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The Ten Commandments of Cycling: #7 Thou Shalt Not Squander Perfect Days…

If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember I’d taken a fondness for the Ten Commandments of Cycling… well, I felt yesterday’s ride rose to the level of a Commandment, and lucky number Seven at that: Thou Shalt Not Squander Perfect Days on the Couch.

My lovely wife had board meetings that I had a feeling were going to run late. Still, I thought, what if she actually gets to come home between them, as she normally does? I don’t want to miss her, I thought (I’d gotten home from the office just in the nick of time to give her a kiss before she drove off to that first meeting). On the other hand, it was perfect out. Barely a cloud in the sky, a barely there breeze… and the temp was even reasonable in the low 80s (probably 27 or 28 C if memory serves). It was literally a perfect day. There’s no way my wife would want me to miss riding in that, not today. Not the way we’re doing today. I reasoned, if she wasn’t on the way home at 5, I’d ride (she had another meeting start at 6).

I threw my leg over the top tube and was off at 5:10.

Tuesday night’s ride on the tandem had been hard. Strava and Garmin showed an estimated power output of over 360 watts for the hour and twenty minutes and I’d actually woken up the next morning with shaky legs, adding weight to the guesstimate… so I chose easy, recovery pace… for maybe one or two miles. It was just too perfect!

And just like that, at 5:20-ish, my wife texted me a simple, “I love you”. I took a quick selfie video from the bike and said, “I love you” whilst pedaling and sent that. Technology is grand. And I pedaled on.

I had a busy evening ahead so I had to shave the route and cut some corners to get done in time to pick up pizza for dinner and drop a love note off on my wife’s car on the way by, but I filled every spare minute I had on the Venge. I’d even dressed in my best Specialized peacock kit, with my racing helmet, S-Works shoes, and the whole getup. I was feeling quite spectacular as I rolled down the road.

I pulled into the driveway with just shy of 16 miles and a little better than an 18-mph average. It was no ride on the tandem with my wife, but it was a lot better than polishing the leather on our couch with my butt, too. Thou shalt not squander perfect days…

A New Personal Best for My Wife and I on the Tandem for a Tuesday Night!!!

Well, every once in a while a small miracle happens and Jess and I hit the perfect night on our tandem. The weather was wonderful. Partly cloudy, just a slight breeze out of the north, and my wife, the Rear Admiral to my Captain of the team, made the command decision that we should try to hang with the small-ish A-Elite/A-Group as long as we could. And I executed that decision.

We rolled out after fixing a timing chain issue – it pops when we take the bike out of the back of the vehicle every now and again. It’s happened twice, now, so I’ll have to be more mindful when taking it out of the SUV. Anyway, without a warm-up, we rolled out and went from easy-going out of the parking lot to 23-mph in a half-mile. Originally, I’d thought about staying in the rotation and taking our lumps up front with the rest of the group, but thought better of it. I chose, instead, to stay at the back… for two reasons. First, so I didn’t mess anyone up if we fell off the back. Second, well, it’s a lot easier at the back. Every time someone peeled off the front, I’d make room for them to slide over in front of us.

And we did well.

I’d anticipated we’d hang on for eight or ten miles, but I didn’t hold out much hope beyond that. I undershot our chances by a lot. Staying with the group, even at speeds upwards of 26-mph wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated with the gentle breeze and a whole train of cyclists ahead of us… and my wife absolutely killing it. I kept looking down at my computer, wondering if my wife saw how fast we were going. We worked together perfectly, that’s the best way to put it.

15-miles in we were still with the group and had a 23.1-mph average, but we were closing in on the hills. We rounded the corner on Lytle Rd and headed downhill for a quick few seconds before the pitch turned upwards… and just as my buddy Chucker took the front… and slowed the train down from 22-mph (which we normally climb those hills at) to 18-mph. Just enough for my wife and I to hang on. Unfortunately, we got stuck with a few other riders behind a lady in a Cadillac who decided it would be a good idea to text someone whilst waiting at the stop sign, so we got separated from the group who went around her rather than wait.

