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On Passing 12,000 km For 2021 (I Kept Forgetting to Convert 7,500 Miles to Kilometers, But 12,000 Kms Sounds Way Sexier than 7,500 Miles)!

I was reading a friend’s post early this morning in which he announced he’d crossed the 12,000 kilometer threshold for the year. I, being the curious fellow I am, wondered how many miles that was. So I did had Google do the conversion for me, right around 7,456 miles. That sounded strangely familiar, so I looked at my yearly mileage and I’m currently sitting on 7,535 after yesterday morning’s ride.

Now, in the scheme of things, 7,500 is on the shallow side for me, but looking at the bright side, I’ve had a lot of changes that I’ve had to work on throughout the year and I feel lucky to have been able to be as active as I was. It’s been a crazy ride.

Anyway, to the point in the Title: It’s almost enough for me to wish the US would switch to the metric system: 12,000 kilometers is way sexier than 7,500 miles! It’s been one heck of an interesting year.

Ride hard, my friends.

Myths about rehab…

I see so many people spreading FALSE information about detox and rehab. I’m sure that different people have had unique experiences, but you CANNOT go…

Myths about rehab…

Boosted: Reports on My Second Second Moderna Jab… Um, It Works!

My sister is flying in from California for Christmas and she’s recovering from lung surgery, so you could definitely put her in the “underlying conditions” crowd. So that meant I was going to have at it again and get my booster. I was hoping for one of those famed “my arm hurt a little bit”. Surely, after my nasty reaction to the first two, I was due an easy one.

At first, it seemed I was well on my way. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off around 1:30 in the morning. I woke up in pain, not as bad as my second shot and nowhere near as bad as my first jab that had me in bed for the better part of a week (I was in really bad shape for five days, normal took seven on the first shot).

So, here I am, eighteen hours post booster and I feel like I would after I rode a century… a little under the weather… only without the pleasure of, you know, riding my bike. That sums it up pretty well, though. I headed home from the office early and went straight to bed after I walked in the door. I slept it off. Ish.

I’ve learned a couple of things about how to feel better through the midst of the vaccine flu. First, there really is something to staying hydrated. Lots of good, old-fashioned H2O. Second, Coca-Cola. It’s a miracle elixir. Not a lot of that, because we don’t need the extra calories. Third, AdviNol or TyleVil (Advil and Tylenol together). They say to lay off the ibuprofen, but Tylenol wouldn’t touch the pain I was going through. I lived with it for the first six hours, but after that, I cranked out the mix and and feeling almost human. Finally, I feel better if I stay warm so I’m not battling the shivers. Other than that, my first shot gave me a terrible reaction for the better part of a week. The second lasted 31 hours. I felt like I was on track to beat that with the booster. And I did. Barely. By about three hours.

At precisely 5:02 yesterday afternoon, I could feel the pain leave. You know when pain hits and it feels like a tidal wave? Well, this wasn’t that. It gently ebbed and receded. Which was quite fortunate, because I was on my way to Friday night bowling. I started rolling just before six and I was mowing them down. It took a minute to get warmed up but I rolled a 198 for my first game. The second started slow with a couple of open frames but I found my groove again and finished with a 193.

Sadly, I ran out of gas two balls into the last game. It was instant, too. I dropped all the way to a 139 for my last game. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

Once I got some sleep, though, I straightened right out. I’m a little out of sorts this morning, but not enough it matters. I’ll sleep it off one more day and I should be great.

And I almost forgot! The best part is once all of that funk clears up, I feel freaking amazingly good. Shockingly good. 👍

Hobnobbing with Hobnobbers and Finding Serenity in Hobnobbery Outside of My Element

D’you ever have one of those days? I left work early to take my daughter out to lunch. We ate, we laughed, we had a glowing time.

So far, so good.

