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Monthly Archives: October 2021

Fit, Fantastic, Clean, Sober and, Above All, Happy (and Fully Caffeinated, Baby)

My wife and I went to see our daughter perform in halftime show with her university’s marching band over the weekend. It was an awesome, close game and the halftime performance was fantastic. And seeing my kid was special. They do a postgame performance and photo for posterity and my wife and I stayed till the very end, taking a couple of photos from our seats on the 45 yard-line, about six rows up… but I couldn’t tell what the formation was meant to be. My wife and I had the same thought at the same time; let’s improve the vantage point. We ran up the concrete steps to get a better perch. Three-quarters of the way up we were both turned to snap a photo.

Still not good enough.

My wife saw exactly where I was going and handed her phone to me and said, “you go right ahead”. I ran up the last quarter and snapped the photo about eight seconds before they broke formation.

Now, we’re not talking “walked the steps fast”, “sauntered”, “trotted”… I ran those suckers. So, I’m thinking, afterward, how many 50-year-old men can run up 100 stadium steps to get a photo without having to take an oxygen time out in the back of an ambulance? Surely, I jest… but I will say it isn’t many and I was quite stoked I didn’t fall over in a heap.

We had an odd weekend for cycling last weekend. The day of the game, well before we left, my wife and I went for a sweet 41-mile ride at a 19-mph pace with several of our friends. I felt I could have ridden another 60 at that pace, easily. We had a 40-mile dirt road ride planned for Sunday but rain had us, wisely, sitting that one out. My weekday riding buddy, Chuck and I went out for an easy 20-some-miler for his “New Bike Day”, having just brought home his 2021 Specialized Tarmac SL7 the night before.

That left us in a quandry for what to do yesterday evening… we opted to save the legs for tonight and ride easy. We just lolled around the neighborhood along our normal route, kicking the tires on a few things that needed discussing. I rolled into the driveway with a 16.5-mph average over 22 miles and had barely broken a sweat. I noticed, as I was preparing dinner, how loose and good I felt.

While I do have my struggles related to fitness (I’m hard pressed finding the “want to” to get to a gym, and I love to eat good food), and recovery isn’t always a walk in the park, in the overall scheme of things, I’m feeling pretty fantastic about being me.

And I think that’s as it should be, really. I’m not “all that and a bag of chips”, but I’m content with who I’ve become. I’ll take that.

A Perfect Day in Recovery

My wife and I started with an awesome ride with friends. It was really quite foggy at the start (we’ve had a lot of rain), but once the fog broke, it turned into a magnificently fun time. I was glad I didn’t decide to bail when the veil of fog descended… it had been clear as crystal before sunrise. We all had our best blinkie accessories and visibility wasn’t too horrible.

Then, a shower, lunch, and a nap.

Next, we were off to my kid’s college football game to see her perform in the halftime show. It was a wonderful time for us, and it was a tight game, though we prevailed when the clock hit zeros, by one point.

We finished the night up by taking our daughter out to dinner and driving home hand-in-hand.

We passed out fell asleep seconds after heads hit pillows with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts.

And we slept in (even me).

Today will be another busy, fun day. A ride, a cycling club board meeting, bowling this evening…

Once over the shock and initial boredom that comes in early recovery (if you’re bored, volunteer for service work – you won’t be bored anymore), if one works for it, life will become so full you’ll need a master planner just to keep up.

And the best part is, you’ll be having so much fun, you’ll wonder how you ever had time to get drunk.

That isn’t overselling recovery, either. The key is putting in the work to make it happen. No farmer ever sat on his ass waiting for God to plant his fields. Recovery works the same way. You harvest only what you plant.

Sweet Baby Jesus, Make It Stop

Some Days I Just Need a Day Off…

I’ve got about a dozen topics rolling around in my head but can’t make one of them gel. I’ve started a new post but abandoned it after a few paragraphs, to pick it up another day. I began work on an old draft, one of 72, but gave that up after just a few sentences.

Most days I can let the words flow and come up with a decent post. Most times it’ll have to do with cycling, but every now and again life throws me a great topic to cover that has to do with recovery. I try to keep it about life experiences, whatever I’m writing about.

Days like today, though, it just isn’t clicking. In response, I’m phoning it in with this post. Some days it’s better to just sit back and let life happen. Today I’m thankful that I don’t have to get in there and stir things up so I can have something salacious to write about.

