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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.