I went rode my bike this morning. We did 50 miles, with temps around 28˚F, with massive headwinds. I'm the Bandidto in the middle. Rule #9 is in effect, of course.
There are tons of websites, books, and shows about self-improvement. It's a billion-dollar business. Everywhere you look, there's ads for someone offering to help you become a better person.
Is this what God really wants of us?
We know that God can use the weak things of the world to defeat the strong. We know he uses the simple things to confound the world's wisdom. So where is there room for us to want to become stronger, wiser, and better?
I know it sounds preposterous at first. "Why would God not want us to become stronger?" But there are people who, by their actions, believe exactly that. They have become so weak, that they fear any kind of strength.
David, the second King of Israel, was a strong, fighting man. And yet, we see how God used not David's strength, but his devotion, to defeat his enemies. Does that mean it was wrong for him to be a strong fighter? Certainly not! It is who God intended David to be. David's strength was useful in all areas of his life, not just the battlefield. And in the end, he still had to fight battles.
One of the interesting things about training to become stronger is that you have to come to grips with how weak you currently are. You can't focus on eliminating weakness unless you can spot it. This applies to mental and spiritual weakness as well! And everyone- everyone- has weakness.
Is Weakness Bad?
My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?
And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.
This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.
So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.
I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!
I haven't really talked about it much this time around, but last week (July 12) was the 5-year mark since I was hit by a car and hospitalized while bike commuting.
It's been an interesting 5 years, I have to say. The first year was strictly physical and mental recovery. Year 2 was me proving that I had recovered, so I trained and did a 75 mile bike tour. Years 3-4 were mostly me being too busy to do anything bike-related. Year 5 was the year of the Comeback, with me starting to bike commute again, and eventually, getting my son into cycling as well.
It's been a very good process of therapy. I'm still not commuting as much as I'd like, but my situation is such that it's not really possible just yet. I am now riding group rides with Andy and building up a new (to me) legitimate road bike. I'll post a story about that on Friday, it's pretty exciting to be building bikes again!
I feel like I'm transitioning into a different era. I am juggling lots of responsibilities, and I'm trying to make solid choices. I'm spending a lot of time playing and working with the family. I'm laying aside most of my extracurricular stuff, and focusing on my health and my family: two things which can't be pushed off till later.
So, that means I've spent a lot of time riding my bike on the trainer, or in group rides, instead of commuting. This rubs my sensibilities the wrong way, but I don't have much choice.
I think this will be my last annual recap of the accident, though. The fact that I didn't even think about posting about it last week means I've officially moved on. From this point forward, my focus will be on where we go from here.
Get out and ride. Doesn't matter where.
In yet another stunning move that kills off something very productive that people actually use, Google has decided to end support for its MyTracks fitness app:
After April 30, 2016, My Tracks will no longer be available. We apologize for the inconvenience this might cause My Tracks users. We’ve made the tough decision to invest our efforts into other, more wide-reaching, mapping projects.
Of course, the reason they're killing it is because MyTracks doesn't make Google any money. I can understand not maintaining it, but just EOL'ing it (End-Of-Life, fyi (for your information)) is something I don't see as a smart move. There are more than 10,000,000 installs of it, and over 200,000 reviews of the app... something tells me they could have done something with it if they really wanted to.
I believe that God expects us to physically take care of our bodies.
I also believe God expects us to seek Him, first and foremost.
When I first met God I didn't understand a lot about theology, prayer, or the Great Commission. I just knew I was a sinner in need of forgiveness. As I grew and learned, I came to struggle with a lot of things in my life that were causing me (and my friends) to stumble. I gradually changed a lot of my habits, and learned how to walk closer to how Jesus walked- not that I'm an expert, mind you.
I didn't get interested in my health until about 5 or 6 years ago. Before that, I was overweight, out of shape, and a typical Cajun guy. I ate everything fried, double helpings, with tons of sugar and junk on the side. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetic. I felt like crap and my mental health began to suffer because of my self-inflicted physical hardships.
One of the things you're going to have to deal with if you're out of shape is slimming down and getting rid of unwanted fat. This is probably the least fun part of the ForgeFit process, but it's also one of the most important.
Almost everybody understands that obesity is directly tied to more diseases and health problems than you can count. Therefore, if you want to be healthy, you need to get rid of the excess fat. You will feel better, look better, and your body will be able to function correctly, without fighting itself just to stay alive.
I'm not here to convince you of the importance of weight loss. Everybody knows that.
I'm here to convince you that this is where the Forge mindset will change your life. You see, losing weight is a simple game of input versus output. If you burn more calories than you eat, then you lose weight. Pretty simple.
But when you factor in the hunger pains, cravings, nutrition, and all the other things going wrong in your body, it seems like an insurmountable task. "Who can lose that much weight?" you might say. "They're cheating, it can't be that simple!" People wave their bag of chips in the air and shout, "Being thin is hard!"
As I've written about many times, cycling is a great way to get fit and be practical at the same time. The toughest part will be getting your human-powered Urban Assault Vehicle ready for action. But fear not! We aren't going into uncharted territory. In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it can be to build the Ultimate Pavement Bomber, on a budget.
Start With A Bike
Do you already own a bike? Good. You're better off than most people. Chances are you've got one of these three types of bikes:
- Mountain Bike - fat/knobby tires, flat handlebar, possibly suspension fork and frame
- Hybrid - skinny tires, flat handlebar, usually a suspension fork
- Cruiser - fat tires, swept back bars, usually 1 speed (not always)
Any one of them can be pressed into service, with a few tweaks. If you already own a drop-bar road bike, then you're pretty much there. Hybrids are awesome for shorter trips (less than 20 miles) because the upright riding position is good for visibility in traffic, but longer rides can be hard when you've only got one position to put your hands in.
Let's assume the bike is in decent working shape: brakes and gears are adjusted and working, no loose hardware, and the bike is roughly the right size for you. If you have one of these rare unicorns, consider yourself blessed. If your bike needs work, then spend some time on Youtube learning how to adjust it, or bring it to a bike shop and have them do it for you (I recommend learning it yourself, for obvious reasons). Once your bike is in good working condition, it's time to make its conversion to the dark side complete!
If you've ever tried riding somewhere with a heavy backpack, you can appreciate the practicality of having a rear rack to carry stuff.
When I built my bike years ago, I used cheap second-hand racks made of steel, and all of them broke under regular commuting use. So I went about finding a proper replacement, and stumbled upon the Axiom Journey rear rack.
The rack itself is made of welded aluminum tubing. It's surprisingly light for how strong it is, as it's rated for 150 pounds and only weighs 1.5 pounds! Believe me when I say this thing is beefy. The most I've carried on it is about 80 pounds.... one of my kids rode sitting on it with no problems. I'll just say my rear wheel would probably blow spokes before the rack breaks.
I just wrote an article for The Badass Forge (excuse the name, wasn't my idea!) about mental toughness and stepping outside your comfort zones.