Tag: Mountain Bike

I’m A Cheater

It’s not something you really want to admit. But confession is good for the soul, or something like that. So here goes… I’ve been cheating. Now in my defense, I didn’t realize I’d been cheating. Let me explain. If you haven’t been breathlessly following my every post, I’d recently written about a life altering change – I switched from clip-in pedals to flat pedals on the mountain bike.

TL;DR – I love them and don’t know why I didn’t switch earlier. But it has exposed one flaw. You have to constantly keep more pressure, or force, on the pedals otherwise your foot will slide off. So now I’m generally pushing a harder gear than I’m used to. What I’ve discovered is that with the clip-in pedals I was able to “relax” quite a bit when pedaling. While my legs were going around, I was essentially coasting far more than I realized. If I try that now, my feet come off the pedals.

So I was cheating at the effort I was putting in and didn’t know it. I could never figure out why my climbing speed never seemed to improve. Now that I have no choice but to push hard, presto, my speed and power output are much greater than before. Crazy how that works.

We all cheat, we just don’t like to admit it. I’ve never had much upper body strength, my shoulder is kinda jacked up, so I suck at things like push-ups. So what do I do? I ignore doing push-ups because I don’t like them and can’t do very many. Unfortunately, push-ups are exactly what I should be doing. How many of you are avoiding doing the things you know, deep down, you should be doing?

Confronting our flaws and weak points is hard. If it was easy, we’d already be doing them. But the older I get, the more I wish I’d been stronger about conquering my weaknesses when I was younger. But you’re never too old to start. Deep down, you know what your weak points are.

So pick one. Resolve today that you’re going to start working on it. You’ll thank yourself later. So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can do a push-up. Don’t laugh. I’m pretty sure this will look like the Bill Murry push-up scene from the movie Stripes. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

A Life Altering Change

There are a few big moments in everyone’s life that are remembered. Graduation. First “real” job. Getting married. First kid. Events that will always stay in your mind. I had one of those events happen this week. You’re never really ready for the impact these life changes will have. I will remember this first week of September for many years to come. It was the week I switched to flat pedals and added a dropper post to the mountain bike.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Dude, the change to flat pedals has been around for years now – you’re just now switching? I know, I know. I’m a little slow to adapt the latest and greatest in tech. I’m old fashioned and, honestly, don’t like spending money. My clip-in pedals from the 90’s have been working just fine. Why spend money on new pedals and shoes just because it’s what all the kids are doing now? Besides, the duct tape holding my shoe together is working just fine.

So what was the catalyst that spawned this momentous change? I went for a ride on a trail I hadn’t ridden since last summer that’s pretty technical, rocky, and had a rather steep drop-off on one side. I was riding and had a wobble over a loose rock, couldn’t get my foot out of the clip-in pedal and nearly tumbled down the steep edge. That’s really never happened to me before. This summer, for the first time, I can tell my balance isn’t what it used to be. Age is starting to kick in and my reflexes are just not as cat-like as they once were. I accept it and I’m actively working on improving it. But the reality is that I’m a long way from twenty and I can no longer just assume balance and coordination will save my bacon every time.

So I bit the bullet and took my bike into the shop. New pedals, shoes, and a seat post I can drop when going downhill at ludicrous speed. I immediately went back to that same rocky trail to see if the changes made a difference. It was night and day. Like riding a completely different bike. Why I didn’t do this five years ago is beyond me. I had more confidence in the technical stuff and was able to finally get my butt back and over the rear wheel properly. Wow.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson when I finally upgraded to modern skis several years ago and realized that there was no comparison between old school and modern technology. Apparently being an old-school traditionalist (i.e. cheap) doesn’t ever go away.

So the lesson is, if your stuff is more than five years old – do yourself a favor and investigate what the latest and greatest is. Technology is moving at a rapid rate. If something makes life easier, you’ll be more likely to go out and do the thing. And that’s good. Oh, and work on your balance. Today. Everyday. It’s a perishable commodity. Use it or lose it as they say.

Alone In My Head

While I was on my motorcycle trip last week, a friend texted me and said, “I think it’s really cool you’re comfortable traveling alone”. The truth is it’s not always by choice. It’s often a matter of sit home and watch the grass grow, or go pursue activities by myself. I’m in a very fortunate position in that I’m able to be free most weekday days. I don’t have to deal with the weekend crowds or traffic. Unfortunately, especially at my age, it’s hard to find other people who also have their mid-week free on a consistent basis. So it’s either go out and do it alone, or wait until the stars line up with other people’s schedules.

