Look, this is going to be a matter of perspective.  It’s more a blessing than a curse as I see it.  Having the Venge to match the Trek to has made the Trek a significantly better bike.  I never could have gotten it to where it is, as fast as I did, without the Venge.  Mrs. Bgddy might disagree with that assessment as it pertains to cash, though.  Ouch.

The 10 Worst Things to Do On A Road Bike in a Pace Line, Riding with the Big Dogs

If you aspire to ride with the fast people in your local cycling club, this list is for you. Riding with the slower crowd, you have a little more leeway as your habits go. People won’t be as worried about aero-bars or the flow in the pace-line, or who pulls and who sits in. When you get too fast for the lower groups and want to jump a level to the faster folks, there are some things that you’ll need to know to be accepted into the crew.

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  1. DO NOT stop pedaling when you’re up front. This includes all downhill sections in which you do not reach escape velocity (40+ mph, give or take)
  2. DO NOT open a hole up for someone who just took a turn up front two bikes back of the front because you’re “tired” or you don’t want to pull. This is one of the biggest dick moves in cycling – even more so than even the ass-drop*, which you surely deserve. You’re in a race? Hey, do what you have to do. If you’re on a club ride, though, do some of the work, or ride all the way at the back, or ride with a slower group. If you don’t respect those you’re riding with enough to pull through, don’t expect them to respect you enough to let you hang.
  3. No aero-bars in the group unless you’re up front. You may get away with that with the 15-mph group, but you won’t when you get off the porch and ride with the big dogs. We won’t allow it – you’ll get run out or berated till you drop (or, see the ass-drop*). Don’t take this too personally. It’s a self-preservation thing and remember the aero-bar rule of thumb; those who think they’re good enough to ride in the aero-bars in a group are half as good as they think they are and twice as stupid.
  4. DO NOT ride unpredictably. When you’re hurtling down the road at 30-mph, there’s no time for sight seeing; 30-mph is a big deal. You’re traveling 44 feet (13-ish meters) per second. A lot can happen in a second, my friends. The point is, riding predictably is required when you’re bar to bar and wheel to wheel. Erratic riders will likely get told to hold their line or asked if we’re playing “hide-and-go-draft” or “dodge the draft” (not to be confused with draft dodging, of course).
  5. Don’t blow a snot rocket without leaving the line to do so. If you cover someone with snot, it will come back to haunt you – and deservedly so.
  6. If the group you’re riding with is a little too fast for you and you do have to suck wheel, don’t interrupt the people doing the work. When they come off the front, open up a gap for them, let them fill it, then get on the new wheel. You’re there at their pleasure, don’t abuse them for letting you sit in.
  7. Don’t sit in behind the strongest guy in the group if you’re one of the weakest. You choose the weaker guys to hide behind because the stronger guys will hang up front longer, thereby wearing you out prematurely.
  8. DO NOT attack on the hills if the rest of the group isn’t. When you’re the weaker link, the tendency is to believe that everyone behind you wants to go faster than you’re capable of going. Again, be steady and predictable.
  9. DO NOT ride in a way that leaves those behind you in the ditch, in a crosswind. What this means, if that last sentence didn’t appear to be English, you have to look out for the rest of the group. This isn’t about riding where you feel comfortable. You ride where the group needs you. When you’re stacked up in echelon and the wind is in the group’s face, you have to ride where others will get a draft off you. If you don’t, scorn will be piled on you, and deservedly so.
  10. The last, and most important item in this list isn’t a “do not”, it’s a “do; do treat those around you like you give a f*** and your ride will go a whole lot better. If you act like you’re the center of the universe, you’ll find yourself riding alone… the center of your own universe.

That’s a fairly decent “what not to do” list, but that leaves us with one last bit of information to deal with. The ass-drop.

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Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I don’t think I’m going to give that one away. You’ll know it when you see it, though. I’ll promise you that.

And if you see it, it’s likely because you’re an ass. Don’t be one.

