Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mr. Earl, my buddy...

"There is, incidentally, no way to talk about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person." ~ Dan Greenberg

"In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this." ~ Terry Pratchett

Like the start of 2017, this year, 2018, has started out with the death of a great friend. Furry, yes. Frustrating, yes. Lovable, quite. My friend, yes. One that I love/d dearly and for whom I still cry. His name was/is Earl. His buddy, Scrappy, died last January/2017. They were/are my best friends. To humans, I can be a best friend, a good friend, a colleague, a jerk, a total asshole, and, for some, there is the wonder of what the fuck is that person doing in the human race. To Scrappy and Earl, I was the best thing since canned salmon.

How do animals become such an integral part of our lives? I don't have an answer, but I loved Earl completely. He never asked much of me...water, food, and a warm place to sleep. Oh, and no water on him, please! He hated to get wet. Not sure why people think they have to bathe a cat. They take good care of themselves and their cohort.

Last June, Eileen and I moved to Los Alamos, NM, which has been an adjustment in itself, and we brought Earl with us. I struggled with the decision to bring Earl to Los Alamos. He grew up in the neighborhood where we lived in Silver City and had some buddies...Missy Grey, Missy Black (sisters), and Scrappy. Scrappy was the boss cat. Although Scrappy had died and Earl was the new boss (same as the old boss), he and the other two cats were still together. Missy Grey and Missy Black were healthier than Earl and Scrappy...had all their teeth, good fur, good hunters, etc. I thought, selfishly perhaps, that Earl would have a difficult time adjusting without me there. When I rode my bicyle across country in 2010, Eileen told me that he constantly walked through the house looking for me. So, Earl came with us. I made arrangements with the neighbors to take care of Missy Grey and Missy Black. A little side note: last November, Eileen and I went to Silver City to see friends and to eat at 1zero6, a restaurant that our friend, Jake, owns. While there, I stopped by our house to make sure all was well. Missy Grey was by the back wall, near the wood fence between our house and the neighbor's. She meowed loud and mournfully for over 45 minutes. I was shocked. Finally, she came out and slowly came up to me to let me pet her and, finally, to pick her up. I regretted not taking her with us back in June/2017, but it didn't seem fair to take them out of that environment.

Well, the main plus for bringing Earl with us was that he was well cared for here and not out in the elements. I took him to the local veternarian and had many tests done to see what was causing his weight loss. It was the same thing that had happened to Scrappy. All the blood tests were normal, but Earl continued to lose weight. Finally, around Christmas, he was emaciated, but still eating, drinking, and pooping/peeing. I chose to not put him down since he didn't appear to be in great distress. Yes, he was getting weaker by the day, but not in great pain. With Scrappy, we took him to the veternarian and had him killed. Yes, I know, the vernacular is "putting him down", but the reality is that you're having someone kill him with chemicals. It was painful to experience and I was determined to do that to Earl only if he was in great pain or discomfort. He continued to eat, drink, and poop/pee until his last day, which was Friday, January 12, 2018. I had lunch with my friend, Neil, and, on returning home, found Earl sleeping on his rug. He stayed there throughout the afternoon and evening. Around 10pm, he meowed a couple of times, so I picked him up, wrapped in his rug, and held him in my lap with my arms wrapped, as lovingly as I could, around him. At 11pm, I realized that he was dead. His head flopped a bit too loosely, which let me know he had gone on.

These guys, as well as Missy Grey, were quite the team. They ruled the part of the neighborhood where we lived in Silver City, NM. They hung out and defended their turf from all comers, with scars to prove it. The birds, rabbits, mice, lizards, and other living critters, including grasshoppers, had to be on their guard at all times. Our neighbors loved the cats since they kept the mice population under control. My fondest wish is that Scappy has found Earl and that the two of them are once again hanging out with each other with great enjoyment.

Here are some photos to show y'all what Earl looked like, along with some of him and Scrappy, as well as Missy Grey, so you can see how affectionate they were with each other. And how, fortunately, they cared for me.

                                                    Earl sleeping in his favorite place...
                                                    A big yawn from the big guy...
                                          A big kitten at heart...
                                                    Scrappy sleeping in the sun...
Scrappy sleeping on the purr pad...

