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Making the Most of Another Perfect Day

Two days in a row, above 50°F (10 C), without a cloud in the sky, and reasonable wind velocity…

I rolled over to pick Chuck up at his house at 11:30… am. On a FRIDAY. He wasn’t quite ready so I basked in the glorious sun while he prepped his bike. He was rushing around and lost his concentration for just a split second and rather than pop the cap on his bottle of chain lube, he unscrewed the whole top. Well, you can imagine what happened when he tipped the bottle upside-down to lube the chain.

At least a quarter of the bottle dumped onto his chain and cassette. Chain lube everywhere.

I can tell you, his bike won’t be making any noise for at least two years and I’ll be having a laugh over it for at least a decade.

We rolled out shortly thereafter. And yes, his bike was whisper quiet.

The first half of the ride was fun and lively. The weather was perfect and the pace, fairly easy. There was just one little catch; we did all of the tailwind first.

I thought, how bad can it be, though? It’s a single-digit wind.

The route we picked, the loop around Lake Shannon, is a favorite as it winds its way around some fantastic roads with lots to see. Including an old cider mill.

For a Michigan early spring, the weather simply can’t be better… and it won’t last. While it’s here, though, and with time to spare and open country roads to explore with little to no traffic, it’s been great to get some fresh, sunny air.

The ride home was hard, as we expected it would be – a 100k with no drafting, so essentially solo, is hard enough as it is. With the tailwind loaded at the end, well let’s just say I was suffering with eight miles to go. I asked to stop at a gas station for a Coke. We stopped for ten, maybe fifteen minutes and that (and a gel) was all I needed. The remainder of the ride was simple enough. Head down, pedal fast. With one small problem: My m*****f***in’ Look Keo pedal. Every F***IN’ PEDAL ROTATION… REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause… I’m on a $6000 perfectly silent road bike and I want to take a shotgun to my left foot to get the squeaking to stop… GOOD GOD IN HEAVEN…

The breeze wasn’t bad enough we couldn’t hold a pace between 18 & 20-mph except uphill. And thankfully, with a couple of extra miles early on adjusting our route, I pulled into the driveway with just a few tenths over a hundred k’s. And after a shower, I managed to do some much needed yard work with the family.

For today, it’s as good as it gets. Minus the pedal issue. For the meantime I’ll have to swap pedals between the Trek and Specialized.. I’ve got a Really Red set of Issi pedals on order at the shop.

CoVengeCation-2020; The REAL Venge Day Finally Arrives!

Dear God, thank you for spring and some time off!It was cold yesterday morning – cold because there wasn’t a cloud within a hundred miles of us – and it warmed up quick. Mrs. Bgddy and I rolled out yesterday morning around 11 and it was still a little nippy out, but the temp was climbing rapidly. We’d decided on headwind first and chose our route accordingly. My Venge was built for days like these and I rolled it out the door with a smile on my face.Within a mile I knew tightening the chainring bolts the day before did the trick to take out the little tick the bike had developed. And I think that was the last negative thing to enter my gray matter for the next two hours.I took the first twelve miles into the headwind, paying attention to keep the pace within a certain range of effort that would get us to tailwind, but not so fast that I’d burn my wife up getting there. It was a firm northwesterly wind but certainly not brutal – just 10-mph, but enough to require some wattage to the pedals to overcome it. We hit the tailwind 17 miles in and it was smooth sailing after that. The temp climbed from the mid-40’s to mid-50’s and a couple of miles after we hit that tailwind, I had to shed my vest. It was too perfect out.My wife and I laughed and played around, enjoying the Zombieland car-free roads… minus the zombies, of course (it wouldn’t be much of a vacation dodging zombies, now would it?). We stopped to take a couple of photos, one at a bridge we’d crossed over, and one at a City Limits sign to taunt my buddy, Mike with. Messing around killed our average pace but I didn’t care (and I know my wife didn’t care). It was a perfect April day – a rarity for the month, normally we get a perfect half day if we’re lucky. After our little photo session, we hit the road and headed home, letting the tailwind push us home. We pulled into the driveway with 37 glorious miles and smiles on our faces.I had to clean up in a hurry to pick my daughter up from work, and I picked up a Big Mac guilty pleasure lunch… but I called my buddy, Chuck in the meantime to find he hadn’t ridden yet. I asked if he wanted some company.Yep. It was too perfect a day. I went out for another twenty miles. CoVengeCation regulations demand one spend as much sunny time on the bike as is possible. I complied. Happily.Stay safe, my friends – and know that when I talk about riding with my buddy, Chuck, we go beyond the rules of social distancing to take wind speed and direction into account so we’re not “in each others air”. Riding with my wife, well, we draft each other everywhere we go… that’s a luxury we get living under the same roof.

