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Why the Specialized S-Works Crux ISN’T The One (All-Purpose Bike)

I watched a YouTube video (link below) that suggests in the Title that the S-Works Crux, a $12,500 bicycle, might be The ONE. The ONE all-purpose bike that let’s you do it all. Group rides, road rides, dirt rides, the whole nine.

It is, without a doubt, a decent bike. Especially the eTap wireless electronic shifting option. I’m going to pull the curtains back on this one pretty fast, though. The ONE, this ain’t.

At around 17-pounds (7.7 kg), it’s a fairly light gravel bike. However, while it does have a decent set of Roval wheels on it out of the box, you’d need a road set of 50s to make the most of a club ride. Especially so you don’t have to swap tires to ride gravel or road. Unless, of course, you like spending your free time swapping tires around throughout the summer months… oh, and working a little harder than everyone else in the group your riding… So you’re looking at another $1,000 to $2,000 for your road wheels, plus another $120-ish for tires. Oh, and rotors, and a cassette… and shims so you can swap one set for the other without messing with the brake calipers. Throw on another $300.

We’re not done yet, though. That $12,500 bike that is already up around $14,000, comes with a 1x drivetrain. With a 10t to 44t cassette and a 40t chainring. Now, the fella in the video actually said he spins out at about 34-mph in the last gear 40/10. This makes sense. I could probably get it to 37 with a little extra kick, but you’re out of gear there. I can get 45-mph out of a 50/34 and 11/28 cassette. 37 is pretty good, though, so maybe swap out a 42t chainring for a little extra oomph in the sprint? Hold on, though, sparky. There’s another problem that must be addressed before we call this good. You’re looking at a 12-speed 1x system with a 10 to 44t cassette.

Having already played this game before, here are the cogs:

10-11-12-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-38-44

You’ve got a 1-tooth jump for the smallest three cogs, but you’ll always be in the wrong gear going from the 12 to 15. So I’m not going to bother doing the math on Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator site. Actually, I will. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right. See below for the results.

You’ve got a massive hole between 19 & 24-mph. So you’d need to shrink that chainring so the hole is in the slower speeds. But we need a bigger chain ring for the sprint!

So let’s throw another $700 at the problem and get a front derailleur, a double crank with a legit 50/34 crankset on it (surprisingly, it looks like the original shifter might work with a 1 or 2x).

So your $12,500 Crux is now just shy of $15,000 and you’re finally ready for a road ride! Wow, I’m tired. And exceptionally broke.

The Crux isn’t The ONE. I’d take my 10-year-old 16-pound Venge over a brand new S-Works Crux out of the box in a road ride any day of the week and twice, literally, on Sunday. And I’d work you into the ground on your S-Works Crux with a smile on my face…

Maintaining A Shimano 10-Speed Groupset on a Road Bike So It Always Shifts Perfectly; There Are A Lot Of Little Things That Add Up to Perfect.

The first tip for maintaining a mechanical groupset on a road bike so it always shifts perfectly is, don’t use Shimano’s 10-speed groupset as your example of perfect.

Campagnolo? Awesome. SRAM 10-speed? Fine and dandy. Shimano? Well…

I should know. My wife and I have four bikes in our stable with differing lines of Shimano 10-speed drivetrains. We’re in the process of acquiring a Campagnolo Record equipped 10-speed bike and have an 11-speed Shimano and 9-speed Shimano gravel bikes (one of which was upgraded from Shimano Claris 8-speed which was absolute garbage). In the 10-speed camp, at the top of the range, we have my Ultegra-equipped Specialized Venge, then my 105-equipped Trek 5200, my wife’s Specialized Secteur, and our Co-Motion tandem. My wife’s Specialized Alias has Shimano’s 105 line in 11-speed.

The key here is knowing the one problem with Shimano’s 10-speed line; if you know this problem, you can fix that when it rears its ugly head. Worry about the other minor problems as they arise. The main problem resides in a weak spring in the rear derailleur. This causes the derailleur’s performance to degrade long before its useful life should be over.

