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A Fantastic Fifty… On the Single Bikes?!

Every long ride I’ve done since last August at the Assenmacher 100 has been done captaining a tandem with my wife in the rear admiral position.

With the tandem down for repairs, we had no choice but to take the singles out for a spin. I’ve made much ado over how I finally learned to ride with my wife so we can both have a marvelous time, no matter what the pace. It was employed yesterday and we had an awesome time. We needed that for Horsey.

The weather was perfect and the traffic heavy but polite (for the most part).

My wife just said I was a sight to behold, that rainbows must have literally shot out my butt as I helped her up many of the hills.

Folks, it was good times and noodle salad.

Now to get that tandem put back together! The tandem is WAY easier than singles! And more fun.

What’s with Those Goofy Flared Handlebars, Anyway?! They’ve Gotta Be a Gimmick, Right?

I was more than a little bummed out when my wife and I visited our brand new custom Co-Motion Kalapuya at the shop as it was being built and the first thing I saw was the flared handlebar, common on many gravel rigs these days.

This was not what is shown on the Co-Motion website for the gravel/road tandem, so it was completely unexpected. In a bad way. I’ve always viewed the flared bars as a gimmick and proudly stuck with my 42cm standard drop road bars.

This is the tandem as it is today. From the day we rolled it in the door, I’ve changed the hood angle completely, along with the stack of spacers under the stem (I lowered the bar considerably) and set the cockpits up to our standard numbers and liking on the road.

Now that I’ve had several good rides on the bike with the setup where I want it, I have to give the flared handlebar rave reviews. I would never go so far as to put on on either of my road bikes, but for the tandem, it’s really great. It provides a little more stability so steering that big behemoth is a little more responsive – it fact, now that I think about it, we got a couple of nice compliments about our cornering the other day. We took a couple of steep corners at a decent speed, much to the surprise of a couple of our friends.

I’d be willing to bet that was, in part, due to the added stability afforded by the wider bar.

Does a Thudbuster Seatpost Really Work?

We’ve got every bell and whistle we could afford on our tandem road/gravel race bike… minus the options that can’t be fixed from a duffle bag on a road trip, because that bike is going places.

If you zoom in on the Rear Admiral’s seatpost, you’ll see the great and wonderful Thudbuster seatpost. We don’t, necessarily, plan on taking that bike on gravel adventures, but we absolutely wanted to be able to take the bike anywhere.

If we do eventually go on a dirt adventure, I feared the obvious bumps that dirt roads are famous for. With 45mm gravel tires, I figured there was enough cushion we wouldn’t have to worry, but our Co-Motion has a high-grade alloy frame that I assumed would ride like your typical alloy frame… not much give in an alloy frame, at least not like our last steel tubed tandem. So, after 22 seconds of talking it over, we asked for the Thudbuster seatpost option.

After several rides on the bike, reports are fantastic from the Rear Admiral’s saddle. My wife, when asked how she likes the saddle, simply said, “the thuds are busted”. In fact, for those who are familiar with Michigan’s paved country roads with stress cracks every twelve feet or so (3-4 meters), she’s gone so far as to say she doesn’t mind those quite as much as she used to.

So, does the Thudbuster seatpost do what it’s designed to do? Yes it does.

One installation tip, though, we noticed that my wife needed her saddle slightly higher that which was usual to account for a slight sag due to the rubber “shock”. We’re talking a millimeter or so, though. Not much, and a slight raise in her saddle made all well.

This is the bike with the gravel wheels on it…

Sure, there’s a weight penalty, but a happy wife on the back of the tandem is a strong and wonderful thing. We highly recommend the Thudbuster.

Cycling, Dealing with a Shorter Leg and Ditching the In-shoe Shims…

Several weeks ago, I wrote about trying shims inside my left shoe, under the footbed, to deal with a slightly shorter left leg.

I’ve always liked to have my saddle exactly as high as is possible without causing… issues, but over the winter, when I spend entire rides in the saddle, I’ve noticed that my left side bottoms out slightly more than my right. Adding 3mm worth of shims under the foot bed helped a ton. I don’t know as I was any more symmetrical on the bike, but I could feel the difference in the undercarriage.

That came at a cost, though. My left foot would go numb on a regular basis. I tried letting out the Velcro strap, but that only helped minimally.

I rode with a friend outdoors a few weeks ago and my foot was numb before we hit 15-miles. That’s exactly when I knew those shims were going into the recycling bin.

I ditched them the other day and now I have to decide whether or not I want to lower the saddle a couple of millimeters to see if that’ll alleviate my issue. Typically, when I lower my saddle any more than where it’s currently at, I tend to feel like I’m grinding my butt into the saddle when I put the power on. This causes more pain than does having the saddle maxed out.

Or I could simply shim the cleat on my road pedals… but that doesn’t solve the mountain bike shoes for the tandem because the metal cleat sticking out further than the lugs is really bad for walking… Whatever I decide on, it’ll beat a numb foot after fifteen miles any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Ah, to have my problems!

