Archive for May, 2007

Map of my trip

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Here’s an overview of my route to New Orleans.

BTW, what a surprise I got today when I went to moderate comments — in among the 558 spam comments were two comments from real people!  So, Jade and Mary Harriet, thanks for commenting, and now that I’ve accepted one of your comments, they’ll be automatically approved in the future.

New Orleans or Bust

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Last summer, my big biking adventure was RAGBRAI.  It was remarkable, but I resolved then that I wasn’t going to do RAGBRAI again unless I went with someone else.  Not that I don’t like doing things alone; I always have.  But it’s a bit uncomfortable being alone in a huge crowd of people.  I’d rather be alone alone.   So, this year, I’ve decided to ride solo from here to New Orleans, around 600 miles.

Yes, this means that I’m not going to make the ride across Nevada, at least this year, despite SomewhereBean‘s kind invitation.  I’m a little financially tight this summer, and the airfare to NV was going to be something of a problem.  Besides, I just can’t seem to find the right way to phrase that one to Robin.  “Honey, I’m going to ride my bike across Nevada with a woman I met on the Internet” just doesn’t sound quite right.  Even when you append “Her boyfriend will be going too.”

Besides, I want to visit my sister Gerry, and this is a way to combine that visit with a bike trip.

So I’ve ordered a Bob Yak Plus from my Local Bike Shop, and I’m planning how to get from here to New Orleans.  Conveniently enough, Tennessee and Mississippi both provide PDFs of traffic volume maps by county on the web.  I’ve made them into overlays for Google Earth, and I’m using them to draw my route.  I spent a fair amount of time on it this weekend, and at present I’ve made it as far as Jackson, MS, the end of  the 5th day.

The plan is to head south from  here into the Bootheel of Missouri, cross the Mississippi at the Dorena-Hickman Ferry, then wind up at Reelfoot Lake for the first night (a long haul this first day, but mostly dead flat).   From there, through Dyersburg to Brownsville TN for a night in a motel (no parks handy).  Then to Holly Springs, MS and a night at Chewalla Lake.  The fourth night is at Chickasaw State Park near Houston, MS, where I join the Natchez Trace.  I think that night five is another motel night near Jackson, MS; that’s another 100+ mile day, but it’s all straight down the Trace and should be pretty easy.    From there it’s about three more days to Pearl River, LA, where my sister lives.  A direct route doesn’t encounter much in the way of camping spots; if I want to hit parks and National Forest, it goes more to the east.  I’m still working on it.

One last Hellbender anecdote

Monday, May 21st, 2007

About 5 miles into the race, when I had clearly joined my own private chase group, and I was hurting pretty bad, I briefly thought of quitting. Of course, then what would you do? Turn around and ride back ignominiously? Then I realized that all you’d have to do is stop and let the air out of a tire and claim you had a flat. Of course, this was a passing fancy, and I got my wind and my gumption back, and as previously mentioned, I was NOT LAST.

After the race, Don and Cody and I were talking, and Cody said, “So I saw something in this race I’ve never seen before. I’d been dropped by the main pack at the end of the second big climb, and I saw this guy pull over and stop at the side of the road. As I went by him, I saw him reach down to his wheel, and I heard this ‘Psssssshhhhhhhhhtt’ noise…”

Hellbender Post-Mortem

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Hellbender started about 11:30 AM, and I foolishly took off on the first climb.  I had a brief moment of glory as I led the pack to the top, and then completely lost it as the pack passed me like I was going backwards.  I then proceeded to grind along, through a series of rolling hills that never really let me get my wind back.  Finally one of the other guys who had been dropped (actually, Patrick says we should refer to this as “joining the chase group”) caught up with me, and we proceeded to take turns drafting for the next 15 miles or so.  Bert, my new riding buddy, was a bit slower on the climbs, but faster on descents and level ground, so we worked out pretty well.

