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Making It Through The Rough Patches In Recovery; It Ain’t Always Easy, But It’s Always Better Than The Alternative.

I’m busier than a one-legged pirate in an ass kicking contest at work, lately.  It seems I go from one thing to the next before crashing at night and waking to do it all over again.  My wife and I have also been dealing with teenage daughter issues as well, and those are never easy.  Thankfully, I’ve usually got a late afternoon, early evening bike ride in there to help keep me level, too.  But, I’m also “keeping my side of the street clean” in the process.  And that’s the most important part.

Of course, compared to facing prison time, let’s just say today’s problems are a lot more manageable when contrasted against my drinking days.  I haven’t got anything going right now that a drink or drug won’t make worse.  The literary use of the double-negative, my friends.  BAM.

One of the things I got right from the beginning was associating relapse – and we’re talking any mood or mind-altering substance – with increased pain and difficulty in life.  That wasn’t too far a stretch, of course, no matter what I tried, that’s always what I ended with.  As difficult as early recovery is, adding drugs and/or (usually “and”) alcohol to a difficult situation will only make it worse.  Escaping from troubles or difficulties never solved them, it only put them off for a time and made them more difficult to grapple with when I finally had to get around to it.

With alcohol and drugs out of the way and not having an escape from my problems, that leaves two choices:  1) Deal with it and work through my problems.  2) Curl up in a ball on the floor.

Well, two isn’t very attractive, so I choose door number one.

Now for the clichés… I do the best I can with what I’ve got and ask my HP for help and guidance through inspiration.  God is either everything or nothing.  Which is it going to be?  This too shall pass, was ever thus.

As long as I remember that nothing in life is permanent, including troubled times, I know I’ll get through this to my next good stretch… and that’s why and how I remain a happily clean and sober guy.  I live my recovery by one rule above all others:  Just don’t f***in’ drink.

A Few Simple Truths In Recovery: Fear Is the Only Thing That Stands In the Way Of Freedom. And I Know How To Fix It…

Trigger (heh) warning:  Warning!!!  Reading this post may be uncomfortable, but doing so could lead to your ultimate happiness and freedom from whatever is binding you.  This would mean you’re no longer bound by the chains of fear, hate and anger… which would mean you could actually be happy.  Jesus, we wouldn’t want that, now would we?  Read on at your risk.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

One of my best friend’s stepdaughter passed away in her sleep the other day.  She was several years younger than I am and the literal definition of “crack whore”.  She led a life that would utterly disgust normal folk.

I wasn’t much better when I was using, but that was a LONG time ago.

Now, here’s where this becomes a important:  If you’re having a hard time “getting” recovery (as she did, she had EVERY opportunity but chose “crack whore”), the reason tends to be quite simple. Oh, we can confuse things for ourselves if we wish, but in the end, the hurdles boil down to fear. The real fear is in the unknown – and I’m not necessarily referring to the unknown of what will happen next if we keep using/drinking.  We pretty much know that’ll suck.  I don’t mean to belittle this fear, just to define it so one might let it go because holding onto this fear is the ultimate roadblock to one’s freedom from the disease.

What we fear in recovery often boils down to a lack of understanding.  I struggled with a couple of “steps” because I had no idea what the other side of doing them would look like.  I allowed my fear of working through the difficult nature of those steps get in the way of my progress to a point I had a choice:  drink again, or do the steps.  I didn’t drink.  I did the work and on completing it, the feeling of freedom and relief was unbelievable.  After all of that struggling, I was finally free of the chains of my addiction.  If I’d known I’d feel that good, I never would have hesitated to work through those steps – I’d have jumped at the opportunity.  Fear of the unknown held me back from freedom.

That set off a string of victories in recovery that I’m still enjoying 26 years later.

What work is standing in the way of your recovery and/or happiness?  This doesn’t just pertain to recovery – normal everyday folk can benefit just the same, just drop the problems associated with drinking more than the normal dozen people put together…

As you might imagine, that one experience changed my outlook on life, considerably – and should you have a similar experience, you should expect something similar – what do you think happens when I bump into something that I know will be good for me to do, but I’m fearful of doing it?

