Fit Recovery

Home » Sports

Category Archives: Sports

A Couple of Days Off for Golf… Followed by… Tandemonium!

This year is a distinct departure from the last eleven. In an effort to be a better husband to my wife, I’ve let go of my need/desire (take your pick) to be an aggressively fast cyclist. This change in heart has been a long time in coming and, while my previous choices didn’t make me a “bad” husband/father, looking back I don’t think there’s any question I was selfish and self-centered. Now, you may wonder how this runs into golf. Well, I used to golf. A lot. I could regularly shoot in the 70s for 18 holes and would even manage par or one under fairly consistently on moderate to easy courses. I can still remember the first round I beat my dad (who spent double the time I did on a golf course and could kick my butt with fairways and greens). Then Alzheimer’s and what they call alcoholic “wet brain” at the same time for my dad. I met up with my dad every Friday for years for a Friday afternoon round of golf. We’d play 18, then get some lunch or dinner. Then I’d head home to my wife and kids. Speaking of kids, after our first was born, golf took a back seat. Practice four days a week with two rounds a week turned into one practice day and a round or two a week. My dad started breaking down in 2013 and we moved him to a home so he could be looked after. Our Friday golf outing dwindled from 18 holes to 14, to 9… and when my dad started teeing up the ball at me, I pulled the plug and stopped taking him.

Shortly after my dad died, I quit golf altogether. It just wasn’t the same without him and our Friday outings. I quit for a broken heart.

Well, this past spring, my daughter asked me to teach the game to her and, being the dad I am, I said I would. I had to find a way to get my heart back into it, though. I took my dad’s set of Callaway Big Bertha Irons in and had the shafts lengthened and re-gripped and I had a second set of my dad’s clubs regripped for my daughter. With my dad’s spirit in my golf bag, I started practicing again at the local driving range about five miles from my house. I’ve played four rounds in the last, call it five weeks, and I almost feel like my old self. When I get a hold of a drive, I’m hitting 270 to 280 yards (247 to 256 meters) and am starting to get quite proficient with my short irons (my 5 and 6 still need some work). Not bad for a 52-year-old who hasn’t swung a club in eight years.

So, uncharacteristically, twice last week I chose golf, or practice over riding. Once to take my daughter to the range, Wednesday, and once Friday for an invite to a supplier’s golf outing.

I played well, Friday – a four man best-ball scramble. I one-putted for holes to keep our team even or drop a shot – all over 20′ with the longest at least 40′ (12 meters) and hit several fantastic drives, as well as a few good iron shots. I started really getting warmed up in the middle holes, call it six to fourteen before sputtering out because I was hungry.

In that eight hole stretch I felt like the old me again, and it was good.

Saturday, it was time for a rowdy ride on the tandem with my lovely wife – my (new-ish) favorite mode of cycling. We did a nice 46-mile loop with an average pace over 18-mph. We were absolutely on as a couple and the ride showed it. We were laughing and talking and had two long pulls in excess of 16-miles, one dead into a high single-digit headwind. I love it when we’re on like that. The rest of the day was a special celebration for my wife that I need not get into here, but I will say it was a lovely day.

Today will be more of the same – tandemonium, yet again, followed by yard work and some flower planting and yardwork.

More tomorrow.

Sunrise Adventure in Alpena, Michigan; One Amazing Tour (Especially for Tandems and New Tandem Couples)

My wife and I completed our first ever tandem tour just last weekend up in Alpena, Michigan with the League of Michigan Bicyclists.

Now, this is going to be a fairly biased review for several reasons, but for one, because I spent a good deal of my summers as a young boy in Alpena staying with my grandmother. There’s a special cedar smell to Alpena that’s stayed with me all these years… One smell and I’m transported back to being a carefree kid. Combine that with that it was my first tandem tour with my wife, and we spent a good deal of the weekend helping out with logistics and registration. That said, for the scenery and immaculate roads (they were absolutely fantastic) the 2022 Sunrise Adventure was the most enjoyable of all the tours I’ve ever ridden for a multitude of reasons.