While these friends are not here with me any longer, they will always be my best friends and I will love them completely...and hope to see them somewhere down the road. Until then, here's a tune that I posted on Scrappy's post: Memories from Cats Thanks for choosing me to hang out with...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We Gotta Get Outta This Place...

I wrote this several months ago after watching the Vietnam War series on PBS. Rereading it now, I have nothing to change in it, so I hope this encourages you to watch the series and come to your own conclusions. For me, the lives lost far outweigh whatever the politics that were behind it. Watch the movie, "The Post", for another take on what was going on then. Publishing the Pentagon Papers was, and still is, a first amendment issue, but it revived the anti-war activities after the colleges/universities shut down to end the student protests that were occuring in 1970. There had been a serious uptick in protests after Kent State. Shutting the colleges/universities down resulted in the dispersion of the students, thus ending their ability to coalesce on their respective campuses to effect more protests. Thankfully, Daniel Ellsberg was just around the corner...waiting to step into history.

Another interesting note, I recently read an article in the NY Times written by a guy who  has been researching the whole issue around returning soldiers/marines from Vietnam being called "baby killers". He has been unable to substantiate, reliably, any instance of this happening. Now, some bonehead/s may have, but no one that I ever associated with or protested with ever did that. All those who fought in the Vietnam war returned to military bases not public airports, so I'm not sure where they would have encountered protestors. As I said, this is not in stone and may have occurred, but it did not occur with anyone that I knew.
__________________________________________________________

"I covered the Vietnam war. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost - and the shock when, twenty years later, former Defense Secretary, Robert S. McNamara, admitted he knew it was a mistake all along."~ Walter Cronkite

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."~ Howard Zinn

My mind is in a whir. I just finished watching the ten episodes (plus a 20 minute segment featuring a group of Iraq/Afghanistan vets and two Vietnam Vets, one of whom is highlighted in the Vietnam PBS Series) of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick Vietnam series.

Even now, after all these decades and after watching this series, I still am unable to pin down precisely what happened back then. I can only speak my own truth. This PBS program covered a considerable amount of material in a short period of time, about 18+ hours.  It did a reasonably good job of covering this era, yet, to me, much was left out. Yes, the Vietnam war was central to our lives then, particularly to those who served, and were serving, in Vietnam, and to their families, as well as to those of us who were most likely going to be the future fodder of that war...the poor, the middle class, and the college students....like me.

No, I did not go to war nor did I serve in the military. Nor did I come from a wealthy family. Straight up blue collar, lower middle class family. My Dad was a police officer with the Glens Falls Police Department, who, after 17 years as a cop, went to work driving a beer truck to make more money to support his family of a wife and six kids. Initially, I went to college because several friends had been killed in Vietnam and I did not want to die...there or anywhere else. In high school, my plan had been to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, as my older brother had done, and then, after service, join the NY State Police and be a police officer like my Dad. On being accepted at Adirondack Community College, I was provided a 2S draft deferment, then, in May of 1967, as a result of a motorcycle accident where I came close to losing my right leg, I was no longer draft eligible nor eligible to enlist. I would not have enlisted anyways.

One major element that was not included in this series was the craziness around the draft. While in college, my freshman year, I discovered that Adirondack Community College, where I was enrolled, was giving students' class standings (grades/GPA) to the draft board without our permission. Another student, Lance Weisser, and I started a petition requesting the college administration stop releasing that information without the student's permission. That information was ours, not theirs, to release or keep private, as we had the right to decide. The draft board based a college student's 2S deferment on the student's GPA. If a passing GPA was not maintained, the student would become draft eligible...1A. Even then, in small town America, things got told to others unbeknownst to us. The American Legion in Lance's hometown got word of what he and I were up to..our small protest...and went to Lance's home to speak to his parents about his un-American activities. Can you believe that? I was incredulous when Lance told me. It did not stop us from continuing and the college finally agreed to not release a student's GPA without the student's permission. Small success...

This craziness drove me mad and pissed me off. This aggravation contributed to my reading up on Southeast Asia and the history of war in that part of the world. In high school and in my first year of college, I supported the war and President Johnson. Had no reason not to because, like most Americans at that time, I was completely ignorant of what was going on and how/why the U.S. thought this was an important place to send American kids to die. As the Cronkite quote above states, there were so many lies and uncovering them was difficult, if not impossible, to do. After some research, I came to realize that what we were being told about why the U.S. should take a stand there was a lie.

