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How To Up Your Bowling Game from a 150 Average to the 180s: Part Three

Now we start getting technical. In my last two posts I covered equipment and we started working on throwing a hook, why the hook is so important, release and targeting to take us from a 100 average to the 150s. Now it’s time to turn it up a notch.

The equipment stays the same, relatively speaking. A decent strike ball and a spare ball, though you can add a urethane ball (that hooks less), or something stronger, that really hooks. For now I’m leaning toward a resin reactive, the latter, at the moment. My Scorpion is great, but it’s really more for medium oil than heavy. I took my wife and daughter out last weekend to a bowling alley we’d never thrown at before and the lanes were a little drier than what I’m used to and my ball absolutely hooked up and was deadly good. Normally I stand four boards right of center (board 16 for righties, 24 for lefties) on Friday night and send it dead at board 7… and I can still bring it right into the pocket that far left. On the strange lanes I was standing with my right foot on 31 and aiming for 14 and I could miss a little left and bring it right back. It was quite fun throwing like a righty on the medium oil…

The point is, that’s how a ball is supposed to react. The lanes have more oil on Friday night so my ball doesn’t hook up like it should unless I slow the speed way down. A more aggressive ball would fix that issue. And that leads us into the main topic; improving from the 150s to the 180s.

Getting to a 180-ish average is a lot harder than going from a 100 to a 150 because there’s no room for error once you’re trying to hit the higher scores. Even though you’ve improved considerably, now you need strikes and spares because with open frames, you run out of game in a hurry. What we’re going to concentrate on for the next weeks into months is practice and dialing in our strike shot, but more important, picking up spares.

If you look at a lot of today’s bowlers, especially the two-handers, they’ve got one shot: super high-revs, big hook, and a powerful explosion of the pins… unless they miss high or a little low and they leave corner shots, which they can’t pick up because they throw too much hook to get a pin into the corner. The really good bowlers will flatten their hand and throw their strike ball straighter, across the alley but that’s the hard way, as I recently found out. I did that for years (and I wasn’t anywhere near “really good”, I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of buying a new ball). A plastic spare ball makes spares infinitely easier – and why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?!

This is why I bought a plastic spare ball that won’t hook much. After using it for two weeks and trying to getting accustomed to a ball that barely hooks, I can say it easily adds 16 to 20 pins to each game. Picking up a 7-pin (10-pin for righties) is almost automatic where I really had to concentrate and hit a perfect shot to get into the corner. If I pick up two spares that would normally be open because I didn’t make the perfect shot, I’m shooting on a spare instead of an open. There’s your extra pins.

So, practice is going to be the key to getting all of this dialed in over the next several weeks to where your shots are repetitive. Pick your lines and dial it in… and then switch up bowling alleys so you get used to switching up for varying conditions.

Most important, though is this: have fun.

Longing for the days of blasting down the road on my Venge….

The Lock Screen and Background photos on my computer are both shots of my Venge.

Normally, I don’t even think about it when I turn my machine on, but about this time every year I can’t help but long for the days of blasting down the road in my finest bibs on the Venge in my favorite red & black Affable Hammers jersey… man, I’m excited for the new season to start.

We’re into the dead of winter, now. It’s ugly and looking worse with morning temps 30 degrees below freezing (that’s -17 C for those speaking European [that’s a joke, of course]). It’s going to be a while before we’re looking at short sleeves, but March is on the horizon and we’ll be able to get outdoors to stretch the legs out pretty soon.

In the meantime, all I can do is go into the bike room and lift the Venge up to feel its featherweight awesomeness. It’s all ready to go, too. New bottom bracket bearings, headset that’s perfectly clean and lubed, new chain, new cassette, new chainrings, new rear derailleur… it’ll feel like a new bike on Venge Day 2022.