I chose the words in that last sentence very carefully, because they’re exceedingly important to how the drivetrain performs when that spring goes bad. It’ll operate like the shifting cable has drag in it, leading you on a wild goose chase for a phantom problem you’ll never be able to find. Oh, there will be signs that you’ve finally found the problem but your shifting will soon be pooched yet again… because you really just need a new rear derailleur.

Basically, you won’t be able to dial the rear derailleur in. It’ll shift well going up the cassette or it’ll shift well going down, never both as it should.

Unfortunately, that’s also a major clue for having drag in the shifting cable that’s preventing the derailleur from properly indexing. A little dirt or grime, some rust on the cable, grime in the connecting bits (ferrules and grommets and such), as well as grime in the cable guide under the bottom bracket… even grime in the shifters themselves – any of those issues will make your bike’s shifting go bad.

The simplest way to fix the rest is to pick up and install a shifting cable set from the manufacturer of your drivetrain. Even though you can technically use SRAM and Shimano interchangeably, I’ve taken to using only products that complete a line, with the exception of chains and cassettes. I use Ultegra chains and cassettes on all of the 105 bikes. They cost a little more, but the weight savings is worth it to me. New cables, housings and end caps (also referred to as ferrules) from the shifters to the rear derailleur, along with a shifter/hood cleaning will cure all ills if the derailleurs are in good working order.

I FIXED MY TREK’S CREAKING HEADSET! Simple and Painless

My Trek 5200 is a phenomenal rain bike. Always has been. It has a deep, dark secret in its past, though. It suffered years of neglect before I bought it in terms of the headset and steering assembly. By the time I got it, it was a rusted mess.

I had a new Chris King headset installed when I overhauled the bike back in 2016.

The headset, even the new King headset, was notoriously difficult to dial in. It had to be within an eighth of a turn or it would present difficulties. A sixteenth too tight and it would bind, causing the front wheel to “gyroscope” – this feels incredibly unsettling in a corner when the bike tries to right itself as you’re leaning into it. A sixteenth too lose and it would creak when I got out of the saddle to put max power to the pedals. Let’s just say I lived with a creak. Oh, I’d get it right now and again and it would only creak under excessive load, but for the most part, it’d creak when climbing hills and during sprints.

All of that pitting is the cause of the creak that I lived with for all those years. The new race wasn’t enough. So, after years of messing around with trying to get the Chris King Gripnut right, I’d worn the paint off it and made it look messy. It was good enough from afar, as I’d dress it up with black nail polish from time to time, but it was ugly. Two years ago I placed an order for a new Gripnut… and because of the pandemic it took until this week to come in.

My glorious, outstanding, beautiful wife went in to pick that beauty up when she went in to pick up her next new/used road bike and I just had time to install it last night. However, instead of living with the same problem, I emailed Matt and asked if there was anything that could be done about the pitting to fix the creak. The crown race is still tight on the fork and obviously looks amazing. The interface is the problem, though, but he said that could be re-machined. I got to thinking, if it can be re-machined, why can’t I just sand the pitting down?

I picked up 4 sheets of sandpaper on the way home last night… 80 grit, 120, 160 and 320. I used the 120 and 320.

I took the fork off after getting home from work and cleaned it up, making sure to degrease it entirely. Then, I simply took a long strip of each kind of sandpaper and sanded the interface smooth(ish). I cleaned it up, de-dusted it, lubed it and put everything back together so it was just tight enough to take up the slop in the fork.

I was certain it was going to creak because it wasn’t anywhere near tight enough to start binding, but the steering was better than on my Venge (which is immaculate) so I decided to suit up and give it a try just for shits and giggles.

Not a creak, groan, moan, or… anything. It’s perfect. That bike is going to get a lot more use in the future, I can tell you that! Well, technically that’s not exactly true, either. The new tandem is going to get most of the miles. The Trek will split solo rides with the Venge and will be my exclusive (solo) tour bike for things like DALMAC and possibly the Horsey Hundred (I just remembered we’re likely to take the new tandem on Horsey next year). I’d chosen the Venge a little more frequently lately because of the creak, but with that gone, the Trek operates just as good as the Venge! Happy Day!

