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Monthly Archives: February 2022

Something to Be Stoked About for the Upcoming Cycling Season: DALMAC 2022, Baby!

I got a phone call just last evening that my buddy, Mike A. is signed up for this year’s DALMAC (Dave, you should look into it this year, brother).

DALMAC 2022 is going to be big. We had a big group signed up already, including a couple of guys who haven’t done the tour in years plus a buddy of mine who will be participating for the first time. We’ve got our full normal gang, plus a few – and for the first time in years, I’m really excited for an event – I mean genuine antsy in anticipation.

See, cycling used to simply be about fitness and staying thin and healthy – back when I was riding solo everywhere. Today, while there’s an obvious fitness core, I ride for the comradery. So, when we get a group like this together, well it’ll make for some epic trips to the local ice cream shops. And too many laughs to count.

4 days, 380 miles… and more good times than you can shake a Venge at.

We’re putting the band back together!

How to Improve Your Bowling Game: Hole Layouts and A Little History of What Works, What Doesn’t, And Some Thoughts on Overuse Injuries

I took bowling in college (or “at university” if you’re from across the pond). I chose the classic layout for that class. Now, the old classic layout had one massive flaw; you were hard pressed to get decent revs out of the ball to get it to hook into the headpin. Basically, you turned your hand around the side of the ball with all three fingers in the holes and released as your arm passed your leg/hip. You could definitely get the ball to hook, but it wasn’t the best for repeatability.

Unlike me, a friend of mine chose the fingertip grip of the ball for the same course – the true fingertip grip where you’re hand was stretched as far as possible. Your fingertips form a claw-like catch for the grip tips while your thumb is buried to the second knuckle in its hole. Throwing like this puts a lot of torque on the ball and with the hand so stretched, the thumb naturally comes out first, easily… the only problem is, with all of that tension on the hand, forearm and wrist, tendon problems became prevalent for anyone who bowled a lot.

Thus, a new, hybrid method was created to stop the snapping of tendons (literally). This new method of throwing a ball down the lane takes a lot of the stress out of throwing a bowling ball. The holes are closer together so the hand is not under such great tension. In fact, they’re now advocating something of a “let the ball roll itself” approach to coming off the hand. Well, at least till you start climbing to elite status where there’s a whip/yo-yo effect at the bottom of the arm swing that imparts massive revs to the ball. And this is where we can get into trouble again, at least for we old-timers and amateurs. See, bowling has become a lot about getting revolutions on the ball… 350 to 500 rpm.

I took a three screenshots of a pro’s release all three within a split second of each other. Look closely at how his arm cocks and de-cocks at the bottom of the swing. I can see that motion leading to many shoulder, elbow and wrist reconstructive surgeries in the future. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it. We can’t torque our body like that without repercussions.

I could ask a doctor for a professional opinion here, but I think common sense should be good enough for this blog post; I don’t think a person can move like that without it causing problems in the distant future (I will look into that professional opinion, though).

Now, that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to surgery if we want to bowl (and bowl well). What this means is I believe we can find a happy, repeatable medium where we can get some predictable revs on the ball without getting too deep into that snapping motion:

Now, I’d agree with anyone who claimed this isn’t as bad as the old tendon stretcher fingertip claw throw, but the question is, is that whipping action absolutely necessary? I can see why it’s done, but I don’t think it’s absolutely needed to bowl well at a Friday evening league bowler level. The key here is repeatability. If I can slot my speed and rotation in using the thumb out, fingers up the back or side of the ball, throw but not worry about the super-hi-rev “snap”, I can have my bowling without the possible surgery that comes with the extra revs when I’m older. I’m exploring this, anyway.

I’m working on another post in which I’ll show off my at-home practice hack that has me working on a release drill, a half-swing release drill, in my bike room till my heart is content (and my arms are tired – I’m practicing right and left handed so I’ll be able to switch hands should the need arise – this happened to a good friend of mine and it broke his heart).

Addiction Recovery and Not Having the Luxury of Excuses Anymore; Living Free, Finally.

The Daily Reflection for yesterday, February 16, was an important lesson in recovery. I’m not going to mess around, I’ll get straight to the line that caught my eye. I LOVE this stuff:

There came a time in my
program of recovery when the
third stanza of the Serenity
Prayer
“The wisdom to
know the difference”
became indelibly imprinted in
my mind. From that time on, I
had to face the ever-present
knowledge that my every
action, word and thought was
within, or outside, the
principles of the program.
I
could no longer hide behind
self-rationalization, nor behind
the insanity of my disease.

