Fit Recovery

Home » 2020 » April (Page 3)

Monthly Archives: April 2020

What Kind of Road Bike Does One Need to Fit Their Skills and Needs? The Gravel Bike.

20200313_1514234037030135394180339.jpg

Ah, the humble, bumble, go anywhere gravel bike! I’m going to start here as a part of a larger post because if you’re on a budget, this is the only place to start. With a gravel bike, you get versatility built into the bike. I picked up the beauty above, brand spankin’ new, for less than $1,000 (end of season sale). With a simple, alloy, steel or carbon gravel bike and two sets of wheels, you can do anything and ride with anyone, almost anywhere. If I’d had it to do over again, I may have gone that route over having three different road bikes. Then again, maybe not.

If I had, I’d have gone with a much better grade of Specialized Diverge (cabon fiber frame, hydraulic brakes, lighter wheels, 11-speed in lieu of 9).

If you’re going to go with the one bike gravel solution, there are a few things one needs to know up front. First, gravel bikes tend to be heavier, though the more expensive models available are exceptionally lightweight. One should pick up the highest grade gravel bike they can easily afford, with a second set of wheels (I’d personally go with something lightweight and carbon fiber from Ican Cycling, but that’s just me). You use the heavier set of wheels with gravel tires for the dirt roads and the carbon fiber set for road tires and paved road rides. The grade of bike definitely matters, though. Even with a decent set of lightweight aero wheels, I wouldn’t like trying to keep up with my friends on Tuesday night on that bike. At 24 pounds, she’s on the beefy side and the nine-speed cassette leaves a lot to be desired next to the eleven-speed options.

Also, you’ll likely run into some aerodynamic issues going with a gravel bike – they’re not as efficient as your aero road bikes or light as your climbing road bikes. With the right options, though, you can find a gravel bike to suit most any need and partially mitigate the disadvantages.

First to look at is the transmission. If you’re only buying for gravel riding, a 1x system (single chainring up front, no front derailleur) will suit most needs, the system is also lighter – especially when you figure in the mech, the cable, housing, and shifter. If, however, you’re looking for a dual-purpose road/gravel bike, I’d go with a compact double chainset up front (50/34 with an 11/28 cassette in the back). With that setup you’ll be able to keep up with all but the pro quality clubs (provided you’ve got the legs, lungs, and fitness). Others would opt for a smaller chainset up front (48/32 or 46/30) – this is a personalized choice and it’s difficult to make recommendations but I can tell you from experience, 46 teeth for a big ring isn’t enough top-end speed for me. As long as you’ve got some play in your front derailleur hanger (space to move the derailleur up or down depending on the chainring size you end up going with), you should be able to tailor your transmission to your needs.

Second is the wheels. The best place for bikes to keep costs down and add weight to a light frame is to put a cheap, heavy set of wheels on a very nice frame. Gravel bikes commonly come with shit for wheels unless they’re expensive out the door. I would use the cheaper wheels to ride on gravel and get a second, decent set of carbon wheels (possibly with a tighter ratio cassette for group rides) with pavement slicks for road cycling.

Finally, you’ll have disc brakes on this bike. You want hydraulic disc brakes but you can live with mechanical discs if you have to. Hydraulic disc brakes are a little trickier to maintain but they’re the cat’s pajamas. They’re much nicer than their mechanical siblings.

The important item to consider is the grade of bike you’ll want. The faster you’ll want to be, the better the bike you’ll want, the more expensive it will be. If you’re absolutely pinched for a budget, try buying a second-hand bike at the Pro’s Closet or through the local bike shop. You’ll save a ton over a new bike and you’ll be able to afford a higher quality bike (if you’re willing to live with a couple of blemishes in the paint from use). If you want to ride with the really fast crowd, unless you’re some kind of phenom, you’ll need a lighter bike with a good set of wheels. You can make a lot up with “want to”, but that has its limitations.

More to come tomorrow.

COVIDcation is the Best Thing To Happen To My Diet Plan Since I Bought A Bike!

