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67,780 Clean, Sober, Happy, Active, Wonderful Miles in My 40’s

I started cycling and actually tracking mileage at 41, almost 42 years old so I’m shorting myself… meh, maybe 1,200 running miles but when you’re already above 65,000 what’s 1,200 between friends?!

At 50 years old I feel better than I ever thought possible.  I wouldn’t say anything silly, like “I feel better at 50 than I did at 30″… I most certainly do not.  However, between not drinking or using drugs, not smoking, eating a balanced diet and enough exercise to choke a horse, the equation isn’t exactly rocket science.

While a clean, active, happy existence isn’t a promise of longevity, if I’d kept up the way I was when I was a kid, there’s no question I’d be worm food already.  According to doctors, I’ve been alive 20 years longer than if I’d kept drinking – my liver was that cooked.

Life, after sobriety, doesn’t necessarily come at me any easier but I sure do react to it a lot better – and therefore life itself is vastly better.

Let’s hope in another decade I’m celebrating another 60 or 70,000 miles… and continued recovery.  Life does get better, as do I, if I work for it.

Enough that I feel sorry for those who wait for it to happen to them.

A Simple, If Humorous, Note on “Listening to Your Body”

Trigger (heh) warning:  If you happen to be a sissy, the following might trigger you into sucking your thumb and curling up into the fetal position for anywhere from five minutes to several days.  Do not read this post if this is something you’re capable of.  I haven’t sucked my thumb since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (I think I was 3) and the last time I was in the fetal position, I was actually in the womb, a person like me would be reasonably safe to read what I’m about to write.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

My daughter, for my 50th birthday, baked me the most delectable carrot cake (with cream cheese icing, of course) to ever have passed my lips.  It was one of those cake eating experiences that, because it’s so utterly fantastic, makes you close your eyes in ecstasy the first several bites.

So there I am last night, sitting on the couch after a big, fast Thursday night ride (36 total miles) and, because I’m so attuned to what my body is telling me, my body says, “Hey, yo!  Down here!  Hey, I need some carrot cake down here!”

Well, now that’s a reason to rejoice right there!  My body says it needs carrot cake!  Well, you know what happens next:  I’m ass-deep in cream cheese icing when I realized I’d made a mistake in interpretation…

My body only asked for carrots.  My melon filled in the “cake” part.

Oops.

Cycling And Speed: There’s A Difference Between Knowing There’s A Hill… And Climbing The Hill; Beating The Mental Block To Being Your Best On A Bicycle

Who can forget when Neo just begins to discover he really is “the one“, when Morpheus utters that simple line, “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”, in the movie The Matrix (1999 [1999?!])?

So it is with cycling and speed. There’s a difference between knowing fast and cycling fast – actually doing it.  The tone of this post should not be taken as one of braggadocio, but of humility.  In cycling, the phrase there’s always someone faster was ever thus and shall always be.  I am a very small fish in a very big pond… but I’m a small fish who also happens to be decent with a keyboard – and we are a rare breed, indeed.

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First, I’m going to be straight up here.  If you try to push your limits, you’re going to get dropped every now and again.  You’re going to spend some miles crawling back after you’ve popped.  How can you learn to pass your limit if you don’t know your limit in the first place?

Next, and this is a big one, you have to shove aside that negative self-talk and doubt bullshit.  I know people near as strong as I am but talk themselves into hurting when they’ve got gas left in the tank.  They’re miserable and struggling and I’m just cruising along.  If ever there was a saying to embrace in cycling, “this too shall pass”.  When I’m feeling a haggard, I know it’ll pass and I’ll feel at least a little better before long.  There’s an ebb and flow to cycling at higher speeds.  Try to concentrate on the flow a lot more than the ebb.  In fact, let go of the ebb.

Save your good legs for the big days!  If you’re one who lets a lack of confidence gnaw at you, for the love of God and all that is holy, good legs for good days.  You don’t go out the day before a big ride and go hard.  We mere mortals have to pick our battles.  Of course, you don’t take a day off either.  The day before a big ride is perfect for an active recovery day.  You’ll want to be slow enough that you get a little antsy about whether or not you should be trying a little harder.  If ever there was a day to take a few pictures along your route, the day before a big day is it.  Chill out and ride on the bar-tops a bit.

Eat, but don’t be all crazy about it.  Carb-loading is great and all, but you can only store so much “carb” before it becomes “fat”.  An extra slice of pizza?  Great.  An extra pizza?  Not so much.   If you feel like crap when you clip in, you’ll be thinking about that extra pizza weighing you down.  Cue confidence train wreck and you dropping off the back, dejected.  Don’t do that to yourself.

