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Monthly Archives: July 2021

The technical proficiency of blowing a snot rocket whilst, and at the same time, riding a bike; it is an art.

I’d like to thank Sheree for the inspiration for this post.

Clearing your nose whilst cycling, without getting snot on you, or the people following behind, is an art every cyclist should master. It’s a necessity for the fast crew especially. And when cycling in muggy weather. And cold weather. And cool, dry weather. Well, pretty much everything except warm, dry weather. So Arizona for six months out of the year except when it’s hot enough to melt your tires and stuff.

Anyway, it’s an important skill because if you can’t, you’ll spend half an hour cleaning snot drippings off your top tube after a ride! Nobody wants to do that.

Before we get into the art of hurling said snot rocket, let’s get a couple of important items out of the way.

1. Wind direction matters. Don’t snot on the side into the wind or with the wind quartering in the direction you will be snotting.

2. If you’re snotting absolutely, positively cannot wait till you get to the back of the group, signal and pull off to the side so you don’t cover others in snot, thus tempting them to push you into a ditch.

3. With a tailwind, launch away. Either side.

4. With a headwind, either side works but there has to be some down to the projection of said snot rocket otherwise, it’ll get messy (shoulder or side of the face).

Now, what you’ve been waiting for, technique!

Those people who claim they can’t blow a snot rocket simply mess their snot rocket technique up. The trick is which finger to block which nostril with. If you’re snotting right, you block the right nostril with your right pointer finger. Snotting left, block the left nostril with the left pointer finger and blow. Do not try to reverse this or you’ll wear that snot rocket!

Now, you don’t sit upright to blow a snot rocket. Simply roll your head right or left so the blow nostril is a little below the block finger – and make sure to get your elbow up out of the way! And make sure to take the wind into account, as mentioned earlier.

If you typically wear your snot rockets, here’s what you’re doing wrong: you’re snotting into the wind, blocking the wrong nostril with the wrong finger of the opposite hand. And you’re sitting up, making the wearing of the dreaded snot rocket a certainty!

On blocking the wrong nostril with the wrong hand (blow right, block left or vice versa); what this does is cause a cavitation in the wind which blows snot up into your face and on your glasses. This is, as we say, no bueno. Or non buono in Italian. Or… erm… not good in Irish (or possibly aon mhaith, but let’s not get lost in the woods!)

The final piece to this puzzle is the blow. It should be quick and forceful. If you hold back with a weak blow, your snot ball won’t reach escape velocity before slowing down which will allow it to be affected by the wind and air movement. Trust the steps above and blow that snot out. Smite it to the ground!

You are now trained, grasshopper. Snot forth. Whilst happily pedaling.

Getting Back to Nice, Easy Cycling After A Hard Week

Taking a day off after a hard week in the saddle is always rough on me. Once I take a minute to rest, it seems everything creaks and clicks until I throw a leg over the top tube again. After four great days in the saddle, we had a rain day on Wednesday. Plus a cycling club board meeting, plus a meeting-meeting… and we had to fit my birthday dinner in there somewhere, too.

Now, this wasn’t a “maybe I’ll go out and play in the light rain on my gravel bike” kind of rain. This was torrential, with lightning and rumbling thunder. It decided to let loose on us at exactly the right time, on the best day possible.

It was supposed to rain again the following day, and there was plenty of rain south of us, but somehow we stayed dry. After planning on taking the day off, I had a chance to ride, so I obviously took it.

I spent the first half of the ride fighting a little breeze and wondering if I was going to get soaked – and I almost turned it into a ten-mile time trial just to make sure I got a ride in. Once I got rolling, though, I just wasn’t feeling another hard ride. I tried to will it to happen, but there simply wasn’t enough want to. I couldn’t get there.

I settled on going out till it sprinkled, if it sprinkled, then I’d head straight back if it did.

Not a drop.

I just rode, trying not to bother with looking at the head unit. I didn’t want to bother with speed or average. And it was wonderful. I pulled into the driveway with some miles and an average, but I don’t even remember what the final numbers were, and I’m not going to look them up. It was just a bike ride. I love it when that happens.

And so it was.