To be honest, I’d certainly rather do stuff with other people. I’m a, what’s the term… “introverted extrovert”. I’m somewhat shy and am horrible with initiating things in social settings. But I do like being around other people. Activities are almost always better with a group. I know there are motorcycle groups and mountain bike groups in my area I could join. I just find those initial social interactions painful. I probably will reach out at some point. Hopefully I’ll convince a friend to join with me so the first few meetings aren’t so awkward. Being the new guy sucks.

The other issue is not even a social thing, it’s finding others that match your skill level. A few years ago I did join a group mountain bike ride with a bunch of folks I didn’t know. It ended up being a horrible experience. There were a handful of young guys who were determined to ride everyone into the ground. The rest of the group were total beginners. There were crashes, blood, and some unhappy folks. No thanks. It’s comfortable to ride with the guys I normal ride with when they’re available. We’re all roughly the same fitness level (or lack thereof), no competitive egos to deal with, etc… How do you find that perfect mix in a group where someone is a bit better than you so you learn, and you’re comfortably in the middle skill-wise with everyone else? The motorcycle is even harder to find folks. It’s a much less common sport, so the community is smaller. It also seems like the skill gap is greater. You have people who’ve been riding forever and folks who are brand new. Not much in-between.

Yes, I know the answer is to keep putting yourself out there and eventually you’ll find the right group. It sounds sorta like dating advice, except for old guys with limited social skills. Maybe there’s an app for that? Middle aged guy, slightly overweight with questionable fitness and skill level, looking for like minded folks who are just as happy riding as abandoning halfway to eat nachos and drink beer. Must be free most Wednesdays and Thursdays. Meanwhile, while I continue to contemplate dropping into a social group meeting, trail maintenance day, or joining a group ride, I’ll keep on going out and getting my adventure on by myself. Because sitting at home is not an option.

Follow The Advice Of The Galactically Stupid

  • Breaking news, onetime actor Mark Hamill and director James Mangold announced that they are attempting to spawn a Hollywood boycott of Georgia. They don’t want to film in a state that “doesn’t allow people to vote”. I honestly wasn’t going to say anything more about this, but the sheer stupidity boggles my mind. Forget all the other crazy misinformation about this Georgia law being spread by politicians and the media, I want to focus on one thing. Voter ID. Take a deep breath… so what you’re telling me is that there are thousands upon thousands of people in Georgia that do not have an ID? You’re asking me to believe that there are massive numbers of functioning adults in the state, who are legal residents, that do not have a home, car, cell phone, etc… because they can’t figure out how to obtain identification? Seriously? With a straight face you want to tell me that there are armies of people, aimlessly wandering the streets because they don’t have an ID, and yet they desperately want to vote? News flash, we’re a few years past the 1950’s. It’s 2021. We have frick’n self driving cars. There is not a single reasonably functioning person above the age of 17 in this country who does not have an ID. But you knew that. And so does the left, Hollywood, and the media. And yet, politicians trot out this nonsense constantly. And the media simply smiles and helps them spread the word without ever challenging them. Even more offensive, the media happily lets them frame it as, wait for it, racism! Clearly you are a white supremacist by supporting this law. Probably even an insurrectionist and member of the bugaloo bois. If you spout this garbage, you are either galactically stupid or you’re willing to lie to push your agenda. If you find yourself agreeing with this crap, or ignoring it because it helps your side… time to take a look in the mirror and think about what kind of person you want to be. I’m not disappointed in the politicians – I expect them to do this shit (on both sides of the aisle). What disgusts me are the “journalists” and everyone else happily willing to go along with the lie because it’s in their interest. There’s nothing you can do about the pure partisans. It’s the people willing to put aside common sense in the name of being on the right side of woke that should be shamed. Sigh, ok got that off my chest. I’ll be quiet now, promise.
  • Nobody likes to be disliked. And who doesn’t like a grandpa? Apparently a large percentage of the White House’s YouTube videos get massively more “dislikes” than “likes”. Reportedly YouTube is going to remove the “dislike” feature so grandpa Joe’s feelings don’t get hurt. Well, to be fair I don’t think ‘ole Joe could tell you what YouTube is but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Whitehouse press office said something to Google.
  • Today shall be the first mountain bike ride of the season. The four stages of this ride shall be: 1) Oh my god, I’ve missed riding, this feels great! 2) Wow, this hill is really steep. I don’t remember having to walk up last year. 3) Oh crap I’m really tired. I don’t know if I’ll make it home. I wonder if someone can come pick me up. 4) Stage four takes place two days from now when I’m wondering why I can’t walk down the stairs because my legs hurt so much. Stage four disappears sometime in April. Stage three in May. By June I’m no longer walking up hills. Come July, I’m thinking I’m ready to sign up for races. It’s a cycle that happens every year.
  • Cassie Maier is 5′ 4″ and rides an adventure bike the same size and weight as my new one. I stumbled across this video of her talking about and demonstrating mounting and dismounting techniques. She makes it look easy. It’s time for me to get past my fear and start practicing. If she can do it, so can I. I suppose it’s time to bite the bullet and order the crash bars so I can start working on this. I know once I get past the fear (and the first few bike drops) I’ll be a much better rider. But committing to something you know may result in a fall is hard.
  • If you don’t follow the Oatmeal, you should. Anyway, he posted something to Instagram yesterday about his dog passing away unexpectedly. I don’t know why, but it gave me some serious tears in my eyes. I had to go pet the Troutdog and give him some extra treats. We seriously don’t deserve dogs.

