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Cycling and the High Capacity Water Bottles; Not Quite as Useless as Nipples on a Bull, but Close. A Funny Junior Science Experiment.

I will first cop to using the high capacity 26 oz. water bottles for years, thinking I needed them because I’m an endurance cyclist.

I am. I like the long distances and light, racy bikes. Here’s a photo of my Specialized Venge the day I brought it home in late 2013:

Big, Extra oz. H2O bottles

I swore I needed the extra capacity to keep me hydrated. One day I noticed the shorter regular water bottles were used predominantly by the faster crowd. I thought they were dupes.

Then, I bought carbon fiber bottle cages for the Venge. The hi-cap bottles rattled when I hit a bump and it drove me nuts. Eventually, I happened on a small, regular capacity water bottle that worked with the bottle cages. I still carried the big bottles around for the long rides and lived with the rattle, though.

I needed the extra hydration, right?

Look real close at that photo… that’s from last year, on the Northwest Tour with my friends, a 72 mile day.

Well, one day I’d decided to use a regular bottle after filling up a junior. I dumped the contents of the small bottle into the regular and my jaw dropped.

Folks, there was a sip’s difference. A sip.

Don’t take my word for it… try the experiment yourself.

Better, there’s only a sip’s difference between the regular and the high capacity bottle. A sip.

I never used one of those big bottles again, and I’ve never regretted it or prematurely run out of something to drink on a ride.

It’s not that they’re entirely useless, those big bottles. They rattle around in carbon fiber cages. And we can’t have that. If, after completing the experiment for yourself, you still feel you need a big ole water bottle, by all means; have at it. I’d bet you see the light I did, though.

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Why Am I So Lucky?! Just a Typical Recovery Story

Why am I so lucky?  I take the time to contemplate this now and again.

I’ve been active all but five years of my life.  Not “I broke five bones and had seven operations” active – in fact, I’ve never broken a bone (knock wood).  My level of activity is best described simply as, “I get my ass off the couch and move” active.  I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, but I’m not that far off, either.  I have decent genes, but I’ve got heart disease on mom’s side and Alzheimer’s on dad’s – they’re not great, either.

My brother-in-law once said that it was spooky how much I looked like my dad.  He’s right, too.  I am a chip off the old block.  My mom happened to be there, we were helping my sister and brother-in-law move to a new house, heard him say that and chimed in, “You do, but you’re a much healthier version of your dad.  You look much better than he did at your age… because of all of the alcohol, I think”.

I am, without question, a much healthier version of my father in terms of pickling and fitness….

I don’t live in any physical pain anymore.  Cycling fixed almost everything that ailed me on that front, including an unrelenting bad back.  I don’t have knee problems, feet problems, or disease problems (now that I’ve been in recovery).

On one hand, I often think I might be some kind of freak because I haven’t aged like a lot of other people.  On the other, I don’t put much stock in the whole “freak” angle because, in truth, I lead a simple, clean, healthy (relatively), happy life.  More important, I have a happy outlook on the life that I’ve got – I excel at staying positive.  Combine that with no smoking, no alcohol, zero drugs, an actual program of recovery (not just white-knuckling it), a relatively diet, and a veritable $#!+ ton of daily physical activity… Well, looking at it that way I don’t think there’s much luck to it at all.

Nor is my story special….  In fact, I’d say I’m run-of-the-mill in terms of recovering folks.  Maybe slightly above average, but not by much.  Everything good in my life started with recovery, and that’s why I keep coming back.

Modern treatment and what is now deceptively termed “evidence based” recovery is often based on something other than recovery.  It’s based on managing a decline, or slowing the spiral to the drain.  It’s based on the kooky notion that a person like me has a hope of drinking successfully at some point.  That’s all good enough for government work, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve touched the burner on the stove enough to know the f***er’s hot and I don’t have to grab it anymore.

That relapse-based decline management system may work for some, but not this guy.  I’ll take happy and healthy over a managed swirly.  Any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Happy Easter, My Friends

I don’t make bones about my faith.  I don’t toot a trumpet from on high, either.

I believe that God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself in terms of finding and embracing a life in recovery.  Too many things worked out too perfectly for me to see the light and sober up so early for me to believe differently.  My life, flawed as it may be, turned out way too good – and after such a miserable showing early on when I was trying everything based on my own will – to believe anything other than “there is a Higher Power, and I ain’t It”.

