Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rans Ride

Date: June 30 Sat
Mileage: 22 (Rans)
June mileage: 124
Year to date: 946
ipod: "This American Life- Deception"

Nothing special other than a really relaxed and pleasant ride this afternoon on the 'bent. Because I have this extra time that you 50 week-a-year folks don't, it stuns me into non-activity. Just now I did what I need to do all summer- ride the bike with no pretensions. I like getting on the road in normal shorts, tshirt and without accoutrement, save the Lake sandals. I grinned just about the whole damn time until another bike coming out of a blind alley almost took me out. Smiles all 'round, and I hope my dear readers also had a "smiley" ride for yourself today too. Peace.

Just for information sake, here are the monthly totals:
January- 273
March- 171
February- 166
April- 140
June- 124
May- 72

How can my big mileage month be the coldest of the year?? How?? Is it all mental?? How can I have more mileage in April during tennis season than during June, when I'm home mostly every day, and save 10 days in Spain could've ridden all I wanted. It's over, though, so move one.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Brick-a-Brack

I first apologize for the jingoist Anti-Korean golfer thing last night. There's no excuse, but I can't imagine anyone in the known universe save Koreans and Korean-Americans being interested in Korean-dominated womens golf. Should they even be paid?

I should have more commentary on USA/Argentina, but I don't have much. As Bob Bradley stated, they played nicely for 60 minutes, ran out of gas, and were dominated the last 30. Crespo especially was all over the place, more impressive to me than Messi. Por otro lado, I don't know as much about futbol so maybe Messi's mid-field work actually made Crespo look more impressive. I'm pretty pleased with the effort, but certainly wish they could've kept it to 2-1 or 3-1 at the worst.

I could discuss yesterday's the Supreme Court decision on school segregation/race at length, but I'll get all riled up and I don't feel like it. This landmark decision affect me personally b/c I teach in Jefferson Co. and my children attend J.C. schools. We have our boys in a downtown magnet school whose mission is to foster diversity, so obviously the household is one to encourage integration. I think there could be nothing worse for this city than to return to its segregated roots with respects to schools. Yes, the area is racially segregated somewhat in housing. The Black/African-American population by in large lives in the city's West End, Downtown and in a pocket in the center in the Newburg area. Perhaps all those parents want their children to attend neighborhood schools as well. But the 'Ville is already retrograde as compared to the Nashvilles and Indys of the region, and a re-segregation of the public schools can only exacerbate long-standing economic and social ills. My school is about 25% AA. I teach at an excellent school, some would say an elitist magnet school. But AAs have the opportunity to attend and to achieve at high levels, even if they don't always score as well as their East End brethren. No, that's not a racist observation but a statistical one. The decision, at least from the dominant 4, seems to say the hell with integration. Yes, some middle-class white kid may lose 1 spot in 1 school, but that's a dangerous path to go down, one that we're revisiting with the now-entrenched ultra-right court and administration.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

1 PARK, Angela
T2 PARK, In-Bee
T2 LEE, Jee Young
T2 ICHER, Karine
T5 HUNG, Amy
T5 SHIN, Jiyai
T5 KIM, Joo Mi
T5 AHN, Shi Hyun
T5 GRANADA, Julieta
T5 MAYORKAS, Charlotte
T5 KIM, Mi Hyun

**1 Brazilian, 5 South Koreans, 1 Tawainese, 1 Frenchie, 1 Paraguayan, 1 American born in South Korea, 1 American born in U.S.

Call me a jingoist, nativist, prejudiced honkey MoFo, but can you imagine that line-up garnering any, ANY, attention on the American TV set? Me, I can't. It's one thing to have Latina Nancy Lopez mixing and matching, and another Karie Webb or Annika Sorenstam, but the rest of these girls aren't going to garner much press or love in the U.S. golf scene.

And wait for cycling once Levi and George are gone. Tommy D ain't no savior, and there doesn't seem to be anyone underneath the "greatest generation" to carry the torch, especially in the drug-filled haze that is modern cycling.

