Thank Goodness For My Inglorious Rain Bike
I beat the rain bike up pretty good Sunday morning. It had rained much of the day Saturday and well into the night, but we woke up to 60° temps (15 C) and partly cloudy skies. The roads were really, really, very, incredibly wet… but I wasn’t about to miss sunshine and 60°! Normally, 60 isn’t anything to write home about, but in Michigan, in March, 60 is glorious and rare.
Within a mile I had water and dirt dripping off the frame and drivetrain but because the bike is so solid, I had no worries. I just rode on with my buddy, Chuck well off to my side and back so to hold the social distancing norm. My Venge was sitting protected and comfy in my bike room.
My rain bike isn’t perfect, of course. It takes a noticeable amount of added effort to keep her spun up and rolling, but it’s a nice trade-off, actually… I’ve gotta put more effort into it so when I switch over to my Venge, I’m that much faster on it.
The first fourteen miles were wet and gnarly, into a mild headwind, but as we approached our stop, the wind started to pick up. We still had eleven miles to get to tailwind. Five miles later and that once mild headwind was a 20+mph lesson in effort. Three miles later and we were getting into 30-mph gusts. I laughed out loud more than once. Three miles later, the pain was over. We turned for home, the wind having dried the roads out completely. And the push was worth the effort to get there.
My Garmin radar died first, then my Edge 520 Plus ran out of juice… then I ran out of gas. It had been a long week, I think, going from approximately 125 miles a week to almost 250 and without a day off the bike in two weeks. Even with the cross-tailwind I wanted to sit up and soft pedal home a few times. I didn’t, though. I stayed with Chuck, trying to break it down into miles… three to go, only nine minutes. Surely I can handle that. Two miles, less than six minutes. One mile.
I showered up and was off in nap land shortly after firing down some lunch. I woke up with a smile on my face and one hell of a dirty rain bike. An hour later, she was clean, lubed, drivetrain cleaned and lubed, and ready for another go.
My rain bike isn’t one of those ultra-cool aero road bikes. It’s not exactly a lightweight climber, either. It’s just an old Trek that was given a new lease on life. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with riding the bike, too, having rebuilt her from the ground up.
And she still tears it up in a fashion show… after I clean her up and dry behind her gears.
CoVacation-2020; A Fabulous Month of March
I had every intention of writing a scathing post about Chicago’s mayor who recently said something to the effect that this is no time for long bike rides and 5k (runs)… that allowing people to go outside is meant as a mere respite from being locked indoors and anyone caught out for more than that mere respite could be fined and eventually imprisoned. Actually, it’s a perfect time for running and long bike rides unless you happen to be anti-science…
However, I don’t know Chicago’s situation so I’ll reserve my opinion of the mayor’s statement and just say I’m glad I passed on the $13,000 per month job I was offered out there. We’re still free to roam the roads as we please as long as we choose to do that at the appropriate distance (which vastly exceeds 6′ or 2 meters on a bike, btw). Also, the irony after my post from yesterday would be just a bit too rich.
That said, if the information here, here, and here is right, the mayor could be doing more harm than good for the people she represents. One can only hope the local news agencies hold the mayor accountable, but I won’t hold my breath. I can understand requiring people to avoid congregating – I’m on board with that – but requiring city residents to stay cooped up in their homes seems over the top and wrong.
I’m simply going to remain thankful that smarter heads have thus far prevailed in my home state. Interestingly, at most of the links I’ve looked at (more than what I’ve included above), all of it suggests mild exercise is good. This is to say, rather than the kind of exceedingly rigorous exercise I’m used to. To that end, I’ve slowed down considerably, though I also increased my mileage. With the downturn in traffic, cycling has been safer and more enjoyable than I can ever remember it and I’m going to continue to take advantage of it. I ended up with a little more than 240 miles last week and am vastly happier for getting out.
Don’t Listen To the News; Use Your Looking Balls. Look At How Happy Your Neighbors Are To Be Walking and Riding In This Uneasy Time.
In my post yesterday, (sort of) following one of my favorite blogger’s wordless posts, I included one of my favorite quotes of all time. I like to shorten it during troubled times because I need to keep things simple so as not to get lost in the weeds; I want to be able to say, “Wow, what a ride” when it’s all over.