When we got to the big climb at mile 20, I gained quite a bit on Bert, and after all the work (max heart rate: 186), I was unwilling to give up any ground.  So I kept riding alone for a few miles, until we got to another big descent.  All of a sudden, there was Bert, along with another chase group member he’d picked up.  The three of us worked together for the last few miles, and then I pulled ahead in a sprint at the end.  I wound up finishing well behind Don and Cody, the only others from Cape Bicycle in the race, but at 34 out of a field of 40, it was a major improvement over my Lanterne Rouge performance in the Hillsboro Roubaix.

Accordingly, I have awarded myself this trophy:

Hellbender

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

I’m in Rolla, MO, in a hotel room.  Tomorrow is the Newburg Hellbender Race, and I’m as ready as I’m going to get.  I drove the course this afternoon with Don Hinkebein, who will be racing with me.  It’s a 35 mile loop through Mark Twain National Forest land in the Ozarks.  The whole route is rolling hills, winding through forest, except for two major climbs.  One is right at the beginning of the race, and the other is 20 miles into the course.

This is my third race; my performance in the first two wasn’t exactly stellar, but I think I’m in a bit better shape now.  We’ll see.  If I can just keep up with the pack early in the race, I might do okay.

Here’s a taste of the course:


More tomorrow…

In which I am inexplicably annoyed

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

This happens every once in a while, but it’s happened twice just recently.  For some reason, it comes up in conversation that I do almost all the cooking at home.  The person hearing this then asks me “Are you a gourmet cook?”

For some reason I find this very aggravating.  I always respond with something like “I don’t really know what that means.  I try to cook things that taste good.”

Maybe it’s because it seems that there’s some sort of implied sexism here.  I’m male, and I cook, therefore I must be a “gourmet” cook, because a man wouldn’t just cook food.

I also imagine some implied hostility toward the presumably elitist sort of cooking that would pass for “gourmet” — candied nightingale’s tongues and the like, as opposed to good honest fare.  “Gourmet” sounds so prissy.

Or maybe I’m just a jerk, and I don’t know how to deal with people who are trying to be nice.  Hard to say.

? Department

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

In a 1999 poll, people were asked if they thought that Jesus would come again in the millennium from 2001 to 3000. Results:

bullet All persons surveyed : 52%
bullet Evangelical Protestants: 71%
bullet Non-Evangelical Protestants: 48%
bullet Roman Catholics: 47%
bullet Non-Christians: 20%

The one that got me was the 20% of non-Christians who agreed with this. What exactly do these people believe? What exactly do they mean by “non-Christian?” They believe Jesus is coming again, but they don’t care? Or they think he’s coming again, but they don’t think he’s God — just a guy with a special sort of super-power? Or they think he’s coming again, but they plan to be fighting on the side of the devil? I’m puzzled.

My daughter

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

looks like a &^@%#* rock star, according to informed reports.

At the Fleadh

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Here I am in St. Louis at the Fleadh.  There’s free wireless on the lobby floor, but it only works for me if I’m very close to Starbuck’s.  Last night we did some registration and worked out most of the kinks.  That was just the duet and trio competitions, though; today we’ll be handling registration of about 2/3 of the competitors and scoring of the vast majority of the events.  It’s going to be hectic.

Meanwhile, the hardest part of coming to downtown St. Louis, as usual, is the parking.  I got mine comped, but not until I’d already parked myself in the garage across the street, so I wind up paying $14 for last night and having free valet parking tonight.  Okay, I’m a whiner, but when you live in the boonies you just get used to being able to put your car pretty much anyplace where it won’t get stuck in the mud.

And now, back to the grind.

End of the semester

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I have graded all of the Cell Biology and Genetics finals, and am halfway through the Molecular Genetics finals, and the Biological Reasoning online finals are due by midnight tonight.  Tomorrow I’ll finish grading.  Friday I’m going to St. Louis to help out at the Regional Fleadh Cheoil (Irish music competition), which goes Friday night and all day Saturday.  Tuesday I start teaching Molecular Genetics again in the 4-week presession.

End of the semester.  Hah.