The Art of Cadence

Dizorb.com

Dizorb.com

For many who are new to cycling and those who can’t understand why mile after mile after mile you aren’t getting any better, here is something I noticed in my quest to help others. No, I’m not the know-it-all in the group who is constantly babbling about tips and advice while getting dropped (side note: ever notice that many who have a lot of advice can’t hold the last wheel of the group?) Anywho, here’s what has come to my attention.

For most who ask me what is something they can do to improve (by the way, I rarely give advice without it being asked of me), the first place that I inquire is about his/her cadence work (how many times a minute the pedals go around in a circle). So far, 90% or so of the people whom I ask don’t even have any way of measuring cadence on the bike! Most just point to a speed sensor on the front fork. No, that’s how fast your bike is moving. From there, I began to look at people riding in various places and various riders in groups to see if I could find a cadence monitor on their bikes. Funny thing is that the bikes I saw that do have measurable cadence were the “fast” and “strong” riders of the groups.

So, what is so important about cadence? It’s all about efficiency. This is how to get the most from your body and bike with the least amount of energy consumed or the absolute best way of using the energy that you do have without waste. Think about driving. When you’re on an interstate or highway, if you hammered the gas peddle and backed off and then hammered the gas and backed off for 100 miles, how good would your fuel efficiency be? If you’re traveling in high mountains or a very hilly area, why not put your car on the cruise control and go at a certain “speed”? Fuel efficiency. Cadence on a bicycle helps you be efficient.

What is the ideal cadence, you might ask? Not one. Seriously, it depends on where you are as a cyclist. What a UCI professional does will NOT translate to you . . . I don’t care if you have the same bike he has and wear his kit (please don’t). To judge where you are NOW, use your heart monitor and find a stretch of rode that is flat and runs about 2-3 miles. After a good warm up, ride that whole stretch at 80 rmp and constantly monitor your heart rate; easy pedal back then ride it at 90 rpm; then repeat at 100 rpm. The lowest heart rate wins the title of your perfect cadence for now. As you train in this cadence zone, I promise you’ll see your cadence rising and your heart rate staying down. This is being efficient with your energy. Do NOT be upset if your cadence happens to be lower than 80 right now. It WILL rise.

Ask most CAT riders or any professional, and he/she will say that cadence is important. It is VERY important. As a matter of fact, I personally switched the “big” number on bike’s computer screen to be cadence instead of speed. It is THAT important. Since I have been riding for cadence, my speed and endurance have increased tremendously. After all, interval work (Google it) without cadence work is almost useless. Another added bonus for sprint speed, attack speed, and acceleration out of the turns in a criterium is how quickly you can turn the pedals and for how LONG you can maintain a speed.

In a nutshell, everyone is concerned about speed and endurance. The wrong way of thinking is that slower cadence on a big gear=more power=speed. When in reality, slow cadence in a big gear cooks the legs quickly. Yes, professionals turn a big gear at 100-115 rpm for a long period of time, but it took years of training to get there. Just because you own a swimming pool in your backyard doesn’t mean that you can try to match Michael Phelps lap times. He’s been at a while. But don’t get frustrated. Keep working and trust the method. You WILL see results.

Fill The VOID

secondratecyclist:

This video doesn’t need words . . . if you truly understand cycling.

Originally posted on A RIDERS VIEW:

VOID combines Swedish design heritage with
functionality and performance.
Born out of Swedish road cycling and
created by passionate cyclists with a
background in the technical outdoor industry. 

The Swedish brand have a short history but the people behind it have traveled the road for a while.
The founders felt it was time for a change in the lifestyle industry. Sick and tired of the same old ignorant global strategy forced upon distributors and designers by
corporate brands, they decided it could be done
differently.


VOID1

They have already developed an impressive range of products. Jerseys, tops, jackets, shorts and a nice line of accessories.
I´ve been so lucky to get my hands on their wind jacket in camouflage-design.
The wind jacket is perfect for chilly and crisp days on the bike. I always bring it with me when climbing, because it’s perfect when descending and keeps me protected form the…

View original 190 more words

Teaching Greg

Greg came into the picture unexpectedly. He is the truest definition of the word unexpected. Yesterday wasn’t anything different from the last. Our group (yes, I actually attended a group ride to define where I am in my training) was waiting for someone who called and said he was five minutes out. I heard Greg before I saw him.

