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12 Photos of Christmas: Day 6

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My photo for the sixth day is from a camping road trip with two of my friends.  The first decent “short sleeves and shorts” three-day stretch of the season, we pack up the campers and head up north.  Last year was my second year and it’s quickly become one of my favorite trips.

This year’s trip was excellent because April and May were pretty dismal.  The weather was so bad the trip usually happens at the end of May.  We had to put it off till July.  Still, it was a great time, my friends and I doing some cruising around the Traverse City area.

Being able to take time for a road trip to ride bikes with friends is why I sobered up in the first place.  Without recovery, that photo is impossible.  And for that, I am grateful.

Finally, A Ride Outside and Fit Recovery’s Eighth Anniversary

Conditions were finally reasonable for a dirt road ride Saturday. It was cold, right at freezing, but some decent winter clothing and a windproof jacket kept the cold at bay. We had a small group of three so the pace was pretty reasonable. We were out for 1h:45m and covered a little more than 27 miles.

I was a little chilly coming home, but it was really great to be outside.

Saturday night was our company end of year celebration, so I didn’t eat much after the ride, knowing I’d likely eat a lot for dinner.

I was not mistaken, dinner was good and was capped off with tres leche cake, a cake saturated with condensed, evaporated and regular milks. Oh. My. God, it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, by the time we got home, I was freezing to the point of shivering uncontrollably. I knew exactly what was happening. Some of our guys had been hammered with a bug of some sort the week earlier. I thought I’d stayed far enough away. I was mistaken.

I tried fall asleep on the couch with four layers of blankets over flannel PJ’s and my bath robe. My fever broke early Sunday morning but I was a wreck. Over the next 36 hours I ate no solid food. I even threw up for the first time since I quit drinking (it’s a thing, I used to throw up due to overindulgence regularly). I’ve been through three bouts of food poisoning and never got sick. I was in bad shape.

The bug broke Monday morning. I was hungry for the first time since Saturday and started with a bit of chicken noodle soup. Not exactly BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), but close enough for government work.

Enough of that! Speaking of work, I’m back today, thank goodness. It was a rough couple of days.

Finally, for this post, I received notice yesterday that this is the 8th anniversary of my blog. Pretty cool.

How To Rebuild a Road Bike from the Ground Up: Part One. The Overview

This will be a multi-piece series that’ll detail, specifically, how I went about rebuilt my ’99 Trek 5200 which should help anyone who wants to rebuild their own used bike from the ground up.

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I’ll cover everything, from wheels to cranks, to seat posts, brakes, saddles, the cockpit, drivetrain, and wheels… even the seat post collar.  I did it all.  The only original things I left on my bike were the frame (though I did have it painted), the fork and the chainring bolts.  Everything else is new.

Now, to start, there are a couple of ways to go about this.  I have a friend who’s got enough money that we mere mortals simply couldn’t keep up.  He goes all out, all at once.  Brand new, top of the line everything (including SRAM Red eTap and usually a set of Zipp wheels, even carbon fiber brake calipers for a steel frame).

I, on the other hand, took six years to build my Trek and bought almost every part on sale… or not, depending on “need”.  Everything that went on the bike is quality, but nowhere near the level he can afford.  In this new series, I’ll stick with what I know.  I’m going to get into how to picked each part, or series of parts, and what went into the choices I made.  I’ll also go in order of importance/completion, so anyone who reads the series will be able to build their dream ride, hopefully with a greater depth of knowledge… and maybe even avoid some costly mistakes.

Part two we’ll start with the choosing bike/frame and push on to the saddle and seat post in part three.  Then we’ll look at the cockpit.  From there, we’ll get into the paint job and accessories. That’ll be followed by the drivetrain and crankset.  Brakes will be thrown in there somewhere toward the end, then I’ll wrap up with wheels.

And unlike my usual “once a week” series release , all of these posts were pre-written.  I’ll be able to publish them one right after the other… so part two comes out tomorrow.

Zero-Point-Zero Alcohol “Beer”… Can An Alcoholic Tempt Fate? Or Better, Should?

