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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.

Specialized S-Works Shoes: The One Simple Way to Take Them Off and Put Them On… Without Needing A Hammer, Vice, or Shoehorn.

If you’ve worn a pair of S-Works shoes since the model six, you know they’re not easy to put on and take off. In fact, they’re really hard to put on without bunching up your socks in the back and you almost need a spare mule to hook the heel to in order to get one off.

Of course, when you do get one of those buggers on your foot and commence to pedaling, you’ll know all of that wrestling was worth it. They’re like riding with your feet cradled on a slab of butter.

Hard to believe something so simple is so hard to put on… or take off.

So necessity is the birthing person of invention, so invent I did. Pardon the cheap “birthing person” shot. I don’t know as I’ll ever stop having fun with that stupid government-inspired term. Anyway, invent I did.

Are you ready to have your mind blown? I mean completely blown?

Here goes…

Undo the top Boa loop from it’s securing hoop. The shoe will slide on and off like any other. That’s it:

Now, you’ll want to make sure to loosen that top Boa closure all the way so that the loop doesn’t pull through the tongue slit when you take your shoe off, but other than that one little trick, it works like a charm.

When you’re ready to put it back on, do so without the Boa secured, then wrap the loop around its hook and tighten the Boa. It’ll go on just as easy as it came off and you don’t need a shoehorn. Or a hammer. Or a vice. Or magic unicorn dust.

This has been a public cycling announcement from Fit Recovery. Ride hard, my friends.

The technical proficiency of blowing a snot rocket whilst, and at the same time, riding a bike; it is an art.

I’d like to thank Sheree for the inspiration for this post.

Clearing your nose whilst cycling, without getting snot on you, or the people following behind, is an art every cyclist should master. It’s a necessity for the fast crew especially. And when cycling in muggy weather. And cold weather. And cool, dry weather. Well, pretty much everything except warm, dry weather. So Arizona for six months out of the year except when it’s hot enough to melt your tires and stuff.

Anyway, it’s an important skill because if you can’t, you’ll spend half an hour cleaning snot drippings off your top tube after a ride! Nobody wants to do that.

Before we get into the art of hurling said snot rocket, let’s get a couple of important items out of the way.

1. Wind direction matters. Don’t snot on the side into the wind or with the wind quartering in the direction you will be snotting.

2. If you’re snotting absolutely, positively cannot wait till you get to the back of the group, signal and pull off to the side so you don’t cover others in snot, thus tempting them to push you into a ditch.

3. With a tailwind, launch away. Either side.

4. With a headwind, either side works but there has to be some down to the projection of said snot rocket otherwise, it’ll get messy (shoulder or side of the face).

Now, what you’ve been waiting for, technique!

Those people who claim they can’t blow a snot rocket simply mess their snot rocket technique up. The trick is which finger to block which nostril with. If you’re snotting right, you block the right nostril with your right pointer finger. Snotting left, block the left nostril with the left pointer finger and blow. Do not try to reverse this or you’ll wear that snot rocket!

Now, you don’t sit upright to blow a snot rocket. Simply roll your head right or left so the blow nostril is a little below the block finger – and make sure to get your elbow up out of the way! And make sure to take the wind into account, as mentioned earlier.

If you typically wear your snot rockets, here’s what you’re doing wrong: you’re snotting into the wind, blocking the wrong nostril with the wrong finger of the opposite hand. And you’re sitting up, making the wearing of the dreaded snot rocket a certainty!

On blocking the wrong nostril with the wrong hand (blow right, block left or vice versa); what this does is cause a cavitation in the wind which blows snot up into your face and on your glasses. This is, as we say, no bueno. Or non buono in Italian. Or… erm… not good in Irish (or possibly aon mhaith, but let’s not get lost in the woods!)

The final piece to this puzzle is the blow. It should be quick and forceful. If you hold back with a weak blow, your snot ball won’t reach escape velocity before slowing down which will allow it to be affected by the wind and air movement. Trust the steps above and blow that snot out. Smite it to the ground!

