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As a Cyclist, Typically You Only Hope Your Legs Look Good…

I’m 26:02 into my 45 minute trainer session. I glanced at the clock because it’s the first time I want to quit. I’ve been pushing the hard gear since I started pedaling and the effort is starting to hurt.  I’m just a few days away from up-shifting to a harder gear and I’m not exactly looking forward to it… I make February’s brutal so I can enjoy March and April.

I’m at the end of a documentary on Carroll Shelby (Shelby American 2019 on Netflix – if you liked Ford vs. Ferrari and want to know the rest of the story, this is a FANTASTIC watch) and I look up from my Garmin as the credits begin to scroll down the screen… and that’s when I see it. Against the black screen. The back lighting must have been just perfect to pick up the reflection of my leg because I’ve never seen my reflection in my tablet’s screen before. Every chiseled muscle in my left leg popping against the effort. Muscles I knew were  there, but never knew were there.

You hope they are, of course. You train hard and eat pretty well, but unless you’re outrageously vainglorious, with your favorite floor mirror propped before your trainer, you never really know if your legs look awesome…

Until you catch a glimpse of your glorious leg bobbing up and down as you pedal, because the lighting was once in never, just perfectly so.

You know what happens next;  I picked up the pace and pushed harder against the increased resistance.  I cursed progressive resistance and settled into my pace.  As the light outside died, the reflection went with it and I’m left watching Terminator 14(ish)… the one with Christian Bale as John Connor and Sam Worthington as the Terminator turned good guy until the timer hits 45:00.

Training is going well.  We’ve got just 36 days till spring and I’m ready for it.

Only Drug Addicts Have a Stigma Equal That of Vegans… And The BBC Entirely Misses the Simple Gist of Why That Is.

An article written for the BBC claims:

People love to moan that vegans are annoying: research has shown that only drug addicts inspire the same degree of loathing. Now psychologists are starting to understand why – and it’s becoming clear that the reasons aren’t entirely rational.

And that’s just the headline! The best part is, and you won’t find this in their article, that loathing is entirely rational, as I’m about to demonstrate.

So why do normal, rational people have a disdain for vegans equal to that of people who cheat, steal, and lie to remain the dregs of society? Well, don’t bother clicking on the link to the BBC article to learn something useful, you won’t. Truthfully, I’m surprised vegans don’t inspire more loathing than addicts and alcoholics do… that would be entirely rational, too.  At least in an addict, being a scourge is a part of a disease…

To understand this, because I happen to be one who holds a special disdain for pretentious vegans whilst not losing my $#!+ about it, I’ll be able to let you in on the secret the BBC wasn’t able to discover.  Now, as a disclaimer, I know there are quite a few upstanding vegans/vegetarians who read my blog regularly – you are not of the pretentious variety and should not take this post to be directed at you – it most certainly is not.  For the aforementioned secret, we need only look at a typical vegan’s actions from the perspective of looking at the actions of a newly recovering addict or alcoholic.

Imagine an addict who found, miraculously, recovery. They found the answer to their unique dilemma and completely changed their ways.  By unique, to use alcoholics as an example, only 10% of the drinking population end up an alcoholic. 90% of drinkers have no problem whatsoever…  They then, in their exuberance, decide to push others to work their recovery program, not just to help other addicts, but normal people as well.  Not to present an environment in which those others can understand what it’s like for we addicts and alcoholics to recover from our addiction(s), but to actually push normal folks to accept and work a recovery program in their lives because the addict/alcoholic thinks it would be good for others to live the way they do because, in the estimation of that addict/alcoholic, normal people just aren’t living up to the addict’s standards – they’re not living right.

Then, and this is the fun part, for those who resisted (as any normal person should), the nutters break into their homes, steal and/or break their stuff, disrupt their family lives and way of life with the hope the normal folk would cave and follow their way of life… This is what vegans do and why normal, polite society has a disdain for them.  As for the normal vegetarians, they get the short end of the stick due to a bit of guilt by association.  The nutter vegans are so loud and horrible, as soon as you hear “I’m a vegetarian”, it triggers instant daymares of the “allow me to tell you why you’re living wrong, you animal murdering bastard” conversation to follow.  We, as they say, simply turn and run for the hills.

That’s the level of pretentiousness exuded by vegans. That’s why vegans are despised. It’s not just that they are just pretentious, obnoxious, hateful people. It’s that they demand others share their idiosyncrasies and wildly misplaced and supercharged guilt. They’re typically ignorant as hell, while maintaining that pretentiousness, and won’t rest until others follow their chosen way of life no matter how wrong it is – and that’s maddening to normal folk who want to have peace and eat their bacon, too.

Take, for instance, a recent example in which two vegans broke into a farm in Italy to “save” some rabbits. They liberated 16 bunnies but failed to understand that those bunnies were mothers. Liberating the mother bunnies caused the death of more than 90 little, innocent, baby bunny rabbits and reports say they killed another five trying to liberate the 16.  Point is, that woman and her team should be charged with breaking and entering, theft, then as a terrorist (same with eco-terrorists).

