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They say to drink a lot of water, I just filter mine through ground coffee beans first… Thanks Again, California. You give New Meaning to the Phrase “Stick in the Mud”… Ya Dopes.
Trigger (heh) warning: I don’t particularly like California or Californians. I don’t like their arrogance or the fact that, somehow, they’ve come to rely on politicians who continually screw up all things good and happy, causing everyone to hate everyone else. This post will reflect that disdain for politicians, Californians and other general sticks in the mud. This post will not be my fit in my usual PG category posts. You have been trigger (heh) warned.
California is at it again, taking the best in life and exploiting it to remove all of the joy and happiness, bastardizing scientific research in the process… and all in the name of your safety. It’s kind of what California does (that gives me an idea, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In California, nobody can ever be happy, people must live on the screwed up edge of: “We must do more! We MUST remind the people of how necessary and brilliant we are!” I don’t like California because its idiocy tends to infect the rest of the US. When they threaten session, I say they can’t get there fast enough.
In fact, did you know the self-esteem movement, that which has likely led to more unmarriageable men than any other single “idea” in the history of humankind, can actually be traced back to California? Better, and not surprisingly, the science that was used to back up the need for changes to the education system was skewed and manipulated to support that lunacy.
Well, California is at it again, this time training their keen brand of idiocy and ignorance on coffee.
See, according to California’s “Council for Education and Research in Toxics (CERT).” coffee causes cancer (specifically a chemical created in the roasting process). Now, if you don’t know already, the study used to suggest that there may be a link to the chemical and cancer was conducted using the overdose method, where testers take the maximum tolerable amount of a chemical and inject it into a small animal. If the small animal gets cancer, bingo. The rub is that the small animal would have to inject something like the equivalent of 486 gallons of coffee a week into its body to cause cancer. Then you have to adjust that to human proportions… And folks, I’m not over exaggerating… I’m under exaggerating. In other words, there’s just no freaking way.
In fact, and let this sink in for just a second, The American Institute for Cancer Research lists coffee as a food that fights cancer. Allow me to channel Samuel L. Jackson for just a moment. Mother f***er, click on the mother****in’ “Research” tab. I’m not even going to copy and paste the quote, mother****er. Better, have a look at all the cancers coffee is shown to fight. Hey, here’s a mother****in’ idea, what does the World Health Organization say about coffee? Well, let’s see:
The World Health Organisation has cleared coffee of causing cancer
So, in other words, everyone else on the freaking planet has discovered that coffee is actually good for you, and in many cases decades ago, but that’s not good enough for the anti-science fun police in California. They’ve deemed it necessary to make convenience stores label coffee as a possible cause of cancer.
Here’s that idea I wrote of earlier…. How about a little truth in advertising, there California? I want the next commercial from the tourism board of California (whatever that bureaucracy is named) to include a disclaimer that while California may be one of the more beautiful places in America, its political apparatus foments hatred and division of its people by constantly attacking happiness itself and that human contact should be kept to a bare minimum lest you accidentally bump into one of those who support a life devoid of happiness and are infected with that resident’s penchant for supporting those attacks.
One of my least favorite sayings of late is the old, “failure is not an option”. The truth is, anyone who would utter such silliness obviously has no clue what failure or success is.
Failure is always an option, it’s just not a very attractive one.
I don’t watch much TV, though I’m hooked on The Food Network (Triple D, Triple G, BBF, Chopped…. to name a few), and I’m a sucker for sports. Other than that, not much interests me. I’d rather be cycling. Point is, on Chopped, many contestants, as they’re awaiting their fates after presenting a dish to their judges, love to say, “Failure is not an option”.
I root against every one of them, no matter how good they did, just so they can see that failure is indeed an option… and it just tapdanced all over their face.
I fail a little bit every day. If I don’t, I’m probably not trying hard enough.
