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My Best Bike Tour EVAH!!! Hanging with My Wife on the Tandem.

I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on in the coming days so I’m going to fit posts in where I can. I’ve got detailed posts working on a lot of fun and exciting stuff from our weekend at the Sunrise Adventure Tour with the League of Michigan Bicyclists. This was the best tour I’ve ever ridden in terms of stunning scenery and excellent roads. The roads were even better than down in Kentucky.

For now, I’ll leave you with some of the highlights from the trip…

And yes, my wife and I matched each day. And it was awesome! As you can gather from the smiles in the photos, my wife and I have found peace, happiness and serenity on a tandem. We won’t give up our individuality on our singles, but we have come to shine on our Co-Motion. At my request, my wife refers to me as “Oh Captain, my Captain”… and at hers, my wife has come up with and lived up to being my “Rear Admiral”.

More tales from the tandem soon.

This Love Story Has a Happy Beginning AND Ending on a Tandem…

“A tandem bicycle is a marriage maker… or a marriage breaker”. Doc Mike – 2017

My wife and I have been through some struggles in our marriage. I haven’t written about many of them here until after we found solutions. I don’t do whining and complaining. We have found a solution to our problems, though. We’ve found a way to love each other so thoroughly and completely that my heart actually skips a beat when I see her. It’s a beautiful thing.

We started riding the tandem more regularly during the pandemic. Why not?! Technically, even though our police would never have enforced it (we asked, the official answer was “no way in hell”, we later tested that answer and it held), we were only supposed to ride with members of our immediate family. Well, why not on the tandem?

We learned to ride that bike together – one of the rare, pure instances where we had to learn to work as a team in our marriage. We tried the other way. Or, maybe I should say I tried the other way and my wife let me bash my head against that rock. I used to pedal through my wife something fierce. If she was laying down 100 watts, I was pushing 300. I’d, predictably, run out of gas after about 25 miles and would become agitated. I’d get snippy with my wife and she’d just sit back there doing her thing and let me struggle.

Then, we started communicating. I mean really talking about stuff when we began “Sunday Fundays”. Sunday Funday became a way of saying, “Hey, we’re going to take it easy and shoot for an average pace between 17 & 18-mph” and it was awesome. At that pace, I could relax a little bit and go with the flow. I learned to stop pedaling through my wife and to work with her. She helped a ton on the hills and we cemented ourselves as a tandem couple over the last four months of this year (2022). We developed a way of communicating on the bike that made riding enjoyable for both of us. It’s been so good, we actually choose the tandem over the single bikes on other days of the week. We’ve even had the tandem out on Tuesday night.

We’ve become so much a tandem couple, we decided to make a change with our bike as well. For our Silver Anniversary, we ordered a 2022 Co-Motion Kalapuya Tandem gravel bike with an extra set of Rolf Prima road wheels so we can instantly switch between road and gravel. It’s Co-Motion’s second to the top of the line; only the Macchiato is higher in their order – but the Macchiato is a pure road bike. We wanted something we could take anywhere. Our tandem will be custom fit and silver (for our anniversary), with black on black decals and our wedding date on the top tube. It’s going to have mechanical Ultegra shifting with top of the line disc brakes… and it’ll be my Venge lighter than our current tandem (for which we’ve already found a new home). It’s going to have a Gates synchronizing belt and a 50/34 double with an 11-40 cassette. In other words, that thing will climb like a goat.

We bought our Co-Motion Periscope as a family bike but now that my kids are grown and they don’t like riding… and as much as my wife and I ride tandem now, the new rig only made sense – and it’s the perfect 25th Anniversary gift for the two of us.

Unfortunately, this story isn’t without its sad side. Brent, buddy, I’m sorry, pal. No fat bikes this year. As I’m sure you can see, though, the new tandem is the best fit for us.

Oh, and ours will have a flat captain’s stem and will be a little more slammed at the front end… obviously.

Early Work Traded for a Bike Ride with My Wife.

I was up at 4 am, punching away at keyboard keys to get quotes and much needed paperwork done. I blasted through a bunch before 7 am.

I got the tandem ready and shaved and dressed to be out the door for the wheels to roll at 7:30.

My buddy, Mike was not feeling it and almost turned around after eight miles but we ended up convincing him to stick it out, in return we’d take the pace down a bit.

