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Why I Upgraded from the Garmin Edge 510 Plus to the 530

I had the same Garmin 510 for years. I can’t even remember when I bought it. I was careful with the battery. Rarely discharged it fully, maybe five times in the years I had it, so it lasted quite well. I can still make a century with the old computer using the route navigation. I can’t, however, make it a century using the route navigation and my Varia blinking light/radar. That’s just a touch too much. If I turn the navigation off after 80 miles or so, I’ll make it home with only a few percentage points of battery life left. If I include a heart rate monitor, fuhgeddaboudit.

And that’s why I finally upgraded to the 530.

The 530 has several bells and whistles the 510 doesn’t have, including closer monitoring of the battery life of both the head unit and my radar/blinkie and the ability to control the operation of the functions of the blinkie. The 530 appears to double, approximately, the battery life of the 510.

The 530 operates much the same as the 510, but cleaner, prettier, longer and better. In my own personal opinion, the 530 looks like Garmin’s way of saying, “Look, Bob messed the 510 up in the design phase so we fired him. The 530 is what we should have done with the 510.”

Anyway, with all of the bells and whistle add-ons for the Garmin computers these days, you really need the battery life of the 530. All of the cool gadgets made the 510 obsolete… or excellent for shorter rides. If you’re into the long stuff, 50 to 150 miles in a day, the Edge 530. You can pick one up for $300 US, or less if you search the webz for about .000162 of a second.

Don’t forget, if you get one, to set it up properly. The indoor setting doesn’t use GPS, so don’t change that activity profile to something outdoors where you’ll need the GPS enabled. Also, I duplicated the road profile for a gravel road option rather than change the mountain biking profile. Don’t forget the auto-pause feature. You’ll want to set that for all of your activity profiles. Then, it’d probably be wise to consult the operators manual to set up your Varia. You have to get the sequencing just right so you can choose the mode you like the light to stay in (I always use daytime flash because it saves on the battery).

I’d liken the 530 to the road sport cyclist, the gravel cyclist or the mountain biker. You’ll need some battery life, but you won’t need that 400km brivet battery life with a computer smart enough to choose the best route to get you to the finish on the fly. That’s the 1030 and we can leave that one to the adventure cyclists who typically have no idea what “too much of a good thing” means.

Why Choose Recovery from Addiction? There Is A Short Answer.

Recovery from addiction, and I mean following a process that allows one to become recovered over time, with effort and an actual plan is a commitment. Now, any addict knows why they should choose recovery. This part isn’t rocket science. Life using is often quite awesome at the start. Life addicted, sucks.

Every addict knows this, and every person who has one of those tornados tear through their life will attest.

Fear is what makes the addict balk.

Fear of what’s out there without drugs, alcohol, or both. Fear that there is nothing good out there without getting high. Fear of failing recovery. Look, any reason to stay in addiction is based on fear.

That fear is misplaced.

Anyone can choose recovery and win. Big. If that’s what is worked for.

As we come to the holiday season, if you’re out there in the cold, know there is hope. There is peace. There is contentment beyond your wildest dreams. There is joy.

It all starts with a choice. It won’t always be easy, of course. Given time and effort, it will be good.

Don’t fear recovery. Be afraid of one more day without it.

If you give recovery everything you’ve got, you’re promised that you’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through. And, if by some miracle you’re recovery doesn’t live up to the hype, you’re welcome to having your misery back any time you like. Just pick up again.

Thirty Years, One Day at a Time… 10,958 Times in a Row.

As of last Wednesday night, I wasn’t one day closer to a drink… not surprisingly, I was just one day closer to 30 years.

We have a new guy with just a few months, when I passed my 30-year coin around (it’s a tradition to pass one’s coin around so others can rub good vibes, karma, or juju on it, whichever you prefer), who said he couldn’t even imagine how someone could amass that much time in recovery.