You almost can’t miss the weight gain memes associated with COVIDcation.  Funny pics showing one more reason people will come out of their socially distanced time out of work a much rounder version of their former self.

I, however, own a bicycle.  Rather than explain how my mileage has jumped, a graph is worth… I don’t know, at least 75 words:

LockDownMileage.JPG

Since, I’ve spoken to several people (eight or ten – all non-related) who had almost exactly the same symptoms I did.  Two had headaches – I didn’t, three had fevers – I didn’t.  My wife had the exact same symptoms I did but took a lot longer to shed them.  My kids, no symptoms whatsoever.  None have been tested.  I should also add, everyone I know experienced this long before pollen season began.  We do live in Michigan.

Anyway, the lock down hit just as I was set to go back to work.  My symptoms cleared up, for the most part, in about three days, maybe four if I’m persnickety about it.  My last paid day at work was the 27th, so I’ve ridden as I pleased since and the only thing that’s held me back, humorously, is my legs – call it winter fitness, and I did spend two days riding indoors on the trainer while I had symptoms, just to be safe(ish).

That out of the way, in three weeks I’ve dropped ten pounds and if I have my way, I’ll lose another ten before we end up going back to work some time in May (fingers crossed emoji).

However this works out, I’m very much enjoying my time off work.  I did as I was supposed to while I was symptomatic, but now it’s a party.  I’m living a day at a time, doing as I should be doing to weather this storm, mentally and physically, but I’m planning on doing it with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

One thing is for certain, any mileage shortages I had year-over-year are gone.  I’m at a surplus and it looks like this is going to go on for at least another two more weeks.  This week will be sketchy for miles.  It’ll be a day off today due to high winds and the rest of the week will be incredibly cold.  Next week, though, we’ve got some very nice temperatures headed our way and unless our governor wakes up and gets construction going like the rest of the surrounding states, I’ll be outside, earning my dinner.

As it should be.

10000 Days Of Happy Living

I almost forgot, well, I did forget to post this… then I remembered!

I recently celebrated 240,000 hours of living right, clean, sober, and above all, happy – twenty-four hours at a time (sometimes one).

It was a fun day.

A Fantastic Day for A Ride (Part 2,695) and A Holiday Greeting

Friday’s weather was cold, windy and a little nasty.  I could have gone for a ride but I’ve gone too many days on and none off.  I decided to rest… because Saturday’s weather was looking awesome.  The weather reports were right.

Mrs. Bgddy and I rolled out at 11:30 in the morning.  My friend, Chuck joined us.

We’d decided on what we call The Deer Loop.  We call it this because it was on this loop my wife got run into by a deer and my riding buddy, Mike fell over backwards and broke his butt bone when he hit the ground.  We rolled out into a healthy headwind.  The deer Loop would provide us with headwind for the first half of the ride so we could have tailwind for the second half.  While it was decently breezy, the sun was out in full force and it was glorious.

Just a few miles before we were to hit tailwind my wife suggested maybe we should abandon the Deer Loop and extend it.  We did, and we just kept extending it.  First, my wife added several miles.  Then I added a few… then she added a couple more… The sun was the issue that kept us upping the ante – it was wonderful.  While it wasn’t exactly warm, it certainly wasn’t cold, either.  The only thing we had to worry about was a few miles of cross headwind that was more cross than headwind.  The homestretch was eight glorious miles with almost a straight tailwind.  Hands down in the drops, shoulders low, and with a perfect, strong pedal stroke and with that push we quickly took our 17 & change average up to 18 and change.

We’d gone out with the hope of 34 miles and that I’d have to add on an extra 20 to earn my dinner (pot roast shepherd’s pie with gravy – it’s unfair it’s so good) but we pulled into the driveway with a wonderful 47 miles.  I didn’t bother adding miles.  The route is so good I’m going to save it in the archives for future use.

Dinner was sweet and I slept like a baby – a perfect Saturday.

