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How to Heal Canker Sores related to Spring Cycling

Do you get canker sores in your mouth when you finally start riding outside after a long indoor trainer season? I do. I’ve had to battle them every year.

Cycling in the cool spring air with all of that pollen in the air is a recipe for canker sores. I get them every spring once I get outside. Typically, we ride with our mouth open to get as much air to the lungs, and eventually the muscles, as possible. Riding with your mouth open all that time, believe it or not, can cause canker sores. They’re annoying and painful.

For years I used to rely on rinsing my mouth out in the morning with hydrogen peroxide. It works quite well but I always wondered if it was damaging my teeth. Unlikely, but possible – technically, hydrogen peroxide is acidic.

This year started out just like any other. I was rinsing with HP every morning and when I finally got let out with decent weather, we ran out of hydrogen peroxide. Within a few days I had three small canker sores. Now, if you’re a mom, at this point you’re thinking, “well you need more fruit”. Actually my fruit consumption always picks up in the spring – especially for bananas, apples and oranges – so that’s not it. Anyway, that Friday, my wife and I went to the grocery store so I could pick up some peroxide and she could check out the clearance aisle. While in the pharmacy aisles, I happened by Listerine – I’ve always loved the way my mouth felt after a good swish, so I picked up a bottle. Then, my wife suggested the non-alcohol version. Listerine isn’t a trigger for me, but it is for my wife so no alcohol it was.

When I got home, I started with the peroxide immediately to kick the canker sores. Then, after 30 minutes or so, I went in and swished with Listerine… and it was just like I always remembered (the taste and feel are no different with the no alcohol version). It was glorious.

And the next morning my canker sores were almost entirely healed. I did the hydrogen peroxide/30 minute wait/Listerine again. The next morning the canker sores were gone. I’ve since eliminated the hydrogen peroxide and am just sticking with the Listerine. The canker sores haven’t come back and my mouth feels fresh all day long. While hydrogen peroxide has been fantastic, I’m smitten with Listerine for now… it seems to work a little better and my mouth is happier for that.

Cycling on the Proper Side of the Road (and Why Cycling Against Traffic is Cycling With a Death Wish Part 174)

I was out for a Saturday afternoon cruise, all by my lonesome a few weeks ago. It’s a rare Saturday I’m not with my friends, but things just worked out that way. I exited a subdivision onto a short, punchy climb and was out of the saddle pushing my way up the incline when I saw a woman and her two young boys riding on the wrong side of the road with a minivan bearing down on them. I, in the correct lane, stopped pedaling and waved to the minivan that it was okay to pass them in my lane. I could see the hesitation by the driver, but he realized in short order that it was going to be safe to pass and did. The boys and their mother had no clue what was going on – they were completely oblivious to the accident they could have caused.

Had I not been paying attention and just kept trucking, head down, it could have gotten messy. In fact, this is exactly how many cyclists riding on the proper side of the road are killed, when a vehicle traveling toward them in the opposing lane comes into the lane the cyclist is riding in to pass – and the driver of the truck, with a mother and two boys bearing down on them on bikes in the wrong lane would have no choice but to try to thread the needle between them and me. Thankfully, I saw that coming a half-mile away.

Now, I’ve made comments to riders in the wrong lane before, but in this instance I chose a new approach. I pulled alongside the mother and started, “Good afternoon. I appreciate that you like to ride in the wrong lane, but I would like to make a couple of observations that you may not be aware of.”

First, I said, if your boys are that far ahead of you and they approach an intersection, say a car is making a right hand turn into their lane, where is that driver looking when he gets to the intersection?

She actually got it, immediately. “He’ll be looking left”. I said, right, and he’ll be pulling out directly into your boys without looking. So that’s the first scenario you have to worry about. Second, you’ve got a car coming at you that wants to pass as you’re pedaling towards it, but there’s a truck coming the other way. The driver coming toward you can’t get into the other lane and you’re closing distance on the truck… surely, you can see the trouble on the horizon. If you’re in the proper lane, with the flow of traffic, the car behind you can slow until oncoming traffic clears, then go around when safe. Not so if you’re in the wrong lane.