What I Dislike About Bad Quotes… Stinking Thinking, God and Being Saved

My sponsor turned me on to Richard Rohr and I’ve been receiving the daily reading for a couple of weeks now. Generally, it’s quite good, but every once in a while there’s a gem like this:

Until the mind is freed from the multitudes of thoughts, and has achieved the single simplicity of purity, it cannot experience spiritual knowledge.
—Isaac of Syria

Sometimes a person like Isaac of Syria (?) reaches for that quote that just knocks it out of the park… and ends up saying something so dumb, it’s a wonder he was ever quoted in the first place.

This is akin to saying, “you can’t achieve true recovery unless you perfectly work all twelve steps for a period of 20-years or more without relapse”. To even utter such gobbledygook should require wearing a bumper sticker on the back of one’s jeans that says, “Don’t Listen To A Word I Say… I’m An Idiot” until the person recants.

Should one be required to be freed from the multitudes of thoughts and achieve simplicity of purity to be able to experience spiritual knowledge, every alcoholic and addict who has ever recovered would have been doomed before we started.

It’s not as saucy, but a better version of what Isaac of Syria said is, “Achieving clarity of spiritual knowledge is increasingly glorious as one learns to free one’s mind from the multitudes of thoughts that cloud that spirituality”.

If you’re a bit lost, watch the Olympics, specifically figure skating or gymnastics coverage. All of that platitudinous bullshit is what I’m referring to. We call that diarrhea of the mouth.

Getting into the swing of things at the new job…

I’m starting to get into the swing of things at my new job. The office politics are beyond interesting – we’re a team trying to accomplish something in this role while I used to be used to working alone most of the time, with the exception of a meeting or two throughout the week. Within this job, I’m attending at least three meetings a day. And the team leans on my experience much more than I expected. It’s not all dandelions and sunshine, of course. I have to be very careful I don’t authorize any of the subs to do anything that isn’t on the blueprint (technically, they’re white nowadays, and digital).

That said, I love what I do. It’s long days and I haven’t been able to ride as much as I’d have liked, but I’m walking seven hours a day, at least. In fact, my wife bought me a pair of Irish Setters last night, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to wear those! For the Unironedman and anyone not in the know, Irish Setters are a work boot made by Redwings, one of the last brands of anything that are 100% made in the USA. Irish Setters are said to be among the most comfortable of all work boots manufactured today. I’m currently wearing 9″ Condors… and they’re nice enough, but they’re heavy and clunky. I like to run the stairwells, but that is ill-advised in my current boots.

Anyway, after that, it’s dealing with a bunch of email… and trying to leave work at work. Something I’m not very good at currently, because I’m in that “I want to show the new company that I’m dedicated” phase.

And after showing up for work after the ice storm Wednesday night, that should do. It was so bad I had to take back roads to get to work. The expressway was shut down to clean up a crash.

It’s that last part, trying to show my dedication to work, that’s become a bit of a problem in my wife and my marriage. I’d gone for the better part of a year reforming myself into a better man and husband. The later hours (I start an hour later) have meant that our evenings are rather short. I’ve also had to re-learn how to leave work at work. I tended, for the last two weeks to bring work home and worry about every email that came across, the minute it did. This led to me dropping out of conversations with my wife out of nowhere. I started to put an end to yesterday evening.

As things are now, I very much enjoy my new job and feel like I’m contributing to the team. Next thing is to get back to that work/life balance and restore that.

It’s A Bit Like Drinking From A Fire Hose…

My new job is absolutely intense. From the time I walk in the door in the morning, till the time I walk to my car, usually a half-hour beyond the time I should have, I’m on the go. I’m attending four or five meetings a day, addressing massive issues that could have disastrous scheduling problems if they’re not addressed two days ago, and trying to develop a plan of attack for pushing the job forward… which could also have massive ramifications on the opening date if I don’t get it right.

It’s not full-on panic mode, I’m nowhere near that, but this job is a lot more intense than my old position. Of course, to be fair to myself (which I rarely am), I’ve only been through three days.

I feel that once I get the flow of things, I should be able to thrive.

In the meantime, there are a few things that have taken a backseat. My wife isn’t getting near the time she used to with me and it’s been a rough on the both of us (the ebb and flow of these things is amazing). My recovery program has been on cruise control for three days after some intense work. I’m going to figure out how to balance that in. I haven’t clipped into my trainer since I started my job. Thankfully, half of my job is on my feet, so I’m getting plenty of exercise, but I miss my bike.

And finally, the blog. Sadly, I have had zero time to write until this. I may have to cut my writing back till I find that aforementioned rhythm. My recovery program will come first, followed immediately by my wife, then finding time on the bike… as the order should be.

A Hundred Forms of Fear and Self-delusion… And Let’s Not Forget Selfishness…

I woke up with a start this morning, at my normal 3:53 am time. A few minutes before Bittersweet Symphony would start the morning. It’s been a week since my position was terminated. A week since I’ve been paid to work.

My new job starts Monday, but I’m still imagining the 300 ways this could go sideways. Not always, of course. Just at 3:52 in the morning, or when I’m having too much fun being out of work.

