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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.

Happy Independence Day, America!

That’s all that needs be said, my friends. Enjoy your day. My wife and I will spend much of it on the tandem. There’s no place I’d rather be.

…And hotdogs for lunch… the one thing the politicians, pandemic and supply chain hasn’t been able to screw up. WOOHOO!

I’m tapping out on the American economy for a minute; I’ve had enough.

Gas is $5.19 a gallon in my neck of the woods. Even though I’ve got a gas sipper of an SUV (I get 35 mpg out of my Chevrolet Equinox), what used to cost $52 a week as a fuel bill now runs $130. I pay an extra car payment every month while I’m supposed to celebrate that our governor getting ride of the tampon tax… which works out to about $0.28 per month in our house. In the meantime, what used to cost $6 or $7 at Subway (sub shop), now is pushing $11.

When gas hit $4 an hour everyone in the office started working from home one day a week. I just took it to two yesterday. My gas bill will drop to $65 a week. Unfortunately for the economy, I’m done participating to the tune of a 40% drop until further notice.

Now here’s the scary part; I can afford to work all five days at the office. I can’t imagine how scary it must be for those who can’t work from home but also can’t afford to put gas in their vehicle.

Hang on to your butts, folks. This one is going to sting.

As for our political class, you reap what you sow, folks. If this is what you voted for, well, you got it.

A Cycling Story; The Story Describing How a Strava KOM Brought Down a Fake Pro

I’m in the middle of reading one of the more interesting cycling stories I’ve ever read. Check it out (here).

I’m still working at scraping my jaw off my keyboard with a spatula.

Jim

Note to Self: Don’t Wait for the Proper Message to Be Perfectly Phrased to Be Willing To Change

I am a fan of Jordan Peterson, also of Richard Grannon. My wife can take a few minutes of Jordan, but as soon as he ham-handedly gets to a point she doesn’t like, she’s out. I understand where she’s coming from, but I’m not so afflicted. For instance, some people can’t accept the notion they’re “stupidly” bumbling about their relationships without keying in on the word “stupid” and shutting it down before getting to the good stuff in the message. I’ve always had good motives for how I’ve gone about things in our marriage, but there are some things I could have done a lot better…

Anyway, to the point. There are things Jordan Peterson says that I have to let pass under the bridge to get to the important points. For instance, he said in one of his lectures, paraphrasing, that here you are going about your life and your wife complains in good faith to you about something and you take offense to it. Here’s a person who is trying to help you get through the marriage less stupidly and you’re getting mad about her trying to help…

So, there’s a lot of stupid in there, right? That can be hard to take, but I see something more.

But the main point was life changing for me; my wife, while she may do so ham-handedly and clumsily, may actually have the best interest of the marriage at heart even if she tends to bring a bazooka to the party. What if I were to not accept the “attack” part of the negotiation but work with the deeper point my wife is trying to get at? What if I were actually able to articulate that? What if I, by rephrasing my wife’s point, by pointing out but discarding the anger, and looked at it as though my wife were trying to help me be a better husband? Why, that would completely change how we fight. Better, what if I stopped attacking my wife and instead tried to help her with a good-faith negotiation rather than the pulling out the battering ram and taking it to DEFCON 3 in all of an instant?

Another point Peterson made the same way was that we shouldn’t fight to win or to dominate our spouse, we should rather negotiate for peace so we can both win. If we fight to win, we may take the battle but we’ve just beaten our spouse who likely won’t take the defeat well and will likely think about how they can get even down the road. Worse, what if we’ve really verbally beaten our spouse in the process, I mean really taken them down and dominated them? How is that winning? The reality is, fighting like that is a really bad idea. It sure as hell isn’t love.

How much better would my marriage be if I learned to negotiate for peace instead of fight to win? If I’d have shut the video down for something I didn’t agree with, I’d have likely missed that.

Worse, being too picky about the messenger can also be a copout so we don’t have to look at ourselves seriously, and can instead continue to play the oppressed victim. Let that one percolate for a minute or two.

Friends, this is an exciting time for me – and the best part is it was completely unexpected.

Mask Mandates and Fun with Science.

Ah, I can still hear the popular refrain from two years ago, “we have to follow the science!”

Well, let’s see how closely we have to follow the science now that science has spoken on mask mandates:

The word “useless” works.

I’m not going to suggest we get all snarky about this. If you were one of the gullible who bought into the mask hoopla, please accept that you were wrong with humility and remember this in the future.

Thank you.

Lest you believe the chart above is fake and likely produced by some anti-vax right-wing Trump supporting tabloid,

Try the former New York Times science correspondent, John Tierney for the City Journal. Via Power Line.

Well, part of that isn’t left-wing… but you gotta ask yourself, would the left-wing actually give you the story straight?

Don’t count on it. More on that later. In the meantime, burn those silly things.

Is Civilization Really Headed for Collapse? Don’t Hold Your Breath…

There’s been a lot of hubbub on the web lately about the end of civilization as we know it. Ah, it isn’t 2012 anymore…

Look, rather than make a big deal out of this post, I’m going to keep it simple. They’ve been calling for the end of civilization since Jesus swung a hammer. Sure, countries come and go, and politicians have a funny way of playing the leading role in that, but let’s remember one thing before we start burying freeze-dried food in the backyard: Don’t worry when people are shouting, “The end is near, the end is NEAR!” from the rooftops. No, it’s time to start worrying when they start yelling, “Nothing to worry! All is well!”

Just sayin’.

Is Magnesium A Superior Bike Frame Material… When Compared to Carbon Fiber?