That’s right, I jump at the opportunity because freedom and happiness wait on the other side.  And now you know why that string of victories has been going on for 26 years.

It’s simple as that.  Damn, it’s hard, though.

God Help Us, The Block Editor is Here. And It’s Going to Be Okay… The Classic Block Will Save We Writers…

Okay, now we’ve hated the block editor for a long time, we WordPress writers.  The coding kids love the block editor but for those of us who just write, it was a nightmare. After a mountain of complaints, WordPress allowed for the option to continue use of the standard editor we were used to, and relief.  All was right with the world. Then, panic.  I, for one of thousands, just about freaked when I received notice that WordPress was going to end the classic editor for good and switch to the block editor.

I wrote a very angry post about it.  It was one of my better received posts.  Many of my writer friends were in the same predicament.

Well, that day has come, but I’m not all doom and gloom here at Fit Recovery. The designers at WordPress didn’t throw us to the wolves. They’ve given us the classic block and it works almost exactly like the old classic editor.

At the top of the screen on the left, the first time you use the block editor, click the “+” sign. Then search for the “classic” block and add it. Then, whenever you write a post, after you type in the title, or if you start writing and come up with the title later, simply hit the “+” in the body and choose “classic”.

You’ll be able to write your post just like you always did. You won’t have to worry about blocks or justification or anything else. Just write. “Shift+Enter” for single space, “Enter” for double space, and all of the old shortcuts and the editing tools will pop up after you’ve stopped typing and you move your cursor.

I was mortified that my classic editor was gone. Now I’m quite okay. They didn’t roll the bus over us.

Tandemonium! Learning How to Love A Tandem Bicycle – We Had to Start Slow… (But We Didn’t)

Sunday Funday became a perfect chance for my wife and I to learn how to ride our tandem. It was my wife who first suggested we pull the tandem out for an easier Sunday ride. Back in days past, I’d text out that we’d be riding an easy pace and it’d start out great, but if one or two heavy hitters showed, it would get out of hand in a hurry. My wife, with no speedometer for the stoker, had no idea how fast we were going so she would… uh… pedal lightly. I’d hammer the pedals to keep up and I could literally feel my pedal strokes pushing into hers.

My buddy, Mike, said once, a while back, that he works about 30% harder on a tandem with his wife than on his single so I figured this was simply how tandems were. I’d be good for about 30, maybe 35 miles, and I’d be smoked. We managed close to a 20-mph pace a few times, but that kind of speed was hard.

Then, Sunday Funday. With no pressure to keep a 20-mph average, my wife and I were afforded the opportunity to learn how to work together on the bike. Better, as the ride became known as a relaxed pace ride, more tandems popped up. We had four tandems one week – more tandems than single bikes.

With the relaxed pace I watched how the others rode. I learned little tricks, like not holding wheels as tightly in a pace-line as I would on my single (this was a huge tip – I blew a lot of energy trying to stay right on the wheel in front of me). Also, using the right of the cyclist in front of me as a little bailout to scrub speed. Riding with experienced tandem couples was huge. Unfortunately, it also meant a lot of work. Experienced tandem couples tend to have really nice tandems, often weighing ten to sixteen pounds less than ours (and costing more than double, even triple the $4,000 we have into ours).

I cleaned up and readied the tandem for the first time since last year about eight Sundays ago. 17-mph was a fair bit of work back then. Today, 18 is easy. In fact, just yesterday, to keep our at the upper range of a 17 to 18-mph average, we actually had to scrub speed coming home with a tailwind. It was fantastic. Now, we could have finished with an 18.2-mph average. Nobody in that group would have cared, but we decided to go exploring and took our time with it. The ride was so much fun, I’m likely to get a call from my accountant that my taxes have been raised because it’s just not fair I should have so much fun on a bicycle.

If I had it to do over again, we would’ve started out slower, maybe even just the two of us, rather than try to climb directly into the ring to duke it out. On the other hand, if that had been how we started, I’m not guaranteed we would be where we are now, either. In the end, I suppose everything worked out just as it should because we’re having an @$$-ton of fun on that bicycle. Yesterday’s ride was a little more than 40 miles. We pulled up front for 37 of them.