I headed home, picked up my vaccination card and headed over to get my booster (my sister is flying in for Christmas after having surgery to remove part of her lung to beat cancer – it was a success). It is important that I do what I can to make sure she goes home without a hitchhiker even though being fully, fully vaccinated won’t stop the virus – it’ll just help me fight it better, as the science goes. Still, it made my sister feel better and that’s good enough for me.

Got the poke in my right arm. Bueno.

On the way home, all hell broke loose at work. The biggest job we’ve got was falling apart at the seams and it was on me to put it back together. I was on the phone for well over an hour and on “high alert”. My arm started hurting in waves shortly thereafter. Not terrible at first, but noticeable. I felt quite good, though, as I started getting ready for my wife’s board Christmas party up at Zehnder’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Frankenmuth. I wasn’t aware, as we were on our way up, that my wife put the shindig together and was a large part responsible for things coming off without a hitch. I would be off on my own in a roomful of a few hundred people, not one of which I knew.

After we dropped our coats at our table, my wife introduced me to the husband of one of her friends. We hit it off quite well and talked for the better part of fifteen minutes before their table started filling up. I went back to my table where I chose to sit alone for a bit. I sent my daughter a text or two, then put my phone away and took in the crowd. A couple, the wife of whom sits on the board with my wife sat down with her husband and we began shooting the breeze. Unlike many in the crowd who were quite well educated, the four of us were normal folk so it was easy going after breaking the ice.

Surprisingly, five hours after having gotten my poke, I wasn’t feeling the least bit off. Hope blossomed as we ate a fantastic dinner.

Shortly after dinner, however, the fun was over. It wasn’t a crash like my two previous Covid shots, the suck washed over me as we drove home. We were home and I was a sleep shortly after 9pm… and I was up at 1:41 am, full-on fever and shivers had set in and I couldn’t warm up. The pain was tolerable, but getting worse so I tried to fall back to sleep for an hour before getting up and taking some Tylenol. It was like taking a walking stick to a Stormtrooper deployment on Scarif. There was no way I was falling back to sleep.

So here I am at work and I shouldn’t be. But I also should have waited till this afternoon to get my shot, so it is what it is.

To the main point, though! Whenever I find myself getting nervous about the crowd I happen to be with, I always fall back to one simple truth; they put their pants on just like I do and we all want to be happy in the end. That simple thought keeps it in proper perspective for me… and so I hobnob with the hobnobbers and can find serenity in hobnobbery outside of my normal crowd.

How You Can Really Tell Someone is Working at Their Recovery; Seek to Forgive Rather Than to Be Forgiven

This was a part of a random reading last night – part of the St. Francis prayer.

Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Check. In fact, if you want to see the head of a hater explode, love them. That one is tough, but not too difficult.

Where there is doubt, faith? Easy.

Where there is darkness, light? Got it in spades, baby. No problem.

Where there is injury, pardon? “Sur… wait, huh?”

“Oh, you know; it’s by forgiving that we are forgiven”.

And so is unleashed a string of curse words that isn’t fit for print… “That @$$hole left the seat up!”

“Erm… do you leave the lid up?”

“Yeah, but…”

One of the hardest things to get right in recovery is looking at ourselves first. If you want to know which person you should ask to be your sponsor, pick the one who can forgive others before worrying about themselves. That’s the person who will show you what they did to be happy and content.

That’s what you want.

Today’s exercise: Spread a little forgiveness today. Somebody out there in your life deserves a break. Give them one. And make it a practice. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Winters are (Now) Perfect for Days Off… and Other Ways to Switch Up the Monotony of Another Boring Evening on the Trainer

I love to ride bicycles enough it’s hard to take a day off during the season. I’ll go a month taking only one of two days off the bike during the late spring, summer, and all the way into late autumn.

When winter rolls around, though, I can very easily find an excuse to take a day off. Now, by winter, I don’t necessarily mean winter proper. I mean when the snow flies. And it just so happens that’s what we have on the ground. Not much, but enough to make it messy. And freaking cold.

So that’s what I did last night… just out of the blue.

I was going to ride on the trainer, my wife on hers next to me but she was running late out of the grocery store so she texted that I should ride without her. That sounded like a perfect excuse to take the day off.

