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Day One of My Specialized Strike – Specialized Forgot the Number One Rule in Cycling

Specialized signed on to the pie in the sky “Global Climate Strike” where a bunch of Kool-Aid drinking crumb crunchers decided they needed to “strike” by skipping school because they’re ignorant enough to believe they want an end to the use of fossil fuels. 100% wind and solar is the goal. They only forget to mention one thing; in order to power everything as we know it, 100% of the world will have to be blanketed by solar panels and wind turbines. No room for farming, no growing food, nothing but windmills and solar panels. I wonder what that would do to the environment. In other words, the movement is too stupid to even take seriously.

Whatever their rationalization for signing on (and I did send them a rather scornful email and got a response replete with the normal drivel you’d expect), Specialized screwed the pooch. First, when we take a political stance, based on a politician’s half of a story, we’re immediately going to scorn 40% of the country. Second, it’ll likely be ignorant, because politicians survive by keeping people fighting – and supporting any movement that calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels, is as ignorant as you get when your company relies on them so heavily. Finally, there’s the number one rule in cycling:

The number one rule of cycling was ever thus; no f***in’ politics on bike rides, boys and girls.

Specialized forgot that and they need to be made to remember it.  Our lives are ripped apart by politicians, special interest groups and the news media on a daily basis. Politics are never used to bring people together anymore. They’re used as a wedge. We need our leisure activities to come together as human beings so we can remember why we need each other, how important it is to rely on each other, and why we need to care for each other.

When you drag politics into our fun time, too, you destroy one of the great things there is about being alive and on the right side of the grass.

Shame on you, Specialized.

It’s a damned crying shame…

Oh, and Trek, please stay out of the fracas… I’m running out of bikes!

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Specialized Ties Its Company to the So-Called “Global Climate Strike”. I’ve Come Up with a Great Way to Jump on the Bandwagon!

I, being a Super-Specialized Cyclist of note, received this email from Specialized earlier today:

Spec_GCS

That got me to thinking about what I might do to join Specialized and the young skulls full of mush in their effort to take the planet back to the stone age.

Then it came to me!  I’ll stop purchasing any product Specialized makes with fossil fuels.  I’ll do Specialized one better!  I’ll demand Specialized use “sustainable” practices in their manufacturing techniques.  Zero waste, zero pollution… you know!  What a great idea!  In fact, whilst we’re at it, I’ll go one better.  Check out the “My Bikes” Page…  Check out my “Venge Corner” Page…  Oops, you can’t, because it’s gone.  I like this tidying up!  It’s good for the spirit – err, planet.  Or something!

Perhaps I should consider painting the Venge (’cause I just can’t quit you, Venge) so you can’t tell it from any garden variety knock-off out there.  No more cycling clothes made with cheap Chinese labor and sold for ten times the cost… no more Specialized tires, because they’re obviously made with those aforementioned fossil fuels.  As for your strike, Specialized, perhaps I’ll join you in that and shop at your competitors all weekend long.  In other words, suck the tailpipe, Specialized.

Now, funny story…  It just so happens that a brother-in-law (step, twice removed) works at nuclear plants.  That’s plural on purpose.  He started in the US Military, working on nuclear power plants.  Now, nuclear isn’t “fossil fuels”, technically, but stick with me a minute.  My wife asked that brother-in-law (step, twice removed) what his thoughts were of replacing nuclear with something else.

The company he works for manages more than 20 nuclear power facilities.  So he simply stated, “Let’s say you want to shut down my plant.  Which State do you want to cover with solar panels and wind turbines to make up for it?”  My friends, that’s only nuclear power.  We haven’t even looked at natural gas yet, or God forbid, OIL!  Look at the massive $#!+storm we just witnessed over just a 5% cutback in oil production for a few weeks!  The whole world’s markets collectively clinched their butt cheeks all at the same time!

And that, my friends, is all you need to know.  Now, what I do promote and believe in is doing as much as possible to live as cleanly as is comfortably possible.  I recycle, I clean up after myself and others, I treat the environment with all of the care I would one of my kids…  What I won’t do is sign on to some idiotic pie in the sky notion that we can completely get rid of fossil fuels when it clearly is not even remotely close to the realm of possibility in my lifetime.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work toward the day it is possible, but I sure as shit won’t be striking over the reality it can’t happen next week!

