Another Letter from Your Bike

Dear Sir,

I know that it has been a while since my last correspondence. I don’t want to bother you, seeming that you are so busy. I know that you must be because of the amount of grime on my wheel set. Making time to ride and enjoying your sport is awesome, but I am (or what I believed to be) your #1 bike. I need to look my best . . . look great ride great? I often feel remorse for #2 bike, hanging beside me, dirty and tired looking. But he knows his role. I know mine. He’s a hard-working, training bike, and I’m a race bike. I will not bring up “29er” on the other side of the room (by the way, thanks for moving him there); like I said before, he’s gruff and dirty all of the time. We don’t really talk much; and when we do, he just calls me names, pertaining to me being prissy. Just to clear the air, I am not prissy. I think of my self more like an exotic sports car, slick and fast. I mean let’s be real for a second. Have you ever seen a Ferrari with mud on the wheels and rode grime on the body? But “29er” just chuckles and mumbles something about getting four feet of air on a jump. I told him that I bunny hop over things, and he then said that our conversation was over. So that’s that.

I appreciate you taking time to read this. Of course, #2 bike says hey. We are here for you. But I’ll go ahead and give my “hose time” to #2 bike. He really needs it; and like I tell him quite often, you appreciate all the effort you put in. Since the bucket and soap will already be out, you can touch me up too! I think it’s funny how #2 bike gets all giddy when he’s clean and hanging beside me. Sometimes we talk . . . sorry, I lost my train of thought about what I was going to tell you . . . “29er” is making comments from across the room again. He told me to tell you not to give him any “hose time.” What an idiot. Like you would actually do that anyway.

I’ll sign off for now. I’m very excited and ready for the Savannah Century on Labor Day. I know you’ll be in top form, and I’ll be there in matching splendor.

Until then,

#1 Bike

Hamster Pants!

Unless you ride a bike quite often, you won’t get the hilarity of this video. It’s all TRUE! I’m actually headed out for a ride in about thirty minutes. I can’t explain my excitement. It’s like I haven’t ridden in two weeks. I’ll be alone, just me and the road and my bike. It’s the solitude. It’s the accomplishment of struggle, while honing the engine. There is nothing like it in the world.

BON VELO!

A Global Addiction to Chemicals

Many don’t consider themselves addicted to anything. And many would consider themselves actually healthy, mainly because they compare themselves to the people around them. One of the worst global addictions is soft drinks. It is possibly one of the worst “things” to place into your body, a mixture of chemicals wrapped in millions and millions of dollars in advertising. So what’s it all about? Let’s look at some of the ingredients.

  • Isn’t water healthy? Most of the water used in the processing of all soft drink products is not filtered. Whether Pepsi or Coca-Cola, the concentrate is made at one place and sold to bottlers all over the world. Most of the water used is straight tap water from a city system (toxins and heavy metals such as lead, trihalomethanes, cadmium, fluoride and MTBE). The carbonation that is added increases gastric secretions so that the body can “process” all of the other chemicals.
  • E-150D is a food coloring. It comes from processing sugar at high temperatures; then ammonia sulfate is added (yes, the same chemical used in the weed killer Round Up).
  • E952 is a sugar substitute that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, causing a dangerous spike in glycemic index.
  • Acesulfame Potassium places a great deal of strain on the heart and nervous system . . . and too much can be fatal to children and very dangerous to pregnant mothers.
  • Aspartame or Saccharin or Sucralose (diet and “zero”) is added as a sugar substitute with horrible study of effects: Symptoms of aspartame poisoning include: unconsciousness, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, palpitation, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, memory loss, blurry vision, fainting, joint pains, depression, infertility, hearing loss and more. This chemical can also provoke the following diseases: brain tumors, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, Graves’ disease, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, mental deficiency and tuberculosis. These substances was actually illegal due to the dangers but was again made legal . . . somehow. This should never be consumed by children.
  • Orthophosphoric Acid is also in there also to “assist” the body deal with the huge amount of sweeteners . . . actually keeping the consumer from immediately throwing up. This chemical interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Neotame? Most people have never heard of it, but they drink it every day. It is a sugar substitute that is 7,000 times sweeter than sugar (one quarter teaspoon is equal to a 22 pound bag of sugar). This chemical has been directly linked to ADD/ADHD in children.
  • Caffeine is added to the mix with a concentration of 35-47 milligrams in a single 12 oz serving!
  • 4-MEI is a caramel coloring that was discovered in excessive amounts when Consumer Reports tested various soft drinks at random. In 2011, it was determined by International Agency for Research on Cancer that 4-MEI was carcinogenic to humans.
  • Do you look for your plastic bottles to say BPA free? Well, most manufactures like Coca Cola still line aluminium cans with BPA (Bisphenol-A), despite the huge amount of health related links to the chemical.
  • And literally . . . on and on and on

