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The hardest part of being an aging athlete is getting the fuel right so we don’t bonk, but also not eating our way to being too heavy for a 16-pound (7kg) race bike. Finding the right balance isn’t easy.
On one hand, I ride a bicycle (one of my five) around 8,000 miles a year. That’s a low-side average. When you’re pushing out 300 miles in a week, it’s easy to not pass on that most excellent double pulled pork barbecue bacon burger with fried onion straws. With fries. Ahem. Therein lies my problem.
When I started cycling at 41, after running for the better part of a decade, I jumped my mileage up quickly and lost a massive amount of weight. I’m 6′ tall and went from 172 pounds down to the 150s. I was skinny. My wife finally said, look, mister, you better do something about this skinny thing you’ve got going on. I like you with a little more meat on those bones. Folks, there’s nothing quite like permission to eat. And eat I did. Now, at 51, I’m pushing 185 and I’m big enough that it’s time to do something to fix it. I used to eat at Subway regularly, but when you do the calorie math, I’m looking at a 1,000 calorie lunch and a 1,500 calorie dinner. Throw in a few muchies here and there, and all of a sudden, BAM! 185 stares back at you on the scale.
I started looking at salads from Wendy’s. The half-size Spicy Chicken Caesar was appealing so I gave it a go. With a piece of fried, spicy chicken. Looking up the calorie content, I’m right around 490 calories. I drink water with my lunch to save unneeded calories. I dropped three pounds in just shy of two weeks. My cardiologist probably wouldn’t be too happy with the “fried” part of the chicken, though. Then I got to thinking… that’s $35 a week just in salads at Wendy’s.
I started thinking about saving some money, because $7 for a freaking salad pissed me off a little, even if it was very tasty. Then, of course, fried…
Now, if I butterfly chicken breasts, I can get at least four lunches out of a package of chicken, plus dressing and croutons… I’m looking at about $4 per lunch – and I don’t use the cheap, nutrient-void iceberg lettuce. I use the good stuff; baby spinach, spring mixed greens and a romaine heart here and there.
The key to making your own salad is getting the chicken right. Not enough seasoning and you’ve got a boring hunk of flavorless chicken. Too much and it tastes gross. Cook it too long and it’s dry. Raw will obviously get you sick (or worse).
The best seasoning for chicken is McCormick’s Montreal Chicken seasoning. Montreal Steak seasoning works, too – but go light on either. Also, if you’re really feeling adventurous and want fantastic tasting grilled chicken, is the Grill Mates Applewood Smoked seasoning, again from McCormick. Go with the applewood first, then a light dusting of Montreal. This is the easy part; lightly sprinkle your seasoning over the chicken. I find that too much is overpowering, so be judicious. While I love “heat”, as in spicy seasoning, I find too much salt off-putting.
Next is the actual cooking of the chicken, and this takes some patience and practice to get right. First, I like to butterfly boneless chicken breasts so they cook fast. The only thing worse than over-cooked chicken is under-cooked chicken. The key to juicy chicken is a properly pre-heated grill. We’re aiming for 500+ degrees F (260 C). So, immediately after you get the grill lit (or you get the charcoal going), clean the grill surface with a wire cleaning utensil. Inspect the grill to make sure no pieces of wire stuck to the grill, then wait till the you’re up to temp.
With the grill up to temp, place the chicken diagonally across the grill with the seasoned side down. I know, I know… it looks better. Shut the lid and let it go for about three or four minutes. Make sure the grill isn’t flaring up on you. When you come back, the top side of the chicken should be turning white, as though it’s starting to cook. Flip the chicken, diagonal again. and let it go for another three and check the meat. You don’t want it to be too rigid (over-cooked) or rubbery (under-cooked). The chicken will bend a little bit under it’s own weight if you grab it with tongs on either end of the chicken but not if you grab it in the middle.
Until you get the “feel” of what a cooked piece of chicken feels like in a pair of tongs, I’d cut a piece in half, the thickest piece, to make sure it’s cooked through. The chicken should be a consistent color throughout – no darker center (that’s good for steak, not chicken).
Once the chicken is done – but just done, because you’re going to reheat this, presumably in a microwave oven at work, I place them in a storage container and immediately in the fridge for the next few days.