I’m not like this, normally. I’ve always felt I should try to get as many days in on the trainer as possible so I could stay in shape for next year’s season. This year I’m switching up a little bit, but I don’t exactly know how. Yet.

Last night, by contrast, was another interesting night. The high temperature for the day was 24 degrees. That’s with an “F” after it. In moose-Latin, that’s -5 or some such. It’s freaking bone-chilling cold for this time of year (about 20, or 6-ish C, below normal) and I was nowhere near wanting to ride outside in that… in the dark. I opted for the trainer and hopped on shortly after 5 and quickly settled in on a pace a lot faster than normal. I felt much better than normal. I was pushing around 90 rpm and decided to work intervals in, keeping the cadence in the same neighborhood for the harder gear… and I settled on holding that for a half-hour, in terms of the pattern.

At the end of the half-hour, I was smoked. My legs were a little wobbly and a little unstable. I ended up with an 18.7-mph average (23-ish in actual wheel speed) and felt like I’d spent a half-hour on the hardest Tuesday night road we ride. Typically, dead into the wind.

I feel a little out of sorts this winter – but in a good way. As I said earlier, I’m usually very structured. I ride, whether indoors or out, five days a week and enjoy two off. This year, I’m a little looser about taking another day off a week. At the same time I’m finding myself more willing to crank up the intensity on the trainer (even if I drop down the ride time as I did last night) when I do ride.

It’s a good start to a long winter. We got another couple inches of snow last night and the drive in this morning sucked. Thank God for our Blessed Lady of All Wheel Drive!

An Excellent Weekend For Dirt…

It was an odd weekend with a little bit of wet weather Thursday and Friday before it cleared up for Saturday morning. I had a cold (got it from my daughter who also gave it to her grandparents) but decided to push through it. Thankfully, with my wife and Mike riding I knew the pace would be easy and fun. The east/west roads were a bit better than the consistency of moist baby $#!+ which always makes for a fun ride The north/south roads were hard-packed and wonderful. The mood was light and there was a lot of laughter. I couldn’t have hoped for a better ride the way I was feeling. I spent the rest of the day sleeping it off.

Sunday was a much better day. I was still feeling the effects but there was marked improvement. We rode over at Chuck’s house – he’d picked a 30-ish mile route and he always manages to pack his rides with lots of “up”. Our 21-mile ride Saturday consisted of an easy, gentle 500′ of climbing – we may have hit four actual “hills” on the whole ride. By contrast, Sunday’s ride was only 12 miles longer but with more than 2-1/2 times the climbing – and we hit some legit hills. The pace was a little faster, too. Nothing terrible, though – and the roads were a lot better after Saturday’s sunshine dried the roads out. It was another morning of talking and laughing… when we weren’t pushing it up a hill.

I put in 55 miles over the two days with temps just over freezing. Not bad for December. I’ll take ’em where I can get them.

Einstein’s Theory on a Happy Life Might Be as Good As Relativity

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

https://apple.news/AbDg0IxIXSTOlwPP9yHudMQ

I’m not necessarily a big fan of Apple’s “all the radical left-wing narrative that’s fit for you to see” approach to news, but if you’re only relying on only one side of the media (whichever side, dears), or if you think yours is the “correct narrative”, you’re undoubtedly missing the incredibly important “other half of the story” your side conveniently leaves out to push its narrative.

With that being said and tucked away, I didn’t know Albert Einstein was a big fan of the pursuit of happiness, but according to the linked article above, in addition to his work on relativity and other big “physicist’s issues”, it appears he was big on happiness.

Interestingly, if you’ve read more than a post or two about recovery and the joy I get from riding with my friends, you already know I agree with his assessment.

Indeed, calm and modest are easy, fun and beautiful. Sure, money is awesome for nice vacations and seeing the world, but we rarely see how hard it is to stay rich. We tend to think it’s all Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. There are trade offs, though. It’s rarely that that simple.

