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The Best Part of Being A Cyclist Part 2,487; Picking Summer Shorts at 50+

Getting ready for the summer season, I only have a couple of decent pairs of shorts. I’d picked up an exceptionally nice and comfortable pair of Lee Extreme Comfort shorts at Kohl’s last year that I like a lot and wore regularly… until the other day when my wife and I went out to eat at Wendy’s for lunch and the soda fountain machine spit orange syrup at me instead of in my cup. I was certain my shorts were ruined. My wife ordered a pair on the way home, then two more pair for good measure; Sonoma Goods for Life. I accidentally had my wife order 7″-long shorts instead of 9″ based on the photo.

Those are not the 7″ shorts. They’re the 9’s. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the package and saw what looked like, effectively, the men’s version of short shorts. I chuckled inside as I went into the bedroom to try them on. As you would imagine, they’re incredibly tight in the thighs… cyclist legs. Other than that, though, they fit pretty well and I exited the bedroom to model them for my daughter. They’re fairly high cut, but they’re the fashion lately, too.

And that’s exactly what my daughter pointed out.

My wife was skeptical when I tried them on for her later on, after she got home from work and I got back from the driving range… but my daughter fixed everything. My wife asked me to try on the 9″ pair I’d stained for contrast (believe it or not, at my wife’s urging, I soaked the stained shorts in Tide for a couple of hours, then washed them – the soda syrup stain came out. Entirely. Not a trace). My wife liked the longer pair, but my daughter said bluntly, “Dad, the longer shorts make you look about 20 years older. The normal shorts make you look younger. Go with that.” My wife agreed, hesitantly.

I took a walk over to one of our full-height mirrors and gave a look-see… and my legs looked phenomenal. Even with my extra winter weight this year. I mean fantastic. I was happily surprised.

And so this post was hatched in my melon; the best part of being a cyclist #2,487; your legs will look amazing…

Finally, A Decent Week on the Bike… And Some Bowling… And Golf… And a Couple of Naps… And the Single Biggest Contract of My Career. What a WEEK!

Well, we finally had a decent weekend. Actually, it was better than decent and loooong overdue. It’s going to be back to the cooler side of spring for us tomorrow and we’ve got rain most of today, but at least we had the weekend. And the fantastic weather was taken advantage of. I had to come to work for a rest.

My wife asked if we could ride the tandem Sunday – an ask I’m usually stoked about. I love riding the tandem with my wife. It’s a combination of things, really, and they’re all good.

Our Sunday tandem rides are always billed as “Sunday Funday”, meaning we’re aiming for an average speed in the neighborhood of 17 to 18-mph… and generally we’re pretty good at keeping to that, though every once in a while a real ride breaks out and we end up closer to 20-mph. Anyway, Sunday’s ride did not evolve into the latter. We had a wonderful time on a great 41-mile route. We had three tandems and four or five singles – and excellent group. And the weather was perfect. Sunny, warm and breezy.

We had our Sunday bowling (fun) league later that evening, so after we cleaned up and ate, it was time for a nap. I hate to waste nice days by taking a nap, but after Saturday’s most excellent 55-miler and tennis, I was toast. The nap was unavoidable – almost a requirement.

Sunday’s bowling league night was our last for the season for that league. We didn’t do great as a team, but we had a really good time together.

Monday was a brutal day at work. I hadn’t slept but a few winks the night before because I was working on securing the largest contract of my career – by almost double – and the negotiations were not going our way. It’s a monster of a job but there was a considerable amount of “we want you to do this for free” while they tried to trim our number at the same time. I actually told my counterpart that we were going to walk away from the job. I hurried home from work to hang out with my wife, needing a little bit of comfort after a brutal day. Unfortunately, she was way late getting out. Rather than wait around, pacing, I grabbed my golf clubs and put them in the car. I headed over to the driving range. Too crappy to enjoy riding, but not too crappy to hit a bucket.

Monday night was another restless one. I think I got three hours of sleep. I drank a lot of coffee Tuesday morning.

The negotiations turned positive when we met with the construction manager on the jobsite in the early afternoon. There was something lost in translation over the phone that I was able to fix when we were sitting across from each other and I ended up getting us all of the money we needed to do the job comfortably. It was awesome… and we ended up agreeing on terms before we left. It’s locked in. They’re happy and we’re happy, and we’re going to rock that job out for them. It’s the single biggest contract I’ve ever gotten in my career.

I headed home just a little early and got dinner ready with my wife. The Tuesday Night Club Ride was canceled due to cold, damp weather (it’s a theme around here lately), so we had a fantastic roast beef dinner and followed that with the final episode of Castle before turning in for the night.

