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2018 Cycling Wrap-up, the Year in Review

4,998 relatively easy ride miles
2,741 sport miles
386 mountain bike miles
1,990 trainer miles

Total: 10,115

In several respects I think 2018 was one of the best years of my life.

There’s no doubt recovery was spectacular, easily one of my most enjoyable ever.  After a thorough review of the year, I did it right.  I had a few problem areas, but on the whole, I’m happy with where I’m at.  I was able to, as we say, “let go and let God” through much of the problems, so things turned out better than had I messed with the mix and gummed it up.

For my marriage, again, it was a spectacular year.  My wife and I both had a great time of it.  I wish I had some time to go into detail here, but that’ll have to be for another post.

As a father, I had some struggles.  This is something I’m actively working on to have a better ’19.  Kids do present challenges, and I wasn’t prepared for a couple of them.

Work was a challenge, but in the end the year turned out better than I could have hoped.

…And that leaves cycling.  I spent a lot of time on my bikes and enjoyed every minute of it.  I went on a few trips, did a long-distance tour or two, and spent the entire summer fit as an ox.

My cycling fitness, starting the first day of the new year, was my top priority.  I started ramping up so I could ride into spring strong on New Year’s Day.  It began with time on the trainer pushing the hardest gears on the bike with the trainer set at its greatest resistance setting.  My plan worked perfectly.

Going into spring I was in great shape.  What is normally a struggle to find my cycling legs was an enjoyable ramping up to speed.  I was able to spend more than my fair share of time up front.

The summer months were spectacular and our Tuesday night B group went from a beginning of the year 21-1/2-mph average to 22+.  By August we were starting to push a 23-mph average for the 29 mile open-road course.

The longer rides were slower, but much more enjoyable last year.  We’d always pushed for a 20-mph average on anything greater than 100-km, but last year we didn’t worry about that as much.  We just had fun as a group and let the speed land where it did.  I had a lot more fun that way.

The final few months of the year were my best ever.  With one of the gang struggling with heart problems and restricted to slower rides, we tossed speed out the window and just enjoyed riding as a group.  They were some of the best, if coldest, miles of the year.

So the wrap-up is definitive; it was done right.  I know this year won’t be as easy to manage as far as miles go.  Work obligations have changed and there’s no way I’ll be able to keep up with last year’s pace.  I’ve accepted this and will make do with what I can get.

If I’m lucky enough to become an old man, I’ll look back on my 25th year sober as one of the best, most enjoyable of my life.  I feel blessed to have lived it.


Fit Recovery 2018 in (Quick) Review

2018 proved to be an interesting year for me.  I celebrated my 26th sober anniversary – a good start for a fella who hasn’t yet reached 50.  Recovery in 2018 has been better than I could have hoped for.  Life threw a lot at me last year but I was able to keep it in perspective…

2018 ended up a fantastic year for my marriage – one of the best, actually.  My wife and I had a really good time this year.  My wife and I seemed to hit that sweet spot in our relationship where we’re not just happy to be together, we know we belong together and we’re enjoying every bit of each other.  My kids are excelling at everything they do, and for all of the right reasons – I thank God on a daily basis that my kids got their mother’s brains and their dad’s drive.

Speaking of God, I’ve been blessed this year.  I like to think, at least as I see things today, that I’m doing what I should be, trying to live the life my Higher Power would want me to.  When I’m doing the next right thing, life has a harmonious flow to it.  When I’m trying to manipulate the system, it gets ugly.  2018 had very little ugly to it.

At work, I had many challenges that allowed me the opportunity to practice the principles key to recovery.  This goes one of two ways; either one works on things as intended, or one sits back and lets things unfold, doing little to work through the issues.  The former obviously works, the latter… well, it’s best to say bad things usually happen.  A lack of action in recovery usually isn’t pretty.  I did what was necessary, though.  I took action.

As things turned out, I think I ended up with the right amount of action and the right amount of letting the Higher Power do His thing because things ended up better than I could have scripted them.  I am truly content and at peace – through a LOT of turmoil.