Today and tomorrow get a little tricky.  We’re going to try to let it dry out before heading out this morning but we’ve got more wind and rain on the way for the afternoon… so we’re going to have to shoehorn one in because it gets ugly tomorrow.  30-mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50.  There won’t be any riding tomorrow… and then we have to endure a cold snap till the end of the week before temps normalize again.  Ack.

With that, from my family to yours, a safe and Happy Easter.  Whatever your religious belief, the important message of the day is simply, “be good to each other”.  The goal is to skid into your casket in a cloud of dust saying, “Wow!  What a ride!”

Make it that, one day at a time.

Finding, Diagnosing and FIXING Clicks, Creaks and Squeaks in Road Bikes

There is nothing greater than saddle experience for figuring out what is causing your bike to creak, squeak, moan or groan, and more important why this is happening in the first place.  I’m pushing 65,000 miles since I started cycling nine years ago and I’m finally starting to get the hang of it.

20190914_170320_LI

I had a few problems with my Trek the other day, after it’d been silent ever since we started riding outside regularly again at the beginning of March. Every time I’d climb out of the saddle, I’d get three or four clicks in quick succession with every pedal stroke. I knew what that was, instantly. I charged up ahead, hopped off my bike and tightened the rear quick release skewer… it was a little on the loose side (I checked the front, too – it was tight). The clicking disappeared.  I’d taken the wheels off the day before to clean the bike (and touch up any paint chips with nail polish).

Then, a couple dozen miles later, the rear wheel developed something between a clunk and a creak. Something wrong with the rear hub – I’ve been through this a few times but there was nothing (I thought) I could do on the road. It turned out I could have. The nut holding the bearing cap and cassette body assembly had worked a little loose. I cleaned the hub and lubed the cassette body pawls while I had everything apart, just for good measure and put it back together. All better.

Then, just to make sure and because I know this is a common problem, I checked the chainring bolts. Those will work themselves loose over time and you’ll develop a clicking sound when you pedal that sounds like it’s coming from the bottom bracket. Two bolts of the five required an eighth of a turn to snug them up (this definitely would not have caused a click but it’s just good to check them from time to time anyway).

VengeDay_2020_1

Riding with my buddy, Chuck a while back and his bike was making a God-awful knocking sound (this goes way beyond a “click” or a “creak”). He took it to the shop and supposedly had everything checked over, changed his pedals, lubed and tightened the chainring bolts… then he went over almost everything. I suggested he check his seat post. He rides that bike in weather I would never subject my Venge to – that’s why I have the Trek – and I have to clean my Venge’s seat post at least once a year to keep it from creaking.  I do my Trek’s two or three times a year… Chuck’s had enough dirt and grime in there, I was surprised the primordial ooze hadn’t taken to shouting at him, “Yo, clean me, bro!”  Actually, it technically did, with all of that gnarly knocking.  His seat post cleaned and reinstalled, no more “knock” (or creak for that matter).  Now, one must be careful with this one because the sound and feel of it can “travel”.  This one will typically sound like it’s coming from the bottom bracket area.  It can be exceedingly annoying to diagnose and it’ll likely be the last thing you think it is… that’s how it worked for Chuck, and for me when I had a problem with the same thing a couple of years ago.

Then there’s the matter of my lovely wife’s bike. She had so many different creaks, clicks and squeaks going on, it was hard to pinpoint what could possibly be wrong.  On a particularly rainy morning, I decided to play with it using a shotgun approach.  I started at one end of the bike and worked my way backThe chainring bolts were good, front wheel was good, cleaned the quick release skewer, then the rear… and that’s how I found her hub bearing caps had come loose. I cleaned everything, lubed the threads of the necessary parts and put it back together. Bueno.  No more creaks and clicks.