As for the ignorance, we only need know that vegan diets are typically woefully deficient in many nutrients that cause various illnesses unless synthetic, man-made, hyper-super-duper-processed supplements are taken to maintain some semblance of health.  Here’s a news flash – eating a balanced diet is actually quite simple, until you try to eat vegan.  At that point, you have to micromanage your diet to get the nutrition right.  It’s not supposed to be that way, folks.  Even then, science is beginning to show that people who rely on those supplements are at greater risk of developing certain cancers and illnesses.  Sure, vegans claim to feel healthy for a time, but eventually malnutrition catches up and they run into health problems.  Hair thins over time and starts to fall out, and eventually they become sickly.  Generally speaking, that’s a lack of iron, iodine and Vitamin D, and a few others, dears, and guess where you get iron, iodine and Vitamin D.

The BBC claims loathing vegans isn’t entirely rational? Bullshit. It’s perfectly rational. I’d go as far as logical, and trying to ignore the reasons behind this reasonable loathing, blaming it on something else, only helps to keep the perpetrators ignorant as hell.

If I described you, if you’re a vegan who would break into someone’s home, farm or place of business to stop someone else from eating a healthy diet you happen to disagree with, stop it.  You’re a terrorist and an idiot.  If I didn’t describe you, this wasn’t about you in the first place, and I’m glad you’re a normal functioning part of society along with the vast majority of everyone else.  If you got a chuckle, well, for that I am grateful.  I’ve done my job.

An Avid Enthusiast Cyclist Never Misses Leg Day…

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Yes, by the way, that hill is so freakin’ steep it actually looks steep in a photo – and that’s saying something.  It was between 25 & 30% till you get around the bend.

The Must-have Travel Mug for EVERY Coffee Aficionado…

Friends, when you quit drinking alcohol, you start drinking coffee – it’s a rite of passage in recovery.  The first year, because you’re poor as hell, you’ll drink instant and be happy with it.  Then you graduate to the electric drip coffee brewer, maybe even a cone filter between three and five years.  From five years to a decade, you mess with electric perk and go back and forth between the metal cone drip brewer because perk is definitely superior but it takes a long damn time to brew a cup!  After a decade, though, when you’ve finally got some money and life is good, you go looking for the best cup of coffee you can find, because you just want the good stuff – and you can afford it.

It’s at that time you graduate to the French press, because dammit, it’s worth it.  Add the an electric kettle (expensive, but worth it), and you cut your water heat time to a fraction.  French press coffee is actually faster than automatic drip at that point (unless you’re using a Bunn brewer – they’re expensive, but blisteringly fast).  After that, you graduate to grinding your own because “it’s just fresher that way, and I want my coffee as fresh as possible”.  Next, you contemplate carrying your own coffee and grinder in a fanny pack – and that’s exactly where you need to dial it back a notch, you grandiose boob!  That’s just a little too far, bro.

This same progression also goes for the cyclist or runner – the coffee stop at a coffee house mid-to-last-quarter-of-the-ride for “cake” and a cup is simply “how you do it”… and the more pretentious the café, the better!

[insert ostentatious bike p*rn here]

My sister-in-law, being the saint she is, is a coffee aficionado’s coffee aficionado.  If she were a writer, she could write the book.  Her blessed heart found it in itself to have a package delivered to our house; two travel coffee mugs and a bag of gourmet chocolate flavored coffee (my lovely better half is a mocha fiend).  As I studied mine over, I thought it might be a bit gimmicky – it was a very tall, awkward looking mug.

After my first and second uses, that’d be gimmicky in a mountain bike’s suspension fork or maybe a disc brake, or integrated brake lever/shifter kinda way… possibly even clipless pedals; in other words, it’s not a gimmick at all, it’s one of the best innovations to hit coffee.  Ever.

Stainless steel construction, and grommeted screw-on caps, definitely excellent quality.  Finally!  I own a really nice travel mug that I’ll protect from my young one’s clutches with my life.  Those little f***ers don’t want test me to find out how serious I am about this.  To quote a once famous comedian whose name now rivals Voldemort, “I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out… and make another one just like you!”  It was only when I started studying the box did I fully understand what I had in my hands…

My friends, I present you…

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The single-serve French press travel mug.

Good God in Heaven, for a coffee lover, I shit you not, it just doesn’t get any better.  It makes fantastic coffee in minutes – in fact, because you’re heating up such a small amount of water, the steeping process takes longer than heating the water (we use an electric kettle).  Our kettle will heat a mug’s worth of water to that magic, “just before boiling point”, in a minute.

Coffee or tea, the French press travel mug is the best. non-essential. coffee aficionado. thing. ever.  My sister-in-law sent us the Cafilas brand and it’s an exceptional, high-quality construction model, but without the “hyper-douche” price tag (see Yeti).

 

Getting Ready for Spring; Thank God!

