As this post publishes, we’ll be rolling out for a short morning ride along a favorite route. We’ll likely talk about the friend we lost last weekend. He was an organ donor and the nature of his crash meant all of the important organs were still viable. He saved several people’s lives. Lungs, kidneys, liver, heart… they were able to use it all. He received a hero’s walk at the hospital the other day.
One immense, sad tragedy made the lives of several people much, much brighter.
We went to the viewing service last night, my wife, daughters and I, to be there for our friend, McMike and his wife. It was undeniably sad, but it was impressive to see all of the cyclists who showed up and in the end, it was as it should be; a celebration of life.
We’ll ride this morning then head to the funeral home, then the cemetery to see our friend laid to rest. It’s going to suck, especially for his parents, but they’ll have a bunch of friends and family there to help them through this.
And tomorrow life will go on. Sometimes it really sucks, but the world will spin on.
With that, I’m trying to use this as a stepping stone for my daughters, an example of how fickle and short life can be. Sean was just 43. The lesson is to enjoy every minute you can on the right side of the grass.
In those last few seconds as my life flashes before my eyes, I don’t want there to be one “I wish I would have” in there… and I want for that flash to feel like it goes on for about 20 minutes.
Now I Remember Why I Ride a Bike Every Day! Building the Fitness to Be Able to Ride That Much HURTS!
I used to think riding every day was a less painful way of life than taking more than one day off a week (say, ride four, three off). After riding every day excepting rain days (maybe one a week), I took two weeks off for vacation, only two riding days the whole stretch. I was surprised to find I felt really good throughout the vacation.
Now, I wasn’t inactive those two weeks. I swam a minimum of an hour a day, usually a lot more, and we had 68 stairs down to the boathouse… I walked that at least three times a day, plus a day hiking at Tallulah Gorge and walking the neighborhood we stayed in with my wife.
The way I ride, though, cycling fit is a lot more “fit” than what I did on my break. I expected to experience a little pain from slowing down, but apparently I didn’t slow down that much.
Then I went directly back to my normal cycling routine the day we got back. 100 miles Sunday, 20 Monday, 40 Tuesday, 20 Wednesday, 20 Thursday…
I woke up this morning and immediately popped two Tylenol. I even found it difficult to make my coffee – which is why I reached for the Tylenol in the first place. I’ve got a couple of over-use saddle sores that I’m dealing with and I ache down to my baby toes even though three out of the last six days on the bike were relatively easy.
The point is, I know an inactive lifestyle is vastly more painful than that of an active lifestyle, but an exceptionally active lifestyle isn’t less painful than an active lifestyle – it’s simply painful going from active to exceptionally active.
And so I learned something this week. I still love riding every day and I will continue to do so… I just have to watch how I come back from an extended period off the bike. I may have to take a couple of weeks to work back to shape rather than trying to cram everything into a week.
A friend of mine had a problem with his Ican rear wheel hub a few weeks ago. When he would coast, the hub would make a high-pitched whirring sound it shouldn’t. Now, there are six contact points in the Ican hub so it makes a distinct free-wheel sound when coasting. I happen to think it sounds awesome, personally. I have a set of the standard wheels on my rain bike – and they recently started making the same sound when free-wheeling. Now, it should be clear from “rain” bike that the Icans get the worst of the riding conditions. If there’s more than a 15% chance of rain I won’t take my good bike. The Trek, my rain bike, has been through a lot since I put those wheels on the bike a year or two ago. I’m happily surprised that they lasted this long without a servicing.
Now, when you pull the hub apart, if you want to go hole hog, you can pull the dust caps on the bearings and install new balls, but mine were nowhere near needing that yet. The hub did require a thorough cleaning, though.
This level of cleaning and servicing is so astoundingly easy, it’s almost not worthy of a post, but it will help some, and it’s an excellent start into bicycle maintenance that’s fairly difficult to do wrong. So let’s begin.
For tools, you’ll need the following:
A chain whip, cassette removal nut, a big wrench, two 5 mm Allen wrenches, heavy lube, light lube.