“Coming through!”

Every head in the group turned. The Bianchi came screaming (chain still not greased) past the group. Greg was in the drops. No helmet. Tank top flapping in the wind. He proceeded past the gaggle of riders for almost 100 yards before swinging back around, flashing a big smile. Greg spotted me.

“Hey, man!”

The eyes of the group shifted to me. I was smiling. Greg’s enthusiasm produces a smile, with me anyway. When he’s on the bike, his love of riding seeps from his body. He’s not pretentious about his bike. He doesn’t care about his cool, matching kit or lack of one. He just wants to pedal. Now, he was pulling up beside me.

“You on the robot bike?” he spouted with another toothy smile. “I like to hear it change gears.”

I laughed. “Yeah, man, you plan on riding with us?”

Greg looked around, almost sizing up the group who happened to still be staring as if a tutu-wearing elephant on a unicycle had just rode in. “Sure, I just rode the loop y’all are about to do, but I can do it again. Try to hold on.”

I looked at his head. “Where, pray tell, is your helmet, Gregory?”

Greg touched his head, as if he thought was just there as second ago. He shrugged . . . and smiled.

The late guy was now pulling up in the parking lot and doing a comical act of unloading his bike and striping in an almost simultaneous event. I exhaled loudly, getting Greg to pull his eyes from the strip show. Leaning toward him and almost whispering, I said, “It is dangerous for you to ride without a helmet.”

Greg’s ever-present smile faded. He picked at his bar tape and continued looking at the stem when he spoke. “I can’t ride?”

The snapping sound of shoes entering pedals began to crackle across the group. It was time to roll, past time actually. The group would be in a mood at the start. I looked at Greg. He looked up at me. “Look, man, I can’t tell  you one way or the other what you can and can’t do. I’m just saying it’s dangerous. I would prefer that you have your helmet on at all times. Hurting your head is not a game.”

The group pulled away. I rolled with them. Greg pedaled up beside me, looking at me as if I had a helmet in my jersey pocket. He smiled. I know that I should have told him no. I know that it would have been a good lesson for him, but I was fighting the feeling that he (in his adolescence) would think that I was either using it as an excuse not to ride with him or that my riding with him in front of the “the others” caused me to be arrogant or whatever. There is no official helmet law in the state, so that excuse was out too.

The group increased speed. Whoever was pulling was pulling in an angry fashion. I smiled at Greg. “I’m just officially going on record as saying I don’t like looking at your head while I’m riding . . . It’s too lumpy. Keep it covered!”

He fell in behind me in the slipstream, as I was last in the line. The ride rolled on a few miles. I took my turn on the front and had told Greg earlier to stay low in the line. We were at a steady clip and came to the first climb of the loop. Then it happened.

“Here! We! Go!” were the words that Greg shouted as he jumped from the slipstream and bounded past everyone, including me, and raced up the hill in a semi-sort of sprint. Elbows and knees and tank top going nuts. I felt me face heat up from anger and embarrassment. I gave a quick glance to the guy behind me and flicked my elbow and sprinted after him. I caught him at the top of the hill. He was blowing like a fat man in a 5K and digging for his Gatorade bottle (label peeled off, full of water) that he always keeps in his single cage on the down tube. I had to control my emotions. He was a kid. He was excited and probably thinking that the group would think he was cool and/or a strong rider.

“Dude!” I thought I would start with that. “What in the world are you doing?”

Greg was unscrewing the lid to his bottle while attempting to maintain a straight line, but not doing well at the task. The group was now moving past us because Greg was blown and pedaling at about a 35 RPM cadence. Everyone was looking straight ahead. I gave some of them a glance, I’m taking care of this. Just keep pedaling.

Greg took a quick sip between haggled breaths and started the whole process of returning the lid. “It’s hard for me . . . just to sit back . . . there . . . . and go so slow up . . . a hill.” He smiled. I wasn’t smiling.

“Where is the group now, Greg?”