A Perfect Tuesday Night in Lennon with Jess on the Tandem: Three Tandems, a Chucker and a Clark Edition

We’re into the last three or four Tuesday night club rides of 2022… and that’s if the weather is perfect. It never is in October.

The weather was amazing. 74 marvelous degrees with a 4-mph breeze out of the west and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. I readied the tandem as soon as I got home because we’re rolling a half-hour early this time of year because it’s getting dark so soon. As part of the preparations I slid each of my wife’s seat posts (there are two seat posts for the stoker on a Periscope tandem – one slides into the other so you can adjust the stoker position for anyone from 4’2″ tall to 6’2″):

The second post, the brushed aluminum one, tends to creak a little from time to time so if you raise and lower it a few times then tighten the quick release fully, the creak goes away.

We got there early enough we could check to make sure I got the saddle height right and make a few adjustments before we rolled out for real. We were staged at the start when everyone rolled at a minute past 5:30.

We started out fast right out of the gate and I was breathing heavy and nervous by the time we hit the first mile mark at 24-1/2-mph (38 km/h). I didn’t see how we were going to keep that up, but Jess was surprisingly strong in the rear admiral’s position. We took second bike as we turned north and took our turn less than a mile later and my breathing normalized up front, maintaining right around 25-mph (39 km/h). We took about three-quarters of a mile and slid to the back. I took a glance at our average pace… 23-ish-mph.

We eased into last bike after peeling off the front and drifting to the back to a fantastic draft. Jess was hammering the pedals and I actually had to scrub speed with the front brake quite often. I was getting the breaks I needed and really settled into the ride. A couple of miles west, a mile north and we turned hard left onto the vaunted Shipman Road. Shipman is a life-sucking southwest facing road. We rarely get a tailwind and often get hammered with a crossing headwind or straight headwind all summer long. This Tuesday was only different in that the wind was barely there. The pace didn’t waiver. We held 23 to 27-mph all the way south and west.

We were in excellent position, in the mix with the A-Elite group, as we hit the first hills and Todd, one of the fastest guys we know (his nickname is Watt King), waived us to second bike so we could take the lead on the way up the first two hills and control the pace. I almost fell off my bike at the classy move. Todd, I know you read this; chapeau, my friend. Thank you, that meant a lot to we three tandems.

We stayed with the group, who held the pace steady up the last two rises, and descended to 71 before hitting the next series of hills. The next hill, over a set of tracks, was too much for us, though, and we slipped off the back. I reached back and squeezed Jessica’s hand and reassured her that we gave it everything we had and I was perfectly okay with dropping. She’d been stellar and we just got caught a little out of breath at the same time. We’d made 15-miles at just shy of 24-mph for the average.

We didn’t watch the weed grow on the way up the hill, though (there’s a pot farm on the right). We both knew we needed to be on the gas so we could catch up with the Shiatown short route group and w got to it. We took a little bit of a rest to catch or breath and hammered the rest of the hills, trying a few new strategies along the way to see if we could maximize the downhills without over-hammering the descents to the detriment of the climbs. It worked out quite well, actually. We caught the Shiatown crew at the regroup spot. Two more tandems (Mike & Diane and Dave & Val), a Chucker and a Superman, Clark Kent (I kid you not).

We rolled out after a short respite and took advantage of a downhill to cut short a steep uphill that tends to crush our spirits a little before heading up one of the strangest hills I’ll ever climb. It’s clearly uphill but it can’t be as steep as it appears because we routinely climb the silly thing in excess of 20-mph… on the tandem. After that punchy climb, we descend into Vernon full speed ahead. With three tandems in the lead (two of the teams are exceedingly experienced, Jess and I are the babies of the bunch), using gravity to our greatest advantage, we shot into town topping 30-mph on the way down… and we coasted a quarter of the descent.