First, we remove the wheel and the cassette from the wheel. With the wheel standing upright, insert one 5 mm Allen wrench in either side of the axle hole (where the quick release runs through the axle) and loosen the dust cap (it threads into the cassette body). Once the dust cap nut is removed, the cassette body simply slides out of the hub, exposing the sealed bearings. Give the bearings a quick spin to make sure there’s no “grinding” feel to them. If so, the ball bearings will need to be replaced (at which point I march the wheel straight to the shop and pay them to deal with it). If the bearings are good, all that’s left is to clean everything, lube the moving pieces and put it back together.
I like to use a light spray lube on the pawls (the spring-loaded teeth that grab onto the hub when the pedals are turned). I find heavy and dry lubes tend to gum up the cassette body. So I hit each pawl (6 total for Ican standard wheels) with a quick blast of the light lube. This will clean and lube the inner working surfaces. Wipe off the excess. Then I’ll turn my attention to the inner teeth of the hub. I wipe the surfaces clean with a paper towel being sure not to press any dirt into the bearing cover plate. Heavy lube goes on the bearing surfaces that the axle goes through.
Once that’s done we’re going to install the cassette body back onto the axle. Now, this gets a little tricky because there’s a floating washer inside the cassette body, behind the bearing, that can get in the way and make it seem like the body won’t slide back onto the axle. Center that washer with your pinky finger, a q-tip, or a piece of wire/cable and slide the cassette body over the axle. With the body on the axle, it’ll stop shy of entering the hub body because the pawls are sticking out. Finagle them into position so the cassette body fully seats in the hub.
NOW, before you go and put the dust cap back on, give the cassette body a little spin to make sure it operates smoothly as it sits. If there’s some resistance to it, it’s likely not seated properly. Remove the cassette body and reinsert it. Now you can thread on the dust cap and tighten it down. Put the cassette back on, tighten it down and Bob’s your uncle.
Give it a quick test-spin to make sure the funky whirring sound is gone.
With the proper tools handy, this should take ten or fifteen minutes – and it’s worth it to keep your rear wheel running smoothly. Especially if you’re riding the bike in gnarly conditions.
TNIL: Found Out What Happens When You Take Two Weeks Off and Eat Too Much During That Vacation Edition
“I came back from vacation without missing a beat”, I thought as I rolled out for the warm-up last evening. Monday’s easy ride did some good after Sunday’s hundred and I was feeling good. The warm-up loop was excellent.
We had a sparse turnout for the A group so we rolled out with the A Elites. Oh, yippee. On the positive side, the weather was absolutely perfect for this. Barely a breeze, sunny and low 80s for a temp (27 C) The ride was great while we all caught up in the first mile but the instant one elite guy half-wheeled another, it was all over and any promise of a mellowed 22-mph ‘club’ ride went out the window in a hurry. I hung on as long as I had the want to but I ended up sitting up and waiting for the tandem and several others who were spit off the back before me.
The tandem never showed, they’d turned for a wise shortcut. Winston and I waited for Clark, Dave and a guy Winston knew who had joined us… on his mountain bike. At this point in the ride we’d been pushing a 24-mph average… and the dude was on a mountain bike.
Winston, Clark, Dave, MTB guy and I rolled out and kept the average around 21-1/2 for quite a while but I started fading with about eight miles left. With five miles left I was suffering. Three miles to go, out of 33, and I was “stick a fork in me” done. I had nothing left.
I did fine on the hundred miler Sunday but Tuesday night was too much. On the plus-side, once I was home, showered and had eaten, I fell asleep almost instantly. I didn’t move last night except to wake up in the morning. It’s about time I ran into a salad or two. I had a little too much fun with food on vacation.
That’s right, my friends. Numero uno. Not 1,621 or some made-up number… The Big Kahuna.
I’ve alluded to a major problem over the last couple of days but wasn’t ready to write about it. A friend of our local cycling community, a friend of mine and many around here, and the top shop mechanic most responsible for keeping the high-end bikes quiet and on the road passed away Saturday night after crashing his car through a roundabout in the wee hours of the morning after a volleyball match/tournament a couple of nights earlier. The hard thing to cope with is his parents. I am much tighter with his dad than I was with him and I’ve got quite a few friends who read my blog so… it can be messy writing about something like this. His dad is an A Elite rider and we’ve turned quite a few weekend miles together and the thought of his loss is crushing.