Unfortunately, while they’re promoting lunacy, they’re actually creating believers out of the gullible and woefully uninformed (or misinformed, take your pick).  That will never end well and I reject that kind of divisiveness out of hand.  Because it’s bad for the children.

One last thing, Specialized:  No f***in’ politics on bicycle rides.

The Assault Bicycle Ride… IT MUST BE BANNED!!!

A friend of mine went for a bike ride the other day… which automatically posted to Strava.  He accidentally created an assault bicycle ride.

We haven’t heard from Robert (Beto – heh) O’Rourke yet, but obviously the ride must be banned immediately – in fact, the entire route should be banned to discourage copycats – and, to shield children from the violent image, my friend should be subjected to 50 lashes with a wet noodle.

It never ceases to amaze me, the lame, ignorant argument that only muskets should be protected as a Constitutional Right, because “that’s what they had back then, not these modern weapons of war”…. a la Robert “I just let the cat out of the bag, we really are going to take your guns” O’Rourke.  Thinking back on that debate performance, I have to laugh.  For all of the consternation over Trump, not even he’s said something that approaches Beto’s level of stupidity – and that’s really saying something.

A musket was an modern weapon of war back when they wrote the Constitution.  Try again, knucklehead.   If you disagree, I’m perfectly okay with your right to be wrong.

‘Merica!

Trigger (heh) warning:  This is a parody, as all politicians are, and should not be taken seriously, as with politicians.  Remember, ladies and gentlemen; the oldest profession in the world is prostitution.  The second is politician.

Michigan Cycling Law and Passing Slower Traffic; Why Did the Facebook Crowd have a Meltdown Over This Photo?

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I took the photo above on DALMAC and sent it in to the staffers to enter a photo contest.  Apparently, whether the TCBA posted it, or one of my friends, on Facebook, social media had a huge meltdown over this photo. Folks, motherf***ers were pissed.  At issue was the fact that we crossed a yellow line to pass a miniature horse and buggy being driven by a young boy.  First, before we get into this, we need context to keep the idiocy at a minimum; we were roughly double the speed of the little guy and his horse.  I’d guess they were about 10-mph and we were around 20, probably a little higher.  Our average pace for the day was 19.48-mph, so common sense would dictate between 22 & 24 (we do, for the most part, stop at stop signs and always at traffic lights, so we have to ride a little faster for the average).

Now, I’m second bike behind my buddy, Mike in this photo. I started calling out to move wide, early and that’s exactly what we did to pass.

If you don’t know anything about cycling, passing horses and buggies, and traffic, and you’re ignorant of Michigan law, well, I imagine you could get your dander up over that photo, but another’s ignorance isn’t enough to get my undies in a bunch, either.

So, here are the things people miss in their ignorance, intolerance and desire to jump on someone else out for a leisurely stroll:

  • It’s hard to see from the photo, because I was holding the camera down pretty low, and I was angling it down as well, to get the shot right, whilst riding in a pace line at  better than 20-mph (everyone within earshot knew I was taking the photos), but adjusting the height a little bit, to eye level, we can see all the way down the road beyond the stop sign. We knew we had the room to pass and gave the horse and buggy a little more than three feet, because that’s what decent people do.
  • We had complete situational awareness when we passed the kid riding in the horse and buggy. Complete.
  • It’s a kid driving that buggy…
  • Anyone who knows anything about horses, when they get spooked, they freight train. We weren’t about to spook that horse and have him go all mental on a kid, so we started talking so the horse (and the kid) could hear us coming, then we passed wide, where and when it was safe to do so, and in a manner that we hoped wouldn’t spook them.
  • This is a photo taken just a few seconds earlier when we were in the process of moving over – you can see the lead cyclist on the right motioning to get over (or, if you didn’t know, that’s the end of the motion to move over, an obstacle is ahead):

As we are a vehicle on the road, subject to the same laws (as the angry mob likes to say), we assumed a little bit of the new Michigan bicycle passing law ourselves:

 (3) Notwithstanding section 640, if it is safe to do so, the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction may overtake and pass the bicycle in a no-passing zone.

