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When Life Turns too Full For Blog Posts…

We’ve got an intense day today, a nice two-hour morning bike ride on the tandem, taking my daughter to her friend’s house so she can go with her on vacation, hitting the hardware store so I can do some repairing on the camper for an upcoming road trip… and the weather’s fantastic.

My wife and I are riding alone on the tandem, out of an abundance of Covid-caution for the rest of the weekend and having a wonderful time with our newly found affection for each other… and the romance.

My friends, sometime it just gets too good (and full) for a blog post.

What Every New Cyclist Needs to Know About Cycling as a Lifestyle and Losing Weight, Gaining Weight and Maintaining Weight

I was watching a video on YouTube about weight training the other day – it just popped up on my feed so I figured I’d give it a look. In it, the kid was doing what’s called the “dirty bulk” was trying to gain weight as he lifted to build muscle. He ate a lot… and put on a ton of muscle quickly that he attributed to his body not being used to that level of exercise.

And that’s exactly what I’m going after in this post. When we start out on a bike, we lose weight almost effortlessly, plausibly because our body isn’t used to the activity. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I dropped weight fast, and a lot of it. I went from 170 pounds to 150 in a summer. That was ten years ago.

Today, I can’t lose weight like that. First, I’ve gotten used to eating for the activity. Second, well, see first, and I truly believe that my body got used to the level of cycling I’ve been doing for the last decade and I just don’t lose weight like I used to.

And that’s really the problem at this point. I was a much younger 41 when I started riding. I’m going on 52. While I can still lose weight on the bike, I do every spring, I’ve come to find I have to be a lot more careful of what I eat than I did when I first got into cycling. And that’s been an uncomfortable and difficult lesson to learn.

If there’s a main bit of advice to this post, it’s this: Take advantage of that initial weight loss phase but use caution when it comes to gaining some of that weight back. That easy loss phase doesn’t last forever.

Don’t I wish it did!

Today’s Lesson in Journalism: The Headline! How Not To Write One in 1,005 Words (Ish).

Don’t do it this way.

… And That’s Why We Don’t Ride After Freezing Rain.

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.

First Miles of the New Year – Post Stomach Flu

That’s right, friends. I went all the way to the 4th of the year before putting foot to pedal. I got home New Year’s Eve (eve) after bowling, got cleaned up and went to bed… I never fell asleep. The fever started within minutes of my pulling the covers over my shoulders. I ended up out on the couch before long and, though I started feeling better immediately after finally vomiting mid-morning, it took another day and change before I felt like I had any energy. Monday, I could have ridden after work but I was still feeling run down. I’d almost left work early but decided to muscle it out, so I didn’t see the wisdom in pushing it. I did take a most wonderful nap, though.

I almost took another day off yesterday, too. Still feeling a little run down, maybe 85%, I sat on the couch and dozed off for a few minutes and woke up lethargic. I started talking myself into another day off when I realized it had been five days since I last turned a crank. I immediately stopped thinking and went to the bike room to wheel out the Trek and set it on the trainer.

I popped a Star Wars flick in the DVD player and got to it. Riding was laborious for the first few minutes but I settled in nicely and enjoyed the rest of the workout.

I did take it easy, spinning away the whole time. Just enough to break a sweat and, much to my amazement, improve how I felt… enough that I finally enjoyed eating.

Friends, I’ve heard the stomach flu is cruising around, so watch yourself. This one’s a doozy.

How Much Should One Ride a Bike to Keep One’s Brain “Younger”? A Humorous Look At A Captain Obvious Study…

I read an article recently that delved into the subject of brain health, diet and exercise. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but researchers who put sedentary people with “mild cognitive impairments” on a hypertension busting diet and had subjects exercise a few times a week saw their subjects’ cognitive abilities improve from that of a 93 year-old to an 84 year-old. Here’s the problem; the test subjects were 65.

Each person was randomly assigned to six months of either aerobic exercise (three times a week for 45 minutes each session at greater than 65 percent of their max heart rate), adhering to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, following a combination of aerobic exercise and the DASH diet, or attending informational sessions where they learned about ways to boost their brain health.

