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Monthly Archives: November 2022

My Wife’s New Road Bike; Ready For Asphalt (Even If The Weather Has Us Stuck Inside)

My wife’s new road bike, a steel Assenmacher circa 2004-ish (Jess is doing the research with Matt to figure out what year, exactly), is done. New short reach handlebar, new bar tape, carbon bottle cages (which match the carbon on the rest of the bike), carbon bar-end plugs… and all cleaned up, ready for duty. The completed bike, with pedals, weighs in at a mere 18 pounds. Astonishingly light for a steel bike (that carbon fork and carbon crank make a huge difference).

The bike is stunningly beautiful and my wife couldn’t be happier to own and ride a bike hand built by a friend – and I couldn’t be happier for her that things worked out the way they did.

Good times, noodle salad.

Why I Upgraded from the Garmin Edge 510 Plus to the 530

I had the same Garmin 510 for years. I can’t even remember when I bought it. I was careful with the battery. Rarely discharged it fully, maybe five times in the years I had it, so it lasted quite well. I can still make a century with the old computer using the route navigation. I can’t, however, make it a century using the route navigation and my Varia blinking light/radar. That’s just a touch too much. If I turn the navigation off after 80 miles or so, I’ll make it home with only a few percentage points of battery life left. If I include a heart rate monitor, fuhgeddaboudit.

And that’s why I finally upgraded to the 530.

The 530 has several bells and whistles the 510 doesn’t have, including closer monitoring of the battery life of both the head unit and my radar/blinkie and the ability to control the operation of the functions of the blinkie. The 530 appears to double, approximately, the battery life of the 510.

The 530 operates much the same as the 510, but cleaner, prettier, longer and better. In my own personal opinion, the 530 looks like Garmin’s way of saying, “Look, Bob messed the 510 up in the design phase so we fired him. The 530 is what we should have done with the 510.”

Anyway, with all of the bells and whistle add-ons for the Garmin computers these days, you really need the battery life of the 530. All of the cool gadgets made the 510 obsolete… or excellent for shorter rides. If you’re into the long stuff, 50 to 150 miles in a day, the Edge 530. You can pick one up for $300 US, or less if you search the webz for about .000162 of a second.

Don’t forget, if you get one, to set it up properly. The indoor setting doesn’t use GPS, so don’t change that activity profile to something outdoors where you’ll need the GPS enabled. Also, I duplicated the road profile for a gravel road option rather than change the mountain biking profile. Don’t forget the auto-pause feature. You’ll want to set that for all of your activity profiles. Then, it’d probably be wise to consult the operators manual to set up your Varia. You have to get the sequencing just right so you can choose the mode you like the light to stay in (I always use daytime flash because it saves on the battery).

I’d liken the 530 to the road sport cyclist, the gravel cyclist or the mountain biker. You’ll need some battery life, but you won’t need that 400km brivet battery life with a computer smart enough to choose the best route to get you to the finish on the fly. That’s the 1030 and we can leave that one to the adventure cyclists who typically have no idea what “too much of a good thing” means.

What To Do If You Run Out Of Seatpost To Mount Your Garmin Varia Radar Or Taillight.

My wife and I have a bit of a large saddle bag on our tandem. It carries all our normal spare tire tools, plus food and it even has room for vests, arm warmers, and a few other items if we need to shed some layers once it warms up.

Unfortunately, mounting that saddle bag, when we have our fenders in place, takes up a lot of seatpost. I’ve kicked around a smaller saddlebag, but we really like the extra storage, so a smaller bag wasn’t an option. At least not on our current tandem. We’ll see on the new sportier tandem we have coming in a couple of months.

Now, my wife and I have wanted to mount our Varia radar/taillight on our tandem for quite a while because they’re the single best light on the market and that’s not even taking into account the radar capability. We’ve had police officers stop us and compliment us on our lights, saying they were visible more than a mile away. My wife and I both feel safer when we use the Varia – and it appears to us that motorists treat us more respectably when we use one (and that goes for single bikes and on the tandem). I talked about sewing one to the saddle bag for a while, then finally gave it a try.

It was a perfect idea.

