Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day, a turning point in the French Revolution of 1789. If you’re in Madison, WI, it also marks Le Fete de Marquette, which is already in progress.

Some days I forget this is a bike blog and not a music blog, but Bastille Day calls for some French music. Here is Jacques Brel, in a performance that inspired my son to sing this with the the UW Black Music Ensemble, under the direction of the incomparable Richard Davis.

More specific to Bastille Day, from the play Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, a medley by Judy Collins, which was my introduction to the work.

On a more personal level, it is my 25th wedding anniversary. More of you know my anniversary as September 11, but I got married twice (in the same year, to the same person – it’s a long story that has to do with the US healthcare system [if you can call it a system, but that’s a topic for another blog]).

As I mentioned on her birthday, our first date was to see Los Lobos at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. I was impressed by how urbane she was when she said we should take a cab home, not something a small-town boy like me did very often. I was impressed again when she put two fingers in her mouth and let out an ear-splitting whistle to hail a cab. It worked.

La Fete de Marquette inexplicably features Los Lobos this year, so I have another excuse to link to them:

At our wedding, my friend Keith sang my favorite wedding song, by one of my favorite singer/songwriters (along with Keith himself), Kate Wolf.

And today my niece is getting married, so this song is for Abby and Dustin, too. Mazel Tov! Since I’m about 500 miles short and in an earlier time zone, I probably won’t make it to the wedding. Maybe they can Facetime me so I can be there.

I forgot I had this post cued up, so today’s ride notes are separate. Due to the weaknesses of the phone version of this software, I can’t seem to combine the two posts – and connection problems make me fear I’d lose it all trying. So you will see two posts today. The other one coming in 5 minutes.

4th of July

Notice how this is the only holiday we refer to specifically by its date? Why is that? 5 de Mayo is also referred to that way, but not in English.

So here I am, in the great and sprawling west. 4th of July out here makes me think of US history, westward expansion, and manifest destiny. If you have 10 minutes to spare (9:15 to be exact), here is a better history lesson than I had in school – more accurate and more entertaining to boot. “Temporarily Humboldt County” by the Firesign Theater. Listen to it. I’ll wait.

 

Some years ago I spent the 4th at the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. I took some great pictures but, due to software incompatibility, I may not see them again. (Don’t ya like how we were sold the idea of digital photography so we could keep our pictures forever with no need for restoration? I have 100 year old photos of my house but can’t recover 12 year old digital photos.

The memorial was begun in 1948. There is no estimated completion date. It is all privately funded. For comparison, Mount Rushmore took 14 years to carve and Crazy Horse’s face is 50% larger than the Mt Rushmore faces.

from crazyhorsememorial.org
from Atlas Obscura – model of finished sculpture (foreground), actual sculpture (background)

On the porch of our lodge in Deadwood, the evening of July 3, 2006, my son improvised a mournful viola solo which became the basis for the adagio movement of his “String Trio in G”. He completed the movement for a summer composition project. It was dedicated to one of his academic mentors, Ted Widerski, who died while we were on that trip. That project moved him to alter his career plan from composition to orchestral conducting. Next month I’ll have a link to a live performance of his orchestra, so you can see where that led. If you can’t wait that long, here is a performance from a few years ago of Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915”.

Aside to the conductor: Did you know you were born on the anniversary of Samuel Barber’s death?

In July of 1976 (the US Bicentennial) I rode the Sparta to Elroy bike trail. I saw a sight that seemed to embody the spirit of the US to me. There, in the trail, side-by-side, were two vending machines – one for Coke and one for Pepsi. I took a picture that was to be the start of a photo essay called “Freedom is…”. I never completed the project because satire became superfluous the day I saw a two page centerspread ad in the daily paper. There were red, white, and blue bunting across the top of the page, stars sprinkled (liberally?) about, and the giant header “The Great American Buycentennial“. I don’t remember what they were selling. For those who were around in 1976 you likely remember the grotesque attempts to cash in.

I’ll leave you with one last bit of Americana. While I may have quibbles with the tempo, who am I to question the New York Philharmonic?

They don’t call it Wind River for nothin’

We spent the day crossing and recording the Wind River, riding through its valley. Here is my friend Keith’s song “Wind River Crossing”

We rode out of Dubois with the same 25 mph tailwind with which we entered. At our first water stop the wind shifted and we spent the middle half of the ride pushing through a strong headwind.

We entered Riverton to darkening skies and increasing winds. It is blowing about 40 mph now. Pitching tents has been fun. The sun is out but the wind shows no sign of abating.

This was supposed to be a recovery ride between yesterday’s 17 mile climb and Thursday’s steep climb to over 9600 feet and 94 total miles. We were supposed to be riding downhill with a tailwind. C’est la vie.

Early on we rode through beautiful red rock canyons.

We spent a few hours riding toward an isolated butte. I kept wondering when I should stop for a picture. Shortly after I did so, I came upon a historical marker.

The butte is Crowheart Butte, so called because, after defeating the Crow in a battle for the surrounding land, the Shoshone chief is said to have displayed the heart of one of the Crow warriors on the point of his lance. The town of Crowheart is nearby.

For an alternative view of this ride, see Terrysspokereport.blogspot.com. While we are all on the same route, we each have our own ride.

It’s Not Too Late!

It’s not too late to join me on this epic journey. We’ll be leaving Everett, Washington on Father’s Day, June 17. Splashdown on Cape Ann, Massachusetts is Saturday, August 18. In between the route is split into 9 segments. You can join me for one or allroute

For those of you from my neck of the woods, take a look at segment 6. WI itinerary

segment6

At the very least, maybe you could join us from Baraboo to Beaver Dam on Thursday, July 26. That’s almost Wednesday Night. A couple hundred extra riders would make quite a splash (and maybe get me kicked out early, who knows?)

If you can’t join us on the ride, and you’re on the west coast, join my friend Keith Greeninger some time this summer. He’ll be at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on Father’s Day (the day we start to ride) and in Oregon and Washington in May. I’ve been looking for a way to work him into this, so I could link to a song he wrote several years ago but stays current.

For those who never worked in construction, most major cities have a spot somewhere (in this song it is K-Mart and Home Depot, in San Francisco it was Goodman Lumber in my day) where day workers (“casual labor” in a strange use of the language) gather in hopes that a contractor will come by in a truck and offer them work for a day.

This song is about a contractor looking for workers to build a wall, a border wall that gets higher in each retelling. He’s willing to hire undocumented workers.

Some of the half-fast cyclists are currently touring Catalunya (part of Spain to some, but not to the Catalunyans). One sent pictures of the climb of Rocacorba:

IMG_3477IMG_3482IMG_3490IMG_3487

Photos by Tim Morton

As you can see, it is 13.8 km of climbing, gradients of ~10% (7-15% by report, though it looks from the sign at the summit as though the overall average is 6.5%). If you saw the whole series of photos (starting at km 5) the smile becomes more of a grimace as they got higher, though the smile comes back at the summit. I’ll have to remember that trick when I cross the continental divide – stop for pictures rather than rest breaks;)