Once we were off the back, that was it. We never came close to catching up with the main group but we didn’t call it quits, either…

With 13-miles to go, we gave it everything we had and kept our average over 21-mph. We’d catch and lose the wheels of the four riders ahead of us several times but when we hit the City Limits sign, we cruised across the line with a cool 21.4-mph. The fastest average we’d ever held on a tandem… and about 3-mph faster than our normal Tuesday night club ride.

We were both exceedingly happy with how we did, and my wife put it best when she said she didn’t think she could have done that on a single bike, but when we’re on the tandem, she knows I’ve got her back when she needs me and she’s got mine when I need it. And that’s exactly it. I won’t lie, either… I got more than a little misty when she was talking about how she knew I had her back and that she had mine. We’ve worked really hard on our marriage to get to that point. And the hard work is clearly paying off.

We do well on the tandem because we are the definition of a tandem team.

Good times, noodle salad. I slept like a baby last night.

My Best Worst July Ever! Finding Peace in Fewer Miles on the Bike

I’ve always, since I started cycling, been on the extreme side. Most will ride a thousand or two miles in a season and be happy. I would average a thousand a month through the summer season. Last month I didn’t even make half that. Now, in fairness, we went on a cruise and brought Covid home with us on the last day, so my wife and I were out a few more days just shaking the fever. Don’t get the impression I’m kicking my own ass for only racking up 474 miles in a month where we didn’t ride half of it, I’m not.

I am as strong as I’ve ever been, though. I’m riding very well. The tandem takes a lot more effort and attentiveness than that of my twitchy, ultra-sleek, race bike. And the quality of rides… well, I can’t even quantify that. Enjoying riding with my wife on a tandem is a gift beyond description. Hell, loving my wife enough to enjoy riding on the tandem is pure awesome sauce – having my wife feel the same (at the same time), well that’s just over-the-top.

I’ll have a lot of miles to ride this month and into next, though. Most will be on the tandem with the love of my life, but some will be on my Venge, or maybe my Trek. I am thankful our marriage made it to where I’d rather the former than the latter two. It’s taken a lot of want to and work to get here. I’m glad we made it.

Incidentally, I raised my wife’s bullhorn up a little bit so she’s a little more upright. I’ll write up a post on fitting her to the tandem in the coming weeks. It’s an interesting tale.

¡The Triumphant Return of Los Cuatros Amigos!

I didn’t intentionally blow off a meeting to ride with my friends, but that it wasn’t intentional didn’t mean I didn’t blow off the meeting.  I did.

My wife had meetings in the morning so the tandem was out.  Originally, I was just planning on riding with my buddy, Mike but Chuck and Phill showed up, too so it was a picture of the good old days when the four of us would ride all over God’s creation together.  My mind drifted back to the heady days of Mountain Mayhem: Beat the Heat when Mike managed to pause his Garmin on the way up Brutus Road, while Phill tried to see exactly how slow he could go without tipping over on his bike (1.2-mph).  Ah, those were the days!

Mike and Chuck showed up early so we rolled out well before 7:30, our scheduled departure time, and picked Phill up along the way.  It wasn’t long before we got into a great rhythm heading into the wind in a tight pace-line.  Unlike the pros, where they take twelve seconds of headwind before rotating to the back, we were up front for several miles at a time (we were also well short of the pro’s 30-mph pace).

The sun shone gloriously and the breeze was mild… and the four of us had our fun.

My 16-pound Specialized Venge was all pleasurable business, a model of mechanical perfection as we strolled down the road at a brisk (but fun) pace. Mike, Phill and Chuck had their “good” bikes as well. Phill has a Fire Engine Red Specialized Roubaix, Mike a Trek Emonda 7.0 and Chuck a Black on Black Ghost Giant TCR Advanced… We talked and laughed and caught up… and I pulled into the driveway with 35-ish miles at 18-mph and a smile on my face.

It was perfect Michigan summer cycling. With friends. The only way it could have been better would have been if my wife and I were on the tandem. There will be plenty of time for that, though.

One Big Flaw in the First 25-Years of Our Marriage

I always used to filter everything through how it benefited me.

Now I think about how I can act to better benefit the marriage.

It ain’t easy. But it’s good.

