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More P-O-W-E-R! How Much Do You Need for Speed

How much power do you need to average 16-mph? How about 20-mph? What about going big time… 23-mph? How about for a 30-mph+ mile with a bit of a tailwind? Oooh, I’ve got one for you. How’s about a 35-mph sprint finish?

I’ve got the answers, but you’re going to have to adjust for weight… I’m 6′ tall and 172 pounds. I’m not a climber… too fat. 146 watts average. 182 watts average. 254 watts average. 459 watts average. 900-ish peak watts.

So the question becomes how long can you hold that average wattage? The 900 watts, for one of us weekend warriors hurts but not as bad as the 459 watt mile… I puked in my mouth after that. Twice. The rest were all in a pack over 29-ish miles and took 1h:13m to 1h:50m. All verified as “close enough for government work” through friends who do use power meters, and by Strava which manages to guesstimate power pretty accurately.

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A few of the serious cyclists I know train with a power meter, but only a few. Power meters add quite a bit of cost to an already expensive sport and the question I like to ask about the practice, is how necessary is it or would the benefit be worth the money?

I have never felt the need to run out and pick up a power meter for my bike. I’ve been tempted, usually after a tough ride, but I’ve never gone as far as pricing them out or looking at reviews to determine the best. I also don’t race. All of the riding I do is experience related – I ride for the fun of riding, with a bunch of friends.

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I’ve managed to train blind to a point I can contribute in a 23-mph average ride on open roads, the only piece of equipment needed, other than the bike and a couple bottles of water, is a simple cycling computer that shows current speed. The most important thing I needed to bring to the dance was a lot of want to. Speed is all about will. You either have the will to get used to riding fast or you don’t – and most don’t because you have to put up with a lot of self-inflicted pain. Given enough time and mileage, though, the body comes around so the speed isn’t quite so painful.

While that sounds good, there’s a problematic hook to it – eventually I ran out of want to. I can manage 23 just fine – and spend a little more than my fair amount of time up front. I can’t hang with the 25-mph group for more than 20 miles. I simply run out of gas – and the “want to” required to train hard enough to keep up for that extra 2-mph just isn’t there.

Then the question comes down to whether or not a power meter would help. The obvious answer is sure, but do I need to go that far? I don’t think so. I’m fast enough to put a smile on my face, and that’s good enough for government work. In the end, that’s really what is important.

When I stash the Venge in the bike room after another great ride, knowing how hard I pushed on the pedals doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience and the memories I’ll take from cycling.

A power meter won’t improve those… and it appears Strava can do the rest, anyway.

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Relentless Positive Attitude

Paul W. Smith, a local radio personality, likes to add in his daily broadcast, based on an interview from years ago, the phrase “relentless positive mental attitude”.  I have used that phrase for decades, simplified by one word, since I sobered up.  I just couldn’t put a simple phrase to it until I heard it….

A potent secret to my success is a relentless positive attitude.

Rather than look at things negatively, even when “bad” things happen, I look for ways to add “good” to the situation rather than detract from it.  How can I improve things rather than make them worse?  This is relentless positive attitude.

This isn’t to say we’re always smiling and chipper – that would be near impossible.  On the other hand, the only way I know to be smiling and chipper most of the time is to pursue a positive attitude relentlessly.

I can have happiness or anguish – it’s all how I choose to look at life.  Even when life sucks just a little bit.

What Happiness is to Me; Or Maybe What It Isn’t.

I think, to get to what my version of happiness is, I first have to get into what it isn’t.  Too often I see mistakes being made in what happiness isn’t.

Being happy, to me, is not the absence of strife, struggle, conflict, hardship, or difficulty.  Baby, that’s life.  Trying to find a life devoid of those things is like chasing a rainbow-farting unicorn… and deciding one can’t be happy until that unicorn is found and befriended.  Good luck, there’s no such thing – they call it mythical for a reason.

Happiness isn’t getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want.  I was five-years-old the last time I truly experienced that pleasure.  Happiness isn’t “easy” living, either; a sober, clean life is anything but easy.

Happiness, to me, is being content with what I’ve got.  It’s being comfortable in my own skin.  Happiness is being grateful for the life I have, or the life that was given me by my Higher Power after I asked for His Grace…  Happiness is doing the best with what I’ve got.

