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The Great Bicycle Helmet Debate:  To Wear a Helmet or to Not…

The human head is said to have the same consistency as a watermelon when it hits the pavement…

That is a photo of my friend’s helmet.  While we were riding at what they consider a leisurely pace up to Otter Lake, the A guys were doing their weekly Saturday hammerfest to the west of us.  Their ride is one of those where they will tell you ahead of time, “Don’t show up hungover and bring your good legs”.
The man who normally wears that helmet is a better, faster cyclist than I am.  Hell, he’s better and faster than you too.

The point is, the guy knows how to ride, and well.

On that Saturday ride, there was a slight surge coming up to a stop sign, followed by a slowdown.  One of the front guys slowed a little faster than the rest of the group anticipated which brought the group together too quickly.  One of the guys darted left to miss a wheel and hooked my friend’s front wheel.  My friend went down, hard.  He broke his hip, which really sucks.  On the other hand….

Zoom in.  On the other hand, his wife won’t have to change his diaper for the rest of his life because his brain isn’t mush because he was wearing that helmet.  No brain injury was found after a CAT scan.

If you pay attention to the great helmet debate, you will be inundated with faulty arguments masquerading as reasons to avoid helmets, about torsional impacts and blaming the helmet for making injuries worse from the “helmets are unnecessary” side.  Most of these arguments will be made from a theoretical point of view by engineers and/or mathematicians and/or the ignorant masses who follow them.  They’ll even say wearing a helmet causes more accidents or increases their severity because if people didn’t wear helmets, they’d ride more like sissies (the old “remove airbags and weld a 4″ knife blade to the steering wheel to improve driving skills” argument).

I suggest speaking to someone a little more “hands on” than a theoretical mathematician.  Try a Sheriff’s deputy, a firefighter, EMS technician or, if you need some letters before or after a person’s name, a doctor – preferably a neurologist.  Each and every one, without fail (especially those relegated to the scraping of brains from the road after accidents) will recommend you wear a bicycle helmet.

As to the whole torsional argument, if you look at that first photo, you can see the skid mark in the helmet.  My friend had no neck injury.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t instances where a helmet would add to an injury – there certainly are those rare cases, but it’s like the great seatbelt debate.  For every one instance wearing a seatbelt caused harm, there are hundreds where having one on saved the motorist (or where not wearing one killed the motorist).  For every one instance where a helmet added to the severity of a bike accident, there are hundreds where the helmet saved the wearer from a catatonic state, diapers, and drooling on themselves for the next decade while their body rotted inside out – and it literally doesn’t matter how slow you’re going.

My friend’s season is done, not life as he knows it.  He’ll spend the next several months recovering, but he will be back.  There’s no doubt, if he hadn’t been wearing that melon armor, he’d be looking at a much longer recovery period… or worse.

To wrap this post up, I do want to make one thing clear:  I do not advocate for government bureaucracies making a bunch of rules and regulations regarding how bicycles are ridden and whether or not helmets are worn….  Bicycle helmets, like motorcycle helmets, should be the choice of the rider – in every case.

I just happen to be a person who won’t leave home without his melon protector.  Ever.  Not wearing one is too stupid for me to even grasp.  I would be without three friends if we weren’t so adamant about always wearing them.  Three of my friends, dead or drooling.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no debate.

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A Bike Ride can Fix ALMOST Anything….

The billboard on the bike shop says, A bike ride can fix anything.  

Ummm… close.  I like the saying, of course, because a bike ride fixes a lot for me.  It fixes obesity, it fixes my enjoyment of food, it fixes my melon committee, and bikes definitely assuage my need for a midlife crisis hobby (a bike ride ticks every box).  There are things a bike ride can’t fix though.

A bike ride can’t fix stupid, that’s for sure, and there seems to be more than enough of that to go around lately.

A bike ride can’t fix cancer, but it sure will help on the front end.  A bike ride can’t fix Alzheimer’s, again, except on the front end…

Nuances aside, I look at what is right in the notion that a bike ride can fix anything:

A bike ride will definitely fix a bad day, there’s no doubt about that.

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Dangers

http://wp.me/p4YeO9-3aQ

“Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow.”…

The bane of my existence is the politician who, in the name of public safety, seeks to legislate the fun, or the taste, out of life…. for the good of the people.  

Apparently they need some Oscar Wilde…  Not too much though, because ronically, Wilde made the mistake of thinking Venezuela, in modern times, was the answer to life’s problems.  It sounds good, I’ll be the first one to admit.  The one inescapable problem is this:  If you don’t have to work, who in their right mind would?!  And therein lies the rub, and why Socialism always implodes under its own weight.  Always.

Wilde once wrote that the way to deal with poverty was to make poverty impossible.  Ask the dumpster divers in Venezuala how that’s working.  By trying to make poverty impossible, Socialism makes poverty inescapable.

Click the link above to discover the rest of the quote.

I Performed Minor Surgery…. On Myself.  Um, because Nobody else would let Me Operate on Them.

