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A Note To Manufacturers On Automatic Gears (Stop Trying… Please).

Look, this post is going to be very simple. To anyone working on automatic shifting, stop it. Put the bong down and listen for a minute.

Cycling is supposed to be fun, remember? Cruising down the road in a tight pack with a few friends on a warm Saturday morning. You try, but you can’t wipe that smile off your face. It’s like a perma-grin.

Remember that?

Learning to ride, and I mean to really ride, is part of the joy. Learning to shift properly is all part of the fun.

And now once we’ve hit avid enthusiast status, shifting is one of the pure pleasures in hitting the road with my friends. I don’t need you trying to mess that up by doing away with my shifters.

In fact, Shimano and SRAM, you keep this shit up and I’ll switch my groupsets to Campagnolo. At least with Campagnolo you can rebuild your old shifters if you like them. Ahem.

Just a Kind, Happy Holiday Reminder!

I realized, yesterday, that things are going WAY too back to normal. The one good thing about the pandemic was that it made staying the f*** home when you were sick, acceptable.

In the spirit of the Holiday Season, please remember, to the sociopathic, narcissistic shits, nobody else wants your illness. If you still don’t feel well, you’re still contagious. If you still choose to go out, stay away from people, douchebag.

And wear a freaking mask so everyone else knows to keep their distance because you’re choosing to go out.

Sheesh.

Happy Holidays!!!

The Fine Line a Man Must Walk for the Woman He Loves… Isn’t As Fine As Clickbait.

In my quest to become a better me that’s lasted a little more than nine months I’ve found there’s a vast array of self-helpers out there who, it seems, worry a little more about clickbait or working the extremes than in delivering consistent advice about real relationships. There’s a wide chasm between dating advice and marital advice, and it seems most of the quick and easy “game playing” topics trend toward the dating advice.

I wanted to learn how to better treat my wife of 25-years, not how to win a date. I wanted to learn how to let my wife know she was loved without overwhelming her (turns out there’s a very fine line to that as well!). I wanted to learn how to grapple with my crushing possessiveness issue – something that I’d never experienced in all our 27-years together. I needed to know how much emotion and vulnerability was too much, and how much was just enough (I already knew how little was too little). How could I be helpful without being a doormat?

My wife is a very particular person in those regards. She’s burnt out quickly with too much sugar, but she craves it just like chocolate. She’s leery of too many ways of saying “I love you with all my heart” but loves a nice variety. She loves consistent attention, but needs space for the marriage to breathe. She wants to feel safe, but not too safe.

If you’re a fella and starting to wonder how in God’s name can a guy keep track of all that, I actually have something useful to offer.

Before I get into this, one exceedingly important caveat must be laid out; my wife has her issues, too. Those issues made changing very difficult at times. My wife worked very hard on her issues and changed considerably over this time and her willingness to change was just as important as mine. However, whenever I concentrate on my wife’s issues, rather than focus on what I’m working on, I run afoul and typically make a fool of myself. On the other hand, I also learned to not be afraid to let my wife know when she’d stepped on my toes – preferably nicely and calmly, though that took a lot of work.

The trick to keeping all of that in order and to learning how to love my wife better was honest communication. Everything was a negotiation and we learned to make those negotiations safe so that we could each express ourselves as we needed. I talked about everything. My wife had to learn how to stop politicking me, too; the art of telling half the truth that shows her in a good light and miraculously forgetting the other half so she can be right. I had to learn how to just be honest about things like feelings and emotions, altogether. I stuffed everything under the rug till I had to walk around the damned thing. With progress came less fear (and I mean that in the false evidence appearing real sense). The more we talked things through, the more we learned how to negotiate for what was best for the marriage (not necessarily ourselves), the better we did… and the more we worked through things.

Sadly, this isn’t the easy route. It works a lot better than trying to play dating games with one’s spouse, though. Much better.

WordPress Wants to Know What My Feelings Are About Eating Meat…

Oh, how I hate the fascists…

This is a screenshot of a post I just started working on:

I hate this bullshit. My feelings about meat are this; I’ll always eat meat. Meat is fantastically healthy for human consumption under any honest scientific metric that is used, and as important, or more so to the human diet, than vegetables. Arguing against this is futile, dishonest, and usually just plain stupid.

Worse, what do people with Celiac disease eat if there is no meat? See what I mean about the ignorance? It’s hard enough to go through life with a gluten sensitivity, going through life where gluten really harms you is twice as hard. Almost impossible if all you’ve got left will kill you.