For the sake of this post, I’ll stick to the tour itself. This tour is hub-and-spoke, meaning you’re at a “home base” at a hotel (or other rental property – not included in the cost of the tour itself) and you radiate out on three different routes for each of the riding days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

Registration is on Thursday afternoon just before the tour kicks off with a rider’s meeting and a wonderful spread of wine and snacks (I, obviously, skipped the wine). We’re not talking about your normal granola bar snacks here. This was a full cracker, cheese and sausage spread from a catering company.

Day One’s route is beautiful and scenic.

Day Two is the most beautiful route I’ve ever ridden (and that includes the Tunnel of Trees route outside of Harbor Springs on Day Four of DALMAC) that ends at the Presque Isle Old Lighthouse where you can ascend the 130 stairs that take you up ten stories to look out over the whole point. The view is absolutely amazing.

Day Three’s route is through farm country and is absolutely picturesque.

There are three routes for each day, a long (usually around 100k), a medium (around 40-miles) and a short (in the 20-mile range), though Sunday is shorter to give everyone a chance to finish and head home.

This little adventure gets better, too. Everything starts in downtown Alpena, so you’ve got shops and fantastic restaurant choices everywhere you look. Most of the local restaurants are amazing, or at least we had that on authority from a few locals we spoke with. Thursday, after we volunteered to help with registration, we ate at Red Brick, which was billed as upscale comfort food. Fabulous is a good word. Try the loaded tater-tots. You can thank me later. My wife and I had lunch after the ride on Day 1 at a place called Fresh Palate – an almond encrusted white fish filet sandwich that was simply amazing. For dinner we ate at Pompeyos Mexican Grill on South State Avenue… which was outstanding and… erm, massive. We ate Pompeyos leftovers for lunch on Day 2, then had a nice dinner with the other riders at the NOAA Maritime Museum that was quite wonderful. Sadly, for the first time in recent memory, we were scheduled for the glass-bottom boat tour out of the museum but that had to be canceled for a small craft advisory due to high winds the first two of the three days. The point is, though, unlike some tours, the Sunrise Adventure has a veritable ton to do off the bike.

Finally, this is a laid back tour. I didn’t see one hammer up there, other than my wife and I. There were a couple of guys who were close (and there were definitely a few high-priced carbon road rigs on display), but for the most part the courses seem to be set up for an enjoyable cycling experience where you could take your time and take everything in. The routes were short to reasonable at 20-ish miles to around 100k (three routes per day – short in the 20-mile range, medium in the low 40s, and long approaching 100k) and weren’t too challenging with gentle, rolling hills. My wife and I, on the tandem, stuck with the medium routes and they were fantastic and only used the granny gear a time or two (52-42-30 front, 11-25 cassette). We’ll have to see what happens next year, whether we’re going to bother with the 100k routes on the new tandem, but I doubt it. With the amount of time we put into volunteering, I just don’t see us bothering with the longer routes. In fact, with how things went, I’d say the 40-ish mile routes were perfect.

I’ll wrap up this post with this; League of Michigan Bicyclist tours are not cheap. What you get for your money, though, is an experience unlike most planned out tours in places that are truly worth visiting. If I had to liken LMB tours to something else, they’d be like a cruise. You spend time on the boat (bike), bouncing from excursion to excursion… and the Sunrise Adventure is a fantastic example that shouldn’t be missed – especially if you’re new to tours (we’re – my wife and I are talking about working with Neal, the tour director, on building workshops centered around the new riders and making the most of their first tours) so the Sunrise can be a safe entry into cycling tours – more on that later).

You can see by the smiles in the photos above, the Sunrise Adventure in Alpena, Michigan is as good as they get.

Another Tandem Tuesday… But an Odd and Fantastic One

Mrs. Bgddy chose to ride with me on the tandem for Tuesday night. I was looking forward to it all day long, I won’t lie.