More about that damn futbol result later! -

La Republica Argentina

Just for fun, let's list: Messi, Riquelme, Saviola (is he playing?), Tevez, Crespo. Oh Mierda de Puta Madre!!!!! Can you imagine our 2nd-tier team of youngsters going up against these beasts? I support A Midnight Riders's enthusiasm for USA, but oh shit, Messi and Crespo and Riquelme and....

I'm excited though. This is "real" futbol. And what happens if we have a great showing like we did in '95? And what happens if we have a great showing like El Tri did last night? Mierda happens compay!! It does.

BUT, Messi is a total beast, perhaps along the way to being one of those top few players in the world, literally. And his supporting cast. Ay carramba!!

8.45 EST GOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arreglamiento

This afternoon I set about some proyectos, "fixing" some of these random machines that I've commented on. The 9.2.5. got the best treatment (no pics. tomorrow?). I traded the bars yesterday. Today I mounted an old lever that came with the original LHT set-up, the one with bell. "Ding Ding". I was pleased that it all worked out alright. In turn, I took off the rear brake, so I'm going pretty "fixie" style with a front but no rear brake. I also traded out the saddle, going with a Terry model that has been on numerous bikes. I like it, but it's big and bulky. The last bike it resided on was the Blueridge until the B-17N came along. Interestingly enough, I saw potential damage of the overly-wet Brooks on the Blueridge today. It has a decided "lilt" to the right, I guess from leaning against something while wet. We'll see what happens, but I have fears, as I've heard/read "Don't let it get wet" speaking of Brooks sillones. The only thing missing from the 9.2.5. is some type of grip/bar tape. TBH, I'm thinking 1 roll of cloth tape. I like the stuff. And the 9.2.5., with that, will be immeasurably more ridable.

The LHT needs big work. I will have to take a full summer day cleaning and tweaking the primary commuter mount. I may even give in and go "bike shop" with it, b/c it's the...primary commuter mount. I won't yet, but we'll see.

I was going to true the rear Blueridge wheel, but can't find my appropriately-sized truing wrench, so we'll see.

And the Bleriot is pretty. I like it. I think I'll ride it tomorrow. All of you non-tall people ought to consider a 650B, especially the Bleriot or Saluki. They're great.

Quickie

Date: June 27 Wed
Mileage: 5 (9.2.5.)
June mileage: 102
Year to date: 924

The fam went to Wednesday evening church, so I went for a ride on the fixie. Fact is as many bikes as I have several are not in the shape they need to be in. The Bleriot's rear wheel is fixed now, but I need to ensure that the brakes are good and centered. The Blueridge has a little wobble in the rear wheel so that needs to be mended. I haven't been on the LHT in a while, but both brakes need tweaking and it needs a post-work year cleaning. The Crosscheck was not appropriately tended to after a snow/slush ride back a ways, so its drivetrain in sad. I'm just a bad owner. AND the more I get away from lycra and cleats the more I like to just jump on a bike and ride without so many of the rituals. Just Ride. So that brought me to the fixie in shorts, tshirt and sandals. BUT I really don't like the fixie's cockpit interface. Don't know if it's angle or seat or faux 'stache bars and bar height or just my fat ass not wanting to bend over as much, but the fixie isn't all that comfy. I rode, ran into a crowd I know from school. Talked to them a while, and came home. 5 total and I'm satisfied with that.

Once I came home I did a little bike maintenance, ironically on the one bike right now that's functional, the fixie. I decided to change bars to some flat bars that came with the LHT originally. I know there is some confusion with stem circumference, being either the road bar or mt. bar standard. This bar fit. I had a further problem in that I couldn't get the brake hoods loose-end (is that right, loose-end/loosend??) from the 'stache bars without the cable being completely slack. The cable runs right in front of the hex nut that tightens the bars. I'm still a bit confused. So I took the cables off and switched bars. Now I have a fixie with a flat bar, two brakes mounted, and no cables or levers to work them. I'm going to get the Bleriot 100% today- that's the mount I seem to like the most these days for obvious reasons-, and then deal with this fixie brake issue. Unlike the hipster kids, I need at least one brake.

