Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuesday Levee Ride With The Far-flung

The possibility of violent weather was forecast for much of the southeast, including Louisiana, on Tuesday. When I went to bed Monday night I didn't think there was much chance of riding in the morning, but a check of the weather online upon wakening showed all the heavy rain to the north and east. KMSY was reporting some light rain overnight, but only fog and mist at 5 a.m., with a slight wind out of the NW. It looked like the levee would be damp, maybe even wet, and while such conditions might in ordinary circumstances drive me back to the comfort of my bed, a couple of emails hit my inbox at about that moment which were difficult to comprehend, containing somewhat cryptic references to the work of an overrated folksinger from more than 45 years ago, but seemed to indicate that at least Big Rich and a far-flung cyclist, visiting from Salt Lake City, would be riding.

At the Turnaround Without the Far-flung
 So after meeting Rich and the Far-flung in the Pearl, we treated the visiting cyclist to the unique and often harrowing experience of riding out to Jefferson Playground along the crumbling edge of River Road in that pre-dawn half-light which makes obstacles in the road difficult to perceive both for cyclists and for motorists hurrying off to work or home from a long night of partying. We survived the trek to the start, where we met Max, Woody, Big Scott, and Brian B (not MD). We started rolling in a barely perceptible mist and Brian announced he had just installed two new tires and wasn't going to risk a flat if the levee got wet. He turned early. Woody, presumably protecting his shoulder, sat off the back with Scott, and they turned early as well.

Near the Little Dip, the Far-flung began politicking for an early turn. Nobody was interested. Just west of the Big Dip I called back to Rich to tell the Far-flung to hang until the turnaround because I wanted  photographic evidence, for Vega and posterity, of his actually being at the benches, a location he hasn't seen for years, much longer than he has been far-flung. But the Far-flung had already turned and was soft-pedaling back toward town, waiting for us to catch him.

Steve of the River Parishes Gang joined us for the western section of the ride, and the Big Dude jumped into the rotation as we passed him in St. Rose and rode with us into River Ridge. The ride home was less enjoyable than the outward leg, with the wind freshening and swirling. KMSY observations, left, show some of the wild variations in the wind we encountered on the ride.

All in all it was a good ride, if slightly damp, but as we rode in along River Road after dismounting the levee, we heard little from the Far-flung beyond a lot of deep sighing and uncharacteristic silence. Despite assertions by some to the contrary1, I'm not sure standing up on skis and allowing gravity to do your work, even for 60 days during the season, is proper preparation for a Tuesday/Thursday levee ride. It was probably just as well Woody was hurt and HL and Retail Ray remain MIA.

One Happier than the Other?
1. From Fitday, The Health Benefits of Downhill Skiing

Cardiovascular Benefits

As well as the strength and flexibility aspects of downhill skiing, the very fact that the sport involves being outdoors makes it an activity that will benefit the health and fitness of everyone participating. The heart rate will be elevated through the actual physical exertion of walking and carrying the ski equipment, as well as the downhill skiing itself of course. But there is also a healthy psychological benefit that couples with it. Endorphins and adrenaline are released onto the bloodstream, elevating the mood and providing an overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. Downhill skiing is a great all-round way to keep both the body and the mind healthy and fit for anyone willing to give it a try.
[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, April 28, 2014

What Will It Take?

Fact or fiction? Is it true or just a myth? I don't know enough about dog racing to know whether this popularly held belief is factual or not: If the greyhounds ever catch the rabbit-like lure they chase, they will realize their efforts are meaningless and thereafter lose all enthusiasm for the race itself. Are the sleek canines smart enough to get it once they understand there is no real prize waiting if the expenditure of all their energy ends with a catch? Or will they stupidly continue to exhaust themselves in pointless pursuit?

Rounding the Paris Ave. Circle

On Sunday's Giro, this question came to mind each time the 30 or so cyclists on road bikes would doggedly (no pun intended) set off in chase of Rob on a TT bike most people couldn't ride without falling over the handlebars.