Sometimes those are the best. When you can just get lost in the pedaling and the whisper-quiet feedback of the tires on the asphalt… then you notice the breeze and the birds chirping in the background… and everything slows down… and you get lost for long enough that it builds on your love of cycling.

Well what do you know… my vaccine appears to be… working! Shocker!

I’ve been 100% back to normal since getting vaccinated. That’s a full stop. No masks (I don’t even look for signs anymore), no distancing, I’m back to hugs, handshakes and bro-hugs. I’m about three weeks away from “last year is last year”. I don’t even think about COVID anymore.

I’m treating my vaccine as, well, one would treat a vaccine.

Normal is fantastic.

Alas, I can’t help feel sorry for those who still run around in a mask, whether to signal some form of virtue (if you’d even call it virtue, I wouldn’t), because their employer or government requires them, or because they’re still legitimately scared.

Another set I feel sorry for is the group that won’t get vaccinated – be it vast right-wing or vast left-wing conspiracy folks (if you think they’re only from one side of the political spectrum, you’re wrong). In fact, this is an excellent line of thought to expand on.

Whatever the case with the COVID, I’m enjoying my double-immunity (had it and I’ve been vaccinated… didn’t really know I’d had it till I was sick for a full week after my first jab).

One of my friends sees everyone through a political spectrum. Now, we all have our political leanings and beliefs, but the vast majority of us can look beyond those beliefs and see the good in others and let the rest go to be friends. After all, these are politicians we’re talking about here. Not this friend of mine, though. In fact, I don’t think he much cares for me due to the way I lean. He certainly likes to take pot-shots at me from time to time. I rarely react, because other than his political views and the way he treats those who think differently, he’s generally a pretty good guy to be around. Funny thing is, he’s lost on the fact I choose to look beyond his political leanings even though I disagree with a lot of what he believes in. I like to say, “if it was actually as bad as he thought it was, I’d be just as mad as he is, too”.

On a ride a while back during a ride, we passed Nuggent Road and I pointed to it as we rode by. This friend of mine is a connoisseur of rock and roll and I figured he’d get a charge out of passing Nuggent Road.

He got a charge, all right. He let me know how Ted Nuggent was a denier of the COVID until he got it and how he despised the man because he’s a radical right-winger.

First, the Nug wasn’t a denier at all (though he was mis-reported as being one – shocker). He said the toll on freedom was too much, and he was right. Anyway, I took that opportunity and said, “He also happened to play a mean guitar”. Then I added, “You know, half the country is a whole lot of people to hate because of their political beliefs”. I didn’t say a word after that.

If you can’t see the good in people beyond a bunch of political bullshit arguments meant to keep you angry, I’d like to suggest you try to make the world a better place. As long as you know where to start doing that. Try a mirror.

I do. It’s a great place to start. The asshole looking at me is the only one on the planet I can change anyway.

After Two Weeks and 402 Miles In S-Works Shoes; Morgan Hill, We’ve Got A (Good) Problem.

I wrote, last week, about two pair of shoes a friend gave to me that he’d moved on from. He’s into the new knitted shoes and the leather S-Works 6 shoes were snug on him. Joe is a big dude.

They fit me like a glove.

The first couple of rides, while I adjusted the cleats to get my legs in the proper motion, were a little iffy. The yellow pair fit the best, but the outer left heel dug into my foot just below my ankle bone. After three rides, I was wondering if I’d have to endure that pain until the shoes broke in. On the fourth, I noticed my left heel was out just a bit and I was pressing against the float, trying to bring my heel in. I adjusted the cleat to bring my heel in when I got home and that was the last time I felt the edge of the shoe dig into my ankle.

The blue pair was a different story altogether. They didn’t feel near as good as the yellow pair – they also didn’t have as many miles on them, so I thought maybe they just needed to be broken in. I changed the cleats out and fit them giving them the full treatment (lining the cleat up with the proper toe bone, then lining the heels up, etc.). I had my left heel out a little again, so I made the adjustment and they were perfect… they felt just as good as the yellow pair.

Apparently, if you want the shoes to feel good, you have to line up the cleats correctly, because after I did mine, they’re like pedaling whilst your feet are riding on pillows of butter.

