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I got home from work, fully intending on riding on the trainer even though I’ve been taking Mondays off since November. I’ve had a nagging sense of “I don’t wanna” on Tuesday’s when I go to start the week again that’s been bugging me for a few weeks, now, and I got a little angry with it last Tuesday.
I get to Monday and think, “alright, a day off!” and all is well. I have a nice evening, sleep well, then get through Tuesday just fine at work until I get home and it’s time to ride and I start thinking, “maybe I should take another day off”… then I have to moderate an argument with the melon committee about getting on the bike or not. This is entirely unacceptable.
So, yesterday, rather than mess around with the argument, I just told the whole committee to sit down and shut up, “it’s easier to keep a train rolling that start one from a stop”, I explained and rolled my bike out of the bike room to set it up on the trainer.
I was rolling shortly after 5 and had one of my better trainer sessions of the new year. It was made slightly easier, of course, by watching Predator, the original Arnold movie.
And so it was. I had a sparkling dinner with Mrs. Bgddy and our daughter, watched the Rams and Matthew Stafford thrash the Cardinals and drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face. It will be easier, tonight, when I get home to roll my Trek out of the bike room and hook it to the trainer. Whenever I try to embrace “days off”, I always come back to the same concept of keeping a train rolling.
Sure, it’s because it’s true, but mainly because I know me… and after 29 years in recovery, there’s one main concept I have no problem embracing: To Thine Own Self Be True.
Ride hard, my friends. Or pay your doctor to be one of your best buddies.
I could have recovery without being as active as I am. It just wouldn’t be as fun.
I couldn’t have fitness without recovery, though. Without the recovery, I’d already be on the wrong side of the grass.
Thank God I found the path and chose to stay on it.
I will resist the urge for hyperbole in the face of the age of hyperbole, and simply say it’s been a fairly rough January. In the first thirteen days of the month I’ve ridden outdoors just once. Now, to be fair, there have been two other days I could have ridden outdoors but a lack of a desire to be cold for an hour and a half injected a little sanity into the whole mix. I opted for the trainer instead.
Yesterday, however, presented one of those rare Michigan January days above freezing, with little wind, and decent roads… well, semi-decent as we found out the hard way. Chucker had been bugging me for two days to join him so I kinda felt locked into it, so after I got home at 4, I suited up and readied the gravel bike and got dressed. Unfortunately, I underdressed a tad. If I’d have had a neck gaiter, I’d have been perfect.
We rolled out around 4:30 and started with a fairly brisk pace averaging an easy 15-mph for the first mile. It went down from there, and I was ecstatic about that. It was one of those “out for a walk but on two wheels” rides and that was right up my alley. I’d taken a couple of days off after some solid trainer efforts, so the easy pace and a breath of fresh air was just what I needed.
Even though the temperature was solidly above freezing all day, we did run into some trouble. Our first subdivision in our loop is always a little sketchy after the first snow but the first quarter-mile was melted as far as we could see, so we gave it a go. It wasn’t until we hit the first turn in the road that $#!+ got hectic in a hurry. The slush wasn’t terribly deep, it was just enough that you’d fall and bust your melon protector if your handling wasn’t perfect. I dialed the speed way back through that little stretch of road.
Another three miles later, entering the second sub on our normal loop, the first stretch was great as far as we could see, so we followed our normal route. It wasn’t until we turned that the roads turned into an unpassable mess. It was so bad I did the “unclip one foot and Fred Flintstone it” through much of the next mile. The roads had never been so much as scraped since the last snow. One false move through there and you were cooked. So I went slow enough I couldn’t make a false move. A little bit of a wet ass later and we were through the worst of it and out on normal roads again.
The ride home, after the sketchiness, was fantastic. We laughed about current events, about fat bikes (Chucker just bought one – I know, Brent, it’s just a matter of time now), supply chain issues (and I mean literal supply “chain” issues, like the lack there of if you’re trying to get a hold of a 10-speed chain or cassette for your steed)… it was just a great time. I almost didn’t even mind the cold.