WordPress, it’s none of your business what I feel about eating meat. It’s necessary and I’ll be plunking off squirrels, rabbits and birds in the backyard before I stop eating meat. And there are many more vastly more adamant than I am.

You don’t want to start a discussion about meat. You’re not thinking this all the way through. You envision a world without cows and farm animals. What you’ll get is far worse. Try a world with no wildlife because it’s being eaten by those who won’t sit still for the pampas bullshit of others who, from their gilded cages, pronounce they want to change the world into what they deem “better”. Do us all a favor; jump off a building. A very tall one. Save us the misery of putting up with you. Or better, before you attempt to change the world, worry about cleaning your part of your parents basement, first. At least then, maybe you’ll realized just cleaning yourself up is close enough.

This is what my feelings are about eating meat; you suck.

A Mountain Bike with a Spring-loaded Steering Stop? A Gravel Bike with a Seatpost Shock? What the Hell Is Going On Here?

A hard stop spring-loaded steering assembly? For a mountain bike? Oh, I can’t see how that would go wrong on the side of a cliff! How about a seat post shock that allows the nose of your saddle to jab your nether regions and changes your reach to the bar every time you hit a bump or pedal too hard? Brilliant!

Normally I’m going to see a video that looks at new technology harshly through the “clipless pedal”, “integrated road shifters”, “front fork shock” or “disc brake” lens… innovation can be funny in that it might seem like a gimmick at first, but given the proper push and it’s the next best thing to happen to cycling.

Unless it’s just plain silly.

I don’t even have to go into the spring return steering stop on a mountain bike. That’s going away in 3… 2… 1… This is the dumbest thing evah to happen to a bicycle. Having a hard stop in your steering assembly is possible with the current threadless headset technology. Just let a bearing go bad and tighten the assembly a half-turn too much. You’ll know you’re in trouble the first time you lean into a corner and your bike wheels try to gyroscope on you, forcing you to return to upright center. It’s disconcerting as hell.

Equally dumb is the seatpost shock that allows the reach of the cockpit to change every time you push the pedal too hard or hit a bump. Never mind that this will cause the nose of your saddle to raise every time the shock does what it’s supposed to do, your freaking reach changes, too. What were they thinking?

Now, the steering assembly shock on the Specialized gravel bike isn’t bad. I know people who ride them and like them. While the first generation sucked and was prone to breakdowns, the newer iterations seem to have worked the bugs out (I know someone with a first gen. Specialized Ruby and she’s had nothing but problems with her handlebar shock).

I look at this new technology thusly; with manufacturers trying to kill independent local bike shops, who’s going to fix all that wonky shit they’re coming up with? Oh, you’ll need special tools and training to fix those silly things that will make a riding experience worse.

If ever there was a reason to not buy a new bike, gimmicks are leading the way. In this case, if I absolutely, positively needed a new gravel or mountain bike because my old one took a crap, I’d choose one without the stupid first gen. crap on it.

I’d buy a Trek or Giant and leave the Specialized and Canyon to people who have a desire to talk about their new bike that’s always in the shop for repairs to a gimmicky gadget.

Me? I prefer to ride my bike over talking about how silly the new tech is on it.

Just sayin’.

Why Should You Fix Your Marriage? Well, If You Need A Reason, The World Could Use A Little More Love In It.

I have had a good marriage. My wife and I have, at times, a head (or two) full of rocks and we’ve certainly managed to cock it up every now and again but when she picked me, I believe she knew what she was doing. When I picked her, I believe I did as well. Or, at least we trusted God put us together and we did our part.

And perhaps that one, fine point made a difference; my wife literally picked me. I walked in and she did a “who’s that“. I found out she’d taken to me and was like, “She’s beautiful and everything I ever hoped for. There was a lot more to our finally getting together for our first date, but I believe things worked out exactly as it needed to so we had a chance to make it. I believe this down to my baby toes.

We also took our flaws and used them against each other. Those things that build up and we stuff to keep the peace for now turn into a mountain over time. We’d grow apart, then come together. We grew apart again and saw a marriage counselor (one who happened to be in recovery as well). He helped us turn things around and we had a great stretch of about four years. The problem here, being honest, is that I really didn’t change much. I think my wife tried to change, then when I didn’t, she’d grow disheartened and we’d sink back into our old ways.