20190901_0808122016935760821901881.jpg

Worst of all, though, she had a nagging squeak in her pedal/cleat interface. That was easy. First, this will present as something between a squeak and a creak (squawk?) on the power stroke of the crank. You’ll likely be able to feel it in the pedal, too. First, check to see if your cleats are worn out. My wife’s were so I changed the cleats (I always keep a new pair or two on hand just in case). That didn’t entirely fix the problem, though. And that leaves one of two problems; least likely, the bearings are shot in the spindle/body which requires a rebuild of the pedal or new pedals. Or, if the pedals don’t have any slop in them (give the pedal body a good tug or wiggle, if the body is too loose at the spindle, you’ll feel it), simply take a paper towel, apply some T-9 chain lube (a light oil that dries) to a paper towel and wipe the bottom of the cleat where it sits on the pedal. Also, wipe around the outside of the cleat and pedal where they interface (both front and back). That’ll fix that – there’s likely a little dirt or grime in the cleat pedal interface somewhere. You also might need to tighten the set screw so the pedal clamps down a little tighter on the cleat – that’s another source of creaking or clicking at the pedal/cleat interface. Just be careful when you do this that you only do one pedal at a time, then test before you do the second pedal… if you tighten the pedal’s set screw too much it can become exceedingly difficult to un-clip from the pedal. If you do both and you struggle to un-clip both, guess what happens?! That’s right, you can’t un-clip. You fall down and go boom.  If you don’t break something (on the bike or you), just your ego will be shattered.  If someone else happens to be around you, it’ll be 20 years before they forget.

There are others of course, bottom brackets and headsets, handlebars and… well, really anything that bolts to a bike, but that’s good enough for one post!

Tinkering with the Saddle Heights on the Road Bikes; Next Level Tinkering

I’ve had a lot of fun tinkering with our bikes over the last three weeks(ish).  As one might imagine, with that level of attention, our fleet of bikes is flawless and squeak free.  When the weather is decent, there’s plenty do do getting the house and yard ready for summer.  When it’s cold and nasty, it’s time to play.  The other day, I rode twice. Once in the late morning/early afternoon with my wife, then later in the late afternoon with my buddy, Chuck. It was a nice day during COVIDcation… and my neighbors can’t call the police to tell them I rode twice because we don’t have any ridiculous restrictions on the duration or frequency of our daily exercise.  I should add, yet.  Our governor seems she may be warming up to many forms of stupid.

I chose the Trek for my first ride and my Specialized for the second. When I threw my leg over the Venge’s top tube and clipped in it felt like my balance was off because the saddle was slightly higher. Humorously, maybe ironically, I knew the saddle on the Trek was just a shade lower and I wrote about it in a post, putting the probable necessity to differences in bike geometry (the 5200 is a standard 58 cm frame, the Venge is a compact 56). The two rides happened only a couple of days after I wrote that post.

With the saddles on the Trek and Venge within 1/16th of an inch of each other, it got fun trying to answer this question: was the Venge too high, or was the Trek too low?

Currently, since I’ve been using Strava (Sparingly in 2018, then all of 2019 after buying a Garmin Edge 520 Plus) I’ve got more than 9,900 miles between the 5200 and Venge 5,200 to 4,700 respectively. All of those miles and I never knew the saddles felt so different until I rode one right after the other. After that day, I could feel it every time I rode either bike. Over a sixteenth of an inch.

After some contemplation and a little consternation, I decided to play.

Tuesday evening, I lowered the saddle on the Venge by a half-millimeter, and raised the 5200’s by a half-millimeter. I split the difference… and I’m not under-exaggerating – one half of one millimeter.  It wasn’t much.

I rode Wednesday around lunchtime with my wife. I chose the Venge because 64° and mostly sunny. We went 38.8 miles and I liked the change on the Venge a lot. After we were done, I hopped on the Trek and took it for a 1.2 mile spin to round the ride to a cool 40. Unfortunately, because my Garmin rounds up, I hit the stop/pause button and uploaded the ride at 39.98 miles. I didn’t find out till after I’d ridden the 1.2 miles home that I was short two hundredths of a mile… I was not amused.  I also couldn’t feel the difference between the two bikes – and I liked the ride on the Trek a lot more, too.