My goals in riding the Giro are to burn calories, to maintain a modicum of fitness, and to simply survive to ride's end. Of course, these modest purposes are quite different than what drives other participants who are preparing for racing season, or maybe just think the rabbit is real. Anyway, Rob's attacks encouraged others and it made for a hectic, exhausting ride in a gusty south wind. As we neared Hwy. 11, a few riders got far enough off the front that I thought the group would let well enough alone, but there must have been something in the air, maybe the smell of freshly road-killed rabbit, because people weren't in the mood for just sitting in and enjoying the ride. Several times Big Scott tried to bridge up. Then I'd see him going backwards, and figured he was done. A little while later, here he'd come, up the side of the paceline and off the front in pursuit. HL called him feisty. And then I saw visiting cyclist Seattle Mike bound off in an attempt to bridge across a two-hundred-meter gap. He eventually returned to the chase group, but his effort excited the chasers such that on the final straight away near Venetian Isles, the group split into several pieces.

Coming home on Hwy. 90 the pace was a bit calmer until things started ramping up for the Chevron sprint. Crossing the intersection at Little Vietnam it was made clear to me that nothing, absolutely nothing, not even several young Atlanta girls being rendered fatherless by a senseless accident, will ever make the Giro abide traffic laws, or exhibit simple common sense. How can a group of thinking, sensate beings, with knowledge of what so recently happened on that very highway, make the unthinking, unfeeling (unconscious?) decision to place their lives in the hands of an unknown, unseen driver in a silver van, who had the unquestionable right of way and who, with even the most fleeting moment of inattention, would definitely have killed someone?

Fixing Flat on Lake Forest Blvd.

When all investigations and trials are ended, the firefighter from Georgia may be found to have been totally free from fault in his untimely demise. But there is one thing that is as certain as tomorrow's sunrise: If a cyclist had been killed yesterday at Alcee Fortier Blvd. and Chef Menteur Hwy., it would have been the dead cyclist's fault. And it would have been the fault of each surviving cyclist who decided to blithely proceed at speed through a red light and across the path of a rapidly approaching van. It would have been my fault.

Waiting on Flats

 [Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Uneventful Thursday Levee Ride

Nothing notable happened on the Thursday levee ride. Considering all of the crashes and near misses which have plagued the local cycling community of late, an uneventful ride is a good thing. There was a return appearance by Seattle Mike, who rode with us in December and January, and who was unfortunately caught up in the crash Wednesday night at the lake. He was sporting bandages over stitches on his left hand this morning. Well that's about it. Retail Ray and HL remain on sabbatical.

Fog and Grain Dust at Bunge, LA

Just West of the Florida Street Pump Tower
Seattle Mike Signals Approaching Traffic
 After the ride, while Rich and I were heading back Uptown on River Road, a car followed behind us for about the last half mile before Oak Street refusing to pass. Behind that car was some real ass in a white BMW who sat on his horn for the entire half mile. I stopped at the split between Oak Street and Leake Avenue, hoping for an opportunity to give the guy a piece of my mind, but he raced past me, horn still blasting.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Share the Levee is a Two-Way Street, Too

The weather was perfect for a ride Tuesday morning: 62° with a mild breeze out of the west. I went by Rich's house and rode out to Jefferson Playground with him. As we climbed the levee at Shrewsbury Ct., Rich announced for the record that only four vehicles had passed us on River Road. When we arrived at the start, we found the parking lot fairly full. About a dozen riders were in attendance with the notable absence of certain regulars, including HL and Ray.

Approaching Florida St. in Kenner.

It was a nice steady ride with everyone staying in the rotation all the way to Ormond and back toward town, right up to the point where the life of Brian B. (not MD), what little I know of it, flashed before my eyes.

Just east of the Big Dip, Brian went to the front and increased the pace to 27 mph. Our numbers had swelled to about 20 by that time with the additions of Movie Star Dave, the River Parishes Gang, and the Big Dude and his compatriots. Brian stayed on the front for a couple of miles. Pat F. was in second position and I was on Pat's wheel. As we approached the driveway bordering the upriver side of the gravel and sand facility in St. Rose, a dump truck sprang into view as it accelerated up the levee. Pat and I braked and began screaming, "TRUCK, TRUCK!" I could hear brakes locking up behind me, but saw Brian continuing apace toward the huge truck which was now topping the levee just 30 feet in front of us. I was certain Brian was gong to be hit. At the last second Brian braked and laid his bike down, literally at the edge of the driveway. During all the braking I heard the loud pop of a tire blowing. CA Rick had locked-up his rear wheel and wore a thumb-sized hole through his tire, tuffy, and tube.

