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Heaven on Earth can be as Simple as a Bike, some Friends, and a Couple of Hours to Let Loose.

I’ve had an awesome run at life over the last twenty-five years of sobriety.  There’s a chance of a few major potholes in my near future that will have to be navigated at high speed.  It’s times like these that my daily bike ride becomes extra important.  My ride is my decompression.  

A bike ride (or a bike) is not my Higher Power, so please don’t bother, just for the sake of being obtuse.

We rolled out after an 8-3/4 mile warmup.  My buddy Mike was up front with Doug, I was second, and we had another five or so behind each of us.  

The start was a little slower than normal but we were into a bit of a headwind. 

Fifteen wonderful miles later we were getting into the hills.  There once was a time I would struggle in the hills but those days are in my past.  I’m not the fastest in our gang, but I’m not near the slowest either.  

At 20 miles we’d rolled up the last decent hill and we were on our way down into Vernon.  The intermediate sprint at the City Limits sign.  I took my turn up the hill so I could ride wheels into the sprint, and I timed everything just right.  My main worry was Doug.  He took his turn right after me and he was sitting right on my wheel.  
The person up front in a sprint rarely wins.

I launched immediately after an oncoming motorcycle passed us.  We’d been cruising at around 24 mph, maybe, and I put everything I had into the launch.  I could see Doug’s shadow behind me and directly to my left so I broke right to disrupt his draft.  With 100 meters to go I was maxed out and I could feel Doug right behind me.  He was grunting against the effort.  I’d beaten him the week before and I knew he was way too competitive to let that sit.

I turned over the pedals as fast as I could and even managed to accelerate a little bit.  I was still barely ahead with 10 meters go go….  I had him.  By a front wheel.

My legs, unfortunately, were jelly and I only had eight miles in which to recover for the final sprint.  Rather than fade to the back, I like to take a turn up front after a sprint so I can control the pace and let the group form back up.  Then I can head to the back for a decent recharge.

Five miles later I was sitting four bikes back with three to go.  My legs had come around a bit but I still gave them a good shake to loosen up the cobwebs.  I was either going to end with a perfect lead out from Phill or I was going to have to sprint from the front – and that almost never works.  

Coming in to the last mile and it was Phill, then me, then the group, single-file behind us.  Phill was laying down an excellent pace and with a quarter-mile to go he started accelerating.  I knew then that Phill was going to bring it home.  

I waited till the farmhouse to launch my sprint from 27 mph.  I hammered just as hard and just before the City Limits I glanced at my computer.  35.1 mph.  I could see a shadow behind me so I kept the power on and cruised over the line by maybe three-quarters of a bike length.  I was cooked.

A family was waiting in the parking lot with water and Gatorade, ice cold and provided by their church.  They handed the drinks to anyone who reached for one…. Never seen anything like it.  I stopped, gratefully took a Gatorade, and took a minute to talk to them about cycling, our group, and what we do.  Of course I helped the kids pick up my bike so they could feel how light they are, then moved along to pack up.

We each talked about our ride, in particular how grateful we are to have started the B Group, and how nice it is to be able to ride hard and fast, without it becoming a race – that we can keep the group together.

Then it was on to a raucous board meeting for our bicycle club, and dinner at the local diner.

All of my troubles are still there today, but I slept like a baby last night, and right up to the alarm.  A bike ride goes a long way to putting a smile on my face, and sometimes that’s all I need to get fired up to suit up for another day in the trenches of life.

To the Cyclist Hater:  Do You Honestly Believe a Cyclist wants to Share the Road with You?!

This won’t be a ridiculous treehugger post where we equate vehicles to pistols or rifles, because that’s silly, and only alienates participants of an important discussion.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of angst out there about cyclists and their use of the road, and it’s building to a crescendo because cycling is growing in popularity again, or remains popular.  It’s like going for a walk.  Without the trouble of walking, is several times faster, and you get to buy a toy!  You haven’t seen anything yet – wait until autonomous cars come along and the car automatically treats cyclists right!  Then you’re going to see some anger.

