Changing the focus of this thing around a bit. Actually, changing the focus of everything in my life around a lot bit.
I’ve spent the last month or putting all my spare energy and time into working on myself. Exploring issues that I’ve struggled with in my life, brought into my relationships, and generally trying to improve my interaction with the world around me.
Some profound events have happened in my life in the past 6 months. The passing of my father, relationship issues, family and work demands….they’ve all made me refocus what I value out of life and myself.
I’ve not brought my best to my relationships and to myself for a long time now. I’ve struggled with issues of codependency and anxiety/depression. By not owning these behaviors, I’ve cheated myself. And by cheating myself, I’ve not given those around me what they deserve from me.
This is an incredibly painful realization for someone who sees himself as driven, but I’ve always been driven by a select few motivators, rather than being driven just to be the best me. I can no longer not strive to be the best me. I can no longer risk looking back on a short life and not have learned how to derive happiness and fulfillment from within.
I’ve been reading many books. Lost art of Listening, Codependent No More, People I want to Punch in the Throat (for comedic relief), Awakening the Buddha Within….. and actually been practicing applying these concepts to my every day life (very fucking hard). And what I’ve learned is, when I focus on the moment, when I step back from myself and accept what is happening now, when I acknowledge and accept my emotions…I can live free from attachment. I act without my emotions forcing me to react. I can enjoy relaxing. I can enjoy the company of myself. This allows me to bring ME to the world around me, rather than trying to let my environment tell me who I am. That feels like happy and I hope it feels like happy to those around me.
As a former 250lb heavyweight wrestler, I know a thing or two about lifting and moving heavy things – like shaved silverbacks.
I’ve also seen every manner of gym and locker room behavior and pretty much know proper etiquette – whether that means how to perform a proper squat or know when to allow my dong to hang around in the locker room and knowing when to curtail the naked calisthenics.
- If you are 6 foot, 110 lbs and you are dead-lifting as much as the 5’3″ 200lb Butterball-with-a-head next to you, I know a good spine specialist you should contact.
- If your biceps are bigger than your head, but you still arch your back like you just got donkey punched to perform a bicep curl – you’re working on the wrong muscles.
- If your neck is thicker than your your calves – shave your head and you have a ready made halloween costume.
- If your back curls AT ALL during a squat – get out of the rack and stop wasting my time. Go back to machine weights.
- DON’T CURL IN THE SQUAT RACK.
- If you are using machines and the weight stack slams at the end of each rep – punch yourself in the nuts, if you have them- if not, find a suitable replacement.
- If you are weight lifting to look like this – you are compensating, and remember, proportionally, you are only hurting your cause.
- Being naked in the locker room is OK. Being naked while stretching, reading the paper, or exposing your anus unnecessarily is not.
- Never do your bicep curls RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE FUCKING DUMBBELL RACK – I will end you.
- The mirror is for checking FORM, not to check to see if your big boy hairs have come in yet.
I am so sick and tired of bullshit product reviews.
There are maybe TWO sources of gear reviews that actually get it right, that I respect, but even they don’t pay for their gear or race it at an elite level (I don’t need to call them out because if you know your ass from a hole in the ground, you know who they are – and so do they).
So, I’m going to review shit. Why? Because I’m and engineer and an elite racer that PAYS for my equipment. If it doesn’t work as advertised or obviously was designed by the janitor sneaking in some Pro/E time, I get pissed. Mainly at the people who approve products that suck, not necessarily the junior engineer trying to move up from Lead Coffee Tech.
Also, in order to ensure the honestly and accuracy of my reviews, I intend to write them while slightly, mildy, or heavily intoxicated (notice the lack of in between?).
Up first – Ritchey Seatpost
Now Ritchey has a cult following. Which means people don’t like shit on his stuff because he’s like one of the founding fathers of cool shit. Well, I’m gonna throw a turd.
This post, well, sucks. Sure, it holds the saddle and it hasn’t broken sending a jagged javelin into my perennial region. BUT, I want a seatpost that I can adjust in FINE increments AND holds over time without torquing past spec. This is not that post.
Seriously, one bolt posts really have a hard time cutting the mustard. And as you can see below, any time you have to hold two parts together with a rubber middle man, its no good.
So what sucks about this post? Well, grab yourself one, set it up and torque it to spec. Then notice as your saddle migrates in angle over the course of a season. Then try to reset it your your desired angle. You try to loosen the main bolt enough to allow you to move it, but not so much that you look at it funny and it does a 180 rotation – problem is, those are your only options – loosen it just enough that you can hammer it to your desired angle (real fucking accurate) or loosen it too much and before you know it, you are completely resetting your saddle angle AND setback.
Doesn’t matter if its properly lubed, torqued, and jerked-off – it just doesn’t work like a well engineered product. The cradles are responsible for clamping onto the post head and rails using clamping force from one direction. Its like trying to steer and brake – you can only do one thing well at a time.