Song of the day: Devo – [I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction

Who Doesn’t Like The Theater?

  • I hate to break it to you, but none of this is real. The politics, the spending, the daily media-driven outrage, none of it is reality in the way you and I think of the real world. Everything you see is manufactured theater. All of it. The speeches on the house and senate floor, press conferences, social media interactions, news show appearances – they’re all deliberate, manufactured, and designed to spark outrage with the base. The same with the “media”. Pick whatever news source you like, they all intentionally craft a narrative that creates anger and frustration amongst their target audience. Why? Money. 2020 election spending was more than $14 billion dollars. Think about that. You don’t spend that kind of money without expecting a return on the other end. The deep state, unfathomably large bureaucracies, super PACS, the military industrial complex, unions, big tech, law firms, education, they are the new oligarchs of our times. They make the decisions. And they want more. More spending. More dump trucks of cash printed out of thin air. It’s been 23 years since the federal government actually passed an annual budget. The last deficit balanced budget was in 1969. Government is in the business of seizing, printing, and redistributing wealth. Period. So please, take a deep breath and realize all the outrage being shouted at you is manufactured to drive and control the narrative. And the narrative is designed to keep the spending going in the direction the collective power brokers want. Yes, that’s a bit pessimistic. But it’s the truth. And the sooner you realize it’s all theater the better you’ll sleep at night. Do your best to carve out what you can for you and your family. And then go enjoy life. Because devoting large amounts of brain time to something you can’t win isn’t healthy.
  • On a less dystopian note, this short video is pretty funny. Although you’ll only really get it if you already watch the over the top dramatic videos produced by outdoor gear manufactures. And the best part is it’s made by a gear manufacturer channeling some Mystery Science Theater.
  • Ok, back to the outrage. The blame for most of this rests on our shoulders. I saw this link about Representative Maxine Waters giving a million dollars in campaign cash to her daughter. My only thought was how do these people keep getting elected year after year? McConnell, Nadler, Graham, McCain, Pelosi, Schumer, all of them on both sides of the aisle. People in LA can’t possibly be thinking, wow she’s done an amazing job for me. I can’t get over how well my district is being represented. Yet they’ve been sending her back to Washington for 30 years. Why? The sad reality is that the few people that actually vote, tend to vote against someone, not for someone. They see a campaign ad saying candidate X grinds up puppies in a blender and drinks them as smoothies in the morning, recognizes a name with the appropriate R or D in front of it and that’s it. It’s all very depressing if you think about it. But those in power will never actually implement meaningful voting reform or term limits for themselves. Some sort of public referendum seems to be the only way to circumnavigate the power circles.
  • A friend of mine sent me a link to the 2021 World Senior Games and asked if I’d be interested in the trail run. He’s going already to participate in the Cowboy Action Shooting (gasp, outrage alert – guns!). I’m slightly suspicious of “World Games” that don’t have any sort of qualifying requirements. But since I don’t have any hope of actually qualifying for anything, the idea intrigues me. For about 30 seconds. There’s just something that compels me to think about signing up for a race or event to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing it. I’ve signed up for a handful of marathons, half marathons, road and trail, and mountain bike races over the years. Some I’ve done, some I’ve abandoned. My favorite was the 100 miles of Nowhere race. It was an annual event to raise money for cancer research. I rode 100 continuous miles around my block. Alone. That’s a long time to ride in a small circle. It was silly but it felt good to prove to myself I could do it. For that same reason I enter the lottery to ride the Leadville 100 mountain bike race almost every year. Which I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of actually finishing. I’ve contemplated a 100 mile trail run race every year as well. Probably have an equally low chance of finishing that as well. So why do I think about it? I have no interest in becoming a runner or competing. There’s just something compelling about completing something not many people can do. I suppose it’s vanity, wanting some bragging rights. So when I saw an article talking about the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim run, my brain briefly went, hmm….
  • February 5th is international Clash day. The Clash were at one time referred to as “the only band that matters”. As Joe Strummer described the band, “We’re anti-fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist, and we’re pro-creative. We’re against ignorance.” How can you go wrong with that? So you know what that means….