We took it easy through Vernon, as we always do, then Clark came through to clear a difficult intersection so the tandems could get through without having to drop a foot. It was a perfectly executed clearing of an intersection and we rolled through. Jess and I had the lead at that point and we worked up a short hill before hitting a fast descent. The rest of the ride was perfectly fantastic with the three tandems outnumbering the single bikes.

We took it to the barn with a wonderful 22-mph average for the 28-mile circuit. There were plenty of hi-fives and pats on the back on the way to the parking lot on the cooldown mile. The story of our ride has to be Jess. She was truly brilliant last night… and we talked about that a little bit on the way home. I overheard her talking to Val about how she worries about keeping her single bike prowess up while spending so many miles on the tandem in the Rear Admiral’s saddle. I made peace with my own personal demons in that regard as captain, but it’s different for Jess, being the stoker. Riding in a group setting is a perishable skill and she doesn’t have the same duties as the Rear Admiral. We’ve talked about this a bit and I don’t have a good answer, other than to hope the gravel bike season helps with that.

On the other hand, she let me in a little bit last night after the ride when she said that she truly loves riding with me (which I did know), adding that she knows she was born to be a stoker, that she enjoys being our stoker immensely. I didn’t know that second part. I love captaining our tandem. I love having my wife right there and sharing our riding experiences so closely… Last night was yet another example of what we can do together and it was awesome.

I also reminded my wife, the one time I tried to hang with the A-elite group this year I was dropped after eight miles. We’ve done better on the tandem than I could do alone. Sadly, there won’t be many of these left this year:

Cycling and Carbon Fiber or Aluminum?

Aluminum has its place in cycling. It’s stiff, light… erm… well, it’s stiff and light. Carbon fiber took the world by storm starting in the late 80s and early 90s but really broke metal’s hold on cycling in the late (late) 90s when Trek introduced one of the first production full carbon fiber frames and dominated the road bike market with it’s 5000 series frames (including the 5200 and 5500 frames). Carbon fiber is infinitely moldable, while aluminum is quite finite as a frame material.

So, which would you choose for your bike?

I’ve got a little of both in the stable; aluminum gravel bike, aluminum mountain bike, steel tandem, carbon fiber road bikes.

With today’s trend of wider tires, aluminum can actually make a little more sense with its main feature; stiffness. Now, we’re going to pretend for a minute that you can’t make carbon fiber stiff in one direction but compliant in another by adjusting the layout and orientation of the carbon sheets. The one killer of efficiency in a bike frame is compliance. The more the frame move as one pedals, the less efficient the frame is. If we can do anything with aluminum tubing, it’s make a stiff bike frame. The one downside of those frames in the 80s and 90s was that skinny tires made them terribly uncomfortable. Once we started throwing 28 to 32 millimeter tires on bikes, aluminum’s rigidity was able to shine because the tires could take so much of the road’s chatter away.

For this reason, I love my gravel bike. Sure, it’s heavy, but it’s not terrible at 24 pounds… until I try rolling with someone on a 17-pound carbon fiber gravel bike. That extra seven pounds takes a good bit of effort (not all seven pounds are in frame weight, obviously, it’s only a pound or two… the rest is cheaper components and wheels. I could make the bike 18 pounds if I invested some money in wheels and decent components).

Where aluminum really makes a good showing is in a tandem frame. Carbon fiber, and there’s at least one manufacturer who makes them (Calfee), is prohibitively expensive when you get to something as big as a tandem. A frame alone costs as much as my wife and my full Co-Motion Kalapuya (with a second set of road wheels) – this is enough I wouldn’t even want to afford one… but that aircraft grade aluminum beauty we ordered is going to be phenomenal when it gets here! And with the ability to ride 32s for paved roads and 45s for gravel, I have zero worries about the rigidity. In fact, I’ll welcome it next to our current steel tandem that weighs 42-pounds. The new tandem will be in the mid to upper 20s.