You are now trained, grasshopper. Snot forth. Whilst happily pedaling.

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!”

Laughing At Ketel One’s Feel-good Gibberish – A Recovering Alcoholic’s Look at Nonsensical Words Strung Together To Make Sentences.

Ketel One vodka “Botanicals” has a commercial for their vodka. Now, I was a vodka kind of guy back when I was a drunk. When I absolutely, positively had to be hammered right now, vodka was my go to… or rum. I loved the rum, too… well, or Mad Dog 20/20… or Old English 800… wait, I’m getting off track. Let’s stay on point.

It’s rare I ever pay attention to a commercial for alcohol anymore because it’s a little hard to make “hell on earth” look attractive to recovering alcoholic who, against all odds, found peace, contentment and happiness in recovery. For some reason this howler made it through my ignoring the commercial watching baseball the other day; “Crafted to be enjoyed responsibly” they said.

Wait, crafted to be enjoyed responsibly?

Believing it could be possible to craft vodka to be enjoyed responsibly by a drunk is simply “stupid”.

Here’s me, 30 years ago, sipping my fruity Ketel One; “Oh, that’s tasty! But I want to get hammered… Hmmm… I really want to get hammered, but this vodka was crafted to be enjoyed responsibly… perhaps I shall refrain.”

Said no drunk, ever. In the history of history. Ever.

Of course, the commercial begs the obvious question, “how so, Ketel One?” I would like to know exactly the steps that were taken, that differ from the manufacture of any other liquor on earth, to craft your vodka “to be enjoyed responsibly”. The statement is obviously utter, feel-good gibberish because if you think you could do anything, let alone manufacture liquor in a special way, to control my drinking, you’re a couple beers shy of a six-pack.

In non-American parlance, you’re fuckin’ nuts. Well done, Ketel One. Ya dopes. Keep coming back.

Stay tuned…

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.

Cycling and the Blessing or Curse that is Living in Flatlandia

My friends and I did a fairly easy ride yesterday. I had a lot left in the tank when we finished (though there were a few times I got a little ragged). We finished the 100km+ ride with an 18-1/2-mph average (30 kph). Our Tuesday night rides are, by most standards, blisteringly fast. The A guys average between 24 & 25-mph on 32 miles of open roads (I’d love to see what we could do if we could close the route down once). We in the B Group (male and female mix) are between 22 & 24-mph on an open 29-mile route.

We have a little trick to our average speeds, though. We climbed, on average, about 18′ per mile… just a little less than six meters a mile on that 100k ride. I think our biggest “climb” of the day was 3 or 4% and lasted less than a quarter of one mile. Our average “up” on Tuesday night is just 19′ per mile (5.8 meters).

When others from hillier parts look at our average pace on Strava and from comments on posts about our rides, I experience everything from shock to kudos. Taken in context, there’s no question we’re dedicated and fast, but that speed is also a benefit of living in the flatlands. We actually have to look for hills around here.

That’s our route from Saturday. Now contrast that with our Horsey Hundred route from last Saturday where we were closer to a normal 53′ of “up” per mile that we finished with a 17.1-mph average (16 per mile, 27 kmh, 160 kms in distance):

Now, that 17-mph average doesn’t exactly do us justice, either. We weren’t hammering for the finish from the starting gun. The goal was to enjoy the ride, not get it done as soon as humanly possible. In previous years we’ve finished faster – 17.85 average in 2019 and 18.08 in 2015… that 18 average is a little closer to my limit – I can remember working quite hard on that one… but we also have to take into account, that’s for 100 miles (160 km). Even with all of that elevation, were we to be turned loose on a 30-mile section with that kind of elevation and no worries of completing another 70, I’m sure we could top 20-mph (32 kph). That’s a lot less than 22-24, though. In fact, we’ve actually done the second day of the Horsey Hundred north of 19-mph for 48 miles, so we can use that as a general guide as well (and yes, it did happen on Strava).

