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Yet Another Perfect Morning Spent with Friends on Two Wheels

60 marvelously cool degrees at 7am, when we were wheels down and rolling.  The wind… wait, we can’t call three mph wind!  The breeze was out of the northwest at just three mph.  Seriously, barely enough to notice as we headed west, then north till the tripmeter read 31 and change.

Then we turned around and headed for home, without knowing exactly how we were going to get there without hitting a gravel road.  Call it an adventure.  On a bike.

Our average suffered because we had to double back a few times, but yesterday wasn’t about an average, it was about the perfect joy that cycling is:  Cruising down the road, cares left behind, laughing, talking with friends, and maybe three or four motorists in a seven mile stretch who were a little less than appreciative at seeing cyclists on the road…..  Beaten only by the Jesus freak with “saved” messages all over their vehicle, who scream and holler that you’re going to hell for riding a bicycle.  True story.  Only one thing can be said in response:

“You’re number one!  Have a nice day.”

61 miles, 3:17 and change.  18.5 mph average.

A Record-ish Week on the Bike is a Mix of Fitness, Laughter, Good Times and Noodle Salad, Baby.

I consider myself quite lucky to be able to ride as much as I do.  I imagine I would have to be retired to ride any more.  If not retired, definitely divorced, because my wife certainly wouldn’t put up with me devoting that much time to cycling.  I also wouldn’t blame her – I’d have to kick my own @$$.

Considering I’m not ready to retire and I have no desire to be divorced, I’ll just call what I have, good enough.

Before last week, my best non-DALMAC one week total mileage was 280.  I beat it by just ten miles but when you’re me, being able to put in 15-1/2 hours of any week into cycling is pretty rare… and good!

I managed 70 miles on the Fourth and 81 on Saturday… throw in a 33 mile Monday, a few easy days and another 54 on Sunday.  Add them all up and it’s 290.

I love big mileage weeks.  It’s not some hokey notion that 290 miles is cooler than 150 or 200 but because if I’m putting in near 300 miles in a week, I’m spending a lot of fun time with my wife and friends – and that’s all good.

Cycling is the fitness and weight loss equivalent of good times and noodle salad.

There’s a Difference between Hoping and Knowing when it comes to Your Ticker…

I’ve spent the last 24 years and change trying to do the next right thing when it came to my health.  I quit drinking, quit smoking, quit soda, quit, quit, quit, quit, quit…  and started exercising.  A LOT.  I’ve been active for most of my life but I got nutty about rollerblading as a young man, and cycling as a mid-life journey.
The amount of exercise I get on my bike had my doctor nervous…. it turns out some people think 10-15 hours in a week is a lot.  Crazy, right?  They called it “extreme”.  Seven hours a week at a geezerly pace is okay but ten or twelve riding like a middle-aged comet is beyond the pale?

Anyway, I had an appointment with a specialist that a doctor/cyclist friend of mine holds in high regard to get checked out.  The weeks leading up to the appointment were pretty tough.

I had trained hard through the winter and I was riding strong.  Then came the freak out by my family doc (who had nothing but my best interest and health in mind).  When he said that I had a special hook on my EKG that was either nothing one big @$$ coffin nail – and I mean coffin nail in the worst way, as in you only need one.  I backed off on the intensity of cycling almost immediately.  I tried to convince myself that I was being silly, that I was as healthy as an ox, but I couldn’t help but as a friend of mine likes to say, “It’s real easy to talk tough about death until the bus shows up for you”.

I had my appointment and it went exceptionally well – according to the specialist, it was more likely that my heart was perfectly healthy and strong than it was the coffin nail.  He didn’t hear so much as a murmur, and I should go on living my life and come back to see him in 30 years when I started slowing down (that would put me at about 77).  He then offered that just to make 100% sure that I was clear, he’d order an echocardiogram.  That just happened, and it was awesome.  To be able to see the valves of my heart working in real time…. to hear it working.

I’ve all but ceased worrying, but in two weeks or so, when the report finally comes out, I’ll know for sure that I can still hammer.  Let’s just say I’m looking forward to that report.

