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How to Heal Canker Sores related to Spring Cycling

Do you get canker sores in your mouth when you finally start riding outside after a long indoor trainer season? I do. I’ve had to battle them every year.

Cycling in the cool spring air with all of that pollen in the air is a recipe for canker sores. I get them every spring once I get outside. Typically, we ride with our mouth open to get as much air to the lungs, and eventually the muscles, as possible. Riding with your mouth open all that time, believe it or not, can cause canker sores. They’re annoying and painful.

For years I used to rely on rinsing my mouth out in the morning with hydrogen peroxide. It works quite well but I always wondered if it was damaging my teeth. Unlikely, but possible – technically, hydrogen peroxide is acidic.

This year started out just like any other. I was rinsing with HP every morning and when I finally got let out with decent weather, we ran out of hydrogen peroxide. Within a few days I had three small canker sores. Now, if you’re a mom, at this point you’re thinking, “well you need more fruit”. Actually my fruit consumption always picks up in the spring – especially for bananas, apples and oranges – so that’s not it. Anyway, that Friday, my wife and I went to the grocery store so I could pick up some peroxide and she could check out the clearance aisle. While in the pharmacy aisles, I happened by Listerine – I’ve always loved the way my mouth felt after a good swish, so I picked up a bottle. Then, my wife suggested the non-alcohol version. Listerine isn’t a trigger for me, but it is for my wife so no alcohol it was.

When I got home, I started with the peroxide immediately to kick the canker sores. Then, after 30 minutes or so, I went in and swished with Listerine… and it was just like I always remembered (the taste and feel are no different with the no alcohol version). It was glorious.

And the next morning my canker sores were almost entirely healed. I did the hydrogen peroxide/30 minute wait/Listerine again. The next morning the canker sores were gone. I’ve since eliminated the hydrogen peroxide and am just sticking with the Listerine. The canker sores haven’t come back and my mouth feels fresh all day long. While hydrogen peroxide has been fantastic, I’m smitten with Listerine for now… it seems to work a little better and my mouth is happier for that.

Cycling, Speed and Confidence; The Difference Between Walking the Path and Cycling On It.

Being a part of a double pace-line hurtling down the road at speeds north of 30-mph (50 km/h) is no place for a nervous person. That’s an astounding 44 feet per second – almost 15 meters per second… but I know of nothing on earth more exhilarating that can be done with ones clothes on.

There once was a time I thought my performance in that scenario was based on a razor-thin scientific understanding of body and its fuel, of electrolytes, perfect hydration and a little dash of perfect timing. I would bring supplement drinks on long rides (Hammer Perpetuem was a favorite) and carefully plot out when I would eat relative to riding, loosely attempting to take in the perfect mix of carbs and protein exactly at the right time to achieve optimal results.

I’m twenty pounds heavier today, vastly faster (until we get into the hills – heh), and I’ve chucked all of that “science” to the curb as I rode by. Fastly.

Back then, call it 2015, our average pace on a Tuesday night was roughly 21-mph. A good night was 22. Today we’re regularly pushing 23 & 24-mph on the same course. Back then there had to be a certain amount of hiding, especially when we got to the hills, to maintain that pace. Today, I’m up front at will, driving the pace.

Part of this most excellent rise in performance can actually, believe it or not, be put to equipment. A decent set of deep-dish wheels will go a long way in helping someone to be faster. With lightweight, aero wheels, maintaining those blistering speeds is vastly easier than the old “slightly aero” alloy wheels – the gains are upwards of 20 to 40 watts. This gain is inarguable – the only question is how far one should go. In a wind tunnel, we go with 80 mm wheels. In the real world 38 to 50 mm wheels are the cat’s pajamas – because we have to deal with crosswind as well.

Another advantage is my weight. I roll on relatively fast roads with little “up”. I don’t need to be all light and skinny. Having a little bit of blubber means having an vast power source readily available to burn through. I simply don’t bonk like I once did because I’ve got plenty of reserves.

All of that is “marginal gains”, though. Let’s look at what’s really important.

I’ve got the lightweight bike (16 pounds) with the aero wheels (50 mm) and the sleek setup. I’ve got everything a cyclist could want in a race bike. That’s all really great stuff, but it pales in comparison to what really matters; I’m fast because I know I am. When it comes down to putting the watts to the pedals, I know right down to my baby toes that I can hang with my gang. There is no amount of marginal gain that can top confidence – the difference between walking the path and cycling on it.