The rest of the ride was fantastic. There’s something about being given permission to enjoy a moderate pace.

We ended up with 34 excellent miles before I had to get back to work.

You know? I actually worked harder being able to sneak that ride in. I got a day’s work done before lunch.

Good times and noodle salad indeed.

Sadly, we’re taking the tandem in to have that click looked at. I’ve tried everything I can think of and I think it’s due to runout in the crankset. That’s WAY over my pay grade.

After 25 Years of Marriage, I Finally Learned How to Work on Solutions with My Wife, Rather than Fight with Her…

My wife and I used to go for maximum carnage when we got into a fight. Sometimes it was downright brutal (verbally, of course, never physically). Neither of us had a filter and our main goal was to shut the other up (or down) and win. We didn’t get in a lot of fights, but when we did, they were explosive.

All of that changed when I saw two videos of Jordan Peterson discussing how to do the least possible damage when in an argument or debate, then negotiate for peace so both can be happy with the outcome. I combined the two and the next time my wife and I started down the argument path, I changed tactics.

The difference has been nothing short of astonishing. My wife and I went from putting up with each other in our marriage to something that is so remarkable, it rises above anything we hoped was even possible. There have been vast changes in other areas, of course, but the changes started with how we fought.

Now, in both of the links I’m about to provide, the information is not delivered perfectly. A perfect delivery wasn’t a requirement for me to embrace the idea that my wife and I could have peace where there was once conflict. The benefit outweighed any differences I might have had with the delivery of the information.

I’ll write more about this later, but if you take the information contained in these two clips and work them into what used to be fights with your spouse, I hope you’ll be as amazed at the improved outcomes as my wife and I are.

Then this one:

A Perfect Holiday Weekend… Capped By Maverick.

Back home from our most-awesome road trip for the Horsey Hundred, my wife and I chose the tandem for our Monday morning ride. We had the Deer Loop on tap with a little add-on heading north up to Durand with a nice SSW pushing us.

The first six miles were a little challenging with the cross-headwind but once that was out of the way, the headwind section was actually quite nice. My wife and I have been working excellently well together on the tandem and, believe it or not, I’ve actually come to prefer that over single bikes. Perhaps this isn’t all that surprising considering we’ve put so many miles on the bike. The thing is dialed in perfectly.

We rolled around the route, sometimes struggling, sometimes flying, till we got the the tailwind section of the ride. Durand Road heading north on a tandem. This is the best stretch of road I know of on a tandem. It’s downhill for four miles with a sprint finish at the Durand City Limits sign and we rock it out every time.

We knocked out a nice 25-mph average on that section before I noticed a wobble in the back wheel. We ended up stopping to take a look because it was a little disconcerting… and I found we’d worn the tire to the Kevlar in a patch about six inches long. We ended up deciding on riding it home gingerly, hoping for the best.

We pulled into the driveway just fine, happy about the time we spent on the bike. We ended up with 36-1/2 miles at an 18.1-mph pace.

The rest of the day was a blur of activity, once we cleaned up and took our older daughter to lunch. Once home, we took a quick nap and I headed out to cut the grass… which needed it desperately. I knocked out the front and back, leaving the back 40 for my daughter. I knocked out the trimming next, got the AC unit ready for the summer.

Then, for the evening capper, my wife and I took our kids to see “Top Gun Maverick”. It’s a rarity that a sequel can measure up to an original, especially after 36 years, so I was expecting “close enough for government work”. I won’t spoil anything except to say this is one of the rarest cases where the sequel exceeds the original. There were cheers when the movie ended. My daughter was in tears, my wife misty, and the two of us clutching our hands so tight we were a couple of psi from cutting off circulation. If you even liked the original, you’ll love the sequel.

Once home, we called it a night… after counting alphabetical animals to fall asleep. What a fantastic weekend.

A Most Enlightening and Wonderful Horsey Hundred…

Typically, you know if you’re ready for a 100-mile bike ride. They’re old hat for my friends and me. We’ve done dozens upon dozens together over the years. Conversely, you also know when you’re not ready – an unsettling feeling going into the hardest century of the year… and it also being the first and longest ride so far this year. By double.