Rather than simply sew the stem mount onto our saddlebag, I glued and caulked it with a high quality silicone caulk as well, just to make sure it was good and sealed and the mount wouldn’t fall off while we were riding. I took the photos with the light off because the light hides all of the handiwork…

It took about a half-hour to sew the mount on (I’d use a thimble if you’ve got one) and it has worked perfectly for months. If you’ve run out of seatpost, you know you’ve thought about sewing a mount to the saddlebag. If you’ve balked because you didn’t know if it would work, hesitate no longer. It works. Perfectly.

New Bike Day for My Wife! A Classic Comes Home.

You’re going to need a little background for this post… and this next bit is especially for Brent who will undoubtedly wonder why we needed another road bike. Stay with me here, this is a very cool story. If that bike had been a 56, I’d have snapped it up long before my wife even gave it a glance.

My wife had expressed enthusiasm about doing triathlons years ago. Her first bike was an alloy road bike and, at the beginning of 2014, Specialized announced the Alias; a road bike with triathlon-specific geometry and aero bars so the bike could be legitimately dual purpose. I wanted for my wife to have a nice ride like I had, so I bought her one for Christmas that year. I bought that bike from our local bike shop. My wife and I are very good friends with the owner. We ride with him regularly, volunteer with him and for him. His brother was my grade school gym teacher. He and his wife are a blessing in our lives.

He’s also a fantastic frame builder. He’s built world-record frames (and has one hanging in his shop). He apprenticed in England building Matthews frames and came back to the states, eventually settling in Flint, then Swartz Creek, Michigan where he owned bike and frame shops. I’ve wanted an original Assenmacher for years but there hasn’t been a 58 that’s come up for sale and Matt only made classic frames and tandems. So, when an astonishingly light Assenmacher with Campagnolo components and Eurus wheels showed up on the display, Matt offered for my wife to take it home and give it a ride to see what it was like to ride a steel bike.

She didn’t like it at first. The handlebar was all wrong – too much reach. The stem was too long, and the saddle was less than fantastic. I put one of my stems on the bike and a Power Mimic saddle that we borrowed from a friend, and set her saddle height, fore/aft position and tilted the handlebars up so that brought the reach a little closer. After the modifications, she took it for a spin while I was at work and loved it. I’d gotten the saddle perfect and the reach was closer to livable. Best, she said the bike was more comfortable than the triathlon geometry of her Alias – and that it was livelier in the handling and when putting power to the pedals. This is what we were looking for.

And so my wife will forever have a frame built by a friend.

I wrote the check the other day and she went in to pick it up.

I’ll have a full write-up with photos once we get all of the new parts on it. A new short reach handlebar that we bought with the bike, and we have carbon fiber bar-end plugs, carbon fiber cages (all matching the carbon fiber weave of the derailleur, crank and shifters), and some slick Cinelli bar tape that’s got gold flecks in it to tie in the gold trim on the beautiful blue frame. It’s going to be exceptional when done.

I’ll get the thing on a scale after the modifications but if it tops 18 pounds, I’d be shocked. It’s currently showing 17.5 without bar tape on the big scale. My wife’s carbon fiber Alias is a pound heavier (though it has aero bars and the Assenmacher doesn’t). I’m stoked for her.

Why Choose Recovery from Addiction? There Is A Short Answer.

Recovery from addiction, and I mean following a process that allows one to become recovered over time, with effort and an actual plan is a commitment. Now, any addict knows why they should choose recovery. This part isn’t rocket science. Life using is often quite awesome at the start. Life addicted, sucks.

Every addict knows this, and every person who has one of those tornados tear through their life will attest.

Fear is what makes the addict balk.

Fear of what’s out there without drugs, alcohol, or both. Fear that there is nothing good out there without getting high. Fear of failing recovery. Look, any reason to stay in addiction is based on fear.

That fear is misplaced.

Anyone can choose recovery and win. Big. If that’s what is worked for.

As we come to the holiday season, if you’re out there in the cold, know there is hope. There is peace. There is contentment beyond your wildest dreams. There is joy.

