Peace, Contentment and, Dare I Say, Happiness Are Possible; I Just Never Found Them at the Bottom of a Bottle
Before I begin, please take note that I didn’t specify what kind of bottle. I suppose I should have added syringe and bong/pipe as well, but you get the idea.
I was especially lucky when
the entire population of Michigan decided I should end my drinking/controlled substance career I happened into recovery at the early age of just twenty-two years-old. I was really just a puppy at that point. I was… call it fortunate, because I knew down to my baby toes that I would be completely, irrevocably fucked if I continued to drink.
And remembering this has been the gift that keeps on giving ever since I quit.
You see, knowing your best thinking has gotten you into such a deep hole that you can’t possibly figure out how to stop digging, let alone work on climbing out – that brings with it a lot of freedom. When our back is against a wall and a freight train is bearing down on us, well, we either move or get run over. You read that right, that brings us freedom.
How is that possible, you ask?
Well, it’s very simple, really. When you’re at that point you don’t know whether to $#!+ or get f***ed, it becomes increasingly easier to stop fighting recovery with fear.
Please read that again, that last paragraph. Two sentences. “Oh, whatever will I do for fun if I can’t smoke and drink anymore, whoa is me!” That becomes, “I don’t care, just make the freaking pain stop!” I recovered, and I deserve to be recovered, because I stopped fighting the fear of recovery. Folks, if the cure for cancer were to go to three meetings a week, work a few steps, and say a few prayers, the line to get into every meeting would be out the door, stretched around the block. That’s simply how I looked at recovery. If you’d have told me standing on my head in the corner twice a day, three minutes at a time would help me recover, I’d have done it. I’d have looked at you funny, but I’d have done it, because it was either that or the freight train.
Let’s look at this another way. I love people who absolutely will not… can not simply give themselves to the notion that there’s can be a Higher Power out there for their recovery’s sake. Really? Look, I had a pretty high bottom, but I also did some deplorable shit in my using days. Nobody gets to the jumping off place just before recovery on a winning streak. After all the heinous shit we did, the Higher Power is just a step too far? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see why that would be.
For God’s sake, I almost drank myself to death before my 30th birthday. I can remember getting lost after getting hammered at a strip joint one night and I ended up pissing my pants while driving my car, trying to get home, hammered… but I can’t allow the idea that there might be an HP out there who will take away my character defects because that’s just a bridge too far? Folks, after all the crap we did before we were good and ready to quit, after all of the lying, cheating, stealing and conniving, the HP isn’t the road block to get hung up on. Don’t let that small thing get in the way of peace, contentment and happiness.
There’s a better way. And remember; we only say “God” to keep it simple. If you need a starting point, an ashtray won’t work as a higher power. I know some people claim it can be broken down to a base level, but the old ashtray is bullshit. Choose the power in the group to start. It is a Higher Power of our understanding, after all, whatever your capacity is at that point, so try the power at the meeting that helps us stay sober through situations that used to have us hanging on to the edge of a toilet as if we were rock climbing so we could puke at the top before you go do an ashtray.
At least that will get you used to the idea that it’s okay, after all that nasty shit we did that will be on a fourth and fifth step very soon, to put a little faith in something you can’t see or touch. It’s not the end of the world.
It’s the beginning.
Don’t let a Higher Power be your roadblock to happiness. The alternative is the freight train, and you definitely don’t want that. We’ve been through too much to let something so simple get in the way of contentment and peace. And if you absolutely, positively can’t get the HP behind you, read the chapter “We Agnostics” in the Big Book. It starts on Page 44.
In the end, the AA way of life isn’t for everyone and it’s not the only way to sober up. It’s the only way I know, though, to switch from being a drunk with one foot in the grave to a happy, content, peaceful, productive member of society. I’ll admit that I was fortunate, though. While I had other hangups about the program, the HP was no roadblock for me.
God Help Us, The Block Editor is Here. And It’s Going to Be Okay… The Classic Block Will Save We Writers…
Okay, now we’ve hated the block editor for a long time, we WordPress writers. The coding kids love the block editor but for those of us who just write, it was a nightmare. After a mountain of complaints, WordPress allowed for the option to continue use of the standard editor we were used to, and relief. All was right with the world. Then, panic. I, for one of thousands, just about freaked when I received notice that WordPress was going to end the classic editor for good and switch to the block editor.