Our friend was in his early 40s and about a mile from home at the time of his crash. Sometimes it’s gone, that fast, and it just sucks.
And so there I was last night. Chuck is in Utah testing a new truck, so I was on my own. It was unbelievably hot, sunny and with only a mild breeze from the west, it was going to be gnarly. Extra-gnarly after my hundred the day before. With Tuesday Night looming, I knew exactly what I needed; a nice, easy ride to get my legs stretched out for tomorrow. I chose the Trek, hoping I’d be able to work out a shifting issue from the other day.
I rolled out on my usual route and simply took it easy, enjoying the 90 degree (30 C) heat and sunshine (I really do like it – I’m weird that way). I’d developed a mysterious shifting issue on the Trek that I desperately wanted to figure out (it’s been driving me a little crazy – big ring is fine, shifts in all gears, everything is great – little ring, any more than 300 watts and I drop the chain… and that can hurt when you’re laying down some decent wattage on the way up a hill).
For the first eight miles, it was just me, my bike, the road and the sun… and my thoughts. Into the breeze and up a short little hill, I decided to shift into the small ring and get out of the saddle. Nothing – perfectly normal. Still in the breeze, I switched my thinking back to my friend. I tried to wrap my head around the crash and I just couldn’t. That’s when I started thinking about how grateful I am to be a part of our rabble of cyclists. That produced the proper line of thinking; “Just enjoy it while you’ve got it, Jim. This only ever ends in a casket. Slide into it in a cloud of dust, exclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!” That’s the goal.
And that’s precisely when I made peace with it.
After the headwind, I turned into a subdivision and shifted to the little ring to climb a dinky hill. Bam, dropped the chain immediately. I replaced the chain and continued on… and about a quarter-mile later I noticed the chain skip on the cassette. Just a faint click and a resetting of the chain. I shifted up and down the cassette – no noise, hit every gear, so I pedaled on. The one truth in mechanical sleuthing was ever thus; if you can’t figure it out or locate the issue, keep going. It will get worse.
I relaxed into my ride and switched to the big ring. Sure enough, every 30 seconds, if I shifted my weight just right, the chain would reset. I pulled over to the side of the road, in the grass, and flipped my bike upside down and pedaled… click, click, click. Upside down I could see the chain jump.
Two full turns on the barrel adjuster before the click faded into a beautiful whir… another turn and it was clicking again. I backed it off of that last turn, then fine-tuned it. On the road again and down into the small ring, a slight adjustment to the front cable tensioner, and butter. Out of the saddle, full power, it’s all good. How the barrel adjuster moved that much on the trip down south after I had it perfectly dialed in for months, I could rack my brain for hours trying to figure it out.
I could have done the Homer Simpson, “Doh” and slapped my forehead, but I was just glad to get it figured out easily and simply. I went for three years having to have the tension dialed in within a 16th of a turn for the derailleur to hit all of the gears 90% of the time… with a new derailleur, chain and cassette the shifting works so well I’ve got three turns of play on the rear derailleur and it’ll still shift right – I can only look as that as a win. The rest, I’ll work out in the wash.
And that brought me back, full circle to the driveway. I pulled in with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. 19.75 miles and I went from being torn up over my friend’s passing and the pain his parents are going through, to being grateful for the time and friends I’ve got. I love being on the right side of the grass – and that’s as it should be.
I can figure out anything on a bicycle, in 20 miles or less. More (much), or less. Number one on the long list of why I love my bikes.
My wife and kids and I were on vacation in Tiger, Georgia for the last two weeks. Normally, we ride almost every day when we’re down there. This year, we had rain every stinkin’ day and night. The real trick is the timing of the rain. The route we like is tree-covered, with a lot of up and more twists and turns than an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Rain makes the route absolutely treacherous and the tree-cover means it won’t dry out. We managed to ride twice in two weeks.
We arrived home late Saturday night with a favorite annual summer ride scheduled for Sunday morning. A 100-mile annual summer ride.