Anyway, we shortened up the route to skip a second lap through the snow and slush and I pulled into the driveway with 17-1/2 wonderful, easy miles on the gravel bike.
And Chuck’s already texted to see if I want another go of it tonight. It’ll be the last call for a while – it gets really cold again tonight. I’ll have to think about this one… that trainer sure was looking tempting after the slush from last night.
I stepped outside to take a feel. I’d heard the wind chime playing it’s song but it was technically supposed to be warm – well, above freezing by a degree, at least. It was still quite dark and Mike, Chuck and I were due to roll out in half an hour. Freezing drizzle.
The dirt roads were already out of the question, impassable by bike with a layer of compacted snow and ice we’d be riding mountain bikes on paved roads. With the freezing drizzle the paved roads were out, too.
I texted Chuck I was out with the freezing rain. Mike called in the second I hit send on the text. He confirmed the wisdom of my dropping out when he said he had to walk on the grass to get down to collect his Sunday paper. No way I was riding in that, and Mike was out, too.
I set up the bikes on the trainers and my wife and I had a nice spin to 6 Underground. I was 30 minutes into it when I realized I didn’t have to talk myself into getting on the bike, and I was on my sixth ride of the week – so I could have easily justified a day off. Thankfully, that’s a little more like me.
I received a text from Chuck right around that point that he’d gone out anyway and braved the sleet and freezing rain. It didn’t go well. He went down (though from the sounds of it, not too hard). The bike was fine but I’m sure he’ll be bruised up today.
And that’s exactly why we ride the trainer after freezing rain. It doesn’t matter how fat your tires are on ice. Once you lose it, you’re down before you can blink.
The rest of the day was phenomenal. I spent the whole day in my pajamas watching football and napping intermittently. It was better than a swift kick in the pants. I didn’t do very well with watching what I ate over the weekend, so that starts today.
I woke up early Saturday, then went back to sleep after a cup of coffee. I wrote my post and caught up on my posts and Strava kudos, then shut the computer down, rolled over and fell back asleep – guessing, about 5 am. I slept till after 9. It was awesome.
My wife and I set up our trainers because it was miserably cold and windy outside… we’re deep into winter here in Michigan, and 1 F (-17C) is just too damn cold to enjoy a bike ride outdoors.
After riding we showered up and took the kids to our new favorite weekend breakfast spot. Breakfast was marvelous and
probably a little too big. We headed home and played some cards, the four of us before my daughter headed back to college.
My wife had some work in the attic, shifting things around so I took the opportunity to head over to the bowling alley to get a few games of practice in. Friday night’s wasn’t my best performance and I had one thing to figure out before next week; how to move to change my lines when my shot isn’t coming in right.
For decades I’ve tried to stick with the same shot no matter what the lane gives me. Using old, dead urethane strike balls, this wasn’t terrible because they didn’t hook up like a new ball does. I lined up on same board for my right foot, the same target board for my ball, and depending on whether or not the ball was hooking, increase or decrease the speed. This is the hardest way there exists to bowl other than throwing a straight ball. Sure, the approach and release point on the lane stays the same, but with constant speed adjustments, if I’m a little off, I’m looking at a spare. Put simply, there isn’t enough margin for error.
So I threw a warm-up game, a decent 187. Then I threw a game where I tried to make my shot work… it wasn’t good. A 170. For my last game, I moved right (I’m left handed) and worked angles rather than speed. I dialed it in almost immediately and after an opening spare, struck twice. I got a little cocky on the next shot and missed my spare try. I spared the next frame then hit three strikes in a row – and they were no-doubters, hammering the pocket. I finished the game with marks and a solid 204.
With my daughter at her boyfriend’s house, my wife and I headed out to dinner at Qdoba, our favorite. After dinner and some sparkling conversation, it was home for a movie… and it being well past my bedtime, I ended up falling asleep on the couch. It was about as good as a winter’s day gets for me (unless we start skiing again).
I was reading a post a friend wrote yesterday that got me laughing, remembering the horrible, terrible, all bad, no good look of someone in black, or worse, multi-colored compression socks.
Oh, you remember the look.