I slept like a baby, all night long and woke up in a fantastic mood. I’ve got a lot to attend to this afternoon so there won’t be any cycling, but things start turning for the better tomorrow and into the weekend. This has been interesting, really. Normally, I’m ripping the miles by now, well on my way to mid-season shape. I’m way down on miles, but I’m not worried about it, either. The balance has turned away from cycling a little bit and other things have filled that space. Time will tell what happens for the rest of the year, but I’m actually content with how things are working out. Happy, even.

On Being Thankful for My Dad Passing His Athletic Genes to Me…

My wife pointed out last night that, when it comes to sports, I am truly a blessed man. My father passed on every athletic gene he had to my brothers and I. I’m likely the more well-rounded among us, being better than proficient at hockey, in-line skating, baseball, softball, tennis, running, golf, bowling and cycling. When it comes to golf and cycling, I’m in the upper 1 – 3% – or, I should say, when it came to golf. My brother, Chris has been in the US armed forces since 2002, so you know he’s fit. He’s also proficient at baseball, softball and golf. My brother, Joe is a teaching pro in tennis. He is, without question, excellent and can also play some mean baseball.

In any event, I ended up quitting golf when I couldn’t take my dad anymore. It broke my heart, quite literally. And, truth be told, it was easy to set my clubs aside after that. I had young kids and a wife, and we didn’t have the money for me to keep playing as I had been. I actually worked with a teaching pro for a couple of years. He ran a driving range and had a pro shop just a mile from my office, so every day at lunch I’d head over and hit a bucket of balls. Herb built my clubs with frequency-matched Rifle shafts, adding 1-1/2″ to each, then dialed in the loft and lie to match my upright stance (think Jim Furyk without the crazy loop at the top of the backswing). Then he taught me the proper way to use those clubs. I devoted quite a bit of time, money and effort into golf, and I got good. Shooting par at my favorite courses became fairly regular. I was deadly with my short irons, decent with my mid- and long irons, and could stripe a drive down the center of the fairway 310 yards out (my longest, with a tailwind, was 340-ish). My first eagle was on a 540 yard par five. Driver 310, 5-wood to the back of the green, and I drained a 40′ putt.

Well, I expected all of that would end when I hung up the clubs. I figured my natural draw that I’d worked so hard to develop, would go away, and I knew I’d lose a lot of distance should I ever pick the sport up again.

I tried a few years ago, but that was short-lived as the pain of not being able to go with my dad was still too great. I figured that was about it for me and golf.

Our COO and VP of Operations recently asked me to start taking part in industry golf outings for the company. I’d also been pressured by a bowling buddy to hit a links or two with him… so golfing, all of a sudden, was back in the picture and I had to figure out how to make peace with not being able to golf with my dad anymore.

That’s when I started looking into customizing his set of clubs to fit me… and they turned out wonderfully. I started swinging the day after I got them back (it’s always good to let the glue set up an extra day on new grips)… and have been astonished to find I didn’t lose much at all. I’m eight years older and have only swung the clubs three times in the last eight years… and golf is absolutely a perishable skill. I should be horrible but I’m absolutely striping the ball. Sure, I have to work on my aim a little bit (that’s clearly a bit off), but I’ve got a nice little draw on the ball and it’s going far.

So, when I saw my wife was going to get home late for work and the rain had cleared up, I decided to head over to the range to hit a bucket last evening. I did my normal progression through the clubs – short irons first, SW or PW, then odd numbered irons up to the 5, then a 7-wood, 5-wood and finally, the driver. I’m carrying about 225 to 235 with range balls (about 240 to 255 with a decent ball) on the driver, and my fairway metals are looking fair (I need some work there). The big deal, though, is my irons. I mishit one pitching wedge yesterday and thinned two 5-irons. Other than that, while my aim needs improvement, the rest of my iron shots were solid.

In fact, I can’t remember ever hitting my old irons that well. Which means those Big Bertha irons you see up there are almost as forgiving as Jesus.

Whatever the case, the important thing is I’ve made my peace with my dad’s passing by getting his old clubs fitted and using them. I can’t help but feel he’s up there looking down with a smile on his face.

And that’s as good as it gets.

My Break From Back Pain Ending is Directly Related to a Lack of Cycling

I haven’t bothered riding much lately. The weather sucks and I’ve been into other things that have kept me happy and busy. First, I’ve been doing a lot of mental work that needed to be done – something to better myself. I’ve started this new thing called “centering prayer” at the suggestion of a buddy of mine who happens to be one of the best abuse counselors in the area. First, if you’ve never sat alone with your thoughts and just let them happen, Jesus is it interesting, but a little spooky. The first week was downright disconcerting. A lot of the things I legitimately blamed on my wife started with flaws of my own (a passage in the Big Book of AA comes to mind – something about “we invariably found that at some point in the past we made decisions based on self that later placed us in a position to be hurt”). F***. It’s been emotionally draining but in a really good way. I’ve learned more about myself in the last month than I had in the last ten years. The important aspect here is not what is “good” or “bad” about what I’ve learned, but what I can change. It’s good work, too, though mentally difficult. Opening my eyes to where I’ve been falling short has been a massive exercise of a different sort.