Just a thought for the day.

Sigh. Sadly, Back to Normal Again. Well, ish.

Folks, I’m heading back into the office again this morning for the first time since the 14th. We stayed at my sister-in-law’s house for the 14th, 15th & 16th, then went on a six night cruise to the Bahamas that ended with us coming home with Covid as an uninvited guest… which meant another five days working from home (technically, I could have gone back Friday, but my coworkers suggested Monday was best and safest, and far be it from me to argue).

The last couple of weeks and a few days have been fantastic. I was able to get a lot of work done from home (I’m surprisingly efficient here) and was able to nap when Covid got the best of me and I needed it. Sadly, all of that freedom and good stuff is about to come to a screeching halt.

Still, I’ve got a ton to be grateful for and getting back to some semblance of normal should be nice. There’s not much I can do about it, anyway.

The reality is, there isn’t much normal about my “normal” anymore, though. My wife and I are comfortably head over heals in love with each other and I’m no longer an observer in the stands watching the game from… well, safely over yonder. We’ve actually entered a zone in our marriage where we’ve stopped trying to cause resentments in the other with quippy, snarky, cutting comments. We still try for highlights on the gag real but we’re healed enough where we don’t have reason to harm the other to get one up. I have to say, it’s nice not having to get even. More on that another time.

The important thing is my wife and I are on the best stretch of our marriage. The best news there is we know how to keep that going. So, it’s back to normal-ish today. And it sounds wonderful.

Love, On a Tandem Bicycle

My wife and I rolled out Saturday morning. We’re recovering from Covid and don’t quite want to ride with our friends yet, but my fever was the last to break four days ago – we’re well beyond contagious. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be a little overly cautious when it comes to Covid. We went though it easily enough, but you never know who won’t.

We’re riding easy, getting our legs back under us and are having a wonderful time of it. We talk about how things are going in our lives, we talk about our plans and aspirations, and we regularly talk of how much we love each other, that we’re excited to see what comes next. We went, in five months, from riding once a week on the tandem to almost every time we throw a leg over a bicycle. It wasn’t always this wonderful. In fact, this love story has a contentious start…

I was a very aggressive rider with a complex about keeping up with the group. If we struggled to keep up, even at a 21-mph pace, I’d try to pedal through my wife to keep the wheel ahead of me. This was hard on my wife and she got to a point where she didn’t much care for the tandem. She also failed to clue me in on this – however, I’d been dense enough I’d missed it myself.

We’d take our tandem out now and again when we anticipated an easier paced ride and I always made sure to tell my wife how much I loved riding that bike with her but I never got the warm, fuzzy response I hoped for. Say, something along the lines of “I love riding the tandem with you, too.” Well, my wife wasn’t all that happy because she felt out of sorts with the fact I was so much stronger a rider than she was. One day, after a difficult, fast ride which resulted in the group splitting up and my wife and I both cranky, it was suggested we should designate Sunday a “Funday” and keep the pace reasonable, say around 17-mph. If someone (or a few someone’s) took the pace up too hot, they’d be reeled in… and life on the tandem improved. We rode the tandem every Sunday Funday and my wife grew to love it. The more fun we had on it, the more we looked forward to riding it.

My wife and I still had marriage issues, but the tandem helped.

This spring, I came to the inglorious conclusion that our issues might improve if I brought out an industrial-sized street sweeper to clean my side of the street (rather than continually concentrate on and complain about how dirty my wife’s side was). Over a series of a few weeks I went through life-altering, massive changes. I saw a lot of room for improvement on my part, and I’d thought I was pretty decent.

I called my wife in tears one day and begged her forgiveness for the way I’d been behaving. I changed, and my wife changed with me. And we fell in love again, but with the experience of having been married for almost twenty-five years. Not only that, with our marriage improving off the bike, riding on the tandem really improved.

Shortly thereafter, I realized there wasn’t any room for that aggressive cyclist on the tandem and my wife. As well, my wife began putting forth an outstanding effort, especially when I needed a little extra boost. We became a tandem couple and a team. As our lives improved off the bike, our time on the bike became… I don’t even know how to put this into words. All I can say is being able to ride with my wife the way we do has been nothing short of amazing.