Now, finally, repeat after me:  I am a badass.  I’m a horse.  I am fast.  I am strong.

Now get out there and hammer it out.

 

 

My Most Enjoyable Long Weekend

We rolled out Sunday morning with a small but lively group with a goal of just 45 miles at an easy, fun pace.

Yet another Sunday Funday on the tandem, my wife and I lighting up the front.  We kept the pace steady, around 20-mph, the first 13 miles but Diane and my wife both had to stop to use a port-john before we got to town so three single started rolling a few minutes before we took off out of the school parking lot.  We took it easy starting out but I fell into chase down mode and we took to reeling my friends in.  After a nasty (but shallow and short) incline that my wife hammered up, we started putting down the serious watts.  We had a sprint coming up in a few miles and it’s perfect for a tandem.  We pulled around the lead group with about a mile to go and kept ratcheting the pace up to be discouraging to anyone wanting to come around.  It didn’t work.

We pounded down the hill, shifting as we went until we settled into a good gear.  The other tandem had come around as well as three of the single bikes and we were two lengths behind.  Once everyone cleared us I figured my wife would ease up but she wanted the City Limits sign.  She was laying out some power, so I gave it everything I had.  In the stretch to the sign, we overtook all three single bikes at 34-mph and pulled along side the second tandem… but we needed another ten seconds.  The got us at the line by a half-length.  It was a good effort.

After a short stop at our normal gas station, we rolled out into the morning sun.  It was starting to warm up but we had virtually no wind.  The rest of the ride, up until about 43 miles when both our butts had had enough, was fantastic and we ended up pulling into the driveway with 45 miles and some change at 18.6-mph.  That was speedy for a Sunday Funday on the tandem.  And all was well.

I went out with a couple of friends and helped one of ours clear out some big items out of his garage.  It was well over 90° and the sun was hammering us, but it was worth helping a friend out.  We ended up working from noon till 3:30 or so.  It was some hard work but we all felt pretty good about helping a friend out.  After showering up, we had a fantastic dinner (grilled chicken and sweet potatoes along with a salad).  I put on Aquaman after and drifted off sometime in the special features and slept like a baby through the night.

We’re still muddling our way through COVIDcation, but I can’t complain.  It was a fantastic weekend of family, friends, sun, swimming, food and fun… and that most important aspect we celebrated the day before; Freedom.

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Strava Hits A Bottom of the Ninth, Two-Out, GRANDSLAM with Turn-By-Turn Route Importing… It’s As Easy As Starring a Route.

I finally started paying for Strava over the last set of changes to their free service.  Who can afford to offer their service for free?  I’d never be so generous (unless you happen to be an addict or alcoholic who has a desire to quit, then I’m “shirt off my back” generous – I’ve given my only bike to a guy who needed one to get to work).

I’m glad I’ve got access to the full line of services.  One upgrade they just came up with changed their relationship with Garmin forever.  It once was, if you wanted to import a route into your Garmin Edge 520 Plus (or better)… well, you’d be better off using Ride With GPS.  You’d export your file to the desktop of your computer, hook up your Garmin with a USB cable and transfer that file to the proper folder.  It was fast and fairly simple if you knew what you were doing – and if you had a laptop.

You still need the laptop if you’re on the free Strava service (you can’t create a route through the app unless you’re a paying member) and a computer even helps speed things up if you’re a paying member.

Bring up a ride that you want to make into a route.  Click the triple dot then select “create route”.  Edit the route if you wish, name the route, and save the route.  Then click on “Dashboard” and select my routes.  Make sure the new route is “starred”.  You’re done.  The next time your Garmin hooks up to your phone, the route will automatically download to your Garmin.

Like I said, homerun.  Granny tater in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a full count.

Now you can do more of this:

And less tinkering on a stinkin’ computer.

Happy Freedom Day, America. Though Her Citizens Have Their Flaws, Freedom For All Was Always the Point

The best of America is the freedom of her citizens. The beauty of its constitution and bill of rights is what makes it all work – and it’s what politicians fight tooth an nail to ignore and misrepresent, for one simple reason: they want us angry and divided so we’ll vote.

I won’t be commenting anymore on that. I will on what is great about America.

In the United States, we are one of the only countries in the World whose rights aren’t handed down from the government. We, unlike anywhere else on earth, are born with our rights or they are a natural part of taking the oath of Citizenship. It obviously took politicians a while to figure that simple truth out, but it did happen.

