With Lock Down COVID-19 starting in Michigan today, we actually had at least one job defined to meet the need of “critical infrastructure” so that a couple of my guys can work. This won’t, however, mean that I can work… I hope. I have a funny feeling our governor is going to be revisiting her order because she, unlike other neighboring states, didn’t put in a carve-out for construction projects. I have a feeling the order will be changing as I’m working on at least three critical projects and we could make an argument for a few more… Once her mistake gets out and she realizes that, for instance, she’s halted a project that has nine female victims of “human trafficking” waiting in shelters for beds in a new facility we’re trying to finish… well, construction will be back on soon enough.
I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those hybrid situations where I’m technically laid off, but working half the time. We shall see… Either way, they’ve got me for the rest of this week because they’re paying me, so I’ll be waiting till the evening to take my state government recommended bike ride for exercise (I type that with my cheek firmly implanted in my cheek). My riding buddy has to work from home too, so he’s stuck waiting till 4:30 with me, and I’ve got another friend who wants to join us who is critical infrastructure.
Now, it’ll be the three of us (maybe four with Mrs. Bgddy), but we’re going to follow the social distancing recommendations. I’m not giving anyone reason to throw their hands in the air and restrict cycling to solo or family rides – or worse, cancel cycling altogether as an acceptable form of exercise through this mess.
Once we get to the weekend, though, as long as the lock down order stays in place (please, oh please) all bets are off. I’m laid off for two weeks and I’ll ride whenever I want. Sadly, the weekend is looking quite wet at this point, but the two weeks after look spectacular. Mid to upper 50’s and partly cloudy… for two weeks. Well, folks, I can only hope I get to the layoff without having to work. I’ll hit a 100k a day till we go back to work.
Now, one last comment on the idiocy of the day. Some out there are ignorantly suggesting this virus is proof positive we need a socialized life – that government should run everything. So far in this last two weeks alone, our governor has recommended that we cover our coughs and sneezes with our bent elbow, then, one sentence later, recommended with replace handshakes with “elbow bumps”. If there’s a better way to transfer COVID, other than literally snotting in someone else’s face, I wouldn’t know it. She’s also wrongly accused the federal government of failing to supply items it’s her responsibility to handle that she admittedly know about for a month before it became an issue, and poorly worded her lock down order, creating a gray area so ambiguous that even the lawyers can’t figure out what’s acceptable and not, that shut down construction projects that are absolutely needed… and this is in just two weeks. You may think socialism is the answer, but I’ll gladly acknowledge your right to be wrong. I’ll take a free market over a politician any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Better, give me the free market and politicians that actually do their job – make and enforce laws that require fair play by the free market. That’s what we’re supposed to have now. It’s not.
UPDATE: I should have added that my comments on our governor’s job have nothing to do with her political party or affiliation. As Democrats go, she hasn’t been all that bad so far – or maybe it’s better to say her few boneheaded ideas have been easily demonstrated to be obviously horrible, wildly unpopular and headed off by the legislature (her defeated gas tax increase enjoyed a whopping 25% approval rating). The important lesson is that politicians – all of them – make stupid decisions based on self-will run riot. If their will is allowed to run riot, it will, therefore I’m against that being allowed to happen. I just used her examples because they’re so overwhelmingly bad, they make a good point.
UPDATE 2: That didn’t take long. Clarifications were made last night. Construction shutting down depends upon how many projects claim to meet a public good requirement, I’ll probably be going back to work soon. Too bad, too. I was looking forward to the vacation… err, lock down.
Michigan’s Governor Whitmer just put Michigan on lockdown to stop the spread of the Wuhan, China COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Humorously, she blamed the federal government for not getting her enough hospital masks and surgical gloves… apparently she’s never read the US Constitution and has no clue what the Feds are responsible for and what they’re not (hint, masks and surgical gloves fall in her court before the Fed’s, but who would ever expect a politician to take responsibility for their job?). Hey, though, let’s not cast aspersions like others have, eh?
That said, it’s time to party, baby. My bikes are all ready to go and we’ve got a few days of really nice weather before we get into some possibility of rain.