We, as cyclists and motorists, are accutely aware of what three feet actually is.  In the first photo, I’d call that four or five feet, but again, we didn’t want to spook the kid or the horse.  So, in other words, we followed existing law and did what was intelligent.  We overtook a horse and buggy, on a bicycle travelling roughly double the speed, where it was clearly safe to do so, in a no-passing zone.  We used the existing law on the books as it was written, passed, and intended.

It’ll never be good enough, as cyclists go…

Just yesterday, our small, four-person group was yelled at by a motorist because we didn’t stop at a stop sign and put a foot down… 40 feet before we even got to the intersection.  We hadn’t even made it to the intersection!  First, we are not on motorcycles.  We have the ability to stop without putting a foot down.  Let’s take that argument at face value, though.  You think motorists are mad at cyclists now, let’s follow the put your foot down notion to conclusion.  Rather than take 20 cyclists 20 seconds to clear an intersection, let’s go two at a time, foot down, then go, foot down, then go… those same twenty cyclists would take a minute and a half to clear an intersection.  You think motorists are irate now, good grief.  Better, let’s follow knucklehead’s suggestion and stop, foot down, 40′ from an intersection, and hop our bikes up to the stop sign.  20 cyclists, we’d clear an intersection in two minutes.  You can’t even quantify the squitters that would cause.

Where the rubber meets the road, as they say.

It doesn’t matter why the angst, it’s directed at the wrong people.  Cyclists would rather be on a paved shoulder almost as much as motorists want them on a shoulder.  I’d be willing to bet you wide shoulders would approach 90% voter approval, so why doesn’t every road built in the State of Michigan have a wide shoulder on either side of the road that we would gladly use to avoid angry nincompoops?

Ask your politician.  And therein lies the rub.  One thing is for sure, I’m not going to quit using the roads till they put shoulders in we can ride on, no matter how angry someone ignorantly is that I’m legally there.

Just remember, if it’s a “speed” thing, you’ll have to ban mail vans and farm equipment from the roads as well.  My friends and I pass them on a regular basis.  We passed a mail truck just Saturday morning.  The driver never came close to catching us… and we take up less space on the road.

Happiness is an Inside… Blah, Blah, Blah

I’ve hit my stride in recovery. Everything is in balance (or close enough for government work, anyway). I struggle just enough to know there’s a struggle, and little enough that I know I don’t want to struggle more than I do. My life is good enough that I can enjoy it, but not so good that I get cocky. My marriage is awesome enough that I want to keep working at it to keep the good times rolling. I’m fit, but not enough that I can’t enjoy a good burger. Life is not perfect, but it works. Well.

Here’s the down side: It only took me 26 years to figure this out and make it work. Oh, I had all of the instructions laid out in front of me, it just took a lot of practice to get the hang of it and learn how to default to happy, rather than what I ended up with as an alcoholic.

How hard is the whole “happiness is an inside job” business? Many noobs to the happiness thing mistakenly believe there’s some level of perfection needed in one’s life to be happy – and that’s why so many people are miserable, because perfection has nothing to do with happiness. Perfection is fleeting. Unattainable.

The key is for life to be good enough that its flaws are acceptable… and to accept them fully.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of work in making that happen and most aren’t willing to do it because this involves focusing on the one thing in the world we can really affect change on; what we see in the mirror. We are taught early on that life isn’t fair, that a “lucky” few get to control everything from money to power to wealth. They say it’s not possible for you to be happy because the deck is stacked against you, to hold you down. Maybe its your race, religion, your gender, or who you choose to sleep with…

It’s all bullshit. I am happy because I choose not to participate in that mess of anger, self-pity and selfishness. It’s way too easy to be consumed by the anger. Anger, self-righteous anger, will take over all that is good in me if I let it.

So when I’m angered, I ask for forgiveness for being angry and the ability to forgive those whom I feel have wronged me. In other words, I stick with what is wrong with me.

And that’s how happiness becomes an inside job.

Or choose to stay angry. Whatever floats your boat. Just remember that you make the choice.

You Can’t Recover if You Don’t Quit; Paging Captain Obvious

Recovering from addiction, if done right, will be the hardest thing you ever do in life.  If you’re doing it wrong, then doing it right will be the second hardest thing you ever do.