Yesterday, with nasty weather in the forecast, Chuck texted me at 8am asking if I wanted to ride.  We had a window, and I had already started getting ready.  I chose the Trek because the roads weren’t entirely dry from the previous evening’s rain.  With just that extra half-millimeter the extension of my legs at the bottom of my pedal stroke improved.  I felt like I was able to get a little more power to the pedals – my 23-mile ride was enjoyable.

I’m not going to change a thing.  At least until the next time I get bored.  I think it might be time to bring the tandem in to mess with it!  Tinkerin’, baby!

Things said at AA meetings directly contradict the text and Truth of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous

https://wp.me/pbNk29-3e

The original title to the linked post is:

AA meetings directly contradict the text and Truth of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Title threw me for a loop so I almost didn’t read the post. Even the first couple of paragraphs were touch and go. Once the author gets rolling, though, the gloves come off… in a fantastic way.

This is an exceptionally important piece. It will change how I look at and speak during meetings in the future, and that’s saying something.

Check it out if you have a problem with some of the dogma associated with meetings, or for an interesting point of view to get your brain cranking. I didn’t agree with every little point, my experience has been different, but the main point is a homerun.

For Active People, How Much Exercise is Too Much in Terms of Fighting Disease; Virtually Everything I Hoped Is Right… Or Not Exactly Wrong.

I am your typical active lifestyle person.  My idea of exercise is not a five mile, 30-minute bike ride around a (very) long block.  Six minutes per mile, that’d be about ten miles in an hour.  I start having fun when the range is extended six-fold, and almost double the pace.  Doing the math, 30 miles, about an hour and a half, maybe a little more.

Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve moderated my exercise because I know, only from what I’ve heard in the past, that intense exercise is bad – that the body suffers decreased resistance to illness after an intense workout.  My normal average, on an intense day of cycling, is north of 20-mph.  For me, an easy day on the bike is between 16 & 17-mph.  Therefore, during the pandemic, I’ve kept my pace between 16 and 18, with a moderately robust one or two days a week north of 19-mph for the average.

I think the problem we (and especially the medical and political class) run into is defining “how much” and “how fast” for our exercise.  My 16-mph average on a road bike feels like I’m crawling.  I have no trouble holding a full conversation at that pace unless we’re pushing into a 20-mph headwind.  Other cyclists, that’s their max pace.  You put an overweight rookie bike rider on a beach cruiser and tell them to maintain a 16-mph average and you’ll likely send them to their grave.  And therein lies the rub because most doctors have a tough time distinguishing between “rigorous” and vigorous exercise.  We know doctors and politicians have to include everyone in their guidance so we rightly assume they’re vastly more cautious than needed.  Well, it appears the evidence backs that assumption up, but the news is even better than expected for we active people.

What I’m seeking to do here is present real data so we, the exceptionally fit, can make our own determination of what is within intelligent, safe fitness and what is outside and “too much of a good thing”, for if we allow a politician to quantify this, you can bet your grandmother will be able to keep up with you using her walker because granny is more likely to vote.   And watch how this goes – I had to completely change the direction of this post when I followed the new, corrected science over popular incorrectly assumed science.

Fortunately, there exists plenty of data out there from reputable sources to work with – and most of it says the same thing – that too much of a good thing is bad.

Let’s look at a problem first.  What seems like a well written article will say something like this:

Additionally, studies performed on mice demonstrated that regular exercise performed two to three months prior to an infection reduced illness severity and viral load in obese and non-obese mice.

Thus, limited animal and human data cautiously suggest that exercise up to three days per week, two to three months prior, better prepares the immune system to fight a viral infection.

(Links removed, emphasis added)

It will then link to this study which says nothing of the sort (because trying to time when to exercise three days per week, two to three months prior to a flu outbreak makes no sense whatsoever).  The study they linked does say this, however, in the conclusion:

Chronic exercise resulted in reduced symptoms, virus load, and levels of inflammatory cytokine and chemokines. Acute exercise also showed some benefit, which was limited to the early phase of infection

Chronic is defined as regular exercise.  Acute as a one time event, shortly before viral infection.  In other words, the science says exactly opposite what the article that quoted it did.  This appears to happen a lot in the reporting of science. And then this:

Epidemiological evidence suggests that moderate exercise may reduce the risk or severity of infection, whereas exhaustive exercise may increase that risk or severity [1–4]. With respect to animal models of respiratory viral infection, moderate exercise tends to decrease morbidity and mortality, whereas prolonged, strenuous exercise increases mortality [5–8].

