A drug is a drug. It doesn’t matter what you use, it’s why you use that’s important.
I ran myself out of options before I made the decision to give full abstinence a try. I tried every combination I could think of. Beer only, weed only, beer and weed only, liquor only, weed only, liquor and weed only, beer and liquor only, beer and liquor and weed (a personal favorite), wine coolers (they’re great if you want a great buzz and an enormous stomach ache, all at the same time! Woohoo!)… I tried everything, but I couldn’t control my use for more than a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks if I found myself in enough trouble (I managed two weeks of control one time – then the wheels fell off).
After one too many run-ins with the police, the State of Michigan (the whole entire State) decided it might be a good idea if I tried to quit. I mean the whole State, too; it said on all of the paper work, “People of the State of Michigan vs. James L… A judge sent me to treatment.
The day I walked in the door, I fully planned on getting drunk the day I got out. I was going to do my time and I was getting out and I was getting lit once I did.
Then the DT’s started after a Category 5 hangover. I shook so bad I couldn’t drink out of a glass. I needed a straw. The nausea, the sweats… combine that with a general disgust for what I’d become and I was pretty low. I could have looked up and seen a snakes ass passing over me, folks. I mean low.
And that’s when I asked God for a deal. A bargain, if you will.
That night, lying in bed, I prayed and asked God if He’d just help me, I’d give recovery, and thereby abstinence, everything I had. When I woke up I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. For the first time since I’d picked up my first beer, I didn’t feel a compulsion to get lit. Friends, it was like stepping out of the dark into the light.
I was never as low as I’d been that night, since. No more snakes asses for me. The DT’s faded and eventually I got on with my life and really made something of myself. My life hasn’t been a perfect Hallmark card, but it’s pretty close, considering what I came from.
So taking my 26 years of continuous sobriety back to that night I made my bargain with God, there was one thing I really hoped for out of the deal.
I wanted to be happy.
Trigger (heh) Warning: I use derogatory terms when referring to drugs and alcohol, of any kind. I apologize profusely if it offends you, but it’s a defense mechanism for me so you’ll have to get over it. It has nothing to do with you anyway, so don’t get me started. You have been Trigger (heh) Warned.
Bill Wilson used PCP early in his attempts at recovery. He was wrong when he relied on it, but some drugs were actually thought to be useful back then, for certain mental issues. Thankfully, a lot’s happened in the last 80 years and we now know that PCP is bad. That’s a period at the end of the last sentence. It has no use in modern medicine, even though it did almost a century ago.
Anyway, this isn’t important – it has relevance, though. Let’s get into the Doobage Dain Broner Maintenance System and Recovery. More important, let’s start with what recovery isn’t. Recovery is defined by the thinking heads as:
“Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”
Sucking on a joint, pipe, or bong is the opposite of abstinence. Now, I’m going to keep this very simple; there are no medical benefits in the use of pot worth sucking in the smoke in the first place. Politicians allow the ignorance persist because they want in on the money and it keeps the electorate stupid and easy to manipulate. The only thing better for that than alcohol is weed.
Recovery from an alcohol or drug addiction does not include switching drugs to keep you sufficiently high. Again, for the cheap seats, getting high the opposite of recovery. This is not rocket science. Let’s try to simplify this a little bit for the tokers in the crowd: In your comment down below, when you try to explain that weed can be an honest part of a recovery program, substitute heroin for pot for me. Try to convince me that because my drug of choice was alcohol, I should be able to shoot up some heroin and be fine. Heroin is too strong? How about crack cocaine? Meth? A drug is a drug is a drug. My friends, that’s quite literally how stupid it is to believe weed can be a part of recovery.
So why do I care? I’m going to be my usual blunt self (pun intended). I care because every person who puts down the dope and actually embraces recovery is a life saved from servitude. Every person who sees the light and stops using has a chance at freedom from the bondage to their addiction.
What it isn’t is a care that a stoner is going to somehow sully the word “recovery” by claiming dope smoking is a part of a recovery program. I couldn’t possibly care less how ignorant you remain. So long as you don’t expect me to cosign that bullshit.
First, and I’ve gotta put this out there because being stranded because you can’t get your tire back on your rim – if you’re using a tire/wheel combo that is next to impossible to get the tire on, try a different brand of tire. Personally, I’ve had a lot of luck with Specialized tires. Michelin tires are fantastic once you get them on the rim, but the task ain’t easy, and therein lies the rub. Carbon wheels can be troublesome, as can tubeless ready wheels.
One important thing to note as well, a tire will stretch a little bit as it breaks in over a couple of weeks of use. Where we get into trouble is if we get a flat in that first couple of weeks.
Now, let’s move on to some decent tips.