And with that, we exchanged pleasantries and I sped off down the road. It’s amazing how a difficult topic like that can be diffused with a good attitude and a smile. The last time I had a conversation with a woman about riding on the wrong side of the road (with her child in tow, for God’s sake), she ended up hollering something about the patriarchy… I’m going to have to change my tactics from now on, because this time turned out much better.

File these two under the old, “We don’t care if you think cycling on the wrong side of the road is dangerous, we know it’s safer, nah-nah-na-nah-nah”… and remember the important rule here: People are going to do what they do. We have to keep our own eyes peeled because we can still, doing the right thing, get stuck in between a rock and a speeding truck.

The Waning Tendrils of My Vaccine Flu… I Actually Took My Toy and Went Home Yesterday!

My vaccine flu is hanging on… you know what, it’s Easter, I’m not saying anything bad about anything. Let’s just say, it won’t let go. I’ve been off Tylenol for a couple of days, and I feel like my normal self the vast majority of the time, there are simply periods of time where, as good as I may feel, it’s just enough to let me know I’m not quite over the finish line yet.

Friday night was an interesting night of sleep for me. I rode Friday evening with Chucker and it was quite chilly. On finishing the ride, after feeling reasonably good all day, the chills started when I got in the shower. Then the sweating, then the pain hit (though the pain wasn’t near as intense as it had been days ago). I slept like a rock till 2 am when I woke, took a couple of Tylenol, then sat on the couch to watch a movie, figuring I’d be up the rest of the night. I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t wake up till 7am (!) and I felt good.

I was nervous about the days’ ride, though. We were going to do 62-1/2 miles and it was going to start out chilly but warm up a little over the few hours we’d be out riding. The wind was strong out of the south southwest – 15-mph (24 km/h). I tried to push the negativity to the back of my mind while I readied the bikes, ate some breakfast, and dressed to roll.

The ride started out ugly (I’m going to refrain from using names to protect the guilty). The lead guy was right on the white line, leaving no draft for the six behind. He went off the front almost immediately and the rest of us formed up so we would get a little draft. Another took a mile, then I did before falling back. At the back, one of the guys was literally riding the white line. No draft. The guy in front of him was a bike and a half off the others… I simply jumped the two of those guys and cut in line. I was fourth bike now. This kind of thing happens regularly until the group forms up. Under normal circumstances, it’s really not that big a deal. With the vaccine reaction, I ran thin on patience and energy almost immediately.

Then, one of the guys pulled off the front. Third bike, my wife at the helm. Almost immediately, it was decided to catch the guy off the front. The pace quickened and another guy went around my wife because, apparently, he didn’t think she was catching up fast enough. Second bike. In a quarter-mile I went from last bike to second without any rest.

I didn’t even say anything. I checked my radar, then up the road, and pulled out of the line. I turned around and said something to one of the guys and headed for home.

Originally, I’d figured I’d ride by myself, but as I hit the first mile south into the wind, I thought better of it. I turned around and went home. I wasn’t going to suffer a relapse in my vaccine reaction riding in that crap. My wife called to find out what happened and I explained that I just didn’t have the energy to deal with that crap.

Twenty minutes later, I was asleep on the couch.

An hour later, I was up, showered, and on my way to the bike shop where I picked up a Varia taillight for my wife, a mount for the light, and a new helmet for me (more on that another post). I felt awesome after my nap but never bothered to go back out for my ride. The sun came out on the way home, though, and the weather went from cool, cloudy and windy, to sunny, windy and quite nice. I took another nap.

I felt great all day, till about 4pm, when I couldn’t take it anymore. It was too nice outside. Sunny, low 60’s (17 C), still windy, but at that temp, who cares?