And the only way to get and build confidence is to get one’s butt out on the road and earn it.

A Celebratory Stuck 20 Miles

I was home from the office early yesterday. After a rough week and all of four hours of sleep the night before, I was exhausted. I flipped my phone to vibrate, sat on the couch, turned on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and I was out like a light. Put a fork in me, I was done. I woke up an hour later, somewhere around 3:30 and had to deal with some work, then more work, and a little more, but was ready to prep my bike to ride shortly after 4 – Chuck was on his way home and we were going to ride at 5:15… and that’s when the text came in from my wife.

From Brett (my neighbor across the street): Kroger (one of our local grocery stores’ pharmacy) has COVID shots till 5pm.

I immediately got on their website to try to schedule an appointment but the system was down. I called my wife and asked if they were taking walk-ins. She didn’t know, what she’d forwarded was the only info she had. I thought about it for a second. I don’t like rushing around, and what if I get over there to a madhouse with people milling about? I didn’t want any part of that. Better judgment hit me square in the mouth. Normal is six weeks away (two if I get the J&J version). The politics alone prompted me to get in my car and head over there immediately; politicians messing with my freedom strikes me that way.

There were three people in line ahead of me to fill out paperwork and a bunch already stuck, waiting their 15 minutes. Just as I was about to get my paperwork to fill out, my wife walked in and got in line, too. The line went fast and before I knew it, I was sitting in the chair, thanking the lady who was shooting us up for doing what she was doing (interesting side note, she said giving COVID shots was the nicest she’d ever been treated by people as a pharmacist). A few minutes later, my wife and I were sitting next to each other waiting to make sure we didn’t have a reaction (not even a little one). I think I was in the store for maybe 20 minutes total. I also received my second shot schedule date.

And with that, I was on my way back home. I had just enough time to get ready and head out the door and meet Chuck on the road.

With a full weekend of cycling ahead and 108 miles on the week already, I didn’t “need” much. Also, I don’t know what it does to the vaccine if you get right out and hammer out a big ride a half-hour after you’ve been stuck… I’m sure it wasn’t tested for that. We ended up with an easy 20-miles – and sure enough, in the last three miles I got a few strange muscle pains (left arm, left quad – stuck on the left side) that I’ll attribute to riding immediately after the vaccine.

My arm is quite sore this morning, but that’s the only side-effect I’m feeling. We’ve got a 40-miler on the books before I take my mom to get her second shot (and possibly out to lunch). “Back to normal” is only a couple months away, my friends.

And, for a humorous note in the post, I want you to think about something if you’re against the vaccine: your unwillingness to take the vaccine is the one thing far right and far left extremists agree upon, 100%. Chew on that while I laugh, thinking about the blood rushing to your melon*.

The point is simple; live with your choice. I will mine. And if you think I’m running around with a mask on my face in public for the rest of my life because you want to be protected from the choice you’ve made, you’re completely f***ing nuts. You’ve got six weeks, because once the 30 year-olds get their shots, I’m officially done with this shit.

Get the vaccine or get the virus. Choose.

*For those not familiar with American politics, our far right and far left are a ball of fun. Members of each think the other is comprised entirely of idiots, meanwhile completely lacking the ability to realize they’re side is a bunch of idiots, too. Watching each accuse the other of being stupid is one of the great joys in American political life. Better is when a left-wing extremist catches a whiff of their own arrogant aroma as they’re putting down a right-wing extremist. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

The problem I have with blaming my faults and troubles on “society”… and why it never works.

Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.  Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.  They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an example of self-will run riot, though they usually don’t think so.

Page 62 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

So here’s a little secret; your average person isn’t any better than the alcoholic when it comes to stepping on the toes of others, then blaming them for the reaction.  We recovered/recovering drunks and addicts keep it simple by keeping it about the alcoholic or addict, but normal folk can benefit from this simple truth just the same.  When I lay blame outside myself, I take the emphasis off of the one person on this rock I can actually change; me.

If I’m worried about what “society” does or doesn’t “think”, I would suggest I’ve got a bigger problem in the first place!  First, what society says or thinks is nebulous at best; usually thoughts or sleights made up by those who want a good excuse to blame someone else for their troubles, faults or lot in life.  The best part is, there’s no solution, no way to actually fix the problem.  You say “society” profits off of people’s insecurities, right?  Let’s delve into that a bit.