I can remember sitting in my first open talk, just a few days into my journey, thinking it would be awesome to be around to give one on my one year anniversary. I did, of course, and I gave my first open talk on my anniversary. One of the old-timers made it happen, simply because he knew I had that dream. When I had that hope, sitting through my first open talk, I hadn’t even made the decision to give recovery a chance, let alone everything I had. That would come another week and a half later.

It’s said in meetings, anyone can stay sober for the hour you’re sitting in a meeting, the real test is what you do with the other 23-hours that counts.

Well, hitting 30 years is a little harder, but it’s much the same concept; don’t drink, don’t die, work the steps, recover. Before you know it, one day turns into 10,958 and you get to celebrate 30 years. My next big milestone will be around 31 years 259 days. Give or take. And I’ll hit that the same way I hit 30. One day at a time. I won’t drink today. As long as I don’t die and I keep working the steps, I’ll make it till I fall asleep. I’ll do the same tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after. 617 more in a row.

Why a billion seconds? My dad, when I was a teenager, explained the concept of a Billion Dollars by explaining you couldn’t count to a billion in a lifetime. The idea is, it takes three or four seconds to hit the bigger numbers and you have to sleep and eat, too. With a billion seconds at 31 years, it isn’t difficult to see counting to a billion would be futile (and an entire waste of life). Without taking this too silly, that conversation with my dad meant a lot, having stuck with me so long, so now that he’s gone I’m looking forward to that milestone because that’s a little part of him that’s stuck with me.

Oh, and if you’re one of those contrarians who want to point out I shouldn’t have such “milestones” in recovery, that it’s only “one day at a time” and we shouldn’t celebrate such silly dalliances… dude, you’re a stick in the mud. Live a little, would ya? Recovery is a celebration from being delivered from misery every day. You can have a little more fun on the big days without falling into a pit of morass. Or more ass as the case might be.

30 Years In Recovery: If You Know Now What I Didn’t Know Then. Part One.

One thing I’ve always lamented in recovery is that I can’t take what’s in my head and cram it into the thick skull of someone new to recovery… not so they could have my experiences, but so they could know there doesn’t need to be fear in working the steps. I was one who procrastinated with the fourth step till I damn-near drank. The sad thing, really, was a lack of ability to understand exactly what I would have needed to push me over the start line. In fact, hesitation to work a step is a lot like a runner who gets up to the starting line of a race and stops dead in his or her tracks just before crossing and says, “You know, I just don’t think I’m ready for this… I think I’ll stand right here for a while and contemplate my options. What if I put my foot over that line? Will I still be happy?” Newly recovering people do this regularly.

Those outside the program might think that sounds legitimately crazy, but read step four and step five and think about doing that in your life. If that doesn’t strike a little fear and hesitation, you aren’t fully grasping the task. Give it a go and get back with me in the comment section what you think.

Part One of this series is very simple; let go.

If I had any idea how good the freedom from my baggage would feel, I’d have leapt at the opportunity to start immediately. In fact, letting go of old habits to grow closer to the light is an ongoing saga in a recovering person’s life. As we get closer to the light, more of the mess we have about us becomes visible as the illumination increases.

Looking at the new mess to clean up in a negative light was entirely wrong, but reflexive. Until recently. I tended to cling to that mess because at least it was a comfortable mess. Letting go is always a touch on the nebulous side. What if things don’t work out in my favor? What if I don’t like the change? How will my desires (which are often mislabeled “needs”) be met?

What if, just like cleaning up all of the previous messes in the last thirty years, life becomes more enjoyable, though? And so I’ve come to embrace cleaning up newly illuminated messes. Sure, it’s hard work and I usually find I’ve got a lot more to learn… and sometimes the cleanup process is even a little embarrassing. The rewards far outweigh that petty bullshit.

Try it. You just might like it.

Winter Arrives Early in 2022… Um. Yippee. Not Really

I know, Brent. If I had a couple of fat bikes… but I don’t, and for the time being, I hate winter. Hate is a strong, powerful word. Properly used. I suppose, on the positive side of the equation, Jess and I slept in till 7:01 this morning. That hasn’t happened since July when we were on a cruise ship.