One thing that particularly bothered me while watching this PBS series is the section on the protesters, particularly the ones who called the returning Vietnam veterans "baby killers" and other names. Those protesters got front page coverage because they were in big cities and were confronting the servicemen who were returning home. They were assholes, IMHO, and did not, and do not, represent those who protested the war that I was with and knew. NO ONE I knew ever said these things to anybody. Those people who were returning from Vietnam were our brothers, our fathers, our friends, our neighbors...people we loved and grew up with. Call them "baby killers"? I would beat the fucking shit out of anyone who said something like that to a Vietnam veteran, as would anyone of the others who I was with while protesting the war. My two brothers were in the U.S. Marine Corps. One of them, John, served in Vietnam. Call him a "baby killer"? Get the fuck out of my face before I do serious harm to you... I love my brother and would never stand for anyone treating him like that. This was a major omission from this series. There was no real presentation of who these soldiers were to those of us who were protestors. John and I, as well as other family members and friends, disagreed about the war, and we argued about it, but call him names? Deny his reality? Diminish their beliefs just because I had a difference of opinion? NO...we talked, we agreed, we disagreed, we tried to convince each other of the righteousness of our respective stance, but I loved those people who I knew were in Vietnam, doing what they thought they should do. All I wanted was for them to come home alive and as whole as possible. Unfortunately, many friends of mine, who served in Vietnam, came home in body bags and it broke my heart, then and to this very day. I cried at their funerals and I cried watching this series. I cried for those who came back physically whole, but psychologically broken. It has all come back to me, as I'm sure it has for all those who have watched it, veterans of the war or of the protests. I do not regret my protesting the Vietnam war nor do I regret not having served in the military in Vietnam, but I, and others who protested with me, would never denigrate a returning veteran from that war...or any war. Those who did should be ashamed of what they did and not hide behind the belief that they were just kids, too. We were protesting the war and the politicians who were supporting the war with their lies, not the people serving their country.

What I believe is good about this series is that it puts this topic back on the table for discussion, with our brothers, our sisters, our children, our friends, those who are still here to talk about their time in Vietnam. I know they can redo this series and add what I think was important, just as a million others think things should be added that reflects their truth. As with most of the media, small town America always lands on the cutting room floor when it comes to telling its story. Growing up in Glens Falls, whenever someone would ask me my name, I'd say, "Patrick Lyford". They would invariably ask, "Is Carl Lyford your father?". So, we knew each other, we knew who got drafted, who enlisted, who died, who got married, who was killed in Vietnam and their family. It was personal and very up close. No, we didn't fight in Vietnam, but we were scarred by it just the same. Certainly not like those who fought there and saw so much horror. No comparison, but we did suffer in our own way. The crazines around the draft, which I spoke of, was hard to deal with. No, no one was shooting at me/us, so, it's not the same, and I'm not trying to give it equal footing. Just trying to help people understand what I/we were thinking. I truly believed then, and now, that whatever I could do to help bring the Vietnam war to an end was worth it. If just one less person died there and one less family had to bear that burden, it was worth it.

I am sure that, even now, all of the truth about Vietnam has not been told nor will it ever be told. It is the defining moment for my generation. Like Kent State. But, does anyone reading this know about Jackson State in Mississippi and what happened there? More students killed, but they were black students, so they didn't merit the same media coverage like that provided when white students were killed. Black lives mattered then, too. Think its different now? Google college protests during the Vietnam war that resulted in deaths of students and try to find any mention of Jackson State. It is there, but it is not front and center like Kent State. Black lives still matter. Someone tell the sentient septic tank that is occupying the White House, please.

Time to end this and get it posted, so I will close with a John Denver song, Readjustment Blues
I think it represents the times fairly well. Unfortunately, times have remained the same over the past decades...now, it's the deserts in the Middle East. Do some research on the history of the Middle East and you will discover the hand of the greedy, racist, self-serving white people of the world thinking they have the perfect right to dominate this part of the world for the riches within. The brown people there? Well, fuck'em, as they like to say whenever they believe their righteousness outranks humanity. We know what to do with all that oil and the money that ensues, they don't. Let's see, in Vietnam, it was the infamous "Domino Theory"...just another excuse to take land, kill people, and make them see that "we're right" and "you're wrong". How cool is that, eh? It only cost 55,000 plus lives from the U.S. Oh, and, in case you might be interested, about 3.5 million Vietnamese people died. Just for the record, eh? Yes, I'm still pissed off...