Now, for the reheat, I like to place a damp to wet paper towel over the chicken when I reheat it. This helps keep the meat’s moisture locked in so it stays juicy. The goal is to get it just hot enough without hammering it to death in the nuker.
The rest is just building a salad. I like the aforementioned spring mix and baby spinach, a small handful of croutons, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and some Caesar dressing. Now, for the dressing, I have two favorites. I like Newman’s Own because all profits go directly to charity. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Ken’s Steakhouse Caesar Dressing its props. That dressing is amazing.
Enjoy! And remember, more lettuce than chicken!
I got home from work, fully intending on riding on the trainer even though I’ve been taking Mondays off since November. I’ve had a nagging sense of “I don’t wanna” on Tuesday’s when I go to start the week again that’s been bugging me for a few weeks, now, and I got a little angry with it last Tuesday.
I get to Monday and think, “alright, a day off!” and all is well. I have a nice evening, sleep well, then get through Tuesday just fine at work until I get home and it’s time to ride and I start thinking, “maybe I should take another day off”… then I have to moderate an argument with the melon committee about getting on the bike or not. This is entirely unacceptable.
So, yesterday, rather than mess around with the argument, I just told the whole committee to sit down and shut up, “it’s easier to keep a train rolling that start one from a stop”, I explained and rolled my bike out of the bike room to set it up on the trainer.
I was rolling shortly after 5 and had one of my better trainer sessions of the new year. It was made slightly easier, of course, by watching Predator, the original Arnold movie.
And so it was. I had a sparkling dinner with Mrs. Bgddy and our daughter, watched the Rams and Matthew Stafford thrash the Cardinals and drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face. It will be easier, tonight, when I get home to roll my Trek out of the bike room and hook it to the trainer. Whenever I try to embrace “days off”, I always come back to the same concept of keeping a train rolling.
Sure, it’s because it’s true, but mainly because I know me… and after 29 years in recovery, there’s one main concept I have no problem embracing: To Thine Own Self Be True.
Ride hard, my friends. Or pay your doctor to be one of your best buddies.
In a post the other day, I recommended caution about the danger in jumping onto a 20-mph e-assist bike for someone who is more used to the pace of a beach cruiser. In a post a while back, I also stated (humorously, of course) that nobody has ever whiskey throttled a race bike. People, lots of them, have whiskey throttled an eBike, though. I went on, in the first post, to suggest that part of the problem leading to an increase in bicycle accidents related to eBikes is that the speed of an eBike comes without a price (other than the cost of the bike itself).
The point is, if anyone can hop on an eBike and immediately ride 20+ mph (32 km/h), there are bound to be a lot of accidents as that kind of speed on a pedal bike takes quite a bit of knowledge to build up to. As I said, I had to bust my butt to be able to ride that fast unassisted.
Over the next couple of days I got to thinking about what I do to ride at that speed, both solo and in a group and thought it could be helpful to pass that on for new cyclists.
First things first, the greatest lesson I learned is to assume everyone in a motor vehicle is a complete idiot. This is the safest way to ride. If I expect someone to do something stupid, it’s easy to take evasive action when they do. I’ve had someone speed by me and make a right turn, literally 50′ in front of me and didn’t hit the car even though I was traveling at about 40′ per second at the time. And yes, that motorist got an earful.
This leads to the second point: as I wrote in my first post, widen your focus as the pace increases. Tunnel vision is bad. We have to ride accordingly as we widen that focus, too. I hear people say, after narrowly avoiding a crash (or not avoiding one), “but I had the right of way”. Folks, it doesn’t matter who has the right of way in a crash with a car. The cyclist loses. Every time. It doesn’t matter who had the right of way if you’re in a hospital. If we are going to ride fast, we have to know when to push it and when to back off to avoid trouble. Learn when to back off. Once you’ve crashed or been crashed into, there’s nothing you can do but hope and heal. Avoid both by riding smart.
Things are coming at you at 30 to 50’ per second. You have to learn to think 500’ up the road – and that’s what I mean about widening the focus.
Finally, speed on any kind of pedal bike is awesome fun. That speed has to be respected, though. And that part isn’t in the operators manual. Ride smart, ride fast, but be safe… and live to tell about it.