And that last sentence in the quote is most important in today’s victimhood, virtue signaling world: I don’t get the luxury of hiding behind my addiction any longer (or today’s “use/abuse disorder”) because, at the wonderful point I realize it’s my choices that affect whether or not I get the goods, I know better.

What that means, “inside or outside the principles of the program”, is that my thoughts, words and actions can be measured against what I know will bring me a happy, fulfilled life or what will make attaining that life impossible.

And if I still want to hold on, that desire won’t survive scrutiny; I can’t hide behind the insanity anymore because my sanity had been restored a couple of steps prior… if that’s what I’d been working for, of course.

There’s an up side and a down side, though. The up side is that we’re only reliant on our own honesty and ability to work a few steps and attend some meetings to maintain this unbelievable gift of freedom and happiness… all of which is free.

The down side is I don’t get to use excuses anymore.

As with any recovering addict or alcoholic, we’ll take that trade-off any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Why all of this bowling stuff invading my blog?

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle about all of this bowling stuff that’s invaded my blog (all good-natured as far as I’m aware). So, on my end, what gives? Why all of this stuff about bowling all of a sudden?

Well, folks, it’s quite simple. First, even though I hadn’t made mention of it on this blog in the eleven years I’ve been writing, I’ve been bowling for more than 30 years. I’ve been bowling on a regular league for more than a couple of decades. I love bowling, especially when my wife bowls on our Sunday night league.

I’ve done golf stints on the blog, a little bit on running, a few words on inline skating, softball, baseball… I’m involved in, or have been involved in, a bunch of sports, though none as prominently as cycling.

A month or so back, I decided to quit messing around with bowling and really start to look at getting into the sport properly – to actually learn how to bowl and to use today’s equipment, trading in my old hand-me-down bowling balls… and that’s where this little diversion got its start. See, when I’m not right on a sport, when I’m just showing up to have a good time and play around, you’re not going to see much on this blog about it, other than casual mention. When I think I’ve actually got something to contribute to the sport, then I’m going to write about it from a “this is my experience” point of reference. For bowling, I wrote about what I’d been doing wrong and how I corrected those flaws. That’s pretty much how I do it around here.

There was a second reason for all of this, as well. Things were feeling a little drab around my blog. The weather was cold and crappy, there wasn’t much cycling going on and I was running out of material with which to write posts. I needed some inspiration to get passionate again. Bowling turned out to be something to get excited about.

That’s pretty much the explanation on the bowling. We’ll be wrapping our leagues up in a couple of months and I’ll be switching back to exclusively cycling and recovery posts soon. The bowling was just a nice little diversion for me – something neat to entertain me (and hopefully you).

Having a Full Understanding of Bicycle Maintenance and How Everything Works; I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now!

Keeping maintenance tabs on seven bicycles isn’t easy, but there is an up side. Stick around and I’ll reveal the secret…

It seems like one (or more of them) always needs something. Last night I cleaned up my wife’s crankset on her gravel bike. The day before, it was the crank on my gravel bike. There’s shifters and cables and chains and derailleurs and jockey wheels… cleaning and mud and rain and dust.

And here it is: On the plus-side, I’ve gotten quite good and efficient at performing the tasks required to keep our fleet of bikes on the road and in decent working order.

The Cranky Crank
Cranks, and thereby bottom bracket bearings and the whole lot, should be cleaned out regularly. There is nothing on a bike that will cause more noise and frustration than the crankset and bottom bracket bearings. A little dirt in the workings will make a mess of things. This means taking the whole mess apart, cleaning everything, lubing the parts and putting them back together. Twenty minutes should be enough time – I can take care of my Shimano cranks in ten. Fifteen if I get all of the dirt out of the BB bearing caps with a toothpick.

The Heckin’ Headset
One of the more ignored and important set of bearings on a bike are the headset bearings. They literally allow the bike to steer. Culprit number two in the creaky bike tale of woe is the headset. Cleaning threadless headsets is exceedingly easy, once you have everything down. I completely pulled apart, cleaned, lubed and put back together my wife’s headset on her gravel bike in 20 minutes the other day. I do my road bikes once or twice a year. The gravel bikes, once every month or two. Practice will make you fast on this one. Watch your GCN videos and practice.

Shifters, Cables and Housings
Cables and housings will go bad over time. All of a sudden it’ll feel like you need two hands to pull the left shift lever or the right shifter just won’t hit all of the gears out of the blue and you won’t be able to fix it with the barrel adjuster. For the latter, stop shifting immediately. Your cable is fraying and the end will snap off soon. Replace your cable before you have to remove the shifter’s cover plate to get the offending broken end out of the shifter. A sticky cable is easy in comparison. Simply undo the derailleur cable retaining bolt, pull the cable through the housing till you’ve got most of the cable sticking out of your shifter. Lube the cable up with a high quality light lube and thread it back through. Clean any dirt from cable guides and end caps.