I’ve begun my return to golfing but that’s relied a lot on the weather as well. Also, my mother-in-law is staying with us while her husband, my wife’s stepdad, is recovering at a local senior home from back surgery. This has meant the trainer bikes are out in the garage (there’s only room for my wife’s Alias and my Venge in the house)… so we would have to traipse all the way out to the garage to get our bikes to hook them up to the trainer, then ride, then shower, then take the bikes back outside… let’s just say that’s a little more than my motivation and discipline can handle at the moment.

On the other hand, the weather is finally making a turn for the better starting today. And now we won’t have to battle the cold… but the rain. Sheesh. We’ll be dodging raindrops tomorrow and Friday.

Anyway, getting back to the issue at hand. As I’ve been taking time away from cycling my back has slowly degraded to the point I actually had to take an AdviNol for the pain last night. It’s been a long time since I had to go there – and I knew immediately what the problem was; I need to get my butt back on that bike to loosen stuff up!

And so I shall.

Yet another lesson in fitness; if you think being fit hurts, try the couch for a while. Now that’s pain!

Mask Mandates and Fun with Science.

Ah, I can still hear the popular refrain from two years ago, “we have to follow the science!”

Well, let’s see how closely we have to follow the science now that science has spoken on mask mandates:

The word “useless” works.

I’m not going to suggest we get all snarky about this. If you were one of the gullible who bought into the mask hoopla, please accept that you were wrong with humility and remember this in the future.

Thank you.

Lest you believe the chart above is fake and likely produced by some anti-vax right-wing Trump supporting tabloid,

Try the former New York Times science correspondent, John Tierney for the City Journal. Via Power Line.

Well, part of that isn’t left-wing… but you gotta ask yourself, would the left-wing actually give you the story straight?

Don’t count on it. More on that later. In the meantime, burn those silly things.

Happy Easter! It’s a time for rebirth.

I’ve been exploring outstanding ways to be a better version of me for about a month now. How can I clean up? How can I love my wife and kids better? How can I be a better husband and dad? How can I do better work? And most important, does any of that extra effort translate into being happier? After all, if the extra effort doesn’t translate into good, should I continue?

At that last point, I’m tempted to finish the question with “is it worth the effort?” That is entirely the wrong way to look at it, though. On one hand, if there are things I need to clean up, it’s always worth the effort to clean my mess (physical or emotional).

On the other hand, and this is where it gets tricky, there is no external reward outside of my own peace of mind for the effort. That hurts. Worse, I’ve found being tidier emotionally meant the protective walls I’d built to be less susceptible to my emotions crumbled.

This was unexpected and troublesome. I don’t like how I feel as a result of the work I’ve done. I’m vastly better at things I’d neglected over the last decade or so but that comes at a price of being more emotionally connected to everything outside me… things I have no control over. I find myself moody over things that wouldn’t normally affect me. And I don’t like it.

I’m on stronger spiritual ground but feel weaker emotionally.

Interestingly, I thought this was going to be a lot easier when I started cleaning myself up. I only expected the up-side.

Thankfully, I’m not going this alone. I have professional help. Sponsors are great, but I’m not dabbling in simple step work here. In golf parlance, I’m trying to drive the green. In bowling, I’m going for a 300. In cycling, I’m looking for a sub 4h:20m on a century with a first for the sprint across the final City Limits sign.

It’s about time I grew a little bit. In fact, it’s a bit of a rebirth. A lot like Easter…

It depends on your perspective, I suppose. Many said, once news of the empty resting place of Jesus got around, “He is risen!”

Many others said, “Oh shit, He is risen”.

One thing I haven’t lost sight of in the midst of this is that I know there’s freedom once the work is done, and that freedom will be vastly better than I hoped it would be. It’s sure is interesting getting there, though!

More later.

Getting Back Into Perfect Walks Ruined By Chasing Golf Balls…

I took my dad’s Callaway Big Bertha Irons in to get them re-gripped and lengthened and got them back Wednesday… about five minutes after a warning light “Low Power Mode” and the check engine light popped on solid (flashing means pull over, shut off the car and have it towed – solid means take it to a mechanic asap). Keep in mind, this is my less-than-a-year-old Chevy Equinox… so it was under warranty. I set an appointment at the dealership for 8am the next morning and made a bee-line to the pro shop before heading home (it’s about a half-mile out of my way). Sadly, it was raining so no testing of the clubs.

Thursday was epically windy and I had a massive job to work on and my daughter had a tennis match in the afternoon/evening.

Come Friday, however, the rain had passed and though it was windy, I had time during lunch to head to the range for that first test. I didn’t mess around. I also took a set for my daughter to use for new grips.

