Trying Out New Habits


Old habits are hard to break; like limiting myself to riding during daytime hours since I left my (cash paying) job in March of 2009. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s funny how true it really is and what other habits–good and bad–have come to replace a post-work ride on a weekday evening.

Let me say, this blog post was NOT supposed to be this long, it was just supposed to be a few photos from last night’s ride, but then I got thinking, wandered more than a bit off track and found myself “on the couch.” The short story is that I had a great ride on Wednesday evening (as illustrated above), the long story below is to be filed under Too Much Information or Never Has So Much Thought Gone Into Deciding To Go For a Fucking Ride. I don’t encourage you to read on, but do so if you wish.

Old Habits

I’ve mentioned my work history before, but for the sake of any new readers and you short-term memory types, I will reiterate: I worked as a graphic artist for a newspaper for over sixteen years, then in January 2009 I came into the office and found a letter on my desk asking employees to consider a company buy out in an attempt to prevent layoffs. Having seen the writing on the declining newspaper industry’s wall–and fearing being laid off in the future–I opted to take the buy out (it was fairly generous due to my long employment at the paper) and before the dust even settled on my departure from the paper, I had started up XXC Magazine and

Starting the magazine was awesome, not only because I love(d) endurance mountain biking (still love it, just can’t do it as much) and wanted to develop a forum to showcase how great it is but also because it also helped me grow as a designer who spent most of his “career” working on crap-tas-tic ads for car dealers and because I went to art school in the pre-Internet era and knew nothing of designing for, building and maintaining a website.

Working at home on my own hours was also the start of my mid-morning ride schedule and weekday life routine: get up, get Brennan to school, work, ride, work some more, do house errands, fetch Brennan at school, help with homework, make dinner, maybe have a good beer, work more and  go to bed. That was pretty much my routine from March 2009 to October of 2013 and I was pretty darn OK with that routine until the riding decreased and the stress of trying to make a career out of publishing the magazine increased greatly [Note: I wasn’t trying to get rich, just pay writers, photographers and have a few bucks left to buy bike parts. I haven’t had a paycheck since March 2009 and have never received unemployment checks].

The magazine required more business knowledge than I have and I was getting in over my head. I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t riding that much and I was hardly racing at all. I was spending more money to publish the magazine than I was bringing in, my view of the cycling industry was about on par with my thoughts of the Tea Party, and beers on the weekend turned into at a couple of beers or more almost every night in the attempt to steady the rocking mental ship.

So I ended the magazine.

I ended the magazine and embraced a new problem

I ended the magazine for good last October in the hopes of a fresh start and a new routine. Sadly I continued the same old routine, only this time I added in the depression of being unemployed (or at least a being without a title), increased bitterness, a lost desire to ride and race my bike and a bit of self loathing for having let myself gain so much weight back (roughly 30 pounds in the past four years). Along with that, it seems that I took my love of craft beers and turned it into what some my call “a burgeoning alcohol problem.”

And I know that it’s not a party if it happens every night
Pretending there’s glamour and candelabra when you’re drinking by candlelight
This Place is A Prison, The Postal Service

No, I wasn’t getting drunk every night, hitting my wife and kid, crying in my pint glass(es) or keeping flasks hidden to get through the day, but I wasn’t helping my mental or physical health by trying to find comfort at the bottom of a pint glass. I found myself “using” alcohol, not enjoying it. I was seeing too many similarities to my days as a fatty. I didn’t like that.

For the record, I haven’t stopped enjoying good beer (or the occasional gin and tonic) but I have gotten better about when I have it and why I am drinking it. I love beer and enjoy it, but when I was working the paper, it never would have occurred to me to come home from work and have a beer on any weeknight other than Friday, even after a ride. However over the past few years that rule went out the window and I would find myself helping B with homework, getting him dinner then sitting and watching soccer or baseball while I folded clothes and drank beer. That’s not cool, healthy or fun, but it became a routine and I am a routine, creature of habit sort of person. You know, the sort that once went around and around in circles on his bike for 6 to 24 hours!

Other work was needed

Along with working on changing (and continuing to change) that poor, ill-advised routine, I had to get mentally straight again and accept a few things; know that I might not find design work here in our small town, that my past schooling is not conducive to a career outside some limited design work or the fast food industry and that I’m 43, not 23 and my weight will not be as easily controlled as it once was. I needed to accept that while I never made a career out of the magazine, I did put out eighteen fucking issues of it, and most of them I am damn proud of (FYI, you can now download 5 -18 for free at

I needed to let go of the bitterness of having ended the magazine and to recognize that it was no one’s fault or problem, and while it was probably the magazine’s downfall, I am proud that I never forced fake smiles, glad handed, kissed asses or fed people glowing reviews and industry bullshit to sell a magazine. I met a lot of great people and many of the folks I briefly worked with in the cycling community I remain friends with (well, via the Internet at least).


