Fit Recovery

…And on the Eighth Day, He went for a Bike Ride and Surveyed All that Surrounded Him.  And He was Happy…

Thursday was my first real outdoor solo road bike ride of the new year and all is finally right in my world.

A friend of mine pointed to an article written by a bunch of neanderthal runners who claimed (ignorantly) that there is no such thing as a cyclist’s high.

Allow me to be blunt:  If you can’t get a cyclist’s high, that’s better that of a runner’s high, you simply aren’t pedaling hard enough.

How, you ask, could a cyclist’s high be better than that of a runner?  Simple:  A fraction of the pain.  A cyclist gets to experience every last glorious drop of their endorphin release – and it is good.

My ride wasn’t particularly fast or long, perhaps 18-ish mph.  I can’t really tell for sure because I spent six minutes looping back and forth in front of my house waiting to see if a friend I’d invited along would show up to ride with me.  Overall, including that half a mile that took about six minutes, I rode 17-1/2 miles in just under an hour.

I had a fairly strong west wind to battle for the first half of my ride but still managed to keep it between 17 & 18 mph even though I was fighting it for five of the first seven miles.  Fortunately I had a mile of crosswind breaking up the headwind miles at perfect times.  On the flip-side of that, once I got to the tailwind part of my trip, it got fun.

Without getting too deep into the weeds of the ride, I pulled into my driveway, got off my bike and fished my phone out of my back pocket so I could take a photo of my mileage (it’s a long story – I don’t track my mileage with my phone, I add it in manually later but always include a photo of my computer… it’s just something I do).

I stood there for a moment, catching my breath and that’s when the endorphin release hit me like a…  Wait, I’m trying to think of a good metaphor and nothing works.  All of a sudden, everything was okay.  A smile stretched across my face and, simply put, I was happy.  I love this feeling.  It lasted for hours and I just basked in its glorious light.
It simply doesn’t get better than that.  It was a perfect start to the season (that started last Sunday with Daylight Savings but was put on hold due to extreme cold and now snow… though it does appear that we’ll get out tomorrow).

This time of year is always a little tough for me…  Usually it happens a few weeks earlier too, but I struggle with wanting to get outside to ride but being at the mercy of a mix of weather that is the transition from winter to spring.

That said, we’re close!  Maybe a week or two left… but at least I got my fix.

Cycling with the Crazy Crew…

There were only three of us, and for good reason.  The wind chill when we started getting ready last weekend was two… and not the good two, with a C next to it.  It was the other one.  In Celsius you call it -17.  It was butt cold.  With the windchill it was almost a whole ten degrees when we started out, just Mike, Matt and I.  Everyone else stayed home and played on their cyclist equivalent of a hamster wheel.

The ride wasn’t particularly fast or hard, it was definitely short, but it was absolutely a fun time.  I find it amazing that I wasn’t colder, to be honest.  I was layered well though.  Two pairs of gloves, three thermal layers up top and two, plus cycling shorts, below, with foot covers and wool socks.  A balaclava kept my melon warm.

There were a lot of laughs as my friends and I spun away.  We ended up with almost 19 miles on freshly grated dirt roads, in an hour and a half.

If I take the windchill into account it was the coldest weather I’ve ever ridden in, by a long shot… but now that I’ve done it, well 20 degrees, with the windchill in the single digits, isn’t all that bad.  At least the sun was shining.

In fact, as we were rolling up to my driveway, my buddy Mike mentioned the sun and how we would finally get a bit of Vitamin D!  Matt and I both laughed and added, “Yeah for what it’s worth!  We only have four square inches of exposed skin!”

As cold as it was, and as gnarly as the pins and needles were as I showered, it still beat the hamster wheel.

I would have loved to add a photo to this post for you, so you could have a laugh at how well we were bundled up, but I was afraid if I took my gloves off I’d end up with frost bite.

We are the crazy crew, because a Sunday with a bike ride is always better than a Sunday without one (or Saturday, of course).

