Archive for June, 2007

My country, right or wrong…

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

As I was saying earlier, it’s my country too. Just to make sure everyone knows I understand what I’m buying into, it’s my country’s CIA that was wire-tapping journalists, hiring the Mafia to kill Castro, and various other things. For that matter, the first item in the list of “Family Jewels” is blacked out. It probably said “Overthrowing Allende’s government in Chile.”

My only defense is that I vote every time, and they rarely seem to take my advice.

Pat’s Birthday Ride

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

The fourth? annual Pat’s Birthday Ride met up at Pat’s house in Cape at 7 AM today, and we were on the road by 7:30. We started out with 8 — Cory and Jeremey, a couple of Pat’s friends from Ste. Gen.; Barney; the Neeses, Cody and Derek; Steve Schaffner; Pat; and me. Here we are at Pocahontas Village Park:

We made excellent time going up to Ste. Gen., arriving a little after noon – average speed while on the bikes over 17 mph on a very hilly course. We did have a slight tailwind, though. Of course, there was a bit of a delay when Barney had a flat just before the Perry county line.

Pat helpfully blew out the sidewall with his C02 pump, so Barney wound up patching the tire with a Power Bar wrapper.

Derek and Cody turned back at Brazeau, as they had planned — Cody was sprinting for town limit signs and generally looking very well recovered from his knee surgery. The Ste. Gen. guys took off at Ste. Gen., and four of us headed back. Well, briefly five, as Chunk, a friend of Pat’s from Ste. Gen. was going to ride back to Cape with us but bailed during the first hill about 4 miles out.

We did pretty well up until about mile 100, which happened to be right around where it starts getting really hilly again. By that time we were all feeling it quite a bit. Here’s Pat topping the big hill at Menfro, with Barney in pursuit (Schaffner was the Big Legs title holder for the day, topping pretty much every hill first on the way back).

Pat’s wife Robin met us with food and drink (and kids) and drove Sag Wagon much of the way back. All went reasonably well, if a bit fatigued, until we got to the Pilot House, when the storm that had been chasing us all the way from Ste. Gen. finally broke. It was a deluge. We could barely see where we were going the last 3 or 4 miles. Still, we got back to Pat’s, and went out for pizza after.

138.5 miles, 16.0 mph average while on the bikes. Total time, just under 11 hours. Good thing Pat only has one birthday a year.

Tour de Corn

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

I’ve completed the first part of my weekend double header:  The Tour de Corn.  As it turned out, it was actually both easier and faster than I had anticipated.  I drove down to Sikeston, where I met up with Tim Sanders.   Along with his friend John, we rode over to the high school tennis courts, where we met several other people who wanted to extend the TdC to a century ride.  Four of them had driven down from St. Louis.  Anyway, we got on the road a little after 6.  We needed to make the 20 miles to East Prairie by 7:30, but as it turned out this wasn’t a problem.  Turns out a few of the people on this ride were feeling their proverbial oats, and the rest of us just sat behind them and enjoyed the ride.  We got to East Prairie way early, averaging around 23 mph.

Then, when the actual ride started, St. Louisans Bob and Dessa on their tandem took off like a shot.

Again, I sucked wheel for a long time and we basically flew.  We finished the 60-mile TdC with an average over 20 mph.  Here’s the gang at the finish:

Tim, me, Bob, Dessa, Alice, Pat (of the Birthday Ride), and Ed.  We then took it easy riding back to Sikeston, but at the 100 mile mark my time was 4:58, so I was still over 20 mph average.

Now I’m home, resting, eating, and drinking to prepare for Pat’s Birthday Ride tomorrow.

Big weekend

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

In the spirit of getting ready for an insane journey to New Orleans, this weekend I’m hoping to ride a total of 240 miles.  Tomorrow is the Tour de Corn, and I’m meeting some people in Sikeston so we can ride 20 miles to the start of the ride, do 60 miles, and ride 20 back to Sikeston for a 100-mile day.   Then Sunday is Pat’s Birthday Ride, in which we ride from Cape Girardeau to Ste. Genevieve, MO and back — a total of 140 miles.

Yeah, it’s stupid.  Highs both days in the 90s.  I’m hoping for a thunderstorm.  Rain or not, it’s good practice for riding through Mississippi in July.

Anyway, I’ll have my camera, so there will be pictures later.

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Here’s my bike, with the trailer, at Yount cemetery.  Note that I’ve replaced the flag that came with the trailer (It said BOB, advertising the manufacturer) with an American flag.  I was persuaded by my friend Don Stahlheber that, while riding through rural Mississippi in spandex shorts, this might improve my life expectancy.  The guy who was planning to run me down might hesitate to dishonor the stars and stripes.
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag.”

Sure, I’m a patriotism whore, but it’s my country too.