My buddy, Chuck rode outside yesterday.  We were due for snow so he took advantage while he could.  I, on the other hand, wasn’t having any of it.  I don’t like the trainer, but I don’t like riding in the cold, either.  Truthfully, I hate it.  This has been the best winter we’ve ever had for outdoor riding, too and I’ve only got a couple hundred outdoor miles in for the year, if that many.  Usually, February is impossible for riding anything but a fat tire (too cold, too much snow), but not this year.

I hate the trainer, but I hate it slightly less than the cold.

What I do like about the trainer in winter is being able to push gears that build leg strength.  I take it easy for November and December, but come January, it’s time to leave lazy sitting on the couch and get after it so I can enjoy the springtime ramp up in miles.  With just 22 days left in the month, I’ve got it in high gear and I’m starting to use gears that have me questioning my sanity after five minutes.  The other day I only managed 25 minutes, but I almost hurled on my top tube by the time I called ¡No mas!  Last night was 45 minutes in a gear I couldn’t push for ten minutes at the end of last season.  Tonight’s going to be another hammer-fest, and it’ll be ugly.

Only a month and nine days and we’ll be outside again, getting in outdoor miles and preparing for the Dawn Farm Ride for Recovery, our first big ride of the season, at the end of April.  I’m not done with the trainer yet, but I see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, and it is good.

Bike P⊗rn At Its Best… And An Inspirational Note.

Like many in high-end cycling, I started on a lowly mountain bike.  I rode that entry-level Trek 3700 so hard I ran out of gears.  I knew I needed something more.

I had a need for speed, as we like to say.

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When you’re used to riding an entry-level Trek 3700 and you jump to a full-on race bike, it’s hard to describe the exhilaration, the ease of speed.  It’s like graduating from an old step-side pickup to a corvette.   All of a sudden your average pace goes from 15-mph to 20, with no more effort.

Later down the road, after parts start to wear and wheels fail, the paint chips (or in my case, gets scratched by a careless person at a fun ride with the family) you rebuild that bike you’ve spent so many hours on… the satisfaction when the project is complete is grin-inducing.

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Now that’s just the rain bike.  Before long, you’ll find you’re powerless against picking up a “good” bike (then upgrading every part you can fit on it).  Three pounds lighter and fourteen years newer, a marvel of modern carbon fiber and technological advances… an aerodynamic achievement.

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While the Trek looks very different from what it started out as, my Venge has just as many new parts on it… in fact, with the new chainrings I put on the bike a few weeks ago, the only thing that isn’t original on that bike is the frame, fork and bearings.

While bike p⊗rn is always fun to look at and the toys are fantastic, the best feature of cycling is going to all of those places to take those photos, making memories that’ll put a smile on my face for the rest of my life.  Some think spending $10,000 on a few bicycles is nuts.  I’d argue I get every penny’s worth out of mine.

I will guarantee you, you won’t get this sitting on the couch:

Why Include Fitness with Recovery

On the way into the office Tuesday morning I was thinking about the time I’ve been putting in on the trainer.  I’m into the hard gears now, getting ready for March and pushing a gear I couldn’t at the end of last season when I was at my fittest.  There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.  I want to do a lot this season.

I was also thinking about meeting a friend for a dinner we have planned for later in the evening.  He and I meet up every now and again to catch up on recovery and how we’re doing since our fathers passed.  If I was a miracle (and there’s no question I am), he was touched by Jesus to be able to recover.  I don’t know how this guy finally got it, but he recovered and flew right by five years.  If ever there was a helpless person, he was it, so it’s fun to sit down and talk about the state of things for a couple of hours.

So it was those two things that had me thinking a lot about gratitude.  Then my melon moved onto where I came from.  Almost 29 years ago now, I had a doctor standing before me as I sat on his exam table, telling me if I didn’t stop drinking, and soon, I was going to die before I hit my 30th birthday.  I figured he was exaggerating, of course, until he added, “you have the liver of a 60-year-old chronic alcoholic”.  Ruh-roh.

I do love playing that tape back in my head.  My 30th birthday was 20 years ago this year.  That’s TWENTY free years.  I should have been gone twenty years ago, but for the Grace of God.

My mother likes to tell me now and then, how much healthier I am than my father was at my age.  I’m very fit.  I still move exceptionally well for an old fart (possibly only a “getting there fart”).  With all the running I used to do and the cycling I currently do, having left booze and nicotine in my past, I am fairly well preserved.  My current doctor says I’m completely recovered from smoking and my liver healed up decades ago.

[As I sit here writing this post, I can’t help but think how fortunate I am that these are the things I get to think about on on the way into the office.  Jesus, what a change from the bad old days!]

There are a hundred small-ish reasons to include some kind of fitness regimen in a recovery plan, everything from a way to blow off steam to the famed endorphin release, but there’s a big one that really matters as I age sober. My reason for including fitness with my recovery is quite simple; barring a catastrophic event, it’s very likely I’ll live to a ripe old age, all because I sobered up young.  Living a fit, healthy life, I took all of my bad genes (what few there were), put them in a bucket and lit that $#!+ on fire.  While no one is guaranteed a long life, I want to give my 100th birthday my best shot.  If I want to be mobile when I’m 90, I’ve gotta be fit now.