For Buddy, Jimmy, Joe, John, and way too many others who died in Vietnam, wherever you are, God speed. For Clyde, Chico, Murph, Mike, Wayne, Smokey, Karen, Margee, Sheila, and all those other protestors, never stop standing up for humanity. There are lives in the balance who depend on it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT AN ATOMIC BOMB?

"When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb." ~ J. Robert Oppenheimer

An amazing quote by one of the major architects of the atomic bomb that leaves me speechless. It strikes me as incongruent to use the word "sweet" in any description of the creation of the atom bomb.

In what way is this related to this web posting? In lots of ways, actually. Since 2016, Eileen and I have talked about what we wanted to do next and how we could help Eileen's mom, Marilyn (she prefers the name Maril), who, like all of us, is aging and would benefit being closer to family that can be of help to her. So, we realized more than decided that, after looking at our options, moving back to Albuquerque would be the better choice. With that decision made, Eileen began seeing what jobs might be available in the Albuquerque area. Several opportunities came up, but, for various reasons, they weren't the right ones. We began to wonder if anything would open up that would serve our collective needs..hers, her mom's, and mine. I think both of us were ambivalent about leaving Silver City. We had many friends there and really enjoyed the small town life there. Considering what we wanted to do, moving was the decision that made sense.

Out of the blue, really, a job opportunity opened up in Los Alamos, NM. In a "Oh, what the hell" kind of moment, we talked about it and she applied not really thinking much would come of it. Well, something did come of it and we're now living in the Atomic City, as it's fondly known here in Los Alamos. Like "Big Apple" is used synonymously with NYC, "Atomic City" is the name used here. Streets have names referencing the bomb...we live off of Trinity Drive. The library where Eileen is now the manager is off of Oppenheimer Place. You get the picture...

While it's not Albuquerque, where we thought we'd end up, it is close to many things that we both wanted back in our lives and we are working on relocating Marilyn to Los Alamos. It's a small place like Silver City. About 12,000 people. Several good restaurants, a great brewpub, good cycling with lots of climbing, and proximity to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We're close to friends in Albuquerque and can get there in about 90 minutes vs. the 4hrs it took to drive there from Silver City. It's actually a better place to move Marilyn. The small size will make it easier for her to get around here. Albuquerque is a big city with lots of fast traffic and greater distances to go to get to things/places there. So, despite the planning that we made and talked about, the "out of the blue" factor won out once again.

Fortunately, as it turned out, by starting early with our talking and planning, I was able to get into our shed to sort through things we'd collected over 11 years. Eileen would disagree with the "we" part there since I'm the more avid "collector" in this relationship. It took me several months plus to go through things and to turn off my Dad in my head, who kept saying to me, "But, it's still good and you might need it." Not having used something in 11 years is a good enough reason to give it to someone else who would use it or to a community agency that could make money off the items in order to help those in need. We gave a lot to those agencies...so, hopefully, many have benefitted from our discarding very good items that still had lots of life left and that my Dad didn't roll over too many times in his grave. Growing up, my Dad saved everything...not OCD or anything like that...but, he had enough stuff that neighbors would come over and ask my Dad if he might have something that would work for them. He'd think for a moment, go down into the basement, rummage through his "stuff", and, most often, would come back up with something the neighbor could use. Amazing, really.

So, as of June 20, 2016, we are now residents of the Atomic City, Los Alamos, NM. It's really interesting..about 60% of the land here on top of the mesa, where Los Alamos is located, is owned by the Department of Energy. As I've driven and bicycled around this area, I've seen many signs..."All vehicles are subject to random searches"..."Aerial monitoring of DOE property"..."Danger: Explosives"..."Danger: Firing Range"..."This area is monitored by cameras". Gives me an erie feeling. At one time, there was a nuclear reactor located here. While the national labs still do research on weapons, atomic and otherwise, they also do non-military research. Most of the people we've met here work for the labs or are married to someone who works for the lab. Eileen is one of the ones who doesn't work for the lab. She is the manager of the Los Alamos County Library System that has two libraries..one in Los Alamos and one in White Rock (a suburb of Los Alamos, since housing is so scarce in Los Alamos due to the number of employees at the lab and the shortage of available land for houses, apartments, condos, etc.).
    One set of signs that dot the DOE roads...
    More signs along the roads on DOE land.

