Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stuck the landing…finally

Back in March I set goal, a goal I came tantalizingly close to during both June and July only to watch it slip through my fingers like quicksilver. Failure almost reared its head again in August, but I knuckled down and last night, somewhere across from Terminal B at National on the Potomac Trail, the trip odometer on my handlebars rolled to 25.00 miles.

Doesn’t seem like much, but the 25th mile of the ride was my 200th in August (ftr – the ride ended up being 27.25 miles). When I set the goal, I had no idea how hard 200 miles in a month would be. Actually, looking at my ride-tracking app stats, there was a period between mid-June and mid-August where I’d done 400 miles in 60 days, but it wasn’t quite the same.

It was like the Tiger-slam of goal fulfillment.

But August was different…and a bit the same. I kicked ass the first half of the month riding a total of 136 miles on the 4th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 16th. Then I took a week off because of weather, alcohol and just not giving a shit and had to get 64 miles in during the last eight days. For some 64 miles isn't a big deal. For me it's three medium rides or two long rides. Or one really, long ride and a couple of laps around Haynes Point.

I did it, but let me tell you it as a Herculean task making myself hit the road last night. Once I got out there I was fine, it was the gettin’ that was tough. You wouldn’t think it’s hard to ride eight times in 31 days, but it is. I think my biggest stumbling block is that I most often ride alone. Most of the people I know who ride, ride a lot faster and longer than I do. When I ride with them it kicks my ass and I don't have fun. When I ride along I ride at my own pace (about 16-17 mph), but I get bored after about 90 minutes.

I don’t know if – OK, who am I kidding – I’m pretty sure I won’t be hitting the 200-mile barrier in September. What I think I’d like to do is get to 1,500 for the year (I’m at 973 right now), which I think is pretty doable averaging about 150 miles a month till the end of the year.

Who knows, now that it’s cooled down a bit, might be able to go even longer. Yeah, no.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Follow in my wake…

As I went to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning (about 1:30 a.m.) the rain from Irene was still coming down. Despite my concerns about losing power, it was my house’s Achilles heel – no power, no power to the sump pumps in my basement – there was one thought rolling through my head.

“Is this all there is?”

I’ve been through a hurricane or two (or 13). The names of some of the storms are familiar to anyone living in hurricane territory: Hugo, Fran, Floyd, Katrina and Rita. These are the big ones. Storms that made the news for days – or weeks or months or years – on end.

Anyway, in my experience Irene was a little storm. According to the news, the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in three years. Probably why the news went way nutso as it arrived. Could also be because Irene aimed herself at the most densely populated part of the country – more than 50 million people live in Irene’s path. And, except for the folks in North Carolina – go Tar Heels! (sorry, had to) – none of them have any idea what the hell to do when a hurricane comes knockin’.

The only experience they have with hurricane’s is what they’ve seen on the news, and that news always focuses on the destruction of the historic storms: Hugo, Andrew, Gloria, Ivan, Katrina. Sadly, they never seem to mention Rita, one of the five most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S.

So a little overreaction is expected. In fact, in my opinion, it’s not a bad thing. Better safe than sorry when there’s a sixth of the country’s population in the path of a tropical cyclone, I say.

Yeah, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Weather Channel, the WaPo and all the local channels went way over the top, but let me tell you the one thing that’s really annoying me and the whole point of this post.

I was reading through the reader comments on the WaPo and, it seems, the whole situation is the President’s fault. Be it the overreaction (true) or the lack of preparedness (false, never seen a storm better prepared for) or how it’s going to be used for political gain (like this has never happened) or how it caused an increase in the July jobless rate (what the fuck?).

How is it that we’ve become so divided as a country? I’m really tired of this crap. Democrats demonizing Republicans and Tea Partiers; Tea Partiers and the GOP blaming all the ills facing us today on the Democrats and the president. The problems we face today are a direct result of the base animosity among us.

I know this isn’t a blinding revelation.

One thing I learned from all the hurricanes I’ve lived through and covered (especially in Texas after Rita): Once the storm’s passed it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what ticket you punch on election day, if you don’t work together it takes 10 times longer to clean up, rebuild and get back to the business of life.

We’re facing serious problems here in the United States today and if we don’t work together it’ll be a miracle to find the light at the end of the tunnel. People need to shut their mouths, roll up their sleeves and reach out a hand to their neighbor. Calling someone in another political party stupid or un-American or a traitor is exactly that – stupid and un-American.

I don’t know how we can sway people to this point of view, I think the hatred is too deep-seated. But I think if those of us of good intentions try, we can maybe drown out the chatter.

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it” – P.J. O’Rourke.

Note: I started this blog back in the closing days of the last presidential election – relatively speaking – and there was lots and lots to write about. I’ve been remiss of late and not posted anywhere near as much as I want. More times than I can count in the last couple of months I’ve said, “That’ll make a great post,” and done nothing about it. Hell, it took a hurricane for me to write something. I’m thinking that with the election getting into full swing – god help up, the election is 14 months away – I won’t be lacking in subject matter.