I would like to make a few points about our equal right to the road:

  1. Do you really believe we have a desire to be on the same road surface with a person who is angered to a point of being willing to assault one of us, because they’re held up by 20 seconds waiting to safely pass us?  Really?
  2. Yelling at us, revving your engine, and honking won’t work, not as much as you wish it would.  We regularly hear of friends being picked out of a motorist’s grill and we still choose to ride.  Your acting petulant isn’t going to have the affect you think it will.
  3. I’m not about to hang up my super-bike because you get a little pissy about cyclists.  We are faster than most farm equipment and take up a fraction of the space and nobody would argue that farm equipment should be banned from roads.
  4. Here’s the important point though:  Your anger is misplaced.  You don’t want us on the road surface proper and we certainly don’t want to be there with you either!  In my home State a past liberal Governor promised a three foot shoulder on every new road built.  That never happened (though many roads in the north end of the State did get them).  With a decent shoulder, do you think we would opt to ride on the road surface?  It’d be a rare day and a big group that would get us anywhere near the road surface.  Don’t be angry with us, simply because we’re trying to stay fit, be angry at your State and local politicians who keep us on the road surface.  It’s their fault.
  5. Let’s look at another:  You’re angry because you see a Cyclist in the middle of the lane, dodging potholes?  I guaran-damn-tee you I didn’t cause the potholes with my bicycle, nor is it my fault the road is in shambles.  We pick the least-traveled roads we can to get us to where we want to go….  We don’t want to see you anymore than you want to see us.  It’s your local politician who has a responsibility to get the roads fixed.  While they’re at it, lobby for a rideable shoulder too!
  6. Last point, you’re not really angry with us when you think about it, you’re angry with your local political system for not adding shoulders and for not keeping up on road repair.  Take your angst out on someone who actually cares, because it isn’t that cyclist you see on the road every now and again.  They’re just trying to live a happy, fit life.
  7. As a capper to this post, this last point:  Cyclists aren’t from one party or another.  We encompass all political ideologies.  If you’re a Republican cyclist hater, chances are you’re buzzing a Republican cyclist, not an ignorant treehugger.  If you’re a Democrat cyclist hater, you’re probably buzzing a treehugger, not some racist conservative.  One thing is for certain, if you’re buzzing cyclists you’re the jerk and if you just happen to buzz one of us who has a camera on their bike or person (increasingly common nowadays), you just might wind up in jail where you belong.

Yet Another Perfect Morning Spent with Friends on Two Wheels

60 marvelously cool degrees at 7am, when we were wheels down and rolling.  The wind… wait, we can’t call three mph wind!  The breeze was out of the northwest at just three mph.  Seriously, barely enough to notice as we headed west, then north till the tripmeter read 31 and change.

Then we turned around and headed for home, without knowing exactly how we were going to get there without hitting a gravel road.  Call it an adventure.  On a bike.

Our average suffered because we had to double back a few times, but yesterday wasn’t about an average, it was about the perfect joy that cycling is:  Cruising down the road, cares left behind, laughing, talking with friends, and maybe three or four motorists in a seven mile stretch who were a little less than appreciative at seeing cyclists on the road…..  Beaten only by the Jesus freak with “saved” messages all over their vehicle, who scream and holler that you’re going to hell for riding a bicycle.  True story.  Only one thing can be said in response:

“You’re number one!  Have a nice day.”

61 miles, 3:17 and change.  18.5 mph average.

A Record-ish Week on the Bike is a Mix of Fitness, Laughter, Good Times and Noodle Salad, Baby.

I consider myself quite lucky to be able to ride as much as I do.  I imagine I would have to be retired to ride any more.  If not retired, definitely divorced, because my wife certainly wouldn’t put up with me devoting that much time to cycling.  I also wouldn’t blame her – I’d have to kick my own @$$.

Considering I’m not ready to retire and I have no desire to be divorced, I’ll just call what I have, good enough.

Before last week, my best non-DALMAC one week total mileage was 280.  I beat it by just ten miles but when you’re me, being able to put in 15-1/2 hours of any week into cycling is pretty rare… and good!

I managed 70 miles on the Fourth and 81 on Saturday… throw in a 33 mile Monday, a few easy days and another 54 on Sunday.  Add them all up and it’s 290.