In short, for a bunch of older farts, we’re definitely on the sharp end of the avid enthusiast peloton but the point I’m trying to get at is a lack of elevation does wonders for the average pace and looks awesome on Strava.

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.

TNIL: Uh, Houston, We Have a Problem

I showed up at 5 yesterday for the warm-up just like I always do. Got my Venge out of the car, got my shoes and helmet on, donned the sunglasses… and we rolled out for the warm-up. I knew I was in trouble the second we turned into the brisk 15-mph headwind. My legs were heavy and sore.

The warm-up was slow but I felt like the legs loosened up a bit toward the end, so maybe the main event wouldn’t be so bad. I wasn’t so pessimistic, at least.

We rolled out from the parking lot a couple minutes past 6 and Mike asked me three times if we should wait or roll. I stupidly said, roll with them. We went out of the gate easy for the first quarter-mile but it got ugly in a hurry. I cycled through my side of the paceline and by the time we were eight miles in I was red-lined. It’d start once I hit third bike back, my heart rate would climb. Then, once I was second, I’d hit red line, so as soon as the guy in front of me flicked off, I was already hurting. After my fourth pull, I simply slipped off the back rather than latch back on. I ran out of “want to”… or maybe burned it up.

Doug went off the back with me and I watched my 23.8-mph average bleed away as we fought the crossing headwind. Just about the time Doug turned for home, Jonathan popped over the horizon, heading our way. He’d fallen off as well. Jonathan and I headed south a few more miles before turning left to take some tailwind help. My legs were protesting the whole way but we managed to keep it fairly respectable as we worked our way back. The home stretch was the one part of that ride that I was pleased with. With a little more than a half-mile to go and Jonathan drafting me for the last mile or so, I wanted to make a run for the City Limits sign but I had to be careful not to run too red, too soon. We’d been cruising around 22 to 23-mph and I decided to start early and build up the pace, hoping I could get fast enough Jonathan wouldn’t bother trying to come around. 25…26… 28… 30… That was starting to burn and I hadn’t hit the usual starting point of the sprint yet. 32… 33… I was seated, but giving it everything I had. I held that for a few seconds rather than trying to accelerate and burn up before the finish. Then I put the hammer down and gained another 8 tenths as I crossed the line, gassed. I took a glance back. Jonathan was 50 yards back.

I crossed the line with a 20.9-mph average.

As he caught up while I was coasting, Jonathan chuckled and commented on how the pace increase snuck up on him. He said all of a sudden his legs started hurting and it took him to notice the speed increase on his Wahoo to figure out why.

Jonathan and I have been finishing TNRs the last three weeks together after falling off the back and it’s been quite nice, actually. He’s one of those guys who makes people better simply by being around them… he’s just really good people and I’m lucky to be his friend. On the other hand, I’m about tired of this falling off the back crap, too. Rather than swing by for my regular burger, fries and a Coke after the ride, I drove straight home and cooked some salmon and had a salad with it. While part of the problem is over-training, the larger problem is my fat fricking ass.

The over-training part is easy. I’ll take a few days off. The weight will take a little more effort and time, but I finally hit “f*** it”. It’s time to do something about what (and more important, how much) I eat. My normal dinner after a TNIL is around 1,200 calories. Last night’s was 400 – and quite a bit tastier, I have to admit. That salmon is some good stuff now that I know how to cook it! More on that another time. Proof positive, though; you can’t outride a bad diet. I’ve tried.

Why Many Americans Refused to Wear Masks… and Why A Simple Mask was So Divisive in the USA

Trigger (heh) warning: this post is political in nature. You may not like what I’ve written and I am okay with that.

I’m going to keep this post very simple, and it’s still going to piss a whole bunch of people off. It is what it is.

Back when Trump was running for office, throughout his presidency, and when he ran against Joe Biden, his red “MAGA” hats were all the rage amongst the conservative right. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do a Google search for “MAGA Hats” and click on “images”.