After that, it’s just a matter of keeping tabs on all of the pieces and parts to make sure they’re operating properly and not worn out…

The end result, because I’ve been working on bikes so long, is that I’ve become quite efficient at repairs and maintenance. What used to take an hour and require a few readjustments now takes fifteen minutes and I can get it right the first time.

Or second. Heh.

1,000,000 Hits for Fit Recovery

I started this blog because I needed a writing outlet. After giving it some thought, I decided on fitness and recovery – specifically because I ran with a group on Saturday morning at a friend’s house on a lake and we’d always talk about how much better recovery was because we ran. I asked two friends to write content with me but they wouldn’t commit. I decided to go it alone and set up the site with some help on December 16th, 2011.

Today or tomorrow I’ll pass 1,000,000 hits on my counter (home page, on the left, scroll down a short little bit).

I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, angered a few people, etc. but I’ve always tried to write with integrity and decency. If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know I don’t have a shortage on passion. I shoot from the heart and probably get more credit than I deserve for being witty (but I’ll take it all the same).

The main idea behind my blog has been simple; the program of recovery, the actual Twelve Step program, only makes sense to an alcoholic or addict who is at the end of the rope, by nature. That said, there are normal world applications of the principles that people who normally wouldn’t have access can use.

I write about them here.

In addition to cycling. Lots and lots of cycling. And bowling. Because bowling is really cool. And my wife and kids and house… and all of the really awesome stuff that happens in my life because I choose to live a life in recovery, one day at a time.

Special thanks to my daughters, who had all of their friends check out my blog over the last couple of days to get me over the line a week sooner than I figured possible. Super cool.

Back Pain: The Mattress or the Pillow? It Was…

So, I updated my post from yesterday in which I explored the idea that using the wrong pillow may have been to blame for some intense back pain that I was ready to attribute to our new mattress.

Long story short, we picked up a new mattress the other day. My wife and I keep two pillows each on the bed, I’m assuming because it makes the bed look more inviting. When I go to sleep, one pillow goes betwixt the bed and the wall and I sleep on the other. Well, when we put the new mattress on the box spring, I grabbed the wrong pillow when I went to sleep that night. Three days later and I was in a whole lot of pain. Two AdviNol would knock the edge off, but it wouldn’t go completely away.

I thought it was the mattress.

I reasoned, at 2 in the morning after being woken up by the pain, that it might just be the pillow. I put my pillow on the floor and laid my head directly on the mattress… and my back pain started to fade. I grabbed my other pillow, the one from behind the bed, and used that one instead. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling much better.

Last night I used the proper pillow again and woke up pain-free. I slept like a brick and feel like a Hundred Dollars this morning. Err, sorry, inflation. Call it a Buck-thirty. Anyway, Niall posted a comment on the blog yesterday that really mattered, so I wanted to share it here:

Your pillow is a mattress for the head and equally as important as the actual mattress.

Friends, my experience backs that up exactly. I’ll never look at pillows the same again.

The Easiest Heart to Mend is the Broken Heart…

“Continue to share your heart with people even if it has been broken.” – Amy Poehler

Quote of the love.

Think about this next time the one you chose to love is on your last nerve: ask anyone who is suffering from a heart attack and is about to check out for good, “do you wish you’d been meaner to your spouse?”

You’ll get one or two… in 100,000.

There’s no fixing the heart that blows up. There’s no filling a heart to its capacity. And when you’re gone, you can’t go back and try again.

I’ll give it my best today.

I’d rather be at peace when the time comes than utter as my last words, “Ah shit”.

Back Pain: Is It the Mattress or the Pillow? An Overnight Experience in Pain.

My wife and I picked up a new mattress a while back. I’m a soft mattress kind of guy. My wife likes something a little firmer, so we compromised on what we felt was a great medium.

We got it home and I LOVED it. My wife, not so much. It was a little too firm and it hurt her hip and back. She went through quite a bit of pain and after a short test period, decided to trade it in for a soft mattress. I was ecstatic. The current one was good enough, but a true soft mattress? Oh, it was going to be awesome!

We got everything worked out and picked the new, upgraded mattress we wanted, agreed to terms and the exchange procedure and signed on the dotted line.

We took back our medium mattress and picked up the new one last week. We put the required mattress protector on, then our sheets, then our pillows… then went about the rest of our day. That first night was spectacular.