I wrote a very angry post about it. It was one of my better received posts. Many of my writer friends were in the same predicament.
Well, that day has come, but I’m not all doom and gloom here at Fit Recovery. The designers at WordPress didn’t throw us to the wolves. They’ve given us the classic block and it works almost exactly like the old classic editor.
At the top of the screen on the left, the first time you use the block editor, click the “+” sign. Then search for the “classic” block and add it. Then, whenever you write a post, after you type in the title, or if you start writing and come up with the title later, simply hit the “+” in the body and choose “classic”.
You’ll be able to write your post just like you always did. You won’t have to worry about blocks or justification or anything else. Just write. “Shift+Enter” for single space, “Enter” for double space, and all of the old shortcuts and the editing tools will pop up after you’ve stopped typing and you move your cursor.
I was mortified that my classic editor was gone. Now I’m quite okay. They didn’t roll the bus over us.
The Fabulous Gloriousness That Is Cycling: Riding in a Fast Group of Friends… It’s as Good as It Gets
I put in a full day at work, ridden, rested, eaten, and I’m sitting on the couch, filled with gratitude for being me.A few stray thoughts have tried to stick in the gray matter, but they’re summarily dispatched with the cunning lethality of a samurai standing vigilant guard… in… um… my melon.We rolled out last evening, just eight pullers and two hanger’s on. We started out a little slow for my liking, but after the first mile, the pace cranked up into a light headwind.That would be the last time I worried about pace.We rolled out with the precision of a squad who’d put in thousands of miles together. We had two newer guys but they’d learned how to hide at the back. The eight of us who were taking turns up front had known each other for years. One fella in particular really stuck out. He rides a super nice LeMond modern steel bike (it weighs, dripping wet, something like 19 pounds, it’s really impressive). Dave’s hidden at the back for years but over the last several weeks he’s really come into his own. Before I left for vacation he’d managed to hang with the group for the full loop at a 23-mph pace, faster than he’d ever ridden in his life (he’s my age, a little older and has been cycling for decades). Last night, he took his lumps up front like a champ.Dave, if you read this, brother, it was really impressive, man. Nice work. It didn’t go unnoticed, all throughout the group.As we hit the 2/3’s mark, about 20 miles in, we singled up to make the most of the group we had. We were down to about six of us pulling and we hammered hard to the intermediate sprint. I was three bikes back and I heard one of the guys behind me, Toby, shift hard under pressure. That’s all I needed to hear and I hit the gas. Toby tucked in right behind me (I could see his shadow) and I tried to shake him to no avail and he cruised by me with Chuck on his tail with 100 yards to go (maybe a little less). Reports are, Chuck pipped him at the line by a tire.We hammered the home stretch, a couple miles into the wind and four home. The wind had died down a bit and we put in a great effort. Efficient is an excellent word for the whole ride. We had five or six for the final sprint to the line, but nobody actually sprinted. It seemed we were content with the 32 we were going as we crossed the line. I was.There weren’t any fist bumps with the virus, but you can bet we were all smiles as we downshifted and took our time heading back to the church parking lot.It was a perfect night.And that brings me back to the start of the post. It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel about the world and my place on it after a ride like that. It never gets old. I drifted off to sleep, a smile on my face. And I woke up with that smile still there.
I’m running, on my 1999 Trek 5200, a 1999 frame and fork, a 2015 1″ threaded headset, 2019 Bontrager handlebar with internal cable routing, 2017 Bontrager Blendr 17° (flipped) stem, 2013 Easton carbon seat post, 2019 Bontrager Montrose Pro carbon saddle, 2013 10 speed Shimano 105 components, Shimano 172.5 crank from a friend’s bike, with SRAM 50/34 chainrings, an Ultegra bottom bracket, 11 speed Ican standard 38 mm carbon fiber wheels, and 10sp. SRAM chain and PG-1070 11/28 cassette.
Before and After
Getting all of that to mesh up has been a bit of a challenge and any little hitch in the giddyup ends up affecting how the bike shifts. My latest problem presented itself a few weeks ago when I took the Trek to our Thursday evening ride and, with the bike in the little ring up front and midway through the cassette in the back, climbing a steep hill, I put the power down to surge with the group and damn near fell over when my chain jumped/skipped. I recovered and ambled up the hill, riding the remainder without issue. The next day I was out early and had a few minutes to kill before meeting my weekday riding buddy, Chuck. I went over to a little hill near his subdivision to see if I could make my chain skip again, hoping to assess what was happening.