So what happens when you consume a single soft drink? While scanning nutritionresearchcenter.org, I found the following breakdown:

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.)
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

So, with all of that, I still cannot say that an occasional soft drink will completely destroy you, buy why place all of those chemicals in your body? Be conscience of what you put in there. Don’t down a soft drink when you’re thirsty. It acts as a diuretic and will only make you increasingly thirsty . . . see a pattern? Slowly cut these from your diet (noun not verb) and you’ll see a huge uptake in your health. It won’t be easy at first, but you can do it! Isn’t it funny how the world demonizes the tobacco industry and lets this slide?

Sources: naturalsociety.com, ieatndrink.com, nutritionresearchcenter.org, mic.com

To Clarify . . .

Recently, I wrote an article in which I discussed cycling and diet. I received a comment or two from the article, but also received a comment or two from fellow riders who read my blog. Whenever I use the word diet in an article I am always using it as a noun and not a verb. Our daily lives of eating healthy and trying to maintain a certain lifestyle of placing goodness into our bodies is our diet (noun). It is the way to live and eat only to maintain our bodies and not stuffing our face to entertain our taste buds. Someone who is dieting (verb) anywhere from two days to two weeks at a time to shed weight, practically starving himself, is never the way to do things.

The body is a very simple machine, to be so complex. When you deprive the body of food, the metabolic rate slows tremendously, thinking that food might be slow in coming so it needs to conserve what it has in reserves. Yep, body weight does drop. The bad part is that when you return to your normal routine after a couple days or weeks, metabolism is at a crawl and you pack on more pounds than when you started; then the cycle usually repeats. There are billions of dollars spent every single year on diet fades. “Eat this and avoid this, and you’ll have the body you’ve always dreamed about” is the biggest trick. Have you ever noticed that the diets that tend to have longevity to them are the ones who call for a healthy consumption of food throughout the day AND some form of exercise? It’s not rocket surgery.

Start with a good breakfast. No, don’t even start with the not enough time or you feel queezy in the morning. Start small and work your way up, but EAT breakfast. Later, around mid-morning, have a healthy snack of an apple or nuts. At lunch, plan ahead and have a good lunch. Do NOT grab something from the vending machine. Try, as best you can, to eat lunch at the same time everyday. Later, about mid-afternoon, you might want to grab another piece of fruit. A healthy, light dinner must be consumed at least a couple of hours before you go to bed. Daily exercise is crucial for blood flow, muscle tone, and cardiovascular benefits. Do what you like to do (cycling, CrossFit, aerobics, spin class, etc.), but walking around your neighborhood with your dog while listening to your iPod won’t cut it . . . unless you have been extremely sedentary for a while. Grab a group of friends or a single friend and keep each other accountable to stay active and healthy.

My diet (noun) is part of my lifestyle. I don’t diet (verb). Now, I’ve come to the point where I don’t think about it that much. Alarm bells do go off when horrible choices of food are presented, but that is part of making it a lifestyle. Eating is a part of life and breaking bad habits is hard. You will feel like crap (at first) mainly because the body wants what it wants when it’s been given fatty, greasy, or sugary foods for a long while. Try eating healthy six days a week, with one reward day of one “bad” thing. Eventually, that will even diminish to a very occasional day. Learn to live healthy and you WILL feel better and have more energy than you’ve ever had.