I prepped my Venge and went for an awesome, solo 22-miler. I shed my arm warmers and my light cap after five miles. Into the wind, I just relaxed and spun the cranks. With a tailwind, I’d pick up the pace, but not by much. I just enjoyed the sun and the ride… and my new helmet, which is amazing.

There was no relapse after the ride. No chills, no shivers, no sweating, and no Tylenol. I ended up with 30 miles on the day and, while I probably could have stayed with the gang, I’m glad I went out on my own. I’m close to back to normal, and I’m glad. I’ve had about enough of this crap! This was only supposed to last two days. It’s been a week.

Anyway, Happy Easter, my friends. And remember, as bad as things can get, it’s not Pontius Pilate bad:

PP: “Hey, what’s up?”

Bob: “Uh, the tomb is empty, and nobody broke in to steal the body of Jesus. It was sealed and stayed sealed, but the body is literally gone.”

PP: “Wait, what?”

Bob: “Yeah.”

PP: “You mean that really was the son of God!? And you losers made me kill him? Oh, $#!+.”

Look at the bright side; It’s never going to be “I killed the son of God” bad.

Cycling Verses from the Lost Book of Jim

Yea, though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am drafting off the Lord on a Specialized Venge… and he’s way faster than evil, so kiss it, evil.

Jim 24:7 The work shall always keep till after thine bike ride.

Happy Easter weekend, everyone.

The COVID Vaccine Flu; My Experience (Spoiler: It Sucks… But It Beats Dying)

Being an exceptionally healthy fellow, I anticipated an easy time of my first vaccine shot. After the first 24 hours, all I had was a bit of a sore arm. I figured I was in the clear.

I was mistaken.

I felt decent much of Saturday, riding 42 miles with friends in the morning and taking my mom to get her second shot, but as the day wore on, the vaccine caught up with me.

Sunday felt like I’d been hit by a linebacker (I almost went to get tested). I slept most of the day, taking in the neighborhood of five or six naps throughout. Monday was slightly better but I still felt run down and sore all over, though concentrating in the shoulders and I was exceptionally discombobulated. To give you an idea of how bad I was, for those who’ve been following this blog, it was almost 60 degrees (15 C) with a mild breeze, and not a cloud in the sky sunshine. I didn’t go for a bike ride. Monday, having been jabbed Friday evening, was day three. I showed up for work but left for home after 3-1/2 hours. I was too cooked. I napped a couple of times on getting home and spent the entire time on the couch, working or watching TV. I went to bed praying this funk would break overnight. I could only go three hours between Tylenol (one at a time) when my head hit the pillow.

And sure enough, it broke last night. The discombobulation is all but gone, though I’m still feeling worn out. There’s still some soreness, but I’m five or six hours between Tylenol now. I feel better with every passing hour… at least for the time being. With decently warm weather, but high winds in the forecast, I plan on riding tonight though I’m going to skip Lennon and ride by myself. I don’t need to push it that hard right now.

My experience follows a lot of reports. The vaccine either gets you on the first one or the second (sometimes not at all). Many of my friends experienced exactly what I’m reporting here. Now, in terms of actual sickness, how bad was it? Well, I had the flu a couple of years ago, whichever kind was going around, and that was much worse. The down-time was about the same, but with the vaccine flu, I didn’t actually feel sick. Just sore, discombobulated and extremely tired. Some report headaches and a fever, I experienced neither. In fact, my temp yesterday was a healthy 97.4 (36.333 C), my exact running temp, I don’t fluctuate more than a tenth or two either way.

For the record, I received the Moderna vaccine, though friends have reported the same symptoms and duration with Pfizer (without having to worry about a 3 to 4 hour erection – a little Viagra humor).

So, I was absolutely shocked I had such a tough time with the vaccine. I expected to fly through it. However I look at it, though, it sure beats getting the actual virus (or so I assume).