This is a significant change for us and for Eileen with her job, yet it feels good to be here and we're excited to see what "out of the blue" brings to us. Eileen is very excited about her new job and has been knee deep in learning what the system is and how it functions here. I'm sure she will bring some good things to the library system. Amazingly, 85% of the people in Los Alamos County use the libraries here. I find that to be an incredible statistic. Lots of smart people here, too. About 26% of the population here has a Ph.D. Not too shabby. My big complaint: internet and cell phone coverage is terrible. You'd think with the labs here there would be great internet and cell coverage, but no.

As I've gotten out on the roads with my bicycle, I've discovered that the roads here, like Silver City, are not flat and the elevation here is higher than it was in Silver City...7300' here vs. 6000' in Silver City. The climb to the ski area from our house, which is 6 miles away, goes from 7300' to 9400' and kicks my butt. Most of the climbing is in the last 3.5 miles, almost 2000' of it. I've been up there at least 3 times, so far. Another climb is on NM4 that heads to Jemez Springs and the Valle Caldera. It has about a mile more of climbing than the climb to the ski area and is equally as steep.
    Eileen at the Bandelier National Monument.
    The Pajarito Ski Area...9400'
    One, well, two, of the benefits of bicycling... :-))))
    Oh, and one more benefit...

One of the things that will be different for both of us here is...snow. About 55 inches of snow. That's the average annual snowfall in Los Alamos. Fortunately, the elevation, dry air, and the sunshine should make the winters more bearable, I hope. We've both lived in essentially snow free places for several decades. It could be a shock to our systems. Like making lemonade when handed lemons in life, however, we both will get back into skiing again. Looking forward to that.

So, time to close...and here's a tune from Glen Campbell, who died just a little while ago. He bravely faced his end time and his alzheimers disease in an incredible fashion. I've always liked his music. Here he is with many other famous country western singer/songwriters performing "Gentle On My Mind", written by John Hartford: https://youtu.be/ETkzK9pXMio  Not sure if people realize that he used to play with the Beachboys, including the famous "Pet Sounds" album, and, whenever Brian Wilson couldn't perform with them, Glen Campbell sang in his place. Hope y'all enjoy it...til next time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

FOR THE LOVE OF A CAT...

"What greater gift than the love of a cat?" ~ Charles Dickens

Scrappy is on the right; Earl is on the left
2017 has not started off on a good foot. In the photos, you can see me and two cats that live with us. I say "live with us" because, unlike dogs, cats are still a bit wild and certainly not beholden to no human being. These cats lived with our neighbor when Eileen and I moved in.
Me and Scrappy

Me, Scrappy, and Earl
A few years after we moved into our house here in Silver City, our neighbor moved and asked me if I would take over feeding the cats. I agreed, since they were outdoor cats, despite that Earl and Scrappy had discovered our couch. As you can see by these photos, we became close friends. Scrappy was the boss cat and dominated three other cats, one of which was Earl. Now, Earl is three times heavier than Scrappy and twice as big, but Scrappy was boss. No doubt about that...

Over the past year, Scrappy had begun to lose weight, which, never having had an animal live to old age before, I assumed was age related muscle loss and weight loss. These cats are at least 11 years old. Not much had changed until recently, when the muscle mass loss on Scrappy became much more pronounced. He was vomiting and not getting outside in time for a bowel movement. I took Scrappy to the vet on Martin Luther King day and he prescribed an antibiotic for what he thought was inflamed intestines. Well, a week went by and he wasn't improving. Yesterday, he was very weak, with unstable gait, and would not eat. I called the vet and made an appointment. I wanted to have a blood test done to see if anything was treatable or if we would have to "put him down"...a euphemism for killing him. Eileen and I spoke at lunch and she decided to come with me, so I wouldn't be alone. I love that woman. So, blood test showed that Scrappy's kidneys weren't functioning well, but the vet thought he probably had cancer since he looked worse than the blood test results would indicate. After a short discussion with the vet and Eileen, we decided to end Scrappy's life. So easy to say; so very hard to do.