While Rich and Randy performed multiple surgeries on Rick's tire, trying to fashion some sort of wrap-around boot from a cut section of tube 1, there was a rehashing of the incident by several of us with the truck driver and his supervisor, who had driven up from somewhere in the gravel yard.

Randy and Big Rich improvising a solution.

Truck driver offers his version to his supervisor.
The Big Dude reconsiders the wisdom of jumping onto our group as it passes him.
People who had to get to work began trickling off downriver, and once the jerry-rigged tire held enough air for Rick to limp home on, the group proceeded back toward town in several pieces. Randy rode with Rick, while Rich, Brian and I softed it a few hundred meters in front of them until we saw they had made it around the bend at the country club.

As for the discussions with the driver and his supervisor, no firm conclusions were reached, but it was clear from their rather conciliatory post-incident behavior (the driver offering to take Rick's bike to the playground in his dump truck) they knew the truck should have yielded in the circumstances.

We were not fault-free, however, since the access road is constructed in a way that makes it just as hard for cyclists approaching the intersection from the west to see trucks as it is for trucks to see cyclists on the upriver side. We should always slow or at least be extra vigilant when coming to that driveway, and certainly should have slowed Tuesday morning much sooner when we did see a truck on it. It's apparent, like share-the-road, share-the-levee is a two-way street.

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1. Randy's photo of the fix. Click on image for full-sized version:

 [Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, April 21, 2014

Share the Road is a Two-way Street

Ghost Bike for Atlanta firefighter and Ironman triathlete Frank Guinn killed by motorist on April 11th (LA Hwy. 90 near Venetian Isles)
On Sunday's Giro, we stopped for one red light on Hayne. I'm not sure why. The group barreled through all of the others and trickled onto Chef Hwy. with cars approaching from the east and west.

Louisiana Law:
 32:194. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway of this state shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Chapter, except as to special regulations in this Part, including special regulations applying to peace officers utilizing bicycles in furtherance of their official duties, and except as to those provisions of this Chapter which by their very nature can have no application. Acts 1962, No. 310, § 1. Amended by Acts 2011, No. 98, § 1.
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The Uncomfortable Relationship Between Bikes and RedLights
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Is It O.K. To Kill Cyclists?

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By law, bicyclists have “the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers.” (California Department of Motor Vehicles [CDMV], 2009, p. 47). A cyclist has the right to occupy the road, use turning lanes, and move within their lane to avoid hazards such as parked cars and debris (CDMV, 2009, p. 48). However, the cyclist also has the responsibilities of signaling turns and lane changes, riding in the same direction as traffic, and obeying all traffic lights and stop signs. In cities such as Los Angeles that allow cyclists to ride on sidewalks, bicycles are usually required to move at a walking speed and yield to pedestrians (Pool, 2008). Unfortunately, while most cyclists are quick to demand their rights under the law, they are slow to remember their responsibilities. Cyclists clamor for the public to take bicycles seriously, but the public has difficulty seeing bicycles as a serious adult form of transportation when the riders' actions are so juvenile. Until cyclists begin obeying traffic laws and showing courtesy and common sense, their relations with the motoring community will continue to degrade.


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. . . cyclist fatalities in America were estimated at somewhere in the range of 58 to 109 deaths per 1 billion kilometres cycled in the early 2000s. (It may have declined somewhat since, but probably not by too much, since the total number of deaths has remained roughly constant.) In the Netherlands, statistics on this subject are more precise: there were 12 deaths per billion kilometres cycled in 2010, down by a third since 2000.


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Chris Bucchere, the cyclist who "plowed through" a crosswalk at Castro and Market, striking a 71-year-old pedestrian who later died from his injuries, was sentenced today in a San Francisco Superior Court. According to the terms of the plea deal Bucchere made last month, he will serve three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service for the felony vehicular manslaughter charge. By pleading out, Bucchere avoided a jury trial and the possibility of jail time.