Staying In Recovery Until Each Day Is A Gift, One Day At A Time

The beginning of the recovery process is tricky and fraught with difficulty in sticking around long enough to emerge from the din of addiction. After that, we have to make it through the haze, the fog, the mist, and finally the overcast before the clouds finally start to part. Being an impatient lot, the pull to escape is the battleground in our melon.

However, if we can work through that we’re rewarded for the effort. Shortly after the 9th Step is begun, we feel a peace we didn’t know was even attainable… and this after the 5th step that lifts the weight of addiction off our chest. We are finally free, and life is good. We find that sticking with it, one day at a time, has changed us completely.

Then we work with others and pass on what we’ve learned. And we find peace and contentment… and the whole point of the Twelfth Step: I’m not the same person I was when I started.

We change our focus from the self-centric to helping others. Once we get out of ourselves and find that we’re of good use to the world, well, the experience mustn’t be missed.

Then we practice the principles in everything we do… and we become good at that.

The clouds part and the sun shines down and we can bask in the glorious light. We find that life got immeasurably better while we weren’t watching. We realize we no longer need to “keep coming back”, we want it.

And life gets better. It gets so good we think it can’t possibly get any better… then we realize it does, all on its own.

We realize the miracle has happened and we don’t quite know what’s next but we look forward to it. When did it happen that I stopped dreading what would happen next? When was it I stopped worrying about the other shoe dropping? I can’t recall, but it happened… and I know why it happened! If a shoe drops, I know exactly what I will have to do:

I pick it up.

Recover hard, my friends. It does work if you work it, and for that I am grateful.

I almost ran a cyclist over this morning on the way to work. The Number One reason riding a bike on the wrong side of the road is stupid.

I have a 50 minute commute into work in the morning. Four miles on a surface street, 40 miles on expressways, then four more on surface streets to the office. It’s a little longer than I’d like, but I love where I live so I put up with losing two hours a day in commute time.

This morning I headed out like any other winter morning. It was 8 degrees out (-13 C) and we’d gotten a decent amount of snow the day before. The roads were almost cleared but not quite. I was on the road at 5:15 am.

My commute was boring as usual until that last four miles. I exited the expressway and took a longcut that avoids a train crossing because once Daylight Saving Time goes away, there’s a slow train that blocks my normal way in on Tuesdays and Thursdays… and Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays. It’s better to add a half-mile and use a road that has a natural bridge over the tracks.

Along that road I see a cyclist on the bike path every morning. This morning, however, he was riding his bike with a single solid headlight on the wrong side of the road – he was riding directly at me in my lane and because of the snow and slush on the road, he was well too far into the oncoming traffic lane. The headlight confused me and the perspective was all off… I couldn’t tell how fast he was approaching because he was heading right for my passenger side headlamp. There was no perspective.

I only caught that it was person on a bicycle heading toward me in my lane a few seconds before it would have been too late. I eased over into the oncoming lane to miss the idiot and all ended well, but if there’d been a car coming the other way preventing me from swerving out of the way, he’d have been a hood ornament – or he’d have shat his pants when I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop and he’d have run into me. Either way, he loses.

Folks, I put eight to ten thousand miles a year on one of my several bicycles and I look out for us more than your average motorist by an order of magnitude… and I still damn near ended one of my brothers in wheels’ life because he was a nincompoop.

DON’T F***ING RIDE YOUR BIKE IN THE INCOMING LANE OF TRAFFIC. It is the opposite of “safer”.

Here endeth the public safety announcement.

I’m Pretty Sure I Know What My Last Words Will Be…

I’m pretty sure I know what my last words will be. The only question is when they’ll be uttered, or “thought” if that’s all I have time for…

I’m looking at either, “Oops”, “Shit” or “Watch this”…

My life’s goal is to skid into my casket in a cloud of dust shouting, “Wow! What a ride! I don’t have anymore left. I’m out.”

I don’t know if it’ll work out that way but I do know this; when my number is punched I’ll be able to go out knowing I gave having a good, fun life everything I had. That will be good enough, and for that, I am grateful.

