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How to Be Happy with the Bike You’ve Got… and Refrain from Purchasing yet another Wheelset…

 

On the question of the wheels, you got me, folks. I have no freaking clue.

Good luck – and if you figure it out, please leave a comment… I would love to know.

As the bikes go, get a good set of wheels, a mediocre set, and a cheap rear wheel. Then, an A bike and a rain bike. Dress your A bike up till you get to a point where the thought of dressing up a new bike is worse than letting your current bike go…

Bob’s your uncle.

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Cycling is an Experiment in Happiness, Shrouded behind Fitness and Health, Under the Cover of Lycra Shorts and Cycling Jerseys (what little cover there may be).

I bought a bike to keep from getting fat when I was 41 after growing bored with running.  I knew I had to do something so I figured I’d see if triathlon floated my boat…

I’ve been off of nicotine for some time now, and off of cigarettes for more than a decade, probably going on two but I didn’t pay attention to my quit date or even the year.  The point is, quitting smoking made food taste good and I went from a guy who ate to live to a guy who loves to eat.  This, and being sedentary, thin and fit, do not go hand-in-hand.  Nor does smoking go with being fit, but let’s not get too lost in the woods, here.

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A week-and-a-half into cycling and I was absolutely hooked.  Before long, I realized that the run and swim were messing up a perfectly good bike ride (or eating into more time on the bike, however you want to look at it), so I hung up the trunks and the running shoes.

I rode solo most of the time for almost two years before finding a normal group to ride with.  Once I started riding with friends, cycling evolved.  It became less about a way to stay fit than a way to enjoy myself.  The fact that I’m able to stay fit and relatively thin, in addition to being exceptionally healthy, is now just a bonus.

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Cycling has entirely changed how I look at fitness.  Fitness changed from a chore to a way of life.

While there’s no escaping the fact that Lycra shorts and cycling jerseys are a part of the deal, I’ve come to find a greater understanding about cycling as I’ve continued to grow in the sport.  I had no idea what I was getting into, but buying a used Huffy for $20 at a garage sale turned out to be an experiment in happiness.

Before that, all I knew about cycling came from a cheap $150 big box bicycle and from riding as a kid.  Now it’s about expensive toys, good friends, good food, and seeing the country from the saddle.  I can’t wait to see where I visit next with my bicycle; if the next eight years are anywhere near as good as the first, it’s gonna be good.

 

Road Cycling and the One Tip Every New Cyclist needs to Ride as Safely as is Possible on the Open Road

First things first. I’m not going to tell you how to dress whilst pedaling a bike, especially not in this post. I choose bright and visible, but I shy away from the overused “hi-viz” offerings. I’m not going to tell you to use a rear blinkie in this post, even if I use one because I find that the local traffic treats me a little better if I do. I’m definitely not going to tell anyone to use a headlight during daylight hours because I don’t myself – if you feel a headlight makes you safer, please be my guest. I’m also not going to tell you to wear a helmet, even if I’d never throw a leg over a top tube without one on my melon.

None of those are the top tip, anyway.

A top triathlete in a town just an hour from my house was training for an upcoming triathlon. I’d guess she was deep in the pain cave because she didn’t see the car in the opposing lane dart into her lane to pass the car in front. The driver hit her head on. She didn’t make it.

If I had a dollar for every accident I’ve avoided, I’d have a nice set of carbon fiber wheels for both my wife and I.  With the added bonus of not being stuck in a hospital bed, or worse.

The key to keeping the rubber side down on a bike at all times is paying attention. At all times.

This isn’t, of course, to say that we catch everything if we pay attention.  I don’t.  I can’t.  But I come pretty close, and the important thing is that I’m paying attention for the big stuff.  As was the case with the triathlete above, one little lapse – running in the red just a little too hard with your head down at the wrong second can be the difference between coming home and not.

Head on a swivel is how I ride.  That’s my number one safety tip.

Number two would probably be “safety in numbers”, but I only mentioned the number one tip in the Title.

 

Make that Five 1,000 Mile Months in a Row… It’s almost Time for a Day Off

Friday, three days early, I stopped my bike in my driveway with exactly 1,000 miles for the month of September (on Strava – Endomondo is more accurate at 1,014 1041 – but that requires more than a three-sentence explanation). It helps, of course, that I started the month off with 160 miles in the first two days – but I still had to ride the other 840 miles over the remainder of the month.

My only day off this month was a… whoops. I didn’t take a day off yet this month. Anyway, I probably will tomorrow because the weather is supposed to suck… For two weeks.  Hopefully it’s just the Weather Channel being overzealous.

For my yearly tally so far, it looks like I’ve got a chance to break 10,000 miles this year if everything works out.  I’ve got 8,200 miles on the year with October, November and December left.  If I go by last year’s mileage it’ll be close, but it looks like I’ll have about 400 miles as a cushion.  Now, I have to clarify for the purists; that total includes trainer miles.  I figure, if I ride ’em, I count ’em.  Not everyone agrees with that perspective.  Either way, if I only count outdoor miles for the year, I should end up with more than 8,000 – and that’s not bad for a working fella.

I’m feeling like a pretty lucky fella, lately.  My fitness is great, my health is as well, and my stress level is relatively low.  Good times and noodle salad, my friends.  It’s as good as it gets, and that’s all I could ask for.

I took My Trek 5200 Out for a Spin Last Night with My Buddy, Chucker…

Ever since I put my Ican wheels on the Venge, that bike has gotten an inordinate amount of love – and for good reason.  The Venge’s days for this year are numbered.  It’s almost time to take it apart, clean and lube the parts, reassemble it and put it to bed for the year.  In fact, it’s almost gravel bike season for that matter.