I was pretty sure one of two things was going to happen: 1. My tongue was going to be dangling precariously close to my spokes by mile 50. Or 2. I was going to be Frankie Fresh Legs and kill it. I had doubts it would be the latter. How could someone possibly miss two weeks and come back to a hundred-mile slog in perfect blue skies, a minor breeze and 91 degree weather (31 C)?
I didn’t get to sleep till 11 Saturday and I had to be rolling out the driveway, bike in car, at 7 am so I could have enough time to get ready. I slept great, though, and till almost 5 am. A couple of cups of coffee and I was ready to prep my bike, shower and get ready. I loaded Mrs. Bgddy’s bike on the bike rack for her vehicle (we drove separately so she could take her time and so she could ride a shorter route if she wanted).
made it to our friend’s house at around 7:30. I took my time getting ready. My wife showed up just in time, got ready and we rolled out.
The weather report on Friday showed Sunday to be a washout. Thankfully, Saturday was the bad day and Sunday turned out to be glorious. I had the Venge and as I settled in after five miles, I was feeling quite good. A little to soon for judgement, but I was encouraged. And it just got better from there. We were into the wind or with a crosswind so pulls were fairly short, especially while we were in a double pace-line. That all changed at our first stop, about 35 miles in. The 100k group split from the 100-mile group and we lost about half of the group.
We singled up at that point and hammered for our lunch stop at 57 miles.
At 55-miles I was feeling surprisingly great. I was Frankie Fresh Legs. For lunch our hands were a little tied. The local Subway was closed so we were stuck with McDonald’s. After lunch we took a few miles to work up to pace again and the miles ticked by until we hit the tailwind section home and things really heated up. After 90 miles I could feel my energy level drop. Things started hurting and the ride became a struggle. One of our group started cramping so he dropped off the back to soft pedal home and another was starting to flag. I was ready to take it to the barn but a couple in the group wanted to do a two-mile jog to make up for some lost miles in the middle of the ride that were sacrificed for smoother asphalt. Mike took his toy and went home but the five of us remaining made the turn for the extra miles.
Best I can say is I hung in and got my miles. I stopped my Garmin in the driveway at 100.56 miles at a pace of 19.2-mph. 5:16 and change in moving time.
So here I am, Monday morning and I’m a little sore but a lot better than I expected. I’d say the time off did a lot of good and not much harm… I don’t plan on making a habit out of time off the bike, though.
We’re in the midst of the rainiest weather I’ve ever seen in my lifetime… and the roads we’ve got to choose from are far too dangerous to ride in the rain. I’ve ridden once in the last week and a couple days.
I miss my bike but have more than kept busy, though nothing Strava-worthy.
Today is a total washout but tomorrow looks quite promising. In the meantime, I remain thankful to be on the ride side of the grass, pumping air… and am looking forward to stretching my legs when the latest deluge is done – I’ve got a 100-miler coming up Sunday. Out of the frying pan, as they say.
The only sure constant besides death and taxes is, life with throw curveballs at you as long as you’re on the right side of the grass. Since I sobered up in ’92, I’ve dodged more proverbial landmines than I could possibly begin to list. The main difference between when I was a much younger lad pre-recovery and today is that I used to step on them back then.
Sad truth is, I simply made poor choices when I was drinking – and my bad choices on top of bad choices had a tendency to compound, as one would imagine they would. I’m here to tell you, I don’t think I could have amounted to as much as I did without the guidance of Alcoholics Anonymous. While it isn’t for everyone (well, technically it is for anyone, but I feel obligated to say it isn’t for those who choose a different path – and I have no opinion on the choice to go a different way – I wouldn’t, but what I would and wouldn’t do is about as consequential as bat shit), AA offered a path to correcting more than just the booze-related problems. It is often said, you can sober up a horse thief, but what’s left is still a horse thief.
In AA lies the ability to fix the “horse thief” stuff. In fact, we believe it’s the outlying issues that drove/drive us to drink in the first place. Another way to look at it is like this; take someone who used to be an angry drunk. If they’re not a drunk anymore, what’s left? Angry.