Miles with Friends Part Deux:  Independence Day with Friends

I did take pictures throughout this round of Miles with Friends, our annual Fourth of July ride:

It was agreed, unanimously, that this was the closest weather to perfect that we could hope for in Michigan….

Cool at the start but it warmed up in a hurry.

More Lycra than you can shake a stick at.

It was high fives and handshakes in the closing miles.  We (Mrs. Bgddy and I) ended up with 71 miles (though mileage varied in the group) in 3:45:21, or just a shade under 19 mph.

One thing is for certain, there were smiles all around, but that’s what they call “par for the course” after a round of Miles with Friends.

Miles with Friends, 33 to be Precise, and there’s no Place like Home – and How to Play!

I didn’t take any photos, the ride looked like so many others… like, maybe this one:

Or this one:

Or even this one:

What made the day great was riding with our friends again after a week’s vacation.  The ride didn’t come close to two hours, but holy cats, was it fun.

Our game is like the phone game app, but the words are spoken, you’re actually together, and there is no sitting still while playing, Miles with Friends is what the fit crowd does.  It doesn’t matter how you play, either.  It just matters that you play.  

Some people like to play on leisure bikes on paved trails, others like the mountain bikes on… well, anything.  Then you have the road crowd, with our need for speed.  You even have those who like to play without a bike at all!

Effort matters, of course.  Miles with Friends works just like anything else in life.  The greater the effort, the greater the rewards, but there’s one thing that matters more than anything when playing:


I’ve yet to see a gloomy face when playing Miles with Friends.  The reason for all of those smiles is simple:  The game is the human equivalent of a pressure release valve.

So, here’s how to play:  Call your handy, dandy local bike shop and tell them how you would like to play the game and let them tell you who to contact at the local bike club.  Make friends.  Set a time.  Put in miles.  Liberally.

Play the game to the best of your ability and you won’t be sorry.  

Read that last sentence however you like… take the clichè or go another route.

Some things are more important… And fun.

Back soon.  Please keep the lights on for me.

You have to give it away to keep it;  A most oft overlooked concept of recovery

You read many of the recovery posts on the blogosphere, even some of the professional stuff, and much of the “evidence based” material (which has been spawned with the sole purpose of Easing God Out), it lacks a most necessary component of recovery:  working with another alcoholic….

It’s summer, 1993 and I’m laying in bed, just 23 years-old, less than a year sober, and I think I’m dying.  Not figuratively, I believe I’m having a heart attack or something.  It’s two o’clock in the morning, I have to be to work at six.  I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, never getting another wink of sleep.  The next day at work, I was a mess.

I called my sponsor and explained what I’d been through.  His first question?  “Why didn’t you call me last night?”

I pointed out that it was obviously too early in the morning so there was no chance I was waking him up… And that’s where he set me straight.  He explained that I had experienced a full-blown panic attack and that those times are exactly what a sponsor is for, and that someone had done the same for him when he was just a pigeon.
I’ve made countless “I need you, man” phone calls and received plenty, because that’s what we do.

At first, feelings of inadequacy and humility limit our sharing with others as a means of “giving it away” and for all but the most precious of snowflakes this is a good thing.  You actually have to possess something worth giving to someone else, after all, for them to accept it.

For those who have read my posts, especially my cycling posts, what is the common thread?  Working with, and in the service of, others.  

Cycling in a club setting is so much like AA’s brand of recovery, I’m almost nervous to explain exactly how close they are in nature.  Every new cyclist to a group leans on that group to ride faster and farther than they could on their own.  At first, a noob’s contribution is vastly less that their seasoned countetparts.  Over a period of years, though, this changes as the cyclist gets stronger and becomes a fixture in the group.  That cyclist does less hiding and more working.  They do more so the seasoned members can catch a longer break after having devoted years to pulling that puppy around courses….  That’s the essence of working with others.  If we are doing it right, we learn to become less self-centered.

This is an excerpt from the Big Book.  Snowflake Trigger Warning!  Your fragile self can’t take reading this, so walk away now, before you melt.

Our actor is self-centered-ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia

if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!

Interesting, isn’t it?