We got another couple of inches of snow last night. Enough the plow came through.

I don’t know if anyone else from our group is riding outdoors but Jess and I are hanging inside this morning. It’s time to start going through our DVDs again. Thankfully, we have more than enough to get through the winter without watching the same movie twice. Though I will. It’s about time to get that Star Wars collection dusted off!

In other fun and exciting news, my wife is throwing a dinner party this afternoon for my anniversary. Old friends and new, we’re all heading out to a local restaurant for a nice time together.

I’ll have to check the menu for noodle salad.

Best 30th Recovery Anniversary Day EVAH! Working “The Program” Better.

After tending to some work in the wee hours of the morning, my wife and I took some time to ride on the trainers. It’s way too cold out for enjoyable riding and a decent couple inches of snow iced up the roads the night before. A shower and a little more work and we headed out for lunch at Qdoba, our favorite Friday lunchtime spot. After Qdoba, we went to a noontime meeting where my wife gave me my coin and I recounted how I’d made it another year… let’s just leave it at this; my wife’s presentation damn-near had me in tears. It used to be quite rare (but becoming vastly more commonplace) she felt safe enough to share her emotions unchecked, but she did yesterday. After, I had quite a bit more to talk about that I normally would having realized a new way to work “the program” over the last year.

I passed my coin around the packed room so everyone could rub some good mojo onto it.

After the meeting, my wife and I headed over to the local bike shop to say hi. We looked around a little bit and there are signs of things turning around a little bit with not one, but two drop bar gravel bikes on display. Super cool Treks, one aluminum and one gorgeous carbon fiber rig that I had to quickly walk away from lest I start drooling.

After the bike shop, Jess and I spent the rest of the afternoon together with a little work interspersed. I packed up my bowling bag and headed out for a two-game warmup before league play. I threw a 201 & a 188 – decent enough, but I struggled dialing it in a little bit. Midway into our first game, my wife and daughter showed up to surprise me. Play misty for me again. I took my daughter over to meet one of my better friends on Friday night, Keno Connors. He’s one of the most jovial, decent people I’ve ever met. We talk often about how things are going in our lives and he always asks how my star swimmer is doing, so I finally had the chance to introduce them.

After bowling, I arrived home to my daughter standing at the front door with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. I had a card each from my wife and daughter sitting at my place at the dinner table when I sat down.

And play misty for me one more time.

Over the course of the last nine months I haven’t relearned how to work the program. I didn’t find out that I’d done a substandard job all these years. I did find out there was a deeper, more meaningful way I could work the steps that would add a shocking amount of depth, love, peace and contentment to my marriage and all of the relationships I have with friends, family and guys I work with in AA. My sponsor, Pete likes to say we’re growing another step closer to the light.

I feel like I need sunglasses, and it is good. Thanks God.

30 Years Clean and Sober: A New and Fantastic Path Appears… for the Love of My Wife.

Most of my first 29 years, when I got my coin, I’d spout a few clichés in a meeting after my wife said a few heartfelt and meaningful words about how far we’d come in our marriage and recovery. Every now and again, I’d have something important to say, but I’d normally keep it fairly short and simple. Something about trusting God and helping others, I’d hug my wife and accept my coin.

Not this year. This year, my whole recovery was turned on its head when I asked God, “How deep does this rabbit hole go”? He proceeded to show me.

From November 19th, 2021 until late February, my story was the first paragraph. Rinse and repeat. I’d had one of the best sponsors AA had to offer about ten years earlier, who passed from lung cancer, who would light up a room when he walked in. He had a gift for making everyone in that room feel better about being who they were because he simply loved everyone. It was amazing to watch the dynamic of a room change when he walked in the door. He gave me some of the best marriage advice I’d ever received and I still use it today. Sadly, I had no clue how I’d get from where I was to where he was on the path I was on when he died. And I was no closer in late February until I had a conversation with my daughters. They were worried about Jess and I and how we would do after Josie left for college (she’s in her junior year), without the distraction of having kids around. They brought up an interesting point.

