It’s easy to be sucked into the morass of the news cycle. It was a dark day in America way back when the big whigs at CNN, on their second day of the network’s existence, realized that 24-hour news was really hard. It seems shortly thereafter they figured, well, if the news won’t come to us, we’ll start making it ourselves.
This isn’t going to be a critique on CNN, though. The point is, when we’re bombarded with crap designed to keep us glued to a TV screen, eventually, to use a phrase seemingly designed for CNN, throw enough crap against a barn, eventually some is going to stick. Therein lies the rub.
I have something rare going for me. I’m a terrible, raging alcoholic.
It’s rare that being an insufferable drunk is looked at as a benefit, but if given some decent perspective, it’s the best thing ever to happen to me.
Being an alcoholic, recovering from it, specifically, has put life in perspective. The hardest thing I’ll ever do in my lifetime is recover from that pit of despair and hopelessness. I did it at 22 years-old, and with just under half of my brain constantly trying to get me back to the miserable relief of escapism through drinking and drugs.
Not only have I stopped mood and mind altering substances, I’ve flourished in this new lease on life, and if I can do that, after all of the despair I suffered through, anything is possible.
One final note on gratitude. The moment after I gave up and asked God for help to recover, I had a complete change of mind and heart. My compulsion to drink was lifted. Maybe “eased” is a better word, but it was something tangible, something I could feel. A crushing weight lifted off my chest… real relief.
People often speak of “being saved”… I get to know, deep down to my baby toes, exactly what being saved feels like. And I know enough not to waste what I was given.
My friends, life is all about how we choose to look at it. Injustice exists everywhere. So does great joy, friendship, happiness and love. Everywhere. What am I going to choose to see, and share with those around me?
Life is never perfect, but if I remain grateful for what I’ve been given, it’s never CNN bad, either.
Coming into this year with a new job, I figured my thousand mile months were done.
I don’t know what it is about that milestone but it feels like I did something special if I can make it happen. April, my first chance, was a washout. There was no chance. Same with May, though I got within 135 miles despite the weather. June was historically horrible – I can’t remember a summer starting that badly. Ever. Plus I went on a cruise with my family… I missed it by more than 300 miles.
Then July. The weather broke, finally, shortly after we got back from vacation and the miles piled up until, on the 31st of the month, I crossed over the thousand mile mark with a 23 miler on a Wednesday.
Not bad for a workin’ fella.
One thing I did do wrong in all of those miles, and I just figured this out yesterday, my recovery rides haven’t been slow enough. I’ve been cranking out 18-1/2-mph recovery rides and I’ve been feeling a little old. Sore back, sore legs, a little bound at the shoulders… Yesterday I did a 17.9-mph recovery ride and I feel like a new man. That half mile an hour made a huge difference. I’ll have to slow down a bit on my slow days.
More later. Ride hard my friends.
The 40th Annual Assenmacher 100 will be held on August 18th. Wheels roll at 8am, or earlier if you’re so inclined, from the north parking lot of Swartz Creek Middle School off Fairchild St. at Cappy Ln. just south of Dragon Dr. in downtown Swartz Creek, MI
While our group will be rather large and quite fast, you should be able to find someone, or a group, that matches your pace. We’ve got everything. Our A group will start just before 8 and they’ll finish in just a shade over four hours of moving time – they usually stop twice, I believe. We’re the B Group and we’ll finish right around 4:45, but we’ll stop three or four times. We’ll also have a C, D, E & F Group, though none will be identified in any way, other than the fact that we’ll all be huddled together before the start. If you’re not sure where you fit in, ask. We’ll do our best to get you fitted in with some riders who will be happy to have you. Or, if you prefer, start at 7:30 and jump on the back of a group as it goes by.
The roads/route will be excellently marked with an “A” which will point in the direction you are to go. Each route is color coded, and I’ll post Ride with GPS routes on this site next Sunday so you can download a file to your Garmin.