The second, after bowling a little too excessively Friday evening, was a little rough. I figured it was too many games and didn’t worry about it. I loosened up after a bit and forgot about my tragic tail of pain and woe the night before. I woke up Sunday in a lot more pain. It was brutal. I took a couple of Advil/Acetaminophen pills and, after a cup of coffee, fell asleep on the couch. I woke up fine and put it to too much bowling on Friday and Saturday (I took my wife and daughter for a few games Saturday).

After watching my favorite quarterback on my new favorite team with the Super Bowl last night, I crashed… and woke up at 2am in agony. This was not bowling. I was worried it was the mattress… I didn’t want to have to go through the return process again.

Then I realized I’d been using the wrong pillow. It was one of those “just dawned on me” things. I switched pillows to something less bulky and heavy and fell back asleep. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling like a new me. My back pain was gone.

If I’m sleeping on a firm mattress, it doesn’t matter what kind of pillow I use, it’s going to cause me some severe pain. On our new mattress, though, it didn’t compute that the pain could be caused by it. My body said otherwise, though. Until I switched my pillow and could feel my body relax and the pain and tension ease. I was shocked at how quickly everything changed. And how much better I feel this morning compared to yesterday.

Update: It’s the next morning. I woke up with zero lower back pain today. Zero. No AdviNol, no trouble bending to the floor to pick something up… in fact, no bending to the floor to stretch my back out enough to walk around! Two days ago I was wondering if I was just getting old and the pain just caught up with my active life. Today I feel ten to fifteen years younger than my 51 years.

All because I changed my pillow.

Also, please see Niall’s comment below, as he is a professional.

Bowling League Night and a Most Important Practice Session Afterward…

League night was a lot of fun Friday night. I showed up way early to get the thumb hole on my Hammer reamed out a little bit. I almost developed a blister during last Sunday’s eight game practice session… and I also got the finger tips switched out on my new Quantum Evo for something a little tighter. Then threw two practice games to get warmed up. My first game was a bit blasé, but both strike balls felt immensely better.

My favorite substitute was bowling for one of our regulars who couldn’t make it. He’s always a bunch of fun to have around. I did alright, but not great. My first game was average but I really hooked it up in the second with a decent 206. My third game was a bit of a mess but I ground out a 160-something.

We were bowling against a heck of a team, too. They destroyed us the first game but we won the next two. We took four of seven points; a fantastic result for the team we bowled against.

The practice session afterward was what changed everything for both Noel and me. First, for Noel. Scott, one of the guys from the team we bowled against, stayed late as well and was watching Noel and I work some things out. Noel has/had an exceptionally unorthodox release. He has zero follow through and is wildly off-balance at his release, which is actually behind his slide leg. He drops the ball six to twelve inches behind the foul line. I thought Noel should start with the follow through, but Scott had a better idea – work on the balance and footwork, first. He showed him the proper five-step release and Noel took to it like a fish to water. The improvement was profound and immediate. With the proper footwork and balance at the foul line, Noel followed through naturally. And he struck like a monster.

I, on the other hand, wanted to work on something, too. I’ve been trying to learn the technically correct hi-rev release that’s so popular these days and I saw a video on YouTube the other day that showed some drills that could be practiced at home for improving one’s release. The tip involved releasing the ball onto a sofa. Well, I figured, I could try that. So, after work and with my wife not home from her new job, I pulled out a bowling ball and went to it… and it worked!

I tried it full scale Friday night and for several frames the results were remarkable. I was hooking the ball right into the pocket without having to worry about keeping my speed low enough to allow the hook to happen. Eventually, the super-power shut itself off as I overthought the whole thing, but for a time, it was amazing. I’ll be rolling the ball into my couch on a regular basis while I get this figured out.

I took my wife and daughter out Yesterday afternoon for another couple of hours to see if the new changes stuck.

I started the first game with three open frames to get my bearings but slotted it in and railed off four in a row, followed by a spare/strike/spare finish for a 186. I wanted to use my Quantum Evo but I found I was able to smoke the pocket with my Hammer Scorpion.

I started the second game with a Quantum Evo open 9, but rallied with the Scorpion – six in a row followed by a spare/spare/strike/spare for a cool 235. I was starting to burn up the left side of the lane by the end of that second game.

I switched to the Quantum Evo and moved right. The Evo is a little more finicky than the Scorpion in that it needs a lot more oil, but once I find the oil and get it slotted in, it’s predictable and strong. I ended up leaving a couple of opens, but everything else in that game was solid, a 192… and the new release was really working well.

I was going to wait till the end of the season to change, but the new release is just too good to leave on the shelf. I surprised myself that I was able to pick it up so soon, I think I’m going to have to keep it.