And therein lies the problem. In response to a comment from a good friend of mine, I wrote that I would still buy the same Torch 2.0 shoes I had been wearing rather than part with $400+ for a pair of S-Works shoes.

After 194 comfortable miles in three days without a noticeable hot spot over a cleat, I’m not so sure I want to stick to my response, though. My legs simply don’t tire out like they did in the Torch 2.0s… and this isn’t a problem with the cleat positioning, either. I had the cleats on my Torch shoes professionally aligned. I have a feeling the S-Works shoes are just that good because this last weekend should have had me popping Dual-Action Advil like it was going out of style. I took one yesterday and one the day before, and that’s it.

Long post, short, the S-Works shoes play, my friends. They’re a lot better than I hoped for.

TNIL: Running On Empty Edition

I joined a Strava challenge to cycle 400 km in the month of July. I got my badge last night.

It was hot when I left work. The thermostat showed 93 balmy, sunshiny degrees (34 C). With a 12% chance we’d see enough rain to wet the road, I readied and packed the Venge.

I was the only one to show up for the warm-up. Heh. Warm-up. It was ninety-freaking-three degrees! There was a gnarly anvil cloud the size of a mountain to the north and much farther south but it was sunny and fair other than that. I was optimistic. I didn’t push the warm-up, not even a little. 17-mph.

We had an surprisingly small group in the parking lot. A lot of people using the long weekend to a vacation. Only two A-Elite guys and a decent handful of us A peeps. On the bright side, Carla and Allen showed with their son – we hadn’t seen the whole crew in almost two years.

We rolled together at 6:01 with the big dogs up front. I expected them to get bored and drop us within a few miles. One tends to be impatient and the other, a National star athlete, has a reputation for only having one gear (and it’s very fast).

The surge to drop us never came. they just kept an easy pace, between 21 & 24 for their initial eight mile turn up front. After that, we cycled through the double pace-line as we normally would.

But the clouds had been building while we’d been enjoying the effort of our friends. We weren’t halfway around the 33-mile route when we hit the first wet pavement. It wasn’t bad at first, just annoyingly damp – enough to make you wash your bike after. It got worse.

I almost forgot! I’d been quite nervous all day about whether or not I’d be able to hang with the group. After three hard days in a row over the holiday weekend, a Tuesday Night was not what I needed. I did rather well, though. First, I was almost all the way in the back of the pace-line for that monster first pull from Jared and Dave. Second, I was rarely paired with someone who would take a long turn up front which meant I could stay, relatively speaking, fresh. I didn’t have to dig into the well until we got to the hills.

As we came out of the hills for the home stretch, we dropped the son, then Allen, then his wife (the Force is strong with that one!) before Clark and I started faltering. Dave, Jared and Clinton slowly pulled away on the newly drenched roads. We had a storm blow through that somehow missed us but had deposited enough rain the rooster tails were huge. At 23-mph we were riding into our own spray off the front tires. I caught Clark and we traded turns at the front till we hit the final mile. Clark was fading fast so I went around and slowly picked up the pace so he could hold on. I held it between 23 and 26 all the way to the line and gave it everything I had, expecting Clark to blow by me at any second. He never did and I crossed the line with a 21.7-mph average for the long course (33-miles) before sitting up, only to realize I’d dropped him a while back.

I sat up, completely out of gas and dripping wet, to let him catch back up. We took it easy all the way back to the parking lot. And I mean easy.

Special thanks to the girls who attend the church that lets us use the back lot to stage our rides who always show up with water, Gatorade and snacks on hot days. This week they brought watermelon with them. The eldest laughed at the uncontrollable grunt I let out on the first chew of a big piece. It was heavenly. After my watermelon and a Gatorade, I packed up and went home. I had to clean up my bike so nothing rusted, but I didn’t last long after that. I don’t even remember falling asleep, but it took me quickly. I slept straight through the night without a single toss or turn. I woke up in exactly the same spot I was in when I fell asleep.

Thankfully, we’ve got inescapable rain in the forecast for the afternoon so I’m taking the night off. My last day off was 433 miles ago – more than half of those (226) in the last four days and a hard ride, every one. I’m ready for a little rain-induced R&R.