The Goal for Recovery is Simply a Good Life; What’s Important is Getting There. How We Do Tends to Vary…

There are few tried and true aspects of recovery that can be looked at as “requirements”, but the few that are can’t be messed with. For instance, to be in “recovery”, you can’t used drugs or alcohol. This should be a no-brainer, but sadly it is not. The marijuana maintenance program is not a recovery program. It’s doing drugs instead of drinking. It’s like drinking whiskey in lieu of beer, or beer in lieu of vodka; you may be able to sell that as a recovery program to everyone sitting at the bar with you, maybe even the owner of said bar, but you’re kidding yourself in the end and that lie will hurt. Eventually.

Then there’s the notion that recovery is just “not drinking or doing drugs”. The idea that, “as long as I don’t drink, I’m okay”, is nefarious and responsible for a lot of bad outcomes. Not drinking is not drinking. Not doing drugs is not doing drugs. Both are excellent ideas if you’re an addict or alcoholic, but recovery is a lot more than simple abstinance. Recovery takes work. Recovery is cleaning up the wreckage created during one’s addiction/alcoholism. Recovery is working on one’s life so as not to revert back to those habits and choices we used to exhibit in our addiction.

Think of it this way; we abstain from drugs and alcohol because we have to. Alcohol and drugs are wrecking our life, so we swear away – and maybe that works for a time, possibly even years. Recovery is more, though. Recovery is reversing the damage done. Eventually, in recovery we don’t stay away from drugs and alcohol because we have to. We stay away because our lives are so much better, we no longer want that life.

In recovery, there’s no longer a desire to escape. When you clean up the wreckage and stop creating more, there’s no need to.

Just a thought. Recover hard, my friends. You don’t always get a second chance at the good life.

It’s Not The Big Things That Will Wreck Recovery, It’s The Little Drip, Drip, Drip That’ll Bring On The Deluge

This is one of those funny times where recovery intersects with cycling. Generally speaking, I get through the big things in life pretty easy. For instance, our well went out over the weekend. The only thing that survived was the well pipe – and that’s a good thing, because that’s half the cost of a well. Unfortunately, most everything else was bad. New pump, new tank, new plumbing, new electrical… folks, it was a big check I had to write Monday afternoon.

Sadly, Brent, I am thankful I hadn’t bought a couple of fat bikes…

Because the good news is, I could write the check and be done with it. Not only that, I still have a reserve left. In a few months of frugality, we should be right as rain again. No financing, no credit card debt, no having to get a loan to cover the cost… we just have to live a little more wisely through the winter and things should be right back to normal, no big deal. It was a big deal, though.

On the other hand…

Last evening, I’m out riding with my buddy, Chuck. We don’t have many nice evenings left and it’s getting dark pretty quick, nowadays. We’re going to be on the gravel bikes with lights and reflective gear shortly, so we want to make the best of what we’ve got. I chose to wear a cycling cap under my helmet, a rarity now that I’ve got a Bontrager Specter helmet. I don’t have to worry about bees getting through the wavecell part of the helmet in one piece, so I normally don’t wear a cycling cap under that helmet. I do have to worry about the cold, though. And it wasn’t great out. A damp, gloomy, 67 degrees that felt like 55… I was in arm sun covers and my cycling cap in addition to my normal kit. Just fine for an easy cruise.

Well, we picked up the pace on the way home, though – mainly my fault – and I started sweating. With three miles to go, I was up front and hammering down the road into the wind at near 21-mph and all of a sudden, my cap hits full saturation. A drip hits my right eye. Then another. Then like a leaky faucet, drip, drip, drip, drip… at the speed we were going and my choice of glasses, the little drips I never have to worry about were hitting me dead in the eye.

In the space of a minute, I was about eight seconds away from hucking my $150 helmet into the ditch in a huff. I went from mild-mannered, just happy to be on a ride, to full-on, “motherf***er” in a half-mile. I squeezed the sweat out of my helmet pads and took the full mess right in the face… and it was done. I wiped my face off with my sleeve and calmed down.

Now, it’s likely a combination of having my well go bad, in conjunction with not knowing that I could have saved a grand or more if I’d have known our tank was bad, but that was a little beyond my pay grade… but it was that little drip of sweat from my helmet that completely raged me out.

There is a simple recovery explanation for this phenomenon: when those big things hit, the program kicks in. Am I working my steps? What do I need to look at? Where am I in my spiritual foundation right now? Do I have any amends to make? We do this reflexively and immediately as we grow in the recovery way of life. This protects us from the trauma of tough things happening in life.

But those little things can build up in a hurry because they’re “just little things” that don’t require a four-alarm “bring out the twelve steps” reaction. Pretty soon, all of that little crap adds up to rage and, if we’re not careful, we do something stupid… or worse, go straight to “I want a freaking drink”.