And so it was, I set about a path to fix me. Not the world around me, but me. And this has paid dividends upon compound interest. I’d never say I’m to a land of unicorns and rainbows, but freedom and happiness sure feel good after hell on earth.
While one could poke holes all day long into my theories on and understanding of happiness (and I have people who literally do poke at me for weaknesses, simply because they can’t stand seeing someone else being happy with acceptance of life on life’s terms) you’ll wear yourself out trying because my enjoyment of life and recovery doesn’t depend on the believing of others it’s worked.
And so it is with recovery. Have a little compound awesome for yourself. It’s there for anyone who wants to work for it. And it’s sweet.
I have a blog friend, Sheree, who likes to post photos she takes of flowers on her blog. She is, without question, a fair rider and has an inside look at pro racing. A cycling enthusiast, she is.
So I’ve been inspired to snap photos of flowers while out on rides when I have the chance. Too often, though, I can’t get the good shots because I can’t get to my phone in time.
Typically, you’d have me turn around and run through that stretch of road again to get that shot, right? But I can’t. To turn around would knock a half-mile-an-hour off my average on Strava… what if I had to do that twice in one ride?! What would my friends think if they saw a 16-1/2 mph average for an easy ride rather than a 17-1/2 average?!
This is a sickness of mine.
Now, I conveniently blamed this on Strava as click-bait, but other than to get people to the post, I won’t sink to blaming a flaw in me on an app. I would say to do so would show a greater flaw in me. Say, allowing what other people thought of me dictate how I choose to ride a bicycle in the first place?
But I do. I’d rather show a better average on Strava than circle back, to borrow and properly use a phrase, for a good photo for a post.
Now, to be fair, most often I find these photo ops while riding with a bunch of friends in a pace-line. It’s not like I can throw up an arm and have everyone turn back around so I can get a photo of a flower, but that rare solo ride…
Or when those flowers show up enough I actually have time to get my phone out whilst riding with friends…
Either way, this is an interesting line of thought. I’m thinking now that I’m 51 I oughta loosen up a little bit. Stop and smell the 🌹. Then take a picture or two just for the heck of it.
If you’re not working on something, you can sink to anything.
Just a thought.
I transported my Trek on a trunk-mounted rack twice. I didn’t know any better at the time, but that’s only an excuse. I’m lucky I didn’t crack, fracture, or otherwise break the top tube of the frame (the part of the bike that whole bike dangles from on a trunk mounted rack). And so began the lesson on what bike rack to use with which bike.
Any rack that uses the top tube as the support for holding the bike isn’t suitable for a carbon fiber frame, in my humble opinion. When it comes down to it, if you’re going to put your bike on the back of your vehicle, you’re going to want something that supports the bike from the wheels to protect the frame:
Our bike rack holds four bikes and relies on the strongest parts of the bike for support – this means no crushed carbon fiber at the end of your drive.
That’s really the issue here. With a carbon fiber frame, the material is made to be unbelievably strong in very specific ways and places. They’re also astonishingly weak in others. The simple truth is, a lot of bad can happen when you dangle a carbon fiber bike from the back of a vehicle.
Aluminum, steel (and I’m assuming titanium) are more forgiving with the style of rack you choose – you can get away with a hanging trunk rack, but now that I have a proper bike rack, I have to wonder if I’d ever go back to a trunk mount for the aluminum bikes I have… I don’t think so.
The trunk mounted racks are gangly, imprecise, and the amount of damage a bike can sustain on one is simply too great a risk. Especially when you’re dealing with bikes that cost thousands, just for the frame, to replace.
The Saris rack we’ve got is phenomenal, 1Up makes a rack that doesn’t even touch the frame, Yakima, Thule, Kuat… there are a half-dozen more. I’d rather put a hitch mount on a new car than risk my bikes.
Update: My friend, the Unironedman asks, in the comments section, about roof mounts. While these are excellent systems, my carbon fiber frames wouldn’t do well against a garage. I refuse to risk it.
The simple truth is, if you want your carbon fiber bike in one piece when you get to your destination, you’ll want a rack that supports the wheels.