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… 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”.

Cycling and When You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are…

I’ve felt a little chubby since I got back from vacation, mainly because, while I may not actually be “chubby”, I’m about 10 pounds over my normal “acceptable” weight. I got this way in spite of putting in 6,000 miles on my bikes so far this summer. It’s all eating weight.

I was prepared to struggle mightily due to the extra weight. I’ve even taken to eating salads, for God’s sake.

I was wrong, though. I haven’t struggled for the extra weight near as much as I thought I would. Especially on long rides. Even hills haven’t been too terrible – and downhill has been awesome.

I’ve changed my focus, especially on long rides with friends. When I’m starting to struggle, I do a few special things that have made a huge difference.

  1. I think about how my friends need me, that I can’t feel bad yet… I have to finish strong to help them. This has been the biggest game changer over the last year.
  2. Starbuck’s Triple Shot. French Vanilla. Coke and coffee are great, but when I’m in the pain cave, when I’m really hurting, drastic times, drastic measures. It’s good for the last 23-ish miles of a hard century. You have 26 left? Well, you’ll have to dig deep on that last couple of miles.
  3. Gels, food, moderation… I used to eat way too much at stops. Getting started again was sluggish. If I avoid the urge to eat everything in sight, I’m much better for it.

Finally, as the year has progressed, I’ve realized I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. Still, I’m definitely sticking to a diet coming into the end of the season. I’m planning on dropping some decent weight over the winter so I can keep the leg strength and hit next spring lighter.

Cycling long distances, 50 to 100-ish miles, is as much mental as it is physical. If I maintain the former, the latter falls into line.

Ride hard, my friends. Because it’s fun.

Broken Speed Limit, More Fun Than Should Be Legal, And Fixing the Camper…

Sunday was a busy day. We rode Saturday morning, then went to my youngest’s swim meet, then to my eldest’s university marching band practice. It was a spectacular day but I didn’t get much done – and there was much to be done.

We rode at 7:30 from a high school 15 miles from the house, and one of my favorite routes. It’s a departure from the slow, rarely traveled country roads we’re used to. We head south to the outer suburbs of Detroit.

We had a great, small-ish group. Chuck, Chucker, Matt, Mike, Diane & Jeff on a tandem and me. Mike wasn’t feeling well so he took his toy and went home… turned out he had a knot in his back that wouldn’t release.

Our route is pretty straightforward till we get far enough south that we’re getting to Kensington Metropark. Then we hit a straight shot 8% descent that, with a little effort, you can briefly break the 45-mph speed limit on. I hammer that sucker till I can’t pedal any faster. 50/11 at 45.4-mph. I pedaled so hard I passed the tandem and topped out at 46.5 with a smile stretched from ear to ear (I did not employ the super-tuck for this one).

Now, if you noticed, I hadn’t mentioned my wife yet, who always rides with us on the weekends… heck, normally we’re on the tandem. She’d fallen ill with sore throat (and you know why I first defaulted to “sore throat”) and was asleep when I left. She was in rough shape. She was also not showing any signs of being under the weather Saturday… when we’d been playing kissy-face all day, as married people do. This meant every time I lacked comfortability, cycling in 85 degree heat and abundant sunshine at high rates of speed, I’d think, “Oh, crap, this is it! I’m sick too and I’m x miles from home… this is gonna suck.” Only to feel better a few minutes later. I lost count how many times that happened.

We stopped for coffee and a snack (I had a fantastic cinnamon roll) which, in hindsight, was a little weird… coffee, when it’s just shy of 90 (30 C)? It was fantastic, though – the perfect “not so hot you have to wait 20 minutes to take a sip” drinking temperature. We rolled out for home after a nice, not too long, rest. I felt fantastic and fast all the way home. I relaxed. We ended up with 52 miles, 1,900 feet of up (a lot for what I’m used to – double normal), and an average speed of 18.2-mph, a perfect Sunday Funday.

I got home, showered up, ate some lunch and took a quick nap. And that left the chores. My youngest helped by cutting the grass – her first time on the tractor, so there was some teaching time involved. She was awesome. While she was on the tractor, I turned my attention to the camper. The front storage section started rotting out under the corners (where water gets kicked up from the truck). The corners were gone. It needed a new floor and I had to cover the two holes from below, plus rebuild the righthand side which had rotted out completely.

I started working on it at around 2pm and by 5:30 I was almost done. It took a lot to figure it out but I’ve got it solid, now. I’d be willing to bet it’s good for at least another decade – and if I ever have to revisit it, I know exactly how to put it back together. It turned out vastly better than I’d hoped it would – I’m enthusiastically surprised, really. I’ll finish it up this afternoon – we had a storm blow through that forced me to stow my gear and I was absolutely wiped out by the time I sat down to eat dinner. I wasn’t about to go back out and get dirty after supper. The last bit this evening should go quite fast as I know exactly what I’m doing.

I slept like a baby last night. Everything got done – or close enough to it that I’ll finish tonight.

An Excellent After-Ride Healthy Dinner That Takes Ten Minutes to Prep and Cook and Is Even Faster To Clean Up After…

On arriving home from the office, my wife was heading out the door to take my daughter to swim practice and my elder daughter was off galivanting about. I asked if there was a plan for dinner, to which she responded that I should have some leftover pizza after my ride. My buddy, Chuck and I were out for a little more than an hour-and-a-quarter and we put in 22 miles and some change and I was feeling pretty fantastic. I was hungry, though. Now, pizza and I are longtime friends. Best friends, really… but I’m tired of eating junkfood. So I was stuck with a dilema… what to eat?

I knew I had a package of individually wrapped salmon filets in the freezer – frozen solid. I thought, well what would happen if I just slapped a filet on the grill? I thought about how I’d make this work as I cut up some veggies for a salad. See, there’s a new fad out there wherein you place your steaks on the grill directly, do not pass go, from the freezer onto a hot grill. This sears the meat and seals in the juicy goodness before it can escape… or so they say.

I spread some butter over one side, then garlic salt (from a grinder) and pepper, and some Italian Herb seasoning… and slapped one for me and one for my younger daughter on the grill. A hot grill, 600 degrees F (315 C) and kept an eye on them. Three or four minutes, then flip (not quite thawed at first flip). Then a few minutes on the butter side, then flip once more for a minute or till flaky. As soon as the filets were firm but pliable, I pulled them. I dressed them with a salt and pepper again, then squeezed a quarter-lemon over them.

Friends, it was heavenly.

Ultra-simple, low calorie, high on flavor, simple goodness and about 600 calories for the meal… and the cleanup was two plates and a bowl (for the salad). I’ll have to get used to eating light like that again (I was hungry as a bear the next morning) but it’s a great arrow to have in the quiver when I’m pressed for a decent, healthy dinner.