I have to chuckle every now and again when I think back on what I used to think was cold.  My friends, the new cutoff is freezing colder than the old cutoff (not counting windchill – counting that the difference is 45 degrees F or 25C).

For the longest time I relied on the fact that the winter miles would help me come springtime to get out the door.  What I’ve found along the way is that as long as I dress right and pick my days well and ride the mountain bike, it’s not so bad.  It absolutely beats “fat and lazy”.  It’s not, though, as good as a ride in the 40’s (F) – but more on that later…

Just what the World Needs, another Snowflake. A Different Theme on a New Meme; The Carleton University Scale Dust up.

Trigger (heh) warning:  If you still wear diapers or pull-ups and are easily triggered to melt, this post is likely not for you.  You have been trigger (heh) warned.

I originally thought the story was a fake, it’s just too perfect.  University Athletics management removes a weight scale from the gym and leaves a sign:

A sign where the scale used to be stated it was removed to encourage people to focus on other ways of measuring their health beyond just their weight.

The sign stated the decision to remove the scale is “in keeping with current fitness and social trends.”

Social trends?  In a gym?  Fitness trends?  Which trends would they be?  Specifically.

Now, the meme diverges from there and suggests that the scale was removed at the request of one snowflake who was “triggered” by seeing the scale and asked that it be removed.  If that’s the case, I shudder for the future and am now considering working till I’m 80 so I don’t have to rely on that dipshit to provide for my health care and partial retirement.  Hey, only 33 more years to go.

Whatever the case, that part really didn’t “technically” make the original story.  The original story is way more fun to play with, from the snowflake perspective, anyway.

The sign left in place of the scale encouraged people to “focus on other ways of measuring their health beyond just their weight”.  Why is management suggesting those who use a scale are only using the scale to measure “health”?  You don’t use a scale to measure health.  A scale measures weight – and that is the only thing it measures – and nothing does that better.

It’s very simple really, a scale is a tool used to let one know if one is consuming too much food.  If one does, the number goes up.  If one doesn’t, guess what!  YES!  The number goes down.  If we are lifting weights in conjunction with cardio, that number stays there for a bit while the body trades fat for muscle.  Then it drops.  Rocket science this is not.

Let’s move on, now that I’m in captain obvious mode.

Bruce Marshall, manager of health and wellness at Athletics, said focusing only on weight can have a negative impact.

Bruce Marshall must not be doing his job as the manager of health and wellness if his people are teaching those who use his gym to only focus on weight.  I wonder why they wouldn’t teach balance like everyone else, but weight plays a part in that balance.

We don’t believe being fixated on weight has any positive effect on your health and well-being,” Marshall said in an email. “The body is an amazing machine and even when we are dieting and training it will often find a homeostasis at a certain weight.”

Marshall added it can take a long time to see a change in weight.

It takes weeks, even months to make a permanent change in your weight. So why obsess about it?” he said. “Why not look at other indicators?”

So anyone who weighs themselves once a week, or even once a day, is fixated on weight now, according to Bruce Almighty?

A great thinker once said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than the faculties at Harvard and MIT.  Bruce is why.  If he has people using his gym who are fixated on weight, why does he have to remove the scale and wreck it for everyone, why can’t he do his job and teach those few who do fixate on weight how to moderate?  To postulate that anyone who uses a scale is fixated on weight is silly and lazy.

The Great and Powerful Bruce then makes the next natural leap from fixation to obsession.  It just keeps getting better!

The last line is the best, “Why not look at other indicators?”

Hey, Mr. Wonderful, why not use all the tools in the toolbox?  Why fight with one hand tied behind your nuts (or vajay-jay)?

[It’s a funny visual though, ain’t it?]

Now here’s where we get to drop the Brucemeister into the dumpster.  Watch this…

According to Marshall, other indicators to look at include girth measurements, which can change “dramatically,” without much of a weight change. This involves measuring the circumference of areas such as the torso, legs, and arms to record progress.