Not only did it skip, the chain ended up off the baby ring and down in the bottom bracket. Twice. And I bruised my left quad something fierce from smacking it into the handlebar both times.
I took it to the shop to have it assessed because I was flummoxed. I had everything right, including the set screws… It shifted perfectly, all ten gears in both big and baby rings and the drivetrain was quiet as it should be when pedaling. The owner of the shop and the shop manager both gave it the once-over but couldn’t come up with anything so, on a fluke, I bought a new SRAM PG-1070 11/28 cassette and installed it. The problem went away. Kinda.
It stopped skipping in the little ring altogether, but there were a few gears that developed a little bit of a click, as if the barrel adjuster wasn’t quite dialed in. If I turned the adjuster till the sound went away (up the cassette), then it would hesitate shifting going down the cassette to a harder gear. The noise was almost imperceptible when shifting was right – I could only hear it if I was riding alone and in the big chainring… but it gnawed on me, knowing that it wasn’t quite perfect.
Now, what can be surmised from this issue?
The clicking noise, as if the chain were skipping slightly, goes away when you tighten the barrel adjuster, but to shift properly, the adjuster wants to be loosened… I reasoned that this meant the cassette wasn’t quite shimmed out far enough from the hub. That’s the only thing that made sense, the gears had to move out just a little bit. I added a thin half-millimeter shim I had laying around behind the shim that came with the wheelset and voila! The click went away and I was able to adjust the shifting properly.
I took it for a six mile test ride Sunday night to make sure it was right.
If I had money to lay on this, going back to my skipping problem three weeks ago, I’d be willing to bet lunch that, because the cassette wasn’t shimmed out enough, that caused the skip when I put power to the pedals in the small chainring and the chain dropped into the bottom bracket. I was putting some heavy wattage into the system, upwards of 800+ watts at the time of the skip, so if the alignment wasn’t quite right and I hit the hammer… well, it makes sense that normally, it’d operate just fine but then, when I really put the hammer down, Pop!
In any event, with the addition of that little shim, there’s no more noise in the system and the shifting is right were it should be. The interesting aspect of the problem is that the chain would click ever so slightly in three or four gears, but while dialing the noise out with the barrel adjuster would work, the bike wouldn’t shift right if I did. To me, that could only mean the shim that originally came with the wheels wasn’t quite thick enough. Once I got the gears out far enough to align with the chain and with the correct tensioning of the cable, Bob’s your uncle.
This is also why people pay the big bucks for electronic shifting.
Halo Skewers are a Greater Improvement to Ride Quality than Carbon Fiber Wheels. No, I’ve Not Lost My Mind…
I’ve got 50,000 miles on alloy wheels and another 20,000 on carbon fiber wheels in the last eight or nine years. This isn’t all that impressive, pros ride 70,000 miles in three years. Maybe four.
But, my friends, I pay attention to how each of my bikes is feeling, be it my 5200, my Venge, Diverge, Rockhopper, or Co-Motion, like I’m going to write about it. Because I am. My bikes are paid the attention of an avid enthusiast.
When I switched from an excellent alloy wheel to a decent carbon wheel, I noticed the difference immediately – and wrote about it here. It’s the same difference going from an alloy frame to carbon fiber. Carbon fiber eats up road chatter, subdues it, kicks its ass, and spits it out. Not as well as steel, but at a fraction the weight, it’s the best compromise there is in cycling. And carbon fiber frames last longer than steel if properly cared for.
Halo skewers make that much of an improvement, more, upgrading from a standard quick release.
They’re considerably lighter than a decent quick release skewer, too.
Now, you’ll have to keep an allen key on you or in your saddle bag, but, to me that inconvenience is mountainously overshadowed by the fact that a thief can’t pop a quick release and walk off with your wheels, and the improvement in ride quality is, unquestionably fantastic. It’s as close as you can get to a thru axle without buying a new bike.
So, here’s where the rubber meets the road. Without the cam action, the skewer gets a better “tight”. This means road imperfections are absorbed by the tires rather than transferring to the frame through the quick release… as tight as you can get them, the cam action screws the system up. The hex key screw fixes that flaw in the system.
