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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.

Lessons in Recovery Never End, They’re Simply Applied to New Situations

I know when I’m not in the right place mentally because I start looking at how the behavior of others needs to change. Usually, the simplest way for me to see this flaw in thinking is to read a passage in, say, the Daily Reflections and I’ll think, “man, it’d be great if so-and-so read this!” That’s usually referring to my wife, but not exclusively (my wife is the closest person to me, obviously, so it makes sense she’s under the most scrutiny when I’m wrong).

Each and every time I think someone else would do good to read a passage I just read, the answer is to look at the one thing on Earth I can change; me. It’s not anyone else. It’s not my wife. It’s not my kids. It’s not my colleagues or cycling buddies. If I’m looking at how they need to change, I’m signing myself up for misery, disappointment and often misguided arrogance that leads inextricably to ignorance. There is no “yeah, but”.

So last night I’m reading the day’s passage from the Daily Reflections and sure enough I thought, about halfway through, that my wife needs to read this! I thought about texting it to her as a second thought. My third was, “Oh f***, I’d better read that again.”

It was then I remembered my old sponsor and the single greatest relationship advice I’ve ever been given; “Jimmy, sometimes you wanna throw ’em like a lawn dart but you just gotta love ’em.”

Recovery never gets old. I just get better at it.

The sun rises and sets on my wife, and I needed to remember that. I thank God for everything I’ve had to go through to get to where I’m at. Every lesson I’ve learned has led to the point where, if I just work on the fella inside my personal space, happy, joyous and free is normal. The old addict is still there, but I’ve gotten much better and faster at pushing him back in the cage where he belongs. After that I just have to remember the door to the cage isn’t locked.

While I’m on that feel-good gibberish kick… I Proclaim We Shall No Longer Call Them “Bike Rides”!

Look, I get dressed in my road cyclist “stuff”, slap on a helmet, cycling shoes, slide on my sunglasses and some cycling gloves, and head out to roam the land in speed and comfort on my exorbitantly expensive, and exceptionally rewarding carbon fiber and aluminum alloy bicycle. Technically, you could say I go for a bike ride every evening.

You could, but you would be missing out on a bunch of corporate/millennial feel-good gibberish that takes going for a simple bike ride and turns it into some epic necessity of grandeur and awesomeness. I therefore humbly declare we no longer call them “bike rides”.

Forever more, because America’s corporate/millennial woke culture is so utterly phenomenal, a simple bike ride shall instead be referred to as “Quality me time seized and employed advantageously for the peaceful, sustainable surveyance of the vast beauty that is the United States of America [or insert your country of origin, because this shit is so fantastic we want to export it] via a carbon fiber, epoxy & aluminum alloy and titanium human-powered bipedal, bi-wheeled fun-machine.”

On second thought, maybe we should just stick with “bike ride”.

Oh, hey! While I’m thinking about it, Happy Impregnating Person’s Day. You think I’m kidding.

That’s the establishment donning their full-faced helmet, elbow, arm, shoulder, shin, knee, quad, chest pads and protective gloves, as they clench down on their bite guard and grip the throttle of their eBike , making a horrible, yet hilarious vroom! sound as they lock in their glare at the two-foot high ramp that sits before the kiddie pool containing two week-old small-spotted cat sharks and declare… “I got this!”

RAT Ride Asks to Avoid “Racing Clusters”; Also, the Funniest Recommendation I’ve Ever Seen on a Ride Advertisement…

In the advertisement for the Ride Around Torch (Lake, Michigan) forwarded to me by a club member, I found a fine nugget of wisdom under the 100-mile route which does include some pretty decent climbing; “Racing clusters are not recommended”.

Racing clusters?

Well, me and my “racing cluster” believe a 100-mile hilly bike ride isn’t for the faint of heart (they do have a 26 or 40 mile option for the nattering nabobs of numbskullery). While I appreciate the recommendation, we would choose to “cluster” anyway. The members of our “cluster” pace-line log more miles in a year together than most ride in a half-decade. In fact, I think I’ve only ridden solo, or not in a racing cluster, three times this year.

Actually, I see this as a nice little window into the coffee klatch brigade, or perhaps a touch more apropos, the kaffeeklatsch brigade. Those who would sit at the local McDonald’s drinking their senior coffee for hours on end thinking of ways other rabble-rousers should behave to better suit their (typically ignorant) sensibilities. “Racing clusters” would be the perfect target of gossiping ninnies. “Oh, we wouldn’t want any racing clusters, now! They look so dangerous.

Getting into proper responses, of course, one would be, “we have no racing clusters here, ma’am! We’ve got prancing pace-lines. We’re good.”

Or, should they catch you in one of those “racing clusters”, “Fear not sir, not a one of us is a racer. We wouldn’t even know how to form a “racing cluster”.

Or better still, “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir! I thought a “racing cluster” was an energy bar or a candy bar or something… this is just a pace-line. We’re good here.”

To take that thought a step further, “Don’t worry, ma’am. The brochure said you recommend against “racing clusters”. This is a pace-line, not a racing cluster. We leave the racing clusters to the professionals. Thank you for your concern.”

The point is, if you know anything about “racing clusters” whatsoever, and the person who chose the language in the brochure clearly doesn’t (perhaps a ploy for plausible deniability should a “racing cluster” crash happen?), racing clusters are always recommended… unless you want to work twice as hard to go 75% as fast all while having 25% of the fun. If that’s what you want out of cycling, by all means, avoid those rascawy wacing cwustews! (That’s “rascally racing clusters” in Elmer Fudd).

Otherwise, Mr. (or Mrs.) Fun Sponge, leave the cycling to the avid enthusiasts. Thanks for playing.