Oh, I almost forgot. STAY AWAY from soft drinks . . . I’ve got more coming on that later. No, I don’t care if it’s a diet soft drink. STAY A-W-A-Y.

BON VELO!

Encouragement and Motivation

Sometimes we need to be motivated to get out and do any type of exercise. What makes us do something that is exerting over something that is relaxing? Well, for me, I enjoy it. Exerting myself is relaxing . . . sometimes; then there are days when . . . well, meh. Those are they are the days when encouragement is a key factor.

Yesterday, it was raining. Wind was howling. I had 1-mile sprint intervals on the schedule and was thinking about using the weather as an excuse and hopping on my trainer. I had already told another rider I was meeting him to train on intervals. It was set. As I sat in my truck with the wind and rain pushing on my windows, my cell phone began to churp. It was the other guy.

“Yello?” I said, purposely sounding more chipper than I felt.

“Hey man,” he said. “Is this gonna slack?”

“Nope,” I replied. “It’s suppose to stay pretty steady.”

He took a breath. “Ok . . . I’ll see you in a minute.”

We got our bikes ready in a steady drizzle of rain, making sure our tire pressure was a little less than usual. To make matters a little worse, I had brought my Cervelo to this messy dance and had no way of changing to my other bike. The princess bike was gonna have to get dirty. Oh well.

The ride went off without a hitch. It was wet and dirty. After it was over and we were back at the parking lot, it appeared as though we had ridden Paris-Roubaix. I felt excellent though. I felt more accomplished, having braved the elements and stuck to my plan than the days I ride longer distances in nice weather. It was the fact that the roads were deserted of riders. No one but my friend and I were riding. Stupid? Maybe, but I remember when I was in the Army my drill sergeant saying, “If ain’t raining, it really ain’t training!” Why’s that? Because you chose to be out there when most people choose not to. You’re getting better. My friend and I discussed this as we loaded our bikes to leave. He stated that he probably wouldn’t have ridden if he knew that I wasn’t waiting on him to ride. Encouraging each other is sometimes just holding each other accountable. The little push that goes so far.

Bon Velo!

Shocked

WP_20150814_002
Everyone knows that during a single stage in the Tour de France that there is a lot of down time for the viewer. For me, I do chores around the house, popping my head up every now and again, or I sit with with my tablet and look up teams and statistics, or I read a book. This year during, what I call, the Descent of Sagan I decided to try to contact him. Why not? While he’s sitting on his top tube and screaming down a mountain at speeds that make me sweat sitting on my couch, I sent him a message.

As those who read my blog already know, I am a firm Peter Sagan fan. He’s good for the sport. He’s laid back and has fun with what he loves to do. Yes, I got quite frustrated this year when Tinkoff Saxo continued to huddle around Contador and leave Sagan to fend for himself. How did the best rider on the team handle it? He put in massive amounts of effort and bummed off of other teams for a slipstream, usually finishing many stages in the top 3 and the top 5! Oh, and he won the green jersey . . . again.

Now, it took a while to find someone to email. Yes, I knew that it was in the middle of the biggest cycling race in the world. I did some digging and emailed someone whom I thought would give me the best chance of making contact with Mr. Sagan. I made the email kind of short and sweet, but it told of how much I respected him as a rider and how cool it would be to have something signed for my office. Yes, I know I sound like a goofy 12 year-old, but truthfully I don’t care. I sent the email and heard nothing in return . . . until. I went to the mailbox, just yesterday, and found a strange postmarked letter from Italy. It’s been weeks since the Tour and completely forgot about my email. When I opened the envelope, this picture fell out. Low and behold, just like his riding, Peter Sagan came through. It’s being framed now for my office (surrounded in a lime green matting).

This is what cycling needs. What did it hurt for Sagan to send that? Although I was shocked to see that the postage was over 3 euros to mail a simple picture. As a side note, I emailed Greg Lemond during Paris-Roubaix and received a reply back: Send whatever you want Greg to sign and he will be glad to do so. Just don’t forget to enclose the postage. Hmmmm . . . I’ll pass. Sure, he probably receives many requests, but that it why you pay a publicist. Have a few pictures. Sign a few, and send them to your fans. Cycling needs GREAT representation right now, more than ever. I’m adding something to my bucket list: chat it up with Peter Sagan one day . . . heck, I’m really gonna reach. How about a ride, Peter? I wouldn’t be shocked if he agreed to do it! After all, he’s my favorite Slovakian.