It all starts with a choice. It won’t always be easy, of course. Given time and effort, it will be good.

Don’t fear recovery. Be afraid of one more day without it.

If you give recovery everything you’ve got, you’re promised that you’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through. And, if by some miracle you’re recovery doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re welcome to having your misery back any time you like. Just pick up again.

Thirty Years, One Day at a Time… 10,958 Times in a Row.

As of last Wednesday night, I wasn’t one day closer to a drink… not surprisingly, I was just one day closer to 30 years.

We have a new guy with just a few months, when I passed my 30-year coin around (it’s a tradition to pass one’s coin around so others can rub good vibes, karma, or juju on it, whichever you prefer), who said he couldn’t even imagine how someone could amass that much time in recovery.

I can remember sitting in my first open talk, just a few days into my journey, thinking it would be awesome to be around to give one on my one year anniversary. I did, of course, and I gave my first open talk on my anniversary. One of the old-timers made it happen, simply because he knew I had that dream. When I had that hope, sitting through my first open talk, I hadn’t even made the decision to give recovery a chance, let alone everything I had. That would come another week and a half later.

It’s said in meetings, anyone can stay sober for the hour you’re sitting in a meeting, the real test is what you do with the other 23-hours that counts.

Well, hitting 30 years is a little harder, but it’s much the same concept; don’t drink, don’t die, work the steps, recover. Before you know it, one day turns into 10,958 and you get to celebrate 30 years. My next big milestone will be around 31 years 259 days. Give or take. And I’ll hit that the same way I hit 30. One day at a time. I won’t drink today. As long as I don’t die and I keep working the steps, I’ll make it till I fall asleep. I’ll do the same tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after. 617 more in a row.

Why a billion seconds? My dad, when I was a teenager, explained the concept of a Billion Dollars by explaining you couldn’t count to a billion in a lifetime. The idea is, it takes three or four seconds to hit the bigger numbers and you have to sleep and eat, too. With a billion seconds at 31 years, it isn’t difficult to see counting to a billion would be futile (and an entire waste of life). Without taking this too silly, that conversation with my dad meant a lot, having stuck with me so long, so now that he’s gone I’m looking forward to that milestone because that’s a little part of him that’s stuck with me.

Oh, and if you’re one of those contrarians who want to point out I shouldn’t have such “milestones” in recovery, that it’s only “one day at a time” and we shouldn’t celebrate such silly dalliances… dude, you’re a stick in the mud. Live a little, would ya? Recovery is a celebration from being delivered from misery every day. You can have a little more fun on the big days without falling into a pit of morass. Or more ass as the case might be.

Happy Thanksgiving! May Your Rubber Side Always Remain Down

Happiest of Thanksgivings, friends. From my family to yours.

Why the Specialized S-Works Crux ISN’T The One (All-Purpose Bike)

I watched a YouTube video (link below) that suggests in the Title that the S-Works Crux, a $12,500 bicycle, might be The ONE. The ONE all-purpose bike that let’s you do it all. Group rides, road rides, dirt rides, the whole nine.

It is, without a doubt, a decent bike. Especially the eTap wireless electronic shifting option. I’m going to pull the curtains back on this one pretty fast, though. The ONE, this ain’t.

At around 17-pounds (7.7 kg), it’s a fairly light gravel bike. However, while it does have a decent set of Roval wheels on it out of the box, you’d need a road set of 50s to make the most of a club ride. Especially so you don’t have to swap tires to ride gravel or road. Unless, of course, you like spending your free time swapping tires around throughout the summer months… oh, and working a little harder than everyone else in the group your riding… So you’re looking at another $1,000 to $2,000 for your road wheels, plus another $120-ish for tires. Oh, and rotors, and a cassette… and shims so you can swap one set for the other without messing with the brake calipers. Throw on another $300.

We’re not done yet, though. That $12,500 bike that is already up around $14,000, comes with a 1x drivetrain. With a 10t to 44t cassette and a 40t chainring. Now, the fella in the video actually said he spins out at about 34-mph in the last gear 40/10. This makes sense. I could probably get it to 37 with a little extra kick, but you’re out of gear there. I can get 45-mph out of a 50/34 and 11/28 cassette. 37 is pretty good, though, so maybe swap out a 42t chainring for a little extra oomph in the sprint? Hold on, though, sparky. There’s another problem that must be addressed before we call this good. You’re looking at a 12-speed 1x system with a 10 to 44t cassette.