In a study of healthcare workers, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 80% effective in preventing COVID after just the first shot. The success rate shot to 90% after the second. This is fantastic news, and according to the article I read (and linked) it was good to see that they used words like “immune”, not focusing on just “protection”. I’ve got a couple of friends who got their first shot shortly after my wife and I did (an hour or two later). We’re all going to get our second shot together and we’re making it a date and going out to dinner.

Normal is only a few months away, worldwide. Don’t let the doom and gloom bullshit get you down. When it’s your turn, get your shots and give a friend a hug. And don’t be afraid of the vaccine flu – getting the actual virus is worse.

A Celebratory Stuck 20 Miles

I was home from the office early yesterday. After a rough week and all of four hours of sleep the night before, I was exhausted. I flipped my phone to vibrate, sat on the couch, turned on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and I was out like a light. Put a fork in me, I was done. I woke up an hour later, somewhere around 3:30 and had to deal with some work, then more work, and a little more, but was ready to prep my bike to ride shortly after 4 – Chuck was on his way home and we were going to ride at 5:15… and that’s when the text came in from my wife.

From Brett (my neighbor across the street): Kroger (one of our local grocery stores’ pharmacy) has COVID shots till 5pm.

I immediately got on their website to try to schedule an appointment but the system was down. I called my wife and asked if they were taking walk-ins. She didn’t know, what she’d forwarded was the only info she had. I thought about it for a second. I don’t like rushing around, and what if I get over there to a madhouse with people milling about? I didn’t want any part of that. Better judgment hit me square in the mouth. Normal is six weeks away (two if I get the J&J version). The politics alone prompted me to get in my car and head over there immediately; politicians messing with my freedom strikes me that way.

There were three people in line ahead of me to fill out paperwork and a bunch already stuck, waiting their 15 minutes. Just as I was about to get my paperwork to fill out, my wife walked in and got in line, too. The line went fast and before I knew it, I was sitting in the chair, thanking the lady who was shooting us up for doing what she was doing (interesting side note, she said giving COVID shots was the nicest she’d ever been treated by people as a pharmacist). A few minutes later, my wife and I were sitting next to each other waiting to make sure we didn’t have a reaction (not even a little one). I think I was in the store for maybe 20 minutes total. I also received my second shot schedule date.

And with that, I was on my way back home. I had just enough time to get ready and head out the door and meet Chuck on the road.

With a full weekend of cycling ahead and 108 miles on the week already, I didn’t “need” much. Also, I don’t know what it does to the vaccine if you get right out and hammer out a big ride a half-hour after you’ve been stuck… I’m sure it wasn’t tested for that. We ended up with an easy 20-miles – and sure enough, in the last three miles I got a few strange muscle pains (left arm, left quad – stuck on the left side) that I’ll attribute to riding immediately after the vaccine.

My arm is quite sore this morning, but that’s the only side-effect I’m feeling. We’ve got a 40-miler on the books before I take my mom to get her second shot (and possibly out to lunch). “Back to normal” is only a couple months away, my friends.

And, for a humorous note in the post, I want you to think about something if you’re against the vaccine: your unwillingness to take the vaccine is the one thing far right and far left extremists agree upon, 100%. Chew on that while I laugh, thinking about the blood rushing to your melon*.

The point is simple; live with your choice. I will mine. And if you think I’m running around with a mask on my face in public for the rest of my life because you want to be protected from the choice you’ve made, you’re completely f***ing nuts. You’ve got six weeks, because once the 30 year-olds get their shots, I’m officially done with this shit.

Get the vaccine or get the virus. Choose.

*For those not familiar with American politics, our far right and far left are a ball of fun. Members of each think the other is comprised entirely of idiots, meanwhile completely lacking the ability to realize they’re side is a bunch of idiots, too. Watching each accuse the other of being stupid is one of the great joys in American political life. Better is when a left-wing extremist catches a whiff of their own arrogant aroma as they’re putting down a right-wing extremist. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

The problem I have with blaming my faults and troubles on “society”… and why it never works.