OK, buzz is wearing off, so the bottom line? Seatposts are simple – they should be able to hold your saddle and allow you to adjust the angle and setback independently and EASILY. In fine increments. Two bolts work great (think a classic Thomson). Let’s not create stuff just for the sake of doing so, which it seems is the origin of this post.
Currently, I am sitting in a coffe shop called Equal Exchange cafe. Just flew into Boston, working my way up to Beverly via commuter rail. While I am rehabbing my knee, I figured I would be productive in other aspects of my life – aka a career when I am done racing full-time (though it does include bikes). That’s all the details I’ll give for now.
2 facts of my life – I do not escape cycling. Evidenced by the photo of Adam Myerson staring at me from the wall of this cafe.
And I love espresso.
I was reading Bonnie Ford’s Article on ESPN.COM with Tom Zirbel and he said this referring to why he is coming back to cycling after saying he would retire after his ban was handed down –
“That’s my talent, and to deny it is doing me more harm than anything else. I love to compete, I love working hard and transforming my body toward a goal. It’s a type of drug and I’m not ready to give it up.”
That hit home with me. For a handful of years now, since graduating college, I have had the goal of racing as a professional – or at least full time. Living the “lifestyle”. Lifestyle is in quotes because if you know pro-cycling, you know its not exactly glamorous the way the word is typically used.
So, I worked hard. Like I did when I decided being 250 lbs wasn’t really for me. Poured my heart and soul into it. I had a breakthrough season in 09, one that I really thought would land me with a contract (and at one point I believed, and was told, I was about to be handed one). That didn’t happen and I moved on, worked hard again. Was looking at an amazing result at Somerville, then tragedy. Separated shoulder. Grade 5. Now I’m starting a new season. Slowly. Its been a real rough start to this year.
Now people – friends, family, strangers – ask me, why do I want it so bad still? Why not move on, accept that it may not happen for me. Well, I like the way Zirbel put it. The talent Tom Z refers to is his ability to put down incredible watts, even without training. Cycling is his talent. I am talented enough at cycling to make a good pro, maybe even a really good domestic pro – not a superstar like him. My true talent is never giving up and doing what I do with enough heart, and brains, to make it work.
So, yes, it is a drug I am not ready to give up. But most of all, denying myself of it would do more harm than good right now. Unless of course I get a job designing bikes or race cars with time to still train and race. Yea. Lets make that happen.
Today I did my first substitute teaching assignment – a great flexible job for a cyclist. I subbed in an emotional support classroom for 7 boys in 1st and 2nd grade. When I walked in this morning before the kids got to school, I was warned by the teaching assistant and 2 in-class therapists that it was going to probably be a rough day. This particular school is fully equipped to handle a wide range of emotional and developmental issues and has a deescalation room (read, padded room where kids can violently outburst without hurting others and themselves).
It was expressed to me that the hardest things for these kids to handle are transitions – transitions from one subject to another, one room to another, and especially to a new teacher or authority figure. But, the day went incredibly smoothly. The children took to me, and I took to them. I was told by the other regular staff that the kids took to me unusually well and it was one of the easiest days they had had in a while – despite it being a Monday, usually the worst day because of the transition from the weekend!
I think it’s because I often find little pieces of myself in these children that have so much missing in their life and I think they can feel that. Kids are incredibly perceptive. Way more than adults.
So, as I transition from one season to the next, from one training period to the next, and as I aspire to transition into higher levels of cycling, I hope I can handle my own transitions in the same graceful way my students today handled several transitions that they often find insurmountable.
When I met my girlfriend, Kate, I wasn’t sure what to think about her having a 3 year old son, but I was comforted when, during our first date, we ended up joking how I had a child of my own – cycling. At first glance, it seems like an almost absurd proclamation. I mean a child is a life, one that you have to protect and be responsible for, but after a year of dating a girl with a child and spending a year in the life of that growing child, the similarities are remarkable.
Children are needy – emotionally and physically. They drain your energy, test your patience, drive you to tears, put extreme demands on your time, and they also bring you immense joy and often, a sense of accomplishment. You can see how they change over time and can see when they need some behavior modification.
Anyone who has dedicated themselves to cycling, especially those of us with aspirations of “going pro” can attest that cycling is a needy, whiny child that puts very similar demands on our lives. Cycling pushes us right to the edge of what we can take emotionally, physically, and places in between we can’t describe. We can’t go out with all our friends because we have to watch our “cycling child” and make sure it sleeps well so it can test our patience the next day. We have to prepare the cycling child the proper meals, educate it, clothe it, and try to give it every advantage so its on the same level or better as it’s “classmates”. We start to notice negative behaviors that need correction, like over-training. And we get pulled away from the world around us and our relationships outside of cycling get strained to the limit. Our bodies whine in protest, teams ignore you, directors lie to you – like an obstinent child drives you to tears, so will cycling.
Though, if you walk away from cycling, the only person you stand to damage is yourself.
At the end of the day, when your hair is all pulled out because you are questioning how much more you can take or what you can do differently to get the results you desire, they are both very worth it.