And here’s the real kicker: a set costs between $18 & $22.
Check them out. Google “Halo hex key skewer”. The XL set is for newer 135 mm rear disc hubs. The standard set works on 130/131 mm rim brake bikes.
As you can see, I’ve already got a set for the ’99 Trek and ’13 Venge and after passing the 50+ mph test last week, I ordered a set for my wife as well.
If a product makes it to my wife’s bike, I simply can’t put a better stamp of approval on it than that. She only gets the good stuff after I’ve thoroughly put it through the Tuesday Night Club Ride ringer.
My break from blogging, while not entirely a break, coincided with a two week vacation to Lake Burton, Georgia with my wife and kids and my wife’s sister’s family. It was a fantastic, much needed break. I was cooked and needed some serious down time. That was the goal and why I decided to take a break from writing.
Not in a bad way, necessarily, but I think my paid COVIDcation wrecked me a little bit. I’m back in the groove at work, but I can’t help but miss those weeks on end of being home. After four straight months without a day off, I was cooked.
So we escaped to north Georgia for a two-week hiatus, and it was spectacular… and over way too soon. We headed home Friday because we had a hundred miler planned for Sunday but the weather looked sketchy so we moved the ride to Saturday, and as I sit here typing this, moving the ride was an excellent idea. We’ve got storms popping off all around us, though a Sunday Funday 45 will be doable in a few short hours).
Today (Sunday) was to be the 41st Assenmacher 100. Unfortunately, with the virus and today’s overly litigious society, we canceled the ride for fear of getting sued… don’t even get me going on the impossibility of winning such a case because it’s virtually impossible to prove where and when you caught a virus – especially one that doesn’t even present symptoms for five days to two weeks. But the grandstanders have to be the smartest people in the room…That notwithstanding, in the end it was decided it would be best to do a free “virtual” event. Then we moved it to Saturday to beat the Sunday morning rain in the forecast.
Yesterday morning my wife and I were loaded up and rolling to the meeting spot around 7:30 for an 8am ride. Virtually two dozen friends showed up (we rode in two groups, one about a half-hour earlier than ours). Our group was fantastic, and after two weeks of nothing more than an 18 mile ride, what a better way to jump back into big miles than a 100 mile ride.
The first 98 miles were spectacular. Those last two were torture, though. I started cramping up – and I knew it was coming when I got out of the saddle to climb a hill at about mile 65. Anyone who’s had cramps during a ride, when you get out of the saddle and your quads are stiff and don’t feel right, you know you’re in trouble. I did wisely, though. I downed a couple of timely gels and had a couple Cokes and was able to roll on until Chuck put the hammer down a little bit. I tried to put some extra watts into the pedals to keep up and my quads immediately knotted up. I didn’t quit, though. I decided to try to pedal through the pain to see if they’d loosen up again… and they did. As long as I didn’t push too hard on the pedals, I was okay.
(The photo above was taken my my friend, Joel S.)
We pulled into the parking lot with a decent 20.5-mph average on a perfect, if a little on the warm side, day for a bike ride.
I even got some grass cut in the afternoon – and after two weeks away, you can bet it needed it.
So, the vacation is over and regular reading and writing will resume again.
First of all, let’s be very clear about cycling and speed. There are bikes made for speed and bikes made for leisure. You can ride a race bike leisurely, but that doesn’t work the other way around.
Choose your weapon…
Speed wobbles are caused by a flaw in a bikes setup or due to a worn out component (wheel, headset, etc.). I ran into the latter several years ago, a worn-out, rusted headset.
Heading down a very nice hill near Lake Nantahala in North Carolina, I hit about 47-mph going down the straight shot when my bike started shaking violently from side to side. It scared the hell out of me… I was certain I was going to crash. But, while coasting, I placed my left knee against the top tube of the frame. This helped, but I was still heading toward a ditch at better than 40-mph… I placed my other knee against the top tube and squeezed the frame till the cavitation stopped and I safely stopped.
Once I steadied myself, I rolled on. I kept it below 45 on that bike until just this year. I’ve been beyond 55 on my Specialized Venge and that was a fantastic, stable experience. This last week I just took the Trek to 52 on that same hill, after a new headset, and it was a wonderful experience. In fact, on another hill with a posted 35-mph corner at the bottom, I was comfortable enough to take that at better than 40… and that was fun!