In Michigan, going outside for exercise is allowed, and cycling is specifically mentioned as an acceptable form of exercise as long as the minimum 6′ is maintained and we’re not riding in groups and I’ll be taking full advantage of it. It’s time to rack up some miles, my friends. If I gotta stay home, I’m going to enjoy it. One thing’s for sure… it’s time to tighten the belt.
My buddy Chuck and I went for a ride yesterday. I was tempted to take the Venge out but I opted for my Trek instead. I pulled it off the trainer, swapped the trainer wheel for my outdoor wheel, and readied it to roll. I love riding my Trek now that I’ve got it right (or at least, this version of right).
Chuck and I rolled out at 1 pm to give it a chance to warm up. His fever finally subsided Saturday and I didn’t want to stress his system… and I am not particularly fond of riding in temps below freezing anyway. The goal, agreed to before we left, was for an easy paced ride but we had a problem. The wind was out of the southeast. From my house (Chuck lives just two miles away), there really aren’t many good routes that head east and south first. We’ve got southwest, northwest, and straight up north or west covered, but everything east is ugly. We had a southeast wind so even our north/south route was pooched because it’s all north to start.
The route we decided on a good first and third quarter. The second and fourth were gonna suck. We rolled out slow and easy with a nice tailwind push. The first quarter was wonderful and we talked about a lot… from a socially distant distance. Then came the second quarter, several miles dead south, and that’s where it got a little ugly but it wasn’t horrible. We just kinda kept after it. A little more cross-tailwind for the third quarter that was nice, but I knew we were going to have to pay the piper when we turned for home. It was going to be a long stretch into some ugly headwind.
I hate headwind on the way home. Don’t get me wrong, it beats not riding by a lot, but it’s still a tough way to ride. And that was when I realized how much more power is needed to keep the Trek up to speed. I powered on, but I definitely didn’t like it. Holding 18-mph into the 13-mph headwind wasn’t easy at all… and that’s where my aero Venge shines brightly over the Trek. With a tailwind, both bikes are fantastic but when the going gets tough, the Specialized slips through the wind.
The differences between the two bikes are quite obvious. 25 mm alloy wheels on the 5200, 38 mm carbon wheels on the Venge. Standard round tube frame for the 5200, aero frame for the Venge. Both bikes have aero handlebars, but the Venge’s seat post and seat post tube are foil shaped. The 5200’s are round.
Eventually, the next nice bonus check will go to a set of 50’s for the Venge and I’ll put the 38’s on the 5200. The Trek is noticeably better with the 38’s over the 25’s.
I can’t quantify with power data the increase in wattage needed to produce identical results on both bikes, but it’s a fair amount. On a day like yesterday, it’s the difference between being smoked after 35-1/2 miles and having a good workout. The GCN boys actually worked this out once, too. If memory serves, Simon figured watt for watt it was the difference between a 20 minute ride and a 50 minutes… it was a big advantage.
When I ride the Trek I try to look at the bright side: Every time I ride it, I’m getting faster for where it counts. Tuesday nights.
I’ve been self-quarantined since Wednesday night. I think my riding buddy has the virus. His wife and son were sick as well. Thursday morning, I woke up with a tightness in my lungs and a very mild dry cough that I couldn’t blame on allergies – no fever, though. 97.1, 97.4, and 97.6 over the course of 24 hours. I texted my boss that I had to stay home and explained everything.
I knew, if I had come down with it (the only way would have been through fist bumps after riding with my buddy), there were people at the office who wouldn’t be as lucky as I am if they got it. So I’ve worked from home out an abundance of caution. I felt “okay” Friday, but the breakthrough was Saturday. The tightness in my lungs left, the cough went with it. Breathing returned to 100%. I felt normal again. Better, I felt good.
Going by recommendations, assuming everything continues, I should be good to go back to work Tuesday – 96 hours after symptoms were gone… if they were even symptoms in the first place (I’m highly doubtful in hindsight – no sick wife, no sick kids).
In the meantime, I’ve got a small pile of money set aside, so I can handle a month, maybe two of this before things get tight… and that’s under a complete shutdown, no working from home.
And so things are relatively easy for now. I’m actually enjoying the down time. I’ve been getting some miles in, watching a lot of movies, and loving spending time with my wife and kids. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing this more often (obviously under MUCH better circumstances). I’m quite grateful for the experience.