The evening before, I’d offered to ride with my wife for the hundred km option. I knew it was going to be hard for her and I was nervous about the full distance anyway having only completed a fifty-miler on the tandem so far this year. That, and now that my wife and I are kicking on all cylinders again, the thought of her struggling alone out on the course… well, it wasn’t easy to accept. My wife, however, tenderly placed a hand on either side of my face and said, “Sunday. We’ll ride Sunday together. Tomorrow, I want you to ride with your friends.” I agreed.

We rolled out to cool temps and cloudy skies but there was barely a breeze. It was perfect for a start to a hundred-mile bike ride. The pace to start was marvelous. A little on the fast side, but not too much to handle. My wife stayed on for ten miles before sliding off the back… it was not easy to let her go. She fell off on my turn up front and when I dropped to the back, I could barely make her out in the distance. I rolled on with the group, though.

We stopped at the first rest stop and topped off water bottles and used the facilities. It was to be a quick stop. Just as I came out of the porta-john, I looked up and my heart skipped a beat. My wife walked up and kissed me and said, “I busted my butt to catch up so I could see you”. I knew she wasn’t going to hang on long when we started off again so I offered one more time, implored, really, to ride with her. I was really unsure of whether I’d make the full hundred anyway. She stuck to her guns and said we’d ride together tomorrow, that I should go with friends.

We rolled out. My wife played cat and mouse with the group for a few miles but before long was off the back again. The group was punishing up hills. Downhill and on the flats, my wife is mega-strong, but she has trouble with hills. And there’s lots of them on this ride. I came to the back after a turn and could see her off in the distance. It took everything I had to stay with our group.

And that’s exactly when I started praying about what in God’s name was going on in my head. I’d never had a problem letting my wife do her thing in past Horsey Hundreds! I literally asked God, pedaling away, holding the wheel in front of me, “What is going on!”

And the answer came in a flood of emotion; “You love her so much it’s hard to ride away and leave her out there on her own”. We’ve made such great strides in our marriage lately, staying with her on a bike ride had triggered a biological/emotional response to stay with her rather than my friends.

It all made so much sense. This is exactly how a husband should feel in a situation like that – a feeling I’d suppressed for decades because of resentment and marital angst between us. Resentment and angst that was all but gone.

I stuck to what my wife said, though. I fought through the desire to ride with her and I rocked that hundred out. At the lunch stop, I texted my wife our location and ate my lunch. She called after I’d finished to say she was struggling and needed a pep-talk. I’d planned on telling her what I’d learned later that evening but figured that was my prompting. I walked away from earshot of my friends and explained it to the last detail. I told her she was awesome and she’d walk all over that 100k and I’d see her soon. Her mood buoyed, we said our “I love you’s” and hung up.

I’d almost cut out for the 75-mile route with a couple of others a few miles earlier but had decided to stay on to the end. I wanted my 2022 pin to add to my collection.

And so it was. And we ended up with an average more than a mile-an-hour faster than last year.

My wife was waiting outside at the hotel as Mike and I rode up. My heart skipped a beat again.

Thank God for Bicycles!

I’ve got my Specialized Venge all tuned up. The shift and brake cables are all brand new. The bearings are all new. The chainrings, chain, cassette and rear derailleur… all new.

The water bottles are filled and ready for action. Garmin Varia and 510 are charged and ready to go. Rare for the Venge, a small saddle bag is affixed under the saddle – the smallest I could get that can fit what I need… expertly packed and tight to the bike so it won’t move, thereby scratching the paint, when I’m out of the saddle to climb.

I’m T-minus three hours to launch on my first 100-mile ride of the season.

I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Three hours to go and it’ll be time to drop some weight.

I’m sipping on my first cup of coffee of the morning, watching my wife sleep. She’s not the early riser I am. God, she’s beautiful. I’m thinking about what a lucky guy I am. We’ve been through a lot together and it looks like the next 25 years of our marriage are going to be vastly better than the first. And for that, I am thankful.

Well, it’s time to shave and shower. Once we get breakfast going, launch time is going to be on us in a hurry.

You know, I’ve been to the gym a hundred times. I can’t ever recall feeling like this before pushing weight.

As fitness goes, only a bike can get me so fired up. Look at that beautiful carbon fiber and alloy steed… what a bike!