I could have recovery without being as active as I am. It just wouldn’t be as fun.
I couldn’t have fitness without recovery, though. Without the recovery, I’d already be on the wrong side of the grass.
Thank God I found the path and chose to stay on it.
My riding buddy, Chuck just bought a new Salsa fatty a couple of weeks ago. It’s a full carbon race rig with many of the bells and whistles… and tires fat enough they sound like a mudbogging truck going down the road. He just got the tubeless setup sorted out at the shop and he wanted to ride it Thursday night. We’ve got some unbearably cold weather coming up so he was itching to get it outside before we were relegated to the trainers for the next week or more.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t as enthusiastic.
Even though everything in my melon screamed trainer, I prepped my mountain bike for duty when I got home. Oh, how I wanted to skip that ride, but I knew Chuck’s usual test ride average worked out to about 9-mph so I figured it would be a nice, easy jaunt around our normal paved road loop. Even the sketchy couple of miles didn’t seem like they would be a big deal with my 2″ mtb tires.
And so, begrudgingly, I met Chuck at the end of my driveway and we rolled out into the wind, what little breeze there was. Please keep in mind here, I was planning on an easy ride, maybe 10 to 12-mph because Chuck’s on a fat bike for God’s sake. His tires are something like three inches wider than mine… I expected to be able to hammer him into the ground.
Well, to keep it simple, what I expected and what I got were two very different things. Chuck had maxed out the tire pressure and was riding like somebody (other than me) was chasing him. Within the first three miles we were knocking on a 15-mph average and we were still there after the first mile of sketchy subdivision. After the sub we headed north, into the wind again for a half-mile before turning west, Chuck was absolutely hammering it into the wind and just before we were about to turn I ran out of want to and said, “Alright, that’s about enough of that”. I had to check to make sure we didn’t have a herd of buffalo trying to run us down or something. One mile West and a quick northerly section and we were cruising into the second section of sketchy road – that my mountain bike tires handled excellently – not even a sway in the slush.
Chuck asked if I wanted to do a second lap of the subdivision, adding another 2 miles or so. I flipped him the bird. But laughed and agreed to the extra miles. We took it fairly easy through the subdivision, but once out on a surface road, the pace heated up again. Anything south was fast. And we kept the gas on all the way home.
After I cleaned up, I checked out the stats for the ride and saw my estimated average power… an unbelievable 181 watts for more than an hour-twenty and just shy of 20 miles.
I wore a smile the rest of the evening, and it was good.
No such luck this weekend. We’re currently sitting about ten degrees below my cutoff of 20 F (or -HOLYSHIT in Celsius) for a temperature. I’ll be, unquestionably, on the trainer… well, there’s a chance for a ride tomorrow afternoon but I’m going to need a big change in “want to” to get out there.
So, I’m going to run a new Friday series for a few weeks that’s going to center on bowling, mainly because I’ve been stepping up my game a little bit and I’m having a lot of fun with it.
So, we’re going to start easy and work our way up. This is all going to be fairly simple, an easy progression to get from below average to above average as quickly and painlessly as possible. The operative two words in that last sentence are “as possible”.
The first thing we have to look at in terms of improving is giving up the straight ball. Many sub-par bowlers are stuck on the straight ball because it’s easy, but I can show you very simply why a hook is so important to improvement. You can get good with a straight ball, but it’s hard. Let’s look at a typical layout of pins that you’ll see looking down the lane:
Now, we all know if you want to score a strike with regularity, you’ve got to hit between the 1 & 3 or the 1 & 2, right? Well, let’s look at the same layout from above and you’ll see why the hook is so important:
It’s very simple to see how, with a hook as shown on the left, your margin for error increases by about three times. This is why we throw a hook, it increases the margin for error in a bowling shot.