The point is, we all know moderate exercise is good – we who lead active lifestyles experience the benefits when the latest flu or bug seems to skip right over us.  I am the intensely moderate exerciser in my family and there have been years where my wife and two daughters were sick with something and it completely passed my by (or I actually had it and was asymptomatic because it’s a rare day I stop kissing my wife).  We start to understand a definition of moderate exercise, though – non-exhaustive.  Let’s continue.  The point then becomes, “what is exhaustive to you may not be exhaustive to me”.

We can go here for the money quote:

I believe that even a single exercise bout can be beneficial, but regular exercise provides a much bigger benefit.

This is what we regular exercisers know, regular exercise provides a huge health benefit.  It’s unquestionable, and certainly not limited to “three days per week, two to three months before infection”.  Regular exercise provides a much bigger benefit.  And add that to the previous quote that moderate exercise helps reduce the severity of an illness…

Also, in that same interview, a little further up, we get the gravy atop the roast beef and mashed potatoes:

It is safe to exercise during the coronavirus outbreak. One should not limit the multitude of health benefits that exercise provides us on a daily basis just because there is a new virus in our environment. However, there may be some additional precautions to reduce your risk of infection.

Interestingly, after reading that interview, I’m quite certain I had COVID and cleared it… and I exercised right through it, though I decreased intensity drastically while I had my mild symptoms.  Folks, I took it very easy because I thought that was the wise thing to do:

Typically, one can exercise moderately with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms (e.g., runny nose, sinus congestion, mild sore throat). However, I would recommend against exercising if you are experiencing any of these symptoms: severe sore throat, body aches, shortness of breath, general fatigue, chest cough, or fever. You should also seek medical care if you are experiencing those symptoms. Typically, recovery from respiratory viral infections takes 2–3 weeks, which corresponds with the time it takes your immune system to generate cytotoxic T cells necessary to clear the virus from infected cells. After this period, when symptoms are gone, it is safe to begin exercising regularly, but you may want to take it slow at first.

I experienced an unmistakable tightness in my upper lungs (COVID 19 typically presents in either upper or lower according to what I’ve read), a mild, dry chest cough (nothing uncontrollable).  I had no fever, no body aches, no shortness of breath and no sore throat.  I did nap considerably for the first two days but I think that was mostly due to the fact I could (I stayed home from the office after symptoms presented – not because I was too sick to work, but because it was the right thing to do for the others in the office).

This gets interesting, though, and this goes to the intensity and duration with which we exercise.  And this is why I had to rewrite this whole post; I know for a fact I am what would be classified as leading a “physically active lifestyle”.  What about the person who loves nothing more than to take their bike out for an aggressively fun 60-mile bike ride over three hours?  It turns out, there’s good news for us – and most politicians (and even doctors) who claim themselves “knowledgeable” based that knowledge on bad information.

In the first article I linked to, it talked about a “J-shaped curve” of fitness benefits.  The article goes on to suggest:

Both too much and too little are bad while somewhere in the middle is just right. Scientists commonly refer to this statistical phenomenon as a “J-shaped” curve.