I got in the car to head home from the office and I put on a playlist my wife made years ago for us of love songs that make her think of us. It’s a hundred-eight songs long… and that’s precisely when I realized what a buffoon I can be. That woman loves me so much she put together a playlist of songs that remind her of us… and it’s 108 songs-long. And so I drove home listening to that playlist with a smile on my face.

My wife was working when I got home, so I went straight to prepping for the evening. Summer hit yesterday, so it was good and sticky outside. We rolled out for the church precisely at 5:15 and got there with plenty of time to get ready but not much time to warm up our legs.

We had a few conversations in the parking lot and readied to move out with just a minute to spare. The A Elite group rolled out. We waited a few seconds and headed out ourselves, with a crew of five on single bikes. We had a good amount of tailwind the first ten miles and quickly worked up a 20+ mph average. It took a few miles for my wife and I to synch up but once we did, it was magic as usual. We’ve really come in to our own on the tandem this year.

We made our way through the course taking an easy shortcut that kept us from having to cross a major road that’s always busy with 55-mph+ traffic. It also pops us in front of the A Group… that caught us back up just before the hills. At some point in the hills, we heard a pop behind us but nobody said anything so we just kept rolling. It had happened that Dave had a blowout and three of the group stopped to fix it. We didn’t even know until we got to the regroup spot and the others never came over the hill.

We decided to roll for home, figuring those who stopped would be able to handle the repairs and wouldn’t want us waiting around in the heat.

And so we did… and after a mile and a half, our five cyclist/four bike group shattered. Matt went one way, Lenny went off the back when we accelerated to 33-mph down a slight downhill into Vernon… all of a sudden, Jess and I were alone.

And we didn’t miss the opportunity to take it easy the rest of the way back. We laughed and talked and made plans for the future… it was a perfect ride in, even if we had a brutal crossing headwind for five of the last six miles.

Ordering that new tandem seems like a smarter decision every day. We’re both looking forward to riding the wheels off it. Both sets of wheels.

Is Rapha’s Kit Worth the Money? The Answer May Surprise You. It Did Me.

First, you can always tell when someone is wearing a piece of Rapha kit. Their jerseys always stick out because they always look perfect – and the thing that really surprises me about their jerseys is that they look better than any other manufacturer on those of us who need to put in more miles and eat a little less. And yes, I do lump, for lack of a better word, myself into that category.

I’ve had a little bit of a resentment at Rapha for the longest time, though. Their kit is expensive, prohibitively so; and I justify throwing a lot of money at cycling and its related clothing.

Recently, however, they had a sale and all of a sudden, friends who’d never worn Rapha kit started showing up in jerseys and bibs. I investigated and found a midweight jersey I liked on sale for $55 US (sadly, the sale is over). Again, as I lump myself in with the “not exactly at mid-season cycling weight”, I ordered a Large.

So, I’ve always said you can tell a good jersey by how it doesn’t feel. When I’m on the road in my Rapha jersey, it’s so comfortable it just goes away – especially on long rides.

The fact is the core jersey that I picked up is worth every penny of the full sticker price of $75.

If you’ve always wondered, “is Rapha worth the price tag?”

Yep. Shockingly, it is.

What Happened to My Hair On Fire 23-mph Average Rides?!

Normally, this time of year we’re starting to break into the 22 to 23-mph average range on our Tuesday night rides in Lennon. I only have one or two rides over 20-mph so far this season. In fact, not only is my average pace way down, so are my miles. I only logged 635 miles for all of May (normally between 900 and 1,100). Now, in fairness, the weather sucked most of May but there’s more to it than that.

I don’t know how much longer I’m going to stay on the fast crew – or how much effort I’m going to give it to stay there.

So, I ran into a bit of a rude awakening a few months ago. I asked my Higher Power for a glimpse at who I really was and I got it. The shocking problem was, I didn’t much like what I saw. Let’s say I was above average as a husband and father but there was a lot of room for improvement. I made some immediate changes. Chief among them was to make immediate amends to my wife and to completely turn around how I participated in our marriage. It’s been an amazing three months, since.