When it comes to cycling, I’m a B guy. I am a B guy because I don’t want to work hard enough to be an A guy (though it should be clarified, our A Group is ridiculously fast – 24 mph average on open roads). I am more than content with 20-22 mph, which places me in the B Group. This is who I am and I’m normally content with that.
The other day I was hanging on with two of the A guys for the bunch sprint at the finish of our Tuesday night ride. I wrote about the experience on Wednesday. Now, I am one of the best B sprinters, there’s no doubt, but one of the A guys left me in the dust and crossed the line first by several bike lengths that night. All I could do was watch him pull away. As I wrote, “that’s the difference between an A and a B guy, right there”.
Most people would take that experience and turn it into a reason to revamp the training plan, to lose another five pounds, to eat better and work harder…. only to fall flat after a few weeks, and all based on getting beat by someone who happens to be a little stronger pedaling a bike.
I could do that to myself, but I won’t because I know something special: I don’t want to give up what that other guy has to in order to ride as fast as he does. In the end, it all comes down to watts and “want to”. Being faster or stronger won’t mean a thing when it comes to riding with my friends. I’m already strong enough and fast enough to do more than my share for the group. I’m healthy and my weight is under excellent control. More important, I’m happy.
While the pursuit of better makes a great postcard, when it comes to cycling I’ve found something that I can call “good enough”. I have no need to go any further or faster. I am good enough for government work, as I like to say.
I recently had a friend from the A gang say to me, “I just rode a hundred miles and I didn’t enjoy one of them.”
That won’t be me. No amount of “fast” is worth that at my age. That same day I rode a hundred miles and I enjoyed all but five of them. That isn’t to say I wasn’t working hard, we still turned in a sub-five hour hundred miles, but my tongue wasn’t dangling down by my spokes either.
In terms of cycling, speed, and where I want to be in that mix, perspective is everything.
Such is life. I can’t compare my totality, everything I “have” and everything I am, to someone else’s shiny exterior. A friend of mine may have a nicer house, better vehicles, and a boat… but I also have to look at what he gives up to have all of that.
If I’m not willing to give up what he does, well then it’s best to be content with what I’ve got. I am.
I wrote about my wife’s cousin passing the other day in a very short, simple post. Today, we will say goodbye.
To be very clear, she drank herself to death at the age of 44.
It wasn’t anything other than an over-consumption of alcohol over maybe 25-ish of those 44 years that killed her. Her death was not pretty. It was uglier than Leaving Las Vegas. It was also completely unnecessary. She could have quit drinking five years ago and been living a healthy life with a few simple choices, an entire tain-load of meetings, and working Twelve Steps. She could have quit last year and gone on a liver transplant list.
The only thing between her and life was air and opportunity. And choice.
I left that lifestyle in the rearview mirror when I was just 22 years-old. I quit drinking when I was just getting good at it, because I saw what was coming. I knew (or maybe hoped is a better word) I was meant for better than a bloated, yellow death. Technically, I already had begun developing the telltale yellow hue.
I still get the inevitable “but how do you know you’re an alcoholic” question. It’s generally followed immediately, and before I can answer the first question, by “how do you know you can’t drink anymore”?
The answer to the second question is simple and easier that the first: I know I can’t drink successfully because I will always be a two-fisted drinker. I don’t want to drink, I want drunk.
So that leaves, how do I know I’m an alcoholic, having quit so young?
Here’s the honest answer: I take it on faith. I don’t know that I’m not “cured”, that twenty-five years off of booze didn’t fix me…. Except for one little hitch in the giddyup; I don’t want to drink. I want drunk. As they say, “once you’re a pickle, you don’t get to go back to being a cucumber.”
I continue going to meetings, working steps, and helping others achieve sobriety because I don’t want anyone to have to watch me bloat up, change colors, have my teeth rot out if my melon, all followed by a nap I won’t wake up from…. The real question is, “How could being able to drink a beer be worth that risk?”
Someone who isn’t an alcoholic wouldn’t have to ask the question in the first place.
Saying Goodbye means no more of these moments:
Now, who in their right mind would trade that for a case of beer, and a quick death?