For the last, oh, I don’t know, several thousand years or so, alcoholics have been trying to switch addictions to cope with quitting their drug/drink of choice.  Beer only, wine only, liquor only, foo-foo drinks only… weed only, pills only, heroin only, cocaine only, weed and beer, coke to get up, booze to come down… you get the idea.  Hey, why not swing for the fences and throw meth in there for good measure?  I’m sure that’ll end well.

Friends, there is no escape an addict won’t exploit.  If it makes us feel good, without proper motives and checks, we’ll abuse it.  It’s what we do.

The problem is not that we abuse the $#!+ that makes us feel good, it’s that we have to escape what is happening around us, that we want to escape life (usually synonymous with our bad decisions and the wreckage we create).  As addicts, we used to escape, to hide from life, therefore anything that gives us that escape in recovery has to be suspect (even, gulp, cycling).  If it’s mood or mind-altering, in the form of a drug, it’s simply off limits (there are exceptions, obviously, but none of them include self-diagnosis or pot – though feel free to kid yourself.  I won’t try to stop you).  If it’s something that simply puts a smile on our face, like cycling in my case, we must constantly assess our motives and our behavior.  If we don’t, we risk creating more, new wreckage from which we’ll seek to hide.  And that will start the cycle of destruction and the downward spiral to relapse.

That’s how $#!+ works.

In the end, Captain Obvious, it’s very simple; quit first, recover second.  Sadly, we don’t get to put the cart before the horse.  I can’t have the benefits of recovery if I won’t quit in the first place.

 

Feeling the Need for Speed; Cycling on the Open Road

I love to go fast.  I can relax and have a good time with the best of them; that’s a part of riding daily as I do, but when we’re cruising as a group, north of 22-mph, that’s when I’m having the most fun….

A cyclist was hit last week, only a mile-and-a-half from my house.  It was a hit-and-run.  From what I’ve pieced together from several different accounts, it sounds like the bike rider may have been riding on the wrong side of the road from an account of a neighbor who passed him just a minute before he was hit.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet.  The driver of a large, black RAM pickup didn’t give him enough room and hit him in the head with his mirror and knocked the rider into the ditch while knocking the mirror off his truck.

He then backed into someone’s driveway and took off, leaving the leisure rider in the ditch, bleeding from the head, ears and nose, to die.

From there, without giving away too much, the police ended up with the motorist’s plate number due to a stroke of sheer luck.  When the police visited the motorist’s home with the truck’s mirror and confronted him, the motorist lied and said he’d sold the truck more than a year back, and he’d forgotten the name of the person he sold it to.  The police asked to check his pole barn before they left, and he stated, “Not without a warrant”.  The police asked the neighbor if they could walk his property line to have a look.  They found the truck parked behind the pole barn and arrested the man.

The bike rider, amazingly, is recovering.  From what I’ve heard, he’s about 8 out of 10 and improving.

Folks, that shit shook me up pretty bad.  I’ve recently wondered whether I might want to switch to gravel riding to get out of most of the traffic.  On the one hand, I’m not dumb enough to ride on the wrong side of the road.  And I don’t leave home without my helmet… On the other, the motorist just left the guy in the ditch to die.  How f***ing depraved do you have to be to smoke a person in the head and drive away?!  F***!  Of course, all things being equal, if I was hit on a back, dirt road, I’d never be found (actually, I would.  I use a Garmin with crash detection and notification).

In the end, though, in all seriousness, I really do live on the edge of cycling heaven.  We have hundreds of miles of paved roads with light traffic on which to ride, and now that I’ve figured out how to effectively avoid traffic using my radar… well, I feel a lot safer, anyway.  

Still, I pulled the gravel bike out of the garage the other day and knocked the cobwebs off.  I lubed up the chain a bit and filled the tires to 50 psi (they were down to 10) and rode the back roads with Chuck on Friday and my wife yesterday.  Both days were slow.  Both days a little boring.  Oh, but it was nice to get out of the traffic for a minute.

I just might stick to gravel on the solo rides for a while.  Until I can get my head right.

Still though, it all comes down to the speed.  I just love the speed.  And the toys.  Mostly the speed, though.  Going fast makes me smile.