The TempoCyclist commented on one that should have made the list… Actually, it’s two different situations, same jerk. The guy who sits in the draft the whole ride, then charges off the front on the hills. Only slightly worse is the d***hole who sucks wheel all ride to take the City Limits sprint. Don’t be that frickin’ guy!

Cycling Legs; What They Are and How to Get Yours

The most valuable things I’ve acquired in all my years of cycling, other than happiness, contentment, and exceptional fitness, some awesome bikes, of course, are my cycling legs.  They’ve been just as important as the bikes I’ve chosen to ride.

Back in 2012, when I was just a pup, one of my friends mentioned that it would take about three years of solid, heavy miles to attain my “cycling legs”.  I didn’t know exactly what he meant back then, but I sure know now…

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This photo was taken at approximately 24-mph.  My friend, Doug, having just come off the front after a 2-mile pull, is obviously no worse for the wear and my friends are looking quite comfortable.  We’re 50 miles into a 100 mile day, after riding 100 the two previous days.

If we had to define “cycling legs”, it’s when one acquires the legs needed to put in the miles one wants to put in, without having to worry about the ability to complete a difficult ride (or several in a row).

For instance, after the four-day tour mentioned above, I didn’t take the day after off.  No, I went for a ride with my friend, Mike.  It was certainly an easy pace and we didn’t go very far, but we were out riding nonetheless (37 miles at 17.5-mph).  The day after I turned in a 21-mph effort on Tuesday night for the club ride (though I dropped off the back after 11-ish miles because I didn’t feel like working that hard – we were above 22 for the average when I dropped).  I didn’t take a day off till it rained that Friday.

That’s having your cycling legs.

So, how does one acquire them?

Well, that’s a little easier said than done.  Going all the way back to 2011, my first year on a bike, I put in 1,820 miles for the year.  Not near enough to begin working on my cycling legs.  2012 was much better at 5,360 – really, that was the first year that mattered.  2013 I barely broke the year before with 5,630.  2014 was the year I really took off, though; 6,000-ish (I didn’t keep any records that year, so I guessed low – 2015 was 7,620 and 2016 was 8,509… I’d say I guessed low by about 1,000 miles, give or take).  It was the three years in a row, north of 5,000 miles, that really got me there.

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Cycling legs are half physical and half mental.

The physical part of cycling legs is simply getting the miles on your saddle to get your body prepared for the regular load we put on them as cyclists.  That’s the easy part, and I felt different once I got my legs under me.  Now, I’m particular about what I’m feeling – I pay acute attention, so I knew within a month of when I hit my stride.  I didn’t hurt the same after a big effort.  I tended to recover a lot faster from hard efforts and could expect more out of my legs.

The mental side of cycling legs is knowing that if you go out for a 100k (or some other distance) ride, you’ll make it back home.   It isn’t “hoping”, or “speculating”, it’s knowing.  Not only that, it’s knowing how hard you can push yourself before you crack.  There are some extenuating circumstances, of course.  Maybe you bonk or you cramp up… but even in those situations, you know you’ll be able to spin home without too much trouble.

There’s one word that really encompasses the whole gamut; experience.

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I’ve been there, done it, got the t-shirt and worn it out – now I use it to clean my chains.  That much experience.

Day One of My Specialized Strike – Specialized Forgot the Number One Rule in Cycling

Specialized signed on to the pie in the sky “Global Climate Strike” where a bunch of Kool-Aid drinking crumb crunchers decided they needed to “strike” by skipping school because they’re ignorant enough to believe they want an end to the use of fossil fuels. 100% wind and solar is the goal. They only forget to mention one thing; in order to power everything as we know it, 100% of the world will have to be blanketed by solar panels and wind turbines. No room for farming, no growing food, nothing but windmills and solar panels. I wonder what that would do to the environment. In other words, the movement is too stupid to even take seriously.