Back when I quit drinking alcohol (etc.), way back in ’92, the closest thing to a non-alcoholic beer actually had alcohol in it. Not much, something like a half of 1% alcohol by volume, if I remember. O’Doul’s was the “near beer” of choice back then.

Somewhere shortly after my six month anniversary, I had exactly one and one-half O’Doul’s near beers at a local bar whilst celebrating a drinking friend’s birthday.

Long story, short, my body remembered the alcohol f***ing instantly. Just that infinitesimal amount… I started shaking, and I could feel the pull to “go all the way” and order a “real” beer. I left immediately. I just got up, apologized, and walked out. That was the last time I spent time with a friend from the old life. I called him up later in the week and apologized, but I had to go in a different direction if I was going to stay sober. Later, I met my best friend from my childhood in my folks’ driveway and told him the same thing. I couldn’t hang out with drinking friends anymore. No more ex-girlfriends, no more old friends, no more old faces, no more old places.

If you’ve read any of my recovery posts, you already know it was well worth a few burnt bridges.

All over 1-1/2 O’Doul’s near beers. Near beer, near death as they say. In my case, that’s literally how it worked.  I didn’t want to be any nearer.

So, here comes a new near beer, this time 0.0% alcohol by volume. No alcohol. The real question is this, can a recovering alcoholic now safely imbibe?! Without actually imbibing?! No more infinitesimal amounts of alcohol.

I know the answer for me; I didn’t drink for the taste; I drank for affect… and therein lies the rub.

I have no fear of honesty in acknowledging who or what I am; a near beer is a lose-lose proposition for a drinker like me. There is no way to win:

  1. On one hand, let’s just say I try a near beer. Within a week of drinking a six-pack of near beers a night, I’m back out, pounding down the real beers. To be clear, I’m 98% sure this is the way it would go. Six months later, the house is gone, my car is gone, my career is “poof”, right into thin air. My wife left after two weeks, with the kids, which was the agreed remedy to relapse. It gutted me and touched off a spiral of depravity because I found out I really can’t live without my wife and kids. I’m dead one to six years later. One year would be a bullet, six would be liver failure. I die alone and afraid, with nothing. Misery isn’t a strong enough word to describe my world as an alcoholic. Come to think of it, it’d be the six year option, I’m too big a sissy for the bullet.
  2. On the other hand, let’s just say I try that near beer and I’m not impressed. I buy a six-pack and four sit in the fridge till summer time. After mowing the lawn, I decide to crack one open. Then another. The last two sit in the fridge for another month. Keep in mind, this is the 2% option… I decide after a particularly hot Tuesday night club ride to polish off the last two. I’ve got this licked! I must have changed! Right? You with me still? How long is it before I think, “well, if I did that well with near beers, maybe I can handle the real thing? Six months later, the house is gone, my car is gone, my career is “poof”, right into thin air. My wife left after two weeks, with the kids, which was the agreed remedy to relapse. It gutted me and touched off a spiral of depravity because I found out I really can’t live without my wife and kids.  I’m dead six years later after my liver failed. I die alone and afraid, with nothing. Misery isn’t a strong enough word to describe my world as an alcoholic.

Lose – Lose. There’s no way I win by drinking a near beer. Near beers are also referred to as “non-alcoholic” beer.

Another, more prescient way to look at it; near beer isn’t for alcoholics.

You go ahead and tempt fate. I’m good.

Happy Thanksgiving from Fit Recovery; A Message for Those New to Recovery (And Everyone Else)

The first years in recovery weren’t easy for me.  At first, the excitement of finally breaking King Alcohol’s grip got me through but I soon understood a lot more work lay ahead.  There were days I was wracked with fear.  How was this going to work out?  How could it work out?  After everything I did, why did I get to be saved?

I kept coming back, though.  No matter what, I didn’t quit quitting.  If my ass would have fallen off, I’d have put it in a bag and taken it to a meeting so someone could show me how they put theirs back on.  That’s how it works.

Eventually, and commensurate with the amount of work I was willing to put into it, the pink clouds dissipated and the sunshine hit my face.  It is glorious, that feeling, and not to be missed.