He looked in the direction and must have noticed that they were a quarter mile up the road and riding away. He looked back at me, slamming his bottle in the cage, and increasing his cadence a little bit. “We gotta catch ’em? Will they check-up for us?”

I laughed. Greg was so awesome, in his young and innocent way. “Oh yeah, my young padawan, we are gonna catch ’em. Stay on my wheel. Do not pass me. This will be a painful lesson for you. Don’t let me down. You understand?”

Greg nodded and his lesson began.

Getting Better and Thinking Differently

Most of the time as cyclists we are caught up in worrying about how many miles a day, week, month, or year we are putting in the saddle. Although there is a place for individual mileage, we often get stuck in a rut of sorts. It wasn’t too long ago when I realized I had become an addict. I was feeding off of and getting a rush from any and every group ride that I could participate in. Group rides also have their place, but the ruts we get into affect our improvement on the bike.

Group Rides: Great social time. Good mileage. Not as much boredom. Speed is higher. Less work at times. Now let’s ask a couple of important questions: How much and how often do you pull in the front? Does your group work on different parts of riding, such as hills, cadence work, bridging gaps, break aways, etc.? Do you find  yourself riding with a faster group, only to wheel suck a majority of the time? Have you ridden in slower groups to be the “dominate” rider? Are you a completely different rider when alone than when you’re with a group, as far as pushing yourself and going the extra degree?

Mileage vs. Quality: Riding with a Cat 2 rider the other day, I asked him if he rode the day before. He affirmed that he had and said that he’d worked on hill repeats (with a focus on cadence) a good deal. Within the conversation, he stated that he’d only done 18 miles that particular day. Bouncing off of an old Abraham Lincoln quote, the Cat 2 rider said that it is not how many miles you put into your riding. It is what you are putting into your miles. Many, many so-so riders can knock out a hundred miles at 16 miles an hour, stopping ten times to pee and stretch. Don’t mishear what is being said. This particular Cat 2 rider does have 350 mile weeks, but it is not on the top of his agenda. A punishing 80 miles can be as effective.

Alone: Have a plan. Often we mount our bikes and just head out, come what may. Know where some sprint areas are and what you’d like to do there. Hills? Suck at them? Don’t avoid them. Ride where you are weakest. Have you ever tried to ride 5 or 10 miles, on a fairly flat surface, out of the saddle the entire time? Drop it down. Put it on the big ring and try it. You work totally different areas when you are out of the saddle verses seated. Another idea is to find a rider that is way ahead of you and going at a steady pace. Bridge the gap. Push hard to hook up. It’s a great training game to do.

Yes, it was the great Eddy Merckx who said, “Ride as much as or as little or as long or as short as you feel but ride.” Saddle time is very important, but don’t think that mileage as the most important thing. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Keep pedaling into fresh ideas and new ways to train. Get better by thinking differently.

A Letter from Your Bike

Dear Rider,

I hope this letter finds you doing well. I’ve enjoyed our last few rides, but I have a few things I’d like to share with you. I don’t mean to be a nag. I try to stay as quiet as possible, unless you don’t lubricate my chain like you’re suppose to do. We have to work together to be solid team. I can only do so much; as you know, I am limited to what you can do. But here are a few things that might help us.

First, you can change out my bottle cages for ones that are 10 grams lighter and replace my crank set from standard to mid to compact and put on a lighter wheel set, but have you ever weighed yourself? I mean I can weight 14.6 pounds at the bike shop, while everybody picks me up and talks about how light I am, but I bet they won’t pick me up with you strapped to my saddle. My word of encouragement is to push away from the table a bit quicker, so that we can be.

I am aware that probably stung a little bit, but like I said we are a team and need to work together as one. I would also like to bring your attention to gears. This is an important part of my ability and what I can give to you. That crunching sound that you hear when you are applying a great amount of force to my pedals while shifting gears is not good. Prepare for shifts. Don’t panic and shift. There is a big difference, and it will help you ride more efficient.

Now, if you went as long without a bath as I do, people would find it hard to be around you. I have a lot moving parts that need lubrication. Those two things attract dirt, not only to my moving parts but also my frame. You seriously can’t expect me to operate at full capacity when day after day you just roll me out and drop some lube on my chain and off we go. I need a little TLC. I promise to give it right back to you.