Say we see ourselves as, or we “feel”, fat (when I “feel” fat, wouldn’t you know, my scale backs that “feeling” up).  We typically don’t like that we ate enough to get that way, but guess what; not liking that we did ain’t gonna change that we did.  It’s not fair that chocolate makes me fat if I eat too much of it, right?  Fair or not, doesn’t matter.  If I eat too much, my big ass will weigh heavily on the scale.  Society doesn’t make me feel one way or another about being overweight.  The scale and mirror do all of the damage.  Oh, I can blame society for how I feel, sure, but that’s a donut shop lie.

For those who haven’t frequented this blog for years, what’s a donut shop lie?

That’s the lie you tell everyone else sitting with you at the donut shop counter, knowing the they won’t call you on it.  Worse, that donut shop lie is a pernicious little bugger, because once the teller of that BS believes it, they’re absolutely screwed because in real life, you can look at “changing what society thinks” like this:  whilst, and at the same time, pissing into the wind and howling at the moon, yell at the top of your lungs that society should change its attitude and be nicer to you.  Now, let me know when you’re tired of pissing on yourself because you’ll drown before anything outside your own gray matter changes.

This comes down to one simple question:  Do I want to be right, or happy?  I can’t have both.  If you want to be happy, and I surely do, I can explain a two-step process that will release you from the bondage of “society”.  It did me.  Ready?

  1. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or hurt other people.  Do the next right thing in any given situation.
  2. Here’s the important part, repeat after me; as long as I’m doing the first item honestly and fairly, nobody else’s opinion of me matters.  This includes society, because I know I’m doing what’s good, fair and right.

Now, I’m going to ask you a question.  I’m one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet and I work in a meat grinder of an industry.  I have an extremely stressful job.  Do you honestly think I spend one second of any day giving one, single flying f*** what society thinks about anything?  F*** no I don’t.  Think of these little, rich ninnies and politicians talking about the ills of the world over a French Laundry meal with their $600 bar tab that some special interest is paying for as a soft bribe… oh, things would be so much better if everyone would just live like they think we should.  Meantime these corrupt, conniving motherf***rs are bending or breaking every rule they think we should live by because they honestly believe those rules shouldn’t apply to them.  And you want to worry about what that thinks?  Folks, when you look at it that way, trying to follow that nebulous horseshit is, put simply, bat-shit crazy.

Don’t participate.  Live your life well and come to find you don’t have any time or place in your life for what “society” thinks.  You’ve got better things to think about.

Gratitude for My Cycling Friends is a Tremendous Feeling

We rolled our Saturday morning at 11 am with five in our group, and a possibility of meeting another on the road. One A guy and four B’s, dead into the wind. It was cool, and definitely chilly into the wind. I was stoked we waited so late – it was downright cold when the sun came up, well below freezing.

We took our time letting everyone get warmed up. About eight miles in we turned south into what had shifted into a crossing headwind, but not before picking up two more A guys and a new runner-turned-cyclist (ironic!) before the turn. With eight, we had a decent group.

The pace picked up as we headed south. We all caught up after winter and helped Kevin with the intricacies of group cycling. Kevin is one of those rare runners who bought a gravel bike to recover some leg strength during a running injury and did the equivalent of, “Where have you been all my life?!”. He was hooked almost immediately (a lot like me).

As we were heading north, my favorite lesson of the day popped up by chance. Chuck, my normal weekday riding buddy, likes to pull back on his bike when he gets out of the saddle to work his way up a hill. This causes his bike to fall back six to twelve inches. If the person behind him isn’t paying attention, he’ll pull back straight into their front wheel. This is incredibly dangerous in a paceline. I’ve learned, from a hundred minor heart attacks, to stay back a little bit as hills approach, but yesterday he had me lined up perfectly and chose to grind for a half-minute out of the saddle in the headwind. I don’t know how we didn’t touch wheels, he caught me completely by surprise. Immediately after, I could hear Greg detailing to Kevin what had happened because I’m sure my little veer to avoid my friend’s wheel had ramifications behind me. I showed Kevin how to mildly accelerate as one gets out of the saddle so they don’t create a problem behind them.