Whatever their rationalization for signing on (and I did send them a rather scornful email and got a response replete with the normal drivel you’d expect), Specialized screwed the pooch. First, when we take a political stance, based on a politician’s half of a story, we’re immediately going to scorn 40% of the country. Second, it’ll likely be ignorant, because politicians survive by keeping people fighting – and supporting any movement that calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels, is as ignorant as you get when your company relies on them so heavily. Finally, there’s the number one rule in cycling:

The number one rule of cycling was ever thus; no f***in’ politics on bike rides, boys and girls.

Specialized forgot that and they need to be made to remember it.  Our lives are ripped apart by politicians, special interest groups and the news media on a daily basis. Politics are never used to bring people together anymore. They’re used as a wedge. We need our leisure activities to come together as human beings so we can remember why we need each other, how important it is to rely on each other, and why we need to care for each other.

When you drag politics into our fun time, too, you destroy one of the great things there is about being alive and on the right side of the grass.

Shame on you, Specialized.

It’s a damned crying shame…

Oh, and Trek, please stay out of the fracas… I’m running out of bikes!

Specialized Ties Its Company to the So-Called “Global Climate Strike”. I’ve Come Up with a Great Way to Jump on the Bandwagon!

I, being a Super-Specialized Cyclist of note, received this email from Specialized earlier today:

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That got me to thinking about what I might do to join Specialized and the young skulls full of mush in their effort to take the planet back to the stone age.

Then it came to me!  I’ll stop purchasing any product Specialized makes with fossil fuels.  I’ll do Specialized one better!  I’ll demand Specialized use “sustainable” practices in their manufacturing techniques.  Zero waste, zero pollution… you know!  What a great idea!  In fact, whilst we’re at it, I’ll go one better.  Check out the “My Bikes” Page…  Check out my “Venge Corner” Page…  Oops, you can’t, because it’s gone.  I like this tidying up!  It’s good for the spirit – err, planet.  Or something!

Perhaps I should consider painting the Venge (’cause I just can’t quit you, Venge) so you can’t tell it from any garden variety knock-off out there.  No more cycling clothes made with cheap Chinese labor and sold for ten times the cost… no more Specialized tires, because they’re obviously made with those aforementioned fossil fuels.  As for your strike, Specialized, perhaps I’ll join you in that and shop at your competitors all weekend long.  In other words, suck the tailpipe, Specialized.

Now, funny story…  It just so happens that a brother-in-law (step, twice removed) works at nuclear plants.  That’s plural on purpose.  He started in the US Military, working on nuclear power plants.  Now, nuclear isn’t “fossil fuels”, technically, but stick with me a minute.  My wife asked that brother-in-law (step, twice removed) what his thoughts were of replacing nuclear with something else.

The company he works for manages more than 20 nuclear power facilities.  So he simply stated, “Let’s say you want to shut down my plant.  Which State do you want to cover with solar panels and wind turbines to make up for it?”  My friends, that’s only nuclear power.  We haven’t even looked at natural gas yet, or God forbid, OIL!  Look at the massive $#!+storm we just witnessed over just a 5% cutback in oil production for a few weeks!  The whole world’s markets collectively clinched their butt cheeks all at the same time!

And that, my friends, is all you need to know.  Now, what I do promote and believe in is doing as much as possible to live as cleanly as is comfortably possible.  I recycle, I clean up after myself and others, I treat the environment with all of the care I would one of my kids…  What I won’t do is sign on to some idiotic pie in the sky notion that we can completely get rid of fossil fuels when it clearly is not even remotely close to the realm of possibility in my lifetime.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work toward the day it is possible, but I sure as shit won’t be striking over the reality it can’t happen next week!

Unfortunately, while they’re promoting lunacy, they’re actually creating believers out of the gullible and woefully uninformed (or misinformed, take your pick).  That will never end well and I reject that kind of divisiveness out of hand.  Because it’s bad for the children.

One last thing, Specialized:  No f***in’ politics on bicycle rides.