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A Good Attitude in Bad Times Goes A Long Way… This Is America

My daughter’s boyfriend, whilst driving the two to the movies in the rain (that’s right, folks Down Under, the movies), crashed. Well, not really crashed. He says he hydroplaned, went off the road, and ended up buried in the mud on the wrong edge of a 30’ drop into the woods… behind a guardrail.

Getting his car out was unbelievably hard.

Thankfully, the young kid really showed superior skill behind the wheel. He did a lot right under really difficult circumstances.

Nobody was hurt, not a scratch, no property damage, no… trouble.

And a police officer who was about as nice and graceful as you could hope, blocked traffic till the proper tow service got there. it took three trucks (two wrong flatbeds and a boom).

My wife and I, and my wife’s mom and stepdad all stayed till the car was out… somewhere around 10:30. I drove his car home and my wife drove his mom and the kids right to their driveway.

My wife’s mom followed us their Ford Excursion, a V8 piece of American awesomeness we call “The Beast” and picked us up and drove us back to our house.

There were no politics, no parties, no bullshit political football values that nobody really believes in when the rubber meets the mud. Just people helping people and being good to each other.

The tow drivers (there were more than one – that $#!+ was expensive) didn’t have a grievance about doing their job, the police officer was gracious and forgiving, not some trigger-happy maniac as portrayed in the press, and we weren’t belligerent to those who were helping us by earning their living. There was no ignorant critique of service. We were all grateful for their superior skill, decency and helpfulness and treated them as kindly and tactfully as was humanly possible … not as those “betters” who constantly find reason to be difficult and to complain, who find it impossible to keep their idiot (and often entirely wrong) opinions to themselves and their divisive, ignorant yap shut.

Last night wasn’t the America in the press. It was the Land of The Free, Home of the Brave ‘Merica you stop and put your hand on your heart for when the National Anthem plays.

America was as it should be in our corner of the country. It was, and so shall it ever be, good.

Pardon This Interruption Of Normally Good and Insprining Stuff for A Bit of An Emergency: Will Chains and Cassettes Go the Way of Toilet Paper?

Earlier this year I bought a few sets of tires when I heard there would be a run on tires. I’m good through next year. Last night I bought 10 speed Ultegra chain and an Ultegra cassette for each of my road bikes (11-25 for the Venge, 11-28 for the Trek). This morning I found two Dura Ace 11 speed chains and a cassette for my wife’s bike. I now have enough to get me clear to 2024, without breaking a sweat. I’ve got enough shifter and brake cable, I should be good as well. There may be unforeseen issues I won’t be ready for, but I’ve got the normal stuff covered.

I’ve already gotten the gravel bikes accounted for.

Am I being paranoid?

Folks, it’s getting ugly out there. If you have the means, chains and cassettes probably won’t be quite as bad as toilet paper in 2020… but it’s definitely not good. I’m hearing some very bad things through the grapevine.

Clean, Happy, Sober Living; It’s the Only Way I Want to Be

I get hit with slings and arrows every day, sometimes from those very close to me. I maintain a positive attitude through it. This is how I choose to live and it isn’t easy.

I’m not perfect by a long stretch, sometimes I deserve to have to duck. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes someone might think I deserve to duck when they’re the one who should be ducking.

To put it simply, this is just part of life. At least that’s how I choose to look at it.

I don’t write much about difficulties here. First, if it doesn’t have to do with a bicycle, I have a golden rule; if I’m not going to be worrying about it in six months, it’s not a big deal. This means there aren’t many big deals (especially after two – and some change – decades of recovery).

In the end, what keeps me sane and happy is knowing I’m doing my best to do it right. I really try to be the guy the Big Book says I can be – both the Big Book and the Bigger Book.

When we enter recovery, the idea is to enjoy life because we’d been freed of the shackles of addiction. I take that as one of the most important instructions in the Big Book of AA.

It also doesn’t hurt to remain thankful (and therefore mindful), on a daily basis, that I was spared from a “hell on earth” experience of my own making.

Today I will stay in my lane and concentrate on what I can do to be the best, happiest me I can. That means concentrating only on my own actions and behavior. I will stay in my lane, not for the benefit of all of the other knuckleheads out there (even if they do benefit from a better Jim). I’ll stay in my lane because this is the only way I can be happy, joyous and free.

One day at a time.

Recover hard, my friends. The alternative sucks.

Back to Normal in America? Almost There… Especially in the Flyover States.