A mile later and we had all of the headwind out of the way for the day and we were all set for the cruise home. A few miles later, the three who joined us were going to split to head home after asking which way we’d planned on heading back to our start. I planned on a more direct route but didn’t want to split the group up, either, so I asked if anyone objected to heading all the way north to keep the gang together. It was agreed we’d stick together. The next four miles are among my favorite to ride when we have a southern tailwind. The four miles is almost entirely downhill with just one little blip of a climb in the first mile. With a even a mild tailwind from the south, it’s easy to hold a 24-mph average all the into town. With a crosswind, the pace wasn’t near as fast, but it was unquestionably enjoyable.

Our two groups split with ten tailwind miles left to get home and I couldn’t help but think, all the way back to my driveway, and long into the evening, how lucky I am to be a part of our group… I’m so fortunate to have the cycling friends I do. I’m grateful to be an accepted member.

I also found I’m thankful that, while I have gained way too many pounds this winter, I’m not too fat to ride in the drops… and that was good news into that headwind!

Back In The Saddle Again…

I rolled out for the first time after four days off the bike with my riding buddy, Chuck Tuesday afternoon. The ride started fast, but we took the pace down a bit to catch up. I’d returned from a trip down to Florida in which we stayed at my sister-in-law’s to take a little break.

Wednesday, we rode again, in the early spring wind. It was warm, though. Unseasonably so. While the wind was strong enough we had to be careful not to get blown into the other, there was no way I would miss out on the first day of the year that didn’t require leg warmers, wool socks, multiple upper-body layers, toe covers, full-fingered gloves, a hat, etc., etc. ad nauseum.

Yesterday was cooler, but still warm enough to enjoy single-layered sunshine… and more wind. Lots of wind. 100 watts for 25-mph heading east, 350 watts for 15-mph heading west. You know the refrain, though: It still beats the trainer.

We’ve got sunshine in the forecast for today, and more wind, so I’ll be outdoors again. It gets cold tonight, though. Cold enough we’ll have to wait for it to warm up before heading out tomorrow morning, but we’ll be outdoors one way or another. We’ll ride the tandem Sunday… and all of this couldn’t come too soon.

I’m in desperate need of miles… and a salad!

I stepped on the scale last night after a scandalous week of eating way too enjoyably. In response to a number that I never should have seen, I limited my dinner to roughly 400 calories last night. Some chicken noodle soup, carrots and cucumbers, and a snack-size bag of popcorn as desert while I watched a movie (before falling asleep on the couch at 7:45!). I’m going to require many more nights like that in the next few months.

And so here we are at the beginning of cycling season ’21. It’s so good to be back in the saddle again.

As I’ve Said…

I agree wholeheartedly. Let’s start with everyone who believes the earth needs to be emptied of half its humans… then we’ll pause to see how that worked.

Something tells me that’ll do.

I’m enjoying this trainer season more than most… and here’s why.

All season long, I rush to get my daily bike ride in. I rush home from the office, I rush to get kitted up, I rush to get out the door. It’s only when I actually put ass to saddle that I can relax while I’m riding over to Chuck’s to pick him up (or, on Tuesday nights, same scenario plus a 15 minute drive to the start).

Weekends are a bit more relaxed, of course, but the work week is hectic.

Then, trainer season hits. All of a sudden I can take my time getting home, getting dressed, and my rides are a half-hour shorter as well. Everything about winter trainer season is relaxed… including workout days. I take days off all the time in the winter. I took five days off in January. Normal through the summer is one or two a month, if that.

While there’s no question, I’m relaxed once I get on the road, it’s a rather large production leading up to that moment. With trainer season, it’s like a giant load is taken off my shoulders. Oh, sure… riding a bike on a glorified hamster wheel sucks, but I’ve come to see the break as a relief.

Besides, in approximately five hours, about the time I’d normally be suiting up, we’re going to be getting blanketed by snow. Then, if that isn’t bad enough (and it is), here are the high temps for next week (and these are in Fahrenheit…): 19, 15, 19, 19, 17, 17, 17, 20… basically, between -7 & -9 C. The lows, I don’t even want to look at and the wind chill is supposed to be in the -20 f range (-29 C). Brent, I don’t care, brother. That’s too damned cold to ride. I’ll show you a guy with two thumbs who isn’t going to be riding in that crap!

In the end, it’s all about perspective. And the perspective is looking good.

My First Legit Ride of 2021… Just Me & Chucker.