I’ve got to be straight, here. I hated that look and am actually a little giddy at the fact that fad has faded like a nasty SBD fart in the wind.
The fad started with runners but popularity escalated and quickly jumped to cycling by way of the faddiest of faddies, triathletes. Folks, I might have the order mixed up, here. It very well could have started with triathletes because if ever there was a group of people prone to completely immersing themselves in a fad, it’s a triathlete.
And so I started seeing them at rides, on their $15,000 Quintana Roo with 80 mm carbon wheels and their $300 tri kit, in their compression socks… as I blew by on my ‘99 Trek 5200 road bike.
To tell the truth, I always put a little extra into passing someone like that.
And just like that, they were, thank merciful Jesus, gone. Come to think of it, we don’t even see them in the evenings on the long tours, anymore…
And the universe thankfully takes away, restoring righteousness to sport by sucking compression socks down the black memory hole to hell.
Where they belong.
Praise be to Jesus.
Have you ever noticed, when it’s really cold outside (and I mean bone-chilling cold) you sport a dull ache most of the time? It’s not anything terrible, really. I just don’t feel my normal 75 degree (24 C) self. Anyway, because of that it’s hard to really know when I’m actually back after a cold or flu. It’s almost like I have to guess.
This year’s 24hr stomach flu was, well, is, brutal. It started off normal and stayed true through the “once you get sick you start feeling better right away” bit, but after I hit 65% it dragged on forever getting to 95%. I was out for a full week before I finally felt like myself again.
I took one more easy day on the trainer Wednesday night, just to be safe and it took me a minute just to talk myself into not taking a day off. I wasn’t feeling a whole lot better last night and almost dawdled my way into taking the night off. Fortunately, I prevailed against stinkin’ thinkin’ again and had a really good session but I was shocked and chagrinned that I even had to have the debate in the first place.
And that brings me to an interesting point in this saga of trying to get my mojo back after being that sick… I’ve never had this much mental angst getting back into the swing of things. I’ve always just gone for it once I start feeling human again. In fact, usually long before that.
I’m going to evaluate what’s happening in my melon over the weekend. I’ve got some serious changes to make to get my head straight because this back-and-forth just won’t do.
Several years ago, in July, my brother had his family up from Florida visiting my mom. I had One Helluva Ride early in the morning (100 miles starting in Chelsea, MI and rolling through Hell, MI and back to Chelsea), so I stopped by on the way home to say hello. After a fair amount of conversation, my brother said mom had told him I rode 100 miles with my friends earlier in the day… he asked if I was nuts. I assured him I was quite sane and explained 100 miles on my $6,000 road bike wasn’t quite what he remembered when he drifted back to riding a dozen miles on our 35 pound steel Murray Baja’s back when we were kids. He asked to see it, so I took him out and pulled my amazing race steed from the back of my SUV.
As one would expect, for anyone who thought top of the line was an aluminum mountain bike, his eyes popped open in shock. I offered for him to pick it up (I think it was around 17-1/2 pounds at the time). His jaw dropped. I smiled. He asked if he could give it a spin and I said, “absolutely”.
He threw a leg over the top tube, put a foot on one of the Look pedals as if it were a regular platform pedal, and pushed off to do a lap around the cul-de-sac… and I looked on in sheer horror as he damn near toppled over in the first five feet. He wobbled dramatically, trying to hold on to the intractable steed. It was the ugliest “bike ride” I’d ever seen – the closest I’ve ever seen to whiskey throttling a bicycle. He wobbled around the cul-de-sac a little more, a look of determined panic set across his face… he couldn’t figure out how to put a foot down with the saddle pegged so high. He slowed to a crawl and tilted the bike, putting his right foot out to stop gravity doing its thing… and the gambit worked. Curse words followed, then “How in the f*** did you ride that 100 f***ing miles!”
Note to new cyclists: Jumping from a mountain bike, where the handlebar is a little higher than the saddle to a performance race bike where the saddle is 5″ above the handlebar is a bit of a stretch. Especially when you haven’t ridden a bicycle in 25 years. I would recommend not starting out with the bicycle aimed at a fence.