The results? Those who were assigned the combination of exercise and the DASH diet saw the most brain-boosting benefits, and actually experienced an improvement—they now had the cognitive function of an 84-year-old instead of a 93-year-old. But those who only exercised still “demonstrated significant improvements in the executive function domain,” according to the study.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/here-s-how-much-to-ride-a-week-to-keep-your-brain-9-years-younger?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Now, this should surprise no one. And, if you look at the bright side, you now have an excuse to ride a bike. The conversation could go something like this:

“What do you do to stay active?”

“Well, I love riding bicycles.”

“Oh, you ride a bike? Those are so dangerous, and traffic is so terrible (and texting people, etc., etc.)… I don’t know how you could have any fun!”

“Well, it is loads of fun – we pick and choose which roads to ride on, trying to limit our exposure to traffic, but it’s more than about just having fun. You see, fitness slows cognitive decline, so when we’re both 80, I’ll be mentally spry and nimble, likely living in my house with my wife while you, being the sedentary type, will be dumb as a box of rocks and likely in a nursing home. Enjoy that couch.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.”

Now, we’d never treat another person like that, because that shit’s just plain rude. But if we didn’t have a “nice” filter… ?

Right, one in ten times you’d get punched in the nose. Better to stick with tact, I suppose.

Ride hard, my friends. Cognitive decline is no joke. And bikes are freaking cool.

Popeye’s Chicken Opens in UK; What You Need to Know About the Famed Chicken Sandwich.

If the news didn’t make it across the big pond, there was actually a stabbing in line when a person tried to “cut” in line to get the raved about chicken sandwich in the USA.

The chicken sandwich is almost that good. Not worth being stabbed over, but it’s good enough to think about it…

Enjoy, England!

In all seriousness, it’s a really good chicken sandwich. Among the best I’ve ever eaten. I take my family at off hours regularly… the drive-thru line is out onto the main road during normal eating hours. Still onto the street, and it’s been two or three years (I can’t remember anymore… that Covid year felt like five). That chicken sandwich is that good.

The spicy chicken is excellent, but really spicy. The regular is out of this world spectacular.

Happy Thanksgiving From My Family to Yours

To all of my friends, Happy Thanksgiving from ‘Merica. May your lives be filled with joy, peace and contentment. And turkey. Lots and lots of turkey… and mashed potatoes… and gravy. Oh, and green bean casserole! Can’t forget the green bean casserole. If you’re not so fortunate on the joy, peace and contentment, remember; a bike will fix a lot of whatever you’re missing*.

*But not a new bike. Because you can’t buy new bikes. Because Covid. Or something. Do your shopping at The Pro’s Closet (or your country’s equivalent). And a bike won’t put turkey on the table. It’ll take the belly from too much turkey off of you, but it won’t work the other way around.

Oh, and if you’re short on the joy, peace and contentment end of things and the bike doesn’t work, do one of two things; read The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and do that (the first 164 pages), whether you’re an alcoholic or not it really doesn’t matter. Or follow this blog… everything I write about recovery is not just about beating alcoholism – it’s about working the program in everyday life.

The key is the program. The alcoholism is just one brick in that wall.

Trainer Season Begins… And It’s Past Time To Run Into a Salad or Two

In the Avengers Movie Endgame, Thor’s mother explores him to eat a salad. Surprisingly, I can’t remember the exact line. Anyway, it’s worth a chuckle. That’s where I am, though not in near as bad shape as Thor was in at that point in the movie.

I could have ridden outdoors last evening but I chose lawn duty instead. We have snow coming this weekend and I was worried; if I don’t get the leaves mulched now, I just might not get to it. This is a little over-the-top, but you never know.

I was done around 5:20, just before dark, and the temp was dropping rapidly. I looked at my gravel bike and the clothes I had laid out… there were a couple of layers. That was a lot to put on and it was getting colder by the minute.

I switched gears right there. I put the gravel bike away and pulled out the Trek, switched the rear wheel and put in “War” (Jason Statham and Jet Li) and threw on a t-shirt and bibs (not in that order, God help me).

Trek in the trainer, bike thong wrapped around the bar, plastic bag betwixt the bike thong and stem cap, remote controls in the little pouches dangling from said bike thong… S-Works shoes and a brow mopping towel thrown over the whole mess.