Fortunately for me, Wednesday is a meeting night and I got to bring all of this up – it even related to another fella who spoke before I did. In the end, I used my experience (strength and hope), in my normal self-depricating way, to show how it works for me… and how it doesn’t.

Today I thank God for the little things. They’re an excellent reminder of just how fragile sobriety can be. And that I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

And so I shall. Recover hard, my friends. You may not get another chance to come back.

TNIL: Days Are Getting Short Edition

We showed up early yesterday. After a day of epic rain, another damp day, and clouds all morning long, the clouds parted and sun shone brilliantly. We had a bit of a breeze from the northeast, but nothing horrible. Todd, Chucker, David, Brad and I rolled out for the warm-up. It wasn’t “hot” by any stretch, but it wasn’t cool, either. Just above room temperature – a little cool for my liking (I had arm covers just in case), but certainly not bad. The warm-up started slow but picked up pace in a hurry. Todd and I were gabbing up front about bikes… obviously near and dear to my heart, I didn’t even realized we were doing 23 with a slight crossing tailwind until I looked down at my computer a few miles in. Chuck and I split off for a couple of extra miles as we were going to be early getting back. We took the pace down a bit and enjoyed the ride back to the parking lot, still arriving with an 18.6-mph average, where we waited for the start.

One of the Elite guys was running late so about ten of us in the A Group decided to roll out in front of the Elite gang. In all the years of the B/A Group, I can’t ever remember going first. I gave us eight miles before they caught up. We rolled out easy, but with a tailwind to start, the pace picked up quickly. Three miles in we were already up to a 22-ish-mph average… and that’s about where it stayed. We were in a double pace-line and we were dealing with some crossing headwind for much of the first six miles, but after that we had a massive stretch of tailwind that we took full advantage of, pushing the pace beyond 25-mph. I kept expecting the Elite guys to roll by, but it never happened. Looking at Strava’s “fly-by”, they never got within a mile of us until we stopped at our regroup point and stopped to wait a minute for a few guys to catch up who got chewed up in the hills.

The last eight miles was going to be entirely into the wind, but it had calmed down considerably – I’d be surprised if it topped 5-mph (maybe 8 km/h). We rolled out and quickly singled the pace-line. This stretches us out and makes it a little more difficult to pass, but we were on less-traveled roads and the longer break between pulls up front was quite nice. We hammered the pace for the parking lot like we were being chased… technically, we were. We hit the homestretch and the tandem I was behind had a hard time keeping up with the lead tandem with just 2-1/2 miles to go. I jumped in and gave them a little 40-watt push every chance I could, then I’d drop back and catch my breath for a few seconds, then give them another push.

Once we leveled out, the lead tandem and three others were putting some distance on us. I made a decision to take the lead and try to bridge the gap and pull them up. I came around them at 24-mph and told Mike, “I got you” and I went by. I took the pace to 25 and held it for a short dozen seconds before ramping up the pace to north of 26 (42 kph). I burned every match I had as I closed the distance to zero. Then the lead tandem came off to head to the back for a rest and that left me third bike and way into the red. Dave picked the tempo up and I held on for as long as I could, but I was too smoked to match him.

I signaled I was out and dropped off the back. I took an easier stroll back with the tandem I’d been riding with as they’d fallen off, too.

We crossed the line with a 22-mph average and no sign of the Elite Group.

A group of girls from the church was there handing out water and Gatorades to anyone who wanted. They’d been there almost every Tuesday night, all year long. Some of the nicest, most thoughtful kids I’ve ever met. I said hello, as I always do, and we made small talk for a few minutes before I headed over to my car. It was already dusk and getting dark fast. We’ll be able to manage 5:45 for one more week, then it’ll be down to 5:30. Another week after, we’ll be doing the night ride, and it’ll be all over but the shouting at that point.

This is one of the few years that I’m really bummed is coming to a close. It’s been a great, fun year.

How to Post Photos In WordPress and Get Around The 3 Gig Storage Limit (without resorting to 3rd party storage – PC Edition)

So, if you’re running Windows, and if you have a PC… anyway, Windows comes with a “snipping tool” app that allows you to take screenshots.

Well, those screenshots are a fraction of the size of a normal photo off a cell phone. Mine typically run around five or six megabytes. If I open a photo on my pc, then use the snipping tool to copy the image, when I save it to my desktop, with very little degredation in quality, I’m looking at 200 kb instead of 5 MB.