What am I doing today, right this very moment that’ll help me get there?
This is what I think of when I’m in a snit with my wife. When I’m having a tough time with a task at work. When I simply don’t know what to do… What am I doing right now to get me to, “Wow, what a ride”?
I’ve ridden 26 of the 28 days we’ve had in this month – 18 of those 26 were outdoors. 653 miles (and I’ll get at least another 40-ish today)… You know what’s stuck out more than the awesome lack of traffic?
Friday, after putting in 30 fun miles with my wife, I went back out to add another ten or so to crank out some hard miles. My wife is a little anxious because she’s going through the exact symptoms I had last week, but hers have persisted longer than mine. I think she’s surprised it isn’t worse, but waiting for the hammer to drop at the same time so she doesn’t want to push it by riding too hard. A feeling I can relate to – and it’s scary.
Four miles into my bonus miles, I rode up to four couples walking down the road, all in the same direction, but spread out more than enough on both sides of the road. I said to all eight, “You know, I’ve been riding these roads for years. I’ve never ridden up on four couples out walking, let alone four couples in the space of 40′. I love it.”
Three couples turned and smiled. One person responded, “You know, we were just talking about the same thing”.
Friends, I don’t know what things are looking like in your communities, but in mine I’ve seen more good than I can list here. People aren’t just sitting in their homes, they’re getting off the couch and going for walks. I’ve seen an unprecedented number of cyclists and bike riders out to get some air pumping through their lungs. Even at the grocery store, I’ve seen people nod and smile at their fellows with that, “We’re all in this together” wink.
There are going to be those random examples of idiocy and evil. They are not examples of human nature. They’re examples of inhuman nature. Don’t get sucked into anger and self-righteous indignation. No good can come of it. I don’t want to skid into my casket thinking, “Wow, I wish…”
As for me, I can’t tell you how glad I am to be a cyclist… actually, relieved might be a better word.
Cycling Therapy for COVID-19? You Might Be Surprised…
The first tightening in my chest, where I could tell something wasn’t quite right, scared the hell out of me. I texted my boss that I shouldn’t come to work and he agreed, offering that I could work from home. My cycling buddy’s son, then wife had been sick and we’d been fist-bumping after rides like it was going out of style. That was supposed to be acceptable… The dry cough started Thursday morning, though it never approached “uncontrollable”. Mildly annoying is a better description. I went out for a bike ride with Chuck that afternoon anyway. No way I was going to let this get in the way – it wasn’t all that bad and I was going to will myself into being asymptomatic. It was a slow ride as chuck was starting to feel a bit under the weather himself. Chuck and I tooled around our normal loop at just under 16-mph… about 3-mph slower than normal (Tuesday had been 18.85-mph on the same route).
Friday had me pretty nervous. One can will oneself not to be sick, and sometimes it works, but I wasn’t kidding myself either. I was waiting for the hammer to fall. The weather wasn’t all that great, either. A cold front had blown in so I chose to ride my trainer indoors around lunchtime. The hammer never dropped. The cough subsided Friday afternoon and the tightness in my chest was entirely gone by Saturday morning. For Saturday, it was really cold, so another ride on the trainer. Again, easy so as not to flare anything up, but not too easy.
Sunday, the weather improved and Chuck and I were back outside. I was feeling fine, he was still battling his mild fever. On that ride, Chuck said he’d spoken with his sister, a nurse, who recommended “deep breathing exercises”. Well what better deep breathing exercise is there than riding a bike? We were out for 2 hours, covering a little more than 35 miles. Over the next five days I covered 184 slow(ish) miles and I’m feeling fantastic.
Aerobic exercise. Before infection aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen cardiovascular health. Once infected, during the period of mild symptoms, moderate daily aerobic exercise can improve lung ventilation. Such exercise may benefit immune function as well . Ideally, do this exercise outdoors or with open windows or otherwise well ventilated areas. In sufficiently warm climates, longer walks or even running may improve lung capacity. Jumping jacks, jogging in place, or dancing can be done even in small spaces.
Is the advice legit? I don’t know, but I’ve heard it from enough people I trust that I trust it. And it definitely helped me. Who knew?