When it was all said and done, we brought Scrappy's body home and Eileen and I dug a grave for him in our backyard, which was the turf he reigned over for over a decade. Seemed fitting. In the Spring, I will plant a tree over Scrappy's grave and put a little marker there for him. I realize that every pet owner thinks their pet is the best, like every parent thinks their kid is the best. To be honest, Scrappy was tender and tough with the other cats that he dominated. As you can see, however, he was very tender, too. That's why I love/d that guy so much. Scrappy had a presence about him and he made sure that anyone who sat on the couch in our living room got to know that presence.

I miss him terribly and I'm sure Earl does, too. He and Earl were buddies and Scrappy never missed an opportunity to get Earl to groom him. So, Eileen, me, and Earl are moving along, but we won't forget Scrappy.

Now, a tune to close out this post..Memory from CATS  We love you, Scrappy. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us, for choosing us to live with...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Updates on: Grand Bois tires, Cygolite Hotshot light, Cycliq Fly6 light/camera, and other odds & ends

"Donald Trump" ~ me

When thinking about a funny quote to use, I was unable to find anything funnier...or scarier...than Trump. I remember a joke that John Callahan did...it was a page in one of his books and all it had on the page was "Dan Quayle". Sort of the same thing...

Ok, now to the updates.
GRAND BOIS 700C X 28 CERF GREEN - 4.5 STARS

So far, so good. I've had one flat with these tires and it was the front tire. Go figure. The likelihood of that happening is the same as having an asshole like Trump leave you alone after you told him to. So, they are holding their own. They JUST fit on my Vitus frame with hardly any wiggle room left. Highly recommend these and the 700x26 size, too. If I hadn't gotten the flat, I'd have given these tires 5 stars.

CYGOLITE HOTSHOT 50 REAR LIGHT - 5 STARS

I have several of these that are 50 lumens and two that are 80 lumens (Hotshot Pro 80). And I like these lights. Last year, on my aborted cross country trip, these lights lasted quite a while, easily using them over 2 days or more, depending on how long they were on. I mostly use the flashing mode because it's more noticeable and it helps the battery last longer. One of the best parts of these lights is they're rechargeable with a USB set up. Highly recommend these. The 50 ad 80 lumens lights are identical in appearance.


CYCLIQ FLY6 TAILLIGHT/CAMERA - 5 STARS

I purchased one of these just after returning from my aborted cross country tour in 2015. Shortly after I got home, a friend and his wife were cycling up Rt. 15, which is a road leading from Silver City, NM, to Pinos Altos, NM, and is used heavily by local cyclists, and they were hit by a woman in her 80's who has macular degeneration and can't see. Why her family allowed her to drive...or her MD or Optomitrist...is beyond me. Brian Robinson is an orthopaedic surgeon in Silver City. He grew up here. His father, John Robinson, is a judge/attorney here in Silver City. After finishing medical school and residency at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, where I knew him during his residency, he returned to Silver City, to his hometown, to bring back to his community a level of medical care that was critically needed. Brian sustained a head injury and his wife sustain some broken bones. The woman who hit him didn't stop...yes, a hit and run...and was stopped by two motorcyclists after they realized she had run over two cyclists (Brian's bike was stuck under her car and she was dragging it along). Don't know what happened to her, legally, but this accident motivated me to purchase this rear light/camera combo. I ride alone most of the time, so I wanted my wife, Eileen, to at least have an idea of what happened should I be run over while cycling.

This light/camera is easy to operate and easy to set up on a PC in order to watch the video. It is compartmentalized in 10 minute segments and has audio feature, as well. The camera is set up in such a way that, should a rider be knocked over and the camera is past 30 degrees for more than a set short period of time, it automatically keeps the previous hour of film and will record for one more hour. My first light/camera stopped charging after about 9 months, so I contacted the company to see what could be done. Their customer service department had me try a few things first, but it became apparent that the battery was defective...it recharges by USB. So, they had me send it back and they sent a new one...and I didn't have to wait for them to get the defective unit before they sent out the new one. I like that.