Most of all, I’m stoked that in the face of all this, I’m able to be content living life on life’s terms. As recovery goes, that’s as good as it gets.
At the end of the season in ’13, I believe August 23rd, I placed a stack of Hundred Dollar bills down on the bike shop’s counter and rolled out my brand new Specialized Venge Comp – the 105 version of what would prove to be the start of the “aero” road bike craze that’s completely changed the landscape – and even the weight war in cycling. Not too long ago, bike companies were falling all over themselves to put out the best ten pound bike. Today, aero bikes are pushing 16 to 18 pounds for the top end rigs and up to 21 for the low-end steeds. My entry-level Venge (which is, oddly enough, a mid-range road bike) was 18.8 pounds out of the box and they had to put on a set of 2,000 gram wheels to make it that heavy.
Roughly ten minutes after I wheeled that bike in the house I decided I needed an upgrade in the wheels. Even with DT Swiss internals, the wheels that came on my bike were clunky and heavy. I picked up a set of Vuelta Corsa SLR’s from Nashbar that dropped a full pound from the old wheels, were noticeably faster, and had sealed bearings in lieu of the loose bearing cone and race setup.
I’m still rolling them, though with upgraded Velocity Fusion rims that added a slight bit of weight but have proved vastly more reliable and true that the Vuelta rims. The hubs (and the spokes for that matter) are still original equipment and running smooth and fast.
The hubs, specifically the rear hub, are not without their maintenance needs, though. Even with sealed bearings. At least once a season, often twice with the rear because I beat the hell out of those wheels, I have to take the rear hub apart, clean everything, lube the pawls with Boeshield T-9 (it has to be a light lube or it gums up the pawls) and axle contact points with Park Tools lube (the green stuff – PPL-1 PolyLube 1000) and reassemble everything. While I’ve got the cassette off, I also completely clean every individual piece before putting it back on the hub body.
The whole process takes about a half-hour to do it right. If I don’t, or if I wait too long between services, the hub will make some gnarly noises that have no business coming from a hub (I haven’t a clue what the problem is, but if I take everything apart, clean the parts, lube the parts correctly, and put everything back together, the wheel is silent and fast again).
I’d love to give you a reason “why”, but I won’t invest the time to figure everything out as to why the wheel gets noisy… I know what to do to fix it and how to do it, so I really don’t care about the “why” of it. As you can see, the hubs are kept quite clean and the bearings are still amazingly fast with no noticeable operational issues after six years and (it’s gotta be at least 24,000+ miles on them).
So, if you want to keep those wheels clean and fast, check out a few YouTube videos on how to service them and hop to it.
Road and Gravel Bikes; How I Set My Bike Saddles So I Get the Correct Height, Offset, and Tilt… EVERY Time.
A virtual cycling friend of mine, Matty, over at MattyandAnnika.life and I were recently commenting about a reader of his blog who had a saddle issue that caused pain after a mere 20 miles. Of course, because I was just lucky enough to see the comment, I sprung into action. There are three things and a possible fourth that will cause the saddle pain where there’s no broken skin, but rather it’s like a butt bone, or worse, the inside of your thigh bone feels bruised.
Now, before I get into this fairly technical post, if you’re wearing normal gym shorts (running, basketball, etc.) on a bicycle, that’s the problem. You need cycling shorts. You can wear those funky shorts and ride happy, or limit yourself to 15 miles at a crack… choose. Click on this post to get an idea of what you want (here) and buy a few pair. Modern saddles don’t work right without padded shorts – and those bulky, heavily padded monstrous saddles will have you hurting worse than you are now…
I suffered through this exact issue back in 2012 after buying my first real road bike, a Trek 5200 T from the local shop, used. It came with a rather bulky 155 mm saddle… and I was just a year into riding a bicycle. I didn’t know that saddles even came in different widths back then. After thinking the severe pain I was feeling was due to a running issue, I had a few days off the bike before going for a run (it was too cold to ride, sometime in the winter). Much to my surprise, that “running injury” didn’t hurt. It didn’t take long to take three away from five to come up with a saddle problem. I took my bike to the shop where they promptly measured my sit bones, then the saddle, and informed me it was no wonder I was in so much pain. My bike went from:
Now, going by the common novice thinking, the saddle on the left, with its vast padding advantage, should have been far superior to that little svelte number on the right. That thinking is wrong. The svelte saddle is butter because it fits my butt. I even went one better after I got the bike painted and refurbished and put a sexy, light carbon fiber number on it:
The Specialized Romin saddle on my Venge is 143 mm while the Bontrager saddle on the Trek is 138. After a year on the Bontrager and eight on the Specialized, I like the 138 a little better. Without getting too deep into the woods on this, saddle width is a big deal.