That conclusion is likely wrong based on this study (do read the whole thing – I just provided the appropriate quote, the linked article goes into why previous assumptions were made on studies that were flawed – your jaw should drop an appropriate distance) :

Finally, studies of ultramarathon runners, who undertake the largest volume of exercise among athletes, have shown that these individuals report fewer days missed from school or work due to illness compared to the general population. For example, the mean number of sickness days reported over 12 months was 1.5 days in a study of 1,212 ultramarathon runners and 2.8 days in a study of 489 ultramarathon runners (). These studies compared their findings to data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services report in 2009, showing that the general population report on average 4.4 illness days each year. Thus, a number of studies challenge the “J-shaped curve,” indicating that athletes undertaking the largest training loads, become ill less frequently than athletes competing at, and training at, a lower level. These findings have previously been conceptualized by extending the “J-shaped curve” into an “S-shaped curve,” thereby suggesting that very elite athletes are better adapted to the demands of their training (). Given the nature of their design, very few of these reports—akin to many of the aforementioned studies showing increased infection risk among athletes following mass participation endurance events—used appropriate laboratory diagnostics to confirm an infection. However, despite their limitations, it is important to highlight that there are as many epidemiological studies showing that regular exercise reduces infections as there are studies showing exercise increases infections, and that these studies are often overlooked in the exercise immunology literature.

Emphasis added by me…

From my own personal experience, I’m well below the average of 4.4 illness days a year.  I’m typically between 0 and 2 for any given year.  That I can remember, I have never missed four days in a year for illness – in fact, if it weren’t for COVID-19 being a pandemic of outrageous proportions, I never would have taken a day off with the mild symptoms I had.  I’d have kept to myself and gone to work.  Where this gets tricky is where we fall on that “s-shaped curve”.  There’s a possibility that too much of a good thing can be bad, but not in the way that is popularly represented.

The point is, friends, there’s a lot of bad information out there.  The good information, the “evidence based” information says exercise regularly.  Moderate your exercise during times of illness to match symptoms and discontinue exercise in the presence of acute symptoms until they dissipate, then start back slow.  In other words, common sense prevails – and there are a lot of people out there who make restrictions and don’t use it.

For those who have politicians limiting outdoor activity during the pandemic, the evidence is clear – even during COVIDcation 2020 – we should be outdoors getting our daily dose provided we take precautions to avoid further contamination of others.  Regular exercise lessens the chance of being infected and then lessens the severity if one is.  Lives are in the balance and can possibly be saved by a bike ride or run.  Especially a long one for those of us who are fit enough for it.

Blasting the Miles Away with A Smile Stretched Across My Face

Yesterday was an ugly day. It rained in the morning, well, misted, really. The temp wasn’t bad, though, and the wind was really the bright spot. There wasn’t much to speak of.

Then, as if someone snapped their fingers, the clouds parted, the sun shown down and the temp moderated. Chuck and I were set to ride at 4 o’clock but when the sun came out, I readied to leave early for some bonus miles.

I walked out the door with arm and knee warmers on, and a jersey and bibs… and promptly turned around and went right back in the house to lose the arm and knee warmers. Our first shorts and short sleeves day of the year was ahead – Vitamin D levels were to be topped off.

I headed over toward Chuck’s house to get my bonus miles and was maybe a touch better than nonchalant about it… and having done one mile heading south, I knew south was going to suck.  Our planned route was front-end loaded with a fair amount of south.

We rolled out and got right into our first headwind mile and, as expected, it sucked.  I’d decided to take my Trek because I was a little stoked – I’d finally taken the time to learn how to true a wheel!  I’d managed to take a couple of wobbles and a slight lump out of my rear wheel).  There was also a chance we’d have a thunderstorm roll into us while we were out.  After that first southern mile, it was supposed to be nine heading west with a cross-headwind but Chuck asked if I wanted to stair step some of the south.  That was a great idea, so we altered the route and split up some of the headwind.

Getting into Byron, the worst was over… or so we thought.  The freakin’ wind had shifted from southwest to WSW so we had to eat it almost four more miles; supper rolled around early.  We’d managed, into a 10-15-mph headwind, a 17.8-mph average and it was time for smoother sailing all the way home.

There were periods of lollygagging but they were few and far between.  Other than those, we were on it – especially once we turned north for the final five miles home.  Clouds had been building for a bit and the skies were really looking nasty west of us.  I thought we had, maybe, 20 minutes and I wanted Chuck to have a chance to get home before they opened up on him.