A friend from another country asked if we were back to normal in the USA the other day… Well, that depends, really, on where you live in the US, but I’ll go with my hometown which will go unnamed for obvious reasons.

I went to my daughter’s swim meet yesterday afternoon and timed. The crowd in the stands was sparse by normal standards, but there were parents up there.

Not one kid, coach, parent (timer) or official wore a mask on the pool deck and only three parents had one on in the stands.

This is all good news to me, of course. I actually brought a mask with me, figuring they’d be required to get in the building (I have no problem playing along, though the misrepresentations of the science get tiresome). I was overjoyed when I saw adults walking into the building bare-faced, so my mask stayed in my pocket. Where it belongs.

We’re almost back to normal, but I can’t dare give out where I live for fear the mask-fascists will attack our school with their desire to c*ck-block everything good, happy and wonderful in the world to give off an air of superiority whilst, and at the same time, trying to keep everyone living in a state of constant fear and panic.

I will say this, though, with the left-wing extremists being the only people left in masks, at least it’s easy to tell who the nuts are.

Just sayin’.

For the record, according to the office of the Governor of Michigan (a Democrat), 98% of all COVID cases in Michigan occur in unvaccinated people. 96% of all hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals. 94% of all COVID fatalities are unvaccinated. The rolling average for cases per day in Michigan are around 1,300. That means in a state of ten million people, twenty-six vaccinated people will come down with COVID today, on average. 9.6 people will die every day in Michigan at current levels… which means about one vaccinated person will die every third day from COVID… and that’s with virtually no masks being worn in public. (All Figures are averaged from last ten days as posted on the Michigan Dept. of Health website).

Put another way, according to the Mayo Clinic (and who doesn’t like mayonnaise?), “The CDC has said the risk of infection is 8x higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated, and the risk of hospitalization or death is 25x higher.” And the Moderna vaccine appears to be much better than the Pfizer. Guess which one I got.

I will take those odds; being this close to “normal” is sweet.

To add context to why I’ll take those odds, one of the main reasons I’m not afraid (apart from the obvious, that I’m vaccinated) is that I actually went back to work at the height of the pandemic, ten months before the vaccines were even available. I’ve been living and working safely for just shy of a year-and-a-half. I’m still careful, of course, but I’m not fearful and I ditched the mask after I was vaccinated.

So, are we back to normal? Meh, close enough for government work.

All I Can Hope Is That I Did a Good Job as a Dad…

With my firstborn at college, it’s a little less Bella around here. A little less flamboyant. You’d think I’d make up for that, but you’d be wrong. My girl can 🦚.

I was ready for her to go, I thought. I prepared myself so I could be the stoic me until I didn’t have to be. My wife, daughter, and I all helped her move in. We took her to lunch after, then we dropped her off and headed home.

I was on the way to the bike shop and an old favorite song popped up on my Napster feed and it all caught up with me.

I look to my faith to get me through…

And that’s when I realized, for the most part, I’ll only have fleeting opportunities at passing on knowledge about how the world works and how to push through its troubled parts so you can ultimately be happy with all of it. In fact, I don’t have much left than to hope I did a good job as a dad.

I know I did better than my dad did, without question, and he did a great job. I think I’ll just roll with that.

The Best Bike Ride in the World…

The best bike ride in the world is the one I’m walking out the door to start.

I got home from the office a little early. Early enough I could chill out for a bit on the couch. Chuck called and said he had to put some bigger, beefier tires on his new off-road pickup. Normally, I’d be a little bummed because I’d always prefer company over a solo ride, but the weather was perfect and the sun shining, so I prepped the Trek and got ready to roll. The Trek is utterly perfect lately, I literally can’t make the 22-year-old steed creak (more on that another time), and as perfect as the Venge is, it’s become too easy to pick the Trek.

Out the door at 4:30 and I eased into it. Within a half-mile I hit my happy place on my bike. I was going to keep the pace down because we’ve got a monster weekend culminating in what will likely be our fastest 100-miler of the year, Sunday. As I rolled on into what little breeze there was, I couldn’t help myself and ramped up the pace. All of the noise of the week faded into a blur, a lot like the gravel on the side of the road when you’re not looking directly at it as it goes by. All that mattered was the quiet whirring of the drivetrain and tires on the road and working on my suntan.