And I just had something new arrive at the house for it yesterday:

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A Simple, If Humorous, Note on “Listening to Your Body”

Trigger (heh) warning:  If you happen to be a sissy, the following might trigger you into sucking your thumb and curling up into the fetal position for anywhere from five minutes to several days.  Do not read this post if this is something you’re capable of.  I haven’t sucked my thumb since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (I think I was 3) and the last time I was in the fetal position, I was actually in the womb, a person like me would be reasonably safe to read what I’m about to write.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

My daughter, for my 50th birthday, baked me the most delectable carrot cake (with cream cheese icing, of course) to ever have passed my lips.  It was one of those cake eating experiences that, because it’s so utterly fantastic, makes you close your eyes in ecstasy the first several bites.

So there I am last night, sitting on the couch after a big, fast Thursday night ride (36 total miles) and, because I’m so attuned to what my body is telling me, my body says, “Hey, yo!  Down here!  Hey, I need some carrot cake down here!”

Well, now that’s a reason to rejoice right there!  My body says it needs carrot cake!  Well, you know what happens next:  I’m ass-deep in cream cheese icing when I realized I’d made a mistake in interpretation…

My body only asked for carrots.  My melon filled in the “cake” part.

Oops.

Happy Freedom Day, America. Though Her Citizens Have Their Flaws, Freedom For All Was Always the Point

The best of America is the freedom of her citizens. The beauty of its constitution and bill of rights is what makes it all work – and it’s what politicians fight tooth an nail to ignore and misrepresent, for one simple reason: they want us angry and divided so we’ll vote.

I won’t be commenting anymore on that. I will on what is great about America.

In the United States, we are one of the only countries in the World whose rights aren’t handed down from the government. We, unlike anywhere else on earth, are born with our rights or they are a natural part of taking the oath of Citizenship. It obviously took politicians a while to figure that simple truth out, but it did happen.

Other countries hand down citizens’ rights from on high and what is given, can be taken away. Not so in the United States of America and this presents a problem for politicians.

In this country, our rights come from God. We are born free and it’s the government’s job to protect that freedom. The angst in Washington DC is that political elites think of themselves as better than that.

If your politicians are not doing their job protecting your freedom, throw the bums out. More important, if your politician likes to interject themselves between you and your freedom, claiming without them you can’t truly be free, don’t let them run a lemonade stand. If you’re American, you were born with your rights. If you’re an immigrant, you granted yourself your own rights the minute you took the oath of Citizenship. They weren’t handed down to you, they’re yours. Don’t ever let a politician come between you and your freedom. Once you let that happen, they can take it away.

Just sayin’.

Happy Freedom Day America… and the same to all her citizens. All of them.

A Reasoned Look at Why Cycling Clubs Shouldn’t Rely On the Fast Members to Show Slower New Riders the Ropes.

I have to be a little careful how I broach this subject, but it’s an important one that just popped up in the real world so I just thought I’d write about my experience so that I might help others avoid a pitfall or two.

A few Tuesday nights ago we had about twelve B riders and a tandem and maybe eight A riders show up for a group ride (actually, I think they’re calling us the A & A- Groups now) for what used to be a club ride.  The club has decided not to sanction rides for the time being, so people are simply showing up to ride.  We had one, lone D rider show up that night and as I wrote in my post about it, I gave up my ride with the A- Group and showed him around the course.  He struggled mightily to stay in my draft while I was sitting up pedaling easy, my hands on the bar tops into a 15-mph headwind.  He dropped several times and I’d look back to see him 200 yards off my wheel so I’d have to wait till he caught up…

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Another club member, after I put out a group-wide ABP for C, D, & E riders, sarcastically (and quite ignorantly and shittily, I might add) pointed out that we A & B riders should happily drop our ride to show these slower riders around until more of the C, D, & E group riders decide to show up.

Ah, that Kumbaya world where cats and rats play together in harmony.  It’d be great, wouldn’t it?  Except that shit never actually works.

Here’s what really happens when that is tried.