More later.

While You’re Dealing with the Narcissist You’re Married To, You Might Want To…

One of the more shocking discoveries in my recovery occurred when I began listening to Richard Grannon talk about covert narcissists and how to tell if you’re living with one…

And I found out, the hard way, I was a covert narcissist.

If you’re looking at your spouse as a possible narcissist, do yourself a favor and look in the mirror first. Or don’t, and watch your spouse point it out when you lay it down for them.

If you have a shred of decency and honesty, you’ll need a spatula to get your jaw off the floor. I did.

Why An Expensive Road Bike is Worth the Outlandish Money… Even If “Expensive” Isn’t a Prerequisite for Being Fast

After riding the tandem with my wife for the last few weeks, I finally threw a leg over my Specialized Venge Wednesday night. The weather is, at long last, changing for the better and we’ve had more than enough rain to clean the roads… it struck me just how much fun it is to ride my Specialized Venge.

I’ve got a little more than $6,000 into that bike, by the time you figure the $3,100 price tag plus the upgrades – handlebar ($350), saddle ($250), wheels ($750), crankset ($550), brakes ($157), Ultegra drivetrain ($200 pre-owned but spectacular), stem ($167), seatpost ($110 after shipping), new rear derailleur ($75), chainrings ($105)… so, new, the bike out of the box weighed in at 18-1/2 pounds. As it sits today, it’s down to 16 pounds – or perfect… for a bowling ball or an aero-bike.

I rolled out with my buddy, Chuck for our normal loop and the first thing I noticed as I got my butt used to the saddle again is how twitchy and responsive the Venge is after riding the tandem so much – and how easy it is to make the Venge accelerate. You simply push on the pedals and it goes. Anyone who’s ridden a top-end race bike knows this fantastic feeling. Even above that is the fact that the bike, after eight years, is still as tight as it was the day I brought it home. Everything still works as it should, in other words. No creaks or weird clicks, no loose parts (though the original seat post did fracture during a seated attempt at a City Limits sign…).

One doesn’t need a great bike to ride a bike very fast. One needs strong legs, massive lungs, a good diet and a decent bike (preferably with some aero wheels as those do make a difference) to be fast. Oh, I almost forgot; and a whole lot of “want to”. Most who have had the great fortune of riding a fantastic top-end bike, though, will tell you they’re worth it.

Not exactly necessary, but wonderful indeed.

Recovery; Your Life Will Become So Good You’ll Think It Simply Can’t Get Any Better… Then You’ll Realize It Did, All By Itself.

My wife and I had a weekend I only could have dreamt of a few years ago. It was truly a miracle. We set about making some changes a couple of months ago, now and we’re finally getting comfortable with knowing that we’re safe in our marriage and that the changes are real.

For me, the changes are foundational, right down to my baby toes.

After an amazing, wonderful weekend spent with my wife and kids, I woke up this morning, had a couple of cups of coffee and worked on a post. It was much more in depth than this one but I didn’t have the time to finish it. When it was time, I put my computer away and went in to shave and get ready for work. After, I went into our bedroom and dressed for the office. I pulled out something special to show my wife I wanted to look good for her.

Then, I climbed into bed and gave my wife a hug and kissed her forehead and told her I loved her deeply. She said, “Jim, thank you for a much better marriage”. I couldn’t hold back the tears of happiness.

We’ve worked so hard to get here. We’ve talked at length about a lot of really tough things. We’ve negotiated hard for things that matter to us. And we’ve both let go of intense fear and hurt so we could begin to heal.

As recovery from alcoholism and addiction goes, and this particularly pertains to marriage as well, I must remember that I am the problem. If I don’t know that I’m the problem, I need to pray that my Higher Power will show me where I’m the problem.

As long as I remember that, I have a chance. Today, I’m so grateful I’m actually grateful for being grateful. None of this was possible until I was willing to ask God to help me to be a better me. I don’t know if I was ready for how much I had to improve, but it all worked out in the wash.

My wife and I are on the right path and we know it. You may wonder how it is we know that. It’s simple; we don’t have to work to stay on the path. We want to stay on it because neither one of us want to go back to what we had before.

It’s as good as it gets – and I have faith it’ll get better. I’ve been here too many times to believe otherwise.

Thank God.