And, incidentally, with this post I’ve completed a 60-day stretch with a post every day – and on my birthday, no less.

The Final 100 K of America’s Freedom Weekend: 194 Miles for the 3-Day Celebration

We had a little road trip planned for our last day of the 4th of July long weekend. a friend we ride with at the Horsey Hundred, The Assenmacher 100, and DALMAC asked if we’d come down to ride with him on his stomping grounds.

We had a great group planning to head down but a few bailed dropping the pace-line to just six. My wife was even going to bail till Dave offered to let her ride his e-bike. That offer piqued her interest just enough to get her there.

And so we rolled out for a planned 100k morning ride. Unlike our normal roads, these were hilly. Rollers, and gentle climbs everywhere we turned. My wife on that e-bike was comical. We’re all fairly decent climbers, so we’d be cruising up a decent little hill at about 15 or 16, and here comes my wife on that e-bike, a flat bar hybrid mountain bike from the early 80’s (modified with an electric motor and battery), lightly pedaling and passing us at 20+. I tried keeping up a few times early on but we dropped everyone else almost immediately. I learned to just let her do her thing.

I think once we got that straight, the ride went smashingly well. First, with a few notable exceptions, the roads were fantastic. The scenery was great and so was the weather:

We stopped at a convenience store along the way, near mile 35, but didn’t need much else… until we got to Springport at mile 52 and about twenty minutes before the local ice cream shop opened. We were dejected. We weren’t about to wait around for that long… but my wife noticed a stirring inside the shop! She pleaded with the proprietor to open a little early for us, promising we’d make it worth her while. She did. And we did… to the point the kind lady asked if I was sure I wanted to tip that much. My Oreo Flurry was divine and worth every penny.

We rolled out after finishing up with just ten miles left in our journey – and mainly a tailwind ten miles at that. We took it to the barn.

Dave’s wife had watermelon waiting for us when we got back, and we needed it. The temp was approaching 90. With about double the amount of climbing we’re used to on a ride like that, we managed an 18.3-mph average (29 kmh) in the brutal heat. And so it was, the third day in a row, training for DALMAC. I have no doubt I’m ready.

And the fun continues tonight… it’s Tuesday night! This one’s going to be interesting, too. I could feel every one of those miles waking up this morning.

An Amazing 3rd Annual Mike Adams’ Firecracker 100 K 4th of July Ride

The gist of this post, what I’m about to write, is unfair. Let me be very, very clear… I don’t care that it’s not fair. Genes, want to, or whatever it may be, I love the heat. While everyone else is melting as temps top 90 degrees (32 C), I’m in all my glory.

And so we began at 7:30. I met Mike and Chuck at the corner and we rolled to the meeting spot. We picked up Diane and Jeff on Diane’s tandem along the way and quickly went from taking it easy to rolling out. We were there just a few miles later, waiting for everyone to get their bikes out and shoes on. At just a few minutes past 8 we were ready to roll out. We had a great group, eleven strong.

The pace started out easy but it didn’t stay that way long. The breeze was light but we could feel it heading directly into the teeth of it. The best way to put it would be to say it dampened the pace slightly, but the flag shows it all.

As we rolled on, the pace picked up. Pulls up front were short, usually a mile each, and it got lively – in a fun way, not in a “please make the bad man stop” way. We were picking them up and putting them down, as they say.

As the ride wore on, I realized something fantastic; I was feeling awesome. That shouldn’t have been on the second big day – I should have been dragging, at least a little bit (after contemplating this, I’ve got an interesting idea why this is… more later).

The temperature climbed a lot more than we did on the flat-ish route and all of a sudden, after two flicked off in front of us, Mike and I were up front together. I know where to look, of course, but I can actually see the spike in pace exactly when the two of us took over the front. We went from 20-mph to 23 as if someone flipped a switch. We were off the front within a minute. I looked at Mike and smiled, “Some idiot left us up front unsupervised!” Mike responded, “No governor”. Exactly right – zero governor. We dialed it back to let everyone catch up and kept the pace reasonable, thereafter.