So the weather was iffy, but not too bad last evening.  Wind out of the east, maybe 10-12-mph.  Overcast is the correct term for the cloud cover, and “blanket” doesn’t quite do it, either.  I’ll go with “downed comforter”.  We also had some mist in the air but that proved to be short-lived.  At least it was comfortable at room temperature.

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I left a little early to get to Chuck’s house because I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and ride – even if it was misting a little bit.  The plan was for a slow-ish day but I picked up the pace a little faster than I probably intended but that happens when I’m feeling really good.  The asphalt was a little wet but not near enough to throw up a rooster tail.

I pulled into Chuck’s driveway, and just like that, the mist stopped and it lightened up just enough to give a fella some hope.

We started out with a tailwind and rather than start hammering, Chuck was content with just cruising – which I was more than happy with as we’ll be hammering out the hard miles this evening anyway.

I love this time of year.  Bad weather days are on the increase and that will mean I finally get some time off the bike without feeling like I’m missing out (I’ve only taken eight days off since April – I’d rather take active recovery rides than a day off if the sun’s shining, or even if it isn’t, as long as it isn’t raining).

We rolled past the site of that motorcycle accident from last Thursday, twice, and I got a little closer to making peace with what I saw.  I still have a tough time with that empty look on the guy’s face.

From that point on, we were eating wind most of the way home.  We didn’t sit around watching the grass grow, but we weren’t hammering it too hard, either.  We simply put our heads down and motored.  Before I knew it we were on the home stretch.  I pulled into the driveway with 23-1/2 miles and a big case of the “life is awesome’s”.

I do love that about a good bike ride with a good friend.  It doesn’t get much better than that… until you start hitting 24-mph.

My Physician Avoidance and Sanity Stabilizing Unit for Order, Thankfulness, and Levity…

I was down to my cruising weight about two months ago. Now I’m just having fun with it. I figure, why not get light going into Thanksgiving this year. Then I can simply watch what I eat the rest of the winter and I’ll be a lot happier, and lighter, next spring (I let this last winter get me a little bit).

I’ve been losing about a pound a week for the last five weeks since I had my yearly physical and I’ve decided to keep that up.  The doctor’s assistant called a week after the appointment and said my bad cholesterol came back a little high.  She also added that my ratio was good, I just had to watch what I was eating a little more closely.

I took that to heart, of course, and changed how I ate immediately.  I didn’t completely cut the crap tasty food out, I’m simply more mindful about what it is I’m eating most of the time The way I see it, I’m way too active to be a saint all of the time.

The prescription was pretty simple. Eat smarter, more fast miles. Rinse and repeat.  The results have been uplifting, if expected.

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Keeping fit, active, healthy, and most important, out of the doctor’s office and the prescription medication trap, is a simple equation on any one of my bikes.  (Eat well + get fit) x ride hard = smile more.

So that brings me to my Physician Avoidance and Sanity Stabilizing Unit for Order, Thankfulness and Levity… or P.A.S.S.U.O.T.L.  

Or pass you on the left…

Ride hard, my friends.  It’s  cheaper than the doctor – and I’d rather cough up the funds for the McLaren* of race bikes than fund my doctor’s vacation home… if you know what I mean

*Or a Ford GT40 if we’re talking about the Trek – if you know your car and race bike history, you know putting the two together is quite accurate, historically speaking.

 

 

Cycling and How Hotdogs are Made

I own a large, commercial construction company. Before I was an owner I was a manager of a similar company as far back as my late 20’s. I was on the board of my church. Now I’m the president of our cycling club.

Being on the board of my church sucked. We got a new pastor and things went downhill fast. It went from a legit spiritual sanctuary to a ridiculous far left extremist parody. My wife and I quit the whole thing, or rather, we were run out. Lesson one.

Owning a construction company is a lot tougher than managing one. Lesson number two.

The cycling club is a labor of love. I was asked to be the president and I accepted. Everything was great for two years. Then the bureaucrats rolled in… Lesson number three.

Somehow I always manage to find my way to the top of whatever I do (my wife is so afflicted as well).  This doesn’t have anything to do with an egotistical, “because we’re so awesome”, either.  No, it’s more because we’re willing to take the job – because anyone who knows anything about being a leader of people, it’s not all that glamorous.  You have to be willing to be the chief floor sweeper and the lead paperwork completer… as a bonus, everyone gets to point their finger at you when things get tough – and you, being at the top, have to figure that $#!+ out.  Better, everyone above you is looking to pay you less and most below you are looking for ways to get the most money for the least amount of work (and then come up with excuses for why that’s your fault when they get caught).  In other words, being at the top usually isn’t as “at the top” as you think, and it’s a lot less glamorous than you think.

I have been a fan of hotdogs for more than 42 years.  I have ADD (or ADHD, take your pick), so when I was just five years-old, to get me to slow down long enough to eat lunch, my mom would cut up a hotdog and set the plate on the living room coffee table.  I would do laps around the table, picking up a piece of glorious hotdog every two laps… and that’s how I ate lunch.  Decades ago, people tried to turn me off to hotdogs because of “how they’re made”.  Later it was the “processed food” crowd.  I still love ’em.  Grilled or nuked with my wife’s chili on them…  I love those little tubes of goodness.

Running things is a lot like a hotdog.  It only looks fun from the outside. Once you realize how those dogs are made, it takes a little of the tastiness away. And that’s a crying shame.

What’s the lesson, though?

I don’t give a f*** how hotdogs are made. Those bastards taste great.