I am NOT Scared of You

This is difficult.

There is a fine line between unsolicited advice and bragging.

Recently, while on a club ride, I was in form. You know those days when everything kind of clicks. The temperature is perfect. Your hydration is set. Your diet has been spot on. Your training has been grinding and painful. Suddenly, it all comes together. Then the unexpected . . .

As I moved rapidly through the pack on a climb and topped the hill ahead of everyone else, a rider moved up beside me a few minutes later and asked me if I take anything to help me train or ride better. Wait. What? I thought he was kidding. I told him that I did not, if he doesn’t count a multi-vitamin. We then discussed training, eating, and hydration. It’s very hard in those situations because normally the guy that wants to know an advantage is the same dude that wants to shave 13 grams off of his bike when he won’t put down the fast food.

Here’s how it works for me.

There is beast called Mr. Hard Work. He’s unusual to many people. Many have never met the guy. They wouldn’t know him if they saw him, but they run from him all of the time. They hide when they get a text from him about a long, hard group ride. They look at the rain or cold and give him an excuse not to train. They whine because Hard Work made their legs so sore the last time they did front squats. Hard Work demands too much. He wakes you up to train when it’s still dark out . He doesn’t relax . . . no weekends, no holidays, no vacation from training. He drains you. He makes you doubt yourself. He questions your abilities.

Hard Work doesn’t take partial payments. It is everything or nothing. Many play with Hard Work and think that he will somehow reward you after you quit half way through a workout or ate like a pig a feeding trough. Hard Work does not give a crap what kind of bike you bought or how light it is. You cannot pay your way past Hard Work. He sees what you’re doing . . . or rather not doing.

I met Mr. Hard Work when I was a child. My dad introduced me to him. He sucked from the moment I met him, but he knew one thing about me: I was NOT scared of him. Get up early? Not a problem. Work hard for eleven hours? Okie dokie. Sacrifice time with friends? Sure! Do you know why, Mr. Hard Work? I am NOT scared of you. I want to separate myself from the pack. I want to be stronger and faster. Oh, and one more thing, Mr. Hard Work: don’t even think about reminding me of my age. I can dig very, very deep. Keep bringing it.

So . . . what do I take? I take pride in Hard Freaking Work. Yeah, I know his middle name.

What Needs to be Said

There’s a fine line between a stream of consciousness and a babbling brook to nowhere. –Dan Harmon

Communication is an innate human necessity. We learn how to express our ideas from an early age, crying and pointing and grunting. These skills are developed, in most, as we get older. Some humans are quiet and only speak when absolutely necessary, while others communicate just be making noise; the former tends to get the correct amount of reception. Writing holds the same value.

Many years ago, I use to sit with my grandfather at his farm. He spoke very little, but would answer the hundreds of questions I threw at him. Even as a child, I would wonder why a man could know so much and be quiet about it. He had lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II as a tanker with General Patton, raised a family, manged a farm, rose through the ranks of textile mill, and settled into a quiet retirement. I remember how everyone turned to him when he spoke, conveying that it must be important if he had something to say.

Of the many, many blogs that I follow, I tend to see the same trend; after all, it is still communication. Many post to be posting something, and others post only when something is good enough to communicate. Blogging is a finicky thing. Don’t post enough and the blogger won’t be noticed enough to attract new followers. Post too much and the readers click “like” and move on. I have been blogging now for almost a year. I don’t have even 200 followers, but I can’t force myself to blog just to be blogging. Maybe the quality of what I write isn’t up to par. Maybe I bounce too much and don’t stick to one subject area. I guess it just comes down to quality over quantity. I truly want to write well and use my time to hone my skills as a writer. There are blogs that when something is posted I savor, for example The Drunken Cyclist and Northern Bike and Fossil Cycle and Ashley Nicole and others.

I appreciate quality things, like having one Luminox watch over having thirty different Timex watches. The same goes for writing: Words placed in the right area at the right time are golden. Yes, there are the rare birds like Henry James who can discuss a man’s shirt button for three paragraphs, but 99% of us are not Mr. James. We, as writers, must search for that perfect word, sentence, or topic . . . and if not found, remain quiet. Don’t “speak” just to make noise. The art of communication can’t be lost in a sea of words. We must continue to learn the craft.

 

 

What Would You Do?

You are Sir Bradley Wiggins. You were treated like garbage last year by team Sky, chiefly the ignorant team manager Dave Brailsford. Your contract with Sky ends this year. You are given two options: Saxo-Tinkoff wants to give you a huge contract worth millions of dollars for your name to be associated with the team and to work solely as a domestique. At the same time, a smaller team (always in the showing of the Tour) offers you a far smaller contract to be the team leader. At the same time, Sky sends word to you that they are willing to sit down and discuss a new contract.