This love story isn’t perfect, however. We’ve both given up a little of our identities on single bikes to be the tandem couple we are today. I’ve had to give up that aggressive, fast way of riding so I don’t make life on the tandem difficult for my wife. My wife has had to give up much of her identity on a single bike to ride with me because, as my Rear Admiral, she doesn’t have to worry about the intricacies of riding in a group riding and holding a wheel… without practice, she worries about making mistakes.

For me, I’ve never been happier on two wheels, on a tandem with my wife. I’m willing to sacrifice being a speed demon for the happiness of riding with my soulmate… and I definitely don’t mind riding the single bikes now and again to make sure my wife gets her practice in a group. It’s really not an issue for me as much time as we spend on the tandem. I’ve got around 3,000 miles so far this year. I figure the split is close to this; 700 on the trainer, 800 on single bikes and a whopping 1,500 on the tandem.

A friend who happens to be one of the strongest riders I know messaged me on Strava that I was a lucky man being able to ride happily with my wife on the tandem. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know I am.

My wife and I found love. On a tandem bicycle.

When Life Turns too Full For Blog Posts…

We’ve got an intense day today, a nice two-hour morning bike ride on the tandem, taking my daughter to her friend’s house so she can go with her on vacation, hitting the hardware store so I can do some repairing on the camper for an upcoming road trip… and the weather’s fantastic.

My wife and I are riding alone on the tandem, out of an abundance of Covid-caution for the rest of the weekend and having a wonderful time with our newly found affection for each other… and the romance.

My friends, sometime it just gets too good (and full) for a blog post.

Feeling A Bit More Like Myself Post Covid… A Little Pep In My Step

My wife had to work a little late so I prepped the Trek and rolled out for a solo Jimmer Loop, planning on keeping the pace around that butter “15-mph” range so my lungs didn’t get cranky. I rolled out of the driveway and the bike felt fantastic under me. The Venge is all speed and flash while the Trek (a fabulous race bike in its day) is more like a modern day luxury sport sedan… thinking along the lines of a nice, sporty Cadillac CT-4 or something. It’s no purebred sportscar, but it’s no slouch, either.

Anyway, not unlike the days of old, or younger as the case was, “easy” lasted all of three turns of the crank. After a full day of work, I was feeling surprisingly fantastic. I mean really good… so I decided to push it a bit… until I turned left and remembered we had an 18-mph headwind out of the west. That put a little damper on the plans. Still, I managed between 15 & 18-mph into it. Not too shabby for a “last days of Covid” patient.

As one would expect, the ride north, south and east was fantastic. And I had all of the west out of the equation before long anyway.

I stopped at the middle school parking lot to take some photos of the parking lot where it’s failing after less than a year… I’m about to raise some hell about it. Then, I headed for home feeling surprisingly well. Heading south, I was between 19 & 21-mph and west, 24 was feeling quite easy. My lungs were acting as they should and I barely had a runny nose.

I felt like Jim again and pulled into the driveway with almost 19 miles and a 17-1/2-mph average. I’ll take it easy for another week, but I’m pretty stoked about were I am.

Life on two wheels is a blessing.

Finding the Groove on the Tandem Post Covid…

My wife and I headed out for a late lunch ride yesterday afternoon to a mixed bag of a decent temperature but a bit of mixed clouds with a little sprinkle here and there. We did the Jimmer Loop, increasing our mileage from the day before by about 35%. The average suffered a little bit, but this close after Covid, we weren’t about to push our luck.

The cool part, as is often the case with easy miles, was the conversation that comes along with riding the tandem with my wife. I’m going through another emotional growth spurt and we ended up talking about some very important keys that needed discussing and having a glorious time in the process.

Best, my lungs felt quite normal yesterday. Well, maybe I should say they didn’t hurt, at least. The important point is that other than the fact it was slow, it was very much a normal ride on the tandem with my wife. We’ll be riding again this evening and tomorrow morning, but we don’t plan on riding with anyone else until some time next week (Tuesday night should do, I think).

We’re going to have to miss a good ride this weekend, but with my friends, it’s better to be safe than sorry.