I know what modest looks like. Though keep in mind, there are different levels of “modest” – I was without great means but I always had a roof, a car and a job, the exception being just before I found recovery when I was skating on very thin ice). Early in our marriage, my wife and I lived a very modest life.

In the end, life is what I make of it and I’ve always found the ability to be happy living modestly.

Though I wouldn’t kick being rich out of bed for eating crackers, either.

Why does my chain click in the last gear or two? The two minute fix. Rear Derailleur Set Screws Part Two

If you’re having a tough time with the last (smallest) one or two gears clicking when you shift to them, you’re probably also having a tough time getting the shifting dialed in for the rear derailleur overall. The barrel adjuster has to be set precisely or that last gear or two will click as you pedal with the bike on the stand.

Now, there are a few reasons for gears “clicking” or skipping, so the cause of the others have to be eliminated first because this last tip is on the drastic side.

Have you tried dialing in the rear derailleur properly? If you just can’t get it right so all of the gears are quiet, read on. Is there drag in the system? The rear derailleur can be a little finicky because you’ve got a long cable traveling through a lot of housing to get to that derailleur. If there’s any drag in that cable, if it can’t move freely because of so much as a blob of mud splashed in the wrong place, you will have gears that skip and you’ll never be able to get the shifting quite right with the barrel adjuster (in this case, your chain won’t just skip, it’ll jump). Is your rear derailleur in proper working order? Clean and lube the joints and jockey wheels. Speaking of the jockey wheels, are they moving freely? Take the chain off completely to check they are (this is a common problem and an easy thing to miss – nobody checks the jockey wheels). And all of this assumes your chain and cassette are at the beginning half of their useful life…

Now, if you can check each of those off and you’re still skipping in the two smallest gears on the cassette, you’ve likely recently done one of two things; changed the chain line or installed a new rear derailleur. Or your new bike was came straight from the shop “a little off” (I had this happen to one of my bikes, so I included it – this one is rare). In this case, the likely culprit is your limit screws are just a bit off. If it’s the smallest or the two smallest gears, it’s the low limit adjuster screw. If you can’t quite get into the big gear in the back, it’s the high limit screw.

When you go to fix this, using Shimano’s derailleurs as my example, the set screws are a little kittywampus. If you’re looking at the derailleur from the back of the bike, the one on the right handles the big cog and the one on the left handles the little cog.

We’re going to check one thing first, and this is absolutely urgent – especially for us cool kids who take the plastic spoke protector off seconds after we get the bike home… with the bike in a stand or flipped upside down on the floor in front of you, shift to the smallest cog in the back. Then, pedal the bike and manually operate the rear derailleur so it shifts all the way to the big gear. Now, stop pedaling when the chain gets to the big cog, because we’re going to try to overshift it which would drop the chain into the spokes [!]. Dropping the chain into the spokes from the cassette with the wheel moving is all bad. If we do this while we’re pedaling and the chain gets caught, you’re going to damage spokes, possibly the chain, and all kinds of really, really bad things are going to happen, up to and including a pooched wheel and bent hub, so be careful.

Without pedaling, if you can push on the derailleur so the jockey wheel and the chain pass the biggest gear toward the spokes, stop everything immediately. We have to set the high limit screw (the one on the right). You want your jockey wheel to line up exactly with that big gear, in the same line, and you should be able to push pretty hard on that derailleur arm and the closest jockey wheel shouldn’t move a hair beyond that imaginary line, plumb with the center of that big cog. To move the jockey wheel right (away from the spokes) turn the set screw on the right counterclockwise. To move the jockey wheel left (toward the spokes) turn the set screw on the right clockwise.

With the big gear set perfectly, now we’re going to look at the small. With pressure on the derailleur arm to keep the chain on the biggest cog, start pedaling again and manually operate the derailleur so the chain drops to the small cog. Now, you created a massive amount of slack in the shifter cable by operating the derailleur to the big cog without shifting. You have to make sure the cable and the housings are seated properly in the stops when you let the derailleur work back to the small cog. Check that, and we can move on.