Next, you’ve got your saddle height and the fore/aft position. Now this gets a little tricky to dial in because all of the little tips and tricks for pulling a number out of thin air are great, but they’re not perfect. They get you close. So, we’re going to do a general saddle height set first. With your bike hooked up to an indoor trainer, put your heels on the pedals and pedal backward… your legs should straighten at the bottom, without rocking your hips. That’ll get you close enough for government work. Next, we’re tackling the fore/aft position of the saddle. For that, warm up for a few minutes on that trainer. Get comfortable… and then stop pedaling so the crank arms are parallel to the ground. Take a 4′ level and set the edge of the level against the end of your leading crank arm and against your knee. The bubble should be between the black lines. Adjust your saddle until it is. Finally, we get to the tilt. If you’ve got a contoured saddle, you level the nose. If you have a flat saddle, you level the entire saddle. A level app on a tablet works fantastically for this. Now, what you’re looking for is a perfect “cradling” effect from your saddle. If the nose is down, you’ll feel like you’re sliding down the front of the saddle. If the nose is too far up, it’ll feel like the nose is digging into your crotch (and let me tell you, that sucks). Raise or lower the nose of the saddle until it perfectly cradles you with your hands on the hoods. Once you’re set, place your hands in the drops. Does the nose dig into your nether regions? If so, drop the nose just ever so slightly. If not, you’re almost done.
At that point, once everything is dialed in close, I like to raise the saddle slightly. I want to make sure I’ve got the saddle as high as I can comfortably get it because this improves power to the pedal as long as you don’t go too far. If you’re too high, oh, it’s gonna hurt. Too low… well, if you did the heel thing right, it won’t be too low. Raise your saddle a millimeter at a time until you can feel the saddle digging in a little bit. Once you get there, lower it a millimeter. Then go for a 30 minute ride… uncomfortable at all – and I mean at all? If the saddle is still digging in a little, you’ll lower it another millimeter. That’s exactly how I get my saddle into the perfect position on my bikes. Now, this can take months to get perfect. Months. Be patient. If you’re feeling discomfort, address it with saddle tilt or raising/lowering the saddle. Don’t change the fore/aft position (you change the stem to fix reach issues).
Now, after you’ve done all of this, if your saddle still bugs you, you need a different saddle. The one you’ve got doesn’t suit you. Not all saddles agree with a cyclist. They’re very personal that way. I like a deeply contoured saddle. Others like their saddle as flat as a board. In the diagram below, I’m a Position 2 cyclist:
My friends, it is very important to be finicky when it comes to saddles. Antin, the poor fellow I started this post off about, could only ride 20 miles before his posterior started firing up. First, you need miles to build up heinie tolerance. If, after several dozen rides, you still feel like one of those red-assed baboons after you get off your bike, something needs adjusting.
The best advice I can give is to pay attention to what your butt is telling you. If you break the feeling down, you’ll probably be able to tell what the problem is so you don’t have to use a shotgun approach.
And one last point that will throw a monkey wrench into everything… The saddle heights aren’t exactly the same on my two road and gravel bikes. The gavel bike is a sixteenth (1.5 mm) of an inch lower than my Venge (36-3/8″) and my Trek’s saddle height is a 32nd (0.8 mm) lower than the Venge. I truly believe that setup, headset stack and frame geometry require subtle differences in the saddle height… and this is why I go to all of the trouble I do. I can tell you, without question or hesitation, I can’t raise the Trek’s saddle that 1/32″ and ride comfortably. I tried it. That 0.8 mm makes a difference.
Good luck, and if you’ve got problems, comment below and we’ll see if we can’t get that sorted out.
With all of this COVID-19 madness, it was nice to get out with a bunch of friends and go for a spin over the weekend. It was spectacularly sunny, but very cold (just 36° or 2 C at noon) and slightly windy (8-10-mph NE).