On another note, and purely turning the frown upside down, it’s unmistakable what this virus has done for getting people outside in my neck of the USA. Folks, I see more walkers than I do cars while I’m out on those bike rides nowadays… and the number of those who are smiling while we wave as I go by is simply fantastic.
Now THAT’S A Stimulus Plan I Can Get Behind!
A couple of my riding buddies shared these with me this morning:
We need an end to the N+1 stigma!!!
For those in Rio Linda, that image of Trump is a meme. It is not meant to be political in nature. It is meant to be funny. And it is.
You Know What Sucks? Part 62,195
I have this thing about how many miles I put on my bikes over the course of a year. This may seem extreme to normal folk, but I like to be right around 8,000 miles overall (6,000 outdoor miles) for the year. This isn’t an easy task when one has a job, but it’s certainly not impossible. I did it last year.
Then the Wuhan, China coronavirus COVID-19 swept in and I expected March’s total mileage to take a serious hit. Far worse, we’re looking at almost a three week layoff (without pay for me, which is another big hit) if things don’t change. The first day of the layoff, Tuesday, I was sweating bullets. How would this work itself out?! How would I provide for the family?!
Then I remembered that which is most important: God is everything or God is nothing. At that point, I started thinking positively again.
Fortunately, though, my wife and I have a little nest egg tucked away for just this sort of occasion, with enough cash I could easily withstand a month, maybe two, without having to get off the couch. We have this little nest egg because when ex-drinkers sober up, we’re taught that it’s wise to save up some money for just in case… and the only reason we don’t have enough cash for four months is we decided to pay cash up front for my eldest daughter’s Invisiline “braces” so we could get a credit for the youngest’s.
So that’s meant I have been, and will continue to be able to, spend an inordinate amount of time on my bikes. March started out as a mediocre month and with four days left in the month, I’ve smashed last March… and I’ve got nothing but time for the next two weeks. Starting Monday, I won’t be getting paid so I have no problem whatsoever riding whenever the mood strikes me.
It’ll be like being retired for a couple of weeks, and that sounds good to me.
Some people wonder “why sober up”?
Because my life’s become so good, drinking stopped being a temptation twenty years ago. People don’t understand being clean because they can’t see beyond their addiction. If they could see what life had in store for them, quitting would be an afterthought.
And that most definitely doesn’t suck.
CoVacation 2020: Cyclesocial Distancing and Sheltering at Pace
I’ve got two friends I’ll currently ride with; my wife, and my normal cycling buddy, Chuck. I like to joke among my friends that my wife and I are the only people allowed to draft, while everyone else has to suffer through “social distancing”. In fact, most people are strictly sticking to solo cycling around here, and that’s a good thing, if it is a touch sad. I tend to poke a lot of fun at the panic on this page because I’m trying to keep things light in the face of a lot of craziness and over-the-top political manipulation. In fact, that politicians continue to try to cover their asses while still try to manipulate the situation to their benefit while the vast majority of us are taking it in the @$$, doing exactly what we’re supposed to, tells you all you need to know about politicians.
My buddy, Chuck and I rode in the afternoon yesterday – we left after we each put in a full day of “working from home”… and let me tell you, waiting until 3:30 was exceptionally difficult. It was a little chilly and gloomy to start the day but it warmed quickly beyond that desired range above 45° (7 C) where cycling goes from bearable to fun. Then, as if God Himself snapped his fingers to make it so, the clouds broke. Within the space of 30 minutes we went from full cloud cover – not being able to tell where the sun was in the sky – to “not a cloud in the sky”. And the outdoor temp shot up to the mid-50’s with single-digit wind speeds out of the southwest.
We’d decided earlier that we were going long. We settled on a minimum of 50 miles.We also picked a perfect route that headed out into the wind – a 50/50 split of headwind and tailwind. Sadly, staying six feet apart into a headwind kinda sucks, but I did it. We kept our pace reasonable – slow enough we’d be able to hold it without help – and pressed on. It was a long 25 miles into the wind, but the glorious moment when the ride turned north and east arrived soon enough, and that’s when the ride got fun.
Chuck was comically overdressed with three layers and a wool cap but I got it just right. Arm warmers, knee warmers, and I even broke out the Specialized team kit and the Venge for the occasion – it was that nice.