Well, I’ve taken enough of your time. I do want to thank you for keeping me in the spare bedroom, even though your partner doesn’t completely love the idea. I feel a bit of jealousy between me and her. I know we spend a lot of time together, but I don’t think I can provide what she can give you . . . yeah, the spare bedroom is a bit close to your bedroom. Oh, and before I let you go, is it possible to move the mountain bike to the other side of the room, since it is the off season for him? He’s a bit rough and bossy. His comments about me being prissy aren’t welcomed. Thanks in advance. I’ll see you this afternoon.

Bike #1

(the backup bike says hey)

Helping Greg

Beginning to write this, I have some trepidation. I have written before that there is a very, very fine line between promoting an idea and self promotion. I loathe self promotion. But what happened this past Wednesday afternoon is something that I can’t get off my mind. It needs to happen more in my life and should be more prevalent in all our lives.

The clouds were swirling and pulling in various directions, grey and threatening. A few people in the normal group ride on Wednesday afternoon had already made a proclamation that come hell or high water they were riding. At the start time, I was alone. Wind was picking up. Yep, it was gonna storm. I had chosen my back-up bike, knowing the weather conditions, so I was set.

“Hey, are you here to ride with that group?”

I looked around and found a young kid, probably around 17 years old, on a very old Bianchi that had probably seen its better days. Weird thing was that I recognized the bike from hanging out in my favorite bike shop and the owner taping the bars. He said he felt sorry for the kid and knew that he didn’t have much, so he was taping his bars and trying to get the bike rideable. Mike often does work like that pro bono. Now, looking at the kid straddling this bike I kind of understood. He had a very cheap helmet that was too big for him and wearing some old board shorts and a white tank top.

“Yep,” I replied, “but I don’t think anyone is gonna show.”

The kid looked at the sky. “People are too soft these days.”

I chuckled inside. For being a kid, he was dead on. Thomas Paine talked about “sunshine patriots.” It works the same in cycling. Everyone is on board if everything is just right, and there are enough people to do most of the pulling. Throw in some water falling from the sky and a bit of wind, and you have two people show up to the group ride.

“Can I ride with you?”

I knew it was coming. I cringed. That would suck. What would be the point in riding? There was no way he could keep up to allow me to get in good work. So I said what anyone would say, forcing myself to smile.

“Of course you can.”

Off we went. The kid could talk. Holy smokes, could he ever talk. I was doing the normal things at the start, checking my computer, adjusting myself on the saddle, trying to warm the legs, etc. I learned that kid’s name was Greg. He was a nice young man. I began to feel like an ass for even thinking the way I was thinking. Heck, I was the one who had written blogs before about helping others, and here I am concerned about me. For an instant, I had become one of those: a bike elitist. In my book, they are the textbook definition of self promotion. That why it thrills me to no ends to dominate their pompous rear ends in a sprint or a climb. But I digress . . . sort of.

Usually for the first ten miles or so, I’m just warming up and getting things set. It was during this time that I noticed Greg’s legs doing about 150 RPM to stay even with me. I suggested that he stay in the big ring for now and just pedal it out. He said that his legs were already starting to burn, and I again told him that his cadence was way high and to switch over. He asked the obvious: how? After I told him and a series of tries, his front derailleur would not move the chain over. Bless his heart. This would be a long ride.

“Question.” Gregg said through heavy gasps of breath. “Do you think if I work really hard that I could might ride in the Tour de France, one day?”

He asked me this at the exact moment that I was getting a quick sip. It took everything I had not to cough, as I sucked most of the water into my windpipe. Slowly, I placed my bottle back in the cage and thought about my answer. In no way would I ever shoot down a kid’s dream; after all I am a teacher and am constantly telling students to reach and dream HUGE.

“Well, Greg, I’m not gonna lie. You absolutely can, but it will take a huge amount of time and dedication on your part. Most of your life will be spent on a bicycle, eating correctly, and honing your craft.”

Greg gave me a quick glance. “Well, one  . . . thing . . . is . . . for . . . sure: I . . . got . . . to . . . get  . . . my . . . legs . . . to . . . quit . . . burning . . . so much.” Then he smiled.