The best part?  I’m remembering all of this through the benefit of hindsight.  Back then, I thought I was doing pretty well (with the exception of those fear-filled days and nights.  Those pretty much sucked).

Today, life is so good, I’m so filled with gratitude, that all I want is to have another today, just like yesterday.  If I’m that fortunate, I’ll consider myself a blessed guy.  This is the miracle sobriety brings when a person works for it.  I am not special, not even a little bit.  This happens every time, without fail.  It’s promised to everyone.

I thank God on a daily basis that it came to be for me.  This joy and contentment I get to feel isn’t overly exuberant – it’s not a flash in the pan.  It’s a calm, relaxed, enthusiastic, fun joy.

In terms of cycling, it isn’t a screaming descent or an arduous climb… it’s a series of rollers where each downhill is just enough to get me to the top of the next peak with a little effort.  (If you’ve ridden the Horsey Hundred in Kentucky, you know exactly what I mean)

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It’s something all I can hope for is to be able to pass it on to someone else, because this is worth quitting for.  I imagine this is exactly what I wanted, only better, when I asked God to help me by relieving me of my desire to drink.  I promised I’d give sobriety everything I had if God (as I understood God at the time) would help me.

I lived up to my end of the bargain.  God over-performed.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.  I hope you have a lot to be thankful for and you get to enjoy your Holiday.  If you’re not quite there yet, keep coming back and working at it.  With some work and humility, you’ll get there and you’ll bask in the freedom.

For everyone outside of the USA, if nobody’s wished for something for you to be grateful for today, let me be the first.

Is the Term, “Okay Boomer” “Ageist”?

There are reports emerging, in which people are claiming that the quip, “okay Boomer” is ageist.

Actually, the quip isn’t ageist.  It’s funny as hell, and that’s the “why” behind the contortions to make this a slur against age.  It’s not.

The claim that something is ageist, sexist, racist, or any other “ist” there is, when that something clearly is not, is the last, desperate argument of a scoundrel.

Got that, Boomer?

Night Ride, Baby! When Life Gets You Down, Ride.

What a horrible start to a Monday…

It’s a rare day I need a ride as bad as I did last night. It was worse than a typical Monday by an order of magnitude. I was even sick to my stomach for a bit… all work related, and I don’t know if I was ever that fired up over work. The day did get better as it wore on, however, as I calmed down I formulated a plan to manipulate the situation to our favor and got to work.  I could put a positive spin on the “manipulation” bit, but it’s an honest program and I’m gonna manipulate the $#!+ out of this one…

We’ve got a couple of nice days (by this year’s standards, they’re really only average) strung together, so we talked about a night ride during Sunday’s ride and Jonathan texted to ask if something was getting put together… I sent out the text Sunday afternoon.  When Jonathan pulled into my driveway and I knew we’d have a decent group, I was freakin’ stoked.

We rolled out at 5:30, deciding to stay on the pavement because the dirt roads were a little dicey. Then, just three miles in, and in the pitch dark, we decided to give the dirt a try. Nobody wanted to mess with traffic and a dirty bike isn’t all that big a deal.  We decided on a new route we’d never tried before, too.

The ride was a little mucky, but it was fun. The pace wasn’t outrageous, but it was enough for a workout without getting too silly.  We cruised the dirt roads for a while, then did part of our “Jimmer Loop”  backwards, then headed back on the dirt roads before spending the last few miles on pavement again.

I came up with a name for the route over the course of the ride, but it really came together in the last few miles.  Chuck calls our normal summer route “The Jimmer Loop”, so I came up with “The Dirty Chucker”… and for Strava, I added “With Reverend Lotsa Watts and the Funky Bunch”.  I chuckled for more than a few minutes over that.

We pulled into the driveway with just shy of a 16-mph average – decent for a night ride, excellent for a night/dirt ride.  After a rough start to the day, the 21 miles was more than enough to get me back to right and put a smile on my face.  I slept like a baby last night.

When life hands you lemons, ride.  It’s better for your figure than lemonade.