Rules of Yount Community Cemetery

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Okay, let me explain it again.  If it’s offensive AND disrespectful AND out-of-the-ordinary, you can’t do it at Yount Cemetery.

Questions?  Yes, you in the back… What if it’s offensive and disrespectful but people do it all the time?  Can you give me an example?  Uh-huh. Really?  In Yount?

If you can see it on Google Earth, it must be real

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I’m putting together my route plan for my upcoming bike trip to New Orleans (henceforth to be known as MO2NO), and I used Google Earth to zoom in on a location near the end of the trip.

I don’t know exactly when this satellite photo was taken, but the blue roof tarps are definitely Katrina’s fault. Lots of New Orleans looks like this in Google Earth.

No more pencils, no more books…

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Hooray!  I’ve finished my four-week summer presession class.   Of course, I am teaching the first four weeks of an online course now, but this does mean that I don’t have to be at work at 8 AM every day.

In my online course there are 18 people enrolled, and all 18 have logged on to the web site already, before the first assignments are due.  This is a first.  Every other time I’ve taught it, there have been from 2 to 5 people who just never got around to doing anything, including dropping the course, despite repeated emails.  I know, some people don’t read their email very often.  But you would think (if, unlike me, you didn’t know better) that a person who signs up for an online course would, particularly around the time the course is supposed to start, read his or her email.

So this time, big improvement on that score.  Now if I could just break people of the habit of writing for an online course as if they were text-messaging.  I give clear instructions about using standard punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, but some people just can’t manage it.  One semester I had a student whose first several assignments were written ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE I GUESS WRITING FOR THE WEB IS KIND OF LIKE SENDING A TELEGRAM.  I explained to this person that this is the equivalent of shouting.

One thing that always annoys me is people who won’t capitalize the word “I”.  It always feels like false modesty to me.

Okay, enough bitching.  Like I say, this group has managed an historic first by all actually logging in.  Maybe they’ll all turn in the first two assignments, too.  Stay tuned.

What a great wife I have

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Robin went to town to do some errands today, and when she came back, she said “I got you a present.  I know it’s not father’s day, but you’re not my father.”  And gave me this:

That’s right, it’s the Sea of Holes bike jersey.

Training for New Orleans

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

I took the trailer out for another ride on Saturday.  First I hooked it up to the bike empty and rode to the WalMart in Jackson, where I bought a 30-pound bag of cat litter, an 8-pound bag of cat food, a 7-pound bag of ice, a half gallon of milk (4 pounds), and a bag of fig newtons (1 pound).  Fifty pounds total.  Riding back home was interesting.  Last week I had about 25 pounds in the trailer; with twice as much weight there’s a real tendency to build up oscillation from side to side, especially going downhill.  Uphill was slow, but with the new granny gear, I wasn’t straining myself at all.

At home I got rid of everything but the cat litter, and from there I headed north on C through Altenburg, Frohna, Brazeau, and Farrar to Crosstown.  Crosstown was hit by a tornado last September, and although there’s some construction going on, it’s still pretty much destroyed.  I was struck by this place, though:

Yep, the house is completely gone, but they cleaned out the pool and filled it.  It looked tempting, I admit.  I guess if you’re out there trying to rebuild your house, a pool is kind of nice.  I bet that when this happened, they wouldn’t have imagined that they’d be swimming before they had a house again, though.

I turned around at Crosstown — it made for a total of 80 miles for the day.  I found, btw, that the oscillation is a lot less pronounced with 30 pounds than with 50.  Also, if you shift the weight as far to the back as possible, it’s even better.  Still, I was going slow.

On the way back, I passed this house that I’ve seen several times — a nice country house, with a gravel lane next to it going into a sort of … Olde West movie set?  Anyway, this time there was a woman out in the yard, so I stopped to ask about it.

The woman initially a bit suspicious, wound up telling me all about the place.  They (the Hadlers) built this as a playhouse for their grandkids; it’s decorated with some flotsam from Menfro, down the road a bit, which was damaged in the last big Mississippi flood.  Both of the Hadlers grew up in Menfro.  And, the river gauge over at the far left was salvaged from Point Rest, where Mrs. Hadler was born, and which was completely wiped out in the flood of 1943.

One thing I’ve noticed in just a couple of rides is that when you’re pulling a trailer, people talk to you.  People keep asking me where I’m headed — of course, it’s actually pretty prosaic, but I can tell them that I’m training for this insane trip next month.  When I was on my way to WalMart a guy in a pickup pulled up next to me at a stoplight and wanted to know where I got it, and how I liked it.  He wants one to take his gear when he goes camping.  And on the way back through Brazeau, I stopped at Hemman Winery, and the guy there wanted to know all about my trip to New Orleans, and also refilled my water bag and gave me crushed ice to put in it.

This is all part of training for the ride.  I have to train to a) pull a bunch of weight, b) go slow, c) talk to people, and d) stop and take pictures a lot.  I’m working on it.