Song of the day: The Clash – London Calling (Official Video)

The Perfect Weight Loss Hack

Cool things, shower thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • Clickbait titles amuse me and I couldn’t resist. Anyway, I’ll reveal the hack over the next few posts. Here’s the first part. Go find a BMR calculator that includes activity level. This one seems to work well. Enter in the data and see what your number is. Now here’s the crazy part – go eat less than that number. I guarantee you’ll loose weight. Boom! Mind blown. More to come.
  • I was fascinated by this article. I had no idea that there was such a thing as the Open Skies Treaty and we actually let other countries conduct surveillance flights over our military installations. I can’t decide if it’s no big deal, or our openness will come back to bite us some day.
  • I haven’t been very good lately at keeping up with friendships. The older you get the harder it is. It’s certainly a perishable skill that I need to work on. Been thinking about it, so I contacted a couple of buddies I hadn’t seen in a while and made arrangements to meet for lunch and a couple of beers. It felt good. Go do the same.
  • Watched “The Dawn Wall” last night. Well worth a watch but not as well done as “Free Solo”. The “rules” for big wall free climbing are unclear and the movie never explains it, so there are parts that may leave you wondering why they’re doing some of the things they do. At any rate, I may have to go dig out the climbing shoes. What could go wrong?
  • I’ve never been a huge fan of Lindsey Vonn. Her persona always seemed very cold. I was more of a Julia Mancuso fan. Lindsey recently launched a YouTube channel. She’s much warmer than I thought and has a dry sense of humor you don’t normally see.
  • I made a huge step in my street photographs. I actually went up to someone as asked if I could take their picture. If you’re not an extrovert this is a very weird and intimidating thing to do with a stranger. Wasn’t a great picture, but I crossed that hurdle.
  • Data tampering? But, they’re scientists how could this be? In related news, U.S. Oct-March temps were the third coldest recorded. But whatever.
  • Both political parties are full campaign mode trying to inflame their bases. Independent of the realties of each sides message, the left has gone full negative by devoting all its time to attacking the president. Traditionally people want to vote for something, not against something. It will be interesting to see what happens this go-round.
  • The Insta360 looks extremely cool. Inspiring enough I may have to dig out the GoPro and film something.

Song of the day: Florence + The Machine “Kiss with a fist”

Notions Of Cool V.015

A random list of things and shower thoughts that an old Gen X dude finds cool or worth pondering.

  • The dermatologist took one look at my sunburned, peeling, self and deadpanned “well, I guess we don’t need to have the importance of sunscreen discussion do we?”. Other than that, got the all-clear. I feel better having been checked out.
  • I mentioned before that I spent a ridiculous amount of time watching YouTube videos on travel bag reviews. Unclear why, since I rarely travel. I had settled on the Aer Travel Pack 2. Anyway, I used a simple duffle bag for this last trip. I realized that carrying stuff on your back sucks. For the little travel I do, I’m going to find a minimalist wheelie.
  • I got my passport photo done. Like an idiot, I let it expire. Renewing it, you know, in case I need to flee the country.
  • I loved this quote from David Goggins. “People ask me how I lost so much weight… I didn’t hire a trainer… I didn’t go to Jenny Craig… basically I just stopped eating so much fucking food.” Made me laugh. It’s simple, but true. People make weight loss too complicated. Speaking of which, unless there’s a nacho blowout I’m about a week away from my weight goal. So there’s that.
  • I gave Instacart a try for grocery shopping. Loved it. I’ll certainly be using it again. I’m a busy guy you know.
  • One of the hardest things I do as an RN is care for a patient who is a truly horrible human being. Spending twelve hours making sure I give the same quality of care to that person that I’d give to a sweet grandmother sucks the life out of me.
  • Rebecca Rusch was the first woman finisher in her first attempt at the bike category of the Iditarod 350. That’s badass. I wimp out after shoveling the driveway for an hour.
  • No further Instagram stories. The Twitter experiment has yielded exactly 2 followers. Good thing I’m not in marketing.

Song of the day: “Im gone, Joyryde”