Other countries hand down citizens’ rights from on high and what is given, can be taken away. Not so in the United States of America and this presents a problem for politicians.

In this country, our rights come from God. We are born free and it’s the government’s job to protect that freedom. The angst in Washington DC is that political elites think of themselves as better than that.

If your politicians are not doing their job protecting your freedom, throw the bums out. More important, if your politician likes to interject themselves between you and your freedom, claiming without them you can’t truly be free, don’t let them run a lemonade stand. If you’re American, you were born with your rights. If you’re an immigrant, you granted yourself your own rights the minute you took the oath of Citizenship. They weren’t handed down to you, they’re yours. Don’t ever let a politician come between you and your freedom. Once you let that happen, they can take it away.

Just sayin’.

Happy Freedom Day America… and the same to all her citizens. All of them.

Amidst the Chaos, A Wonderful Weekend Of Happiness, Freedom, Peace and Cycling

Even when life gets difficult, recovery lights the way. With 201,000 miles on it, my Equinox is finally starting to nickle and dime us to death. It’s been paid off for a year and some change so we’re in that trap; is it better to fix everything that’s going wrong and not have a payment, or just pony up and buy a new vehicle? Either way, it’s been the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, by a long shot.

The hard part is, it still runs like a top.

Anyway, enough of that doom and gloom, crap. We’re experiencing some of the best cycling weather in years, we just had our first cookout of the year, and other than my once outrageously reliable Chevy Equinox, life is fantastic. Whatever we end up doing, this too shall pass.

Friday afternoon was a quick, and I do mean quick, ride with my wife just to get our miles in before our dinner party. We only logged 19-3/4 miles and made it back with just enough time to shower up and I ran to the convenience store for a bag of ice. Our friends showed up shortly after I got back.

Saturday was a perfect day for a long ride but we didn’t have many takers show up. My wife and I rolled out alone and picked up Phill and Brad along the way. That ride had a bit of everything. Slow miles, mid-range, and we even got into some speed every now and again. I pulled into the driveway with an enjoyable 100 km.

Sunday’s have been deemed “Sunday Funday” for a month and a week now. Rather than push the pace, we just go out and have fun riding with friends. My wife and I have been taking the tandem out the last five Sundays in a row and we’re enjoying it more than in the past. First, we’re working together better, and second, when I don’t have to worry about pushing the pace to keep up, I don’t worry about working so hard – so I’m not fighting against my wife with every pedal stroke. We’re still working through some communication issues that come with noob tandem riders, but those communication errors make up about 5% of a given ride. In other words, they’re minimal (and usually funny).Yesterday’s ride fit that norm – 95% great, 5% working on the communication skills. We rolled out to sunshine and a barely there breeze and temps in the low 60’s – perfect cycling weather. We warmed up in a hurry, though. I hadn’t noticed but we crept up from an easy 18-19-mph to 21-1/2. I’d changed the nose angle on my saddle a little and I put a different saddle on for my wife (at her request) and we were both having a much better time producing power. In fact, we had to dial it back a time or two to keep it “Sunday Funday” pace. We even added miles on – about six at the half-way point.We stopped in Flushing and had a much needed Coke.

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We rolled for home, shedding riders as we went. Phill took off first, then Big Joe, and that left Jeff & Diane on Diane’s tandem and Dave. We kept an easy-ish clip the rest of the way home and I let our friends know I’d cut watermelon up and had it waiting in the refrigerator.We pulled into the driveway with exactly 46.57 miles… and this is important because I found out a few hours later that if that had been 47.07 miles, I’d have stopped exactly at 1,000 miles for the month. Instead, 999.5. Crime in Italy, Chuck. I was also 9 miles short on my 250 mile goal for the week. I thought about heading back out after I cut the grass, but thought better of it for once. I’ll top 1,000 for the month today and add to that total in Lennon tomorrow evening (we’ve got a spectacular forecast all the way through the weekend). I simply didn’t need the miles.

Later, after dropping my daughter at a friend’s house, we worked through those communication issues I mentioned earlier. We had some big laughs and sorted a lot out. I didn’t have any noodle salad for dinner last night, but did have a tasty pizza. Hey, I just had the thought maybe I should change “good times and noodle salad” to “good times and pizza”.

Noodle salad is good, for sure… but pizza, now that’s happiness and freedom on a plate.