He added people can also set goals in terms of cardiovascular fitness and overall strength, instead of only focusing on the number on the scale.

So, Mr. Fantastic wants us to take girth measurements?  Being fixated on the scale is bad but being fixated on girth is good, yes?  How about obsessed?  I wonder if Mr. Fabulous knows that being obsessed with girth is unhealthy!?  While we’re at it, what are the right girth measurements?  Please, Oh Wise One, bestow on us the proper girth measurements so we may obsess on them.  And oh, goody, we can “set goals in terms of cardiovascular fitness and overall strength” instead of relying on a number on a scale.  This is madness.  It’s such an easy concept but the waters must be muddied so that only a doctor can properly assess whether or not one’s ass is too big.

Here’s the problem:  I picked this article apart while watching Star Wars.  It was easy because Bruce has himself in the middle of his own one-man circular firing squad.  See, I don’t think he actually believes that gobbledygook he was spewing about scales.  His arguments were too simple to turn around and use against him because they’re based in rainbows, unicorns and hope.

Come to think of it, I’d bet the mirrors are next.   They are good as gone and I can’t wait to rip apart the note The Brucinator leaves in place of those.

Where this story really went off the rails was when a student chimed in on Facebook with:

“Scales are very triggering,” she said. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

One can only imagine how I, an ex-drunk, managed to recover from alcoholism.  Alcohol is everywhere.  We learn to disregard the trigger, I don’t expect the world to stop drinking because I’m an ex-drunk.  It takes a special kind of nincompoop to suggest a scale is a trigger that should be banished for those few with eating disorders.

I will put this as simply as I can, from a mountain of experience; If I am “triggered”, I am the problem, not the inanimate object that “triggered” me.  I need to be fixed.  Period.  [PS.  Those aren’t “scare” quotes.  They’re “stupid” quotes.]

One last tidbit from The Washington Democrat… err, Post:


Marshall told CBC, in response to the criticism the school has received, “We will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision.”

We can only hope that he doesn’t obsess over weighing those pros and cons on a scale.

I couldn’t resist.

This post was a result of reading my friend, Gail’s most excellent post on the subject.  I just wanted to take it in a different direction.


Fit Recovery’s Noobs Guide to Cycling:  How to Size and Install Your Own Chain as Demonstrated by My Wife

Fitting your own chain on your bike, as daunting as it may seem, is very simple – with the right tools.

First things first, take your old chain off.  If you don’t know how to do that, fear not.  I’ve got your back.  Click here.

Second, clean the drivetrain; chain rings, cassette and the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur.

Do not skimp on that step!  Why get a bunch of old crap stuck in your brand new chain?!

Next, on five or six attached sheets of paper towel, lay the old and new chain next to each other.

Now it gets a little tricky.  See, I know how much a chain stretches over time, so laying the two next to each other, I know which link I want.  My wife, being my wife, didn’t trust that so she counted the links…

Now you know my wife was right.  She took all that time!  So was I.  Right on the money.

For the next step, I took over.  Take a chain breaker and break the chain at the proper link.  The following is how the chain goes into the breaker:

Then you just crank it down till the pin falls on the ground (I use a small crescent wrench for leverage 😉).

From there, all you have to do is put the new chain on.  Bob is officially your uncle.

As a side note, because my wife made this mistake, be sure to thread the chain through the jockey wheels properly:  Don’t loop over the metal tabs, the chain goes “under” them.  Give the pedals a good spin.  If you’ve looped over a tab, you’ll know by how hard it is to turn the pedals.  Incidentally, this is what it should look like:

See that little tab, darn near exactly in the center of the photo?  Originally my wife threaded the chain over that tab.  That’s bad.  Just so you know.

The Official Start of Road Cycling Season: Not so Fast…

Today is the official start to the Genesee Wanderers Cycling Club season!!!  Woohoo!   Except:


Actually that partly cloudy is a little misleading.  It technically is partly cloudy.  It’s also technically snowing.

Sadly, that 13 degrees obviously isn’t the Celsius version either.