Unfortunately, we don’t have any good northeast routes from my house – we can do north and west, but that east always throws a monkey wrench in the works. The wind didn’t feel all that bad and we’d talked about doing our “Deer Loop” anyway, so I suggested we just roll with that rather than mess with traffic in an all north/south route. Unfortunately, that meant headwind for the entire ride home. Still, I thought, how bad could it be?
The ride out was obviously fantastic. We spent some good miles north of 20-mph. In fact, we had almost a 21-mph average at one point (20.8). It seemed we had a lot more east than north in the wind, though, because heading south was tougher than I expected. Another few miles west after stopping at our normal gas station, and it was time to pay the piper.
We had a really good group, but the slog east was brutal; it was a character builder, let’s say. Heading north wasn’t much better, either. The temp climbed nicely into the low 40’s (5 C) and other than trying to hide from the wind, it turned into a really nice day for a ride – considering it was just 24° (-4 C) when we woke up.
There were six of us and we finished with a 19.1-mph average and smiles on our faces. It was nice to feel normal in the face of the craziness. And that craziness has been added to. We’ll manage, though, because that’s what we do. It was nice to feel normal for a bit, though. To stop thinking.
The club has postponed Tuesday night rides until further notice, so that’s going to be a wait and see kind of thing as everything feels like it’s getting out of hand. Thankfully, the construction industry isn’t shutting down, which means I’m still working. Traffic on the way in is eerily light, though. Even so, my buddy Chuck and I plan on riding regularly (as long as we’re both feeling right)… in fact, if I have to ride solo for the next however long it takes, I’m good with that, too.
UPDATE: Well, I wrote this post Sunday night, but with everything going on, I postponed publishing it – and a lot’s happened since then with the COVID-19 virus. Tuesday was Venge Day, and Wednesday was Groundhog Day (On My Venge). We beat the rain last night by about an hour and we’re due for a nasty few days. Rain this evening (that, if I’m lucky, we’ll be able to sneak a ride in) followed by rain all day tomorrow and frigid cold on Saturday. In other, shorter, words, we’re inside for a few days which will probably be good for virus control… and we’re following every recommendation as far as our CDC and State suggestions go. We’re still buying take-out to support our local restaurants, but other than that, and cycling, we’re on total lockdown.
Folks, cycling is a friend-friendly sport. Sure, riding is great solo, but the sport is truly at its best when enjoyed with a bunch of friends… the more the merrier until you hit about 40 cyclists (then the double pace line gets too long for its own good).
Like it or not, the f***in’ COVID-19 bug is here to stay for a minute and we should each do our part to mitigate the damage. Typically, I’m not a rah – rah kind of guy when it comes to government plans and regulations, and I have a disdain for politicians equal that of butt-hair cling-ons… but this isn’t (and sure as f*** shouldn’t be) about politics. See, this isn’t one government or political party over-reacting or under-reacting as a response to the over-reaction to the virus. This virus isn’t just limited to a few countries – it’s shutting things down is worldwide. Therefore, you can’t pin it to one party or another (well, you can, but only if you’re a hack).
That out of the way, there are a few things that we need to consider carefully. First, cycling clubs all over America are shutting their rides down, as they should. On the other hand, limiting friendly rides to a few friends while maintaining a fair distance from one another is in accordance with guidelines as long as we’re less than ten. If more than ten show up? Two groups. Now, here are a few more important things to consider:
- Allow me to put on my best Samuel L. Jackson voice… Ahem… Motherf***er, if you’re sick, stay the f*** home. If you’ve got a temp above 99, stay your ass on the couch or ride solo. Don’t f***in’ put your friends at risk over, “well maybe it’s only allergies.” Allergies don’t come with a fever, motherf***er. [ED Sadly, only 50% of people with COVID-19 have a fever according to what I’m hearing from a doctor friend of mine.]
- We’re all aware (or should be) that we have to worry about snot droplets – not sweat. Spit, while not technically at issue, can contain residual snot. Therefore, spit should be considered snot for the time being, just for safety’s sake.
- Snot rockets and spitting should ONLY be done at the very back of the group. If you can’t wait your turn to drop back, signal that you’re pulling out of line and go to the back. Allow me to channel the aforementioned Mr. Jackson: Motherf***er, I don’t give a f*** if your $#!+’s drippin’, get your @$$ to the back before you blow a snot rocket.