Recover hard, my friends. We only get one lap.

Article: Is Finding a New Normal In the Workplace Impossible? Are These People Living in a Bubble Somewhere? It’s Bad Enough I Feel Sorry for Them…

I started reading an article a few days ago that had me scraping my jaw off the table with a spatula. Behold:

We’re entering the third year of a global pandemic that’s brought unprecedented changes to work.

Despite many employers’ hopes, a full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic as the omicron variant pushes back return-to-office plans once again for millions of workers. And, given the way the current labour market shifted power to employees,  pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic.

Yet for all that seems certain, there is still so much we don’t know about how our working environment will evolve in 2022. This time last year, many people expected 2021 to bring a degree of stability, perhaps even the smooth rollout of hybrid work. The emergence of new variants of the virus blocked this – and may well continue to do so in the months ahead.

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220104-future-of-work-2022?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Reporting like this makes me wonder exactly what the hell is going on out there in the east coast bubble (granted, this is a BBC article, but reporting out of either US coast is the same). We don’t live like that in flyover country. We’ve been back to the office, most of us at least, for more than a year – especially after the vaccines achieved widespread distribution. Hell, I went back to the office after just five weeks (May 2020), a full six months before the vaccines were even available to the elderly… I’d been back just shy of a year when I was finally eligible to get my first shot – just three days after my age group was approved.

“A full-time return to office-based work is looking highly unrealistic” they say? That article is less realistic as far as my experience goes. My second favorite is “pre-pandemic work structures are likely to become a relic”. This is entirely untrue, Don Quixote! If you’ve been living in the bubble that developed those gems, allow me to enlighten you to the report that will follow in the near future: “Unexpectedly, 75% of the country returned to normal two years ago; experts flummoxed, yet again and we’ve been missing out”.

Perhaps it’s as simple as reporters not spending time outside the bubble? Perhaps it’s the need to be in full-time panic mode that blinds the establishment (the “establishment” is short for “the political class, bureaucracy, and their cheerleaders in the left-wing press) from what’s really going on – and let’s be honest, this need to be in full-time panic mode is driven by “the establishment” and its desire to milk the pandemic for everything it’s worth. I don’t have the answer to why, even fully vaccinated and boosted, people are freaking out about the moronic variant. For those who actually, you know, follow science, omicron is the best news we’ve had since Project Warp Speed punched out a vaccine five times faster than Anthony Fauci said could be done.

And that brings us to the bow on top. I live in Realville, just outside of Normalton, USA. We’re more than halfway through bowling season and I bowl on two leagues… there are only a few people left who wear masks (and by a few, I mean that literally – three). Five people at a table that’s too small should we all decide to get a bite to eat at the same time. You know how many outbreaks there have been? Not a one. Not even a rumor of one. If someone is sick, they stay their sick ass at home. And guess what? Nobody gets sick! Interestingly, as well, you don’t see any of us normal folk walking up to the masked minority and saying, “Hey, we’re all in this together… why don’t you take that mask off now?” We just leave them be, even though science has shown they’re virtually worthless unless they’re N-95, KN-95 or barely better than worthless for the surgical variety. Cotton and fabric masks are finally being reported for what they are (and always were); facial decoration.

If you think a life of isolation and this doom and gloom is a necessity in the age of Covid, especially if you’re vaccinated (even better for you if you’re not and you’ve recovered from a previous case of Covid – you’re almost three times less likely than a vaccinated and boosted person to end up in a hospital if you catch it again)… look, if you’re that afraid you should continue your hermit’s existence. If you have any of the comorbidities that Covid takes advantage of, by all means stay hyper-vigilant; you have to be careful and do your thing to stay on the right side of the grass.

In the meantime, we normal folk are back to enjoying life again (or at least giving it our best through the din of the over-hyped panic). Join us. The water’s great.