I started the movie and began pedaling.

I kept it to 30 fairly intense minutes around 20 to 22-mph. If you follow me on Strava, it says 17.6 because my speed sensor is wildly wrong… I’ve calibrated it, but it’s still 2-3-mph off. I’m half tempted to take the thing off because I’m getting robbed a mile or two every time I ride… on the other hand, I ride a lot harder with that carrot dangling in front of me, so that’s why I’ve kept it.

Anyway, the speed sensor issue will be left for another day. Wednesday is meeting night and I can’t be late and I was running out of time so I packed it in after 30 minutes and showered off.

Then I made my lunch for the next few days. I’m going all out this fall to prepare for next spring. I did this last year and was wildly successful till we went on vacation and I ate… erm… everything. I never recovered, even with all of the miles through August and September. I’ve discovered Caesar salads with grilled chicken and, God help me, I love it. It’s taken a couple of weeks to get used to being hungry again, but I can’t argue with the results. I lost three pounds in two weeks. Dinner was the same but I paid better attention to not eating as much as I did throughout the season.

My only regret is I haven’t tried this earlier. I’ll publish my simple recipe in the next few days – including grilling tips so you don’t end up with a raw or dry piece of chicken. As has been the case for years, I’m thankful when trainer season finally shows up. Life is simpler on the trainer. Vastly more boring, but easier. Bring on the snow, bitches! I’m ready.

Study Reportedly Shows Vigorous Exercise Could Add Years to Your Life; I’m Not Playing Captain Obvious, This Is BIG News

A new study out, reportedly shows vigorous exercise, 2-1/2 hours a week seems to give the best results, will add years to your life – or, more to the point, keep a person alive longer. There are a few key flaws, namely that “vigorous” goes by perceived effort and the other is that everything was self-reported which can lead to over-exaggeration.

Here’s the key quote that really matters:

In general, those who had a higher proportion of vigorous physical activity to total amount of exercise showed a lower risk of early death from all causes. That means they were more likely to live longer than those who didn’t have more intense exercise in their routines.

The question, you may be thinking, is, why is this a big deal? Everyone knows this. Ah, that much is true. However, if you remember, less than a decade ago the experts were saying vigorous exercise should be limited because it didn’t show much in the way of benefit against the problems associated with prolonged physical exercise. Those “experts” said physical exercise should be limited to less than rigorous, for health’s sake.

This study, that followed 403,000 people (in other words, the study was massive), showed that the “leisurely walk is just as good, or better than, strenuous exercise” people were practicing a bit of “wishful hoping”. How can I say this? Well, I wrote, way back when (just last year, I’m being facetious), that the leisurely walk stuff sounded fishy.

The reason for the lying, and there’s a lot of it, is meant to be benevolent; to encourage people who wouldn’t ordinarily perform any kind of fitness activity, to at least do something. I suppose the thinking is, if we’re being honest, those who are interested in rigorous activity don’t really care what the talking heads say, they’re going to do their thing whatever the squacking dopes say the science shows. Where this gets ugly, though, is when people take that crap they lay out seriously.

What happens when the ignorant, woke masses (and I repeat myself needlessly, Lady Redundant Woman) get a hold of misinformation, call it fake news, like that? This is where things can get ugly. Imagine a world in which the woke complain those who rode a bike or ran too fast shouldn’t be allowed their “free” medical care if their ticker valve runs afoul and gets a little leaky after decades of rigorous exercise? Any doctor will tell you, old athletes have leaky valves. All of them. Many need pacemakers and ablation procedures to correct decades of working the heart muscle. If the old lie is embraced, that too much fitness is bad, what stops the powers that be from disallowing service based on your Strava data?

You may think that’s going off the rails into conspiracy theory land, but that’s all happening in the USA, in different nuances, right now.

Have a look at this is from 2017, from Time Magazine, or this article from WebMD that gets into exercise addiction from 2007. Here’s a great quote:

Do you insist on rising at five to run each morning, even when your back is aching, black ice coats the streets, and your wife beseeches you to stay in bed? Do you only feel good when you’re training for triathlons? Is eating merely a way to replenish for the next race? Then you, my Spandex-clad friend, may have an exercise addiction.