We were down in Florida, Panama City Beach to be exact (it’s like Daytona, only not quite as nice.  If you’ve been to Daytona Beach as an adult, you get the joke).  We were sitting in our rented beach house (which was admittedly, awesome) watching some late evening TV when I felt something dig into my back.  I reached back to scratch it without even thinking and got a beach burr stuck to my finger.  I picked it out of my skin, walked over and tossed it into the garbage can.  No biggie.

When I sat down, I felt an itch in the same spot the burr was dug into my back.  I reached back to scratch it…. and got a barb stuck just underneath my fingernail.  Good Lord, did that suck!

I tried to dig it out with some tweezers but just couldn’t get at it.  Then my mother-in-law tried.  Unfortunately, she took a stab at it and pushed it deeper into my finger, deep enough I couldn’t see it anymore.  That was about 31 days ago.  Now, if you paid attention in school, you probably learned that the body is amazing at pushing foreign objects out, so I decided to let the body do its thing…. As of last week it still hadn’t worked its way out yet and my finger was starting to ache so bad that I was having a tough time operating my left shift levers on my bike.  My middle finger was infected.  Bad.

Interestingly, when I was a kid my little brother got something stuck beneath is toenail at camp and never told my mom about it.  It got so infected he almost lost his big toe.  Seriously.  I had a feeling I was going to be in trouble if I didn’t get to the doctor.  I also remembered that my brother was in the hospital for a week while they drained his toe.

What has two thumbs and doesn’t have a week to sit in a hospital?

This guy.

In a last-ditch effort before I went and saw a doctor, I snuck in a few minutes early at the office, sterilized a pocket knife and some nail clippers and went to town.  I won’t get too into the descriptions but there was puss, blood and pain.  In the end, I dug that little bastard out though.

This is a week later:

I’m finally pain-free after a month.  

Now for the disclaimer:  On this hand, what I did is exceptionally stupid according to the powers that be.  If I’d screwed up just a little bit, I could have lost my main salute finger or worse.  As well, if I’d let that infection go much further I could have really been in trouble.  I should have let the pros handle it.

On the other hand, I won’t have to come up with $10,000 for my deductible either, so that’s a win either way.

Humorously, on somebody else’s hand, I’m thinking back on my post the other day, about the wussification of men who can’t even change a car tire….  A pocket knife and fingernail clippers.

My Dad says Our Insurance doesn’t have [Road-side Service to change my tire]… Huh?! WHAT?!

I’m referring to an auto insurance commercial that touts its road-side service portion of the policy.  In doing so, the commercial has a mother talking about how good it is that their son didn’t have to change his own flat tire.  After, the commercial cuts to two other stranded teenage boys who neither know how to change a tire, nor have the road side service….  One asks the other what a lug wrench is.

Boys, let me get this out there right now;  If you can’t change a tire on or about your sixteenth birthday, you need to pull your balls out of your mom’s purse and give it a go.  If you can’t change a tire, you’re a disgrace to testosterone, so learn.  I was changing alternators on my car with my dad at sixteen for God’s sake.

This has been a public service announcement from Fit Recovery.  No charge.

 

You have to give it away to keep it;  A most oft overlooked concept of recovery

You read many of the recovery posts on the blogosphere, even some of the professional stuff, and much of the “evidence based” material (which has been spawned with the sole purpose of Easing God Out), it lacks a most necessary component of recovery:  working with another alcoholic….

It’s summer, 1993 and I’m laying in bed, just 23 years-old, less than a year sober, and I think I’m dying.  Not figuratively, I believe I’m having a heart attack or something.  It’s two o’clock in the morning, I have to be to work at six.  I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, never getting another wink of sleep.  The next day at work, I was a mess.

I called my sponsor and explained what I’d been through.  His first question?  “Why didn’t you call me last night?”

I pointed out that it was obviously too early in the morning so there was no chance I was waking him up… And that’s where he set me straight.  He explained that I had experienced a full-blown panic attack and that those times are exactly what a sponsor is for, and that someone had done the same for him when he was just a pigeon.
I’ve made countless “I need you, man” phone calls and received plenty, because that’s what we do.

At first, feelings of inadequacy and humility limit our sharing with others as a means of “giving it away” and for all but the most precious of snowflakes this is a good thing.  You actually have to possess something worth giving to someone else, after all, for them to accept it.

For those who have read my posts, especially my cycling posts, what is the common thread?  Working with, and in the service of, others.  

Cycling in a club setting is so much like AA’s brand of recovery, I’m almost nervous to explain exactly how close they are in nature.  Every new cyclist to a group leans on that group to ride faster and farther than they could on their own.  At first, a noob’s contribution is vastly less that their seasoned countetparts.  Over a period of years, though, this changes as the cyclist gets stronger and becomes a fixture in the group.  That cyclist does less hiding and more working.  They do more so the seasoned members can catch a longer break after having devoted years to pulling that puppy around courses….  That’s the essence of working with others.  If we are doing it right, we learn to become less self-centered.

This is an excerpt from the Big Book.  Snowflake Trigger Warning!  Your fragile self can’t take reading this, so walk away now, before you melt.

Our actor is self-centered-ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia

if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. 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 extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!

Interesting, isn’t it?