See also:

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When a bicyclist completely ignores all traffic laws, bad things happen.

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Shafted Again (from Bike Snob NYC)

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Louisiana Law (for the OWNHB and maybe Brian B. MD):

 32:195. Riding on bicycles
 * * *
C. A person operating a bicycle shall at all times keep at least one hand upon the handle bars thereof. Acts 1962 No. 310, § 1.

 [Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.] 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Levee Ride

The Sunday Giro was preempted because the traditional Giro route was closed for the half ironman. A two-man TT sponsored by NOBC was taking place in LaPlace. What to do? I originally thought about not riding at all and going to Grand Isle to bird but was ultimately dissuaded by the predicted brisk SSE wind which normally prevents migrants from putting down on the LA coast. Rich sent out an email Saturday evening suggesting a levee ride with a 7 o'clock start from the Jefferson Playground.

Six cyclists showed: Big Rich, Vega, Triceps Dave, Keith N., CA Rick, me. The ride out to the Ormond turnaround and back was smooth and enjoyable, with the only notable circumstance being the SSE wind which made the ride in a bit more laborious than I think most people were expecting. There was some talk as we approached Ormond about perhaps continuing on to the Bonnet Carre Spillway. I argued against continuing, citing the wind, and I'm glad everyone decided to turn.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.] 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Smooth Ride and Broken Resolutions

For reasons I can't actually articulate (death wish, stupidity, suicidal fantasy), I broke my recently made, ironclad resolution not to ride in the dark on River Road out to Jefferson Playground for the start of the levee ride. I truly can't explain it. I even tried to justify it by telling myself I would be saving Big Rich's life because he only has this itsy bitsy, ineffectual, white blinky light under his saddle as compared to my retina-destroying, 2-watt, 5-flash-mode Cygolite Hotshot. In any event, it wasn't too bad this morning, I just closed my eyes as tight as I could, shrugged my shoulders, and tensed up each time a car or truck was about to pass. Like with everything else in his world Rich has made something of a routine or ritual out of it, recording how many opportunities for a grisly, painful death he encounters. According to Rich the record is ten vehicles breezing past in the darkness. This morning we had nine chances at being unceremoniously squashed in the road. I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that it only takes one.

Approaching the Bunge Grain Elevator
Rich and I were first to arrive at the start. The parking lot was empty except for a large white van which was familiar to me and always reminds me of the white van1 from Silence of the Lambs, used by Buffalo Bill, the put-the-f**king-lotion-in-the-basket wacko, who used the van to kidnap the Congresswoman's daughter. I recognized this van, as it eerily sat alone in the empty lot across from Jefferson Playground,  as belonging to the OWNHB2. He had obviously started early.

Soon, we were joined by Woody, Daniel, Max, Ray, Keith N., Triceps Dave, Randy, CA Rick, and Mignon. As we were just getting rolling, Triceps Dave discovered his new-fangled electronic shifters weren't working. It is funny how electronic things require power, sometimes stored in devices called batteries, which peskily require replacing or charging. Apparently Triceps Dave is having some difficulty adapting to these inevitable inconveniences since this is reportedly not the first, or second, time he has set out to ride without being able to shift gears.

Anyway, as the group hesitated very briefly with this, Woody and Daniel sped off upriver. This development is one for which I feel obliged to thank my lucky stars because it made for a wonderful, even-paced, smooth ride of 23-25 mph which reminded me of bygone, BHL3 days. Everyone worked all the way out and back, and while some of us took shorter pulls tending toward the low end of the speed spectrum, Ray was there to keep us honest (as Big Rich put it), ramping it up just a bit and taking long pulls at 25.

We passed Daniel near the Little Dip where he had obviously turned. When we were approaching the turnaround at Ormond, we saw that Woody and the OWNHB (whb)4 had just turned and were slow-rolling toward the east. By the time we turned and started moving again, Woody and the OWHNB were long gone, and we never saw Woody again. But we came upon the OWNHB after a few miles, and I asked him what happened to Woody. "What do you think?" he snapped back, seemingly a little annoyed.