And gave me a new goal.

A short while later, driving to work listening to the local news show on the radio (npr or talk radio, take your pick, doesn’t matter – most left or right extremists want to know whether it was a lefty or righty station so they can form a summary judgment of who I am based on politics… those freaking people are sick). Anyway, it occurred to me I was listening to the same damned news story for the last 25 freaking years. There had to be something better I could do with my time! Something that would help improve my life. But what?

I asked God for some inspiration. Twenty minutes later I was listening to a psychology professor’s lecture on YouTube. He was talking about arguing with people. I thought this will be great! I can learn how to argue with my wife and maybe win once in a while! He spoke about doing the least amount of damage possible in order to get your point across, and let the other person show who they are and let them expose their agenda which should be easy enough to dispense with. I loved that concept! A couple of days later, a video on implementing that in a relationship, only in this case we don’t try to win. We do the least amount of damage possible and negotiate for peace. My mind was completely blown. The idea was to not fight. I tried it on my wife. We started out arguing on the way to a concert and by the time we got to the venue we were having the best time we’d had together in YEARS. It was magical.

Another video about narcissism a few days later. I was sure I was going to learn a lot about my wife from this one. The first three things were absolutely my wife. The next three, were me. What an eye-opener! I immediately asked God to show me everything. The emotional barriers and walls I’d built over the years crumbled and I was laid bare. I called her in tears and apologized for who I’d been and let her know things would get much better. I explained in detail what I’d learned.

I started working with a new sponsor shortly thereafter and he helped me navigate some of the tougher waters, including a massive bout with possessiveness that struck me to my core. He helped me to pray and meditate, and listen to what was going on inside me so I could ask God for direct help where I needed it. When I found I’d wronged my wife throughout this time, I immediately went to her and took ownership of where I was wrong and pledged to mindfully do better. Then I did better. In the meantime, she began her own changes, once she saw that what I was going through was real and safe.

We had some intense negotiations over the next several months but we didn’t fight much. On the rare occasion a fight was necessary, we always remembered to come back to doing the least amount of damage possible and negotiate for peace. We grew closer than we’d ever been. She was amazing and challenging at the same time.

I started talking about the changes at meetings, because they were all centered around the tenth and eleventh steps. Bringing it up at meetings was part of twelve.

All of a sudden people started asking me to sponsor them. I’ve worked with more men in the last six months than I ever had in the past. My wife and I have reconciled to a point our marriage isn’t even recognizable in its current form from what we had last year. There is peace, happiness and contentment… and joy.

And at the heart of it all is our Higher Power and steps ten, eleven and twelve. It was just a couple of months ago, now, that I sat down with my wife and talked to her about something that had changed in me. I told her I’d just realized that earlier in the year I had no idea how I would get from where I was to where my old sponsor was. All of a sudden, after everything had changed, I knew there was a lot of work to be done, but I could at least see the path. All I had to do was walk it.

And so I have, and so I will.

Thanks God. Thanks, Sunshine. Anything is possible in recovery. Anything. As long as I keep coming back and work the steps.

Sobriety Anniversaries: A Day and a Wakeup to Thirty Years. Why Anniversaries Still Matter to Me

I mentioned at my homegroup meeting that I’d hit 30 years on Friday. I’m quite young for hitting that mark at 52 and we’ve got three new guys who just started showing up last week. One has three months, the others a couple of weeks, now. I mentioned my coming anniversary (as did my wife) as a way of letting those guys know that, if you stick around long enough and don’t die, becoming an old-timer is possible.

Everyone in the meeting, except one guy (and you know this type) got it. He, on the other hand, had to point out that I indeed hadn’t made it yet (as if I was tragically lost on this fact) and I was really only one day closer to a drink, anyway.

I pushed back hard on the sophomoric and petulant “you’re really only one day closer to a drink” bit. The notion is just plain stupid.