Greg and I rode for another 20 miles. My heart rate hadn’t hit 130 yet. The rain was beginning to fall, and the wind picking up. Drafting became a lesson I taught him, and he seemed to enjoy riding behind me. He continued to ask questions about clipping his feet to the pedals and getting real cycling clothes and why my bike sounded like a robot when I shifted gears. Somewhere between his 26th and 34th question, I heard his chain come off. I turned around. By the time I did, Greg had his bike flipped over and resting on the saddle and handlebars.

“Do we need to take the chain apart? I have no clue how to do this. Can you do it?”

I continued to pedal around my young padawan. “First, no YOU don’t have take the chain apart. Second, no I will not do it for you. Just grab the chain pull it toward your chain rings. The hanger on the rear derailleur will allow you room to place the chain on the ring and then just turn the pedals.”

Greg popped the chain on, flipped the bike, and jumped on. “Cool.”

He was eager to learn. “Just think, Greg. If you work hard enough like you said you wanted to do, you’ll have a crew to do most of your mechanic stuff.”

“I look forward to that!”

The rest of the ride went by without anymore mechanicals. The rain began to come down in buckets, and thunder rolled through the sky, vibrating my bike. On the last section of ten miles or so, I told Gregg that we were almost back to the bike path and asked him if he was okay to make it back. He confirmed that he knew where he was and thanked me for helping him and apologized for “screwing up my ride.” I assured him that he in no way did that and I hoped to on day soon ride again with a future Tour rider. He flashed a big smile. It was then that I let Greg know that I was gonna ride kind of fast on the last ten miles to bump up my heart rate and get a little training in on something I needed to work on. He asked if I minded if he tried to keep up. He’s such a great kid.

I rode on and glanced back one time, a little bit down the rode, and Greg saluted me from a distance and pumped his fist in the air. I didn’t see him after that. I made it back to my truck, loaded everything, and immediately called Mike on his cell phone. I asked him about Greg and getting in touch with him. Mike said that he didn’t know and that, as far as he knew, Greg didn’t have a cell phone. I told Mike about Greg’s front derailleur. Mike said that when Greg wandered in again he would get a way for me to contact him.

We all need to help a Greg and remember the joy of riding and helping others.

$8,000,000,000,000 a Year

Very aware that this is an international blog, I hate to air my country’s dirty laundry for all to see, but the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Yes, property values have leveled off and stock market numbers are showing positive signs, but why? The United States is not exporting more and industrial creation is about the same or actually a little below average; in fact, most of our country’s new industry is from overseas companies that we wave tax fees so that they’ll come. So what is the answer? Borrowing. I’m not currently in the woods building a societal-breakdown bunker, wearing a tinfoil hat, or stockpiling candles. But here are some very sobering facts:

  • According to the U.S Census Bureau, 49% of all U.S. citizens collect some form of monetary benefit from the government . . . this does NOT include illegal immigrants who receive benefits.
  • 50 years ago, 1 out of 50 Americans were receiving Medicaid. Now, more than 70 million are receiving those benefits and Obamacare is projected to add 16 million more.
  • Going farther back, 70 years ago, there were 45 workers for every retiree on Social Security. Today, there are 2.5 workers for every recipient.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau reports, in 2014, that more than 50% of all Americans bring home less than $30,000 a year in wages.
  • The rate of home ownership has declined for the 7th year in a row, the lowest in 20 years.
  • In the past six years, more U.S. businesses have closed than have opened. This has never happened in U.S. history prior to 2008.

JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon just sent out a 39-page letter on April 8th, 2015 to shareholders and wrote in part, “Recent activity in the Treasury markets and the currency markets is a warning shot across the bow. Treasury markets were quite turbulent in the spring and summer of 2013, when the Fed hinted that it soon would slow its asset purchases. Then on one day, October 15, 2014, Treasury securities moved 40 basis points, statistically 7 to 8 standard deviations – an unprecedented move – an event that is supposed to happen only once in every 3 billion years or so (the Treasury market has only been around for 200 years or so – of course, this should make you question statistics to begin with). Some currencies recently have had similar large moves. Importantly, Treasuries and major country currencies are considered the most standardized and liquid financial instruments in the world. Today, some banks are starting to charge customers for deposits, a reflection on the insane effects of negative interest rates.