The camera operates for about 6 hours. When the unit is turned on, the camera begins to film. The rear light can be set on flashing or steady, which is a nice feature. And the flash is adjustable, too. They have the Cycliq Fly12, too, which is a front light that operates in the same fashion as the Fly6, but lasts for about 10 hours. It is a 400 lumens light. I highly recommend these products, particularly if you ride alone or ride in a busy metropolitan area where you might need some video proof of wrongdoing by drivers. Check out the website: https://cycliq.com/products

I guess my brief rant about the Trump should fall under "odds & ends", eh? This Presidential race isn't about Democrat vs. Republican. It's about those who have and want, not just more, they want it all at the expense of the rest of us vs. those who still believe in making things good for all of us. Don't believe the lie that Democrats and Republicans are the same. They are not. Read a good article by Paul Krugman that says it better than I do: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/opinion/a-tale-of-two-parties.html?_r=0 If you care about each other and realize that no one gets out alive and that, yes, we are our sisters'/brothers' keepers, vote Democratic this year. It is critical. For those who supported Bernie, vote Democratic. You don't get to not vote just because you don't like the outcome. The South tried that when they said they didn't like the outcome of the 1860 Presidential election. If you believe in our form of government, then you take the good with the not so good or bad. It's how it works. So, Bernie supporters, vote Democratic.

Ok, time to get out of here before I say everything that's on my mind...a tune to exit...Linda Ronstadt doing one of my favorite songs, "Tracks of My Tears" .https://youtu.be/NHEH1Kld7p8 
She has such an incredible voice and I was lucky enough to see her perform live at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, with my nephew, John Busteed. He was a teenager and I told him it was time that he saw a beautiful woman, who had a beautiful voice, sing. What a knockout performance!! Still remember it. My nephew remembers it, too, but for different reasons that I won't go into here...but, if you know him, have him tell you the story about his Grandma and him watching Johnny Carson after I went to bed....! Too DAMN funny. Well, to me, it was.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Warmshowers Guests: Ville Saarinen from Helsinki; Jan Peter Simmones from Norway

"In Finland, the term "boyfriend or girlfriend" isn't used. People there refer to their romantic partner as "milk visit", which means "one I don't hate as much as the others". (That one's for you, Ville!)

I'm not sure what it means but I had a very hard time finding funny quotes about people from Norway, thus no quote about Norway. Seems like they like frozen pizza, a lot. Gas prices are very high there, despite being a country that has oodles of oil. Getting a driver's license there costs LOTS of money. If a person loses their license for drunk driving (one year...automatically), they have to pay something like 5-7 thousand dollars to get a new one. Food prices are so high that they cross the border to Sweden to buy food that costs less. You'd think that with all of these oddities, there'd be some humor, but not the case. So, Jan, sorry about that.

To start, here are a few photos of Ville and Jan:
    Jan and my wife, Eileen...
    Once again, Jan and my wife, Eileen...
    Jan eating breakfast before heading out to ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
    Jan's bike...loaded for the trip north.
    Ville with his bike, also headed north on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
    Ville's bike...ready to go.
    Ville at the start of the Gila National Forest...

Ville and Jan were our first Warmshower's guests from that part of the world. Both spent one night with us. In terms of gear, Ville had the least amount by far. Jan, no pun intended, was loaded for bear. I had not seen or met up with a Great Divide rider who used panniers. Usually, the bikes are set up like Ville's or they have used a Bob trailer.

These two were great guests, quite social, good sense of humor, and made fun of where they were from. Eileen and I enjoyed having them spend time with us. We both look forward to the time when we can bicycle around Europe and meet up with some of the incredibly friendly and very social cyclists who have stayed with us over the past years.

Ville is riding a shorter trip, but is doing the entire Great Divide route, while Jan has been touring for almost 3 years now, with probably another 2-3 years to go. Jan is a teacher in Norway, while Ville is a student in Finland. He lives in Helsinki. Ville was a bit anxious about bears, so I gave him a can of bear spray, which he later told me punctured and ended up spraying himself with the bear spray. That must not have been fun since I've used it on dogs and have accidentally gotten hit with some of the spray. Very strong stuff and it works extremely well to keep dogs away. Ville will look for some more spray to buy on his route north. When Jan gets to Banff, Canada, he will continue north to Alaska, then return to the Seattle area where he has relatives who he'll visit for a spell.

Since it's been a while since I've posted on my website, the weather has warmed considerably since Ville and Jan were here. So, until at least September, there most likely will be no touring cyclists doing the Southern Tier route or the Great Divide route. So, until then, we'll enjoy our summer weather, hope for no or minimal forest fires, and enjoy a few beers.