Let Me Add a Few More, Walmart

Walmart to bring back customers

After reading this article I could open WordPress fast enough. The fact that anyone of any importance at Walmart will read my blog is extremely rare, but I must throw out seven more ways to earn back customers to make it an even ten:

  1. For the love of all things holy, open up more than two checkout lanes! There are more than 743 checkout lanes in the average Walmart. Why?
  2. At least once a year, re-stock the shelves! What good is it to have the “lowest” prices when you’re always out of everything?!
  3. Get the chubs off of the motorized shopping carts! Just because a person smoked for 30 years and can’t lay off of the pizza does not mean he can take up a whole isle in the store!
  4. When building a new store, have the square footage of the store cover less than 233 acres. I don’t want to run in to your store to grab dog food and have to carry a water bottle with me because remembering to get toilet paper is a 5k run.
  5. Fire people with attitudes.
  6. You don’t have to be in every business. Now, you are a credit card, hair stylist, cell phone, automotive, and health care insurance provider! What is next? A hospital? “We beat the competitor’s lowest price on hernia surgery.”
  7. Restructure where you place your shopping cart corrals in the parking lot. Why is there a buggy holder placed in a position that takes away four parking spaces?

Can I get a witness?

 

 

When We Met

We met that evening at ten,

While his sweet mother rested.

Through watery eyes I watched–

A magnificent miracle breathe and squeak–

A glorious gift from God.

The kisses of angles blotted his soft skin,

and I touched his hand to mine.

“I am your father,” I told the little boy,

And kissed him for the very first time.

And while his brave mother slept,

We met that evening at ten.

Would you prefer standard or automatic?

Yes, I am old enough to remember the rarity of automatic transmissions in automobiles (at least in my economically strapped family as a child). It was an upgrade that had to be purchased, kind of like air conditioning; that is where we get the term “standard” on manual transmissions. It was standard. Now, we could have that option on bicycles. Many will balk at this and scream the same arguments of not having umpires at a baseball game when a computer could call balls and strikes much better, because it takes away from what being a good cyclist is all about. May I?

Yes, if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I ride a Cervélo S5 with Dura Ace Di2 electronic shifting. Some would say, a few years ago, that the electronic shifting was also taking away from some form of what cycling is all about. One thing that I have noticed every time that I ride is no one has shifters on their down tube anymore. And it is very, very rare to see someone “strapping” their shoes into the pedals. And what is up with everyone wearing helmets? You get the point. Progress can be hard to swallow sometimes. Let me be perfectly honest for a moment: this is hard for me. After one watches the video, it is clear that a power meter and electronic shifting is used in conjunction with this new idea. So is this just an upgrade to that? Here is what is hard for me: part of the learning curve of cycling is learning how to shift correctly, when to shift, and shift well. If a rider doesn’t have to think about that and the bike does it for him, is that putting others at a disadvantage? I know. The same argument goes for electronic shifting, but I think a true cyclist can see the difference here.

Back to my umpire argument . . . why does baseball still use humans to call balls and strikes when there is so much better technology out there? The answers are usually human error and part of the game. Now, in cycling, we have all done it: Being in the wrong gear at the wrong time. Professional riders have done it. It is part of the game. It is actually part of what makes professional riders . . . well, pros. I am not against progress, making a helmet or bike more aerodynamic or a set of wheels lighter and stronger, but this is a bit much. Why not just put a motor where the pedals go and  . . . wait, that has been done. It’s called a motorcycle.

What say YOU?

Talking Poop

No, no one is talking about anyone’s mother. Talking poop is something that has to be done every now and again. I have placed myself in the position to do so. But again, no harm was done to anyone’s mother in the writing of this blog.

Having daily bowel movements is not the main topic at the water cooler. Many, many people suffer from inconsistent bowel movements.  Cramping, bloating, and serious health issues are just some of the many things that accompany the person who doesn’t have at least one daily BM a day and/or three to four a week. Most of the time the inconsistency comes from diet. What you eat is extremely important to how consistent you are in expelling waste. Are you uncomfortable yet? Just hold on.

Have you ever noticed when an infant has a bowel movement? Answer: soon after he eats . . . every time. This becomes less and less as he gets older because his diet changes, and/or he gets into the habit of suppressing the urge to go because of being too busy when the feeling hits. How can does a person get back to that good and healthy regimen. First, let’s look at diet. One of the strongest opponents of consistency is sugar. Having a diet that is laden with sugar will always result in poor BM consistency. Dropping sugar significantly from your diet and adding fiber (vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc.) to your diet will help to regulate you and sweep your colon clean. Taking laxatives on a regular basis is not a good idea. It can rob your body of the natural urge and movements of the digestive system. Also, be careful when it comes to colon cleanse advertisements and buying into the idea of doing that once a year or so. Many of the cleansing agents are filled with harmful chemicals and are deemed “all natural” when they are not. Doing this can often cause you to disrupt the natural process your body already has in place, causing more and more irregularity and problems with excretion.

If you are still with me, let’s take a serious look at the stool itself. Yes, look. Stool can tell you a ton about how healthy your digestive system really is. A normal stool should be semi-solid, like the consistency of toothpaste. Many times when there is a digestive problem that is persistent, feces samples will be studied by physicians to determine the problem. Hard stool is almost a sure sign of an inadequate water intake regimen and/or lack of fiber. Hard stool is hard to expel and remains in the body becoming more dense and causing blockages. This halt in the digestive tract can eventually lead to serious health issues, such as fissures and even colon cancer. Very soft or loose stool can be a result from lack of absorption or infection. Gluten or dairy intolerance can also have the same result.

So what is normal and healthy? Most physicians would agree that anywhere between once daily and three times a week is a good gauge. Keep tabs on your regularity. Don’t suppress the urge. Eat healthy. You will feel much, much better and have more energy than you’ve had in years!