Once we understand that, we settle on one of three ways to hook a ball. The hard way is the old style, three finger holes with the holes relatively close to each other, close to an equilateral triangle. You throw the ball from the side, lifting up as you follow through which imparts spin on the ball, causing it to hook. If, and this is a big if, you’re using the right kind of ball. We’ll get into that in a minute. The second is the fingertip drilled ball. The thumb and two fingers are spread farther apart, though the two fingers are close together, to a point where you can barely reach the two holes with the tips of your middle and ring fingers when your thumb is in its hole. This requires a lot of wrist strength for your shot but you get the most torque for the hook if thrown properly. The third (other than two-handed which I won’t cover) is a hybrid of the standard drill and fingertip drill. It requires reach, but not as much as a full fingertip drill. This is what I throw. I can comfortably get my fingers into the middle and ring finger holes up to my first knuckle joint. With the fingers and thumb just a little closer together there’s less pressure on the wrist during the rolling of the ball and I still get great torque for lots of hook. The standard isn’t a great hooking ball drill pattern. The fingertip is fantastic for hook but lacks some versatility and requires a considerable amount of wrist strength. The hybrid lacks some torque and some rev rate potential, but it makes up for that deficiency with control. Having bowled with the standard drill for more than a decade, I highly recommend against that. There’s too much room for error in throwing the ball. That will leave either the fingertip or hybrid. You’ll have to choose if you want to improve. The last two add a lot of repeatability to a bowling shot.
Now let’s look at bowling balls. Unlike American citizens, all bowling balls are not all created equal.
Plastic house balls (left – Ebonite Maxim) do not hook very much, especially if you’re throwing with some pace. The plastic ball makes an awesome spare ball for that very reason. You can throw a hook shot and it’ll simply spin down the lane in a (relatively) straight line. Next is the polyurethane covered bowling balls. They have a moderate hook and are great for dry to medium oil. Reactive urethane hybrid covers (right – Scorpion) are good for moderate to heavy oil and resin reactive hook the most and are for heavy oil patterns.
Personally, I have three bowling balls, the same weight and all drilled identically so my release can be the same no matter what I’m throwing at, and under any conditions. Each ball will react differently, meaning I won’t have to. I’ve got a reactive urethane hybrid (Hammer Scorpion), a plastic spare ball, and a straight urethane cover that’s good for dry to medium oil. Technically, three is next level, though. Say, going from 150 to 185. You won’t need three to go from 100 to 150, easily. Two is a great idea, though. Maybe a hybrid reactive (for moderate to heavy oil) and a plastic spare ball.
The last piece in the bowling ball is its weight. I’ve thrown a 16-pound ball (max weight) for decades but recently dropped to a 14-pounder… and it’s not an age thing. The 16 hits like a truck but I can get a little more pace on a 14 and I don’t tire out midway through my last game and reach for a lighter ball. I would never go below 12 pounds, personally, because a lighter ball deflects more when it hits the pins but a 14 is a great compromise weight. However, if you can’t throw a 12-pounder, throw the heaviest you comfortably can. The heavier the ball, the harder the hit and we want to get those pins moving. Use a house bowling ball and check everything from 10 to 14 pounds. Once you choose a good weight for you, go into the pro shop and have a ball drilled for you.
For my Scorpion, my first new bowling ball ever, I walked into the pro shop and said, “I know just enough to be dangerous and stupid at the same time. I want a ball that’s going to hook a lot on a house (league) pattern but not too much.” Then I gave him my 16-pound Hammer Wheel that I was given decades ago and had filled and drilled for me, and asked him to match that drilling because it fits my hand pretty well. He watched me throw a few balls during the warm-up and I picked my ball up a week later. The drilling is close to that of the old Wheel, but it’s definitely slightly wider from thumb to fingers and a little off center. It is spectacular – I’ve never had such an easy time rolling a bowling ball down a lane. That’s what a good pro shop guy can do. I went to a pro shop because of that statement I made when I walked in – I wanted someone who could give me what I needed based on imperfect information. The internet can’t do that.
For shoes, you don’t need a $200 pair of pro shoes. Just make sure you get the slide foot correct (some shoes are right or left slide – the slide foot is the opposite you throw with). After that, a microfiber cloth to wipe the oil off your strike ball and a decent bag (preferably a roller – carrying a two ball bag on your shoulder gets a little old).
With the proper equipment, a decent strike ball and a good spare ball (preferably drilled and weighted the same), you’ll be well on your way to improving rapidly.
Next Friday I’ll cover the bowling shot. How to throw, where to stand, and aim (or lack thereof!).