Clicks, Rattles and Rolling On the Good Bike; Troubleshooting New (Unwelcome) Noises

I rolled out solo yesterday with 30 miles in mind. The weather was vastly improved over the day before. Cloudy, still, but seven degrees warmer (48° or 9 C), less wind, and an improved “feels like” temp. I opted for my Specialized.  The Trek is a gloriously fun ride, but the best way I can think to put it, the Specialized feels like a fast, smooth, badass guilty pleasure next to the 5200.

With the north wind, I opted for the exact same route I rode the day before but I wanted to throw in a few hills I hadn’t bothered with the day before and because I didn’t have Chuck with me (a normal world friend), I decided I was going to stop by my sponsor’s house to say Hi.  I normally see him once a week without fail and I hadn’t seen him since this whole coronavirus mess broke (we normally go out to dinner for tacos at a local authentic hole-in-the-wall every Thursday).

The route is heavy with headwind for the first 15-ish miles – only two miles of crosswind the whole way out, and they’re early.  The headwind is relentless and sometimes hard to handle, mentally.  Once you get to that point, though, it’s a party for all but a mile and a half all the way home…  My original plan was to get to the top of the hill and the end of my headwind, then head over to my sponsor’s house, but after 11 miles dead into the wind, I wanted a break – and it’s a good thing I did, because his wife came to the door as I was just about to call his cell to let him know I was outside.  He was at his pole barn a few miles up the road at his rental house.  If I hadn’t stopped, I’d have missed him altogether.  My sponsor’s wife and I exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way.


Down a hill, up two more to the top of the big climb (or at least what passes for a “climb” in my neighborhood), and I was heading to the rental house and two more short climbs.

My sponsor is an older fella, in his early 70’s, so I doubled the 6′ (two meter) distance and we spent about fifteen minutes catching up.  It was like seeing a long-lost friend for the first time in years.  We had some laughs, talked a little politics, some recovery and promised to meet the first Thursday after this thing breaks for tacos.

One nice climb on my way out of town and I was on flat ground, headwind almost all of the way home… and that’s when the ticking sound started.  I quickly went through my internal database of ticks and clicks… no rhythm, only when I pedal, doesn’t matter load or no load (it wasn’t louder or more frequent under heavy load)… and the frequency was picking up as the miles went by – not the intensity, the frequency.  It was one of two things:  Seat post or chainring bolts.  Other than the ticking, the rest of my ride was fantastic (and thankfully it wasn’t loud enough to be too annoying).

First, I was a little bummed that I spent so much time farting around bopping from my sponsor’s house to his barn… I lost almost a full mile an hour off my average – I managed to pull an 18.1 into the wind and I was down to 17.2.  On the other hand, at a time like this I’d like to say I really don’t give a $#!+ about average pace… but I’d be lying.  Ish.

I pulled into the driveway with just a shade under an 18.3-mph average for 35 miles.  Had I skipped my sponsor’s house, 19, easy… but I’d have been worse for it.  Recovery isn’t a solitary thing, at least not the way I play it.  I need others around me who are going through the same thing so I can stay on the right path.  So that whiny part of me that cares about average pace was sent to the corner to sulk.  He shortly rejoined the committee, apologizing for being a knucklehead.

