The Ride (waiting 2 years for this)

I’m supposed to be in another town teaching for two days. When we canceled this course a year ago, we thought it would be safe after a year. No dice. In-person and hands-on training is not in the cards again. Too many metaphors for that paragraph, though all about gambling.

I request vacation time a year in advance. When the days come up and I have no plans, there is no sense in giving them back. Two days without plans, followed by a day on the bike. I could get to like this. When the word “septuagenarian” not only enters your vocabulary but starts to impinge on your reality, it’s time to think about how to spend a life without going to work every day. As the folksinger Charlie King reminded us “Our life is more than our work and our work is more than our job.”

I was going to do this ride two years ago but it was canceled due to thunderstorms. Last year was canceled due to the pandemic. The ride is a benefit for the Carbone Cancer Center. By the way, you can still donate at https://runsignup.com/half-fast

I’m starting this post before the ride and I have to add one COVID-19 related piece. My employer has now mandated the vaccine. We have until October 1 to get the first shot or be “placed on unpaid leave and terminated by October 11.” There are both medical and religious waivers. The medical waiver is very specific and must be signed by your health care provider. The link to the religious waiver is restricted – as an employee I can’t see it. Maybe my boss can. [Update: I can now see the religious waiver and it just asks me to attest to a religious, moral, or ethical anti-vax stance. – nothing like the Arkansas hospital below.] Most of us were vaccinated in December and January 2020-21. There are a few holdouts. A hospital system in Arkansas is allowing religious exemptions on the assumption that people are objecting to the use of a 40+ year old fetal cell line in the research and development. The CEO of the hospital chain, Matt Troup, had this to say:

“‘(W)e provided a religious attestation form for those individuals requesting a religious exemption,’ The form lists 30 medications and asks employees to ‘truthfully acknowledge and affirm that my sincerely held religious belief is consistent and true and I do not use or will [not] use any of the medications listed as examples or any other medication … that has used fetal cell lines in their development and/or testing.‘” (From Becker’s Hospital Review, Kelly Gooch, 9/16/2021)

The list includes Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, ibuprofen, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, albuterol, Preparation H, MMR vaccine, Claritin, Zoloft, Prilosec OTC, and azithromycin.” (from Ars Tecnica, Beth Mole, 9/16/2021)

So if you are objecting to the vaccine on religious grounds due to your anti-choice stance, stop taking anything in the list above; and be sure to check the full list for the other 11 medications you shouldn’t be taking. And if you are truly religious you will (of course, this goes without saying) check to see that there are no other substances you use which benefit from research involving that fetal cell line, as it sounds like that list of 30 is incomplete.

If you object to vaccines on principle, be sure to NOT get a tetanus shot if you step on a rusty nail. If bitten by a rabid animal, avoid the rabies vaccine on both grounds. A Darwin Award could be in your future!

Big Ring Ride

Wednesday night’s warm up for the century was a fairly easy ride. Part way through I realized I had not yet used the small chainring, so decided to make it a big ring ride and stay on that ring the whole way, just for the hell of it. Saturday was going to be a short ride just to stay loose. Minutes after I changed back into regular clothes, I got a call for an emergency errand so I changed again and did a second ride of the same length. So 30 miles;”just to stay loose”.

The Ride

Sunday dawned chilly so required tights and a jacket for the first couple of hours, then shorts and a short-sleeved jersey for the rest. The wind was supposed to pick up around noon, by which time it would be a tailwind. Right.

We headed into the sunrise, so it was bright until the sun got higher. There was a mass start, complete with a countdown by the MC over a PA and the option to download a tracking app so folks could know where you were at all times. I considered tearing the sensor out of my ride number. All a bit much for me. There were mile markers every mile for the first ten and again at the end – they were from the 25K route, so mile 101 was announced as “Mile 16”. Cruel. All distances were generous (since 25K is 15.5 miles.) The forecast was for early sun, then clouds. The temperature hit 80 (27 C), the clouds didn’t come until well after we finished, and the wind was a factor by 9:30 – by “factor”, I mean “not a tailwind”. The canopies at the rest stops were blowing over, trash receptacles blowing away, the signs (despite being weighted) were falling down, flags were snapping (and shredding) in the “breeze”; and that’s not to mention the effect on the riders. As usual, a great day for a ride; just a bit harder than last week (and despite being only two miles longer, it took a half hour longer).