… and when I need a reminder, a bike ride with my wife and friends will do the trick.  Money won’t buy happiness, but it buys bikes, and that’s good enough for government work.

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My (Un)Pro Bowling Career… A Fantastic Addition to My Cycling Habit

I’ve mentioned my enjoyment of bowling a time or two on the blog but I’ve never gone beyond the odd mention.

Friends, I love me some bowling.

I’ve been on an autumn through winter sober league for going on eighteen years. I’m not great, but I’m absolutely above average. I hold between a 170 and 180 average, my best being 183. Not great, but not bad.

Well, this year I was invited to the bigs as a sub. The Friday night league. I’ve participated six or seven times this year and it hasn’t been pretty. I went from the equivalent of the fun league to a league where a decent average is fifty pins higher than mine.

To illustrate, I’m happy when I get a messenger to shoot across and clip the ten (I’m a leftie) – it’s a cool shot. I saw a guy last night whose revs were so high he was getting a double messenger – one from each side. And on more than half of his strike shots. His worst game was a 233.

So I’ve had a double-whammy problem with Friday night. I don’t put a lot of money into bowling. I have three balls – a sixteen and two fourteen-and-a-half’s. They’re all hand-me-downs I’ve collected over the years. Two were already drilled leftie and just right and I had one filled and drilled for me. I’ve had the same shoes since I started bowling all those years ago…. and therein lies the rub. Those old-@$$ shoes.

They started sticking about six weeks ago, out of nowhere. I’d get four good shots and they’d start sticking (as soon as the soles warmed up). I went from six or eight inches of slide to having to plant my foot, trying not to fall on my face. I’d have good games and really bad games, and God forbid I bowl against someone who dropped the ball before the line, a little oil on my shoe would make it worse.

Well, I was a little slow putting all of this together – it takes a minute to read the post, but it took weeks to figure the order of the clues.

Last Friday I cleaned my shoes and scuffed the leather slide pad, hoping that would cure my ills. It was better, but not near enough. I ordered a new pair of shoes. I finally was going to have to put some money into my other hobby.

They showed up ten minutes before I pulled into the driveway yesterday, and an hour before I had to leave.

My first and second games were a little ugly, trying to get used to being able to slide again… and then I ran into one on the third game. Everything clicked and when I realized I wasn’t thinking about sticking anymore. I went from the 150’s to a 214. I was finally able to run into a few.

Like in everything else, if you want to get better, hang out with people better than you… and keep coming back after you’ve figured out you want to quit because you’re not good enough.

It’s only after that point I get better.

Fit Recovery 2018 in (Quick) Review

2018 proved to be an interesting year for me.  I celebrated my 26th sober anniversary – a good start for a fella who hasn’t yet reached 50.  Recovery in 2018 has been better than I could have hoped for.  Life threw a lot at me last year but I was able to keep it in perspective…

2018 ended up a fantastic year for my marriage – one of the best, actually.  My wife and I had a really good time this year.  My wife and I seemed to hit that sweet spot in our relationship where we’re not just happy to be together, we know we belong together and we’re enjoying every bit of each other.  My kids are excelling at everything they do, and for all of the right reasons – I thank God on a daily basis that my kids got their mother’s brains and their dad’s drive.

Speaking of God, I’ve been blessed this year.  I like to think, at least as I see things today, that I’m doing what I should be, trying to live the life my Higher Power would want me to.  When I’m doing the next right thing, life has a harmonious flow to it.  When I’m trying to manipulate the system, it gets ugly.  2018 had very little ugly to it.

At work, I had many challenges that allowed me the opportunity to practice the principles key to recovery.  This goes one of two ways; either one works on things as intended, or one sits back and lets things unfold, doing little to work through the issues.  The former obviously works, the latter… well, it’s best to say bad things usually happen.  A lack of action in recovery usually isn’t pretty.  I did what was necessary, though.  I took action.

As things turned out, I think I ended up with the right amount of action and the right amount of letting the Higher Power do His thing because things ended up better than I could have scripted them.  I am truly content and at peace – through a LOT of turmoil.

