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Making the Most of Another Perfect Day

Two days in a row, above 50°F (10 C), without a cloud in the sky, and reasonable wind velocity…

I rolled over to pick Chuck up at his house at 11:30… am. On a FRIDAY. He wasn’t quite ready so I basked in the glorious sun while he prepped his bike. He was rushing around and lost his concentration for just a split second and rather than pop the cap on his bottle of chain lube, he unscrewed the whole top. Well, you can imagine what happened when he tipped the bottle upside-down to lube the chain.

At least a quarter of the bottle dumped onto his chain and cassette. Chain lube everywhere.

I can tell you, his bike won’t be making any noise for at least two years and I’ll be having a laugh over it for at least a decade.

We rolled out shortly thereafter. And yes, his bike was whisper quiet.

The first half of the ride was fun and lively. The weather was perfect and the pace, fairly easy. There was just one little catch; we did all of the tailwind first.

I thought, how bad can it be, though? It’s a single-digit wind.

The route we picked, the loop around Lake Shannon, is a favorite as it winds its way around some fantastic roads with lots to see. Including an old cider mill.

For a Michigan early spring, the weather simply can’t be better… and it won’t last. While it’s here, though, and with time to spare and open country roads to explore with little to no traffic, it’s been great to get some fresh, sunny air.

The ride home was hard, as we expected it would be – a 100k with no drafting, so essentially solo, is hard enough as it is. With the tailwind loaded at the end, well let’s just say I was suffering with eight miles to go. I asked to stop at a gas station for a Coke. We stopped for ten, maybe fifteen minutes and that (and a gel) was all I needed. The remainder of the ride was simple enough. Head down, pedal fast. With one small problem: My m*****f***in’ Look Keo pedal. Every F***IN’ PEDAL ROTATION… REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause… I’m on a $6000 perfectly silent road bike and I want to take a shotgun to my left foot to get the squeaking to stop… GOOD GOD IN HEAVEN…

The breeze wasn’t bad enough we couldn’t hold a pace between 18 & 20-mph except uphill. And thankfully, with a couple of extra miles early on adjusting our route, I pulled into the driveway with just a few tenths over a hundred k’s. And after a shower, I managed to do some much needed yard work with the family.

For today, it’s as good as it gets. Minus the pedal issue. For the meantime I’ll have to swap pedals between the Trek and Specialized.. I’ve got a Really Red set of Issi pedals on order at the shop.

Clicks, Rattles and Rolling On the Good Bike; Troubleshooting New (Unwelcome) Noises

I rolled out solo yesterday with 30 miles in mind. The weather was vastly improved over the day before. Cloudy, still, but seven degrees warmer (48° or 9 C), less wind, and an improved “feels like” temp. I opted for my Specialized.  The Trek is a gloriously fun ride, but the best way I can think to put it, the Specialized feels like a fast, smooth, badass guilty pleasure next to the 5200.

With the north wind, I opted for the exact same route I rode the day before but I wanted to throw in a few hills I hadn’t bothered with the day before and because I didn’t have Chuck with me (a normal world friend), I decided I was going to stop by my sponsor’s house to say Hi.  I normally see him once a week without fail and I hadn’t seen him since this whole coronavirus mess broke (we normally go out to dinner for tacos at a local authentic hole-in-the-wall every Thursday).

The route is heavy with headwind for the first 15-ish miles – only two miles of crosswind the whole way out, and they’re early.  The headwind is relentless and sometimes hard to handle, mentally.  Once you get to that point, though, it’s a party for all but a mile and a half all the way home…  My original plan was to get to the top of the hill and the end of my headwind, then head over to my sponsor’s house, but after 11 miles dead into the wind, I wanted a break – and it’s a good thing I did, because his wife came to the door as I was just about to call his cell to let him know I was outside.  He was at his pole barn a few miles up the road at his rental house.  If I hadn’t stopped, I’d have missed him altogether.  My sponsor’s wife and I exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way.


Down a hill, up two more to the top of the big climb (or at least what passes for a “climb” in my neighborhood), and I was heading to the rental house and two more short climbs.

My sponsor is an older fella, in his early 70’s, so I doubled the 6′ (two meter) distance and we spent about fifteen minutes catching up.  It was like seeing a long-lost friend for the first time in years.  We had some laughs, talked a little politics, some recovery and promised to meet the first Thursday after this thing breaks for tacos.