Speed wobbles happen when the bike develops a shimmy and that resonates through the frame until the shimmy, or flutter, hits a magic resonant frequency, it feels as though you’re riding on ice. You can’t control the bike, and it’ll be likely, if you don’t stop the bike or the flutter, you’ll crash.
The key is to put a force against the flutter of the bike frame. In my case, the knees against the top tube. This changes the dynamics of that cavitation, thus slowing or stopping the flutter, and control returns.
All one has to do is remember this when it happens to them.
Remember, if you ever experience the speed wobbles, clamp down on the top tube with your knees. It could save your 🥓.
How Super is the Supertuck? Cycling and Descending’s Fastest Positions and Should Some Be Banned from the Pro Peloton?
I use the supertuck a lot. Hovering just above the top tube, back end against the seat post. It’s fast. Very fast. Descending, I coast as I pass friends who are pedaling in the standard position. I do this a lot.
I could technically test this out, to find out how much faster it is. I’ve got a hill just a mile from me that I can’t descend any faster than 52-mph in the proper, but aggressive flat-backed posture with my butt on the saddle. No matter how hard I pedal from the beginning to the middle of the hill, 51.92-mph is as fast as I can make my bike go. Unless I use the supertuck… but I won’t. If I could lay odds, I’d be just shy of 60-mph. After running the numbers, 57 is likely, 60 is a stretch. See, we actually know the numbers because someone actually tested this stuff. The supertuck, Sagan style (the one I use), is 17% more efficient that the standard position descending. I descend the hill I’m referring to in the “back horizontal” position which is 8% more efficient than what I’ll call the average cyclist’s descending position. So, take 51.92-mph, my top speed on that hill (on my Trek 5200 – top speed on the Venge is 56.8 on that same hill – who says the bike doesn’t matter?) and then add the 9% increase in efficiency and I come up with 56.59-mph. So call it 57 with just one more pedal stroke.
There’s a problem, though. Folks, I ride a bike for fun, and while top speed is fun, I know for a fact, a bicycle is meant to be ridden with one’s butt on the saddle, not on the top tube. The supertuck, while fast and fun, is not exactly easy or as stable as I’d like approaching 60-mph on tires less than an inch wide. Not only do I feel slightly less stable, say a little more “twitchy”, I don’t like the idea of putting pressure where pressure doesn’t belong on a 21-year-old carbon fiber frame (even if you technically don’t [or at least shouldn’t] put your full weight on the top tube – the idea is to hover, not plant).
And therein lies a common sense difference betwixt me and a kid paid to ride. I am very willing to have and know my limitations. I’m a 50-year-old man with a cycling hobby. While I very well may be an avid enthusiast, I don’t need to push those limits beyond feeling comfortable and relatively safe about what I’m doing. I feel fine about 50-mph, even though stopping for something that walked out into the road would be impossible – navigating around said animal would be almost as. I don’t feel “out of control” in the least, otherwise. Thinking about doing that favorite hill in the supertuck sets off alarm bells in my melon, though. So I don’t bother. I hit my 49 to 52-mph with a smile on my face and call it good.
Now, the question has been bandied about by a few pros, should these enhanced positions be banned in the pro peloton?
Folks, I refuse to get into the wokiest of woke discussions/arguments because my opinion doesn’t matter even a little bit – nor does the opinion of anyone else on how I or anyone else chooses to have their fun or, as the case may be, do their job.
Oh, sure, there are pros out there, and journalists who will give them a platform, who will shout from the rooftop, “we should cancel the supertuck for the safety of the children!” I disagree. I find the whole notion of banning the supertuck distasteful at best – part of a new societal cancer at worst. Oh, sure, we can all get behind banning the descending positions for the children. It is, after all, for the children! And who could be for hordes of unwitting children supertucking down hills on their mountain bikes at breakneck speeds only to, you know, break their necks?! I’m certainly not. But I’m not for ending the practice in the peloton, either (nor will I end it on my own bicycle).
In fact, I have to wonder if the pros who don’t like the position simply don’t like the fact that it really is faster and, while it is unquestionably less safe than the standard descending position, after reading up on Martin a little bit, I have a simpler explanation that follows the cancel culture’s drive to cancel everything.
