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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”.

Fit Recovery: Two Million Words About the Awesomeness of A Happy Life

Gerry, over at Vicious Cycle, found some stats I never knew existed. One was a yearly word count… I added mine up. I think I might break two million this year. I’m currently sitting at 1,889,435 words, not including this post.  Going by my average yearly output, I should hit two million by the end of the year, maybe a little after the new year.  There are two ways of looking at this.  One, I’m awesome and I’ve got a lot of give a shit to keep producing the way I do.  If that’s what you think, thank you!  I’m going to look at it that way, methinks…  Because the second isn’t as sexy.  The second is, I’m a nut for continuing to work this hard without getting paid to!

Well, there is that, but there’s an explanation that goes with this that makes it all understandable and worth while.  First, the cycling stuff I write about is purely for fun.  I write about bikes and cycling because writing about cycling makes me happy.  Second, and most important, I believe writing about recovery makes a positive difference in the world.  I believe I’m doing my part as a recovering person to help others.  The truth is, if what I write helps a handful of people enjoy their recovery, or better, recover in the first place, well I’ll continue with a smile on my face.  It’s worth it.

More later as I get closer to 2,000,000.

If You’re an Avid Enthusiast Cyclist, It’s Time to Take Razor to Leg…

My friends, for the avid enthusiast cyclist, if you haven’t already, it’s time to shed the winter fur and take a razor to the legs.  My wife prefers I go all year fur-free, and I happily oblige.

For those who didn’t know already, glistening guns are absolutely more aerodynamic – scientifically proven in a wind tunnel.  Shaving the guns is worth between two and four free seconds a mile.  That may not sound all too impressive, but that works out to between 200 and 320 free seconds over 100 miles.  Now, either you save three to six minutes or that’s watts you don’t have to produce to keep up.  Don’t stop reading just yet, though!  There’s more to this than just shave your legs to be like the rest of the sheep.

I messed up when I shaved my legs the first time – I listened to the damned internet before properly investigating whether or not I should even bother.

So here’s “the rest of the story”.  I was going to start riding with a group – my first club ride – and I didn’t want to look like a noob.  Everything on the web back then said you gotta shave the guns – and this was before Specialized tested shaved legs in their wind tunnel.  It was treated as a right of passage, almost.  It even made the rules.  I bought into the online hype and quietly, without telling my wife, went to town.  Now, I had some hairy legs back then.  Not quite yeti, but pretty freaking close.  I even had to regularly trim that leg hair with a set of clippers when it got too long and unruly.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t too much a shock for my wife the first time she crawled into bed and was like, “Hey, wait a minute“…  God bless her, she loved my newly shorn legs and I’ve never looked back.  But…

Upon discussing my new, sparkling guns with the owner of the local shop, he chuckled and said it was completely unnecessary as only racers bother.  I had to scrape my jaw up off the asphalt with a shovel – I must have looked pretty funny because I was wearing one hell of an incredulous look on my face.  I said, “But the internet”… and just let it trail off.

With that out of the way, there’s a pecking order of who shaves and who doesn’t – and this is important so you don’t show up for the wrong group with the wrong legs!

Roadies:  Shave.
Gravel Roadies: Yea or neigh.
Mountain bikers:  Don’t shave.
Triathletes:  Shave, without question. Including eyebrows, ears, nose holes… possibly eyelashes…  I’m just kidding.  Just the legs will do, but you’re thinking about the eyebrows, aren’t you?  I know.

Now, there’s a pecking order to that as well, because many of us cross lines into different genres of cycling.  You defer to shaving.  For instance, if you’re a mountain biker who occasionally rides a gravel bike, you’re okay with hairy legs.  On the other hand, if you’re a mountain biker who occasionally plays a roadie, you shave.  If you’re a triathlete dabbling in the other genres, think about investing in Nair… or see if you can be their CEO.  The point is, if you will ride, even occasionally, a shaving bike, you shave.  Or you’d better be able to lay down the watts so others are in awe at your fabulousness.

So, folks, the truth is you really don’t have to shave your legs if you’re a dude.  On the other hand, I’ll never go back.  Once you’ve ridden in a group for a while, you’ll pick out hairy guys in a pack almost instantly because they stick out like a sore, hairy thumb… and nine times in ten, that identifier tips you off to keep an extra watchful eye on how that person rides because they’re often new or not used to riding in a pack.  Or they’re the one whose wheel you want to ride.

So, shave your guns or don’t.  You will work a lot harder if you don’t.  It’s science.  And physics.  And rocket science.  Or something.

UPDATE:  As you will see in the comments section, there is a technicality in terms of what “Guns” are.  In weightlifting, guns are the arms – that which is used to pump iron.  In cycling, the “guns” are the legs – what you use to turn the pedals.  Just to be clear.