Bon Vélo

The New Generation?

Remember this girl?

Uh, since when did an adult start asking a child where they wanted to eat? When does a child get to tell an adult what he is or is not going to do? When did parents start debating with their children? Or how about a 15 year old who threatens to run away if her 21-year-old girlfriend isn’t allowed to live at her parents’ house and so what do the parents do? They give in. Over the past 15 years as an educator, I have watched a drastic devolvement of children and teenagers. The future will be in dire straights if this trend continues.

Future generations will always need guidance and boundaries. This idea of “young and free and exploring” has been and is still a train wreck of a parenting idea. “Well, we let Johnny say the F-bomb, even though he’s in kindergarten, because we certainly don’t want to suppress his language skills . . . or ways of expressing himself, for that matter.” Do what?! On that comment from a parent, I had to sit down before I fell down. Many, many times I am left stunned when I witness the interaction between an adult and child in at school or a store or even in their own home.

A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone. –Billy Graham

Respect does not, nor will it ever come, from a parent being a child’s “best friend.” They already have friends at school. Be their parent. You can love them, praise them, hug them, cherish them, but when it is time to hold them accountable for their actions, it is imperative that it is done. I cannot count how many times a parent has come to me about their child in my classroom or on the team I coached, for example: “Could you talk to him about his driving crazy? He listens to you” or “I wish he would do what I tell him like he does with you.” The athlete or student did not listen to me because they feared physical punishment. They respect the fact that I had boundaries. I was fair across the board, but if the kid crossed the line, there was a consequence. No debate. Done. The kid knew that I still cared, but it was his fault why he wasn’t playing or losing points on a project. Heck, I can still remember the days when any adult could hold you accountable and would do so in a heartbeat if you were acting a fool when your parents weren’t around.

I am aware that I have hit on this topic before, but there are things that I’ve observed lately that brought it all back to the surface . . . it’s usually around the time that school starts back. I can only hope and pray that this trend will stop. Fingers crossed.

Sharing a Love

My father-in-law and my wife

There isn’t anything more precious in life than family. Just ask those who don’t have one. There is something missing, a void that cannot be filled with gangs, drugs, alcohol, or anything else when family is absent from the picture. The structure of family is so important to every member of the family. The reciprocation of love strengthens and binds and drives out loneliness and insecurities.

Recently, my father-in-law and mother-in-law discovered they’re love for riding a bicycle, all over again. It is always so amazing to me (and never gets old) how much of a huge smile a two-wheel, pedaled vehicle will put on people’s faces (note my father-in-law’s face) who maybe hadn’t been on a bicycle since they were a child. The freedom and feeling of flying is so addicting and soothing that it doesn’t take the brain long to say . . . Oh yeah! I remember how awesome this was!

To say the least, of course, I’m excited about the new interest.  My in-laws live near the Chief Ladiga Bicycle Trail in North Alabama. I’m always up for a ride, so my wife and I carried our bikes up there on a beautiful Saturday. I took some time fixing the front derailleur on my father-in-law’s bike and lubing the chain. It wasn’t long before we were all on the road. The trail is a wonderful rails-to-trails project that I written about before. You are surrounded by the mountains that spill in from Tennessee. The trail later connects to the Silver Comet, at the Georgia line, that carries a rider almost all the way to Atlanta! We pedaled along and enjoyed the afternoon. In the end, we had gone 7 miles with a 7.4 mph pace . . . cruising.

Isn’t it strange how slowing down helps a person to re-attach? No one was pulling. No one was racing. No one was trying for a Strava record. The joy of riding is guarded by the feeling of freedom. Sharing a love of something with those you love is an incredible feeling that is only compounded. I can see this happening again very soon. So, if you see us on the trail, don’t expect us to yell, “On your left!” and come blowing by. We’re enjoying our bicycles.

My mother-in-law is leading the pack!