As it turned out, the skies were more bark and less bite.  Chuck even had time to do a couple of bonus 4-mile laps to get his mileage up.  I ended up with an 18.8-mph average over 45 miles – but I had those extra eight slower bonus miles.  Chuck’s average was north of 19.4, so a little more respectable for the effort.

Today is one last glorious day – sunny and mid-60’s with a mild breeze out of the west.  I have no idea how far I’m riding today but it’s going to be long and I guarantee you, I’ll be smiling.  The weather is supposed to get a little gnarly over the next couple of weeks, so it’ll be interesting trying to squeeze rides in.  Of course, this isn’t a bad thing.  I need to rest up.

Oh, and on another note, I’ve been trying to eat a little more reasoably of late because I’d gotten a little chubby over the winter.  Well, with COVIDcation 2020, I’m hammering out so many miles, I’ve lost nine pounds in the last three weeks.  One more reason to smile!

UPDATE:  Stay tuned for my post tomorrow – it’s possibly the most important fitness related post I’ve ever written.

COVIDcation, Cycling and Over-training; “Meh”.

When in lock down, ride.

I wrote yesterday that I’m over-trained.  You give me an unlimited amount of time in which to ride my bike, and I’ll show you a guy with two thumbs who’s going to ride his freaking bike a lot (points both of my thumbs back at me).  “This guy.”

I rode with my lovely wife yesterday shortly after noon yesterday in as close to perfect conditions as we’ll see in April, in Michigan.  Mostly sunny, a mild breeze from the south, and a fantastic 59° for a temperature (15 C).  I donned my newest jersey, purchased last year… a sharp Ducati Corse number from Santini.  My wife had seen it once, but the newness hadn’t registered then.  It did yesterday as she was putting her socks on.  She looked at me, a little cross, cocked her head slightly and narrowed her eyes.  “Where did you get that jersey?”  I was supposed to wait till Mike, my wife and I were all together so he could see if she picked up the new jersey… and so he could see her reaction but with this stupid lock down, God only knows when that’ll happen.  I explained where it came from and we had a pretty good laugh.  Little did she know, I’d set her up for later on during the ride.

We kept a healthy clip until we hit headwind and my wife started struggling to hold my wheel.  I gladly dialed it back as we made our way south.  Into Byron, we headed west again, which put the wind at our left shoulder.  The pace picked up a little, but 3-1/2 miles later, with a tailwind, we started making time.  We opted for the long route into Durand because it features a five mile stretch with a slight downhill grade to it.

The rest of the ride home was fantastic, though my wife was starting to tire out.  With about nine miles left she pulled up next to me and grabbed onto my jersey by the back pocket to hitch a ride with a chuckle.  I turned my head and said, “Hey, I don’t think you want to pull too hard on my new $300 jersey!”  I think she launched straight into, “Motherf****er”  I was laughing so hard I can’t remember what she said, but I got her.  I did have to quickly explain that I would never be stupid enough to pay $300 for a cycling jersey, before $#!+ got out of hand.  We talked and laughed much of the way home.

If anything’s come out of COVIDcation-2020 for us, my wife and I have managed to grow closer.  I expected the opposite now that I’m home most of the time but I was largely mistaken.  We had a stretch that got a little testy early on but have since used the experience for the better.  My daughters have, for the most part, embraced the ugliness of the lockdown and we’ve greatly enjoyed this time together.  It never ceases to amaze me how tight our family is.  I’d always expected that those terrible teenage years would get in the middle of us but that largely hasn’t happened – not even in the midst of being pent up.  I’d say both daughters and I are much closer than I could have hoped for – and what’s been really great has been to see how close the two girls have grown through this.  It’s a blessing for sure.

After our ride, I ate an apple and sat around waiting for Chuck to get out of his afternoon teleconferences.  I went for another 22-1/2 miles with him around our normal loop for a 59 mile day.  When you think you’re over-trained and have good weather, I always find it best to test the theory.

Today looks like it might get a little rainy – it’s currently spitting outside (though it appears we may have a window around noon).  I may get that day off sooner than I’d hoped.