The idea, while sound in a cynical way, was simply tossed out there because if he gets a decently angry reaction out of me (which he failed to elicit), my reaction would justify his cynical views. Rather, I simply said in a very calm, cool voice, that’s not true at all. I’m one day closer to thirty years and that’s good enough for me. When I didn’t know any better, I would give him the angry response he wanted (and, oddly enough, he’s been a friend for more than 20 years) and I’m sure he’d feel just a little bit better about being so miserable. Today, it’s enough to exercise restraint and be kind without accepting the premise of a silly point made to bring about a strongly worded negative response – this fella’s had a rough life.

As I’ve said in the past, I celebrate the full month of my anniversary. I used to look for reasons to celebrate something so I could get good and drunk; now I celebrate my freedom from that.

I’ve got a day and a wakeup to 30 years – 20 of which is time I’d have spent in a casket if I’d kept using. That seems reason enough for a celebration to me. At least for today.

Why I Ride a Bicycle Part 2,279: A Hundred Great Memories from 2022

If you follow me on Strava, you’ll know that I’ve posted a veritable ton of photos on our rides this year. I’ve taken some, my wife has taken most from the Rear Admiral’s saddle of our tandem. It’s been the happiest year we’ve spent on two wheels – I’d defend saying it was my happiest year ever.

I think back on some of those moments that we shared together, growing from a lackluster union to one of peace, happiness and gratitude and, hindsight being what it is, am utterly flabbergasted at how things came to be. All I can say is, if I give my Higher Power just a little room to wiggle in, as my own willingness goes, it’s astonishing how much was accomplished in such a short time.

I haven’t cracked 5,000 miles for the year yet, though I’m close. I have zero regerts (misspelled on purpose, Todd). On the contrary, I happily traded in those extra miles needed to get me to my normal average for a marriage I am excited to have and be a part of. It is a worthy tradeoff I’d make over and over again.

As we approach my 30th anniversary in recovery and aptly, Thanksgiving, I thank God several times a day that I’m on the right side of the grass, pumping air. I am thankful for so much, not least of all, that I have something worthwhile to pass along to those new to recovery. Our recovery and marriage is an average story of pure awesome.

Thanks God.

Jim

Last Tandem In Paris (Michigan)… Well, Technically, Byron, But Who’s Counting?

We rolled the tandem out to a fabulous fall morning… just a day before winter makes its early entrance to daily life. In a word, to be dressed in just a light base layer, long sleeve thermal jersey and leg warmers this late into November is simply glorious. The tandem, with a few mechanical adjustments over the season is impossibly quiet. I think, if we really tried, we could hear the frogs fart in the ditch on the side of the road.

Mike and Joe met us at the end of our driveway and we rolled for the Deer Loop. Jess and I were both dressed perfectly and we were facing all of the headwind on the first half of the ride. Well, if you could call it “wind”. It was more of a breeze.

Oh, there was talk and laughter, and a few friends just passing the morning on bikes. For Jess and I, it was our last “date” on the tandem for the season. Yesterday’s 55 degree (13 C) start temp won’t be seen again, even as a high temp for the day, till March.

Well, to be fair, we might sneak one or two nice days in there, but it’s increasingly unlikely. We’re deep into trainer and gravel season, now. At least till the snow comes in December (or later this month), that’s simply trainer season till my wife and I get fat bikes in the distant future (hat tip to you, Brent).

Jess and I ended up having a wee bit of an intense discussion after the ride about power to the pedals and the fact that we were imbalanced through much of the ride (she felt like we were spinning much of the ride – I was definitely never “spinning”), but other than that, it was a peach of a ride. We settled on that this will be something to work on next year… on our glorious, uber-light, top-end Co-Motion Kalapuya with it’s Rolf racing wheels and the whole nine.

This morning, it’s windy and just a few degrees above freezing. I set the tandem on the stand yesterday afternoon and cleaned the drivetrain. I took all of the computers and lights off, and cleaned and lubed the chain and steel bits to keep them from rusting before locking it away for the winter.

I love that bike… and the dates my wife and I have had on it this year.