The kids were out, one in driver’s training, the elder out and about, and my wife was tending to club ride business. My God, where did time go? Anyway, this meant I had nowhere to be and nobody to answer to (or for). I had nothing better to do than ride my bike. I didn’t even hesitate when the thought of a third bonus lap popped into my melon. I turned back into the subdivision and lumbered up a tiny molehill and around the two-mile-long sub again.

Riding through the sub, there’s a lot of uphill to the first half. There isn’t much to it, it just grates on you a little bit with a north or west wind – it seems like a lot more work than it should be. Add to that, stress cracks in the asphalt, that first mile is a little annoying. There’s a payoff, though; the next half is all downhill and I had a tailwind for the last half-mile. It was a pain in the butt for the first half, but that second was a stretch where, for no better reason than to go fast, you get down in the drops and start pedaling harder… you just can’t help yourself!

I whipped out of the sub and headed north for the home stretch. It was tailwind and sunshine all the way home. And it was glorious.

On pulling in the driveway, I was literally smiling as I climbed off the bike. I went in the house and showered, then headed over to the bike shop to help my wife with preparations and to take her out to dinner.

Good times and noodle salad, my friends. It’s as good as it gets.

Air Kiss CO2 Inflator for Gravel and Road Bikes – A Much Needed Review

I should have posted this review years ago but I never thought to. Here’s what I have to say about the Air Kiss CO2 Inflator: My mother always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”

Well…

Anyway, let’s just say, if it wasn’t for my buddy, Chuck saving the day with his most spectacular Lezyne inflator, I’d have been walking home last night. A few of my friends had the Air Kiss inflator and I think I was the last of us to still have one in their saddle bag. I have a Specialized inflator in my tool pack for the Venge that’s worked quite well.

Well what do you know… my vaccine appears to be… working! Shocker!

I’ve been 100% back to normal since getting vaccinated. That’s a full stop. No masks (I don’t even look for signs anymore), no distancing, I’m back to hugs, handshakes and bro-hugs. I’m about three weeks away from “last year is last year”. I don’t even think about COVID anymore.

I’m treating my vaccine as, well, one would treat a vaccine.

Normal is fantastic.

Alas, I can’t help feel sorry for those who still run around in a mask, whether to signal some form of virtue (if you’d even call it virtue, I wouldn’t), because their employer or government requires them, or because they’re still legitimately scared.

Another set I feel sorry for is the group that won’t get vaccinated – be it vast right-wing or vast left-wing conspiracy folks (if you think they’re only from one side of the political spectrum, you’re wrong). In fact, this is an excellent line of thought to expand on.

Whatever the case with the COVID, I’m enjoying my double-immunity (had it and I’ve been vaccinated… didn’t really know I’d had it till I was sick for a full week after my first jab).

One of my friends sees everyone through a political spectrum. Now, we all have our political leanings and beliefs, but the vast majority of us can look beyond those beliefs and see the good in others and let the rest go to be friends. After all, these are politicians we’re talking about here. Not this friend of mine, though. In fact, I don’t think he much cares for me due to the way I lean. He certainly likes to take pot-shots at me from time to time. I rarely react, because other than his political views and the way he treats those who think differently, he’s generally a pretty good guy to be around. Funny thing is, he’s lost on the fact I choose to look beyond his political leanings even though I disagree with a lot of what he believes in. I like to say, “if it was actually as bad as he thought it was, I’d be just as mad as he is, too”.

On a ride a while back during a ride, we passed Nuggent Road and I pointed to it as we rode by. This friend of mine is a connoisseur of rock and roll and I figured he’d get a charge out of passing Nuggent Road.

He got a charge, all right. He let me know how Ted Nuggent was a denier of the COVID until he got it and how he despised the man because he’s a radical right-winger.

First, the Nug wasn’t a denier at all (though he was mis-reported as being one – shocker). He said the toll on freedom was too much, and he was right. Anyway, I took that opportunity and said, “He also happened to play a mean guitar”. Then I added, “You know, half the country is a whole lot of people to hate because of their political beliefs”. I didn’t say a word after that.

If you can’t see the good in people beyond a bunch of political bullshit arguments meant to keep you angry, I’d like to suggest you try to make the world a better place. As long as you know where to start doing that. Try a mirror.

I do. It’s a great place to start. The asshole looking at me is the only one on the planet I can change anyway.

And So It Begins, Training for DALMAC Over Freedom Weekend

DALMAC, at the end of the season, is a grind. Three 100+ mile days followed by a 72 as we take it to the barn. Most days are above 19-mph for an average.