Cycling and Weight Loss;  How Far Must I Ride to Eat ANYTHING I Want?! A Guide

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for five years….  Reading a post written by a friend of mine provided just the push I needed.  Enjoy, I hope.

Every person who overeats wants to know what it takes to get that magic Dwayne Johnson/Michael Phelps diet:  Eat a ton of s#!+, whenever I want!  Woohoo!  First of all, it’s just the Michael Phelps diet.  Look at The Rock’s diet.  It’s boring.  Chicken, broccoli and rice.  Repeat.  A LOT.  Phelps eats like heavy people want to, but only when he’s training to crush a$$ in the pool eight hours a day.

Well, I can tell you how that works for cycling.  Now, we’ve all heard the crap that you can’t outrun a bad diet, right?  Well you can’t, so stop daydreaming.  You can outride a decent diet though, depending on what your definition of “decent” is.  If you’re looking for that “Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, Fries and a Diet Coke” for every lunch and dinner diet, you will die of heart disease so forget about it – that’s not “decent” by any stretch of the imagination.  Not even cycling can keep the lines clean if you’re going to eat like that – and that’s really the problem.  The Fast Food diet isn’t just bad, it’s bad.

Let’s just say you just want to enjoy eating like a heavy person, without the “being heavy” part, though.  How much do you have to ride to lose weight, or even maintain a decent weight once you’ve hit your goal?  I can help, but I have a feeling you’re not going to like this…

  1. 5 miles in 50 minutes or more per day, on any type of bike, 5-6 days a week:  These calories don’t count for weight loss or maintaining weight.  Don’t be discouraged though – the exercise will do wonders to transform your body and health.  Any weight loss will be due to improvements in diet though.  Seriously.  No, I don’t care that this exceeds the government minimum.  The government minimum is for sissies – and if you didn’t know that… ooh, sorry for breaking it to you the hard way.  [Ed.  I should add that we all have to start somewhere – everyone, including me, is slow and can only manage a few miles at a crack to begin with….  You have to start somewhere, and you’re not a sissy for starting.  The idea is progress though.  If you stay at five miles for more than a couple of months, well…. (it took me a week or two to start increasing mileage)]
  2. 10 miles in 50 minutes a day, on any type of bike, 5-6 days a week (50-60 miles a week).  Now we are getting somewhere!  Just not far enough to eat more than your average 2,000 calorie a day diet for a man, 1,600 calorie diet for a woman.  This will do exceptional things for your health though.  Keep it up!  If you’re trying to lose weight, you should drop 200-400 calories from your normal daily intake and the weight will fall off well.  If you’re skinny and want to gain, eat like santa for six months.  If you want to maintain, stick to the recommended 2000/1600 calorie a day diet.  Keep in mind, a footlong Subway sub is between 750 and 1,200 calories.  That’s no drink and no chips.  Beware.  2,000/1,600 calories isn’t much.
  3. 15 to 20 miles a day in 45 minutes to an hour-twenty a day, six days a week.  90-120 miles a week.  Hey, it’s time to celebrate!  You get one fast-food lunch or dinner and one Coke – per week to celebrate your hard work.  I know, not exactly sexy.  You’re doing great though!  Keep it up.
  4. Now we’re going to switch to just “miles per week” because if you’re riding this much, you’re putting some serious effort into it.  150-210 miles per week!  This will take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours a week.  Using a decent diet, you’re going to be losing weight like you mean it.  If you’re looking for that extra food, guilt-free, well we’re not quite there yet.  Your portions can increase a little bit and you don’t have to worry about the occasional small ice cream cone.  Homemade burgers (not the Food Network 5,000 calorie burgers, we’re talking the stripped down burgers, are acceptable fare now and again).  Ice cream enters the fray once a week, but only the small or “baby” size.  Just enough to get you a taste.
  5. 200-250 miles per week!  See number 4.  You get to go from 1 burger a week to two (not at the same sitting).  You also get a second baby-sized ice cream, also not in the same sitting.
  6. 250+ miles a week.  Don’t be silly, you’re still not there yet.  You just figured out that you’re riding so much you don’t want to eat enough to gain weight.  You want to stay fast now, so you decide to eat sensibly because you feel like a Million Dollars compared to when you were heavy.

So there you have it.  I wish I could give you better news, but I can’t.  I ride a thousand miles a month and with a decent diet, maintain my weight.  If I were to eat like a heavy person, I’d weigh three hundred pounds.

P.S.  I’d get used to feeling hungry.  It kind of goes with being lean and mean.  Chin up, though!  It beats the $#!+ out of doctors and medication!

UPDATE:  I did want to mention one thing:  The trick is, with a lot of exercise my understanding of the word “amount” has changed over the last fifteen years.  I eat quite a bit to fuel my cycling habit, or more precisely stated, my understanding of how much I eat has changed.  When I was a skinny fella back in the day, I used to eat like a bird.  Today, throwing down a half a large pizza is relatively normal for a Wednesday…. but therein lies the rub – it’s only a half of a pizza.  How many people chow down an entire large, or even a medium?  Folks, normal people can’t ride enough to fix that.  The only thing that can fix that is cutting back the consumption.