A guy like me sacrifices his fastest, favorite ride of the week to show the newcomer the ropes.  Said newcomer struggles to keep up with what is an easy, even boring pace for the seasoned A/B rider.  The new rider becomes disheartened when they struggle while they’re watching said A/B rider glide along without a care in the world on the bar tops and into the wind whilst newcomer is down in the drops, pushing with all their might, with their tongue dangling precariously close to their spokes.

Said newcomer will rarely come back because they can’t relate to anyone.  Worse, they won’t be able to see a clear path to get from where they’re at to where the faster rider is at so they can ride with actual people.   Who wants to feel like their best effort isn’t close to good enough every time they show up?  Who wants to ride regularly with a group vastly faster than their best effort can hope to keep up with?

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Only your true cycling nuts will put up with that for any length of time.  That’d be me, and I’m telling you now, I’m few and far between.

Where this goes haywire is when slower riders mistakenly believe faster riders, in order to shepherd along slower riders, have a dial that they can simply turn to slow that pace down.  That’s not quite how it works.

In order to get my wife into cycling and into good enough shape to ride with my friends, I’d go out for a 40 to 65-mile ride with my friends.  When I got home, my wife would suit up and we’d ride together for another 20-30 more miles.  I was already smoked so I couldn’t have torn off all over God’s green earth if I wanted to.  My wife was able to build her fitness up to a point where now she can keep up with my friends and I.  The key was getting me to a point I was too tired to get antsy about the slow pace… and I am married to the woman I did that for.

The whole point is this:  Slow people mistakenly think fast people should be able to ride with slower folk but the reality is, we can’t.  Or I should say, we can’t anymore than those same slower folk can lead out the A Group.  I’d buy tickets to see the attempt.  Sure, every now and again we can throw out a nice recovery ride pace.  My easiest active recovery ride, or should I say my slowest, this year is 16.5-mph.  That’s faster than many cyclists’ best effort.

Over time, slower cyclists can gain considerable speed with some effort and a lot of want to… but in a day you can’t make a Thoroughbred stallion trot anymore than you can make a Tennessee Walking Horse a racer.

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UPDATE:  You might view my points in this post as “arrogant”.  If you scroll down to the comments section, you’ll see a friend of mine suggested exactly that – and you would have a point.  On the other hand, consider that it’s far more arrogant to expect others to give up their evening ride to cover for you… just sayin’ – that arrogant charge is commonly used one way, but I won’t accept the premise of that argument.

Without Recovery: Fear, Pain, Misery. With Recovery: Happiness, Freedom, Joy, Peace. Rocket Science It Ain’t.

It’s been a while since I broke from cycling for a good, old-fashioned, relentlessly positive recovery post…

We in recovery want for every alcoholic in anguish and misery to experience the peace, serenity and happiness that comes with continuous recovery. That we’ve found in recovery.

We want it so bad, if we could take all of the knowledge we have in our melon and cram it into someone else’s so they could instantly understand down to their baby toes how good recovery is, we’d do it without hesitation. Even if doing so would cost us some of our happiness because we usually have some to spare.

I do…

And just so you can know the joy I feel of what it’s like to be free.

Jesus, does it feel good. Give it a try. What have you got to lose? A little fear, pain and misery? Why would anyone want to hold onto that?

We don’t want to get you to conform to our way of life because of some dogmatic, sycophantic desire to have a follower. We try to pass on to others what worked for us because it actually worked.

There’s a lot of negativity in this world. We can use all the positive we can get.

We in Alcoholics Anonymous, as hamhanded as we can be at times, are simply trying to spread some happiness to a group of people who badly need it.

So maybe next time you run into one of us who is a bit awkward at trying to pass on what worked for them you’ll remember why they’re doing it and not worry so much about how. And maybe you can cut them a little slack. What they’re attempting is good. They’re just not very good at it yet.

My name is Jim and I used to be an alcoholic, but I’ve recovered, just for today, and my only desire here is to freely give what was so freely gave to me… because it’s really, really good. A lot of people could use some good… and I have some to spare.

Now, about cycling…

The Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow Carbon Saddle; $450 Thing of Beauty, Or Lightweight Torture Device?