And Mexico over Brazil 2-0? I watched the first half and after the first 15 Brasil couldn't get anything going. And this a Mexico team that lost to the US over the weekend, and were legit outplayed in the 2nd half. strange.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Aficionado extraordinario

Really I'm not a "true" life-long fan, but getting moreso. Last summer I wrote several entries on my growing enthusiasm for the World Cup, and my more recent experiences have led me to more closely follow 'el juego bonito'. I just upped for the 'SportsPak' on the dish, so now we have Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and FSE. While I harbor no illusions that futbol is any cleaner than cycling, football or baseball, because we're less immersed in the "intrigue" here in the States than in other places, I can watch a feel a bit more innocently. Fact is for you cycling fans, what is there to root for? Disco? er, nothing there. Phloyd? er, no. Levi? please. Basso is obviously a no go. Gimme some favorites. Valverde? can anyone say "Puerto"? Vino? See the articles about the "men in black"? Is there any chance Vino is cleaner than, say, Jan or Basso? This guy's a Tour champion? Pereiro? Last summer I was done b/c I was disappointed; now I'm done b/c there isn't anything to really root for. The pundits have been saying that Cycling is driving itself into irrelevance and at first I thought it was just pro-American, jingoist "this stuff don't happen in football", but I'm thinking it's pretty irrelevant at the moment.

And that's why I've become more interested in Futbol. and the boys have too, so it's fun.

And I decided to add this map b/c Me gustan los mapas.

This is apparently a map of the G-14, the 14 big historical clubs in Euro futbol. I don't know how many I can name without looking them up, but I'm going to try:

Spain- I can get these!: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia
Portugal: either Benfica, or Porto .
England: Man U, Arsenal, and either Liverpool or Chelsea
France: Olympique Lyon, Marsellaise, one in Paris, no clue- St. Germain
Italy: Juventus, AC Milan, Inter (perhaps)
Germany: Bayern Munich and Bayern Leverkusen- Borussia Dortmund
Nederlands: PSV Eindhoven, Ajax

I'm out after that. I've now looked them up and I'm going to redmark the wrong ones and blue mark the changes. Not bad. had to add 3 and take away 2, of which now they're as or stronger than the "G-14". I'll go find something more constructive to do now.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The 9th

One of the things I did today on the ride was think about Beethoven's 9th Symphony "Ode to Joy". We, meaning my college choir, my wife, my good friends and I all sang it as part of a large-choir performance at Avery Fischer Hall in NY, NY during our sophomore year. To sing that piece in that city was rather a highlight, and since then it has remained my most favorite selection of music. I can't name a fav book, CD, group, show, movie, etc., but every single time I hear or listen to the "9th" it stirs me, every time.

I was thinking today how I would present it- the 9th- to my students next year in Humanities. How do you convey the emotion, the reaction, the pure joy that it produces, the grandiosity? Many of them may just hear lots of shouting and crescendos, so how do you transmit the greater messages and meanings? I want them to leave not just appreciating but soaking it in.

In keeping with the synchronicity of earlier doings (the OtR concert venue), I happened upon one of the many blogs I occasionally visit, this time at Integral Options Cafe, which has provided me food for mental and Buddhist thought herenthere. This time he presented me, us, with a link to a Karajan YouTube 9th of all things, a '60s video recording of the symphony. I own 3 or 5 versions of the 9th, mostly b/c I like to compare tempi, soloists and interpretations. Although the tenor in this isn't quite up to the task, I found myself watching the whole 4th movement all the while wanting to go to bed but unable to detach me from the experience. Another of Karajan's, a London release, is the best of the variations I have.

I did search around for some good articles or analysis, but nah!, I'm ready for bed. I do encourage you to go listen or find a copy. It embodies the human spirit in all its Darkness and Light. Beethoven was deaf by the time he composed it, but he was stirred and inspired, as am I when I listen to it.