In other words, the start of our cycling season is going to be on hold for a while.  In fact, looking at the 15 day forecast, it could be April before we actually get a real Tuesday night ride in.


UPDATE:  I should add, for those who missed the Title…  I am talking about road bikes here.  

The Costly Lunacy of Burdensome Regulations; Cycling Edition

There are several models of Giant bicycles under recall in Australia, for the sole mistake of not conforming to an utterly ridiculous set of regulations that cover bicycles.  Interestingly – no, this one’s funny, humorously, one of those limits is a pet peeve of mine.

I hate wide handlebars on mountain bikes.  I had 1-1/2″ hacked off each end of my 3700 handlebar and I hacked 2″ off each end of the Rockhopper’s myself.  

Manufacturers went to wider mountain bike handlebars several years ago for balance and handling.  Let me phrase that another way.  Several years ago, manufacturers went to handlebars wider than 27″ because they’re safer and better for handling than narrower bars.  Just fine with me, you can take length off easy enough but it’s awful tough to put it on.

Now let me connect a few dots.  First, I am an exceptional cyclist, well advanced of your average cyclist, so what I find safe and comfortable will differ from that of an average bike rider.  Second, the regulation began in 20… just kidding, 1978.  Folks, bikes were steel back then.  With the advent of aluminum and carbon fiber, technology has made that part of the regulation obsolete.  Steel bars may lose integrity when they’re wider than 27″ but aluminum and carbon fiber don’t, so why not change the regulation to reflect this?

The second reason for the recall is, get this, certain Giant models don’t come with a chain guard.  A chain guard!

Now, if you thought to yourself, “Self, only those beach combers have chain guards anymore!”  Well, self would be right…  Except the powers that be in Australia count a front derailleur as a chain guard.  I kid you not.

Stupid.  Maybe silly would be a better word, but that leaves a little out…

It would be amazing to me if the Australian people didn’t view the bureaucrats as contemptible, pampas ignoramuses for having, let alone enforcing, that regulation.  The fact that one would count a front derailleur as a chain guard shows that bureaucrats don’t take that regulation seriously in the first place – and if it’s known to be a silly regulation by regulators, why keep it?

Perhaps I just got ahead of myself… This, from Peter Bourke, the General Manager of Bicycle Industries Australia:

“The other aspect of the recall relates [to the] proliferation of 1x drivetrains,” he continued. “Previously the front derailleur was technically considered ‘chain protection’ and with 1x it’s no longer there.”

Now, forgive me for knowing a little something about bicycles, but a saying a front derailleur offers protection to the chain, in any way, shape, or form is plain silly.  The little pin they use on the right crank arm that keeps the chain from wedging between the crank arm and chain ring does more to protect the chain than a front derailleur does.  [For those not in the know, the pin doesn’t protect the chain.  It protects the chain ring and crank arm, but I digress]

Now, without dragging this out too far, it’s laziness.  This regulation is a perfect example of the greater problem with a regulatory bureaucracy.  The fact that a chain guard is still required on a bike in Australia is absolutely laughable.  The fact they can’t simply cross that part of the regulation out, concerning a chain guard, is telling.

The handlebar width is a little more interesting.  It’s a regulation that you can’t just scrap it because for steel bars it still might make a little bit of sense (I’m assuming, of course – I don’t know the engineering).  It doesn’t make sense for carbon fiber and aluminum though – both materials, in handlebars, exploit the material’s strengths.  In this case, why can’t they amend the regulation?  

Steel bars 27″, aluminum bars ××”, carbon fiber bars ××”.  

Unfortunately, that would take some real work.  How thick do you require the aluminum tube to be?  How about the diameter of the tubing and the taper?  How many layers of carbon fiber?

The funny thing is, as technology changes, those requirements would change over time too!

In the end what happens is everyone throws their hands in the air and says, Meh, we can just keep the 27″ rule.