- Never, and I mean this, folks, never use a tire lever to seat a tire, where you stick the lever under the tire bead and over the lip of the rim and push up on the lever. You can wreck your $1,000 carbon fiber rim or put a small puncture in your tube. Now that I said that, why is it okay to use a lever to remove a tire but it’s not okay to use that same lever in that same fashion to seat the tire? I have no idea, but the owner of my shop says “no bueno”, and so does pretty much everyone else (except bucky in the comments). Call me a lemming on this one.
- For the impossible to get tire, there’s a tool for that. The Kool-stop Tire Jack. They are excellent tools, relatively cheap, and they work. I’ve got one myself. Instructions are included and there are YouTube videos to demonstrate.
- The Kool-stop is great, but it’s too big and bulky to carry in your saddle bag or in your back pocket. Never fear, there’s another tool that’ll work in a pinch, on the side of the road. Your tire lever. Now, if your perceptive, you’re asking yourself, “what gives”. I know. We’re going to use a special tire lever in a special way that won’t leverage the rim in a possibly destructive manner. I recently bought a set of Park Tool tire levers because they’re tiny. Well, it just so happens that those tiny levers have a bigger curve at the end than most (not the hook, the curve). If I get my Michelin tire to where I simply can’t get it any further with my hands on my carbon fiber rim, I can use the curved end to help the tire in. It takes some hand strength, but it works. I just hold the lever in my hand, slide the hook under the bead and pull on the lever while pushing down on the wheel.
- Next up, Crank Brothers has a great tire lever they’ve named the “Speedier Tire Lever”. I don’t know how this thing would hold up to the impossible tire, though. Still, check it out, it’s a cool tool. UPDATE: My buddy, Titanium Henry says this one is legit. He’s never found a bead too tight.
- I’ve saved the best for last, though. I just found this tire lever after I picked up my Kool-stop Tire Jack. I’ve already forwarded the find to my local shop so they can get a box in so I can purchase mine from them. Var came out with the answer to the KSTJ’s bulky size. Var’s two-piece tire lever (not to be confused with their standard lever) is a stroke of genius. The center piece slides out and is your first tire lever. the hooked end on the main piece is your second – for removing the tire. Then, seat your tire most of the way, set the notched end on one side of the rim, hook the tire bead, and push the lever to seat the tire. Bob’s your uncle. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll have one for each saddle bag in short order. This tool is the real deal:
So there you have it. What to do about the impossible to seat tire. They’ve got a tool for that.
Michigan voters approved legalizing recreational weed in Tuesday’s election. Scary news for Michigan’s cyclists.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though…
At least cyclists will be faster than the stoned drivers.
If you have no idea what I’m referring to, you’ve never driven stoned. Yes, I have. Long, long ago, in galaxy far, far away. Oh, and if you believe you drive better when you’re stoned, that would be because you’re dumb as a rock. I mean that, too. You’re literally a nincompoop.
Interesting thought; Now that dope is legal, will getting stoned still make you paranoid? I intend on going to the grave not knowing the answer, but it makes for a funny question.
I’ve come to the Conclusion; The Question may not be How Many Bikes do I need, but how Many Wheelsets do I have?
By luck or design, I ended up with three wheelsets for my road bikes, and all three have different uses. I have one wheelset for the A bike. Let’s face it, you only need one set for that bike, and I’ve got two sets for the rain bike – and this is where it gets interesting, because the bike manufacturers screwed up and you’ve got maybe two years before they figure out what they’ve done and make corrections. If you’re up for a new bike, it’s a good time to be you.
So, I’ve got three road wheelsets. One carbon fiber set that will only see sunny weather, one good alloy wheelset for rain and whatever else comes my way, and a wheelset to ride on the trainer or if I’m planning on riding in a washout. It’s taken almost a decade for me to become bike and wheel rich, but this is where you want to be.
There’s a small catch in my case, though. My rain bike only takes 23mm tires so I can’t use the good wheels on the rain bike if I wanted to. I run 25’s on the good wheels. As you can see in the above, there isn’t much room for 28’s. I do have a friend who runs a 28 on his Venge rear wheel, but it’s so tight he has to mess with air pressure so it doesn’t rub – in other words, 28’s don’t fit.