Que Foto

Check this pic out. This is posted on the website of a former student who's touring Australia. He apparently saw the Dalai Lama, but this pic is more amazing, the juxtaposition of cultural offerings Down Under. Actually it makes me uncomfortable, imagining that 'His Holiness' may be consumed like Guns-N-Roses or Finding Nemo on Ice. I like my Buddhism in principle, but this reminds me too much of Jim Baker or Robert Schuler's Crystal Cathedral.

And I had to steal this next pic b/c it's so de puta madre, cool stuff. His skills, though, not mine.

It's a detail from the mouth of a big-ass clam.

Rain Ride

Date: June 24 Sun
Mileage: 35 (Blueridge)
June mileage: 97
Year to date: 919

Finally a "real" ride this week. I don't know exactly, but after the Sunday morning coffee I got on the Blueridge and ride for a while. I'm still waiting for a new spoke for the Bleriot's real wheel, so I rode the BR for the first time since the winter. In fact, the computer still maintained the info from a club ride I did a long time ago, one that took me some 35+ miles. On that day I wore my Look sandals with 2 pairs of wool sox, and today I was in the same sandals, this time without. Whereas I so often travel with bags and panniers and lights and stuff, today it was just the BR- no bag, no pump, only 1 bottle- and me with shorts, tshirt and sandals. It felt good (oh, helmet too) to be relatively stripped down.

Highlights include having serious right sandals issues with respects to the clip. Mid-ride I could tell the cleat had loosened, but being stripped I had no answer, so I dealt. Getting home I discovered that 1 of the 2 screws is missing, so quite, eh!? The other is that I was met with a refreshing significant downpour 2 hours in. We've been quite dry for a couple months, so I won't poo-poo a refreshing drink for the earth, the crops, and my garden.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

OtR and 'Dana' Conundrum

We attended a very good concert by the band 'Over the Rhine' last night at a newish space called The 930. This space Sunday mornings becomes the main sanctuary for Sojourn Community Church, of which one of my good friends is a member. I could characterize this church as a post-modern, hipster, fundamentalist, 20-something church that has expanded into the confines of a former elementary building- the former Shelby elementary. After attending a mainline progressive Protestant church for these 10 years or so and after growing up Baptist- which is why I'm "Buddhish"-, I find this amalgam of hipsters, skate punks, artists, and tatooed ones to be all a bit strange. Church goers are supposed to have dresses and sport coats, right?

I digress, but not really. We attended the show in this place, which was a very nice space with comfy chairs and lots of air conditioning and reveled at the lack of smoke and the attentive audience. My wife really loves OtR has seen them now three times, with this she says as being by far the most moving. They is some synchronicity of message in that OtR's foundation is very spiritual and Christian. The good wife says "they are NOT a Christian band" per se, but they sometimes play Christian venues and apparently regularly play some well-known Christian music festivals such as this one in the Netherlands or another one in the UK. The happy couple who is the band (backed by drummer and guitarist this night) met at a Christian University. I'm not here to quibble with the good wife, but they are, in fact, a Christian rock band no matter what she says.

The long-term point of this entry is something that took place AFTER the show, and it brought conflicting emotions on my part. Remember that we were at a church, a new funky hipster church but a church nonetheless. The good wife was inside milling at the merch table and I stepped out just to step out. I was minding my own business when a gentleman who'd obviously not attended the show struck up a brief conversation with me, asking if it was a "Christian show" or something. He was very non-confrontational. I first I figured he was from the neighborhood and was just wandering. While everyone inside had the prerequisite black and pattern and thick frame and tatoo and non-Walmart, this guy was dressed in old cut-offs and a beattohell Tshirt. He didn't "belong". Oh, I forgot to add that this new hipster church is in a marginal neighborhood, with one of their cornerstones of their outreach to "transforming out city". That's why they chose a space near ner-do-wells in the hood, to transform them, right? You can see from my choice of my words where this might be going.