Almost a year and a half ago, at a local endurance sport swap meet, a friend of mine gave me a Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow Carbon Saddle. He was trying to get rid of some of his extensive inventory, something his significant other was pushing for, and he wasn’t going to go back to using the saddle on any of his bikes. Back then they were going for $410 – $460 online (you can find them as low as $320 today, though the MSRP is $436). My saddle at the time was a little on the heavy side, a Specialized Romin weighing in at 274 grams (0.60 of a pound) with a cost of around $100. The Selle Italia weighed in at a nice 110 grams, a savings of a third of a pound at no cost. In the history of cycling, dropping a third of a pound on a bike free is rare and fabulous.

I first put the saddle on my Trek 5200 last summer, and I must have hit the location just right because the saddle felt like butter on that bike. Some time later, I found a Bontrager Montrose Carbon team saddle on Bontrager’s website for the astonishing price of just $120. I jumped on it and the Montrose went on my Trek. I wanted the SLR for the Venge so I could drop some weight on my good bike. I fitted it up and rode it for all of two or three weeks before switching back to the heavier Romin. On my Specialized, the saddle just didn’t live up to the experience I had with it on the Trek. I attributed this to the Venge’s stiffer frame. The $400 saddle went into a box in my bike shed.

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A few weeks ago, whilst on COVIDcation and bored out of my mind, I decided to dig that Selle out of the box and give it another try. Why not? I thought.

I learned something dialing in the Bontrager Montrose in for the Trek. First, I set the saddle where it should be (36-3/8″ +or- OR 92.4 cm). Then I dialed in the level of the saddle, first with a level at -2°, then by feel, so the nose supported my position in the drops and on the hoods, but didn’t dig into me. At the same time, the down angle wasn’t pushing me to the front of the saddle. It’s a delicate process. Once that was done, I went and raised the saddle by a millimeter to get the max height. I learned that if I was a little too high on the saddle, it would cause a lot of pain. So I went down that millimeter… and then another half for good measure after a week of riding, and that’s where I found heaven. It was perfect.

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I simply applied that same setup technique to the Selle Italia on the Venge. However, and this is actually quite interesting, for the saddle on the Venge, I mistakenly started out too low by something like two millimeters… and that caused quite a bit of pain from the saddle digging into the side of my hip, just forward of the sit bone. I didn’t expect that… After one ride, I checked the height with my handy, dandy tape measure and ended up raising it to exactly 36-3/8″. My next ride on the saddle and I could tell a big difference – especially towards the end of the ride. Now, I don’t know how to put this delicately, but I’m going to give it my best. My nether regions have never felt so good after a ride. The inside of my hip was still healing up, but everything, erm, else… was fantastic.

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The ride after that, a 100 k (may as well go big or go home), after the initial pain areas had time to heal up, the Selle Italia SLR actually felt like a $400+ saddle. I’ve got close to a half-dozen rides on the saddle, and I enjoy it thoroughly.

In other words, the reason I didn’t like the saddle on my Venge the first go ’round was because I didn’t quite have the setup right. The problem was installer error, but that’s an over-simplification. It appears to me now, that the teeny, tiny saddle has to be very carefully dialed in. There isn’t much room for error or you feel it in the heinie. This hypothesis would make my experience make sense, at least.

Oh, and this is a road saddle. I wouldn’t use that on gravel or single-track. No chance.

Incidentally, I’ve got a little more than a 4-1/4″ drop from the saddle to the handlebar and I’ve got the nose down at 1°.

UPDATE: Did 104 miles on it yesterday… I was feeling a little rough after, but it was my longest ride if the year… by 41 miles. It was actually awesome.

Covid-19 and How You Know Government Should Be Kept on a VERY Short Leash…

Michigan’s Governor (and a whole slew of other politicians with D’s and R’s after their name) suggested recently that we should replace handshakes with fist and elbow bumps.

Where do those same people suggest you sneeze (or in this case, cough)?

Your elbow.

Just remember, folks, politician is the second oldest profession.  Right after prostitute.  Anyone who puts their faith or hope in politicians will be profoundly disappointed… or happy and profoundly ignorant.