A Lesson Learned in a One-Thousand-Mile May (Maybe Closer to a Lesson Exposed)…

I wrote, a while back, about a promotion I got. I had a funny feeling it was going to have a negative affect on cycling throughout the summer – I was guessing I’d be down 20%, maybe more. Add to that my eldest daughter graduating this year and both daughters having participated in three (two for my younger daughter) varsity sports, well, it’s been busy but intensely rewarding year. My mileage is down year over year, though I really don’t know or care by how much (I’m sitting on a little more than 3,000 miles for the year so far and we still have the busy months of summer to go yet)

There have been improvements, though. I’m having a lot more fun this year over last – it’s not even close.

I’d resigned to the fact that my run of 1,000 mile months from May through September was likely over. This year, January and February were sparse at best. March wasn’t great at 576 miles and April wasn’t much better at 677 but I’d ridden less in earlier years. With the new position at work, though, I was expecting to have to take more days off the bike… Then, May turned out to be a pretty good month. Decent weather meant we were outside a lot and we could get some decent miles in and after the Horsey Hundred, I was surprised to see 1,077 on the screen when I checked my overall stats for the month. Really, I’m doing fine for June as well, averaging 36 miles a day after today – which is about right for a thousand-mile June if I can keep it up.

However, that’s a big if and that isn’t the whole of the story, because I believe that 36 miles a day is going to take a hit. We’ve got graduation and a graduation party to get through, plus we’ve got a couple of family reunions… and God knows what else. Point is, it’s going to get very busy around here and cycling will have to take a backseat to more important things.

My favorite quote for right now still works, though; I don’t ride a bike to add days to my life, I ride to add life to my days.

I do ride to add life to my days, but I’m going to have to remember I don’t ride for it to take over my life. There’s going to be a very big distinction as that goes and I think I may have been taking cycling a little too seriously for a long time.

I’ve got some balance to work on, here. This is a very good thing, this realization. First, it shows after two, coming up on three decades of recovery, I’ve never run out of things to work on to be a better me. Second, just in the simple things in life, I can let things that make me feel good run roughshod all over my life if I’m not vigilant. Third, I am blessed and fortunate to be me; I’m not too blind to see that I’m the only one I can really change and if things aren’t quite what I think they should be, the only thing that needs change is me.

I have to remember only losers and whiners worry about what everyone else has to do.

Well, Imagine THAT! Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that …

Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

We visited a fully free state over the weekend and there was some hand wringing from vaccinated people about all of the people milling about without masks… comments about how scary it was.

I, on the other hand, had read the science and not the newspapers, so I was perfectly content.

Imagine my lack of surprise when Tony wrote the post above… based on science and all we’ve known about disease over the last five or ten decades.

Gotta love the hype. I feel sorry for those who continue to buy into it.

The Cycling Club and the “Intersection” of Cycling and Politics. Alternately, Where Fun Goes to Die.

I am, or at least try to be, a foil in our cycling club. We have a few board members who, while well intentioned, have a penchant for coming up with rules for others to follow that, if enacted, would suck the fun right out of the groups they were intended to help.

It is my job in the club to block all of that $#!+ intended for the fast groups.

For example, the B Group has a 5 to 60 second regroup about 20-miles into our Club sanctioned Tuesday night ride. We take an accounting of the riders dropped in the last three hills and wait for them to catch back on to the group. I’ve been the beneficiary of this regroup a time or two. Once we’ve collected those who fell off, we roll out. Simple enough.

Well, one of the board members in the E Group got wind that we didn’t wait a full minute and proposed a rule that, from then on, we wait a full minute (God only knows who was supposed to carry the stopwatch) for anyone to catch up. I swooped down on that like a bald eagle to a trout. First, being a member of the club and of the board, I would be responsible for enforcing an unenforceable rule. There are dozens of instances where stopping at all, let alone for a full minute, makes no sense.

In hindsight, I could have been a little nicer about it but I wanted to leave an impression. I made the point that nobody outside of our A and B Groups would be making rules for those groups and, in the off chance the club actually passed something, it would not be followed. In fact, I said, likely the opposite would be done. In terms of that one-minute regroup, we’d simply stop regrouping – if you got dropped in the hills, have a nice solo 10-mile time trial back to the parking lot. I said I would not sit back and allow others to dictate what we did with our group, simply because they “thought” something that would have preposterous unintended consequences “seemed like a good idea”. I put it another way. I said if the board tried to continue down this path, I was going to pass rules for their groups. Minimum paces that would be difficult to attain, rules that required they train their riders to jump into faster groups… in other words, I’d find a way to suck the fun out of their rides as well.

Folks, politics in the wrong hands is where freedom goes to die. Here’s the trick; they’re always in the wrong hands, no matter how well-intentioned.

If you pay attention to politics and politicians, and look at the rules they pass and laws they make in the context above, it should be quite obvious why those rules and laws have such disastrous results in terms of freedom. You’ve got ignoramuses making rules for people they wouldn’t stop to piss on their gums if their teeth were on fire. The context of the instance above explains all politics. It also explains why politicians work so hard to keep people fighting; people tend to be stupid when they’re angry. It takes a rare person to rise above the anger to see the angles and the shape of the politics. I am not one of those rare people. I get sucked into it, too.

And so I’ve taken the role of foil in our group with the hope it helps me to remember that which is most important in life; f*** politics, be good to people and fight against those who would steal our freedom to make stupid rules for the rest of us “because they care”. Politicians have forgotten that their main job and goal in life should be to protect our freedom. Everything else is secondary.

One final note from Steve Hayward at Power Line (and one of the best concepts I’ve read in a while): If you get a bright idea that you think everyone else should follow, repeat that bright idea using a German accent and see how it sounds then. It should open your eyes, if nothing else.