After cleaning up and eating, I started systematically checking things with the bike.  First was the spokes.  I didn’t think it was a busted spoke nipple, but you never know unless you check the tension.  Both wheels came up negative for an issue.  Stem was tight, per specs.  Handlebar bolts, tight per specs.  Chainring bolts… the first one told the story.  The second was tight, the third lose, and the fourth tight.  Problem solved.  Probably.

I’ll know more today… because it’s going to be perfectly sunny and almost 60-fin’-° today!  If ever there was a Venge Day Part II, this is going to be it!  Happy days and sunshine, baby!  WOOHOO!  Oh, and a bike that doesn’t click anymore.  That too.


We’re dealing with COVID-19, but what’s a virus in the first place? — One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Tony, over at One Regular Guy Writing About Food, Exercise and Living Past 100, added this incredibly interesting post… I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s a good read.

Everybody knows by now that the United States and the world are in the grip of one of the dangerous coronaviruses called COVID-19, but what’s a virus and how can it make us feel ill? Why do our bodies react the way they do? Are viruses alive? “Viruses aren’t considered alive – in class I […]

via We’re dealing with COVID-19, but what’s a virus in the first place? — One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Thank Goodness for My Inglorious Rain Bike Part Two: Let’s Not Get Too Carried Away.

Chuck and I rolled out yesterday to a 10% chance of rain.  Now, to most normal people, that means this means there’s a 90% chance it won’t rain.  Good odds, right?  But you don’t live in the Genesee Valley in Michigan, now do you (well, a few who read this will, but don’t mess up my little lead-in)?  In the freakin’ Genesee Valley in Michigan, a 10% chance of rain means there’s a 100% chance you get 10% wet.  Two miles into the ride it started to mist – and true to the formula, it’d mist up for a mile, then quit for four, mist up for a half, then quit for three more… it was one of those scenarios where you don’t really want to quit but you don’t want to stay out, either.  Oh, I almost forgot the temperature – because that makes this whole equation really fun.  41°, feels like 36 (that’s 3 C to the Canucks and Europeans).

Even with the on again, off again mist, it wasn’t enough to get the roads wet so we just pressed on.  20 miles in, cruising toward home with a nice tailwind, it all got a little ugly.  The misting increased in intensity, but still wasn’t enough to wet the roads.  Had the roads been wet, when Chuck asked, “So what do you wanna do?”, I’d have responded, “Go the f*** home”.  Instead, it was, “I don’t f***in’ know”.  And just so you know, “I don’t f***in’ know” translates in cycling English to “Let’s add some miles”.  On the back end of a bonus lap with the mist now enough to form droplets on my dome protector, Chuck said, “Hey, let’s do the rest of the Jimmer Loop home”.  Again, in cycling English, this translates to “Let’s add three more miles”.

And because I’m a dumbass when I put said ass on the saddle of my Trek, I said, “Sure, we can do that”.

Three miles later, the roads were wet and I was cursing my idiot self for having agreed to add more miles.  Had we stuck to the original plan of 30, I’d have been in the driveway just about the time the roads got wet.  Instead, we were still three miles out.  I was going to have to clean my bike again.  Second time in three days…

And as if someone heard my moaning and cared, everything dried up with two miles to go.  We just rolled right out of the mist like there was a wall.  Mist here [I] No Mist here.

And then I felt like a wuss for complaining (in my head) about having to clean my bike again.

I pulled into the driveway with a little more than 33 miles, and I only had to wipe the bike down.  It didn’t need anywhere near a full cleaning.

Today is the last crappy, cloudy day though, and it shouldn’t be quite as cold.  Tomorrow the sun comes out and the temps start to normalize a little bit… which means I’m giddy.  CoVacation 2020 is about to get fun.