A Public Cycling Announcement from Fit Recovery…

It’s cold as a well diggers di… erm… hands outside. It’s cloudy, windy, crappy, sucky… and generally not nice.

But spring is just around the corner, baby! Let’s get fast today! Hit the trainer and bust out a record ride today. Let’s get it done, my friends!

WOOOOH!

Today’s Lesson in Journalism: The Headline! How Not To Write One in 1,005 Words (Ish).

Don’t do it this way.

How to Up Your Bowling Game From 100 to 150 Part Two: The Hook Shot

In my first post I covered the equipment we’ll need to go from a below average to average bowler. Balls, shoes, accessories, the works. In this post, we’re going to put fingers in holes and get this party started!

For the most part, we’re going to be dealing with a typical “house” oil pattern, which is simple enough.

You’re dry on the edges, heavy in the center with plenty of room for the ball to bite after the oil runs out. There are two ways to throw your ball that will impart decent spin for a hook, assuming you’ve picked a fingertip or hybrid drilling of the ball. Up the back for higher revolutions, or you can rotate your hand up the side as the ball hits the bottom and your hand starts up for the follow through for a little more hook. Your thumb comes out first followed by the two fingers in both shots.

The “up the back” approach is a difficult shot to master. It actually involves rolling the ball with a motion that feels like throwing a yo-yo. It’s completely counterintuitive and entirely awesome and very difficult to get the timing down. Done correctly though, you put huge revs on the ball and, once you learn to control that, you can really dial it in and do some damage down the lane. The second is “around the side” like the old way they teach you to bowl mixed with a little “up the back”. If you simply want to improve from 100 to 150, as we are discussing right now, stick with the latter. In the end, bowling is all about repeatability, anyway, and we don’t want to make repeatability harder than it needs to be. Yet.

Right handers will have it harder right out of the gate because there are vastly more righthanded bowlers than left. You’ll have more traffic on your side of the lane so you’ll have to move around a little bit to find a line that works for you and you’ll have to move sooner to find oil when the lane starts getting worked in. The ball removes a little oil every time one is thrown down the lane so the lane dries out as lines wear the oil out. To find oil so your ball will slide, you simply move left (for righties) or right (for lefties) and change your aim arrow a little bit. Don’t trouble yourself with that yet, though.

We want to start looking at the release of the ball first so we don’t pick up any bad habits. I would start by subscribing to Brad and Kyle’s YouTube channel. They’re not the best instructional videos out there but they’re simple to understand and they speak like normal people so we can translate that into, you know, actual bowling skill.

Watch some videos on how to roll the ball, then look at a few on targeting. That’s a fantastic starting point. For me, I throw a reactive urethane hybrid ball that hooks up quite a bit on everything but heavy oil. With the dry (light blue) on the left side of the lane (I’m lefthanded), if I start to the left, with my target board midway between the first and second arrow, I’ll start hooking across the headpin after about ten to fifteen shots, assuming I’m the only lefty on the lane. As my game goes on, I wear the oil out so I have to change my line to get into some oil so the ball slides down the lane before it bites and comes into the target zone. I’ll move right three or four boards and move my target board one or two boards to the right of my arrow. As the games go on, I have to continue to move right to find more oil. This is the nature of the game. Or, if I have a third ball, something that hooks less when the lane dries, I can switch balls as the lane gets worked in. Now, this movement has a counterbalance. If I move too far right I get into too much oil and my ball won’t hook as much, so I have to watch that as well. I want my ball into then out of the oil so it’ll slide, then hook up and hit between the 1 & 2 pins where it belongs (1 & 3 for righthanders).

For my starting shots in warm-up I want to find out how far left I can go to still hit the pocket and how far right I can go before my ball won’t hook up. That paints the picture of where I want to start and where I’ll likely end the night.