I will resist the urge for hyperbole in the face of the age of hyperbole, and simply say it’s been a fairly rough January. In the first thirteen days of the month I’ve ridden outdoors just once. Now, to be fair, there have been two other days I could have ridden outdoors but a lack of a desire to be cold for an hour and a half injected a little sanity into the whole mix. I opted for the trainer instead.
Yesterday, however, presented one of those rare Michigan January days above freezing, with little wind, and decent roads… well, semi-decent as we found out the hard way. Chucker had been bugging me for two days to join him so I kinda felt locked into it, so after I got home at 4, I suited up and readied the gravel bike and got dressed. Unfortunately, I underdressed a tad. If I’d have had a neck gaiter, I’d have been perfect.
We rolled out around 4:30 and started with a fairly brisk pace averaging an easy 15-mph for the first mile. It went down from there, and I was ecstatic about that. It was one of those “out for a walk but on two wheels” rides and that was right up my alley. I’d taken a couple of days off after some solid trainer efforts, so the easy pace and a breath of fresh air was just what I needed.
Even though the temperature was solidly above freezing all day, we did run into some trouble. Our first subdivision in our loop is always a little sketchy after the first snow but the first quarter-mile was melted as far as we could see, so we gave it a go. It wasn’t until we hit the first turn in the road that $#!+ got hectic in a hurry. The slush wasn’t terribly deep, it was just enough that you’d fall and bust your melon protector if your handling wasn’t perfect. I dialed the speed way back through that little stretch of road.
Another three miles later, entering the second sub on our normal loop, the first stretch was great as far as we could see, so we followed our normal route. It wasn’t until we turned that the roads turned into an unpassable mess. It was so bad I did the “unclip one foot and Fred Flintstone it” through much of the next mile. The roads had never been so much as scraped since the last snow. One false move through there and you were cooked. So I went slow enough I couldn’t make a false move. A little bit of a wet ass later and we were through the worst of it and out on normal roads again.
The ride home, after the sketchiness, was fantastic. We laughed about current events, about fat bikes (Chucker just bought one – I know, Brent, it’s just a matter of time now), supply chain issues (and I mean literal supply “chain” issues, like the lack there of if you’re trying to get a hold of a 10-speed chain or cassette for your steed)… it was just a great time. I almost didn’t even mind the cold.
Anyway, we shortened up the route to skip a second lap through the snow and slush and I pulled into the driveway with 17-1/2 wonderful, easy miles on the gravel bike.
And Chuck’s already texted to see if I want another go of it tonight. It’ll be the last call for a while – it gets really cold again tonight. I’ll have to think about this one… that trainer sure was looking tempting after the slush from last night.
From Race Bikes to eBikes and the Real Reason eBikes Are Dangerous: The Speed Comes at a Price… And I’m Not Talking About Money.
This might not be the post you’re thinking it’ll be…
I watched a video yesterday about the safety of eBikes that really caught my interest. The comparison was made between the safety of motorcycles and eBikes and also looked at the jump in crashes and hospitalizations since the boom of the eBike. The video really didn’t get into the why of it. I will.
Since I got into road cycling I’ve worked at being the fastest I could be. I worked hard at it. I’ve lost count how many times I’d puked in my mouth from pushing too hard for too long. Even at 51 years-old, I’m fast enough on my road race bike that I can outpace most ebikes in their factory settings when the pedal assist cuts out at 20-ish miles per hour. On our Tuesday Night club ride, we would push even the best factory eBikes beyond their pedal assist limits. I’ve ridden fast, with fast people for more than a decade now, and we tend to be quite good at it.
And that gets us to the crux of the problem.
A few reviewers of the Tesla Model S Plaid made the point that the car is scary fast and what makes it scary is that normally one has to spend upwards of millions of Dollars, to launch as fast as you can in a $112,000 Plaid. It’s the cost that is the issue. With an owner of a hyper car, most will actually learn how to drive to protect their investment while they’re out tearing up the asphalt (or they’ll save the asphalt tearing for the track). With the Model S Plaid, hyper car speed is available to anyone who can afford a high-end Cadillac SUV. The cost for that kind of speed isn’t steep enough to keep the knuckleheads from doing knuckleheaded things with a rocket ship.
And that’s where the eBike enters this little equation. Anyone who rides a pedal bike at a pace above 20-mph, especially those who do so in a group, learns how to manage that speed. There are hundreds of nuances that a slower sidewalk rider would miss or deem non-threatening because they’re covering ten to fifteen feet per second while faster riders cover three times that distance in a second.