Today is going to be a day for great rejoicing, and likely, great violence.  It is unfortunate that some humans simply can’t bear to see others happy.  It just is what it is.  I can say this with utter certainty, though; there will be vastly more rejoicing than violence today, and we’ll hear much more about the violence than the rejoicing – and that should tell you something.

I prayed for peace and prosperity for all this morning.  I started the day out thanking God for this wonderful life I have, for my sobriety, and for the ability to enjoy that which I have, immensely.  I thanked God for the life that led to my wife and kids – and for everything that led up to that.

For those who celebrate Easter, Happy Easter.  For those who don’t, Happy Sunday.  And for those on the fence, Happy Easter Sunday.

It’s another day in paradise… as long as we understand; paradise is what we make of it.

 

It’s Not Easy Being Fast… It Does, However, Beat Being Green. By A Bunch.

It was a gloriously sunny, calm evening – a rarity this time of year.  It was also 12 degrees below normal (normal is 56° or 13C) and falling.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn this has been our coldest spring in forty years.  Only the die-hard cyclists were out last night, for the latest edition of our Tuesday Night Club Ride (it’ll be “TNCR” this year, methinks, just to shake it up a bit).

Even if it was on the chilly side, it wasn’t all that bad, either – I think that just had to do with being cooped up all winter – and cold, at least down to freezing, tends to be relative.

We rolled at 6 on the nose and the pace was mercifully enjoyable for the first couple of miles.  Even into the wind it was pretty relaxed for the group we had.  I easily stuck with the A/B mixed group for 20 miles and could have gone the full long route, but five of us opted for the short route because it was really starting to cool down with the sun beginning to set on the horizon.

The five of us, four B’s and an A, were fairly strong for the time of year and we made a great pace line, each taking his turn at the front to keep the group’s speed up.  We worked with precision and surprising mid-season form as the miles ticked off.  23 miles in, I could feel my legs starting to cramp up, mainly in the calf muscles.  It got bad enough I had to will myself to keep the pace up.  There were seconds of “I don’t wanna” lapses that had to be pushed through, but push through them I did.  We lost Doug and John with seven miles to go, so our five man group dropped to three.  The pace didn’t fade, though.  The two Dave’s and I fought the cold, only slowing after crossing the City Limits sign with a cool 21.2-mph average (34 km/h).  An excellent average for this early in the season, with the temperature having fallen to freezing (32 F or 0 C).

The three of us sat up and pedaled easy the last mile to the parking lot.

There’s nothing easy about being fast on a bike.  Everyone I ride with has to come to grips with that little voice that says “I don’t wanna”, even the fastest among us talk about fighting it.  We all, to our own extent, manage to beat that voice into submission and replace it with, “Oh, but you will”.

It’s not easy being fast (even my approximation of fast), but it’s definitely a lot of fun once you get past the effort.  And it beats being green.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2243278431/embed/6f73b38fcca59145f4d8226bd1862e54204e20c4

Just another day in my semi-perfect life…

I leave work a little after 3 pm and it’s a two-hour commute home from my current job. This is not a complaint, I’m on what is probably the best job I’ve ever had the pleasure of building – I’m in the middle of my most enjoyable work experience in my career, and that’s no exaggeration.  The job is seriously getting in the way of my cycling habit, though.  It’s not rare for me to rather the trainer than riding outside, simply because the set-up is quicker.

I pulled into the driveway at 4:55 last evening, got the bike ready, and rolled it out the door just before 5:30.  My normal weekday riding bud, Chuck, has been inundated with work lately so he couldn’t make it – I had to roll solo.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but it was just barely out of the 30’s (5 C)… and the north wind was cold… and I was headed directly into it.  One north, then a break for two heading west, followed by another north and one west and another north, by the time I hit my first tailwind, I was good and ready.  I was a little chilly and had thought about turning the train around more than once – too much work related noise distracting the melon committee – until I hit that tailwind.  All of a sudden everything cleared out and was okay as I was cruised along at 20+ (32-36 km/h).  I’d opted for the Venge because it was perfectly sunny out and I marveled at how perfectly quiet and responsive the bike is.  It’s truly a wonder of engineering, that bike.