I love big mileage weeks.  It’s not some hokey notion that 290 miles is cooler than 150 or 200 but because if I’m putting in near 300 miles in a week, I’m spending a lot of fun time with my wife and friends – and that’s all good.

Cycling is the fitness and weight loss equivalent of good times and noodle salad.

There’s a Difference between Hoping and Knowing when it comes to Your Ticker…

I’ve spent the last 24 years and change trying to do the next right thing when it came to my health.  I quit drinking, quit smoking, quit soda, quit, quit, quit, quit, quit…  and started exercising.  A LOT.  I’ve been active for most of my life but I got nutty about rollerblading as a young man, and cycling as a mid-life journey.
The amount of exercise I get on my bike had my doctor nervous…. it turns out some people think 10-15 hours in a week is a lot.  Crazy, right?  They called it “extreme”.  Seven hours a week at a geezerly pace is okay but ten or twelve riding like a middle-aged comet is beyond the pale?

Anyway, I had an appointment with a specialist that a doctor/cyclist friend of mine holds in high regard to get checked out.  The weeks leading up to the appointment were pretty tough.

I had trained hard through the winter and I was riding strong.  Then came the freak out by my family doc (who had nothing but my best interest and health in mind).  When he said that I had a special hook on my EKG that was either nothing one big @$$ coffin nail – and I mean coffin nail in the worst way, as in you only need one.  I backed off on the intensity of cycling almost immediately.  I tried to convince myself that I was being silly, that I was as healthy as an ox, but I couldn’t help but as a friend of mine likes to say, “It’s real easy to talk tough about death until the bus shows up for you”.

I had my appointment and it went exceptionally well – according to the specialist, it was more likely that my heart was perfectly healthy and strong than it was the coffin nail.  He didn’t hear so much as a murmur, and I should go on living my life and come back to see him in 30 years when I started slowing down (that would put me at about 77).  He then offered that just to make 100% sure that I was clear, he’d order an echocardiogram.  That just happened, and it was awesome.  To be able to see the valves of my heart working in real time…. to hear it working.

I’ve all but ceased worrying, but in two weeks or so, when the report finally comes out, I’ll know for sure that I can still hammer.  Let’s just say I’m looking forward to that report.

Miles with Friends Part Deux:  Independence Day with Friends

I did take pictures throughout this round of Miles with Friends, our annual Fourth of July ride:

It was agreed, unanimously, that this was the closest weather to perfect that we could hope for in Michigan….

Cool at the start but it warmed up in a hurry.

More Lycra than you can shake a stick at.

It was high fives and handshakes in the closing miles.  We (Mrs. Bgddy and I) ended up with 71 miles (though mileage varied in the group) in 3:45:21, or just a shade under 19 mph.

One thing is for certain, there were smiles all around, but that’s what they call “par for the course” after a round of Miles with Friends.

Miles with Friends, 33 to be Precise, and there’s no Place like Home – and How to Play!

I didn’t take any photos, the ride looked like so many others… like, maybe this one:

Or this one:

Or even this one:

What made the day great was riding with our friends again after a week’s vacation.  The ride didn’t come close to two hours, but holy cats, was it fun.

Our game is like the phone game app, but the words are spoken, you’re actually together, and there is no sitting still while playing, Miles with Friends is what the fit crowd does.  It doesn’t matter how you play, either.  It just matters that you play.  

Some people like to play on leisure bikes on paved trails, others like the mountain bikes on… well, anything.  Then you have the road crowd, with our need for speed.  You even have those who like to play without a bike at all!

Effort matters, of course.  Miles with Friends works just like anything else in life.  The greater the effort, the greater the rewards, but there’s one thing that matters more than anything when playing:


I’ve yet to see a gloomy face when playing Miles with Friends.  The reason for all of those smiles is simple:  The game is the human equivalent of a pressure release valve.

So, here’s how to play:  Call your handy, dandy local bike shop and tell them how you would like to play the game and let them tell you who to contact at the local bike club.  Make friends.  Set a time.  Put in miles.  Liberally.

Play the game to the best of your ability and you won’t be sorry.  

Read that last sentence however you like… take the clichè or go another route.