In order to safely ride that fast, your focus has to widen – you have to take in everything around you as you’ll be on a threat in a matter of seconds at high speeds. Developing that kind of focus and attention takes practice and, more important, time.
When you can just hop on an eBike and instantly hit 23-mph where you’d normally be riding around 10, a rider won’t be prepared for how fast things happen at that speed and they’ll make costly mistakes someone who normally rides that fast won’t. Thus, why accidents and hospitalizations have increased with the boom of eBikes.
The speed comes at a cost.
To wrap this up, sooner than later there will be fever-pitched, hyperbole driven calls by politicians, ignoramuses and authoritarians alike to throttle eBikes back to a point where they’re less dangerous. Hold on a second there, fun sponge. Don’t get your panties in a twist faster than a Specialized Creo Turbo! EBikes can be a fantastic commuting tool, especially the faster eBikes that allow cyclists to better keep pace with traffic. The rider will have to learn how to manage that speed so that they don’t hurt themselves. No politician, try as they might, has ever managed to legislate “stupid” out of anything. They have managed to suck the fun out of a lot with their often idiotic rules, though. I would never advocate for such a thing. I would implore you, my dear reader, to resist the urge as well.
In the very near future, Fit Recovery will cross the millionth hit marker since I thought the blog up and published my first post a little more than a decade ago.
A million hits.
I received several comments over the years suggesting I should write more (or even exclusively) about recovery. They say all of the cycling stuff is a distraction from the good that I do writing about recovery. Believe it or not, I’m not lost on the idea but there are two distinct problems with that suggestion:
- Every single post on my top ten list for each year has something to do directly with cycling with one exception; I wrote a post about tight belt syndrome because I had it, struggled with it, and fixed it. That’s the one outlier. I’ve always figured it’s a good thing that the cycling posts bring the eyeballs to the recovery posts. I could be wrong about that assessment, but see #2.
- I really love writing about cycling, fitness and an active lifestyle. My daughters like to say I’m the most active dad they know. I write about recovery to freely give away that which saved my bacon and I write about cycling and fitness because it’s fun. One of the greatest things recovery has given me is the ability and cause to enjoy life – and I mean really love it. I try to pass on that passion in both topics.
And so it is what it is, my friends. I’ve actually been working on a little more substance around here, and a little less fluff. In the end, doing something good is more important to me than doing something fun. The key for me with writing fit recovery is that I can have both – it’s just a matter of figuring out the balance.
Thank you for reading, and for those friends I’ve made over the years, thank you for being the cherry on top.
In the end, recovery and fitness are both all about the friends we make. And blogging, too for that matter.
I stepped outside to take a feel. I’d heard the wind chime playing it’s song but it was technically supposed to be warm – well, above freezing by a degree, at least. It was still quite dark and Mike, Chuck and I were due to roll out in half an hour. Freezing drizzle.
The dirt roads were already out of the question, impassable by bike with a layer of compacted snow and ice we’d be riding mountain bikes on paved roads. With the freezing drizzle the paved roads were out, too.
I texted Chuck I was out with the freezing rain. Mike called in the second I hit send on the text. He confirmed the wisdom of my dropping out when he said he had to walk on the grass to get down to collect his Sunday paper. No way I was riding in that, and Mike was out, too.
I set up the bikes on the trainers and my wife and I had a nice spin to 6 Underground. I was 30 minutes into it when I realized I didn’t have to talk myself into getting on the bike, and I was on my sixth ride of the week – so I could have easily justified a day off. Thankfully, that’s a little more like me.
I received a text from Chuck right around that point that he’d gone out anyway and braved the sleet and freezing rain. It didn’t go well. He went down (though from the sounds of it, not too hard). The bike was fine but I’m sure he’ll be bruised up today.
And that’s exactly why we ride the trainer after freezing rain. It doesn’t matter how fat your tires are on ice. Once you lose it, you’re down before you can blink.
The rest of the day was phenomenal. I spent the whole day in my pajamas watching football and napping intermittently. It was better than a swift kick in the pants. I didn’t do very well with watching what I ate over the weekend, so that starts today.