The Assenmacher 100, at just $25 day of, is the best stocked, least expensive, one day supported ride in our State. We’ve got five routes on decent roads (though some were recently chip sealed):
- 20 miles flat
- 34 miles flat to rolling hills
- 56 miles flat to rolling hills
- 100+ kilometers (66 miles) flat to rolling hills
- 100 miles (Century) flat to moderate hills.
All rest stops are fully stocked with fruit, pb & j sammiches, Payday bars, water and Gatorade, and the last few with watermelon, with a coney dog lunch in the parking lot following the ride. At $45 it’s a great ride. At just $25, it’s a bargain. You can register the whole family for just $55.
I’ll be the guy on the red and black Specialized Venge, in the Affable Hammers jersey…
Unless, of course, there’s a chance of rain. In that case, I’ll be on the Trek.
My friends, if you’re ever in need of motivation to push on, read the linked post.
I missed this one, it was written back in may, when I was buried under work. Check it out if you get a minute.
I’m a firm believer in “safety in numbers” when it comes to cycling. First, a double pace-line with 24 cyclists is a little hard to miss. Second, a motorist has to get into the opposite lane to pass – there’s no squeezing by a double pace-line.
Riding solo is a different ballgame altogether.
Rather than use this time to give you yet another review on an excellent product, I thought I would take a minute to pass along how I use mine – it’s a little unorthodox.
If you look at the display, only a corner of the Garmin’s display screen is used up on the radar. In the upper-right hand corner you’ve got a little symbol to show the radar is connected and working:
Now, the magic happens when you’re moving and a car gets within 150 yards. You get a verbal cue that a vehicle has just been picked up and the sides of the screen go black and a dot appears on the right side that represents the car. That dot on your screen moves closer to the radar symbol at the top of the screen, proportionally, to the car closing in on you…
With me so far? I know, roughly, when the car will come by me…
So here’s how I use the blip; I normally ride exactly where a vehicle’s passenger side tire would go, maybe even a little toward the center of the lane. As that blip approaches I pick a line, before it’s on me I move right about two feet, toward the edge of the road. The three feet a motorist is required to give me becomes five. Any jerk who tries to buzz me will find their vehicle at or slightly greater than the three feet they’re required to give me anyway.
Now, is this foolproof? No. Sadly, fools have been finding ways to screw things up since the beginning of time, but it’s the best thing I’ve come across so far. And I haven’t had anyone come close to buzzing me since I started the practice.
This is worth the price of my Varia… if I had paid for mine in the first place. I was given it by a friend who upgraded to the newer, fancier model.
Attaining the perfect road bike may seem, at first blush, a bit like attaining a chupacabra. If you’re light on your Latin lore, try Bigfoot. There are so many factors it may better to say it would be like trying to use Bigfoot as bait to catch the Loch Ness Monster.
My friends, it’s not quite that bad, if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, this is the post for you, because it’ll get bumpy in a hurry. Let’s look at some points that don’t require a tinfoil hat.
The most important question you’ll have to answer to build your perfect bike is, “What kind of rider do I want to be?” I realize most won’t have a clue – don’t be discouraged, it’s not a requirement. Yet. There’ll be a little more trial and error with the process at first if you don’t, but that can be worked around with the right amount of cash. If you like the idea of road cycling, what kind? Do you want to be fast, kinda fast, or do you just want to putter around the 40-mile block?
If you’re going to be very fast, if that suits you, then you’re going to want something very light, very aero, and very carbon fiber. If you’re going to be kinda fast, then the aero bit is nice, but not entirely necessary. The carbon fiber is a must, and the gearing will be slightly more important than weight. You just want to ride around the block at a fair clip? Well, in that case you can easily get away with aluminum if you’re running 25 or 28mm tires. In simple terms, the faster you want to go, the more narrow the gap to thread the needle.
The same will go for mountain bikes or gravel bikes – the faster you want to be, the more important the frame material and component class become – more on components later.