As my hobbies go, I hit record numbers for the blog and it was a rewarding year in terms of feedback from recovery-related posts.  All I ever wanted from the blog was an outlet, and I got much more than that.  The popularity of the blog is cool, I never imagined I’d top 40,000 hits in a year, but I was just 500 hits shy of 140,000 this year, a new record for the site.  What really matters, though (and this may sound a little cheesy, but it’s true), is that my recovery posts are helpful and I’m making a difference – and becoming a productive member of society is what recovery is all about.

As cycling goes, my year was spectacular, with only one wrinkle…  I had more fun than a person is supposed to have (with their clothes on) – and that’s what cycling is really all about anyway.  I love the numbers (and I’ll get into those in a minute), but what I really enjoy are the memories, laughs, and the time spent with my wife and friends.  As numbers go, a little more than 10,100 miles took me about 539 hours to ride – I ended up with an average pace for the year of about 18.8-mph.  That includes everything from mountain biking, to recovery rides, to 23-mph average Tuesday night club rides.  I’m very happy with that, though I could have done a better job of pushing myself away from the table.  My weight was a little higher than I like throughout the entire year.  I’ll be working a lot harder on that in 2019.

The wrinkle was my buddy, Mike.  His genetics finally caught up with his heart and even though he’s been an exceptional athlete for decades, his heart got blocked up something fierce.  So much, and it went without diagnosis for so long that it damaged his ticker beyond repair, so he’s just gotta deal with it and hope for the best.  Originally, the doctors wanted him off the bike for good, but he had something to say about that…

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He’s just gotta be careful to take it easy.  Simplest way to say it, if we work him too hard, he could drop out right there.  He’s restricted to something like 160 bpm max… and he’s getting a defibrillator installed just in case.  Even with Mike, as bad as the news is, he’s going to be able to deal with it and keep riding – the only thing he’ll miss are those 20+ mph averages.  As those go, he’s done.

For the new year, if I can drop 15 pounds and have 2019 just like ’18, I’d take it – and that’s as good as one could hope for.  I’m glad to be me.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Here’s to another year of health, happiness, and a bunch of miles.

Wait a Second… Snow?!

When Mrs. Bgddy and I fell asleep last night, I had visions of a group ride dancing in my hea… melon.

I woke up at 4:30am in the morning (thank you Lady Redundant Woman), checked a few emails and promptly fell back asleep – at a few minutes past 6. My wife woke me up with my buddy, Phill on the the other end asking if we were riding. Mrs. Bgddy said it had snowed last night. Not much, though, so I should take a look.

There was only a 10% chance of precipitation when I closed my eyes. 10%, and the roads are covered. And the back roads too.

I’d so thought I was going to be able to crush out the last few days of the year outside – I was actually looking forward to it.

Yesterday was a fluke 52° when we woke up. The roads were wet, bit we never got more than sprinkled on for a few minutes. With the fenders on the Co-Motion tandem (Sponsored by Assenmacher’s Cycling Center*) I didn’t even have to wipe down the bike. And we spent 29.7 glorious miles sweating out an 18-mph average with 15-mph winds from the south. It was spectacularly, fantastically glorious. 18-mph on the tandem at the end of December?! The missus and I are rockin’!

I was just about to throw the good rear wheel on the Trek and get it ready to roll… and now it’ll just be another hour on the trainer.

Bummer, dude.

On the other hand, this is the biggest problem in my life today (that I know of). So that’s not so bad.

Ride easy my friends. Riding hard doesn’t start for three more days.

*Assenmacher’s didn’t sponsor my Co-Motion (or the fenders). The shop did turn the flat-bar tandem into a road tandem for me, but I paid for that. Also, I paid for the fenders, but the owner did have his best mechanic help me install them. It just sounded cheesy and commercialist, in my noodle, to put it that way. I’m a little on the snarky side this morning.

Merry Christmas, My Friends – Both Sober, Running, Cycling and Fit… and Preferably Many of Those.

My friends, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… from the bottom of my heart, thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for riding with me. Thank you for reading my blog and for your feedback.

Let’s all take a moment to remember, not one of us is getting out of this alive. All we have, just before it’s all done, is our experiences. Make them good ones.

Crossed over 10,000 miles this morning. Only 1,800 of them on the trainer. WOOHOO!