One nice climb on my way out of town and I was on flat ground, headwind almost all of the way home… and that’s when the ticking sound started.  I quickly went through my internal database of ticks and clicks… no rhythm, only when I pedal, doesn’t matter load or no load (it wasn’t louder or more frequent under heavy load)… and the frequency was picking up as the miles went by – not the intensity, the frequency.  It was one of two things:  Seat post or chainring bolts.  Other than the ticking, the rest of my ride was fantastic (and thankfully it wasn’t loud enough to be too annoying).

First, I was a little bummed that I spent so much time farting around bopping from my sponsor’s house to his barn… I lost almost a full mile an hour off my average – I managed to pull an 18.1 into the wind and I was down to 17.2.  On the other hand, at a time like this I’d like to say I really don’t give a $#!+ about average pace… but I’d be lying.  Ish.

I pulled into the driveway with just a shade under an 18.3-mph average for 35 miles.  Had I skipped my sponsor’s house, 19, easy… but I’d have been worse for it.  Recovery isn’t a solitary thing, at least not the way I play it.  I need others around me who are going through the same thing so I can stay on the right path.  So that whiny part of me that cares about average pace was sent to the corner to sulk.  He shortly rejoined the committee, apologizing for being a knucklehead.

After cleaning up and eating, I started systematically checking things with the bike.  First was the spokes.  I didn’t think it was a busted spoke nipple, but you never know unless you check the tension.  Both wheels came up negative for an issue.  Stem was tight, per specs.  Handlebar bolts, tight per specs.  Chainring bolts… the first one told the story.  The second was tight, the third lose, and the fourth tight.  Problem solved.  Probably.

I’ll know more today… because it’s going to be perfectly sunny and almost 60-fin’-° today!  If ever there was a Venge Day Part II, this is going to be it!  Happy days and sunshine, baby!  WOOHOO!  Oh, and a bike that doesn’t click anymore.  That too.


Thank Goodness for My Inglorious Rain Bike Part Two: Let’s Not Get Too Carried Away.

Chuck and I rolled out yesterday to a 10% chance of rain.  Now, to most normal people, that means this means there’s a 90% chance it won’t rain.  Good odds, right?  But you don’t live in the Genesee Valley in Michigan, now do you (well, a few who read this will, but don’t mess up my little lead-in)?  In the freakin’ Genesee Valley in Michigan, a 10% chance of rain means there’s a 100% chance you get 10% wet.  Two miles into the ride it started to mist – and true to the formula, it’d mist up for a mile, then quit for four, mist up for a half, then quit for three more… it was one of those scenarios where you don’t really want to quit but you don’t want to stay out, either.  Oh, I almost forgot the temperature – because that makes this whole equation really fun.  41°, feels like 36 (that’s 3 C to the Canucks and Europeans).

Even with the on again, off again mist, it wasn’t enough to get the roads wet so we just pressed on.  20 miles in, cruising toward home with a nice tailwind, it all got a little ugly.  The misting increased in intensity, but still wasn’t enough to wet the roads.  Had the roads been wet, when Chuck asked, “So what do you wanna do?”, I’d have responded, “Go the f*** home”.  Instead, it was, “I don’t f***in’ know”.  And just so you know, “I don’t f***in’ know” translates in cycling English to “Let’s add some miles”.  On the back end of a bonus lap with the mist now enough to form droplets on my dome protector, Chuck said, “Hey, let’s do the rest of the Jimmer Loop home”.  Again, in cycling English, this translates to “Let’s add three more miles”.

And because I’m a dumbass when I put said ass on the saddle of my Trek, I said, “Sure, we can do that”.

Three miles later, the roads were wet and I was cursing my idiot self for having agreed to add more miles.  Had we stuck to the original plan of 30, I’d have been in the driveway just about the time the roads got wet.  Instead, we were still three miles out.  I was going to have to clean my bike again.  Second time in three days…

And as if someone heard my moaning and cared, everything dried up with two miles to go.  We just rolled right out of the mist like there was a wall.  Mist here [I] No Mist here.

And then I felt like a wuss for complaining (in my head) about having to clean my bike again.

I pulled into the driveway with a little more than 33 miles, and I only had to wipe the bike down.  It didn’t need anywhere near a full cleaning.

Today is the last crappy, cloudy day though, and it shouldn’t be quite as cold.  Tomorrow the sun comes out and the temps start to normalize a little bit… which means I’m giddy.  CoVacation 2020 is about to get fun.