Starting around 2017 (if memory serves), my wife and I started backsliding again. Our counselor passed away shortly after losing his wife to a freak illness and we were lost. My wife asked, several times, if we could find someone new to see but I left choosing someone to her and it simply never happened. I definitely should have taken a little more responsibility in that regard.

We hung on until the spring of this last year and, to be fair, I don’t think either one of us had much more than hope that we’d make it. But we did have hope, and it appears God was listening. I asked a pastor friend of ours to pray for us, that we needed it.

Soon after, I found myself listening to a news story on a local radio station and it occurred to me I’d been listening to a variation of that same story on the way to and on the way home from work for the last twenty-five years. I thought, “I can do better than this!” But what? I started listening to psychology lectures, figuring I’d learn how to win an argument with my wife now and again. I learned exactly the opposite. I learned that fighting my wife was the opposite of what I really wanted – even winning from time to time might seem good for me but was bad for the marriage.

First, I learned how to do the least amount of damage possible. Then I learned why defeating someone in an argument is useless and that the only way for both of us to win was for us to negotiate for lasting peace rather than try to “win”.

Then, watching a lecture on “narcissism” and still expecting to learn how to win an argument every once in a while, I learned that I exhibited several narcissistic traits and my whole house of cards crumbled down. Some whom I’ve told the story to have said it was a miracle I could see my own narcissistic traits. They were so glaringly bad, I don’t know how I’d missed them till then. The miracle, I’d suggest, came next.

I laid what I discovered out before my wife in as much detail as I could muster. I chucked fear to the wind and made myself as vulnerable as I’d ever been in our marriage. I apologized and told her I could and would do better. And I did.

My wife changed too, and without all of the help it took me to change.

We had our struggles, of course. We’ve both made a mess of things from time to time, but we always came back to letting go of the fighting, instead, negotiating for peace (it took some time to get there, of course, but we got there – old habits die hard).

We’ve gone from “We don’t know how we’re going to make it” to “If you should die before me, ask if you can bring a friend” (Still Remains – Stone Temple Pilots).

Friends, no matter which side of the aisle your tent’s on, remember this about the news; it’s all designed to keep us angry and at each other’s throats so we’ll vote. You’re seeing what happens to the the world with more of that. What it really needs is more love and less… of that vicious cycle.

I don’t participate in that lopsided silliness anymore. We don’t have the time. It isn’t worth our happiness… And my wife and I are both better for it.

Men, Talking Intimacy (Not That Kind) with Other Men (And Not That Way, Not My Bag).

How often does the average man talk with another man about intimate issues? Now, to be clear, I’m not necessarily talking about sex here. We’re not talking about bro-ing down over a few beers, either. In case you missed it, I don’t do the “beers” thing. This is more of a “How things are REALLY going” type of intimacy.

My wife, not knowing how much I talk to friends about intimate topics, presented me with a YouTube clip of Trevor Noah (not my favorite propaganda sensationalist) explaining, and often confusing, two different ways in which men seek out intimacy. Now, he starts out riffing about “a right to sex”, whatever that is. I tend to agree with Jordan Peterson’s approach that would look something like, “if a man cleans himself up into something presentable, he won’t have to worry about a right to sex, he’ll have all he wants”. The personal responsibility approach is where it’s at. Next, however, Noah wonders allowed if men really don’t want sex, as much as they do intimacy… and that’s where it gets messy before he takes it home to arrive somewhere good, decent and worthwhile. I’ll get there sooner.

In one example, he uses that guy who pays a prostitute to simply talk with him or to just hold him. This request stems from a lack of intimacy with a partner. Personally, I’ve never thought to pay a prostitute or a stripper to just talk with me or hold me when my wife was going through her “I’m going to withhold my love from you to punish you” phases – and they’d last weeks. I see that as a form of cheating, so I never went there. That form of intimacy can only come from my spouse… and today I would say that if I’m not getting that from my wife, there might be something I need to clean up so she’s willing to talk with me and hold me more. If I think I’m cleaned up enough for that, it’s time for a peaceful, quiet negotiation with a goal of more intimacy, holding and talking.

That might turn into a fight, though it would be a worthwhile fight to have before one turns to cheating or ends up with a conversation that concludes with “the marriage is over”. Now, if one doesn’t have a spouse or female companion from which to derive such pleasure, one should first go about cleaning oneself up enough to attract one. If, whilst in the process, one wishes for some of the good stuff, by all means, pay away. The important point here is the personal responsibility of this.