I sent a text out to my friends that we’d be riding at 2, knowing it was likely only going to be Chuck and I. Most of us are early cyclists. Chuck and I, because we’re working stiffs, are a little more… ah… flexible with the time we’ll ride. The others, they like to get out early or ride their trainers in the winter, to get the workout out of the way. The problem we had yesterday was that we were on the back end of a two-day warm front, followed by rain turning to snow ahead of the cold front the evening prior which froze the roads. They were dicey in the morning. However, temps were due to climb to just above freezing by noon. This is why we set the time for 2pm.

I started getting ready a little early so I was out in the living room to see it my clear driveway – nobody else was coming.

I rolled my Trek out the door, that’s right, the skinny-tire bike in January, just a Chuck pulled up. Garmin and taillight on and we rolled out. The roads weren’t entirely dry but they weren’t a bit icy, either. We’d picked the “Deer Loop”, so named because my wife and buddy, Mike had a deer run into our group causing Mike to fall backwards off his bike, breaking his tailbone. From my house it’s a 35-mile route heading out west and south before heading back north and east. We like it because we’ve got eight to ten inescapable miles of moderately trafficked road and 25 out in the middle of nowhere.

The pace started out quick right out of the gate and I could feel the effects of too many easy days over the last couple of months. I’d dressed for an easy ride so I started sweating almost immediately. Thankfully, with my new jacket, sweating doesn’t mean what it used to (freezing). I still stay comfortable while I’m dripping wet. The pace was interesting. We were taking three-mile pulls between 18 & 19-mph into the wind, but it wasn’t what you’d call “horrible”. I felt it at the end of those three, though. Chuck, who’s been riding outside daily, even in the snow, is in better shape than I am (or at least that’s my perception – he’s been turning in slow miles outdoors while I’ve been hammering the trainer pretty hard these last two weeks). The southerly miles weren’t near as bad but I didn’t get many of those… it was mostly east-to-west for my miles.

We stopped at the Gaines gas station we always do about 14 miles in and had a decent 17.4-mph average. I was hungry from the effort and was just about to break into my pocket food when Chuck emerged from the store with a couple of Payday peanut bars. We cracked a couple of jokes about licking salty nuts outside the gas station beating licking them on the couch (as a dog licks its nuts… sadly, I don’t actually possess the flexibility for this, but it makes for a funny double entendre – someone asks, “what are your plans for the day?” “I’m gonna sit on the couch and lick my nuts”… said deadpan, it’s freaking hilarious).

We rolled out after finishing our peanut bars, just three miles of headwind left in the ride. The wind was picking up a little, too. We did, however, manage to bump that 17.4 up to 17.5 when we hit quartering tailwind, though. The pace bumped to a relatively easy 20-mph, and relief. Kind of. The effort stayed the same commensurate to the amount of tailwind so there wasn’t much of a break. Our pace ticked up quickly once we hit glorious tailwind. Within five miles we’d cracked 18-mph. Seven miles later we were bumping on 18.5… and I was running out of gas. With six miles left, and it being my turn up front, I thought about sitting up for a minute or two of that first mile. I decided I wasn’t going to get any stronger sitting up so I told the complainer in the melon committee to sit down and shut it. Then came the quartering tailwind section and I didn’t drop my pace accordingly. By the end of that two miles my tongue was dangling… and I mean that literally. When I flicked off the front after that pull, I was hit. Chuck laughed when he came by, seeing my tongue lolling out of my mouth.

The last four miles, one quartering and three tailwind, were no rest for the weary. We hammered toward home near 23-mph as the snow started coming down lightly. We cracked 18.5-mph with a shade less than three miles to go. Chuck headed for home while I turned up my road to head to my driveway, hitting the Garmin at 35.4 miles in 1:54:21, good for 18.6… I was cooked, but at just above freezing with all of that gear on, and our first hard ride after months of taking it easy, that was a really good result.

I started falling asleep on the couch before we even ate dinner. After, we played a couple of family games of Euchre, then watched the last of the Packers game, then the start of the Bills before I wandered off to bed with my tablet to watch a bit more of the Bills while my wife and daughters watched a movie on the TV. I don’t even remember how much of the game I made it through before crashing, but it wasn’t much. I slept like a baby.

Merry Vengemas!

Just kidding folks! Merry Christmas from my family to you and yours. Have a happy, healthy Holiday…

And thank God this year is done!

When it comes to addiction, recovery makes life worth living. Fifteen pound blingy road bikes make it happy.