However, and this is kinda sexy…
New road bikes accept tires up to and beyond 28-mm nowadays because wider tires are the trend, some even up to 32-mm and many road models come standard with disc brakes… which means one could technically buy one bike and two more wheelsets for three different riding conditions – including gravel. Folks, I run 28’s on my dedicated gravel bike:
Take, for instance, a Specialized Tarmac or a Trek Emonda, with hydraulic disc brakes. You buy one light bike with a 50/34 compact. Say you get the mid-range 105 model (given the choice I’d spend another $800 and opt one level higher with Ultegra components, but that’s just me). You use the wheels that come on the bike for the rain tires (assuming you’ve purchased the bike with the alloy wheelset – 26’s come on the Tarmac and 25’s on the Trek). Then you get a decent, but light set of tubeless ready wheels for dirt and fit that wheelset with some knobby tires, and a carbon fiber set for the nicer weather. The trick here, of course, is that I’m assuming each bike will accept a 28-mm tire. I don’t know this for sure and my wife would likely skin me alive just for asking at the shop, so I’ll leave that bit of research up to you – that I could tell her I was doing research for a post would not be adequate cover. Unfortunately, this is my own fault. I’ve trained her to cringe whenever I start looking into a new bike – by the time I start asking, she knows it’s not long before a new steed is in the stable.
The point is, folks, you’re going to have a 17-ish pound race bike that you can use for anything – and its got internally routed cables and a threaded bottom bracket so you won’t have to worry too much about the dirt getting into everything.
In other words, today you have the opportunity to purchase the perfect go-anywhere, do anything light race bike (arguably, a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Domane would be slightly better for the job because they have more tire clearance built in, but those have relaxed geometries and I’ve never been a fan – in fact that’s the one thing that kept me from pressing my wife for a squishy bike).
Let’s see, $3,150 for the Trek or $3,500 for the Specialized, $800 for the dirt wheels, and $600-$3,000 for the sunshine wheels (depending on whether you want Ican or Enve wheels – or anything in between). Let’s say you went with the Ican wheels just for fun, and to keep the price low – and you went with the Trek. You’re looking at less than $5,000 for a legit racer, with tires and cassettes for each wheelset, that can do anything with a quick wheel swap, less than two minutes (including a derailleur adjustment).
My friends, I’ve got more than that into my race bike, let alone my rain bike and my gravel bike. It is a good time to be in the market for a bike.
Another year is in the books, and it just hit me that it’s November already. They sure do go by fast when you’re having fun.
I took my friend’s tradition over when he passed away from brain cancer years ago, of celebrating the entire month of my sobriety anniversary.
Twenty-six years this time around the calendar. No mood or mind altering substances, no breaks from reality, no escaping down a rabbit hole… and most important, no more running. Once I paid off my probation fees in 1994, I was free.
Literally free. I was figuratively free a year or so before that when I did my first full fourth through eleventh step. Maybe I should put it that my mind and spirit were free at that point, and my ass was free when I got my walking papers from court. That’s about fair, methinks.
It’s a good, grateful morning to be alive.
And that is why I sobered up all those years ago. That was my hope, sitting in treatment, going through DT’s, having narrowly (and legally, though barely) avoided five to ten in prison. I just wanted to be happy to be alive.
My friends, I’m only 48 years-old celebrating 26 years… I was barely legal to drink when I quit. If I can pass on one thing to those who choose a program of recovery young, to those newly recovering, it’s this: having the means to work through life’s problems, and the support network to aid in that effort – it’s as if you have all of the answers to life’s problems at your disposal. You just have to look them up and talk to someone about them, maybe talk to a few people about the rough spots…
I have a wealth if experience and knowledge available to me that is unimaginably vast, infinite, and free of charge. In fact, the people who hold this knowledge and experience give it freely only with the hope that in giving it, I will enjoy life as much as they do (or more).
Sobering up young is like cheating at life.
I highly recommend it.
We’d advertised the ride with our group days in advance, but with Iceman on Saturday, almost nobody showed. Just Chuck, Diane and I. At first, it was just me and I was resigned to the fact that Chuck and I were going to hammer it. Diane pulled up just a couple of minutes later. Ah, relief. I wanted a day to just ride without having to top out the heart rate. Diane provided the cover.
We finished prepping and rolled out. It was the best of November in southeastern Michigan. Cloudy, breezy, mid-30’s (no, sadly not Celsius, that’s an F)… wait, the best of. The trees were just at the end of their fall color explosion and while it was cold and a bit breezy… and cloudy, riding the back roads was absolutely breathtaking.
I thought about breaking the phone out for photos a couple of times but in the end, just decided to enjoy the miles. We were out for 2-1/2 hours and maybe saw four cars on the dirt roads (we saw several on a few miles of paved roads we had to ride on to get to more dirt). We averaged a little north of 14-mph but I can’t overstate how much fun I had cruising with Chuck and Diane.
It looked a lot like that… only more color. Oh, and more trees. Oh, and no sun. And on dirt roads. You get the idea.
The purchase of our gravel bikes is among some of the best money I’ve spent on cycling. If you haven’t been bitten by the gravel road bug yet, imagine road cycling. Then slow it down just a little bit. Then take out the traffic. Yep.
I’d never trade the speed and lightweight equipment of road cycling, but once the season is over and it’s time to enjoy the march into winter, nothing beats gravel roads.