The remainder of the ride was sheer bliss on two wheels. Mike and I would end up at the front a couple of more times together and while we were careful not to bury anybody, we bumped up against the pace that was just slightly less than tongues dangling in spokes.

We altered the route for the better a couple of times, taking out a few stretches of gnarly pavement for pristine roads, new in one instance as we took it to the barn. After dropping everyone at the elementary school in town, Mike, Diane, Jeff, Chuck and I rolled for home. I pulled into the driveway with 75-1/2 miles and a 19.1-mph average (my wife’s average for the actual 100 k was 19.6).

DALMAC training is excellent – and today is day three. In fact, I have to start getting ready so we can pack the car and head out to my friend’s house…

And So It Begins, Training for DALMAC Over Freedom Weekend

DALMAC, at the end of the season, is a grind. Three 100+ mile days followed by a 72 as we take it to the barn. Most days are above 19-mph for an average.

The first day is fairly easy – or, as easy as 100 miles can be at 5:10-ish hours in ride time. The second day is where you’re tested. The second day hurts. Uphill almost the whole hundred and maintaining that pace, a day after we rode a hundred, can be more than a little brutal. The third day, you’re feeling a little better as your body gets over the shock… right up till about mile 90 and The Wall. A quarter-mile at 18% after you’ve climbed 1 to 3% for two miles to get there. I walked my Venge the last eighth the first year but rode every year since (I changed my drivetrain specifically for that hill) because I climbed the first two miles way too fast.

The Fourth of July weekend is tailor made for DALMAC training. We’re staring at a three-day weekend and day one is in the books.

We rolled out to unseasonably cool and cloudy conditions but with barely a breeze as wind goes. I regretted not wearing arm-warmers for the first hour but it warmed up after.

We started out into what little wind there was but it felt like forever before we had the help of the breeze.

The pace was steady and enjoyable throughout and I was feeling quite spectacular.

It was heading home in the last ten miles of our 56-mile ride that I started contemplating, “Why is it we ride our bikes so far?” By this question I mean, we’re out there three hours yesterday… but I never had a dull moment and as we took it to the barn all I could think is “I wish we had another hour to go…”

I’ve got no good answer, my friends. I’ll pass 4,000 miles (6,437 km) for the year today, I’ll be more than 1,000 miles over my pace to hit my yearly goal of 6,000 miles (just wait till August and September, I should be over my goal by the end of September, easy). We ride more than most folks drive their cars… but look at that smile on the face of the old fella up front.

That says all you need to know about “why” right there. Thank you, Sir. May I have another?

PS. When I refer to the Fourth of July as “Freedom Day”, do not mistake that I was referring to our freedom from British Colonial rule. While the Declaration of Independence has much to do with that, I’m thinking bigger. The beginning of the United States of America is based on the Freedom of the People from government. Unlike most other countries the world over. Some have famously complained that this is out of date, that our Constitution is too hard on the government’s efforts to progress. I’d argue that our Constitution is doing exactly what it was designed to do in that regard.

An Experiment In Bicycle Tires and How to Get the Most Out Of Yours

This isn’t going to be a post about which tires you should choose. I ride Specialized Turbo Pro tires on both my rain bike and my good bike. I ride them because there sticky in corners and fast and they hold up to the odd piece of debris on the side of the road. They’re not Specialized’s fastest tire, but they’re an outstanding all-around tire. Others like Conti 5000s and Michelin Pros… whatever you like, this post is about a simple experiment I did in how to get the most out of the tires we use, whatever that happens to be.

Back ten years ago, when carbon fiber wheels cost $1,500 to $4,000 for a set, most of us rolled on 19.5 mm wide alloy wheels with 23 mm wide tires. The width of the rim and the wider tires created a lightbulb effect with the tires, where the tire and rim resembled a lightbulb in cross-section. If you rode a lot of miles, you’d have to rotate the tires every few weeks to keep the rear tire from developing a flat spot… or you just rode till that flat spot was unbearable and put a new tire on the front and the old tire on the back.