The United States jumped away from the Gold Standard decades ago, so the idea of monetary value of a dollar is based on faith; this so that government could print money out of thin air without backing. The trillions in newly printed money has and is causing a catastrophic devaluing of the dollar. Since 2003, the value of the dollar has plummeted as much as 20%. Even recently, it was reported that Warren Buffett suddenly moved more than 70% of his government-backed investments into foreign currency. He just woke up one morning and felt like doing that? I don’t think so.

To put this in a little bit of a perspective of how bad the debt and dollar situation is, in 1974 the United States was $484 billion in debt; that means it took 200 years to get into that much debt. Since 1974, a mere 20 years later, we have amassed $16 trillion in debt.  How come? Off the gold standard and printing at will. We have come to the point where we are borrowing $10 million for every minute of the day. Don’t live in the United States? Doesn’t affect you? Just think. The U.S. makes up more than a third of ALL the debt on the entire planet! Europe was and is still freaking out about Greece’s problems. David Walker, the U.S. comptroller until 2008 said the debt number is more like $70 trillion because the United States does not (for whatever reason) figure in Social Security, Medicare, employee pensions, and other governmental liabilities to which the government is already committed.

This post is not to panic anyone. It is always better to be prepared than scared. Don’t listen to anyone who sets a date of a financial collapse. There is absolutely no way to predict an event like that. It could happen in 10 days or 10 months from now. Keep your head up. Look at the market and what the “big money” guys are doing with their investments. There are several options to consider when preparing for when this will happen . . . there is no IF. Research those options and find out what is best for you and your family. No set of things is the right thing for everyone. What would you do tomorrow if everything in your account was frozen

“All truth passes through three stages:

First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer

Allow Me One More Swipe at the Dead Horse

Goofy article

Sometimes I think I get something out of my system and then someone has to say something else. As most of the known world knows, Jordan Spieth won the Masters. Now, the above article pops up on the Internet today. Okay, take just a second to read it. Finished?

First, if Yahoo Sports is this desperate for contributors, where do I sign up for that job? The first article that I would submit would be a comparison article on Bobby Jones and Adam Scott. Who is the better golfer? Adam Scott hits it farther. Adam Scott has his pro card. Adam Scott made more money. Adam Scott is better; after all, Bobby Jones’s best result in the Masters was T13, and Adam Scott won it. Yeah, I know Bobby Jones won 13 majors, but we’ve got to stay focused on the Masters. Yeah, I know Bobby Jones played with real woods with wooden shafts, but I don’t think that factors in. If that article is accepted, I think I’ll write another article comparing apples to Buicks. Apples taste so much better.

After the Masters concluded on Sunday, I was very happy for Jordan Spieth. A very mature young man who understands the word humility and enjoys having fun. I know that television and other forms of media are all about ratings. Continuing the talk about Tiger is getting very old very fast. Phil Mickelson played a wonderful tournament. He’s a gentleman and great golfer, but I guess, in the eyes of the media attention, nice guys don’t draw the ratings. The PGA seemingly wants a guy who always complains of injury constantly, the sun being in his eyes, or screaming G-D or M-F when his drive doesn’t hit the fairway (which is often). The LPGA made a different attempt at ratings and failed miserably with Michelle Wie who finally pulled off a major in 2014, after much of the hype about her had died down.

I am not ignorant to the fact that Tiger played tremendously good golf at one point, but so have many throughout the decades. Since 2009, Tiger’s flame hasn’t reignited . . . even with the gallons and gallons of fuel the media has tossed on it. The effort by Jordan Spieth on Sunday, or for that matter the entire tournament, should be a topic of discussion for a long time, just in light of the records broken and a champion that restates the words Gentlemen’s Game.

Like a Meteor Plummeting to the Earth

His fall from grace was sudden and shocking. His throne was the golfing world. He ruled. He dominated. He intimidated. As the years trickled steadily by and the Masters Championship rolls around, we are again reminded of the his heinous. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that I hold a grudge against any professional athlete who make a mistake. I have a HUGE problem with arrogance. The incident of November 28, 2009 changed it all and left many with their mouths hanging open. What has happened since then? Nothing. Tiger Woods is still a pompous arse.