For the pulley wheel at the small cog, we don’t want the pulley wheel directly lined up with the small cog (like we did with the big cog). We want the jockey wheel just outboard of the smallest gear – just to the right of that imaginary plumb line below the smallest cog if you’re looking at the derailleur from the back. You’re likely currently set so that pulley wheel is just under, or even inboard of that small gear (toward the next cog up). That’s why you’re skipping in the last gear or two and can’t quite get it set right with the barrel adjuster – the limit screw is stopping the derailleur from properly engaging that last gear (or two). Again, looking at the derailleur from the back, turn the set screw on the left counterclockwise to move the pulley wheel outboard (to your right) so that the center of the jockey wheel is to the outside edge of that smallest cog.

Now your rear derailleur is set properly.

Set your cable tension with the barrel adjuster so you get smooth shifts up and down the cassette and Bob’s your uncle.

As a final note, it’s exceedingly rare to have to adjust the set screws. One should undertake this as a last resort only, after all other options (including new cable housings all the way to the derailleur) are exhausted. If the screws were set properly in the first place, you don’t ever have to touch them unless you change the chain line (new derailleur, add a shim behind the cassette, etc.) you will open up a can of worms that you’ll find is hard to put the lid back on.

Why, At 29 Years In Recovery, I Still Get My Coin

I don’t have all 29 anymore. I gave a bunch away to friends as the years have gone by. I always figured it’s better to get a coin that’s been around the block than a new one, anyway. Even though my anniversary was almost two weeks ago, I just got my 29-year coin Wednesday night.

Here’s the quick breakdown on why. My homegroup meeting is on Wednesday night from 8 to 9 pm. My anniversary was technically Thursday the 18th, starting at 12:01 am… so I was three hours short. Just before my actual anniversary. I had to wait until the following Wednesday to get my coin. This might seem a little strict, obviously I was going to make it, but it is what it is. We try not to take a minute for granted, let alone 180 to 240 of them. Anyway, we were up north at my wife’s mom’s house for Thanksgiving last week, so I couldn’t make my home group meeting.

So that brought us to Wednesday… and my wife had other meetings she couldn’t miss to give me my coin (she’s given me every one for the last couple of decades unless my sponsor took the task on the rare occasion). So my wife orchestrated it so her dad, who had come in from out of town, filled in to give me my coin (he’s got more than 38 years… it’s a bunch).

It was a special night. Though I’m only 51, I can fairly be called an old-timer.

Now, we old-timers aren’t good for much besides leading by example in showing newer folks that a) the program works by b) being there and generally of good cheer by c) talking about how the program is worked to achieve that good-natured temperament.

Rocket science this ain’t.

That said, there are a half-dozen reasons I still get my coins but there’s one that is above all others. I was given a great gift by my Higher Power the day my desire to use drugs and alcohol was removed enough that I could recover.

I was sober two weeks when I begged God to remove my desire for alcohol. I can remember waking up the next morning awestruck by what it felt like to be free. That was enough to get me working that program of recovery so I could grow into what I am today.

A lot of people struggle with guilt for having been saved and not having a decent answer for one of the harder questions we face in recovery: “why me”? I am not so afflicted. I know why me. I believe I was given that gift because I asked for it when I was ready to use it. Then I did. Now it’s my turn to pay for that gift by helping my fellow newer people in recovery achieve what I did.

And so I have a purpose.

I do my best to be the brightest beacon of light I can be on a stormy night that never ends, on a really small, rocky shore. That’s the job.

Otherwise, we can be pretty much useless. And that’s why people struggle with “why me?” “Being of maximum use to my fellows”, humbly, isn’t exactly the sexiest of jobs. We certainly never get rich doing it.

Freedom, happiness and contentment are the payoff, though. And that’s better than good enough for government work. Especially after what we have to go through to get there.

Recover hard, my friends. It’s a zoo out there.