We didn’t talk about current events at all, other than to lament the slog into the wind that we’d normally have six or eight more people to help. Other than that, it was mainly gratitude for being outside, on the right side of the asphalt, pumping air.
We chose a different way home that avoided traffic even though we’re in the middle of zombie apocalypse traffic right now (not much at all – it’s the best cycling conditions I can ever remember). Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought about it but we managed to cut off four miles in the process so we had to improvise and stretch the last six miles to ten at the end of the ride.
I pulled into my driveway grinning from ear to ear. 50.3 miles at 18.9-mph for an average with no drafting. My Venge is no joke, but I’m sticking with “it’s the guy pushing the pedals”.
I don’t like a lot about our current situation; that cycling was left on the acceptable list has me cheering.
Stay safe, my friends. Stay isolated. There will be a time soon enough when we won’t have to wonder if inserting our credit card into the reader and typing in a pin number could mean certain doom. If you’re allowed, cycle hard and remember; cyclesocial distancing and shelter at pace.
And to my friend, the Unironedman… How’d that be for a T-shirt?!
COVID-19/CoVacation-2020; How to Work from Home
There are increasing numbers of articles and posts out there to help one work from home. My friend over at OmniRunning gave me the inspiration to add my two cents on the subject. Thanks, Andy.
So, in this case, working from home is very simple:
- First, take the layoff.
- Put on your cycling kit.
- Put on your cycling socks and shoes.
- Put on your helmet and gloves.
- Grab your bike and head out the freaking door.
- Take this as the gift it is and slow down to smell spring.
*That is, of course, unless you can’t live without two weeks of a paycheck. I realize there are, sadly, some in that boat. Just remember, you’ll spend a lot less living at home.
Just practice social distancing… while you’re at it. And, of course, this post assumes you’re “allowed” to cycle in the first place. We are, so you can bet your sweet bippy I’m out there. The two photos above are from 2019… July. The second isn’t exactly six feet, just to be clear. The first is unquestionably more than six. Or two meters.
2° To Perfection and Days One and Two of The Great Vacation Lock Down
I took this photo of my Trek the other day about a week ago (you’ll need to put your “picky” glasses on for this one):
If you look at the handlebar, it’s raised at the stem just a hair, tilted up ever so slightly. I’ve lived with it that way because I just didn’t think I could ride the bike comfortably if I dropped it that little bit. No kidding, it’s that tight.Sunday morning I looked at that handlebar again, sitting almost exactly like that, and I was weak. I caved. I had to try. Had to. I tilted the bar forward about 2°… like going from 9:00 to 9:01:37, really. I had to do it. It was like a freakin’ splinter in my brain, every time I looked at the bike, sitting all nice and pretty in the corner…
Oh, now that’s right, baby.
After my Sunday afternoon ride, I was pretty sure I was going to have to put it back where I’d started. That was a tough day in the saddle, though, I told myself in a fairly convincing manner… what with that gnarly headwind at the end of the ride. I thought maybe I should give it another go because… dude, it finally looked right. I wouldn’t have to look at my glorious 5200 sitting there, all almost awesome in the corner… Sure enough, Monday proved much better. It was really good, actually, though part of this is my having lost a few pounds (six, actually, since we started riding outside [!!! That’s right, baby!]). Ahem. The rest was because the temp was up a little bit (lighter clothing).
Anyway, now I’m clearly stoked. At this point, I think I can learn to like it.
Then, Tuesday’s evening ride. It started out cold and gloomy, but amazingly, about eight miles into our ride the clouds broke and my Vitamin D meter started registering some adequate intake! Well, maybe not all that much. I only had about 18 square inches of exposed skin because it was only 46° (feels like 40° or 4.4 C). Chuck and I weren’t pedaling all that hard, either. We were just out trying to enjoy some fresh air. We went, in the space of just ten miles, from wanting to simply get our miles in and get out of the cold to looking for ways to extend the ride. I had to laugh, too… we started out slow and easy while we had the tailwind but actually increased our average speed from 16-mph to more than 17 with the headwind all the way home.
In the end, I had just shy of 33 miles and a smile stretched across my face. It was spectacular. On a weekday! We’re going long today. Sunny and 58° with a gentle breeze is the forecast (YES!).
The verdict is, the handlebar stays where it is.