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 example of self-will run riot, though they usually don’t think so.

Page 62 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

So here’s a little secret; your average person isn’t any better than the alcoholic when it comes to stepping on the toes of others, then blaming them for the reaction.  We recovered/recovering drunks and addicts keep it simple by keeping it about the alcoholic or addict, but normal folk can benefit from this simple truth just the same.  When I lay blame outside myself, I take the emphasis off of the one person on this rock I can actually change; me.

If I’m worried about what “society” does or doesn’t “think”, I would suggest I’ve got a bigger problem in the first place!  First, what society says or thinks is nebulous at best; usually thoughts or sleights made up by those who want a good excuse to blame someone else for their troubles, faults or lot in life.  The best part is, there’s no solution, no way to actually fix the problem.  You say “society” profits off of people’s insecurities, right?  Let’s delve into that a bit.

Say we see ourselves as, or we “feel”, fat (when I “feel” fat, wouldn’t you know, my scale backs that “feeling” up).  We typically don’t like that we ate enough to get that way, but guess what; not liking that we did ain’t gonna change that we did.  It’s not fair that chocolate makes me fat if I eat too much of it, right?  Fair or not, doesn’t matter.  If I eat too much, my big ass will weigh heavily on the scale.  Society doesn’t make me feel one way or another about being overweight.  The scale and mirror do all of the damage.  Oh, I can blame society for how I feel, sure, but that’s a donut shop lie.

For those who haven’t frequented this blog for years, what’s a donut shop lie?

That’s the lie you tell everyone else sitting with you at the donut shop counter, knowing the they won’t call you on it.  Worse, that donut shop lie is a pernicious little bugger, because once the teller of that BS believes it, they’re absolutely screwed because in real life, you can look at “changing what society thinks” like this:  whilst, and at the same time, pissing into the wind and howling at the moon, yell at the top of your lungs that society should change its attitude and be nicer to you.  Now, let me know when you’re tired of pissing on yourself because you’ll drown before anything outside your own gray matter changes.

This comes down to one simple question:  Do I want to be right, or happy?  I can’t have both.  If you want to be happy, and I surely do, I can explain a two-step process that will release you from the bondage of “society”.  It did me.  Ready?

  1. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or hurt other people.  Do the next right thing in any given situation.
  2. Here’s the important part, repeat after me; as long as I’m doing the first item honestly and fairly, nobody else’s opinion of me matters.  This includes society, because I know I’m doing what’s good, fair and right.

Now, I’m going to ask you a question.  I’m one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet and I work in a meat grinder of an industry.  I have an extremely stressful job.  Do you honestly think I spend one second of any day giving one, single flying f*** what society thinks about anything?  F*** no I don’t.  Think of these little, rich ninnies and politicians talking about the ills of the world over a French Laundry meal with their $600 bar tab that some special interest is paying for as a soft bribe… oh, things would be so much better if everyone would just live like they think we should.  Meantime these corrupt, conniving motherf***rs are bending or breaking every rule they think we should live by because they honestly believe those rules shouldn’t apply to them.  And you want to worry about what that thinks?  Folks, when you look at it that way, trying to follow that nebulous horseshit is, put simply, bat-shit crazy.

Don’t participate.  Live your life well and come to find you don’t have any time or place in your life for what “society” thinks.  You’ve got better things to think about.

The Nine Most Terrifying Words in American English

This post is political in nature and funny as hell. If you lack a sense of humor or are a virulent left-wing extremist, this post may anger you. Don’t bother reading any further. Hit the X and don’t let me mess up your day. It’ll be okay. You have been trigger (heh) warned.

Ronald Reagan once famously said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Something about history and being doomed to repeat it. Or something.