I wanted to just enjoy riding again and not worry what people thought of the magazine, me as its publisher or as a

declining, hack racer. I wanted to feel that flutter of excitement in my gut as I prepared for a ride. I wanted to once again talk bikes and parts with friends and not feel any sort of resentment about the whole thing.

I needed to accept the positives I offer to my wife and son, even without a “real job.” I needed to accept that if I was a woman, society would not think twice that I stayed home, did the grocery shopping, cooked our meals, made sure our son was taken care of, did his homework and had fun just being a kid.

I’m happy to say that I have done all that. It’s taken nearly a year, but I am growing increasingly comfortable in my own skin again as a father, husband and cyclist. I still enjoy my beer, just not every night. I have worked at breaking old routines and habits and embracing things as simple as a post-work mountain bike ride, even when there is no “work” to ride after.

Then I got my hair cut

Then yesterday and the real spawn of this lengthy post happened: Brennan and I went to get hair cuts at our local barber.

Our barber shop is not a place that my shaved legs and I feel super comfortable in; there are deer heads all over the walls, gun magazines and more than the occasional off-color and/or borderline bigoted/racist comment. They do cut some damn fine hair though, never talk badly in front of B-Man and are about 200 yards from our house, so we go there. They know us, and in the past have always asked me about the magazine. I have repeatedly told them in past conversations that the magazine was over now and that I was spending my time doing some occasional freelance work and looking for work (not a lie).

So, I couldn’t believe when yesterday the one dude asked–yet again–if I was still doing the magazine! Sigh… I told him no, explained why and jokingly told him that I was still looking for the right work and I could best describe what I do now as being a “house husband.”  I was joking… HALF joking and his response garnered more laughter than I was really looking for. When he saw that I wasn’t quite as amused, he of course said that was cool and if we can do it, that’s great etc., etc., The subject was then changed and he (and his fellow barber) went about giving me, and B-Man in the next chair, excellent cuts.

Still, I found myself extremely embarrassed and hoping that Brennan didn’t hear the conversation or see his father who he, for some reason, looks up to shrinking down in his chair. Not that our lives are ANYTHING like it, but as B and I walked home, all I could think about was the scene in the movie Rebel Without a Cause where James Dean’s character (Jim Stark) freaks out screaming and starts throwing his father around for being–in the words of IMBD–”wimpish and henpecked.”


As Brennan went upstairs to get a shower, I put the Maribor v Celtic UEFA match on the TV and putzed around the house feeling “the black dog” coming on. I set about getting things ready to make dinner and found myself opening the crisper drawer in the fridge (also known as the beer cooler). “This is stupid, I don’t even want a beer and I won’t really enjoy it if I do have one! I’m just pissed, embarrassed and craving the routine of getting lost in a good beer while watching a football match going on half a world away.”

With that I shut the drawer and commenced making pizza dough, followed directly by getting my gear ready to go for a ride as soon as Wifey got home from work.


And so I did… and it was awesome.

After a rainy dirt road ride on Tuesday, I enjoyed the summer sun, good legs and great trail conditions. I let go of the afternoon’s flirtation with angst, said “fuck it” (in a good way this time) and had fun riding my bike. Of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also looking forward to getting home and finally making that pizza that I started earlier!


I will admit that I am looking forward to going out to the Tap Room with my local riding buddies after B-Man’s soccer practice tonight. After all, there are habits, there are routines and there are traditions.

I will add, that right now I am feeling damn good and NONE of the above was written in a “boo-hoo my life sucks” sort of way. My 17-year-old marriage is doing great, I have an amazing son, my love of riding has returned and I am looking to enter the fall and winter with my new routines and habits in place as I once again start a job search. My family is damn blessed (due to the size of Wifey’s brain) that we can afford for me to stay at home with B-Man and to do all the things that need doing for our family. In our lives we have had a LOT of lean times, you know, the sort where checks bounce, bills go unpaid and relationships are stressed to the max. While we are in NO way “rich,” we do make all this work and know we that we are VERY fortunate, realizing that those lean times could very easily return one day in the future.

In the meantime, I’m not going to be embarrassed by my past failures or my “non-traditional” family role. Nor am I going to harbor any regrets for having left my job back in 2009, since roughly a year later Wifey got a new and better job which moved us here to mid-Michigan (where we are extremely happy) and would have been forced to quit anyway and not got a dime extra from the paper.

I’m also not going to let a little thing like being asked what I do for a living get me down and encourage all those bad habits. Especially since I have made up a position for myself. When asked, I will henceforth refer to myself as a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs.” I may even change my LinkedIn profile to reflect as much… If I can figure out how to log into it or why I even have a LinkedIn account!

I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…
I’m a Social Media and Content Consultant for independent cycling blogs…

It’s not a lie… if you believe it.


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