At some point he expressed a need whether he could talk to somebody inside. He didn't ask me for anything, but just wanted to see somebody at the church. You can imagine where this is headed, right? From my occasional time at my wife's church I've seen that all the time folks are coming to churches looking for some kind of handout. I decided to help out as he asked, going in to find someone "in charge". Funnily, this Sojourn crew is also the crew that hangs at my fav coffee spot Sunergos. Oh the irony, as I've stated on this blog before, that I much enjoy the benefit of some good ol' Christian coffee. Well, I had met one of their ministers/preachers/holy leaders once and saw him earlier at the show. He's the man to find, right? I found him in a small group and informed him of the situation, that there was a guy out on the steps looking to talk to someone at the church. The little clique laughed, nicely, saying that in fact their "minister of mercy" (Sisters of Mercy?) was right there in this little group and that I'd found him.

Now it gets a little more problematic, but my story is coming to an end. Bear with me. He stated that the church has no real policy one way or another and that he didn't mind the guy hanging out on the steps asking for $$. No, really, that's what he said. He did nothing. He didn't move. He didn't offer to minister. He just said OK and went on with his post-concert business. THAT is what bothered me. I've seen her/our minister several times break with what he was doing to deal with these types of folks. Yes, the guy probably wanted some booze or dope $$. Yes, you're not supposed to give these folks cash but rather food or a bus ticket or something. Something, but not just say "there is no policy". You're supposed to act as though you care.

I knew and know that alms-giving, charity, giving and the like are cornerstones of all faiths, one of the few universals in all the different traditions. In Buddhism it's 'Dana', Generosity. Once I listened to an interesting podcast about the unattached nature that Buddhist giving had to be. As the giver you're not really allowed to put parameters on the giving. You give b/c you give. That's the appropriate karmic action. This guy may use this $$ for meth, or he may use it to feed himself. I didn't know. After the rejection on the part of the 'minister of mercy', I sat down with the guy on the steps. His story: he just got out of prison, he had nothing, he's been walking around for a couple days, he starting a new job on Monday, he had no ID and couldn't get in to the shelter without one, he just wanted a little cash for some deodorant and a toothbrush and a bed to get himself together. Shit, sounded like a good story to me. Maybe it was all a lie, a big pile of mierda, but it was told to me honestly and forthrightly. He was probably a great lier but he was willing to ask without being confrontational or negative or seemingly insane. He seemed like a guy down on his luck. I gave him $5 b/c I wanted to. Maybe it was a $5 wasted, but to me it wasn't. If he used it for dope then the jokes on me. IF he used it for deodorant, a toothbrush, food or a bed then the better for it.

A quick look at the notion of generosity and giving:

Buddhism- Dana
Sangharakshita-In a sense Dana or giving is the Basic Buddhist Virtue without which you can hardly call yourself a Buddhist. Dana consists not so much in the act of giving as in the feeling of wanting to give, of wanting to share what you have with other people.
Judaism-Tzedakah

The Obligation of Tzedakah

Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who are themselves in need. Some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments, equal to all of them combined, and that a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshipper. This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the importance of tzedakah in Jewish thought

Islam- Zakat

**One of the 5 pillars even!

Christianity-

**Christianity doesn't do as good a job having one little catch-all term for charity, but this website has verses pertaining to it and this one's whole mission is to deal with charitable giving.

After so many words I guess I've made my own point, however convincing or not. The 'minister of mercy' fell down on the job, and I have to hold into great question a spiritual organization that doesn't answer a basic opportunity to do what they're supposed to do (supposed to in the heart, right?). I did so b/c I wanted to, b/c I thought it was right. And I'm happy with my decision. I hope mr. 'minister' considers his (and that of the other church members there), and I hope Mr. Out-of-Prison finds his peace.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fixie Quickie

Date: June 20 Wed
Mileage: 16 (9.2.5.)
June mileage: 62
Year to date: 884

Why haven't I ridden? Don't know.