Now, some will try to say that the saying is pernicious and destructive to the good government tries to do. I’ll try to remember that whilst those running it are trying to convince me men belong in the ladies room with my 14-year-old daughter… then call me a bigot because I enthusiastically disagree.

While the sentiment is nice, I would rather suggest government’s continuing effort to outdo itself in earning the quip might be the real issue.

Just a thought.

Let Tuesday Night In Lennon Commence!

And so it is, with the clocks changing to Daylight Saving Time, we are now in the Central Time Zone and it’s time for Tuesday Night In Lennon to begin again.

As with last year, the cycling club will shy away from sanctioning the ride, but the end of this madness is nigh – May 15th we go back to normal (or, at least that’s the plan as of right now).

I’ve been struggling a little, with which bike to take tonight. Normally, it’d unquestionably be the rain bike, but this spring is a little different. It’ll be on the cool side, for sure, but with a mild north breeze, it will almost make sense to take the Venge. Normally, I wouldn’t balk at taking the 5200, but I’m chubby enough to need the advantage gained by riding the Specialized.

I love having this dilemma, actually. It’s a much better conundrum than, say, “should I eat this grub or that worm?” [are we still allowed to appreciate being advanced enough to not have to eat grubs and worms? I believe so… 🤔🤫. If not, let me know and I’ll invite my friends Smith & Wesson to a squirrel plinking party in the back yard – tastes like chicken].

Anyway, I digress… whatever the case with that lunacy, I’ve registered to get stuck. All hand wringing aside, it’ll be nice to put all this crap in the rearview mirror.

In fact, I really shouldn’t be all that concerned, I suppose. With rare exception, I’ve been back to normal since long before summer, last year.

I even got a haircut regularly once I figured out I could meet my barber at the salon with my tool bag, hang a few pictures and charge her a haircut as my fee – I just gave her a $20 tip. All perfectly legit and legal… construction and home/office improvements were still legal while salons and barbershops being open were not. While everyone else was shaggy and tangled, I was high and tight. The American spirit was ever thus; you can tell me what you want me to do… and I’ll let you know if I’ll comply. If I can find the loophole you politicians will use to skirt your own rules, I will use it too.

So, I have a little laugh when I hear politicians and news personalities who have been holed up in their home for the last year comment on “finally” going back to normal once we’re all vaccinated (sometime in mid-May by the time everyone’s had their “two-week effective” date). I was very close to “back” almost a year ago, and without a vaccine.

A Message to My Fellow Cyclists: Be A Force for Good to the Sport

It never surprises me when a newcomer shows up on Tuesday night to ride with us and we fit them to a group of cyclists whose pace they’ll be able to handle comfortably… invariably, if they ride with we B Groupers, the new person will mention how wonderful a group we have to be that fast and to ride so well together. For me, it’s just an everyday thing. It’s our group. For others, who aren’t as fortunate to have a great group to cycle with, what we have is special. It took a few people bringing it up after a ride before I finally began to see our club for the special treat it is. That changed me.

Being a member of our cycling club’s board, I take it upon myself to welcome new people and try to help them feel at home (or at least as comfortable as possible). This doesn’t fit my personality, I’m more a quiet type (I’m loud on the blog, quieter in person, but I’m working on that), but it’s for the good of the club and ride that new people want to come back to ride again, so I do my part.

Then, for new riders, I’ll ride next to them in the pace-line and explain how we communicate and the proper etiquette for taking a turn at the front, how to flick off the front when you’re done, the whole ball of wax. It takes a little extra work (trying to talk at 28-mph can be a challenge), but I’m usually paid off with shorter turns up front. This is a mixture of kindness and self-preservation. If a new cyclist knows how to navigate the group, it makes our ride all the more safe.

The important thing in cycling is the ride.

Be a force for good. For cycling. And, for the love of God, remember this line: “Hey, no politics on bike rides”.

Oh, I almost forgot! We’re all in this together, in these trying, difficult times, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc.