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4,998 relatively easy ride miles
2,741 sport miles
386 mountain bike miles
1,990 trainer miles
In several respects I think 2018 was one of the best years of my life.
There’s no doubt recovery was spectacular, easily one of my most enjoyable ever. After a thorough review of the year, I did it right. I had a few problem areas, but on the whole, I’m happy with where I’m at. I was able to, as we say, “let go and let God” through much of the problems, so things turned out better than had I messed with the mix and gummed it up.
For my marriage, again, it was a spectacular year. My wife and I both had a great time of it. I wish I had some time to go into detail here, but that’ll have to be for another post.
As a father, I had some struggles. This is something I’m actively working on to have a better ’19. Kids do present challenges, and I wasn’t prepared for a couple of them.
Work was a challenge, but in the end the year turned out better than I could have hoped.
…And that leaves cycling. I spent a lot of time on my bikes and enjoyed every minute of it. I went on a few trips, did a long-distance tour or two, and spent the entire summer fit as an ox.
My cycling fitness, starting the first day of the new year, was my top priority. I started ramping up so I could ride into spring strong on New Year’s Day. It began with time on the trainer pushing the hardest gears on the bike with the trainer set at its greatest resistance setting. My plan worked perfectly.
Going into spring I was in great shape. What is normally a struggle to find my cycling legs was an enjoyable ramping up to speed. I was able to spend more than my fair share of time up front.
The summer months were spectacular and our Tuesday night B group went from a beginning of the year 21-1/2-mph average to 22+. By August we were starting to push a 23-mph average for the 29 mile open-road course.
The longer rides were slower, but much more enjoyable last year. We’d always pushed for a 20-mph average on anything greater than 100-km, but last year we didn’t worry about that as much. We just had fun as a group and let the speed land where it did. I had a lot more fun that way.
The final few months of the year were my best ever. With one of the gang struggling with heart problems and restricted to slower rides, we tossed speed out the window and just enjoyed riding as a group. They were some of the best, if coldest, miles of the year.
So the wrap-up is definitive; it was done right. I know this year won’t be as easy to manage as far as miles go. Work obligations have changed and there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with last year’s pace. I’ve accepted this and will make do with what I can get.
If I’m lucky enough to become an old man, I’ll look back on my 25th year sober as one of the best, most enjoyable of my life. I feel blessed to have lived it.
Peter Sagan Rode a Specialized Allez in the Tour Down Under to a Second Place in the Criterium; What Does that Mean to a Mere Mortal?
Peter Sagan rode an alloy Allez at the Tour Down Under in the crit race to a second place finish – he won the race last year.
So does that mean any of us should be able to show up at the local club ride with an entry-level Allez and hope to ride it to victory? Well, hold on a second, sparky. It isn’t quite that simple.
The bike Sagan rode is a long way from what you or I could get without a special order and a lot of cash… the high-end Allez Sprint Comp Disc available from Specialized is a nice, aero alloy frame with a Tarmac fork and a Venge saddle mast. That much, aside from custom paint, is exactly what Sagan rode – and that’s exactly where the similarities end.
The public version is then fitted with Shimano 105 hydraulic disc components. Certainly a worthy groupset, but Sagan got Dura Ace Di2. Sagan also had Roval 60mm deep dish carbon wheels, a $2,500-ish upgrade for we mere mortals. He also got the ceramic everything bearing upgrade. Finally, he got his unmarked Zipp stem and S-Works unmarked Aerofly handlebar.
What does all of that mean? Well, Sagan’s Allez was actually be a little lighter than his Venge when he lined up to start the race. Only slightly more than 17-1/2 pounds for an alloy bike. Not bad. Ours would likely be around 18-1/2 to 19 pounds out of the box (guessing, of course). Still, not bad for an aluminum bike – and with the greater frame clearance allowing wider tires built into the frame, riding that alloy frame on, say 26 or 28mm tires would actually make it feel reasonably comfortable – and there’s no doubt, as is mentioned in the article, the alloy Allez will be considerably stiffer than a carbon fiber Venge – one of the stiffest carbon fiber frames on the market.
In the end, for $2,200, the Allez Sprint Comp Disc is a legit road bike. It’s no Venge, but it’ll do – and if you went all weight wienie on it you could get it down to about 17 pounds flat.
Of course, my Venge only weighs 15-3/4 pounds…
I wonder what Sagan thought of the bike as he took second in the Crit. Interestingly, it does go to show that you don’t need an ultra-light carbon fiber bike to compete – at least, when you’re a three-time world champion.
I won’t be trading the Venge in any time soon, though.
How much power do you need to average 16-mph? How about 20-mph? What about going big time… 23-mph? How about for a 30-mph+ mile with a bit of a tailwind? Oooh, I’ve got one for you. How’s about a 35-mph sprint finish?
I’ve got the answers, but you’re going to have to adjust for weight… I’m 6′ tall and 172 pounds. I’m not a climber… too fat. 146 watts average. 182 watts average. 254 watts average. 459 watts average. 900-ish peak watts.
So the question becomes how long can you hold that average wattage? The 900 watts, for one of us weekend warriors hurts but not as bad as the 459 watt mile… I puked in my mouth after that. Twice. The rest were all in a pack over 29-ish miles and took 1h:13m to 1h:50m. All verified as “close enough for government work” through friends who do use power meters, and by Strava which manages to guesstimate power pretty accurately.
A few of the serious cyclists I know train with a power meter, but only a few. Power meters add quite a bit of cost to an already expensive sport and the question I like to ask about the practice, is how necessary is it or would the benefit be worth the money?
I have never felt the need to run out and pick up a power meter for my bike. I’ve been tempted, usually after a tough ride, but I’ve never gone as far as pricing them out or looking at reviews to determine the best. I also don’t race. All of the riding I do is experience related – I ride for the fun of riding, with a bunch of friends.
I’ve managed to train blind to a point I can contribute in a 23-mph average ride on open roads, the only piece of equipment needed, other than the bike and a couple bottles of water, is a simple cycling computer that shows current speed. The most important thing I needed to bring to the dance was a lot of want to. Speed is all about will. You either have the will to get used to riding fast or you don’t – and most don’t because you have to put up with a lot of self-inflicted pain. Given enough time and mileage, though, the body comes around so the speed isn’t quite so painful.
While that sounds good, there’s a problematic hook to it – eventually I ran out of want to. I can manage 23 just fine – and spend a little more than my fair amount of time up front. I can’t hang with the 25-mph group for more than 20 miles. I simply run out of gas – and the “want to” required to train hard enough to keep up for that extra 2-mph just isn’t there.
Then the question comes down to whether or not a power meter would help. The obvious answer is sure, but do I need to go that far? I don’t think so. I’m fast enough to put a smile on my face, and that’s good enough for government work. In the end, that’s really what is important.
When I stash the Venge in the bike room after another great ride, knowing how hard I pushed on the pedals doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience and the memories I’ll take from cycling.
A power meter won’t improve those… and it appears Strava can do the rest, anyway.
Paul W. Smith, a local radio personality, likes to add in his daily broadcast, based on an interview from years ago, the phrase “relentless positive mental attitude”. I have used that phrase for decades, simplified by one word, since I sobered up. I just couldn’t put a simple phrase to it until I heard it….
A potent secret to my success is a relentless positive attitude.
Rather than look at things negatively, even when “bad” things happen, I look for ways to add “good” to the situation rather than detract from it. How can I improve things rather than make them worse? This is relentless positive attitude.
This isn’t to say we’re always smiling and chipper – that would be near impossible. On the other hand, the only way I know to be smiling and chipper most of the time is to pursue a positive attitude relentlessly.
I can have happiness or anguish – it’s all how I choose to look at life. Even when life sucks just a little bit.
Being an active member of the recovery community has one benefit, beyond the obvious (not dying, not being in a psych ward, or in prison); I am part of group of survivors.
We have survived a seemly impossible disease. Many will say the this disease “takes everything” good in life from us, but I believe that is too kind. I gave everything to be drunk. Some would call it semantics, but not me. I believe in taking ownership of my disease.
We who recover are a part of a community who have seen hell on earth and have come out on the other side to tell the tale. We are a part of something bigger than our own self. Better than.
And this is why so many of us are happy. For us, just to be on the right side of the grass, pumping air and happy, is like winning the lotto every day.
It’s the daily four lotto, not the big one, but you get the idea.
Begging God to help me get sober was the best thing that I ever did. All things good in my life are a result of that one minute.
I love my sober life.
I think, to get to what my version of happiness is, I first have to get into what it isn’t. Too often I see mistakes being made in what happiness isn’t.
Being happy, to me, is not the absence of strife, struggle, conflict, hardship, or difficulty. Baby, that’s life. Trying to find a life devoid of those things is like chasing a rainbow-farting unicorn… and deciding one can’t be happy until that unicorn is found and befriended. Good luck, there’s no such thing – they call it mythical for a reason.
Happiness isn’t getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I was five-years-old the last time I truly experienced that pleasure. Happiness isn’t “easy” living, either; a sober, clean life is anything but easy.
Happiness, to me, is being content with what I’ve got. It’s being comfortable in my own skin. Happiness is being grateful for the life I have, or the life that was given me by my Higher Power after I asked for His Grace… Happiness is doing the best with what I’ve got.
… and when I need a reminder, a bike ride with my wife and friends will do the trick. Money won’t buy happiness, but it buys bikes, and that’s good enough for government work.
A Noob’s Guide to Winter Cycling; Dealing with Cold Toes – Or Better, How to Keep Them Warm Below Freezing
Cycling in the cold can be a bit like Whack-a-mole in that you’re only as good as your weakest (coldest) link. As a rookie cyclist, my cutoff used to be 50° (10 C). Now it’s 18° (-7 C)… There’s a lot of Whack-a-mole at 18°.
My worst used to be my neck. I found neck gaiters.
Then my ears. Earmuffs are the best!
Core layers were next. Three or four, depending on how cold we’re talking about, usually does it when it gets nasty cold.
Then there are the feet. The furthest point from your heart. Cold feet can suck the life right out of a cycling adventure.
The feet were the toughest to crack by far when we went out below 32° F (0 C). I stuck with it, though, and my wife supplied the missing piece.
Now, it must be stated ahead of time; I’m an exceptionally healthy 48-year-old male. I have great circulatory health. I don’t have awareness of abnormal body temp issues.
The base-layer key are the socks. Defeet’s Woolie Boolie winter socks are my favorite. Specialized also makes a great wool winter sock. Without a great, thick wool sock, I wouldn’t be comfortable riding below 40° (4 C).
Next, are the shoe covers. I chose Specialized’s Deflect H2O covers. They’re water resistant, so they block the wind, too. They’re exceptional. I did go one size larger… I wear a 44, so I go with the 45/46 cover. It fits better than the 43/44. If you’re going to ride nine months of the year in Michigan, you’re going to need shoe covers.
That’s not all, though. The shoe covers are a great start and they, with the wool socks, are good down to 32-ish degrees (-0 C). The kicker, when you want to ride down to 20° or even lower (-7 C), is that I also use Specialized’s Therminal 1.5 Toe Covers under the shoe covers. I use the combo for anything below 33° (1 C). The toe covers were the missing link that really kept my feet comfortable. Cycling with two blocks of ice as feet is no fun.
That’s all there is to it for me. I really don’t relish the idea of riding below 20° and 18 is my cutoff anyway – below that I’m riding the trainer because I get no enjoyment out of riding when it’s that cold out. I don’t know why, really, the combination of the toe and shoe covers works so well to keep the toes warm, but it does and I highly recommend it if you’re having a problem with cold toes.
There are other ways to go, of course. A few of my friends ponied up the big bucks and bought cycling boots. Those are good down to about the same 20-ish degrees but they add on another $200-$300. For me, the toe warmers and shoe covers are enough, though.