Better, if I really want to go low, if I post the photos on Strava first, then use the snipping tool to make a copy of those photos when I open them up on my pc, I can post a decent photo at a cost of a whole 100 kb.

This photo is 100 kb – on the nose

You can imagine how long it would take to use up 3 Gigs 100 to 300 kb at a swing. That’s 50 photos for the price of one.

Now, there are other ways around the WP limit (Dropbox is an example, though I’ve never bothered to fully learn how to use it), but I find the Microsoft snipping tool to be easy enough not to bother with anything else.

250 kb – the original was 4.3 MB

Given the 3 GB limit, you’ll be able to post between 10,000 and 20,000 photos before you eat it up. If you upload standard photos, you’ll burn through your limit in about 600-ish.

Knee-Slapper of the Day from Dr. Anthony Fauci: “We’ll have to wait and see” if we can gather for Christmas…

Never in my adult life can I remember the Washington Bubble being so off from the rest of the country. It’s absolutely astonishing to watch. Better, I’ve also never seen so many of those empty suits caught exhibiting behavior contrary to that which they preach.

Over the weekend, when asked by a reporter if families would have to limit their family Christmas visits for a second year, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, ““It’s just too soon to tell. We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time. Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down, and we can do it by people getting vaccinated. And also, in this situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted

I get together with my family because it’s Friday. You’re literally nuts if you think I’m limiting my family visits after I’m vaccinated (and likely had Covid in March of 2020). After all that we’ve been through, I’m amazed that, not only are these knuckleheads talking about people limiting their Holiday plans (and Christmas is a capital “H” Holiday), after they’ve demonstrably broken their own advice so often, what’s shocking is they think sane people are listening in the first place!

I can promise you, I’m no less sophisticated and vaccinated than the ex-president and his friends who partied hard (and unmasked) for his birthday. I’ll be doing the same this Christmas, regardless of what any political hack has to say about it. Come to think of it, there won’t be any booze at our family gatherings, so those gatherings will be even more sophisticated. Technically.

A Fantastic End-Of-Season 100 K with Friends… It’s All Over But The Shouting

I knew we were going to have a small crew for Saturday’s ride. Barry Roubaix, one of the biggest dirt road races in the country, was going to be rolling out bright and early just a couple of hours away and most everyone I ride with was there. My wife also had a salon appointment with our daughters, so she wasn’t riding, either.

Only Mike and Diane rolled up for the start. We rolled out at 8, right on time. Diane was going to split early because she had things to do, but Mike and I had our sights on a long one… we’ve got rain for the next couple of days, so this was going to be it.

A couple of miles later, we picked up Brad and Dave. A few miles after that, Phill joined as well. And just like that, we had decent group.

Mike was making jokes that they were about to ride me like a rented mule, so I knew early on I’d be taking long turns up front… and this is was all good with me. As long as everyone else was good with my five mile pace, I’d do my turns. Mike wasn’t afraid of doing his time, either… as it turned out, nor was Phill or Dave. Phill is the feel-good story of the year in our group. He’d struggled to keep the pace for years, but bought a new tandem this year that he rides with his young granddaughter. The extra work has him riding better than Mike and I have ever seen.

Diane headed home after fourteen miles and the rest of us pressed on, into a bit of a breeze. The remaining five of us just cruised. The pace wasn’t too demanding, nor too easy. It was quite awesome, actually. The sun was out and playing nice, but it was a cool start. Arm warmers and jackets were shed and stowed in back pockets at our second stop. After which, it was just straight cruisin’. Nary a care in the world. Even traffic played relatively nice.

Hitting the homestretch with 50 miles under my belt, I knew I was going to have to add a few to get 100 Ks. Mike had come off a tailwind pull and we had one into the wind that I knew I was going to have to take (Mike’s taken that mile for the last few weeks and he wasn’t about to take it again. I didn’t blame him a bit and rode around him as we made the turn. After, I told Mike that if he’d give me a couple of miles to rest, I’d pull the remaining 8. And that’s how it broke down. Phill had dropped a while back to head home and Brad was next as we passed his house. Then Dave, who turned to head home. That left Mike and I for the final four to get him to his road. I pulled all of them.

I started running out of gas shortly after turning into a mild headwind – that last mile to Mike’s house. I’d ridden the whole thing on one gel and a clif bar. No breakfast… I figured it’s time to do something about this extra weight I’m carrying and I’m going back to some of the old tricks I used to follow when I was, erm, skinnier. A decent ride at a moderate pace on almost no fuel is one.

All in all, it was a fantastic ride. This late in the season, it was a gift.