Dropped the boys off at activity and jumped on fixie for a 1-hour special. Boy do I not like the 'stache bars on that bike. gonna switch to something else at some point, but no $$ for that at moment.

Two disturbing episodes on ride this evening. I hate it when I have a great 60 minutes that is/are disturbed by less than 60sec on depravity, but it happens:

  • Riding along River Rd., w/ guy jogging on the sidewalk. Coming towards him a pack of 8ish youths. A collision was imminent. No, an altercation didn't ensue, but the youths didn't move an inch, didn't give the guy one bit consideration. They could've parted the waters ever so slightly just to be courteous and instead they block his path intentionally. I actually pulled up a bit b/c there were words and hand motions. Quickly the conflagration dissipated, but Pinche, yield just a teensie little bit, just for humanity sake.
  • I was returning home on Douglass, crossing Bardstown. Across the opposite side of the intersection a dude was crossing in front of traffic; I was concerned for him b/c drivers are so...discourteous. Madre mia, to my left some crazy bitch in a bright red car comes careening around me turning right directly in front of my path. 1 Mississippi later and she takes me out. And me on the fixie with less immediate stopping agility also means an extra 'pucker' moment as well. I have no clue why she almost ran me over. She had to have seen me, so I guess she was just a bitch, just like those youths were assholes. I guess it comes with the modern territory.
Oh well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Toledo

I could've posted more pics of Madrid but I've decided to move on. My many readers mostly check in to see that they're riding many more miles than I, and don't really want to see Spain pics.

That said, Toledo is one of the groovier places in Iberia. Perched on a hill surrounded on 3 sides by the Rio Tajo, it has long held a strategic spot given it's placement almost dead center of the peninsula. Although Madrid is now the capitol, Toledo was so for many years prior and is still the spiritual center of a country that is decidedly Catholic in name but not in practice. It retains so much charm b/c the medieval center city is intact. Building codes are very strict and any new construction takes place outside the original town. The only real ways to get in are via a couple of the original main gates, but now they is also a groovy escalator that you can ride. Think of that irony, riding an escalator to get into a 1000 year-old city.

My pic from across the river. In the center the cathedral and to the right the palace of Carlos V, who's the Hapsburg dude that most benefited from New World plunder.


Toledo is/as further made famous by El Greco's "Vista de Toledo", which is one of his most famous works and one quite famous in the Barroco era.



Main torre of the cathedral. Someone stated that the cathedral here is the 3rd or 4th most important in Catholicism after the Vatican and one of the French ones, perhaps at Lourdes.



These are both views from within Toledo during 'Corpus Christi'. I don't really know what the festival is, and don't care for that matter, but for the Spanish it's right up there. During this the tapestries are taken out of the cathedral and help decorate the streets. There's a parade, oops "procession" of the 'Santísimo Sacramento', the monstrance, which is a big-ass tower made of gold and silver stolen from the New World and which has the veritable body of Christ mired within it. It was fun to be in Toledo on such a special day, but it made traffic hell and we got to see much less than we would at a normal time. It IS interesting to see other cultures celebrate their civic days which don't entail grills, Budweiser and dead cow. Maybe other things are important as well.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mild Disappointment

Date: June 16 Sat
Mileage: 10 (Rans)
June mileage: 16
Year to date: 838

Date: June 17 Sun
Mileage: 24 (Bleriot)
June mileage: 40
Year to date: 862

Date: June 17 Sun
Mileage: 6 (9.2.5.)
June mileage: 46
Year to date: 868

A little mileage now that Spain hangover has ended. The Saturday ride was a pleasant one, taking the Rans out for the first in a long time to the coffee shop and back, both via the neighborhood. I hadn't ridden the Rans for months and months since I had chain malfunction in the fall. It is what it is though, a comfy and entertaining bike, although I don't desire miles on it. 'Bent types swear by them as opposed to "wedgies", but I'll take it as an occasional mount, unless of course the prostate goes bonkers.

