Beast from the East: Shutting the Legs Up One More Time

Congratulations to Jens Voigt for breaking the one hour world record with a scorching 51.115 kmh! Jens broke Ondřej Sosenka’s record of 49.7 kmh. Slicing through the wind on his special Trek time trial, Jens started with a steady and smooth pace. The speed was as consistent as his pedal strokes. No fight to the bike. Body relaxed. Focused. From the beginning, most could tell that Jens was focused on breaking this 9 year record at 43 years of age! In this Youtube video, the evidence is obvious:

Soaking in the pain is the name of Jens Voigt’s game. He can suffer with the best and demands that his body does exactly what he wants it to do. As a mid-forties guy, I am excited for him and have some hope for myself that I have a little more to give.

The Magnificent Door

The opening lines of novels or chapters within a novel can be fairly simple or massively complex, like a beautiful door opening to a wonderfully decorated house. The writers, who are deemed to be the greatest of past and present, are known for great opening lines. I ask  you Mr. Melville . . . why do we have to call him Ishmael? Is that not his name or do we need to be friends immediately or is this a biblical reference or all of the above? The pull or draw of well crafted words are magical. I took the time to list a few (certainly not all) of my favorite opening lines:

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” –John Irving, A Prayer forOwen Meany

“Dawn arrived as if it were aware of the previous night’s events.”         –Brian Jacques, Redwall (chapter 15)

“While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her.”             –Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant 

“It was a pleasure to burn.” –Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.” –William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”                     –F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl’s underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self.” –John Hawkes, Second Skin

“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.”–Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” –Gabriel García Márquez, 100 Years of Solitude

“When the fair gold morning of April stirred Mary Hawley awake, she turned over to her husband and saw him, little fingers pulling a frog mouth at her.” –John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

Of course there are superb authors who don’t place a significance on the opening lines (i.e. Anne Proulx), but I am big fan of the opener that grips a reader by the throat and screams, “Read this! It’s gonna be amazing!”

Are there favorite opening lines that I didn’t mention that are your favorite? Please let me know in the comments.

Feel the Burn!

What the?! google images

What the?!
google images

SPF? Sunblock? Sunscreen? Alcohol based? What does all of it mean and how to prevent from getting fried on your bike is shown in this video. I have been known to put some boring videos on my blog, but they are informative and useful. I know most us need a laser light show and puppets to hold our attention, but if you really want quality information you have to put up some things.

Riding a Century?

Having just registered for another century race/ride in Huntsville, Alabama, I am left wondering about term “century.” When a runner registers for a marathon, he knows that he is set to run exactly 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 kilometers). Now, when a cyclists registers for a century the number varies from 100.5 miles to as much as 108.7 miles (on the ones that I have ridden). Why is this? I’ve tried to do a “poor man’s” research on the history of century rides, but no dice. Any idea?

No Quit in You

 Many days, as I pedal down a bike path or road, I come across people who are attempting to live a healthier life. Now, they aren’t quite there yet . . . but the effort is there. While in a bike group, I’ve over heard comments from other people discussing the particular weight of an individual or age or how close someone is to a heart attack. My reaction is always the same: “Hey, man, at least he’s trying.”

I am the first one to get aggravated with the individual on oxygen and tipping the scales at 400ish pounds when she is riding a scooter around Wal-mart. It also burns my butt to see two grossly overweight parents in a restaurant shoving fries and other garbage down their already obese children’s throats. And don’t even get me started on the millions of tax dollars funneled into hospitals from Medicare and Medicaid to pay hospital bills of people who have lived a gluttonous and slovenly-kept life (My wife is a nurse. I hear the stories). I won’t even mention the one day a week when morbidly obese people come into the hospital or clinic to have their butts wiped because they can’t reach it.  Yes, one day a week. Okay, maybe I did just mention it, but you pushed me to it. I digress.

Back to the people who are actually trying to live a better life, I am very proud of them. I know that I don’t even know them, but I am. My heart goes out to the man or woman who is quietly shuffling or pedaling down a road. There has been a profound moment in that person’s life to say that something has to be done. Many, many times I notice a person who has stopped with his hands folded on top of his head and gasping for breath. Most of the time, I greet the person and roll on . . . when in all actuality, I want to stop and pat him on the back and tell him that he’s doing a great job, not to give up, you’re one step closer than you were, or something encouraging. I wish I had a little sign on my bike that would deploy, with a flip of a switch, and a thumbs-up picture would pop up. For what it’s worth, let me address those who are trying . . .

Whether you just starting or have been at it for a bit, don’t give up. I know that everything hurts or you feel that you are wasting your time. Just take another step or turn the crank one more time. In years to come, you will thank yourself for what you did for you and your family. Think of that. Hold a mental picture of who you want to be and how you want others to see you. Get tough withyou. You must stoke the fire that caused you to rise up, in the first place. Set goals. Talk yourself through it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t create excuses. Eat food that coincides with how hard you work, so that you see results faster. Just don’t give up.

I am not even close to the greatest athlete in the world, but I love to see people enjoying the freedom of a healthier life. Whether I am riding my bike, doing a WOD at Crossfit, or swimming with my family, I feel good. My joy comes from knowing that I doing all that I can to ensure a happier and healthier life for me and my family and being a good example for my children.

The Slide . . . if you will

My wife and I have always loved the older television shows, all the way back to the 1950s. The grainy, black and white television shows that cause my children to cringe or take a deep breath. The innocence of the characters, placed in a suburbia family setting, are typical and a honesty a breath of fresh air. Antenna TV airs most of the good ones, and they are fun to watch. The plots are sometimes very predictable, but the characters are cleanly funny and are known world-wide. Ask someone in Beijing, China if they have ever heard of Lucille Ball or Andy Griffith. One could almost bet you’ll get a “yes.” How many of the old quotes do you know?”Nip it, Andy!”  . . . “Gee, Wally.” . . . “Wilbur, come in the room.” . . . “Why can’t I be in your show, Ricky!?”

So the other day, I had an idea (of course, that can light the muse candle). What if those shows were filmed today? What would the topics be? What would be considered politically incorrect? This idea inspired me to come up with a few episode titles:

Andy Griffith Show

“Barney and Thelma Lou Visit Family Planning Counselor”

“To Catch a Sexual Predator: Mayberry”

Father Knows Best

“Betty’s Fight for Gay Marriage”

“Bud Slings Some Bud at School”


“Hazel’s Secrets”

“Dorothy Baxter and the Neighbor”

Mr. Ed

“PETA saves Ed”

“Ed exploited by Owner”

I love Lucy

“Lucy and Ethel drink the Night Away”

“Ricky faces Deportation”

Leave it Beaver

“The Beaver gets a Trim”‘

“Who slept with Wally?”

I don’t know why television became engrossed in who could go the furthest. Now, we have naked people running around in the jungle. We have trashy “reality” televisions shows. Talk shows displaying who is the real father of a child and someone hitting someone with a chair. I mean, for the love of Pete, ESPN can’t even stay away from covering every breath of the first openly homosexual football player . . . just because the man is homosexual . . . “not that there’s anything wrong with that” to quote a famous Seinfeld line. If he’s unbelievably good at football, cover him. If he’s not, the View will find room for him.

Am I alone?