Of course, I’ll simply ignore the fact that there’s a job open at Giant Bikes of Australia – because whoever is in charge of making sure Giant bicycles sold in Australia meet regulations seriously screwed the pooch.  You make a simple, clamp-on, cheap steel part that looks like a front derailleur for 1x bikes to meet the regulation but that is easily removable by the owner of the bike.  The handlebar problem is even easier.

Americans aren’t immune, of course… we require reflectors come on the pedals, on each wheel, seat post and handlebar of every bike sold.  I removed mine before my first ride.  Same with the stupid rear wheel plastic spoke protector.  Each bike sold in America must have one but I wouldn’t be caught dead leaving one on my bike because my bikes are properly cared for which negates the need entirely.

My main point is, it’s unnerving that people are actually paid to run regulatory bodies but don’t actually do the work of making sure those regulations change with technology.  In the case of the Australian handlebars, they’re wider than 27″ to make the bike safer but they have to be cut down… in the name of safety.  It harkens back to the UCI and bike weight, where they insist a 14.9 pound (6.8 kg) carbon fiber bike with some lead shot in the frame is safer than a 13.5 pound bike without the lead shot.  At least the UCI is “thinking” about relaxing that.  

Don’t think too hard, boys and girls.  We wouldn’t want you to strain something.

Some Winter Training Mistakes I’ve Made that have led to Excess Poundage

You’d think that once one gets this whole fitness thing down, it’d be good times and noodle salad from then on, right?  Not so, at least in my case.  Like anything else, as changes come at me I have to adapt.  If I don’t, bad things happen – or in this case, minor inconveniences happen.  I’m only about 6 pounds over where I want to be right now.  That’s not exactly anything to freak out over, but it was unexpected.  This is where I went wrong:

My diet was my biggest mess-up of the winter.  I just happened to read an old post I’d written that dealt with my winter diet a year or two ago.  I used to skip a meal, whether breakfast or lunch (skipping breakfast seems to suit me), all winter long.  This year I ate three squares a day all winter long.  Unfortunately that only works during cycling season.  Thankfully I’m not looking at a huge hurdle.

Calories burned summer to winter

This goes back to the first item, my diet.  During the summer I burn between 13,000 and 15,000 calories a week riding my bike (give or take, it’s a guide, not set in stone – specifically for generalized illustrations like this).  During the winter that knocks back to only 3,000 to 5,000 calories a week.  I have to adjust for this.  Unfortunately I didn’t go quite far enough (close, but no cigar, as they say).

The 26,000 calorie week in September and 8,500 calorie week in February are obviously outliers – we had a nice weekend a few weeks ago so we actually got three days of outdoor cycling in and the late August/early September week was DALMAC.  Believe it or not, that’s a real count too.  Almost eight pounds worth of calories in one week.

Weight training

This is another one I hadn’t counted on – one day I was sitting at my desk and thought, “You should be doing something weight lifty” – so I did… when I shot up five pounds in just a month, I freaked a little bit.  I’ve been hitting the push-ups pretty hard and it’s really showing.  My arms and chest grew a few inches in a matter of a few weeks.  It looks good, but there’s some heft to the extra muscle.  This isn’t a complaint, mind you.  I’d much prefer how I look today to just a couple of months ago.  Still, weight’s weight on a bike.  Oh yeah, Mrs. Bgddy said, “Don’t change a thing.”

Cycling Training Increases/Gains

Normally over the winter I lose a little bit of leg muscle because I’m pushing easier gears.  This year I actually think I gained some.  I’ve been pushing the hardest gears I could and it’s paid off.  A couple of more pounds, though that only counts against the overall number.  I’ll take stronger legs and a couple extra pounds any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

So that about does it.  In lieu of giving myself the chance to screw this up again next Autumn, I’m going to put together a little reminder that I can look at the end of each season so I can have a better plan going into the slow season.

Keeping in mind of course, slow is a relative term.  Just not a relative of mine.

DALMAC - 2016 The Wall

July 2013 Lake Burton, Tiger, GA

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