I’ve got more miles on the tandem with my wife that either of my road bikes (probably combined). See, one of the biggest problems I stumbled on is that I was astonishingly selfish. The more I looked at it, the uglier it got. I liken it to Vince Vaughn’s character in, I think, Couple’s Retreat when he says to John Favreau’s character that nobody wants to go to Applebee’s by themselves:

Friends, I can show you a guy who’s got two thumbs and doesn’t want to go to Applebee’s by himself; this guy.

All of a sudden – and I mean that, all of a sudden – I realized that I’m in a rare position where my wife is an excellent stoker and we’re plenty fast enough on our tandem, and I f***ing love Applebee’s. There wasn’t enough love in our love story and that needed to be rectified immediately.

I’ve never had as much fun on two wheels. Or off.

My wife and I are happier than we’ve ever been and we’re just scratching the surface. For the last twelve years, if someone asked, “Do you want to be fast or happy”? I literally chose fast. I’m not slow by any stretch, but I don’t want to be that guy anymore. I like the new me a lot better. And so does my wife. Oh, and my daughters!

Good times, noodle salad. It’s as good as it gets.

A Perfect Holiday Weekend… Capped By Maverick.

Back home from our most-awesome road trip for the Horsey Hundred, my wife and I chose the tandem for our Monday morning ride. We had the Deer Loop on tap with a little add-on heading north up to Durand with a nice SSW pushing us.

The first six miles were a little challenging with the cross-headwind but once that was out of the way, the headwind section was actually quite nice. My wife and I have been working excellently well together on the tandem and, believe it or not, I’ve actually come to prefer that over single bikes. Perhaps this isn’t all that surprising considering we’ve put so many miles on the bike. The thing is dialed in perfectly.

We rolled around the route, sometimes struggling, sometimes flying, till we got the the tailwind section of the ride. Durand Road heading north on a tandem. This is the best stretch of road I know of on a tandem. It’s downhill for four miles with a sprint finish at the Durand City Limits sign and we rock it out every time.

We knocked out a nice 25-mph average on that section before I noticed a wobble in the back wheel. We ended up stopping to take a look because it was a little disconcerting… and I found we’d worn the tire to the Kevlar in a patch about six inches long. We ended up deciding on riding it home gingerly, hoping for the best.

We pulled into the driveway just fine, happy about the time we spent on the bike. We ended up with 36-1/2 miles at an 18.1-mph pace.

The rest of the day was a blur of activity, once we cleaned up and took our older daughter to lunch. Once home, we took a quick nap and I headed out to cut the grass… which needed it desperately. I knocked out the front and back, leaving the back 40 for my daughter. I knocked out the trimming next, got the AC unit ready for the summer.

Then, for the evening capper, my wife and I took our kids to see “Top Gun Maverick”. It’s a rarity that a sequel can measure up to an original, especially after 36 years, so I was expecting “close enough for government work”. I won’t spoil anything except to say this is one of the rarest cases where the sequel exceeds the original. There were cheers when the movie ended. My daughter was in tears, my wife misty, and the two of us clutching our hands so tight we were a couple of psi from cutting off circulation. If you even liked the original, you’ll love the sequel.

Once home, we called it a night… after counting alphabetical animals to fall asleep. What a fantastic weekend.

A Perfect Wrap to the 2022 Horsey Hundred Road Trip

I’m not even going to try to avoid getting too sappy on this post. The best I can promise is that I’ll try to limit the damage.

With my newfound romance with my wife, something so special I’ve struggled putting it into words, we set out for Sunday morning’s day two of the Horsey Hundred knowing the group was going to do the 52 mile route but we were keeping it to the 37.

My wife, fearing the old me would resurface, asked delicately the night before, “I may not feel up to the full 52 miles, would you mind it if we decided to cut it to the 37-mile route if I’m not feeling it?”