As my hobbies go, I hit record numbers for the blog and it was a rewarding year in terms of feedback from recovery-related posts.  All I ever wanted from the blog was an outlet, and I got much more than that.  The popularity of the blog is cool, I never imagined I’d top 40,000 hits in a year, but I was just 500 hits shy of 140,000 this year, a new record for the site.  What really matters, though (and this may sound a little cheesy, but it’s true), is that my recovery posts are helpful and I’m making a difference – and becoming a productive member of society is what recovery is all about.

As cycling goes, my year was spectacular, with only one wrinkle…  I had more fun than a person is supposed to have (with their clothes on) – and that’s what cycling is really all about anyway.  I love the numbers (and I’ll get into those in a minute), but what I really enjoy are the memories, laughs, and the time spent with my wife and friends.  As numbers go, a little more than 10,100 miles took me about 539 hours to ride – I ended up with an average pace for the year of about 18.8-mph.  That includes everything from mountain biking, to recovery rides, to 23-mph average Tuesday night club rides.  I’m very happy with that, though I could have done a better job of pushing myself away from the table.  My weight was a little higher than I like throughout the entire year.  I’ll be working a lot harder on that in 2019.

The wrinkle was my buddy, Mike.  His genetics finally caught up with his heart and even though he’s been an exceptional athlete for decades, his heart got blocked up something fierce.  So much, and it went without diagnosis for so long that it damaged his ticker beyond repair, so he’s just gotta deal with it and hope for the best.  Originally, the doctors wanted him off the bike for good, but he had something to say about that…


He’s just gotta be careful to take it easy.  Simplest way to say it, if we work him too hard, he could drop out right there.  He’s restricted to something like 160 bpm max… and he’s getting a defibrillator installed just in case.  Even with Mike, as bad as the news is, he’s going to be able to deal with it and keep riding – the only thing he’ll miss are those 20+ mph averages.  As those go, he’s done.

For the new year, if I can drop 15 pounds and have 2019 just like ’18, I’d take it – and that’s as good as one could hope for.  I’m glad to be me.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Here’s to another year of health, happiness, and a bunch of miles.

The Perfect Low-Mess 90 Second Scrambled Egg Sammich

I’m a stove snob when it comes to food. Mainly because I’m a foodie in a cyclist’s body. Some cyclists eat to fuel the ride. I, like many others, ride to eat. I enjoy food immensely.

When it came to breakfast, I always opted for the easy way out in some form of cereal… lately I’m into a hippie maple and flaxseed concoction that, amazingly, tastes quite awesome.

The other day, though, I was in the mood for a couple of eggs. When I have a craving for something good (ie not chocolate, ice cream or Twizzlers) I pay attention. Usually that’s my body’s way of saying, “Yo, we need a specific nutrient down here, get to it, bub.”

I got to thinking there had to be a better way than dragging out a frying pan and making a mess.

I nuked two eggs in a tiny ramekin with a sprinkling of cheese for 90 seconds. Toasted my bagel in a toaster oven for the same amount of time, and slapped the two together.

Perfect. 90 seconds to a hot egg and cheese sammich. Fluffiest egg I’ve ever eaten. Almost souffle quality. Beyond pillowy even.

Wipe the ramekin out, drop it in the dishwasher, done.

The Shepherd’s Pie War… Obi-wan has Taught You Well.

My wife’s sister introduced us to meat pies a couple of years ago. First, it was a turkey pot pie the day after Thanksgiving. It was, as one would guess, awesome.

Then my wife dropped a perfect chicken pot pie.

Well, not to be outdone, my wife’s sister dropped a perfect shepherd’s pie on us next.

My wife countered with an excellent rendition of her own and executed a flawless browned cheesy top.

Next her brother-in-law chimed in with a layered shepherd’s pie that looked like it was made directly for Jesus. It was amazing.

My wife, however, just dropped the mic. She cooked up a perfect roast the other day, but we had a lot leftover. It was a big roast.

What you don’t see in that first photo is the roast beef, roasted vegetables, and the gravy.

It was as if a meat and potatoes pie crashed into crack.

Mere words cannot do the amazing dish justice. It was truly restaurant worthy.