Contrition is something that is very endearing to humans. If someone is truly repentant after making a mistake, it is highly probable that most of would forgive and move on. It’s the Lances and the Tigers that I find hard to understand. Lance still wants the spotlight; after all, any attention is good attention. Tiger states that it’s not being a good Buddhist that has caused him problems. Well, I got news for Tiger: Your karma is still jacked up.

Now that I am sitting comfortably after a hard ride on my bike and catching up on the Masters, I cannot help but wonder why so many commentators schmooze up to Tiger. The guy can be 12 shots off of the lead, and a commentator will say, after Tiger chips off of the green edge to within 5 feet of the hole, “Oooh, he’s still got it!” What? Even with everything going on with the setting of a course record and Jordan Spieth blasting the field, CBS Sports website is still all over what Tiger is doing . . . Keep up with Tiger’s scorecard, Tiger is back in form, Tiger used the restroom twice this morning! For the love of all things holy, he’s still the arrogant jerk who still spews out a tirade of profanity every time he shanks one and then acts like a two-year old, pouting and blaming the snap of someone’s camera.

Maybe one day, before it’s too late, Tiger will realize that humility is something he should try. He smiles when times are good and is pleasant when he’s played a good round, but is downright nasty if things don’t go his way. I’m not a rabid golf fan, nor do I care if Tiger breaks Jack’s record (won’t happen by the way). I would just like some of the self appointed demi-gods in sports to actually be repentant and humble and remember that they are actually human.

The Lack of a Good Support Vehicle

Most would automatically assume from the title that this is another discussion about cycling. It is not. As a teacher in the public school system for over 14 years, one thing is drastically obvious when it comes to the education of students: the rapidly diminishing amount of educational support at home. Just like the best cyclist in the world, with all of the tools he needs to accomplish his goals, he still needs support to give nourishment or a word of encouragement or direction or tell him to get his head out of his rear end and do his job.

As the world picks up the pace day-by-day and parents struggle to provide or are just all out selfish with their time, it becomes blatantly obvious that future generation of students are falling further and further behind. Many point to the educational system, and yes there are problems that can be fixed there too. Standarized testing has become the norm and takes weeks out of the learning process to test students on what the teacher is already testing them on in the first place; all of that to take a look at data, eyeing bar graphs and charts of demographics and other superficial drivel. Testing data that cannot show a kindergartner having to prepare supper for himself or a middle school child taking care of her four siblings. Data also does not show abuse or hunger.

As the years slip by, I become more and more amazed at the lack of student motivation and thirst for knowledge. Most students’ only goal is to exist. Many of my colleagues over time have only waved a hand in the air and mumbled something about this generation. In my opinion, we’ve been on a downward trajectory for a while. Students could not care less. It is most shocking to discover what students have never been introduced to. Here are a couple of examples: Recently, a middle school child conveyed to me that he had no concept of what the Eiffel Tower is or even where it is possibly located. After giving the class an assignment, I had an eleventh grade student tell me that her computer at home was old, so it is a possibility that it won’t have Roman numerals on the keyboard! What?

All of us have experience the wide-eyed amazement of a child and the questions that go along with everything he sees. From birth to around six years old, a child’s mind is constantly absorbing everything that the senses can feed into it. I remember both of children asking everything from the color of the sky to why we don’t come from eggs. It was during those times that my wife and I did everything in our power to answer the questions and return more questions to keep them thinking. If the question had something to do with thunder, we didn’t reply with things like angels stomping their feet or God bowling. We discussed warm and cold air masses. Too much? Over their head? Good. It creates thirst for learning. Not that we have all of the answers, but my son is now a software engineer and my daughter is burning it up in college.

As parents, the last thing we need to say is that is teacher’s job to teach the children everything they need to know. In the years past, it was job of the whole community to teach to be strong intellectually and socially. The school was a reinforcement of values and curriculum. Take a look at this test from 1895 8th grade exit exam and see how well you could have performed. Remember. This is an exam for an 8th grader. We have slid so far.