Thank Goodness For My Inglorious Rain Bike

I beat the rain bike up pretty good Sunday morning.  It had rained much of the day Saturday and well into the night, but we woke up to 60° temps (15 C) and partly cloudy skies.  The roads were really, really, very, incredibly wet… but I wasn’t about to miss sunshine and 60°!  Normally, 60 isn’t anything to write home about, but in Michigan, in March, 60 is glorious and rare.

Within a mile I had water and dirt dripping off the frame and drivetrain but because the bike is so solid, I had no worries.  I just rode on with my buddy, Chuck well off to my side and back so to hold the social distancing norm.  My Venge was sitting protected and comfy in my bike room.


My rain bike isn’t perfect, of course.  It takes a noticeable amount of added effort to keep her spun up and rolling, but it’s a nice trade-off, actually… I’ve gotta put more effort into it so when I switch over to my Venge, I’m that much faster on it.

The first fourteen miles were wet and gnarly, into a mild headwind, but as we approached our stop, the wind started to pick up.  We still had eleven miles to get to tailwind.  Five miles later and that once mild headwind was a 20+mph lesson in effort.  Three miles later and we were getting into 30-mph gusts.  I laughed out loud more than once. Three miles later, the pain was over.  We turned for home, the wind having dried the roads out completely.  And the push was worth the effort to get there.

My Garmin radar died first, then my Edge 520 Plus ran out of juice… then I ran out of gas.  It had been a long week, I think, going from approximately 125 miles a week to almost 250 and without a day off the bike in two weeks.  Even with the cross-tailwind I wanted to sit up and soft pedal home a few times.  I didn’t, though.  I stayed with Chuck, trying to break it down into miles… three to go, only nine minutes.  Surely I can handle that.  Two miles, less than six minutes.  One mile.

I showered up and was off in nap land shortly after firing down some lunch.  I woke up with a smile on my face and one hell of a dirty rain bike.  An hour later, she was clean, lubed, drivetrain cleaned and lubed, and ready for another go.

My rain bike isn’t one of those ultra-cool aero road bikes.  It’s not exactly a lightweight climber, either.  It’s just an old Trek that was given a new lease on life.  There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with riding the bike, too, having rebuilt her from the ground up.

And she still tears it up in a fashion show… after I clean her up and dry behind her gears.




CoVacation-2020; A Fabulous Month of March

I had every intention of writing a scathing post about Chicago’s mayor who recently said something to the effect that this is no time for long bike rides and 5k (runs)… that allowing people to go outside is meant as a mere respite from being locked indoors and anyone caught out for more than that mere respite could be fined and eventually imprisoned.  Actually, it’s a perfect time for running and long bike rides unless you happen to be anti-science…

However, I don’t know Chicago’s situation so I’ll reserve my opinion of the mayor’s statement and just say I’m glad I passed on the $13,000 per month job I was offered out there.  We’re still free to roam the roads as we please as long as we choose to do that at the appropriate distance (which vastly exceeds 6′ or 2 meters on a bike, btw).  Also, the irony after my post from yesterday would be just a bit too rich.

That said, if the information here, here, and here is right, the mayor could be doing more harm than good for the people she represents.  One can only hope the local news agencies hold the mayor accountable, but I won’t hold my breath.  I can understand requiring people to avoid congregating – I’m on board with that – but requiring city residents to stay cooped up in their homes seems over the top and wrong.

I’m simply going to remain thankful that smarter heads have thus far prevailed in my home state.  Interestingly, at most of the links I’ve looked at (more than what I’ve included above), all of it suggests mild exercise is good.  This is to say, rather than the kind of exceedingly rigorous exercise I’m used to.  To that end, I’ve slowed down considerably, though I also increased my mileage.  With the downturn in traffic, cycling has been safer and more enjoyable than I can ever remember it and I’m going to continue to take advantage of it.  I ended up with a little more than 240 miles last week and am vastly happier for getting out.