Sunday afternoon's ride providing both adventure and slight disappointment on several small scales. All in all it was a successful afternoon of riding empty country roads and getting some good fitness riding in. We were visiting the in-laws (mine) in Maysville for a family reunion so I had opportunity to get country riding in just as I had exactly one month previous. On the pessimist scale a couple things creep in to cloud my ride experiences. First of all, I was out for two hours total and managed to only get a little more than 20 miles in. The explanations vary. I stop and walked around a couple times but the watch was constantly running regardless of whether I was riding or not, so my total time was not the same as ride time. Sin embargo, my fitness is shit for the hilly country found down there. I found 2/3 through the ride that the Bleriot has a broken spoke on the rear wheel, so I was dragging rim every slightly on the wobble for the course of my ride. Who know's when it happened? I took a variety of pics w/ the pencam, but they're out of focus so not usable. I dropped it last time in Maysville and hadn't used it since, but I've found that long-distance focus doesn't really work so any photodocumentation is for naught.

On the positive side I had a nice ride and interesting ending to said ride, so I should stop being a "stickinthemud", as we may call someone here. My route took me past my brother-in-law's house, where I said hello, through some outstanding ridge riding, past Alhambra, KY, and up several leg-building hills with my final arrival at Blue Licks State Park, which a State Nature Preserve adjacent. My emotions are mixed about visiting Alhambra. Just last week I spend the morning touring La Alhambra, which is found in Granada, Spain. I think it's my favorite spot in Spain so I was quite excited to visit both the original and the KY version in the same short time span. The KY version is, let's say, hard to find. I was on the right road (Alhambra Road- very bottom right), but the only evidence of "Alhambra" was one mail box that I saw in very brief passing. Seems that, much like the original Alhambra, Alhambra, KY is perched atop a substantial hill. In fact, the descent from the KY version was the steepest road I've ever been on. Oh to have an altimeter with me, but I would predict a minimum of 20% in parts, but I predict more. Instead of sloping the road on switchbacks or whatnot, it just went/comes straight downhill. At the bottom is where I found the broken spoke, so I didn't have the gumption to crawl back up. (Damn, I can't believe I found that topo. The internet's an amazing place, isn't it?)


I just did some incredibly unscientific calculations. It looks like the inclination is 250ft/.10mile. I want one somebody who's more mathematically inclined to tell me the %%. That's the challenge!! Mierda, the more I look at it the more I'm confused. Surprised?

I finished the ride with some traipsing around Blue Lick. Fortunately the country store next door was open, so I had a big, thick turkey sandwich that only a country store can make along with an oatmeal pie and chocolate milk. I ate my lunch below the lodge and then road a few of the park roads, looking at the boat/canoe launch. I then pushed the Bleriot along a trail for a bit and crossed the original Blue Lick bridge, one that is now closed to traffic. I eventually found myself on a bench next to the nature preserve. And what did I do with my time? took a nap. I eventually wound my way down some of the other trails (pushing the Bleriot) and read my book until the rescue squad arrived.

The last bit of mileage is oxymoronic. I took the monster gas-eater in for a recall notice and road the fixie home. I'm supposed to just skip the vehicle part, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Observaciones pos-viaje