Then there’s a second kind of intimacy. The between two men intimacy. How often, and with how many other guys do I talk about intimate subjects? Well, up until about eight months ago, my wife had a point. I’d have to go back several years before I talked regularly with anyone other than my wife about intimate subjects. Since, I talk with many of my friends because I want to share with them something that made my life profoundly better. Immensely better. First, my sponsor, Pete. A few guys at bowling. My old sponsors (two of them), my old pre-marriage housemate, and about a half-dozen guys at meetings… in fact, one just last night… and my wife’s dad.

This is what my wife thought I might be missing the other night. She thought it would make a few things in me make sense if I was missing that form of intimacy. She was just trying to look out for me and bring up her own flaw of withholding her love and that closeness out of fear so she could get over and put an end to that.

It was a very tense conversation at first, but it was one of the more healing discussions we’ve had in our marriage. And, truth be told, that led to a massive breakthrough just this morning that will have to be for another day, after I’ve unpacked it and fully vetted the subject with Pete and my wife before a post can see the light of day.

Still, even though Trevor mucked the subject up something fierce, if it wasn’t for my wife and and that clip, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get to where I am just a short couple of days later.

The point is, I think he’s got a point. I’d embraced it long before I ever knew he had it… and while it may be more than the “guy hug with a double side pat”, it isn’t curling up with another dude and saying “hold me”, either. (3:16 in the clip). That just isn’t going to happen.

Maybe we can aim for something in the middle.

2023 Specialized Tarmac and 2023 Trek Madone Exclusive Review!

That’s right, folks! The new 2023 Trek Madone and Specialized Tarmac bikes have been unveiled to much fanfare, and I’m here to review my local bike shop’s floor models.

Oh, wait… they’re not coming in till 2025?

Sorry. I guess I’ll review the 2023s in 2025. C’mon back then! I’m sure it’ll be a hoot.

The bike industry survives despite itself, was ever thus.

A Second, More Successful, VASTLY More Enjoyable Return to Cycling with Covid

I know, I know, I said I was going to take a little more time off in yesterday’s post…

My low-grade fever broke (99.4, I usually run about 97.8) early yesterday morning. As the day wore on and I felt better, taking the tandem out for a spin with my wife looked pretty fantastic. She’s two days ahead of me, as our bouts with Covid went, so she feels a couple of days better than I do. She also wanted a nice, slow, short return to riding so the tandem was the perfect choice.

We only did eleven miles at 15-ish-mph, but that was perfect. My lungs didn’t bother me a bit and we had a lovely conversation along the way.

I also brought Gatorade with me in lieu of my normal plain water. That agreed with my throat a little more than anticipated.

And so it was, my wife and I out on the tandem for a short little spin to shake the cobwebs out. There’s no place I’d rather have been. It was beautiful.

Life on two wheels is a blessing.

I’ve Had About Enough of What the Pandemic is Doing to Cycling…

My wife asked me the other day, because I write a wonderfully popular blog that revolves around cycling and recovery from addiction (strange bedfellows, indeed), what bike colors are like this year.

My wife and I have an annual discussion about bike colors and how horrendous the current slate is… but I didn’t have an answer for her this year. In fact, I didn’t have a clue. And I didn’t have a clue because I haven’t bothered to look. And I haven’t bothered to look because, no matter how gaudy or cool the bikes are this year, you can’t get one till 2023 or beyond, so why bother? Even our beloved boutique brand, Co-Motion for our tandem is eight months out on new orders.

Well, I guess it’s not all horrible! If I’m 4’10” tall or 6’3″ I can get a Tarmac in 49 or 61 cm! Sadly, my wife needs a 54 cm, so she’s out till God only knows when. And the sad thing? Colors are awesome this year from the big two. Better than I’ve ever seen. This is some kind of cruel joke.

Better, and this one really made me laugh, we’ve got the rollout for the new Specialized Evade Helmet. I actually thought about pulling the trigger on two for my wife and I to the tune of $600 for the pair, till I saw this:

Seriously. Specialized rolled out a helmet you can’t actually buy. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so damned sad.

I’ve had about enough of the pandemic and what’s been done with it and in its name. On one hand, you have to expect interruptions in the face of a disaster like this (I wonder, do we call this a “human caused disaster”?). On the other, really?

I long for the days of real normalcy. Not just the “new normal”. I’ve seen the “new normal” and it sucks.