Wednesday, January 30, 2008

cycling goals

I mentioned in my first post that I have a couple of cycling goals for 2008. The first of which is to ride a century a month. The second is to ride the Desperado Dual. Since January is just about over, I thought I'd make a little progress report.

For the first goal. I'm failing. I've ridden a grand total of ~170 miles this month, mostly in 4 1/2 mile segments, the length of my commute each way. I think my longest ride this month was a little over 21 miles. Barely a fifth of my goal. But, consider qualify for the Larry Schwartz award for riding 12 century or longer rides, you're allowed two make-up rides. They do this to account for people like me, who live where there's snow on the ground this time of year (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!) and it's freezing. That means that I can now ride two centuries in some up-coming month and I'll still qualify. This is good, because it's supposed to snow again tomorrow and I have to work anyway so a hundred mile ride is out. I just wish I didn't have to mis a month already. Not a good precedent. But, I'm still excited by this goal. I'm going to do it.

For the second goal, I haven't registered yet because the registration has been suspended. Apparently, the main organizer of the Dual died after a ride at the end of December and the Color County Cycling Club, who puts on the event, has put it on hold. So, hopefully it'll still go on but I can't commit to it yet because, well, I can't. It's still in the plans, though. It'll only count as one ride toward goal #1, though.

As for where most of my January miles came from, my commute, I'll tell you a little about that. As you probably remember, it's about 4 1/2 miles each way. I leave my house about 6:20 am. It's cold and dark then. Very cold lately. The coldest actual temperature that I've made the commute in, that I can remember, was about four degrees (Fahrenheit). Wind chill? Colder.

During the winter months, I'm riding my old '81 Miyata 710, outfitted with a pair of Tioga Bloodhound cyclocross tires (ever try finding a studded 27" tire? Not easy.) They barely fit with the brakes I installed (Shimano 105's) and I had to remove the cool fenders that Robyn gave me for Christmas to make them work, but I opted for traction over dryness. Because I don't want to loose my 710 to the rust and salt gods, I wash her regularly as best I can.

What I wear is some combination of the following. Bike shorts, knee warmers, tights, winter shoe covers, arm warmers, long sleeve base later, standard bike jersey (or two) and a rain shell. Along with a balaclava, helmet, and a pair or two of gloves. I don't have much by way of proper winter cycling gear, actually/ It's all about the layering. One of these days, I'll break down and go shopping for a few choice items that I really want. If you're so inclined as to want to buy me a present, post a comment and I'll give you the list. (kidding) (unless you aren't, then post away!)

My "real" road bike is a Specialized Allez Comp, I think about a 1999. I bought it last June through a friend from CA for an ungodly reasonable price. After a winter of the Miyata, it makes me feel like I'm riding on air. It's not the best bike in the world, the prettiest, or the lightest. But she's mine, she was affordable and she hasn't let me down yet.

So, as you might have figured by now, I'm more of a cyclist wanna-be than anything all too serious; but who knows what I'll become over the course of the year. That's one of the reasons for this whole blog thing, to chart what happens. Who knows, I may take up racing! (I'll admit...I'm a little intimidated to start as a 40 year old cat-5, though.)

Hell, I may even shave my legs this year...


So, looks like my angst over my support for John Edwards has been solved for me. He suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination today. I was shocked. I was disbelieving. I was angry.

Now, I am just settled. Settled to the fact that it looks like we'll have a real fight on our hands for the presidency. Settled that the best candidate is out. Settled that the most progressive candidate is not in the running. Settled that big corporate media has, once again, settled this conflict for us. They decided, not the primary voters. Not the party. Not the delegates. Media.

But nos, you say (I'm putting words in your mouth, granted - but hey, you called me "nos"...), that's a little tin-foil hat conspiracy talk. Well, yes, I suppose it may be. I honestly think that there is a conspiracy in this country. A conspiracy of major corporations and the media that they own focusing their coverage (and hence, the lifeblood of any campaign) on candidates that they think they can get along with. That wasn't Edwards. That's not Edwards. I don't think they saw a candidate that would come to the table with them...and they need someone at the table. I think in Edwards they saw a potential president who would wrest some of the control out of their hands. A president who would push to re-regulate some of the rampant corporate greed and growth that is killing this country. A president more likely to do what was right than what was profitable. But wait, nos, you say, that sounds down-right anti-growth! Anti-capitalism! Anti-American! Well, all growth is not good. (Ever heard of cancer?)

When you're cranking for all you're worth to power up that climb, every cog on your gear better be in good shape, otherwise you're running the risk of the chain jumping and a big crash...or at the very least, you're not getting the full potential out of all of your work. Well, those cogs are all of us, and unless we start, as a country, recognizing that things aren't working and we'd better do something to fix it, we're going to crash out.