Now for the tricky part: If you’re a righty, you’re definitely going to have to get used to throwing the ball at the gutter so it’ll come back into the pocket. With all of the traffic your side of the lane gets in a league, moving left as the oil dries up goes with the territory. For me, I get a little bit of a break because there are fewer lefthanders out there. I move as a reaction to my line drying up, not several bowlers on competing lines using the oil up.

Finally, after watching a few videos, you should be able release a ball and start to use the dots, boards and arrows to line your shot up, so your hook comes into the pocket. All you have to do is practice and dial that in. With that practice, you’ll learn exactly how much your ball hooks and you’ll be able to shape your shots around that hook. Your score will improve, likely very quickly.

Now, I’ve only slightly covered this previously, but if you really want to improve, you’re going to have to learn how to pick up spares. Sure, the game’s a lot easier when you get all ten in the first shot, but we’re not quite there yet – and the difference between a spare and an open is up to ten pins on your score. For this reason, picking up spares is huge for someone trying to improve. This is where a spare ball comes in very handy. I love mine. A good spare ball will make the game and higher scores easier for someone who hooks their ball. The spare ball is a plastic covered ball that simply won’t hook much even though you’ll throw it exactly like your strike ball. Your spare ball should be exactly the same weight and drilling as your strike ball so it feels the same leaving your hand. I use my spare ball for anything on the left of the lane and, once I learned how to shape the minimal hook, absolutely cleaned up most of my messes. My spare ball is almost as important as my strike ball when talking about score.

With decent equipment and a good release, you’ll jump from that 100 to a 150 easily with minimal practice.

The hard part is next; going from 150 to 185. That’s next Friday.

The Time to Get Ready for the Spring Cycling Season Is Upon Us: And That Time Is Every Day! Only FASTER! Edition

This post is for you, Jeff.

In one of the most inspiring moments ever, and in one of the greatest lines ever uttered by a Vice President of the United States, right next to Dan Quayle instructing a child to misspell the word “potato”, Kamal Harris inspired me to kick it into high gear for spring when she stated, “It is time for us to do what we’ve been doing. And that time is every day.”

Now, if you haven’t seen the clip (shame on you), you have to get the picture in your head right for this too, as she started shaking her head slowly when as she said, “And that time is every day” with the most serious, straight face I’ve seen from the VP. It was moving. Something.

SO! The time is upon us to get ready for springtime. We’ve just got a month and a handful of days before we’re outside again. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to start pushing the big gears – well, actually big up front and little in the back, but you catch my drift! That bike ain’t gonna pedal itself into the wind once all of this ice thaws, baby. We need to start pushing those hard gears now so when spring does roll around, we’re not the one trying to throw a lasso around one of the other riders for a tow, we’re with the lead group, dishing out the pain!

Can you feel it?! Spring is coming!

Well, that might be going a little far. It’s going to be 22 today. That’s -5.5 C in Moose Latin. But let’s not get lost in the weeds, baby! It’s time to get motivated! It’s time to eat some freaking salads and lose that Christmas cookie fat! It’s time to get those legs used to pedaling hard into the spring wind! Our legs are the change we’ve been waiting for!

So here’s the “And that time is every day” workout schedule:

  1. We don’t take more than two days off per week. Go with a Tuesday and Friday or something.
  2. So, technically, the time is not really every day, it’s kinda “most days”. Still, “And that time is every day” would make a good t-shirt… or jersey.
  3. Monday is an easy day. Tuesday off. Wednesday is “grind a hard gear” day. Thursday is a moderate day. Friday off. Saturday intervals followed by an easy to moderate spin after the interval workout. Sunday is a moderate to hard day, hammering the bigger gears.
  4. Do some push-ups and sit-ups three or four days a week.
  5. This will get your ass in gear so when it really comes time to hit the road hard when the snow and ice melts, you’re not trying to grab onto someone else’s pocket when the pace gets a little hectic.

Let’s get it done, my friends! Ride hard!

WOOOOH!

Somebody pass the cucumbers and carrots!