Back in the saddle again

Tonight was my first Wednesday night ride since the tour ended. My bike arrived back from Massachusetts last week and I cleaned and rebuilt it Monday (except for the new chain, which I installed Tuesday).

After riding my city bikes, it felt great to be back on this bike again. Ten miles into the ride I felt my rear tire losing pressure. A prior patch had failed. A woman walking her dog to the mailbox offered assistance. After 4400 miles and double digit punctures, this felt pretty routine. I changed the tube and went on my way.

Thirty two miles felt like a warm up. I think I’ll be able to handle a century in a week and a half. The post-ride pizza felt like a snack. I think I’ll need to adjust my eating to keep from regaining the weight I lost. While riding your bike 80 miles/day for 9 weeks seems like a pretty effective weight loss program, I doubt it will catch on.


My basement windows are sandbagged. The river is out of its banks and we are currently ½ block outside of the high risk area for flooding. I live on an isthmus between two lakes separated by a lock and dam. They are releasing water from the dam today so the river should rise again. I live on 100 year old landfill. What was once a meandering creek through marshland is now a straight cut from lake to lake. It is dry today so we’ll see what happens.


You may have noticed that old people tend to reminisce. Truth be told, that doesn’t seem to be limited to old people.

Since I am officially old (Emery, you didn’t see that here), allow me to reminisce.

I was thinking about war the other day, which reminded me of my old friend Francis Hole. He was an agronomist (soil scientist in plain English) and always signed his name “Francis Hole, TNS”, which stood for “temporarily not soil”. Alas, Professor Hole is now PS (“permanently soil”). Aside: It is due to Professor Hole that Wisconsin has a State Soil (Antigo Silt Loam, if you wanted to know).

He was also my draft counselor. Professor Hole was a Conscientious Objector during WW II. I was a CO during the Vietnam War (the American War to the folks whose country we invaded).

from the Francis Hole Memorial webpage

Dr. Hole taught me about the process of applying for CO status and we also talked about our views toward war. He let me know that CO status was very hard to get without the backing of a church. Personal morals didn’t carry much weight with the US government. Dr. Hole was a Quaker, one of few religions with a firm anti-war stance. He asked about my church.

Having the backing of a church seemed like a Catch-22. Since many (if not most) wars arise from religious conflicts (especially if said religion has an imperialistic bent), since the dominant religion in the US is Christianity, and since Christianity is among the more imperialistic religions (imperialism and evangelism seem pretty closely linked, both historically and philosophically), it seemed pretty hard to convince the government that I was firmly opposed to war and a Christian (remember the Crusades?).

Dr Hole sent me to the minister of the church in which I was raised, and of which I was a member (that’s another story). The minister asked me what I knew of the church’s position. Not much, I said. He asked me about my convictions. About that, I knew more.

After we talked for awhile, he let me know that our church (Congregational, now part of the United Church of Christ), taught that each member has a personal relationship with God; that he as a minister was not a go-between, and that he as a minister could not tell me what to believe. (Another aside: you may have noticed that religions, and other belief systems, tend to fragment over time. New sects arise and folks bicker over smaller and smaller differences. UCC is unusual, in that it arose from sects actually joining together.)

He followed that by telling me that he would testify on my behalf before the draft board. My lottery number was high enough that that never came to pass.


Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

8 thoughts on “Back in the saddle again”

  1. I guess you just didn’t get enough rain while you were out riding. Now you have to deal with it here. I hope the rains coming this weekend don’t cause any flooding for you. Take care!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Happily surprised to read about Prof. Hole and you being CO’s! (Just occurred to me that CO also means commanding officer.) Anyway, interesting post and a courageous stand. May the waters not rise above your nostrils and you remain TNS for many more suns and moons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What tips for rain riding do you have, S.? I want to do a job that requires showing up dry and presentable. My poncho and rain pants plus shoe covers don’t really cut it. There’s sweat to deal with too if too much protection. Any pointers are welcome.


    1. If it’s hot & rainy I wear bike clothes and sandals, carry my work clothes, and dry off and change when I get there. If it’s a little cooler I wear a rain jacket. Cooler yet and I add rain pants and maybe closed shoes.

      If it’s cold I wear rain gear over work clothes and add shoe covers. (You could wear a wool jersey and tights if you’re concerned about sweating up your work clothes even in cold weather.) I use Gore-Tex (or similar) jacket and pants, and a jacket with vents I can open. My work shoes always stay at work.

      I carry stuff in a pannier (not a backpack – too hot). I roll my clothes and put them in a 3 gallon Hefty bag that zips shut and I can squeeze out excess air.

      Most important is that my commuting bike has fenders. The rear keeps you from getting a muddy stripe up your back (and makes anyone behind you happier) and the front keeps your feet and legs drier.

      I hope that helps. Remember, any day is a great day for a bike ride.


      1. All good ideas if you are going to a workplace. I’m not. The main issue (aside from money to buy better rain gear panniers, etc) is that it is not a workplace I’m going to, it’s houses. There may not be any place to change.


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