In order of importance, you’ll have frame size, stem length, saddle size/width and crank arm length. Those affect all of your big hitter pain centers. Too much reach, drop or rise in your stem and you hurt or your arms and hands go numb. Saddle too wide, oh dear God will you hurt. Frame too big or small, pain indeed. Stem too short or long? Take a guess. How about the crank arms? Too short, no power. Too long, pain, pain, pain, pain. Saddle too high? Ouch. Saddle too low? Guess!
You get the point. The numbers have to be very close to right. Don’t just go with any size, either. Even going with the internet frame size calculators is a little iffy, because a true pro will take the geometry of the whole frame into account before picking the right size for the rider. Using me as an example, the computer model showed I should be on a 58cm frame. For my Specialized, I knew better, though. I wanted something a little more low slung so I ordered a 56. Because it was a compact frame, I even could have been worked into a 54 but I thought that would be too much drop from saddle to bar, and the stem would have been really long.
You’ll also have to take frame style into account. The Specialized is a compact frame while the Trek two photos up is a standard. Standard frames are a little more finicky when it comes to size so it is wise for one to stick a little closer to the proper size. You can tell them by their top tube – it runs almost perfectly parallel to the ground. I could have fit myself on a 56cm standard frame, but it would have taken some creative part selection. The 56cm compact frame, it was no problem at all. 10mm longer stem, peg the saddle, slap it on the keister and call her a biscuit.
I’ll Take Mechanically Sound for $1,500, please…
This is going to be a very short paragraph because it’s very simple. Shimano 105, SRAM Rival, or Campagnolo Chorus are the minimum starting point for components. You don’t need top of the line for your perfect bike, but you have to start somewhere, and that’s where. I have two perfect bikes, one with 105 and one with Ultegra components (third and second from the top, respectively). Dura Ace would have been nice, yes, and another $1,000 per bike. Not necessary for my above average, but below hair on fire, pace.
Color Me Happy…
And that leads us to the all-important color selection. Look, unless you really like baby-$#!+ brown, don’t settle for a bike that looks like a baby $#@+ on it. For this point, and I can’t believe I can say this and mean it, I like my Trek over the Specialized. I built the Trek from the ground up. I picked the crankset, the chainrings, the pedals, the seat post… I picked the colors. I picked the stem and the quill stem adapter. And the headset. And the bottom bracket… and the bar tape. And the handlebar… Right down to my name on the top tube and the Punisher decal on the down tube, the Trek is my bike. I built (and for some parts, had it built) exactly how I wanted it, from the ground up.
Whoever tells you road cycling isn’t a bit of a fashion show, they’re either lying, they don’t know any better, or they truly don’t care. Either way, it’s a fashion show on two wheels. And let’s face it, if they’re in the “don’t care” camp, that puts you in the “ain’t listening to someone who doesn’t care” camp.
Finally, we come down to the little details. The decals, the style and color of the decals, and so forth. Too many decals and your steed won’t look flashy in the “flash me your boobs” way. No, boobs are wonderful. Bikes with too many decals are gaudy. Don’t go there. Just a few, here and there. Let the awesomeness of the bike speak for itself. Anyone who knows a 1999 Trek 5200 knows they were gaudy. So gaudy, I need only link to it (page 19). When I built mine, I could have had the original decal set put on the bike. You can see what I went with, “Trek”, a “Made in the USA” decal (because it literally was, twice), and a “Velocity Wheels” decal, because Velocity is awesome. Finally, I just added that Punisher decal.
There’s a big gap between a really good bike and a perfect bike. Really good will get the job done. It’ll get you where you want to go, as fast as you want to go, provided you’re willing to give it the effort.
You’ll give your perfect bike a double-take when you walk by and it’ll be a pleasure to ride. That’s when you know you’ve got it right.
I am known throughout my entire family for wearing the young kids and pets out. It’s a gift. I walk in the door almost always the biggest kid in the room.
And I love it.
I love being Uncle Jim. It fills my heart with joy being that guy…
And it sure didn’t used to be like that. I thank God every day for good, clean, sober living because it saved my butt and made me worth having around.
That’s as good as it gets.