If you think I’m being silly, just in case, you should probably have someone video tape it. Some $#!+ is worth seeing over and over and over again.
Ride hard, my friends.
If you’ve already grown tired with the incessant self help commercials, the get fit fast diet, the drop weight with our exercise equipment barrage that begins about two minutes before the ball drops on the new year, but you’re nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of knitting grannies on rocking chairs because you’ve finally sworn off alcohol and drugs, fear not. Read on.
If you know someone who’s finally quit and they’re as described above, please send them the link to this post.
Now, with the perfunctory hoo-hah out of the way, let’s get right to the good stuff.
More recovery anniversaries begin on or about the first of the year than any other few weeks of the whole year. It’s an easy place to muster up the will and energy to finally swear off booze (and/or drugs). The problem is what comes next.
Most will last a week, maybe two, on sheer adrenaline and willpower. We grow weak over time, though, without something to help keep us progressing. The pull of the escape from everything we’ve been hiding from over the years wears one’s resolve down with surprising efficiency. If you’ve recently quit, you’ll be dealing with this shortly. And if your next thought after reading that last sentence is, “Not me, not this time. I’m dedicated, motivated and I will not give up”, you need this post even more urgently than most. Your time to test that is coming sooner than everyone else still scared out of their wits to have given up their shield. You’ll see.
I’ve seen hundreds walk back out the door within a week or three of uttering that very sentiment. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration. If you’ve been around long enough. The key is to make it from that point where you have to recover to the point you want it. There is a very large fissure betwixt the two and a skinny suspension bridge to walk on to get to the other side. It’s got handrails, this bridge, but they’re not much more than dental floss. It’s a balancing act, for sure.
Now, there’s an easy way and a hard way to do this. The hard way is go it alone with willpower as your guide. You’ve got a one in a few hundred chance of making it a year like that. You’ll have a one in a thousand chance of making it to five years… and if you make it to five, you’ll have a one in two chance of making it to ten. I know one friend who did this. He’s got more than 37 years. Just one.
Then there’s the middle of the road way. Give a recovery program a try and find religion and skip the program. I know a few who went this way and went on to successful, happy lives. Well, one isn’t entirely happy, but I pray for him that maybe he finds it. He’s close. The key here is that religion gives us something to work on in our lives that can be fixed – us. If you’re hoping other people, things and situations around you will change to facilitate your recovery, skip the drama and go to the nearest bar and do some more testing and experimentation… and come back when you’re really ready to sober up. It just doesn’t work like that.
And that leads us to the easy way. Get involved in the recovery community. Whether Twelve Step or not, get involved. It’s harder to fall off the wagon from the middle than it is sitting on the edge. Go to meetings, work some steps – surround yourself with recovering people. Be a part of. I personally know thousands of people who have made it this way. And by made it, I mean people who lead happy, joyous and free lives and who help others attain what they’ve found.
The trick to making it from needing to recover to wanting to recover is getting involved.
Recover hard, my friends. This $#!+ is worth it.
I was going to take the day off writing today, but a topic hit me that I couldn’t shake, no matter how hard I tried. This means only one thing: someone needs this post. It might only be one person on the whole freaking planet, but I’ll guarantee-freaking-tee you, it will get to the right person.
I’ve seen this work too many times to question it. I just do as I’m told and get it done.
So, we’re getting into the silly season where we recovering folk can struggle. Never mind that we got lit for all form of big and small reasons, the New Year is cause for concern for a massive part of our population.
Here’s my tip to stay safe, sober and happy:
Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Even if your ass falls off. And, in the event it does, put it in a paper bag and take it to a meeting. Someone will be able to show you how they put theirs back on.
If you’re hit with even a small urge to use, call someone and talk about it. Meet that person for lunch, dinner or a meeting.
Don’t try to go it alone. Lean on your friends for help. Not just for your sake, you’ll help them at the same time. Trust me. You don’t ever have to go through what you did to get here again. Just don’t use. And, should you want to become an old-timer, add to “don’t use”, “don’t die”.
Recover hard, my friends. Living a happy life is worth the effort.