For several reasons, rim widths started increasing – especially with the production of gravel bikes. Carbon fiber wheels dropped in price and became much more accessible. At the same time it was deemed that wider tires, because they smooth out the ride, are faster than the old, skinny 23 mm tires. Standard tire width went from 23 to 25, up to 28 mm on a road bike. And at the same time, it was learned that wider rims with those wider tires improve aerodynamics because those wider rims cut down on the aforementioned “lightbulb effect” on the tires.

Another benefit was improved wear on the tires – and I mean vastly improved.

The rear tire will still develop a flat patch over time, but nowhere near as fast as the three to six weeks you could go before having to rotate the tires with the old 19.5/23 rim to tire combo. Remember that three to six weeks. It’ll be important in a minute. I noticed a vast improvement on my Specialized Venge using a 25 x 50 mm rim and a 26 mm tire. On my Trek, I was using a 23 x 38 mm rim with a 25 mm tire so I decided to see if I would get an improvement if I went to a 24 mm tire.

That was three months and likely 1,500 miles ago (split duty between the Venge and Trek – so 2,676 miles but I rode the Trek almost exclusively in April… 1,500 miles is about right, maybe even a little more) and I just rotated the tires for the first time.

There’s no question the aerodynamics are better (this has been tested extensively). The tires wear better (the front on my Trek is still round and looks fairly new), and the feel is plush when you take the time to get the pressure right. I run 90 psi in the 24s and 85 psi in the 26s on the Venge.

While I didn’t bother with going to the trouble of actually measuring the wear, the difference is great enough to not bother. If you want the best out of your tires, get your tires within a millimeter of your rim width. 23 mm rim and 24 mm tires is an excellent combo, as is 25 and 26 rims to tires. Going the other way is shown to be better for aerodynamics, though (25 mm rim, 24 mm tire). Oh, and one final note; don’t believe all of the hype… some people like to claim you could go as wide as 54 mm with the tires and experience little trade-off in speed. I’d argue against that every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I find that once I get over 28 mm, the tires just don’t act right when I’m sprinting for the City Limits sign.

The results I experienced during my little experiment weren’t necessarily a surprise, but they were fantastic. Ride hard my friends.

Six Psychologically Damaging Things You Can Say to Your Child? How About… ONE MASSIVE… Thing?

An article on one of my feeds caught my fancy – because any article written about psychologically damaging things you can say to your kid is going to have some doozies that send me through the roof. It’s a guarantee because some silly, pretentious ninny looking to be special is going to come up with a bunch of things dads typically say and call them damaging simply to come off as intelligent and caring, rather than accepting men for who and what they are.

So let’s start with the photo that immediately caught my eye – and let’s see if you can guess where this is going:

So, apparently the first thing you can say to wreck your kids is, “This beard, with this man-bun, are not a big deal”. Now I wholeheartedly agree with that one! That would be traumatizing to the crumb crunchers! Unfortunately, the sexual angst-driven equivalent of the mullet didn’t make the list. How is that exactly like the mullet, you ask? Business up front, party in the rear for the mullet. I’m a boy up front, but a girl in the back. Simply put, the beard/feminine bun is the modern equivalent of the mullet (which is coming back, by the way). Anyway, if you wear your hair like that – first, I’m sorry – second, there’s a reason that kid is looking like that in the photo and it certainly isn’t something that dude said.

Moving along to the real list – and let’s rename this to “things shrinks mistake for damaging because they just don’t get it”. Second, here it is: 1. “It’s not a big deal”. The reasoning: It diminishes the kids feelings.

Ah, no. “It’s not a big deal” doesn’t diminish the tender knee-skinner’s feelings. It diminishes the issue that’s causing the over-the-top emotions and we dads usually take the time to, you know, explain this to the young skull full of mush. The whole point is to teach one’s child to be the master of their feelings, not a slave to them… and to help the child learn that it’s important to know two things: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff.

Now, I’d love to complain about the other six but they’re not so bad. They mostly make sense and I don’t need to nitpick the little nuances I find distasteful.

That first one, though…

Out of all of this, there’s one other thing that makes me laugh… you’ve got a dude with a woman’s coif and a shaggy beard – and that’s not confusing to a kid, but saying “it’s not a big deal” is a step too far? Excuse me whilst I laugh out loud… or whatever it is the young whippersnappers are saying nowadays.