I insist on riding most evenings (I already wake up too early, I’m not waking up any earlier). I do ride when my back is aching and my wife knows better than to implore me to stay in bed – she’s usually right next to me (anyway, it’s a rare day someone will find my nuts in my wife’s purse, ahem). I don’t feel good when training for triathlons but I do feel good when I’m riding my bike. All of that BS leads to the money quote from the Time article linked above:

Findings like these are important because many people still believe that exercise has to be excruciating in order to provide big benefits. Not only is that untrue, but it’s also harmful, says Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center. This sort of thinking leads people who can’t stick with regular rigorous workouts to think of themselves as failures, and in some cases to give up on exercise altogether, she says.

Segar is the author of a new study showing that many people avoid exercise because they assume it will be unpleasant or time-consuming. “Most people have the old ’80s and ’90s view that physical activity means going for a long run or doing a hard gym workout,” she explains. “But we know exercise doesn’t have to be intense or uncomfortable to be good for you.”

The Time article then to confuse the difference between getting off the couch to feel good and performing at higher levels to make the point that if you’re going from the couch to a ten minute walk, you’ll see a greater jump in benefits than someone who exercises regularly. The notion is preposterous unless you’re highly gullible:

“The true value of exercise is in just getting off the couch,” says Catrine Tudor-Locke, chair of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a researcher of the impressive health benefits of walking. She explains that almost all of the health perks research has linked to exercise—from a stronger heart and lungs to more energy and clearer thinking—increase the most when people move from a sedentary lifestyle to a modestly active one. “You continue to get benefits from exercise, but the returns are increasingly diminished,” she says.

Now that quote pisses me off. The true value of exercise is in just getting off the couch because you continue to get benefits from exercise but with diminishing returns? Buuuuuullshiiiiiiiiit!

That’s a Donut Shop lie in the form of elite idiocy, folks – it’s a lie you sound smart telling everyone sitting near to you at the donut shop. Oh, they’ll agree with you as they’re munching on their third apple fritter, but give me a break!

So why play Don Quixote with this? Who really cares?

Folks, this is us rocketing down the slippery slope. With politicians making rulings about what we should and shouldn’t put in our body (especially in the US where there are controls on such an overreach), and with ignorant pundits galore claiming those who don’t follow what they think is right – what’s the chance some ignoramus in charge of Health and Human Services decides they should go by the reported “science” in that equally ignorant Time article I linked above and start monitoring Strava workouts to see who they think is exercising too much to penalize them for putting too much and put a strain on the healthcare system by exercising too much which can lead to their body breaking down, requiring expensive surgeries to replace knees and hips? How about denial of service for a leaky valve or some other heart problem? Maybe the government decides to take away that Social Security check you’ve been paying ahead for your entire life because you can hold a 19-mph average on a road bike.

Do you think I’m wandering off into conspiracy theory land?

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/will-unvaccinated-people-face-barriers-to-medical-care
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/if-covid-vaccine-refusers-are-turned-away-hospitals-doctor-offices-ncna1277475
https://wisconsinexaminer.com/2021/08/18/should-the-unvaccinated-be-denied-health-care/
https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/03/health/unvaccinated-death-benefits-khn-partner/index.html

Folks, as I said earlier, we’re not just “on a slippery slope”. We’re rocketing down that bitch on a toboggan. For the record, I believe I’ve had Covid (it was early, before tests) and am fully vaccinated (I haven’t gotten a booster because I don’t meet the criteria for doing so) but I respect personal choice over government edict any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The governments of the world, especially ours in the US, was WAY too short on truth and intelligence and too long on the manipulation when it came to this pandemic for them to be blindly trusted. After all, wasn’t it both President Joe Brandon Biden and VP Kamala Harris who both said the vaccine shouldn’t be trusted because it was rushed out?

Why yes it was. Now, many of us know they were lying to get elected when they suggested the vaccine was rushed and shouldn’t be trusted. But(t) now those same tools who claimed the vaccine might have been too rushed to be safe are the people who are saying those who were hesitant to get the vaccine because of that lying, scheming and conniving rhetoric should lose their health care for not trusting it?!

And you wonder why I’m skeptical of government? I say you’re nuts to trust that mess. This is, and always has been, why the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.