Now, technically, with bowling later in the afternoon, I probably could have skipped the driving range – but I’m confident about my fitness so I pushed that worry aside as “much ado about nothing”. I took my daughter’s clubs in, got that set, then snagged a medium bucket and headed to the outdoor range.

The wind was really whipping at more than 20-mph so I was concerned mainly with feel over flight. it took two shots to find my range of motion limits and I started smoking the ball. Having been to the range twice since giving up the sport for a broken heart when my dad and best golfing buddy passed away, I’m… limited.

I went through that entire medium bucket with just three shots I didn’t like (I got a little cocky with how well I was striking the ball). Hitting the Calloway irons compares to my old Slotline set was like cheating… and I’ve got a bit of my dad with me so I can finally let the sentimental side of golfing without him rest.

And that’s what really mattered. I needed to get to a place where I could finally find peace in not being able to golf with my dad anymore. His old are exactly what I needed.

It’s going to be chilly and a little windy for cycling today so I just might head back to the range for a go this afternoon (giving it a chance to warm up a bit).

In fact, I’m quite excited to.

Building A Club Arsenal with My Dad’s Callaway Big Bertha Irons…

I started looking yesterday into getting my dad’s irons built so that I can use them. My dad wasn’t short, but he wasn’t tall, either. I’d peg him at about 5’8″, about 4″ shorter than my 6’0″ (172 cm and 182 cm respectively). Also, I have a bit of a quirk with my swing. I like to stand upright. A lot like Jim Furyk but without the ungainly loop he has in his swing. This isn’t to criticize, of course, I have deep respect for the man. His swing was somewhat odd, though. The upright stance and my above average height (golf clubs are built for a 5’9″ make (175 cm). Long story short, I need my irons to be an inch longer than standard to use them successfully. So, right off the bat, I know I’m adding an inch to the current length.

I also assumed I’d need new shafts on the clubs. My dad did not have a hard swing by any measure, so I figured he had medium flex shafts on the Big Bertha irons. This is partially why I never bothered to build them up in the first place. Custom frequency matched steel Rifle shafts, with the loft and lie adjustment, plus grips… well, you’re looking at about $600 by the time it’s all over***. Beside that, my old Slotline Inertial irons were the cat’s pajamas – I did have those custom-built with the aforementioned Rifle shafts (6.5 – extra-stiff). They were also starting to show considerable wear in the grooves. That, and I haven’t swung them but a few times in the last eight years, they were in desperate need of new grips.

So, if I am getting back into golfing (and I am), the question was how much was this little adventure going to cost me?

Well, I decided to take the ass out of assumptions and look at what I had. Now, being fair, I had my Slotline irons built in the late 90s. I was still in my late 20s, for God’s sake. There’s no chance, after eight years off, I’m going to need the extra-stiff steel shafts. Medium wouldn’t do, either. Even at 51, I’m a fit 50. I’ll be swinging hard again in no time.

Miraculously, my dad bought the wrong shafts for his irons. He bought stiff graphite shafts. They’ll be perfect for me. I won’t need to buy new shafts. I’ll just need a 1″ adapter plug epoxied into the end of the current shafts – about $3 per club plus labor. After that, it’s new grips (Golf Pride, tour velvet, the industry standard, of course) $7.50 per club plus labor, and I’m good. I’ll get out of this for less than $150!

I’m going to hit a snag, though. My dad couldn’t hit a 3 or 4-iron so they’re missing from his set. Now, I never liked my 3-iron much anyway, so I’ll go with a 7-wood in its place. The 4-iron will be a problem, though. I think I just might keep my 4-iron from the Slotline set in my bag. I loved that club and used to hit it a ton – 210-ish. On the other hand, and this is important, my dad left me a second, backup set of Tommy Armour 845 Silver Scots. They’re beautiful. I could break the set up and put the TA 4-iron in my bag… I don’t think I will, though. I think I’ll leave the 4-iron in a TA bag and give that to my daughter this summer.

That way, grandpops lives on a little bit for my daughter, too. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, now that I think about it. Writing this post made that decision easy.

So, $150 for my set, maybe $130 for Bella’s… and we’ll be good to go. Thankfully, from back in my avid golfing days, I’ve already got everything else she’ll need for a full set, bag and all, out in the garage.

I’m going to get out of this A LOT cheaper than anticipated.

***There’s another technical problem that I didn’t bother mentioning earlier about the loft and lie with the Callaway irons. To do so would have made for an unnecessary extra paragraph or two trying to explain the intricacies of the issue. The Callaway irons have the old bore through the hosel. They’re also cast. This means they don’t bend well for loft and lie. On the other hand, I did set my old 5-iron next to the new Callaway 5-iron and a few of the other irons they’re identical to my set… I’ll have everything checked, but it looks like I’ll get lucky there, as well.