There’s a return to aluminum as the frame material of choice because it’s more abundant, recyclable and it’s cheap. With the wider tire fad of late, this makes that at least reasonable.

On the other hand, I’d never trade in my carbon fiber. When it comes to an awesome ride, carbon fiber is still the best – no matter how fat tires are getting:

Do eBikes have a place on mountain bike trails? A funny take on a charged question (pun intended).

Now, it should also be fairly stated that when we get to this level of purist silliness, the level I’m about to write about, we’re only talking about the wonky end of the spectrum. Mountain bikers are a finicky bunch. They just are. Disagree? Show up in your road kit and sit back on your folding chair at the trailhead… and watch how you’re looked at.

Better, there’s a question brewing amongst mountain biking organizations where it’s being murmured that e-mountain bikes shouldn’t be allowed on mountain bike trails… because they’re too fast.

They are that. However…

Let’s go with the notion that eBikes shouldn’t be on trails because they’re “too fast”. Never mind that, should you ask your average roadie if an eBike should be allowed in a group for someone past their prime but who still wants to hang with the group you’ll get quite a lot of enthusiasm about it… I’ve seen it. Let’s just forget that for a minute, though.

So here’s what I want to know; are we going to ban fast mountain bikers next? How’s about lightweight mountain bikes? Ooh, better yet, maybe we should have trails designated by class! Yeah! Then we don’t have to worry about fast mountain bikers overtaking slower folks on the trails… because they won’t be there! Then, maybe we could put some form of enforcement out there to hit people with a taser if they don’t comply to the class structure designated for that particular trail! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Then, for those who slip through the cracks, maybe we could have mountain bikers informing the authorities on other mountain bikers. That’d be great!

Oh, wait… where was that tried before? Let me think now… Oh yeah! The Nazi Socialists did that. So did the Marxist Soviet Communists and Italian Socialists… and Chinese Communists. (Never you mind that pattern, it’s all in your head!)

On second thought, maybe we can just let the older folks who still want to ride their mountain bikes have a little bit of an e-assist up the hills, no?

Just sayin’.

Disk (or Disc) Brakes and Bicycles: How to Go From Soft and Squishy to “Holy Crap!” (Even With Mechanical [Cable] Brakes).

I was told, when I purchased my tandem, that the calipers we had were meant for a flat-bar bike and that we might have to swap them for road calipers should the need arise. They were squishy, but they worked well enough that I was never afraid of riding the bike with my wife on it… and I’m about six times more careful with my best friend, wife, partner and Rear Admiral on the back of the bike than I am solo.

On the other hand, it took a second to stop the bike properly and I really didn’t like that, so this past weekend, I took to figuring them out to see if I could improve on what I had.

First things first: Your Rotors

If your rotors are wobbled (and many are – mine were) and if you’re going to keep them quiet while you ride, you have to open the calipers which makes the brakes squishy. Sometimes it’s really tricky the angle you have to be at to see where you have a wobble so I’m going to give a photo at a very tight angle to hopefully illustrate what you should be looking at to see if your rotor is straight.

In the photos above, it’s difficult to get the camera in exactly the right location to pick up the two gaps on either sides of the pads – trust me, they’re there.

You have to pay attention to which way the rotor needs to be bent to straighten it out by looking for light between the brake pads and the rotor. If everything seems to be straight, then you see a wobble to the outside, you bend that exact part of the rotor in. Opposite that if it wobbles in, bend it out. Use an adjustable crescent wrench or a special rotor tool to gently bend the rotor in or out as needed. The rotor should be dead straight when you’re done or this won’t work.

Now, assuming the calipers are properly aligned, you have two adjustments for a mechanical set of brakes once they’re centered. The cable tension/barrel adjuster and the inboard/outboard adjustment at the back of the caliper (or front with a set screw depending on the model of caliper – mine are on the back (toward the spokes). The cable tension sets the outboard pad for my calipers. Once the rotors are straight, look between the brake pads and set the cable tension with the barrel adjuster so you’ve got just a few hairs worth of space between the rotor and the outside pad. Then, turn the dial (or set screw with an Allen key) on the back so there’s just a few hairs’ space between the inboard pad and the rotor.