Thirty years in recovery and fear still creeps in edgewise .

My wife has been awesome through all of this. We talk regularly about how amazing the timing was that we got our marriage figured out just in the nick of time, everything came together so we could deal with this in harmony.

I’ve begun, at the behest of my new sponsor, reading daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation.

Starting out, it was way over my head, but I’ve sunk into the rhythm over the last week and I really love the method and message. It’s a little left-wingy at times (today’s message being an excellent example), but if you can weave your way through the overtly strained, virtue-signaling dull butter knife seppuku, there’s a lot of good to be gleaned. Again, today’s meditation is an excellent example.

In the end, I’m having a tough time being out of work every now and again, even with my new job on the horizon. After all, there are a hundred ways this could all go wrong…

…and, when that doubt creeps in, I always manage to remember within a few seconds, the thousands of ways my life in recovery has gone right.

And for that, I am grateful.

Why I Believe in a Power Greater Than Myself in Recovery; And Why We Call That Power God

We choose to call our Higher Power God to keep it simple.

Now, if you’re having a hard time believing, believe that I do and start there.

And here’s why.

I’ve always been a Catholic boy and man. Not necessarily a good one, but one nonetheless. Now, you can look at that two ways: a) a good thing because I knew there was a God and I wasn’t it. b) a bad thing because, dude, I was Catholic. I still don’t know how all that fire and brimstone stuff fits with my pathetically imperfect understanding of love after having two kids… and if my love is imperfect and I feel as I do about my girls, I don’t quite get that “God is angry and vengeful” thing.

Anyway, I’m not going to get lost in the weeds over religion. It is what it is and I begrudge no one their peaceful beliefs.

When I was just a week into recovery, I had every intention of going back to it when I was free from treatment. Several days later, I had an epiphany in the middle of my delirium tremens (DTs for short); I was meant for more than that kind of life. I was meant for more than constantly battling with the law, being a three, four and five-time loser… or worse, eventually finding myself dead or in prison. My liver doesn’t work like most and I abused the shit out of it – in recovery, I’ll live a long and healthy life. Using, my liver can’t handle what my hands can pick up.

I asked God for a deal; I’d give recovery everything I had if he’d help me with the constant pull to escape through alcohol. I woke up the next day with my urge to use gone. This was nothing short of a very small miracle. I hadn’t taken a breath of free air like that in years. And I kept up my end of the bargain.

Fast forward 29 years and I came to understand, through a series of small but significant realizations, that I’d been far too selfish and self-centered in my life. My wife, and eventually our kids, deserved better. I started making changes, and my wife followed suit almost immediately thereafter. Our marriage is unrecognizable from a year ago. The love and care we have for each other is absolutely astonishing… and that led to Wednesday.

My position with the company I’d been with for twenty-five years was terminated. I was completely blindsided. For the first time in my adult life, I was without work and had no idea what I’d do next. I drove home in a haze of doubt and fear. I called my wife and let her know, then called my sponsor and got his voicemail. When I got home, my wife wife was more supportive than I could have hoped for and we talked things out.

My phone rang for the first time three hours after I was given the news and I was asked if I’d like a position overseeing the project I’d been on for the last eight months, but as a superintendent in charge of the company that had just let me go. The next day, two more opportunities were offered. By yesterday afternoon we had the details worked out on the first offer and we’re getting paperwork exchanged so I can start next week. My wife, in tears yesterday when the new company ordered my company shirts and jacket, put her hands on my cheeks and said, “I am so proud to be your wife.”

She also pointed out, rightly, that she didn’t know if this would have gone as smoothly if we hadn’t made all those changes since last March.

I don’t know what’s in store for me or how things will shake out, but the odds of all of this working out exactly as it did are astronomical enough that I still have a hard time believing it…

Then again, my life has gone like that for 30-years. The more I simply try to follow the path God lays out, the better off I am.

And, to put a bow on this, I don’t pretend to have an inkling of what God’s will would be. I do what’s right in my heart and hope that’s it. And this is my prayer: God, this is the path I think You want me on, so I’m going to take it. If this isn’t the right one for me, please put some roadblocks in there so You can get me to where I belong. Oh, and if You would, please make those roadblocks big. I tend to miss the small ones.

Is believing in God ignorant, as some claim? Well, if that’s what you say, ignorance is bliss, baby. I’m okay with that.

Recovery and Workin’ Steps, Baby. How Free Do I Want to Be?

I started working with a new sponsor the other day. Let’s just say he’s not gentle. I’m starting a new fourth step and I’ve got a month and some change to get it done while he and his wife head down to Florida to get away from the worst of the winter. We’re right on the edge of the worst the winter will have to offer, so they’re heading down just at the right time… and that gives me time to work on a big fourth.

At first, I thought to myself, “a fourth step? Really? The more I thought about it, though, the more appealing the idea was. I’ve got a few things that I really want to unload.

So, humorously, as these things tend to work out, I’ve got two guys I’m sponsoring plus me working on the fourth and fifth. It’s going to be a busy February.

So, the question for today is how free do I want to be?

My answer is, free enough I want to do another fourth step.