It was a very enjoyable ride and I got a great workout -- rendered ragged in a good, good way. Lately I only rarely stay in the rotation throughout the levee ride. Actually, I'm embarrassed to say, I just haven't been on the bike enough this year. Like it or not, blogging after every ride makes it hard to fool anybody about how much I'm on a bike. I have a web log of it, and, not counting the blogs about my one-mile ride to Holy Name Church and the Game Called for Weather announcement, a review of my posts shows I've only been on a bike 16 times this year. My resolution to ride more in 2014 is working out about as well as my promise not to ride at night on River Road. Very sad.

I noticed on Randy's blog he logged about 300 miles last week.

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2. OWNHB = The One With No Handle Bars.

3. BHL = Before HL.

4. whb = With handle bars.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.] 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday Giro: Strange Weather, Wacky Wind

The weekend weather was unusual with a relatively strong spring cold front moving through Saturday morning dropping the humidity from 90 something percent into the 50s so that Saturday felt cool and crisp for a short time only to have the front back up out of the Gulf and place most of Louisiana under threat of flash flood and the oppression of 100% humidity by Sunday morning. The flash flood warnings remain in effect today, Monday, but we've strangely seen almost no rain. Anyway, it was foggy and misty and the ground was wet when I first checked the weather for Sunday's Giro. Keith N. reported to me during the ride that he had texted Big Rich and Eddy D. early asking if they were going to ride in the lousy weather. I think he was looking for an excuse he didn't get, and I told him so. He only smiled in response.

I took a headcount during the warmup along Lakeshore Dr. and came up with 17 riders -- the wet, foggy conditions apparently accounting for the sparse attendance. Another weird weather phenomenon occurring Sunday morning was the wacky wind. When I had checked the KNEW observations at 5 and 6 a.m., the winds were mild out of the southeast. At the swim hole, waiting for the group, the breeze felt north. By the time we were on Hayne it was blowing out of the NE strong enough to keep the pace of the bunch to 19 - 20 mph, with eight or nine strong guys working on the front. When we tuned south onto Paris the pace went from 20 to 30 lickety-split with my computer showing 34 mph on the raised portion of I-510.

Coming off of 510, the light was red at Lake Forest Blvd. and a truck was approaching from the east. To my utter astonishment, and perhaps owing in some degree to Daniel1 being near the front, the group stopped for the red light. This highly unusual occurrence led to a kind of bizarre, surreal Giro moment:  Daniel began chanting "Respect our hobby, respect our hobby." Matt started yelling "Safety first, safety first." And the OWNHB2 came to a stop and promptly keeled over, hitting the ground with that carbon-on-concrete sound, that awful flesh-on-pavement slap. People just wheeled away, many commenting on the wisdom of riding a bike with no handlebars.

By the time we made it to Venetian Isles, only 11 cyclists remained, and I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of hanging on with a screaming wind at our backs. On the way in, just west of Hwy. 11, the pace started creeping up past 30 mph. I was on Big Rich's wheel, and the guy in front of him let a gap open, which I know at 32 mph means sayonara. Rich, being decidedly more hard-headed than most, went around the guy, I stayed put. The OWNHB came by and I jumped on his wheel and sat there for as long as I could then let him go. I ended up with a young guy in a Tulane kit and the guy who had gapped us. Just up the road I could see three single riders: the OWNHB, Big Scott, and Big Rich. Eventually I could see the three of them get together and turn into the service road. I went straight to Bullard, while the two guys riding with me went into the service road.

When I got to I-10, Keith N., who had turned early, was just coming onto Bullard and he joined me. On Hayne the lead group of about seven guys came blowing by us, as I told Keith I didn't think this was the group we wanted. A little ways behind were Big Rich, Big Scott, and several people who had turned early, and Keith and I rode in with them.

After I got home, I checked the weather observations at Lakefront Airport which showed the wind had gone from SE at 5 mph at 6:00, to calm at 7:00, to NE at 22 mph by 8:00.

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1. In the past, on more than one occasion, Daniel has been heard imploring Giro participants to please observe traffic control lights. Unfortunately, he has been almost universally ignored.