Having already played this game before, here are the cogs:


You’ve got a 1-tooth jump for the smallest three cogs, but you’ll always be in the wrong gear going from the 12 to 15. So I’m not going to bother doing the math on Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator site. Actually, I will. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right. See below for the results.

You’ve got a massive hole between 19 & 24-mph. So you’d need to shrink that chainring so the hole is in the slower speeds. But we need a bigger chain ring for the sprint!

So let’s throw another $700 at the problem and get a front derailleur, a double crank with a legit 50/34 crankset on it (surprisingly, it looks like the original shifter might work with a 1 or 2x).

So your $12,500 Crux is now just shy of $15,000 and you’re finally ready for a road ride! Wow, I’m tired. And exceptionally broke.

The Crux isn’t The ONE. I’d take my 10-year-old 16-pound Venge over a brand new S-Works Crux out of the box in a road ride any day of the week and twice, literally, on Sunday. And I’d work you into the ground on your S-Works Crux with a smile on my face…

30 Years In Recovery: If You Know Now What I Didn’t Know Then. Part One.

One thing I’ve always lamented in recovery is that I can’t take what’s in my head and cram it into the thick skull of someone new to recovery… not so they could have my experiences, but so they could know there doesn’t need to be fear in working the steps. I was one who procrastinated with the fourth step till I damn-near drank. The sad thing, really, was a lack of ability to understand exactly what I would have needed to push me over the start line. In fact, hesitation to work a step is a lot like a runner who gets up to the starting line of a race and stops dead in his or her tracks just before crossing and says, “You know, I just don’t think I’m ready for this… I think I’ll stand right here for a while and contemplate my options. What if I put my foot over that line? Will I still be happy?” Newly recovering people do this regularly.

Those outside the program might think that sounds legitimately crazy, but read step four and step five and think about doing that in your life. If that doesn’t strike a little fear and hesitation, you aren’t fully grasping the task. Give it a go and get back with me in the comment section what you think.

Part One of this series is very simple; let go.

If I had any idea how good the freedom from my baggage would feel, I’d have leapt at the opportunity to start immediately. In fact, letting go of old habits to grow closer to the light is an ongoing saga in a recovering person’s life. As we get closer to the light, more of the mess we have about us becomes visible as the illumination increases.

Looking at the new mess to clean up in a negative light was entirely wrong, but reflexive. Until recently. I tended to cling to that mess because at least it was a comfortable mess. Letting go is always a touch on the nebulous side. What if things don’t work out in my favor? What if I don’t like the change? How will my desires (which are often mislabeled “needs”) be met?

What if, just like cleaning up all of the previous messes in the last thirty years, life becomes more enjoyable, though? And so I’ve come to embrace cleaning up newly illuminated messes. Sure, it’s hard work and I usually find I’ve got a lot more to learn… and sometimes the cleanup process is even a little embarrassing. The rewards far outweigh that petty bullshit.

Try it. You just might like it.

Winter Arrives Early in 2022… Um. Yippee. Not Really

I know, Brent. If I had a couple of fat bikes… but I don’t, and for the time being, I hate winter. Hate is a strong, powerful word. Properly used. I suppose, on the positive side of the equation, Jess and I slept in till 7:01 this morning. That hasn’t happened since July when we were on a cruise ship.

We got another couple of inches of snow last night. Enough the plow came through.

I don’t know if anyone else from our group is riding outdoors but Jess and I are hanging inside this morning. It’s time to start going through our DVDs again. Thankfully, we have more than enough to get through the winter without watching the same movie twice. Though I will. It’s about time to get that Star Wars collection dusted off!

In other fun and exciting news, my wife is throwing a dinner party this afternoon for my anniversary. Old friends and new, we’re all heading out to a local restaurant for a nice time together.

I’ll have to check the menu for noodle salad.