To exit this post, a tune for the guys from the cold part of the world...Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker doing Gary's song, "London Homesick Blues"...https://youtu.be/g4Ppc3jz3GE Hope y'all enjoy the song and that it reminds you of the Southwest where most of the people are all hat and no cowboy. Happy trails!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Andrew Norman Read, English Touring Cyclist From The Netherlands...

"The British are not a very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." ~ George Bernard Shaw

Over the past month, numerous cyclists have contacted me via Warmshowers (https://www.warmshowers.org/) asking about staying for a night or two. Most, we've been able to say yes to; others, we haven't been able to due to our schedules or because cyclists have contacted us too late and not given us enough time. Andrew is one who we were able to host for a night. He followed on the heels, er, wheels of Jen and Simon (see previous post), who, like Andrew, are English. Andrew now lives in The Netherlands. He's a semi-professional musician and, to support himself in thin times, he has done lots of different kinds of jobs over his lifetime of travels.

A few photos:
    Eileen and Andrew at the counter in our kitchen...

    Andrew prepared to head out for Safford, AZ...

A few years ago, Andrew's father died and left him a bit of inheritance that he's been using to travel by bicycle. When his father was ill, Andrew moved in with his Dad and took care of him until he died. He purchased a custom built Koga touring bicycle with some of the inheritance. It has a Rohloff hub (http://www.rohloff.de/en/products/speedhub/) that has 14 gears and is virtually indestructible, incredibly reliable, and needs very minimal maintenance...essentially, change the oil every 3,000 miles or so. Expensive up front, but very cost effective in the long run. 

Andrew had contacted me before getting to El Paso, TX, so we had time to check our schedules and arrange for him to stay one night despite having just hosted Jen and Simon for two nights. They left on a Monday and Andrew showed up on Wednesday, so it was a quick turn around. Not knowing how he'd do with the climb over Emory Pass, about 3pm, I headed out to check on Andrew's progress. I found him in San Lorenzo, just as he finished coming down the West side of the Black Range. It was around 4pm and I offered to haul him, his bike, and gear to our house to save him the rest of the ride, most of which is just ok. He'd already see the best part of the day's ride coming over Emory Pass. He hesitated momentarily, admitted he was tired, realized it was late and that he wouldn't get to our house until around 7pm, and said ok to the ride by car. No harm or shame. Sometimes, taking a ride in a motor vehicle is just the right thing to do. We unpacked his bike and got it and his gear in the car and off we headed to Silver City. Andrew is a pretty friendly cyclist, actively interacts with people, and had lots of questions about the area and the people. We also chatted about USA politicians, briefly. Seems like the whole world finds it absolutely hilarious, scary, and astounding that someone like a Trump or a Cruz would actually be considered for President by any sane group of humans. As I explained to him, money talks. And, yes, there are enough ignorant people in the USA to support these jackasses.

After getting to the house, we drank a beer or three, then Andrew got cleaned up and, after Eileen got home, we sat down for dinner. Pretty good conversations ensued and around 9pm, Andrew's day of riding and a few beers caught up with him and he headed to bed. Before we knew it, morning was here and Andrew was getting ready to head out. Before leaving, Andrew needed to get a few items (food, etc.) for his trip. We headed to Albertsons, where he picked up the goods he wanted and got back to the house, so he could finish packing and get on the road to Safford, AZ.

We enjoyed Andrew's visit with us and wish him well down the road. His plan is to ride around the USA. He's headed to San Diego, CA, then north to Washington, then East to the Atlantic, then South to San Augustine, FL, where he started his trip. I'm envious. It sounds like a great tour. 

A few more photos:
    Putting the Ortlieb panniers on the Koga...

    A photo of the Koga...

    The world famous Rohloff hub...

    Another good idea...a kickstand front and rear from Koga...

A few short video clips of Andrew getting ready to leave for Safford, AZ:

So, a tune to close with. Andrew spent a few years in Ireland, mostly Galway, I believe, playing Irish music on the street with a couple of other musicians. In recognition of that, here's a tune from Randal Bays, another non-Irishman who plays some damn fine Irish music.  This is Randal with Dave Marshall playing some Irish reels...don't know the names, but enjoy them anyways! http://youtu.be/dkZRztjdB6w And one more with Randal playing guitar...with someone that I don't know nor do I know what the tune is, but WTF, enjoy it...http://youtu.be/r9Y655mjACE. Happy Trails, Andrew!!!