Well, bring on COVID and the left treated the mask like their MAGA hat (many still do, especially those who wear their mask alone in their vehicle, or outdoors). That’s all well and good, but they’re not content in their own satisfaction of their equivalent of a MAGA hat. No, they want everyone to wear their MAGA hat, and that’s where this gets story sticky.

I did wear a mask, as silly as I thought they were, wherever required except outdoors (not even in a pace-line on my bike). I stuck with the science on that one, no matter who hyperventilated that they should be worn outside. Suggesting masks be worn outside in anything but the most crowded situations (there weren’t supposed to be any, anyway) was stupid. Call it anti-science. Calling for people to wear masks outdoors was ignorant at best. That blue states and the left howled that masks should be worn at all times, including during the horizontal mambo was all you needed to make an informed decision about masks. There was more, though.

You could tell, in the very beginning, how little liberal leaders believed in masks by the simple fact they refused to let a mask get between them and a camera until the poll numbers showed their hypocrisy wasn’t going unnoticed. Whether it was Dr. Fauci in the stands of a baseball game with his mask protecting his chin, or the governor of our great state of Michigan who preached from on high that we should all “mask up” and do our part – whilst giving the speech with others by her side, not a mask between them. You had Nancy Pelosi get busted twice in one hairdo – mask protecting her chin, and in a salon that was shut down as a COVID precaution.

You could go on forever with instances of those who pushed mask use not using them as they suggested.

This created a double whammy for masks. Anyone with eyes could see those who thought we should wear masks didn’t believe they were all that necessary by their own actions, which reinforced what we all knew anyway – the left loves to make everyone comply with their wishes, no matter how silly they are. And the mask became a symbol of hypocrisy and tyranny within a couple of weeks. This is why you had people refusing to wear masks, and even getting belligerent over being asked to. In fact, if one paid enough attention, you’d find a little hypocrisy in the staunchest believer in masks. The joke was made early when Biden was running against Trump, “If you’re wearing a mask alone in your car, you don’t need a Joe Biden bumper sticker. We already know”.

The left, of course, will blame all intransigence on right-wingers, whining about “the science”, but that’s just what the American left does. They set a situation up to fail by only relying on the part of the science they like, then complain it’s the right’s fault when people won’t take their cue and comply when they won’t themselves. Then there are the coverups and backtracking. The Governor of Michigan saying no one should be traveling while she secretly takes a trip to Florida to see her ailing father. Not that her suggestions mattered, of course. I took a trip to Florida, a free state, to visit family as well. I didn’t care what the Governor recommended – this is America. You can tell me what to do and I’ll let you know if I’ll comply. If you want to lead in America, them’s the rules.

Anyway, there was a push to continue wearing masks, even after vaccination. That was, right up till the knuckleheads in charge found out people weren’t bothering to get vaccinated because if things were going to stay the same, why bother getting the vaccine.

A few days after those reports hit the left-wing extremist media, the rules in blue states were changed to match the rules in place in red for the last year.

Today signs in businesses read, “Masks not required for fully vaccinated individuals”.

Now, there’s a great lesson to be learned here, in terms of leadership. All one needs to do is look at the difference between how right states and left states handled the pandemic. Right states were as free and open as possible. Left, blue states locked down with an iron fist. The choice is which do you want protecting your freedoms?

No shit, Sherlock. F*** you, face diapers. I wrote here a month ago that I was done once fully vaccinated. I wasn’t kidding. And now the government caught up to people like me.

The funny thing is, you still see people alone in their vehicle or walking on a sidewalk with no human within 200 yards, wearing masks. Yeah, we know. You don’t pay enough attention to make a fully informed decision, so you just do as you’re told.

Too bad Trump didn’t get behind masks, really. The shit show would have been amazing. And I still wouldn’t have worn one unless absolutely necessary… just as I did in an iron fist state.