Give the wheel a spin. If it rubs anywhere, you’ll hear it. Get yourself in a position where you can see the wobble and figure out where the rotor is bent and straighten it. Once it’s perfectly straight, give it a spin and test the brakes. If the pads are relatively clean, it should be quite stout compared to what you had. If not, tighten down the barrel adjuster or the back set screw/dial to get it even tighter.

If done right, there should be a world of difference betwixt what you started out with and what you ended with. The key is patience. Straightening the rotors is a bit of a tedious process.

How to know if you’re an @$$hole in a group ride…

We had a 14-person deep pace-line going on a quiet country road. We were crushing it at about 23-mph when we passed a decent cyclist riding with a friend. Those of us who have put in tens of thousands of miles riding in groups know a legit cyclist from a noob, usually, with just a quick glance.

In this case, the fella may have been a decent cyclist, but he showed himself to be, unquestionably, an @$$hole. All of a sudden the yahoo starts passing up the right side of the pace-line, on the white line with barely enough room to operate. He’d work up the line a few cyclists, then fall back a little, then work up a few more in the line. I saw enough of that crap and decided I’d put an end to it. I signaled and pulled out of the group and headed up on the left (where normal American cyclists pass – right for those in left lane driving countries). I passed the lead cyclist and told him to keep the pace steady as I passed him. I then went to his right as if I’d completed a turn up front. I effectively flushed the jerk out the back. Thinking my job was done and that he’d gotten the message, I got back in the draft of the pace-line.

At which time he announced, “passing on the right”.

I moved right and said, “Like hell, you pass on the left like a normal cyclist, or did you just learn how to ride this year?” He started complaining and I cut him off. Whether he was butt hurt that we passed him or he was just looking to be a jerk, I can’t tell you. I can tell you this, you don’t pass on the inside of a pace-line… and everyone worth their clipless pedals knows this.

Later, same tour, same day, another guy decided he’d join our group. He started at the back but started leap-frogging up a few riders, squeezing into a gap less than a foot between wheels by “pushing” the rider behind him to the right. He did it again. And again. Three people complained to me about what I’d just watched.

I rode up along side him and asked, “You don’t ride in a group very much, do you?”

He replied, “Actually I do.”

I said, “Well if you do, then you know better than to do what you’re doing. You don’t leapfrog the group like that, and you certainly don’t cut off other riders to do it. If you want to get to the front to take a pull, get up there and do it. If not, get back to your place in the pace-line and wait your turn”.

He went to the front and took a pull. We rode his wheel for something like five to seven miles before we wore him out completely. Then, the next guy in line hit the gas and we dropped him off the back of the group.

Later on that evening at dinner, the guy’s dad (the son was just a few years younger than me) complained to a friend of ours in the group that I bullied the guy and made him feel unwelcome. We had a fair chuckle over that – because who would welcome someone who cuts off other riders at 23+mph to leapfrog up the group?!. In truth, he wasn’t exactly wrong… though I was the only one to speak to him, the whole group dropped him.

Now, here’s the point; if you’re in the group for your own selfish aims and you don’t know how to look out for the rest of the people you’re riding with, you’re the problem.

That’s a period at the end of that last sentence. Don’t be that person.

The Solution to the Age-Old Cycling Club Question: Why Won’t the Racers Slow Down to Take Care of the Noobs on Club Ride Night?

I get pounded every year at the annual cycling club membership meeting because certain slow riders think new prospects to a cycling club are turned off by fast riders and that those same fast cyclists should give up their ride at some random, unspoken, unknown interval (anything but “all the time”, of course) to make those new leisure bike riders feel comfortable and welcome.

Now, for the time being, let’s just ignore the obvious, laughable omission that a noob would be intimidated beyond words to ride along with a racer on a $12,000 rig who would be coasting most of the ride while the noob is pedaling away furiously, anyway. We can pretend that wouldn’t be so.