New Wheel Day, 100 KM’s With Friends

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Before I get into this post, I have an apology to make to my friends who are left out from these little rides.  I hate this part of the pandemic.  I have no doubt that, were I to post our rides through the normal text messaging system, we’d end up with 30 cyclists showing up to some of these rides.  Some would be okay with this, others would rather take their toy and go home than be caught in a group so big – and then there are the health ramifications of riding with everyone (if there are ramifications to begin with, there are those in the medical field who say not even a little bit).

Either way, there are going to be hurt feelings and for that, I apologize profusely and repeatedly.  I have no doubt I’ll have some face-to-face amends to make, concerning who was invited and who wasn’t, when this is all over and they will be made.  I would prefer we not have to worry about any of this $#!+ but that’s about as likely as hoping unicorns will save us evil (pronounced E-E-E-vil-l-l).  Sounds great but it won’t work out so well in the wash.  Know this; I hate having to pick, as you would.

That was the salad.  Now on to the meat and potatoes!  The new Fast & Light 50’s are nice.  No weight penalty over the 38’s I had on the Venge before, and they’re unquestionably sharp.  They felt a little faster but more research is necessary.  A lot more.  They were a little twitchy in a crosswind, but once you start getting into that kind of dept in the wheel, you would expect a little “twitchy”.  They weren’t bad and it was nothing I couldn’t get used to in one ride.

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We rolled out in stellar conditions.  A little on the cool side after a late spring cold front blew through the night before and it was a little on the breezy side, but with plentiful sunshine, I realized I’d overdressed with arm and knee warmers pretty early on (mid-50’s or 13 C).

What ensued was one of the most enjoyable 100 k’s I’d ever ridden.  The route we picked was stellar with two places to add miles if desired.  The pavement was fantastic the whole ride with new asphalt or worked in chip-seal over much of the 63 miles.

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Folks, if anything this year is allowed to feel “normal”, this ride did.  It was just like good old times with laughs and great attitudes.  I’d dare say a great time was had by all.

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We rolled into the driveway with 63-1/2 miles and happy hearts.  New wheel day was absolutely wonderful.  As good as they get.  After a wonderful lunch and a great nap while the kids were tuning up for next year’s swim season at a friend’s lake, I cut the grass…

Then, my wife got the bright idea, for Sunday Funday I should get the tandem ready for service.  It’s been quite some time, last season, since we’ve ridden the tandem… and, being honest, I looked for a few reasons to object but couldn’t find any.  It was really a fantastic idea.  I’ve been thinking the last couple of weeks we should spend more time on the tandem.  I spent the last couple of hours of the day getting the bike ready for service today.  Cleaned up, drivetrain nice, tidy and lubed up, brakes checked, and all of the cobwebs gone.

Now that’s a full day!

Dinner was fantastic, and I slept even better.

And Finally, A REAL Active Recovery Day.

I’m only 98 miles from my second thousand-mile month in a row. The good aspect in this month is that I was working through most of it.

Over COVIDcation, I put in a lot of enjoyable miles, taking it easy for most of them.  I didn’t know any better so I was antsy a few of those days about taking it too easy riding with my wife.  Oh, how wrong I was and I’m actually really stoked I can relax through March and April in the future.  My early training was… how should I put this… not exactly according to standard practices.  Most people go too easy and wonder why they can’t get fast.  I went hard, all the time, and got fast quick, but I never learned to back off and that’s affected how I ride today.  Let’s say I’ve developed a nervous tick that won’t let me enjoy easy miles because I keep thinking I’m missing out on an opportunity to get stronger – and that’s entirely the wrong way to look at it.  I’m working at correcting this.

Anyway, Wednesday night’s ride was going to be interesting… I struggled mightily in the heat Tuesday night and I think it was just too much over too many days, plus 91° heat.  I was cooked after 24 miles (unfortunately, I the route was 33).

I got a text from Chuck that he’d be ready shortly after 5 and I was ready to go at 4:30 so I left early for some extra miles.  I had my bandit parking lot AA meeting that evening and I wanted to be showered and ready to go and I needed some miles to put myself in a position to successfully hit 1,000 miles for May.  I readied myself and took off.

I should add, I took off thinking I’d corrected a bottom bracket tick from the other day.  A mile later I knew I hadn’t and it wasn’t a bottom bracket, it was the headset.  I went three miles then turned around and headed home to straighten out the tick.  I also re-set the seat post, just in case.  Then I headed over to my buddy’s house to pick him up, bike still ticking.  When I got to my buddy’s house I used his Allen wrenches to try the chainring bolts.  Two were loose.  Maybe that did it, I thought.

Nope.