2. During my 15 years riding with the Giro, I have seen no one crash more often than the OWNHB (One With No Handle Bars). Each of the five separate incidents that immediately come to mind were single-rider crashes, undoubtedly caused, in part at least, by the absence of handlebars. You'd think he might learn.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pharma-assisted, Wind-impeded, NHL Ride

The three week hiatus in my posting here has been caused by a combination of abject laziness, weather, and a ski trip. This is the twelfth year that a small core group from New Orleans, sometimes joined by a widely diverse mix of less committed skiers, has headed to Alta, Utah, at the end of March for five days of intense, nearly non-stop, skiing.

Apparently suffering from some form of cognitive deficiency, I have miserably failed during these twelve years to alter in any fashion my obviously inadvisable conditioning strategy to prepare for the trip, i.e., doing absolutely nothing.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Being swim fit or cycling fit (okay, relatively cycling fit) is good for cardiovascular and general health, but almost every athletic endeavor employs a unique set of muscles, stresses a different combination of joints, tendons, and ligaments. And so it is from a position of some considerable experience that I tell you not to engage in physical exercise, any physical exercise, for six or seven hours a day for five days in a row, once a year, without any targeted conditioning. You can do it. Hell, I've stupidly done it for twelve years. But you'll pay for it. Think about riding a bike only once a year for five days, six hours a day. Exactly. Also please remember that skiing, for me at least, almost always includes a few high-speed, out-of-control tumbles on hard, icy, packed snow, disguised as a steep but soft and fluffy playground by a light dusting of newly fallen snow.

I have been cognizant for several years now that a few of my parts are aging faster than others, and this fact is brought freshly to the forefront of my consciousness every year at the end of my trip to Alta. My neck, with its anterior osteophytic bridge across the collapsed C5/C6 disc space, is immobile and aching, my right shoulder, subjected for years to intermittent cortisone injections, screams when I lift my arm, the iliotibial band in my left knee is sore, and god knows what's going on with my right hip. These disabling impairments went amazingly unnoticed while frolicking on the slopes of Alta, but loudly announced themselves while disembarking from the three-hour flight home late Sunday night.

All of this is a long way of admitting that I didn't swim on Monday or Wednesday and didn't ride on Tuesday, until finally, driven by guilt and aided by a steady, copious consumption of NSAIDs, I dragged out the bike for the Thursday levee ride.

First I should note the ride was NHL. It was reported to me yesterday that HL, like me, has largely absented himself from the levee these past three weeks only after announcing that he was giving up surging for lent. For HL, giving up surging may well be the same as giving up riding. You've got to love HL. I do. And I love riding with him, except when I'm riding with him.

After the Turn
Without HL present, the major threat to my survival on the ride was a rather stiff and freshening SSE wind, which was reported at 13, but felt like 20. We started with a dozen riders, most of whom I never saw after the start. I soon ended up on the wheel of Vega, who did an admirable job of shortcutting the line behind the five or six guys doing the work. Vega stood his ground and ignored the sneers and emphatic beckoning gestures asking for help by someone, Keith McD. or Judd, I think. It wasn't long before those working just sat up, one after another, demanding to be allowed to drift back for some relief from the wind. Then several times, when only Ray and Max remained in the rotation, Woody would slowly work his way up through the echelon of riders to torture the group with a sustained pull at HL-surge speed (see Rich's profile below). I was pleased to make it to the bitter end, hanging with only Woody, Max and Ray, of those who began at the playground.

We had been joined west of the Big Dip by the trio from Destrehan, whose fresh legs pressured all
Butterweed on Batture
but Ray on the way in (Woody was already gone, having turned and immediately sprinted for home alone). So it was only the River Parish Gang, along with Ray, Max, Rich, Vega and I as we approached the Old End and came upon the familiar trio of riders led by the Big Dude, who literally dwarfs Big Rich. They integrated into the group and I foolishly allowed myself to lose my favored spot of comfort on Rich's wheel. Then I saw Graffagnini, fresh from River Ridge, turning to join us. The group began spreading out and fracturing, and I became unhitched.  Eventually, Vega caught me and graciously pulled me at a comfortable pace the half-mile to Williams Blvd., where he got off. I limped home alone against the wind, struggling to maintain 18 mph.

All day yesterday I was constantly reminded of the limitations of modern pharmaceuticals by a renewed intensity of the twinges and aches which are this year's souvenirs from northern Utah.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]