What's good for big business isn't always what's best for the country.

What's good for Wall Street isn't always good for mom and pop.

What's good for the GDP isn't always good for those without HMOs.

We need to remember that this is a country of people, not corporate entities.

I think John Edwards stood for all of that. And I think that scarred the shit out of the powers that be. So they ignored him. And consequently, so did we.

And we're worse off for it.

Here. Ted says it way better than I can.

edit 1/31/2008: Even better said.

Monday, January 28, 2008

white man's burden

So. I have kind of an imaginary dilemma. I like John Edwards for president. Not a dilemma on the surface (nor really at all) but it's weird. I find myself in a situation where, arguably for the first time in history, my party has the potential to nominate either the first viable woman for president, or the first viable African-American. And I like the white male candidate. (In case you're wondering...I, too, am a white male.) And I feel just a tinge of guilt because of that - not being a white male...I don't think...but about not liking the "minority" candidates as my first choice. Stupid, I know. Especially because it looks like he's not going to get the nomination and I'll end up supporting whole-heartedly either Obama (I hope) or Clinton. But I like Edwards. I like his attitude. I like that he keeps progressive issues on the table. I like that he comes across as strong and confident. I like that he's admitted when he's been wrong without a hint of "I really didn't mean what my vote makes it seem like I meant" crap.

He's a great candidate and I admire the hell out of him for sticking to his guns, so to speak. I want a president who will stand for what I believe in and will try to fix what I think is wrong with this country. So. I like John Edwards for president.

Hold your ground, John. We'll see you at the convention.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


This morning I moved my latest beer, a coffee Irish stout from the primary fermenter to the secondary, in anticipation of bottling probably next weekend. It's lighter in color than I expected and I really am not detecting any coffee at all at this point. Still smells like really sweet, well, just really sweet. My last stout (an imperial stout) took forever to age into a good beer, so this one will be bottled and then left to age for a few months. My goal is six. Let's see how long I can make it for real.

One of the fun parts of brewing, other than drinking the beer, of course, is deciding what to label the beer. Some people don't label at all. I think it's cool, so I always do.

I say always like I do this all of the time. Truth be told, the coffee stout is only my fourth beer. The beer (and their labels) are:

An Imperial Stout:

A Scottish Ale:A German Alt (in the bottle now, haven't tasted it yet):

And now the coffee Irish stout (haven't finished the label for this one yet.

Brewing is interesting. Lot's of time standing around waiting for water to boil, keeping things heated to a certain temperature. Trying to keep things clean. It's time consuming while you're doing it. Of course, you can't brew without having a few beers yourself, so that makes it better.

I've got a couple of friends who brew regularly (Dave & Eric) and one who's about to brew his first batch (Bryan) so, in theory, if we trade out, we could always have some good home-brewed beer around. Not bad, especially given the very limited selection of available beers here in Utah.

Anyway, I'm rambling now and I'm sure this isn't really that interesting so I'll stop. For now.


Welcome to my blog. Both of you.

Here I plan on discussing, so to speak, things that I'm interested in, like cycling, beer, politics. Maybe my cats. We'll see what mood strikes.

A little about me: I'm 40. I'm married (hi, Robyn!). We have four cats (three of which are black, the other is tortoise-shell, I'm told) - two boys and two girls. We also have one-three cats who've adopted our porch as a place to live - probably because I've built an insulated cat house out there for them and we feed them every day, but that's a whole other story...

We moved to Salt Lake City, UT about four years ago because of my job. Before moving to Utah, I lived my entire life in Texas, most recently Austin, though I grew up in San Antonio. My wife, she's from Long Island, NY but lived in Austin the 10 years before moving here as well.

Since moving to UT, I've taken up cycling passionately. I commute to work on my bike (even when it's 6 degrees out and snowing) and don't get a chance to ride as much as I'd like to. Oh, I only road ride, not mountain bike, though I'm thinking about someday taking that plunge. I've got a few cycling related goals this year:

1. ride a Century a month (that's 100 miles) and earn a Larry Schwartz award from the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. More on this later.
2. ride the Desperado Dual double century down in Panquitch, UT (though the event seems to be on hold right now.)

I've also taken up home brewing (in Utah, the most repressed state in the nation, of all places). We call our "brewery" Black Cats Brews. Beer is good food. Enough said.

Hmmm. I'm sure there will be more. Like me ranting incessantly about political issues, local and national. But for now that's it. Since I kind of feel like I'm writing this to myself anyway. That said, don't forget to pick up some orange juice today. And some cat food for Squeaker.

That's it.