I responded, “I loaded the 37-mile route on your Garmin yesterday. Whatever we ride, as long as we’re together, I’ll be happy.” My wife wiped a tear from her eye…

We rolled out at 7:45 to head over to the start line downtown and stopped for our group start line photo:

We rolled out with the main group at a decent pace. I took position behind my wife – she doesn’t like being last bike, she likes being second to last so she feels impelled to keep up with the group so the rider behind doesn’t get dropped. After the hundred the day before, I was more than happy to take that role! We stayed with the group for about ten miles before my wife started falling off the back on the hills. Shortly thereafter we were talking about splitting from the group and Chuck decided to go with us on the shorter route.

Before long, it was the three of us cruising down the road. Chuck would pull ahead, then wait for us to catch up. My wife and I just cruised along with smiles on our faces, enjoying the sunny, warm Kentucky morning and each other’s company. This was a complete departure from the normal Jim.

When my wife struggled up a hill, I’d pull up next to her and rest my hand on the small of her back, kicking up my watts to give her a small boost – we call this “Jenkinsoning someone”… in other words, “to be Jenkinsoned”, coined after our friend Greg, who helped my buddy Mike up the tough hills when he returned from an illness.

We did our 37-miles and had an absolute blast. After we finished, in the parking lot, my wife said that was the ride she’d always prayed for with me on a Horsey Hundred Sunday. Now it was my turn to wipe a tear from my eye. Friends, it’s as good as it gets.

Now that’s a happy wife… and a happy husband.

We showered up, packed the car and headed over for lunch before hitting the road home. Choosing the 37-mile option worked out great. We were heading for the car when the 52-mile group showed up for lunch.

We worked on our marriage renewal vows on the way home and sent out a text to our family that we were going to have a ceremony in our backyard in a couple of weeks. It was the best ride home of any Horsey weekend.

Good times and noodle salad. It’s as good as it gets.

Thank God for Bicycles!

I’ve got my Specialized Venge all tuned up. The shift and brake cables are all brand new. The bearings are all new. The chainrings, chain, cassette and rear derailleur… all new.

The water bottles are filled and ready for action. Garmin Varia and 510 are charged and ready to go. Rare for the Venge, a small saddle bag is affixed under the saddle – the smallest I could get that can fit what I need… expertly packed and tight to the bike so it won’t move, thereby scratching the paint, when I’m out of the saddle to climb.

I’m T-minus three hours to launch on my first 100-mile ride of the season.

I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Three hours to go and it’ll be time to drop some weight.

I’m sipping on my first cup of coffee of the morning, watching my wife sleep. She’s not the early riser I am. God, she’s beautiful. I’m thinking about what a lucky guy I am. We’ve been through a lot together and it looks like the next 25 years of our marriage are going to be vastly better than the first. And for that, I am thankful.

Well, it’s time to shave and shower. Once we get breakfast going, launch time is going to be on us in a hurry.

You know, I’ve been to the gym a hundred times. I can’t ever recall feeling like this before pushing weight.

As fitness goes, only a bike can get me so fired up. Look at that beautiful carbon fiber and alloy steed… what a bike!

More later.

While You’re Dealing with the Narcissist You’re Married To, You Might Want To…

One of the more shocking discoveries in my recovery occurred when I began listening to Richard Grannon talk about covert narcissists and how to tell if you’re living with one…

And I found out, the hard way, I was a covert narcissist.

If you’re looking at your spouse as a possible narcissist, do yourself a favor and look in the mirror first. Or don’t, and watch your spouse point it out when you lay it down for them.

If you have a shred of decency and honesty, you’ll need a spatula to get your jaw off the floor. I did.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. That Guy In the Ferrari Could Be Thinking About Wrapping His Car Around the Next Viaduct Stanchion He Sees…

Some of the better advice I’ve ever given newer folks to recovery is “Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t know what they have to give up to have what they do.”

I heard a second part to that, though, from Jordan Peterson that I really liked: “Instead, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.”

Another of his favorite tips for creating a better future for yourself is to try to improve just 1% from yesterday to today. It’s such a small, trivial amount that almost anyone should be able to do that, right?

Well, do that for 100 days in a row and see where you’re at then! I can tell you, I’ve implemented that and it works. What a difference just a month or two of sticking to that makes!

Enjoy your Thursday. It’s the only one we get.