- Sunlight, specifically UV light, will kill the virus deader than hell. Still, try not to blow a snot rocket on someone’s driveway or anywhere near their mailbox. Be mindful of where your snot will land so it won’t be tracked somewhere else. Mind your snot.
- Finally, just for reiteration: Refer back to item number one!
My friends, we only beat this thing by not catching it. Act like you’ve got it, even if you don’t. If anyone will be asymptomatic, it’ll be us healthy cyclists – therefore we must act as though we’re contagious if we’re going to ride in a group. We don’t, at least as of right now, have to sit on the couch just yet. Be mindful so it doesn’t come to having to sneak stealth rides at 4 am.
Anyone who tells you a normal road bike with a decent set of alloy wheels is the same as riding a sweet aero bike with a decent set of aero wheels, well they haven’t spent enough time on an aero bike. The difference is astonishing. In all fairness, though, a great bike won’t make a cyclist faster; a great aero bike makes fast easier.
That’s right, my friends. I carted the Venge out yesterday for my ride with Chuck. Technically, Venge Day should have waited for another couple of weeks, but as you can see, it was beautiful outside. Maybe not as warm as I’d have liked, but 50° (10 C) will do.
Having the Venge out was fun right from the first shift, after having perfected the cable routing over the winter. I don’t remember the bike shifting that well right out of the box! Part of the enjoyable nature of the ride was having completed all of the maintenance over the winter – the bike feels new. Everything is tight, there are no creaks or squeaks… no clicks… just a whoosh through the air and that telltale sound carbon fiber aero wheels make when you’re pushing the pace out of the saddle.
We headed into the wind to start, taking it a little easy which was exactly what I wanted… Chuck and I are rarely in sync with easy days – either he’s pushing the pace or I am, but yesterday we just took it medium into the wind. After a bonus 2-mile loop, the real fun started and we pushed the pace all the way home with a tailwind. With the Trek, I’ve really gotta put some effort into getting the most out of the bike. With my Specialized, I can literally feel it slip through the air… and that first time I feel it after spending the first weeks of the new year on the Trek, it always puts a smile on my face.
Venge Day was glorious this year.
Meetings are being canceled left and right. Churches and schools alike are closing their doors with the hope of staving off the inevitable. Originally, I thought this was political (God knows the depths to which politicians will sink to unjustly make hay of a crisis – they’ve certainly shown their stripes with this one) but that argument just doesn’t work because the whole entire world is losing it all at the same time… it’s more than mere politics with this, and I’m beginning to understand, watching Italy tell those over 80 they can’t be cared for, the why of it. We need to get behind this to mitigate the damage.
This won’t be a commentary on the panic, as much as it will be a few suggestions on how to cope with the lack of the one thing active recovery requires; human fellowship.
Folks, my normal meetings were canceled this week. I’ve got about a week of sanity before shit starts going sideways so I’m going to have to get a little creative with how I work my program. As I like to say, my disease is sitting in a cage doing push-ups, waiting for a time like this… I have to be ready.
- Pick up the phone. Remember back to the days when you struggled to pick up that thousand pound phone? Well, if you’re not a natural at automatically reaching for it if you have an issue to talk through, now is the time to broaden your horizons. Pick it up. Call a friend. The person on the other end of the line, in all likelihood, needs the conversation just as much as you do.
- Home meetings with a handful of friends. Obviously, we have to be careful with this one. You know the drill, if someone’s sick they don’t come (though this might be a little outdated, they’re now saying everyone should act as if they have it).
- Read, read, read. Read your Big Book. Read your Daily Reflections. Read a Grapevine.
- Visit your sponsor – assuming your sponsor isn’t over 60, of course. We have to think of others first here.
- This is likely the most important: Write or do something constructive for your recovery. This could be a time that brings you down and makes you struggle, edging closer to misery, but why? Make this a time to really dig deep and grow yourself in your recovery. Deepen your faith, reach out and help others in recovery, grow in your program.
I heard something interesting on the radio this morning that really struck a chord. The last few generations were called to war. You’re being called so sit on your couch.
Sure, this will be tough but your recovery is stronger than this. Make it work.