The first day is fairly easy – or, as easy as 100 miles can be at 5:10-ish hours in ride time. The second day is where you’re tested. The second day hurts. Uphill almost the whole hundred and maintaining that pace, a day after we rode a hundred, can be more than a little brutal. The third day, you’re feeling a little better as your body gets over the shock… right up till about mile 90 and The Wall. A quarter-mile at 18% after you’ve climbed 1 to 3% for two miles to get there. I walked my Venge the last eighth the first year but rode every year since (I changed my drivetrain specifically for that hill) because I climbed the first two miles way too fast.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2668368665/embed/d96ab03236a7dacfe506d885370d23d8bb4d7e9d

The Fourth of July weekend is tailor made for DALMAC training. We’re staring at a three-day weekend and day one is in the books.

We rolled out to unseasonably cool and cloudy conditions but with barely a breeze as wind goes. I regretted not wearing arm-warmers for the first hour but it warmed up after.

We started out into what little wind there was but it felt like forever before we had the help of the breeze.

The pace was steady and enjoyable throughout and I was feeling quite spectacular.

It was heading home in the last ten miles of our 56-mile ride that I started contemplating, “Why is it we ride our bikes so far?” By this question I mean, we’re out there three hours yesterday… but I never had a dull moment and as we took it to the barn all I could think is “I wish we had another hour to go…”

I’ve got no good answer, my friends. I’ll pass 4,000 miles (6,437 km) for the year today, I’ll be more than 1,000 miles over my pace to hit my yearly goal of 6,000 miles (just wait till August and September, I should be over my goal by the end of September, easy). We ride more than most folks drive their cars… but look at that smile on the face of the old fella up front.

That says all you need to know about “why” right there. Thank you, Sir. May I have another?

PS. When I refer to the Fourth of July as “Freedom Day”, do not mistake that I was referring to our freedom from British Colonial rule. While the Declaration of Independence has much to do with that, I’m thinking bigger. The beginning of the United States of America is based on the Freedom of the People from government. Unlike most other countries the world over. Some have famously complained that this is out of date, that our Constitution is too hard on the government’s efforts to progress. I’d argue that our Constitution is doing exactly what it was designed to do in that regard.

Six Psychologically Damaging Things You Can Say to Your Child? How About… ONE MASSIVE… Thing?

An article on one of my feeds caught my fancy – because any article written about psychologically damaging things you can say to your kid is going to have some doozies that send me through the roof. It’s a guarantee because some silly, pretentious ninny looking to be special is going to come up with a bunch of things dads typically say and call them damaging simply to come off as intelligent and caring, rather than accepting men for who and what they are.

So let’s start with the photo that immediately caught my eye – and let’s see if you can guess where this is going:

So, apparently the first thing you can say to wreck your kids is, “This beard, with this man-bun, are not a big deal”. Now I wholeheartedly agree with that one! That would be traumatizing to the crumb crunchers! Unfortunately, the sexual angst-driven equivalent of the mullet didn’t make the list. How is that exactly like the mullet, you ask? Business up front, party in the rear for the mullet. I’m a boy up front, but a girl in the back. Simply put, the beard/feminine bun is the modern equivalent of the mullet (which is coming back, by the way). Anyway, if you wear your hair like that – first, I’m sorry – second, there’s a reason that kid is looking like that in the photo and it certainly isn’t something that dude said.

Moving along to the real list – and let’s rename this to “things shrinks mistake for damaging because they just don’t get it”. Second, here it is: 1. “It’s not a big deal”. The reasoning: It diminishes the kids feelings.

Ah, no. “It’s not a big deal” doesn’t diminish the tender knee-skinner’s feelings. It diminishes the issue that’s causing the over-the-top emotions and we dads usually take the time to, you know, explain this to the young skull full of mush. The whole point is to teach one’s child to be the master of their feelings, not a slave to them… and to help the child learn that it’s important to know two things: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff.

Now, I’d love to complain about the other six but they’re not so bad. They mostly make sense and I don’t need to nitpick the little nuances I find distasteful.

That first one, though…

Out of all of this, there’s one other thing that makes me laugh… you’ve got a dude with a woman’s coif and a shaggy beard – and that’s not confusing to a kid, but saying “it’s not a big deal” is a step too far? Excuse me whilst I laugh out loud… or whatever it is the young whippersnappers are saying nowadays.