Long, Slow Cycling Distance in the Spring; Why It’s Not So Bad to Put Some Slow, Enjoyable Miles In Preparation for the Season… And How COVIDcation Changed My Attitude About the Concept.

I was sure the LSD people were full of LSD when they suggested you could get fast by riding lots of slow miles in the spring. I thought, if you wanna ride fast, train fast – and I thought this way ever since I started riding.  And that’s how I trained, as soon as it was warm enough to shed a couple of the multiple layers I wore to keep warm.  I’d attack hills and barrel into headwinds.

Sure, I’d smatter in active recovery paced rides here and there, but you gotta ride hard, if you’re going to be fast, right?!

Over COVIDcation, I put in more than my fair share of slower miles.  In fact, I think my fastest ride until last week was an 18-1/2-mph average.  This, for me, is unheard of.  My active recovery rides average 17 to 17-1/2-mph.  I actually pulled into the driveway with a few rides in the 16-mph range.  I won’t lie, a couple of times I got pretty antsy riding with my wife.  I had to apologize for being a dope twice.

The one thing I did out of the ordinary is I took all of the headwind on many of these rides – and if I couldn’t eat it all, I’d break it off into big chunks, four or five miles at a time.  I’d settle down into a pace I could hold, often in the baby ring, and spin on down the road with my wife and/or Mike in tow.  I found, and lean in real close so none of my friends can hear, a small corner of my mind where I could actually like the headwind.  It was crazy.  But it’s true.  Taking 20-mile long chunks of headwind for my wife or friend became a badge of honor to wear.  Sure, they were slower than if I only took two or three mile turns, but the people I was riding with wouldn’t have been able to keep up if I did anyway – it worked out perfectly.

Then, last week, I had a solo afternoon ride.  Nobody to worry about but me.  I started out with a goal of 18-1/2-mph for the ride but that rose quickly when I found myself heading into the light breeze north of 20-mph.  My goal became 19.75-mph in the first two miles of the 19.75-mile loop.  Long story very short (longer version here), I pulled into the driveway with a 20.5-mph average and I could have gone faster… I may have been able to pull off a 21-mph average if I’d started out with that goal right out of the driveway.  (Let’s see, 18-1/2 = 29 km/h, 19.75 is 32 km, and 20.5 is 33 km/h and 21 is 34 km/h).

Friends, if memory serves, that ride was 2-mph faster than anything I’d ridden outside, since I’d gotten off the trainer.  In short, long, slow distance (at least slow by my standards) worked.  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around how, but there it is… that 20.5 average for that route was a PR.  I’d never ridden that route so fast.

The tough part is where do I mentally go from here?  If long, slow distance really does work, that means I can actually relax a little bit and enjoy the miles until, say, the end of May.  There’s no question I don’t have to train fast, early in the season, to ride fast later.

This creates a problem, of course.  At some point I’ll have to put the hammer down – and my real fear is, when it’s time, I might not want to.

And therein lies the rub.

Five Ways to Stay Active During Your COVIDcation; Fitness is the Key to Winning the Battle Against Future Viruses!

Who has a better chance of survival in the current pandemic climate; a person physically fit person who’s immune system is in the background doing push-ups, or a person who’s gut is taking a lap around the lazy river?

It’s not even a contest.

During the first few weeks of the COVIDcation lock down, I came across more walkers and bicycle riders than I did cars while I was out for my daily ride.  It was the first time that’s ever happened in the 27 years I’ve been into outdoor fitness (of one stripe or another).  It was wonderful to see, though on-foot traffic has slowed considerably of late.

Now is not the time to sit on the couch, though.  It’s time to stay active and I thought I might be able to help.  I’m going to get right into my list of five things you can do to stay active to help insure you’re as able as possible to weather virus storms such as this one.  After all, I’m sure most would prefer to be one of the asymptomatic majority over the alternative!

  1.  Ride a road bike!
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  2. Ride a gravel bike!
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  3. Ride a tandem20170421_173628
  4. Ride a mountain bike!wp-1490221401936.jpg
  5. Or, God forbid, you live in France, Spain or Italy, ride your bike on a trainer!
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This public service announcement has been brought to you by Fit Recovery because life is short and bikes are freaking cool.

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The COVIDcation Mo Miles Diet Plan

I lost twelve pounds in the last month and a half. Twelve. And I haven’t exactly been pushing myself away from the table early, either. I’ve been intelligent about eating, of course, but the vast majority of my success is due to a whopping increase in mileage.  I started the year more than 100 miles in the hole after two months, but with the freedom afforded by COVIDcation-2020, I’m now 500 miles to the good.

Sadly, this paints a poor picture with a broad brush.  One would be mistaken if one assumed that all we have to do is ride a bunch of miles and weight will fall off.  It doesn’t quite work that way if it is close.