Let’s look at the real problem, because if you believe the reason your group is having membership trouble falls on someone else, well, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The real problem is, just as in politics, the extremes rule the day and frame the discussion so both sides refuse to talk about a real solution because angry is always easier.

If you think, as a fast person, you don’t have any responsibility for bringing up new, slower cyclists, you’re as ignorant as those who say a club’s ranks would improve if the faster folks rode with the slow leisure riders every once in a while.

The real solution is much simpler; each group in a club should take care of and help the group below them. For instance, our Elite bunch, when there’s a light turnout, will team with the As and Bs and take it easy until we split for the long and short routes. After that, they go their fast way and the rest of us do the short route at our pace for the last ten miles. While there are those who can’t keep up (the A-Elite, A, and B rides are all “drop” rides), the vast majority can – especially when the Elite and A groups will take the majority of the time up front, allowing the Bs to sit back in the draft (or pull through to a very short turn up front).

The Bs should look out for the Cs and help those who aspire to ride with the faster riders achieve their goals. The Cs take care of the Ds, and so forth.

The idea that an A-Elite rider is going to give up riding with their friends to shepherd a newer rider around the block for a one-hour ten-mile loop has to be discarded. It’s simply not going to happen with any regularity. At the same time, every group in a club should be willing to help swell their own ranks by working with those one or two tiers below them.

The important point here, is that what I’ve described above actually works.

The 2022 DALMAC, For Our Group, Was A Tour for Friends; We Had A Fabulous Group For This One…

I’ve held nothing back when writing about my wife this last six months. The changes we’ve gone through have been nothing short of miraculous. Even with those changes, I never expected they’d mean having such a good time on our Lansing to Mackinaw tour, though. What became evident on the tour, though, was that the changes my wife and I made would have an effect on how I felt about and treated my friends on the ride. The bond I felt riding with my friends was much greater than before, and I have no doubt that was a result of the work Jess and I have done in our marriage.

And maybe a little luck with the weather…

I can’t ever remember having such a big group for the start of our adventure – and I can’t remember having that many stick together till the end. We had two new guys for this one, too. One was a friend of ours who has ridden with us on Tuesday nights and sometimes during the week for years. The other was the son of a long-time part of our group (who pre-dated me by almost three decades). Doug’s son, in fact, had a pretty sweet GT Edge (steel) from the early 90s with first gen Campagnolo integrated shifters, but the seat tube cracked at some point on Day One, so his mom (who was SAGing for Doug) drove him home so he could ride his fixie for the rest of the tour. He did the whole tour, minus walking 100 yards of the wall, on a 48/15 fixed gear bike, sometimes reaching speeds in excess of 32-mph on downhills. His cadence had to be in the 180s to 200s and it did not look fun (though he did have brakes on that bullhorn handlebar). Let’s just say, he’s one of the few people who could legitimately say they won DALMAC… he took the fixie division. I think he was the fixie division.

Anyway, we had a text group 17-deep for that ride and it could have been in the 20s if I included everyone. Usually it’s around nine or ten.

We ate together, walked to ice cream shops together, rode together, and helped one another with mechanical issues as needed throughout the ride. We showed up to ride our bikes but got so much more… and I got to experience all of this with a healed heart with the love of my life SAGing and riding with me.

There were a lot of comments on that group text that mentioned, or came close to, “best DALMAC ever”. I can tell you for sure, this was the best I’d ever been a part of. And for that I am grateful. One of my wife and my favorite songs of late is Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe. I usually can’t make it through the song without tearing up. There’s a line in the song that, I realized just a couple of days ago, applied to this year’s DALMAC (and many of the previous iterations):

Oh, I’m a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah, others they got none

Google “Pearl Jam Just Breathe Lyrics”…

I can’t count the friends I love on both hands. I need my toes, too. And Jessica’s fingers and toes. And maybe yours, too, when you factor in recovery. I am a lucky man.

And with that new tandem due to show up in four or five months, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks, God.