Trigger (heh) warning: This is some funny $#!+. Read at your peril. If you’re allergic to laughter and happiness. Err somethin’. Anyway, without further ado:

So sayeth Ollie at GCN, that magnesium could be the new frame material of choice for frame building. It’s plentiful, easy to manufacture, easy to manipulate, repair and coat… and it’s fairly light. It’s less dense than Titanium, therefore lighter, so that’s a great start.

It’s not all a bed of roses, though. Magnesium is flammable when it’s met with water. Take a little bead and drop it in some water and see what ha… you know what, don’t. Take my word (or watch the embedded video below). That, you might think, would be a problem for a cyclist getting caught in a rainstorm and having their bicycle burst into flames! Well, it’s not so disastrous, really. But it makes for a funny point.

If you’ve been following GCN’s videos of late, Ollie is very excited that magnesium is the eighth most abundant material on the planet, even more abundant than aluminum! Impressive indeed. GCN has been running the green theme for a while, now, presumably trying to be sufficiently woke that they remain relevant in today’s “we’re woker than you, and here’s why” environment (where everyone tries to out-woke the next to a point you can only win by being so woke you kill yourself to show how woke woke really is – a game I’m content losing to someone else). Where this gets fun is GCN having just done a video in which they explore the idea of running out of carbon fiber.

If you don’t get the irony, carbon is the single most abundant element on the planet. I didn’t bother watching the carbon fiber video, but presumably, while we might run out of the chemicals to make the epoxy, we won’t be running out of carbon any time soon. Hell, just the amount emanating from Washington DC would keep the bicycle industry in decent supply for the next 138-years. Give or take.

But let’s get real about this. Let’s go beyond the petty virtue signaling and posturing of which material is “better for the environment” – it’s probably magnesium, but there will be flaws that must be ignored in order to make that idea work. The dreaded trade-offs are unavoidable and I highly doubt the only one would be weight or the metal bursting into flames. Simply put, if you’re not building out of bamboo (a fully sustainable grass), they’ll be able to out-woke you. If that matters to you.

In any event, with a proper ceramic coating inside and out to keep your frame from bursting into flames should it get wet (it’s a little more stable than that, I’m being a bit facetious for fun), magnesium could be the wave of the future for bike frames, so smack my ass and call me impressed. While they did make a point of how recyclable magnesium was, they didn’t say how recyclable it would be after being coated with a ceramic-based finish… but let’s not allow reality to intrude on feeling good about magnesium, eh?

Come to think about it, I’ll probably still keep my Venge, thank you very much. Virtuous or not. It’s light. And fast. And aero. And beautiful… and whilst made with carbon and chemical epoxies, it’s painted with… erm… you know, paint. Now, should my beautiful Venge break (because carbon won’t burst into flames when wet), well, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in that event.

How long does it take to (re)learn how to properly throw a bowling ball?

I learned how to bowl, I mean really bowl, during a college course. I chose the old style of bowling. Three fingers with a triangle layout, hand holding the ball on the side, arm swing, lift to impart rotational spin which will create a small hook as the ball travels down the lane. Bam. Bob’s your uncle.

That’s how I bowled from 1992 till December of 2021. There were different variations on the theme, of course, but everything changed a few months ago when I committed myself to learn the modern way of throwing a bowling ball. The original plan was to just get new equipment and keep my old college style but YouTube and Brad & Kyle messed that plan up.

I changed one little aspect of my release to start after buying my first brand new bowling ball (ever). Rather than start with my hand on the side of the ball, I started with it behind the ball and I’d rotate my hand to the side at the bottom of the forward swing and get some good rotational spin on the ball. That lasted a few weeks but I was quite inconsistent. I started watching videos from JR Reymond and Brad & Kyle after Googling how to throw a better hook. At first, it seemed too far out of reach for me to pick up the full modern way to throw a bowling ball – there were too many moving parts at the release that made the mechanics of it seem to difficult to bother with.

Then I picked up a stronger ball (in terms of the coverstock – the shell of the ball) that I could trust to hook if I rolled up the back of the ball on oily, slippery lanes. A strong ball grips the lane, even through oil, and I can trust it to hook. With that new revelation, I decided to change fully – and that’s when the serious practice started.

I did practice drills three or four nights a week in the spare bedroom, rolling my ball on the carpeted floor into pillows or an old mattress (the mattress was pretty cool, it actually returned the ball back to me for another throw). The key was learning the timing in getting my thumb out of the ball before my ring and middle fingers. Getting the thumb out early led to the ability to ride up the the back of the ball, putting more revolutions on the ball than I ever could have before, which helped the ball hook that much more.

After a week or two of drills, I started practicing a lot more. I’d go to an alley once or twice a week, in addition to my two league nights, to practice. I learned how to aim with the new release. I learned that I needed different bowling balls for different lanes. I couldn’t use the strong ball on two of my favorite lanes because it would hook too much and too early. Practice, practice, practice…

And now I’m comfortable with the new release. Enough I don’t resort to the old way of throwing a bowling ball and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m much more consistent.

All in all, with bowling three or four times a week, plus 15 to 30 minutes of drills in the spare bedroom a few nights a week, I completely changed how I bowled in about four weeks. I went from the way I learned in college to a modern bowling release, then learned how to aim that new release, in a month. The tough part was getting through the rough patch where I struggled with aim, hook and speed – while I was trying to put everything together. It took a lot of patience.

To my fellow bowling enthusiasts, my apologies for being a day late with my bowling post. I was too proud of my Cooter Yoga post to wait. I was laughing too hard to think rationally as I hit the schedule button. Cooter Yoga… now that’s funny.