I got out of the saddle to accelerate and pulled back hard on the handlebar and that caused something in the headset to click into place – I don’t know what the hell happened (everything was properly tight, checked, double checked, etc.) but the tick went away.  And so I was happy.  All’s well that ends well (I re-set and tightened up the headset later, after the ride and after I cleaned up).

I mentioned to Chuck that I needed an easy day and he said that would be perfect for him so we had a mainly sit up and chat fun ride.  We talked about government edicts and being governed over being ruled and a whole host of other fun topics.  Chuck and I play for the same team so, when we’re riding together, we can safely discuss such things normally verboten on bike rides (there’s no politics on bike rides… UNLESS you know for an absolute fact everyone is on the same team – in that case, discuss away).

So we fixed a little bit of the world Wednesday and I was able to get 28 fantastic, easy miles in before heading out to our meeting.

It was a busy day, but I slept like a baby.  Life is good.

A Time of Year for Celebration… And Then WordPress Dropped a WordBomb on the Classic Editor.

This was going to be an uplifting, wonderful, happy post. We’ve finally broken through to some decent weather and last evening’s ride was wonderful. Therapeutic even. I wanted a moderate ride and managed an easy 19-1/2 mile average over 22 miles (or just short, I think). We’d had two days of drenching rain – enough our water table is now topped off – and it’s very green around here after the white of winter and brown of early spring… the robin’s eggs are hatched and wildlife is everywhere.

It rained all day and only dried up just before I got home but the temp was right, at room temperature, so shorts and short sleeves were the order of the day. I even, against my better judgement, readied the Venge. After reinstalling the Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow saddle last week, I wanted to put it through its paces before the long rides hit this weekend. I’ll get into this a little deeper in a later post, but taking the time to meticulously dial it in paid off. It’s an amazing saddle and my nether regions have never been so… um, not angry after a ride. Anyway, I really put the Venge through its paces last night without getting too outrageous. I started out aiming for an 18-mph average and overshot that by quite a bit. Ah well, I earned dinner last night, and it was spectacular. Shepherd’s pie, made out of slow-cooked roast beef, veggies and mashed potatoes. I still have to post the recipe, but it’s freaking amazing. Anyway, I digress…

COVID-19… COVIDcation… A recession… murder hornets…

Then I woke up and checked the blogs I follow and found a new post by WordPress in which they announced they’re doing away with the old WordPress editor in favor of the atrocious, pile of steaming shit block editor. You know, I was wondering what was next. Now I know. Look, I wouldn’t be surprised, if you’re a web developer, if the block editor is the cat’s meow. If you’re a writer, the block editor sucks ass because you can’t actually write. I’ve tried it a few times and end up wanting to throw my Lenovo Thinkpad through the window… thus wrecking a $1,500 laptop and a picture window at the same time. The WordPress post received negative comments so fast, the author shut comments down after only 28.

There is hope, however. WordPress is doing away with the WordPress editor (the one you and I know and love), but they did install a Classic editor in the system and they have a classic editor block if you want to use that. How to access all of that bullshit, God only knows. They like to call their techs Happiness Engineers – the block editor’s creation leads me to believe happiness engineers are kinda like “democratic socialism”. “Oh, don’t worry about the socialism part, it’s democratic socialism. Who gives a f*** if it’s democratic? It’s still f***in’ socialism! Holy hell, the government still controls everything! That’s like saying, “Hey, don’t worry about the herpes, they’re democratic herpes! Smile!” F***, they’re still f***in’ herpes!

The post was bad, too. I’d have kicked my own ass for writing it, though I’ve gotta hand it to the author at the same time, it ain’t easy putting on a happy face to sell a literal pile of shit. Could you imagine having to try to sell a pile of shit? My favorite is the part titled, “Why switch to the WordPress editor? Let us count the ways.” Are you ready for this?

  1. The block editor was released more than a year and a half ago. That’s one of the reasons… wtf
  2. Since then it has been improved in numerous ways (Or, another way to read that, it sucked so bad we’ve been trying for a year and a half to make it right and writers still hate it).
  3. There are more than 100 content blocks to thoroughly confuse the $#!+ out of you.
  4. Dozens of built in page templates (again, to thoroughly confuse the writing experience).
  5. That’s it, folks. That’s why we should want to change.

Anyway, hold on to your butts. The changes hit June 1st… and if I have to use the real block editor, folks, I’m done. I’ll take the next year to put all of my best posts into a book, and I’m out. I can’t live with that negativity in my life. It ain’t worth it. “Smile”.