As I hit a little decline with the tailwind I pressed on the pedals a little harder and the bike responded.  24, 25, 26-mph… then a sharp left and I was back on the gas.  I passed a few people standing on the side of the road at 23, not even the whirring of the chain.  Just a whoosh as I went by.

A mile north, in through a subdivision, then out onto the main road and a bike lane.  On the way down a small hill a girl leaned out the window of an older maroon Pontiac Grand Prix and catcalled me.  I think, considering today’s politics, I should have been offended but I’m old enough to still think of that as a compliment.  A couple of more miles east and it was pay-off time for the ride.  The home stretch with a tailwind for three of four miles.

Heading up a shallow incline with the wind at my back I didn’t bother pushing the pace.  Monday is always a fun day in preparation for Tuesday’s hammer.  I just let the wind do its thing and push me home.  I rolled into the driveway just under 58 minutes for the 17-1/2 mile route.  A little faster than I should have wanted but I was just happy to have gotten out, and stuck with it until the ride got fun.  By 6:40 I was showered.  I’d eaten by 7:00 and I was out like a light before 8 pm.  The sun had just gone down as I drifted off.

What a life.  It’s as good as it gets.

And that’s why I ride a bicycle… whilst riding a bicycle.

And so it finally was, a spring day on which to ride, and on a Sunday no less….

We rolled out at 9 am, under partly cloudy skies and in just two light layers and a vest for me.  It was 37° (that’s 3 C) but it felt like a balmy spring morning next to the conditions we’ve grown used to riding in.  It was nice enough I had my Venge out, and Mrs. Bgddy, her Alias.  It was our first go at “Sunday Funday”…  See, my buddy, Mike has had a tough time recovering from heart surgery.  Basically, his ticker sucks, so we’re trying to give him a ride once a week where he doesn’t have to worry about the pace.  Rather than our usual pace near 20-mph, we’re keeping the goal around 18 – something he can keep up with and still enjoy himself – and we’ve got quite a few in our group who are looking forward to the change as well.

So off we went, dead into the wind, on our way out to Shiatown and Vernon.  The day just kept getting better as we went.  What was supposed to be an overcast morning turned into full sunshine as the clouds lost the battle to the spring sun.  In the process, it warmed up to a glorious 50° (close to normal, actually).  We ended up with one of those mornings that makes you grateful to have cycling as a hobby.  We added a few miles and a few there until we had our fill.

And that’s when we came to an intersection and saw an aging fella in a pickup truck.  Morbidly obese, pasty skin… he didn’t look good at all.  I often say I want to be mobile when I’m 80, but that’s not quite true.  I want to be mobile when I hit 95, and that’s why I ride a bike.  The guy in the pickup wasn’t but ten years older than me and he didn’t have much time left.

My friends, I ride a bicycle because at 48, I’m just getting started in the good life and I want it to last for a long time.  That’s why I ride a bike.  Well, that and bikes are cool.

Boiling Everything Down into One Simple Idea – From Cycling to Recovery to Life

When I first got into cycling, I finally found a fitness activity that was portable, fun, repeatable, and something I could enjoy on a daily basis.  My very first ride I was pushing for everything I had.  It was a short ride, too – only four miles, but I gave it everything I had.  After a day or two off, I went out and did it again.  And again.  And again.  New bikes, better clothes, lighter gear…  Every day I could I gave it everything I had, and before long I was fast.  Not mediocre fast.  I was fast.  It took the better part of three years, but I didn’t give up.  I kept going out there and pushing it every chance I got.  Today, I’ve built cycling into a fitness hobby that truly makes me happy – I feel lucky to be me.

I did the same thing with recovery.  I showed up every day, ready to learn and wanting more, and better.  When I decided I didn’t want the pain anymore, I went to any length to get sober.

My career followed the same principle.  I just showed up and gave it everything I had on a daily basis.  I didn’t call in sick because I had a bad day (or worse, because I was expecting one).  I showed up, every day, and did my job.

The idea, the pattern, is simple; If I want to succeed, I have to do today.

Pie in the sky dreams are useless if I don’t do today.  Doing today makes the big dreams come true – that, and a little bit of luck, but it’s 99% showing up and 1% luck.

Just a thought.