Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Please sir; I want more

Can we ever be fast enough?  Is it possible to feel skinny enough or young enough?  Are we simply wired to always want more of everything?  How is it we can have so much and still not be satisfied?  Is it aspiration or gluttony?

I recently felt wiped out after a week of exceptionally hard physical activity.  When I shared that with Hottie she reminded me how much I had done. In my head I wanted to say, “Yeah, but I want to be able to do that and not be shattered.”  Alas, I am a selfish, greedy bastard.

My unquenchable desire for more includes suffering on the bike.  I very much enjoy a pleasant ride with Hottie or my guy friends, but I also enjoy the solitary suffering in purgatory that comprises the virtually unexplainable part of the cycling mystique. Rule #5 as we say.  The belief that there is honor and glory in suffering is at odds with logical thinking.  I am not sure if my affinity for suffering has its roots in a long expired religious belief, or some other thorn-infested gauntlet that can best be ascribed to our fascination with The Hero’s Journey. Regardless of its origins, not only do I cheerfully accept my allotted suffering, when I do not suffer I miss it. 
Nothing says Happy New Year like Shirnkage
I am at my core a fan of efficiency.  I recoil at wasted effort.  As an example I point to a recently implemented tax on carbonated beverages that contain sugar.  The stated goal is to reduce obesity, yet every study on the subject shows it has no positive effect whatsoever.  The studies show that when people can’t get their sugar in sodas they get it from something else.  No net reduction in sugar intake. Not opinion; fact. The tax on cigarettes works because when cigarettes cost more people predictably buy fewer cigarettes but they then don’t go work in a coal mine to achieve the same amount of lung damage. I’d like to believe these are intentioned people, but I think a more accurate perspective is that they just want to raise taxes for their own selfish benefit. 

The secret sauce of riding fast is intervals.  Intervals hurt.  At some point I began to find a spiritual or meditative value to the suffering that is independent of the training benefit.  I have found that it takes more discipline to go easy on the easy days than it does to go hard on the hard days.  Once you open the throttle you just let it go, holding back takes constant attention.
Hottie reading my Kyson

I am too old to ever expect that I will be a fast rider.  This does not bother me in the least. Yet I still want to be able to train hard as if it mattered.  It may not always make sense, but I want more.  That is just the way it is.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Hottie expressing her confidence in the driving ability of my mom
 Kyson shredding 
 HIPAA be damned
 Leading the GC in the cardiac ward
It isn't work if it is at the cabin
Hottie in Bend Oregon
Another day at the Gravel Office
 My oldest son, his oldest son....
 Beachplay for Grandkiddos
 Beachplay for Grandparents
Grammie and Granddaughters
 Waiting out a storm in the Sierra
 Hottie and grandson Russell on the trails
 Fall was amazing
 Pumpkin Hunting
 Fort building
Ho, Ho, Ho
We said goodbye to one of the best in 2017
After all the good and bad in 2017 we look to the seasons to remind us to take our joy when it comes and that the tough times will pass soon enough.  Happy 2018!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Future shock

I confess that I was one of the curmudgeons who lamented the move from nine speed drivetrains to ten speeds.  At the time it seemed an unnecessary step was being made solely for marketing hype. I was equally dumbfounded a few years later when I realized how rare it was that I was sporting caliper brakes on my mountain bike.  It would be redundant to refer to it as a twenty-six inch mountain bike because when I got it all mountain bikes were twenty-six inch. Even today it seems perfectly acceptable to have a sixteen penny nail in my garage heaped with a graveyard of inner tubes that have given up the ghost.

Fast forward to this past weekend on a team ride.  I was riding Bunny, my pink rain bike. Bunny has disc brakes, a thru axle up front and tubeless tires.  As our group swooped downward on a wet downhill I placed my index fingers over the brake levers.  I didn’t need to brake yet but if I had been using rim brakes I would have been “testing” the brakes at this point to see how much bite they had and then adjust my braking based on the performance.   With the discs I don’t need to guess. I brake when I need to slow down.  With rim brakes in wet conditions, that isn’t how it works.
Then I tried to remember, and could not recall, having a flat tire in all of 2017.  Fat biking, Mountain biking, Gravel biking and Road riding all flat free in 2017. Hundreds of hours and thousands of kilometers without changing a tube.  How anyone can still be on the fence about tubeless is beyond me.

Thru axles are making my wheels and frames obsolete.  They seem to have finally standardized and are clearly a superior solution to quick releases. Electronic shifting is ridiculously good and gets cheaper all the time. The gear ratios available now are equally wonderful.  Mortals can climb where only Tour contenders used to go. Twenty-nine inch wheels on mountain bikes are faster and offer superior control compared to their ancient twenty-six inch ancestors.
Innovations, by design, make our current equipment obsolete. This costs money and hence we resist it.  As time goes on we save for the new stuff and at the same time the new stuff comes down in price and at some point those lines intersect and we find ourselves astride a bike that is so technically superior to its predecessor that we wonder why it took so long to get here.

For years all of the innovations made things lighter and faster.  Now the focus is on function, safety and comfort.  When you are in control and comfortable you go faster as well. Oh, and all the stuff is already so light it makes you laugh.

These are good times to be a cyclist.