So, if you ever see yourself looking at a fair bit of leftovers, put together a shepherd’s pie. It’s fantastic.

Merry Christmas, My Friends – Both Sober, Running, Cycling and Fit… and Preferably Many of Those.

My friends, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… from the bottom of my heart, thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for riding with me. Thank you for reading my blog and for your feedback.

Let’s all take a moment to remember, not one of us is getting out of this alive. All we have, just before it’s all done, is our experiences. Make them good ones.

Crossed over 10,000 miles this morning. Only 1,800 of them on the trainer. WOOHOO!

Has Anyone Ever Been Dropped Because They Have Sora Components in Lieu of Dura Ace?

I happened upon a Durianrider video the other day – now, nine-and-a-half times in ten I’m going to close that video down before he hits his first “carb the f*** up” but, for some reason, not this day.

In his four minute and change video he claimed that no one has ever been dropped because they were riding Sora components in lieu of Dura Ace, that Chris Froome could win the Tour de France on a Sora-equipped bike, and that if someone does get dropped riding Sora, it is due to their glycogen levels being low, or not properly carbing the f*** up, and that he could flog 99.9,% of all riders on his Sora-equipped steel LeMond… and my mind kinda shut him out after that.

I did pat myself on the back for making it to the end of the video – the guy tends to grate on me a bit. What if you’re not the great carbing the f*** up Durianrider, though?

First, I can tell you that I agree with him that Shimano Sora R3000 9sp is legit. I’ve got it on my gravel bike and it’s just as good as my 10sp 105 and close to the Ultegra line. There’s a weight penalty, but it’s not all that big a deal.

But question was, has anyone ever been dropped because they’re riding a Sora-equipped bike?

I’d argue yes, but not because Sora components are heavy or because they don’t operate excellently. In fact, for the extra Thousand Dollars for Dura Ace, my 23 pound Diverge would only drop down to 21.3 pounds, give or take. What is important is the extra two gears you gain going from 9 to 11 sp. Those two gears mean you’re jumping one or two teeth on the cassette instead of three or even four. Each tooth means about 5 rpm in cadence. Jumping five or ten rpm is reasonable. Fifteen or twenty, well now you’re likely to be in the wrong gear and struggling to spin too fast to keep up or push too hard on too heavy a gear. Pick your poison.

Take my Venge and put Sora R3000 on it, the bike is still only 17 pounds. Certainly no fatass, and definitely not enough weight to slow me down. That missing gear, though, dropping from 10 to 9sp… that would be a bit more problematic. Probably not insurmountable, but simply more work.

And therein lies the rub to Durianrider’s claims; how much more work can you handle before carbing the f*** up just won’t make up the difference?

Take my 15-3/4 pound carbon fiber everything, Ultegra equipped Venge with 38mm carbon fiber wheels, 25mm tires, and pit it against that 23 pound Sora equipped, alloy wheels, 28mm tires gravel bike and the detractors, the holes in the gearing, the extra weight, heavier wheels, and the aluminum frame become too much to overcome. No joke, the same ride on the Venge and the Diverge, you’re looking at another 50 watts to make the Diverge do the same thing as the Venge. Folks, it doesn’t matter how much “carb(ing) the f*** up” you do, you’re not making that up trying to hang with the 23-mph average gang.

I don’t know how big a percentage of riders I can whoop on my Venge, but I’ll guarantee you, it’s a much bigger chunk that I would on the Diverge.

Pass the bacon.

A New Record for Fit Recovery…

My blog plateaued long ago.  My first full year I went from 30,000 hits to 70,000 in the second, to 125,000 hits (or thereabouts) for the third, and the next three years.  This year I broke last year’s record for the blog, though… barely.  Last year was 133,000 hits and that was passed last week.  For what I do, and for the limited amount of time I have to put into blogging, I’m entirely over the moon about this.

To all of my friends, and to all of the people who frequent my blog, thank you.

Ride hard, my friends.  And don’t f***in’ drink, even if your ass falls off.  In fact, in the event your ass does fall off, pick it up and put it in a grocery bag and take it to a meeting.  They’ll be able to show you how to put it back on.