Thank Goodness For My Inglorious Rain Bike

I beat the rain bike up pretty good Sunday morning.  It had rained much of the day Saturday and well into the night, but we woke up to 60° temps (15 C) and partly cloudy skies.  The roads were really, really, very, incredibly wet… but I wasn’t about to miss sunshine and 60°!  Normally, 60 isn’t anything to write home about, but in Michigan, in March, 60 is glorious and rare.

Within a mile I had water and dirt dripping off the frame and drivetrain but because the bike is so solid, I had no worries.  I just rode on with my buddy, Chuck well off to my side and back so to hold the social distancing norm.  My Venge was sitting protected and comfy in my bike room.


My rain bike isn’t perfect, of course.  It takes a noticeable amount of added effort to keep her spun up and rolling, but it’s a nice trade-off, actually… I’ve gotta put more effort into it so when I switch over to my Venge, I’m that much faster on it.

The first fourteen miles were wet and gnarly, into a mild headwind, but as we approached our stop, the wind started to pick up.  We still had eleven miles to get to tailwind.  Five miles later and that once mild headwind was a 20+mph lesson in effort.  Three miles later and we were getting into 30-mph gusts.  I laughed out loud more than once. Three miles later, the pain was over.  We turned for home, the wind having dried the roads out completely.  And the push was worth the effort to get there.

My Garmin radar died first, then my Edge 520 Plus ran out of juice… then I ran out of gas.  It had been a long week, I think, going from approximately 125 miles a week to almost 250 and without a day off the bike in two weeks.  Even with the cross-tailwind I wanted to sit up and soft pedal home a few times.  I didn’t, though.  I stayed with Chuck, trying to break it down into miles… three to go, only nine minutes.  Surely I can handle that.  Two miles, less than six minutes.  One mile.

I showered up and was off in nap land shortly after firing down some lunch.  I woke up with a smile on my face and one hell of a dirty rain bike.  An hour later, she was clean, lubed, drivetrain cleaned and lubed, and ready for another go.

My rain bike isn’t one of those ultra-cool aero road bikes.  It’s not exactly a lightweight climber, either.  It’s just an old Trek that was given a new lease on life.  There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with riding the bike, too, having rebuilt her from the ground up.

And she still tears it up in a fashion show… after I clean her up and dry behind her gears.




CoVacation-2020; A Fabulous Month of March

I had every intention of writing a scathing post about Chicago’s mayor who recently said something to the effect that this is no time for long bike rides and 5k (runs)… that allowing people to go outside is meant as a mere respite from being locked indoors and anyone caught out for more than that mere respite could be fined and eventually imprisoned.  Actually, it’s a perfect time for running and long bike rides unless you happen to be anti-science…

However, I don’t know Chicago’s situation so I’ll reserve my opinion of the mayor’s statement and just say I’m glad I passed on the $13,000 per month job I was offered out there.  We’re still free to roam the roads as we please as long as we choose to do that at the appropriate distance (which vastly exceeds 6′ or 2 meters on a bike, btw).  Also, the irony after my post from yesterday would be just a bit too rich.

That said, if the information here, here, and here is right, the mayor could be doing more harm than good for the people she represents.  One can only hope the local news agencies hold the mayor accountable, but I won’t hold my breath.  I can understand requiring people to avoid congregating – I’m on board with that – but requiring city residents to stay cooped up in their homes seems over the top and wrong.

I’m simply going to remain thankful that smarter heads have thus far prevailed in my home state.  Interestingly, at most of the links I’ve looked at (more than what I’ve included above), all of it suggests mild exercise is good.  This is to say, rather than the kind of exceedingly rigorous exercise I’m used to.  To that end, I’ve slowed down considerably, though I also increased my mileage.  With the downturn in traffic, cycling has been safer and more enjoyable than I can ever remember it and I’m going to continue to take advantage of it.  I ended up with a little more than 240 miles last week and am vastly happier for getting out.

Don’t Listen To the News; Use Your Looking Balls. Look At How Happy Your Neighbors Are To Be Walking and Riding In This Uneasy Time.

In my post yesterday, (sort of) following one of my favorite blogger’s wordless posts, I included one of my favorite quotes of all time.  I like to shorten it during troubled times because I need to keep things simple so as not to get lost in the weeds; I want to be able to say, “Wow, what a ride” when it’s all over.

What am I doing today, right this very moment that’ll help me get there?