First, we have to define just how many miles we’re talking about here.  My definition of a decent month is 1,000 miles in a month, or about 250 a week (1,610 km & 402 km respectively).  That’s what it took to drop 12 pounds in a month and a half.  If I go by reality vs. virtual (or reality vs what the “apps” say), I look at banking on maybe 60% of the calories my fitness trackers say I’m burning.  I figure I’m burning between 10,000 and 12,000 calories a week while my fitness trackers are telling me about 15,000 to 16,000.  10,000 to 12,000 calories a week works out to almost 3 pounds a week.  That would be 18 pounds over the 6 weeks, but we have to figure I’m eating a little extra to fuel the effort… and that gets me to the 12 pounds I actually lost – figure a third would be lost toward extra fuel.

Better, I wasn’t eating tofu, greens, carrots and cucumbers.  I was eating food, however moderately.  Should I have been a little more careful with my diet, I could have done better on the scale.  This would have presented its challenges, of course.  To ride at the speeds I do, you can’t do it on veggies alone (or you kind of can, but it takes a lot more effort than I’m willing to put into it and it’s not a very effective or healthy way to live – not in the long run).  Also, where’s the fun in tofu, greens, carrots and cucumbers?!  Pass the pizza.

In any event, unlike the vast majority of COVIDcationers, I’m happy to have come out of my vacation much lighter and slimmer than when I started.  The Mo Miles Diet Plan works wonders, provided it’s implemented wisely.  If I’d have gone to the trough with a sense of freedom to eat as I pleased because I was riding a bunch of miles, I’d have been deeply disappointed after putting in 1,640 miles on a bicycle only to end up fatter than when I started.

 

The Single Best Running Tip of All Time… No Matter How Much You Run

I am a big fan of Outdoor Magazine… well, check that, most of Outdoor Magazine.  Eben Weiss is a cranky wanker who writes about cycling in such a manner, I can’t even read his articles anymore.  Anything with his mug under the Title, I just close it and move along.

That out of the way, I recently read a great article that listed their Greatest Running Tips of All Time – from 40 years of writing about running.

That got me reminiscing about my running days a little bit.  Fondly, even.  And thus, my single best running tip of all time…

Buy one of these:

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No, I’m not trying to emulate Eben.  I’m entirely serious.  Buy a bike and ride it.  A lot.  If you’re a trail runner, buy a gravel bike.  If you’re a road racer, buy a road bike.

Now, I’ll share why.

First, a bicycle will help one fix their running cadence, especially for slow runners.  Your turn-over should be just as fast running as it is on a bike.  Most runners in the 8 minute+ per mile range are half that.  On a bicycle, you want your cadence to be in the 90-rpm range, ideally, perhaps a little lower but certainly not below 75.  In both sports, a higher cadence is more efficient (to a point, of course).  Cycling helped me get the feeling for a proper cadence.  In a few months (May to July, I went from an 8 minute mile to 7.  And, by fast runner standards, I was on the chubby side (170 pounds, 6′ tall).

Second, a bicycle is an excellent cross-training tool.  Especially for those “active recovery” days.  Just watch your pace on the bike.  You actually want it to be active, yes, but more important is the “recovery” part.

Third, and this is the best part; a bicycle is an amazing recovery tool for after your run.  While training for triathlons, I’d ride down to where the running club met, run with the club, then ride home.  It was ten miles to get there, then I rode the long way home, another 18.  Instead of being sore the next day, I found myself up and at ’em and lively.  My recovery time, especially after long, hard runs, was cut from days to hours.

So there you have it, my single best running tip; buy a bike.  There’s only one problem:  you might just realize, as I did, that the swim and the run were messing up a perfectly good bike ride.  It wasn’t long before I ditched the running shoes for cycling exclusively.

A Bicycle was Invented as Transportation. 200 Years Later, It’s Still Just Riding a Bike, Only Better.

The bicycle is still used as transportation – a human being on a bicycle is one impressively efficient machine – but there’s an enjoyable nature to the bicycle that just shouldn’t be missed…

Pull up to the start of a long bike ride, or better, a bike tour, and you won’t find a frown in the crowd (well, maybe one, though I’ve never seen one).  Ride along and the happy mood of the people you’re with should be a welcome surprise the uninitiated.  Like anything in life, a bike ride is not always perfect.  There are personalities to navigate, and this must be done in a state of stress on one’s body.  Therefore, at the end of a day, when it’s all over it’s handshakes, hi-fives and laughs… if required, apologies and forgiveness.  I’ve made my fair share boneheaded mistakes and I’ve made my amends promptly, whilst said crow was still warm.  I’ve forgiven my fair share, as well.  The unity of the group is always more important than petty squabbles that happen in the middle of a long ride when nerves are taxed to begin with.

Friends, what happens on a long ride or a tour is what should happen everywhere in life.  We should only be so lucky.  Just a thought.