See, certain people like to place blame for bad things happening where it doesn’t belong. Take Dan Martin blaming tour organizers for a crash he was involved in because it rained. Dan put the burden on “tour organizers” for allowing riders to descend a mountain on wet roads when the blame for the crash falls only on Riche Porte who cooked a slippery corner, went into the grass, back across the road and into Martin.
Where this gets interesting is Martin’s second crash of the day. Martin took a wheel from neutral support but the wheel didn’t work with his braking system (for whatever reason). Rather than call for a replacement bike/wheel from the team car, Martin went on and descended a mountain road on one brake (presumably, I can’t imagine Martin would be dumb enough to descend sans brakes). The one brake he had wasn’t enough and he cooked a corner because he couldn’t stop and went straight through it. Fortunately, Martin went through a corner that wasn’t on a cliff. He had to wait for the team car to get another bike and finished the Tour stage down a 1m:15s for his misfortune.
Did you see Dan Martin call for a ban on descending mountains with only one brake in the pro peloton?
No you didn’t, because only an idiot would do such a thing because the only award for that is Darwin’s. That’s exactly what he chose to do, though, and that asshat is lucky he didn’t take someone else out with him. I’d say ban Dan Martin for making a stupid decision before banning someone using the supertuck. Martin’s desire to win shut off his ability to rationally say, “Damn, this is stupid. I think I shall get a proper replacement wheel so I have f’ing brakes.” Did race organizers have anything to do with his stupid choice? No more than they did about Riche Porte taking a corner too fast on a bike that worked properly. Race organizers don’t want crashes in the peloton. Bicycle crashes aren’t like NASCAR wrecks where you have a likelihood of actually walking away. When pros crash their bikes, it’s usually at speed and somebody gets hurt, often severely. Nobody wants to see that, least of all, organizers… or fans of the sport.
Pros are supposed to know their limits. They’re also paid to push them. If you want to blame someone for pushing those limits too far, blame the person who did and call it good. As for this whole ridiculous “cancel culture”, stop it. You’re doing it wrong.
That’s my two cents.
High speed warning: First of all, let me be very clear; purposely riding your bike above, say 10-mph, is inherently dangerous. Doing so above 20 is, as one would guess, more dangerous. Ditto again, 30-mph. When you get to 40-mph, most normal people freak out because 40 is really fast – especially on 23 or 25-mm tires. At 45, you’re geared out on most bikes. Oh, and if some animal runs out in front of you, you hit a sharp rock in the road, or you get speed wobbles and don’t know what to do, you could literally crash and die (long story short, you brace the top tube with both legs whilst coasting – one leg can work, but I find both are more effective). If anything happens at 50, your next of kin will be looking after the rest of your affairs. I hope your insurance is paid up. And that’s the best-case. Worst, you’re wearing a diaper for the rest of your life… and you switch from two wheels, one wheel in front of the other, to four.
Well, if you’ve seen the movie Ford vs. Ferrari, in the scene where Ken Miles explains going fast in a car around corners to his son, it’s a lot like that. You don’t go all tunnel vision, your vision opens and you see everything. And it is fun. Though common sense does add up to “that’s a lot of risk for a little fun”. Sitting in a chair, 50 or 60-mph on a pedal bike seems frightening. It does to me and I’ve been over 40 too many times to count, and 50 more than a handful of times. It never gets old.
Let’s get into the technical aspects. First, I’ve got two bikes I trust with that kind of speed, both with 50/34 cranksets. I’ve got a standard 11/28 cassette on the climbing bike and 11/25 on the racer. This means my top speed whilst pedaling is 45-mph. If I’m going to crack 50, I need a hill. I prefer something fairly straight so I can sit up and grab a handful of breaks long before they’re needed should conditions not be perfect as I’m going down the hill. Winding descents at breakneck speeds are for the pros, in my opinion. Winding descents are great fun but I don’t want to find out the hard way I’ve misjudged a corner at speed. That would be unfortunate and costly. Then there’s one final piece to this puzzle: my bikes are meticulously cared for. I spend an abundant amount of time making sure my bikes are right. Mechanical deterioration can cause a lot of havoc at high speeds. Finally, for the climber, I’ve changed a bunch of things on that bike so I tested it out at increasing speeds over a two-day period before really giving it everything I had. I don’t know how a new part will change the bike’s handling, so better to find out the easy way that everything works as it should. If you’ve ever seen a stuntman perform, there’s an inordinate amount of prior planning that goes into a stunt. I figure I’m worth that, too.