After a 24-hour travel day yesterday I'm certainly in low-key mode today. The boys, por otro lado, are a bit more keyed up. I guess they're excited I'm home, or maybe they're just getting me back for being gone for 10 days. We'll be fine though, or at least as soon as I get a good night's sleep. Observations from the trip include:
  • Spain's standard of living certainly has improved. Streets and buildings in the historic (read tourist) areas are clean and preserved. Hotels are much more modern, with all having private baths and showers; that wasn't a given back in the day. There seems to be many more cars unfortunately, but the country is in good shape, at least in the more visited areas.
  • Madrid and Sevilla have become more peaton-friendly. One of the significant connector streets between the Puerta del Sol and the Palacio Nacional was closed and rebuilt as a pedestrian zone. The same has been done with a major street coming off the Cathedral area in Seville. It really enhances the feel of the city and I saw as many locals on these streets as tourists. That said, L'Ville tried that 40 years ago, closing 4th Street- then the shopping hub- to traffic. In effect, it killed downtown as a commercial area.
  • Both of these cities have also added bike lanes along major city feeder streets. In Spain they're painted red and are found on one side of the street, separated from auto traffic. I know the dreaded dedicated bike lanes are major bones of contention in many U.S. cities and certainly in Luavull. That said, they seem to have worked wonders b/c I saw SO MANY more bikes in both. Sevilla was practically filled with Euro city bikes, something I never saw in my other trips there. I even found their "Sevilla en Bici" website. Here's the link to the pdf. map of the city. Looks like great things are happening. I'm sort of pissed I didn't take any pics of the lanes, but I had other things going on... OH, the magic of the web. I did a little searching herenthere and found this listing of Madrid projects including a pic of the lane directly across from our hotel, literally. That Unicaja bank is on the opposite corner of the Hotel Convencion. Again, I don't think these plans are perfect; I'm not scared on Louisville streets. But I saw many, many more urban cyclists in Madrid/Sevilla than I ever did in the previous 17 years of travel.

  • Maroc, Marruecos, Morocco is an interesting and problematic place. We only visited Tangier/Tanger, which we learned is a more multicultural place than much the rest of the country. There are French, Spanish, American and Italian neighborhoods and the upscale neighborhoods are filled with Saudis who do business in the port. That said, the Casbah area is traditionally Muslim. It was quite the juxtaposition, the paradox, seeing all women dressed head to toe, some including covering the face, while American girls roam the streets in in their spaghetti straps, cascading bosoms and butt-level shorts. I can see why such a cultural tension is created, whether justified or not. I liked visiting the Casbah, but I don't need to go back. And the pushy street vendors become very old very quickly.
  • I found Lisboa delightful. It's 20 years behind the more touristy areas such as Spain or France, but it retains a charm that's been lost elsewhere. It has also been racially and culturally affected more than the other EU countries. I think many in the U.S. are accustomed to racial diversity, whether it be black, Hispanic, or Asian, and Lisboa reflects that via its Brasilian and African immigrants.
Well, the boys are fighting so here are a couple pics from Madrid. We visited the famous Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Nacional, Museo del Prado and Museo Reina Sofia. The first pic is taken from the Parque Buen Retiro, which is its Central Park.

This second pic is in front of the Nat'l Palace. These were all streets last time I visited. Now it's a large, new plaza. And the trees help.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Spain/Maroc/Portugal

Iºve been out of action for a while, given the tennis stuff and the year-end stuff and then the trip stuff. I could post each day about the different aspects of the trip, but most of the time the usage price was around 1€ per 15min or so, so no surfing or blogging. In my summer leasure I may do a brief entry from each day once the pics are up, but I would rather get riding and post some ride thoughts. Good trip, but the € is sick strong against the dollar at 1€/.75 dollar, so it gets expensive to vacation.

Iºm in Portugal now on my first trip here and it has the quick impression of being a fantastic Euro city, less touristy and more relaxed than Madrid and the like. Pics to come but flying home tomorrow and looking forward. chao

Friday, June 01, 2007

#1 Buzz

Date: June 1 Fri
Mileage: 6 (925)
June mileage: 6
Year to date: 828

The miles haven't been coming easily, although it's not that I'm sitting around doing nothing. I knew the time between tennis/school end and the Spain trip would be quick, but it's been rather quicker. I did squeeze in a walk last night and today a 6-miler there-n-back to the barber shop. I've done buzzes for the last several years, but this summer I went for the #1 instead of the #2, so it's damn, damn short. The 9.2.5. sort of hurt my hands and wrists, so I don't know if the physiology has changed. It was fun in the legs, but the other limbs not so well.

My May mileage was slightly shorter than last year's, but my YTD is still a little up. Venga, venga, no?
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