This is what I think of when I’m in a snit with my wife.  When I’m having a tough time with a task at work.  When I simply don’t know what to do…  What am I doing right now to get me to, “Wow, what a ride”?

I’ve ridden 26 of the 28 days we’ve had in this month – 18 of those 26 were outdoors.  653 miles (and I’ll get at least another 40-ish today)…  You know what’s stuck out more than the awesome lack of traffic?

Friday, after putting in 30 fun miles with my wife, I went back out to add another ten or so to crank out some hard miles.  My wife is a little anxious because she’s going through the exact symptoms I had last week, but hers have persisted longer than mine.  I think she’s surprised it isn’t worse, but waiting for the hammer to drop at the same time so she doesn’t want to push it by riding too hard.  A feeling I can relate to – and it’s scary.

Four miles into my bonus miles, I rode up to four couples walking down the road, all in the same direction, but spread out more than enough on both sides of the road.  I said to all eight, “You know, I’ve been riding these roads for years.  I’ve never ridden up on four couples out walking, let alone four couples in the space of 40′.  I love it.”

Three couples turned and smiled.  One person responded, “You know, we were just talking about the same thing”.

Friends, I don’t know what things are looking like in your communities, but in mine I’ve seen more good than I can list here.  People aren’t just sitting in their homes, they’re getting off the couch and going for walks.  I’ve seen an unprecedented number of cyclists and bike riders out to get some air pumping through their lungs.  Even at the grocery store, I’ve seen people nod and smile at their fellows with that, “We’re all in this together” wink.

There are going to be those random examples of idiocy and evil.  They are not examples of human nature.  They’re examples of inhuman nature.  Don’t get sucked into anger and self-righteous indignation.  No good can come of it.  I don’t want to skid into my casket thinking, “Wow, I wish…”

As for me, I can’t tell you how glad I am to be a cyclist… actually, relieved might be a better word.



Cycling Therapy for COVID-19? You Might Be Surprised…

The first tightening in my chest, where I could tell something wasn’t quite right, scared the hell out of me.  I texted my boss that I shouldn’t come to work and he agreed, offering that I could work from home.  My cycling buddy’s son, then wife had been sick and we’d been fist-bumping after rides like it was going out of style.  That was supposed to be acceptable…  The dry cough started Thursday morning, though it never approached “uncontrollable”.  Mildly annoying is a better description.  I went out for a bike ride with Chuck that afternoon anyway.  No way I was going to let this get in the way – it wasn’t all that bad and I was going to will myself into being asymptomatic.  It was a slow ride as chuck was starting to feel a bit under the weather himself.  Chuck and I tooled around our normal loop at just under 16-mph… about 3-mph slower than normal (Tuesday had been 18.85-mph on the same route).

Friday had me pretty nervous.  One can will oneself not to be sick, and sometimes it works, but I wasn’t kidding myself either.  I was waiting for the hammer to fall.  The weather wasn’t all that great, either.  A cold front had blown in so I chose to ride my trainer indoors around lunchtime.  The hammer never dropped.  The cough subsided Friday afternoon and the tightness in my chest was entirely gone by Saturday morning.  For Saturday, it was really cold, so another ride on the trainer.  Again, easy so as not to flare anything up, but not too easy.

Sunday, the weather improved and Chuck and I were back outside.  I was feeling fine, he was still battling his mild fever.  On that ride, Chuck said he’d spoken with his sister, a nurse, who recommended “deep breathing exercises”.  Well what better deep breathing exercise is there than riding a bike?  We were out for 2 hours, covering a little more than 35 miles.  Over the next five days I covered 184 slow(ish) miles and I’m feeling fantastic.

Then this:


Aerobic exercise. Before infection aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen cardiovascular health. Once infected, during the period of mild symptoms, moderate daily aerobic exercise can improve lung ventilation. Such exercise may benefit immune function as well [10]. Ideally, do this exercise outdoors or with open windows or otherwise well ventilated areas. In sufficiently warm climates, longer walks or even running may improve lung capacity. Jumping jacks, jogging in place, or dancing can be done even in small spaces.

Is the advice legit?  I don’t know, but I’ve heard it from enough people I trust that I trust it.  And it definitely helped me.  Who knew?

On another note, and purely turning the frown upside down, it’s unmistakable what this virus has done for getting people outside in my neck of the USA.  Folks, I see more walkers than I do cars while I’m out on those bike rides nowadays… and the number of those who are smiling while we wave as I go by is simply fantastic.