Religious diversity in Rockdale – two Lutheran churches within shouting distance

Thanks to all the donors for the ride! Shouts out to Mark (California Alps Cycling), Tim, Candice, Celeste, Patti, Vikki, John (A Midnight Rider), KR, all anonymous donors, and anyone I forgot, missed, or couldn’t identify. Thanks to blogging friends I have met only online. Thanks to 50th reunion classmates who are partying while I am riding (stay safe and have an extra beer for me).

The last miles contained tributes to people with cancer. RIP Jerry, Carol, Geoph, Kate, Lloyd, Mary and the rest of you. This ride is to stop that list from growing.
High clouds appeared around 3 PM.

Woolly Bears

Around here, the woolly bear caterpillar is said to predict the winter weather. This caterpillar is generally brown in the middle and black on the ends. More black is said to mean a harsher winter. I saw four on the ride – two with narrow black bands and two that were all brown with no black on the ends. That is supposed to mean a mild winter. I had to look this up, because I thought it was the other way around. One source said a small study confirmed the folklore. Another said the relative sizes of the color bands actually shows what last winter was like. A third source claims no correlation. We’ll see.

Happy Trails

 

It’s the end of the trail. Time to say goodbye to folks I’ve been riding and living with for the past nine weeks.

It rained Friday night, but we woke up no wetter than the usual from dew and/or fog.

We had a great breakfast in the University of New Hampshire cafeteria after a great dinner there last night. They have a stirfry station, where you can choose your own vegetables and they cook them fresh for you. I ate tofu for the first time in nine weeks.

We had a slow roll through Exeter, New Hampshire, home of Phillips Exeter Academy. When I was in junior high school I was a finalist in a scholarship competition for newspaper carriers and was invited to apply for a full ride scholarship to Exeter. I didn’t get it.

I occasionally wonder (but only briefly) how my life would be different had I been a boarding school kid. Would I have been hobnobbing with W or would I have been shunned as one of the diversity program kids, poor (but still lily white) midwestern boys?

We rode through beautiful rural New England roads and small towns. Crossing the border into Massachusetts was very low-key, with a tiny sign (smaller than the usual street identification sign) informing us in simple black-on-white that we were on the state line.

There are lots of cyclists out this morning. Either we are on a very popular bicycling route or there are  just a lot of Massachusetts people that ride bikes on Saturday mornings.

We also passed within a few miles of Seabrook, New Hampshire, Ground Zero of the US anti-nuclear movement in the 1980s. The Seabrook demonstrations catapulted the group Bright Morning Star to fame. Bright Morning Star included the folksinger Charlie King, who said, “America truly is a melting pot. The scum rises to the top and those on the bottom get burned.”

I had to stop and add air to my tire four miles before the finish. Before our ceremonial trip to the ocean, I had to change it. Flat #11.

As we came into town we were met by a flag-waving cheering section. I stopped at a lemonade stand and told the kids I had ridden from Seattle for this lemonade. They didn’t believe me until I showed them my jersey.

The rain held off all day; a few sprinkles mixed with sunshine. Once we arrived in camp, a downpour came. We made our way to the shore in light rain. We have a harbor cruise scheduled this evening. We’ll see how that goes.

We made our way down to the shore with a police escort. The local waterfront festival was going on, so we had an audience (and a funk band).We performed the ceremonial dipping of the front tires. Two people dove in for a swim. I mixed the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean waters.

I expect I’ll have more to say after this sinks in.