This post is about my experience, strength and hope. My results may differ from yours.
I rode my bicycle more than 8,500 miles last year. The year before was 7,500. The year before was 6,000. The two years before that topped 5,500. Add my miles up over the last six years and I’m well into my second time around the world (38,000 miles and change). I ride an average of better than six days a week, but I never considered what I do “extreme”. Intense, maybe, but not extreme. Extreme was for those crazy people who are running marathons through the desert, or who take a couple of weeks to cycle across the US… Not me.
The last time I sat in a doctor’s office (something like 3 or four years ago), after having a full blood workup, my doctor said, “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it”. Cholesterol, blood sugar, my “inflammation” numbers… by every measure I was extremely healthy. In that case, extreme was good.
Going back three doctors and a decade there has been concern over my EKG readings though. The first cause for concern was the “spike”. My “spike” is big. Really big. The spike led to an ultrasound of my heart and an “all clear”. I even called my doctor back to make sure I’d heard right in his office, that I was clear to continue exercising as I had been. The worry was that my heart was enlarged. While it is a little bigger than normal, it was discovered that it’s not really that big, it’s just strong.
Over the ensuing years I cut days off the bike to a point where I’ll now go for a month or two without taking a day off. I simply substitute easy days for taking a day off (three easy days a week). That’s not “extreme”, right?
Well, maybe not. It’s the duration.
According to my new doctor, who I know personally and have for years, and whom I trust to look out for me, there’s a new understanding that’s come about over the last three to five years about what happens after that spike in the EKG that I mentioned earlier. I can’t remember all of the jargon, but there’s a drop after the spike (which is normal) but there’s a small rise after that drop followed by another small drop that shouldn’t be there. It was once thought that the small rise was benign. Sadly for me, “once” is a very big word in that last sentence.
Unfortunately, because Government-down Obamacare sucks, I can’t be referred to a cardiologist to have my ticker checked out because I’m too healthy. While my EKG shows signs for concern, I’m not exhibiting any negative symptoms or problems related to that little rise…. On the other hand and thankfully, Democrats didn’t go full stupid for a Canadian-style socialized scheme so I can still pay for the consult and new ultrasound with a cardiologist out of my pocket. In the next few weeks I’ll be going to see a cardiologist about how to make my ticker keep up with the rest of me. Where this gets really fun, if there is something wrong with my pump, we’ll catch it early enough that the available treatment options will work excellently because I’m so damned healthy.
Anyway, back to the main topic: How much fitness is “extreme”? I don’t freaking know. I always figured I was a little above average and maybe slightly nutty, but extreme? We’re not even that fast, above average, yes, but I know a whole class of guys who ride a lot faster than my friends and I do… Then my buddy Mike pointed out over the phone yesterday, “Yeah, but it’s not about the speed. We’re out there doing a hundred miles in five hours.” And that’s precisely when I saw me as I am. If the average person puts in 30-45 minutes a day, five days a week… measured against that… Their week is my Saturday. Or Sunday. In those terms, I may not be hardcore, like someone who races, but “extreme” is fair.
Finally, and to wrap this up with a neat little bow, I still have a lot to learn about what is going on with me, whether it’s just genetics that is messing with me or whether I even have a problem to begin with. There is one thing that keeps ringing in my melon, what my doctor said about how much I choose to exercise or ride my bikes… Once you go from a normal amount of exercise to the extreme, the risks not only outweigh the benefits, there are no additional benefits.
That one hurts, and it fits me perfectly.
So, what’s next for me? Well, it’ll be that appointment with a cardiologist and I’ll wait for his recommendations – and I’ll follow them. If that means slowing down or limiting the length of time I’m on the bike, I’ll do whatever I have to for longevity. I like riding fast. I like being in the upper crust of endurance cyclists. I like long rides with my wife and friends. I also believe in one important axiom a friend of mine passed on to me: “It’s real easy to talk tough about death, until the bus shows up for you.”