With all of that out of the way, it’s time to hit it. I start at the top of the hill, building speed. I don’t want to hammer too hard, too early and run out of gas before the last hundred yards. On the other hand, it’s the first few hundred yards that set up the last stretch when I’ve hit “escape velocity”, the speed at which you cannot pedal to make the bike go faster (again, 45-mph with a 50/11 combo front to back). I like to descend in the drops and if I’m planning on greater than 45-mph, I won’t do the “hover above the top tube”, so-called supertuck… I’m not paid to do crazy things on a bike, so I like to give myself the best chance of smiling about the memory of breaking 50. The supertuck, contrary to preposterous notion that the supertuck may not be so super, is greatly, bigly, fantastically faster. I’ve used it a lot and I’m typically coasting next to people pedaling their asses off in the normal position – hands in the drops, butt on the saddle. Hugely faster, and you don’t need a wind tunnel to test it. Find a hill and test it with a speedometer. On the other hand, carbon fiber top tubes aren’t meant for sitting on.
I let the hill dictate how I’ll build speed. If it’s steep at the start, I’ll be hammering a big gear. If it’s shallow at the beginning, I’ll build speed slowly… shifting through the gears as my speed ratchets up and I approach escape velocity. Hands on the hoods, fingers stretched out for the brake levers, I get as low as I can and hammer the pedals. With inadequate glasses, your eyes will water as you pass 35-40-mph. At escape velocity, the magic happens. It’s time to just settle in and coast and let the world rush by. The wind noise drowns out the pounding of my heart, but it’s not loud enough to keep the smile from stretching across my face. I can see little rocks in the road that I don’t want to hit, which is always surprising at that speed. It’s small moves, just paying attention to the line I want rather than concentrating on where I don’t want to be (you concentrate on the line you want rather than the one you don’t… do this backwards and you’ll ride directly for the one you don’t – it’s odd and cool how this works at the same time). I lean into the corner at the bottom of the hill and let the bike work it’s way around the corner. At top speed, I don’t bother looking at my computer. Better to keep my eyes up on the road (better for enjoyment purposes as well).
As I bottom out and start back up the next hill, I can feel my heart pounding again… and my teeth can’t be contained by my lips anymore. The smile is way too big. Halfway up the hill and my cassette, it’s down into the little ring again and out of the saddle to climb my way up to the next try.
Sitting at my desk, it’s easy to wonder why I’m so nuts about going fast on my race bikes while I’m talking about it with my boss. When I’m on the way down the hill, I know exactly why I do it. I’ve only felt out of control above 40-mph one time. I got the speed wobbles on my Trek because the headset bearings were rusted and needed replacing. It was scary as hell, but I stopped them by clamping my legs to the top tube. Once replacing that headset, I’ve found a surprising amount of control in going fast… and thankfully, nothing’s ever sauntered out into the road while I’m bombing down a big descent.
I like to go fast because fast is fun. And I’m a little bit nutty. My top speed? On my Venge. 56.8-mph. What is the one word? Awesome.
Just remember, what goes down…
My real favorite ride is normally “the one I’m currently on”… however I really do have a few favorites. Those rides that simply put a smile on my face, every time I get to put rubber to pavement. Tuesday night is one. I can ride that route – hell, I’ve ridden that route – a hundred times and never get bored. I actually did the math, it’s somewhere between 192 and 208. Give or take.
There’s one special route that my wife and I ride, though… one special road. We ride it over and over again…
It has some long, easy up where you just settle into a little gear and spin your way up…
Twisty, technical winding roads – more turns than you can shake a stick at… some straight shot descents…
Some challenging up, if I’m… erm… up for it…
And one badass straight shot descent. There are no photos of that one. I hit 50-mph yesterday, gravity only. I didn’t even try.
The loop that my wife and I are currently riding has it all. Including my wife. And that’s as good as it gets, my friends. Good times and noodle salad.
Life is short. Bikes are cool. Ride ’em hard or ride ’em easy. Just make sure to ride ’em. Puts a smile on my face every time.