Wednesday, August 27, 2008

While You're Sleeping...

There's a great article in the WSJ regarding what's going on in Georgia, as the Russian Army allegedly is withdrawing. Too many feet on the street say that this is simply not happening. The media continues to ignore this in America, as they are overwhelmed by his Obamaness and the anointing ceremony of the supreme Marxist commandante in Denver.

About thirteen years ago, I met a higher-ranking government official from Georgia on a train in Spain. He had married a woman from Barcelona and was on his way to pick her up after she'd spent time with family there and then head back to Georgia. Georgia was a new democracy back then, in its infancy, but after having a wonderful chat with this man, I could tell something burned in his chest--the flame of desire for freedom. I've since read in other places that the Georgians "get it" when it comes to fighting for freedom. Soldiers I know who've deployed to Iraq and have fought alongside and trained the Georgians have told me that they "get it" more than anyone else--sometimes more than the Americans. Watch the reception that President Bush got in Tbilisi in 2005 and you'll see a nation of people that "gets it." This was the infamous "watch stealing" episode (that wasn't), but the Georgians welcomed this president, who talked the talk and walked the walk about defending nascent freedom, with arms wide open.

To have the Russians move in on Georgia, attempting to quash a people who "get it" and take from them the freedom they had won not even fifteen years prior, is evidence of a troubling dichotomy in the Russian sphere. In Russia, you have a nation who was once proud, immensely powerful, feared and had since become a shell of its former self. In Georgia (and the Ukraine, and other former "SSRs") you have a sovereign nation who, now that it has drank deep from the fountain of freedom, relishes its opportunity and even stands boldly against those who would attempt to deprive others of a chance at it. To ignore the Russian aggression against Georgia is to say the men and women dying in Iraq and Afghanistan promoting democracy is a waste--that it somehow is not worth it.

Let's take a lesson from the Georgians. Let's "get it" and stand up to a Russia driven by unfulfilled dreams of empire, attempting to forcefully control something that cannot be controlled: the Georgian desire--the human desire--for freedom.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MS Ride a Success (Day Two)

Day two began with the prospect of being a bit shorter (50 instead of 60 miles) a bit flatter (less climbing to start the day, less elevation gain overall) and a different kind of scenic.

Everything went as planned except that I totally bonked about ten miles from the finish. About the half-way point, I hooked up with a group of riders from Mountain Orthopedic (some of whom I'd met at the start) and we got in a sweet paceline as we put about 15 miles on in about 45 minutes. I pulled and then let Henry (Enrique) and Alex (Sr.) do the pulling too. Both of these men are Basque (surprise that I gravitated to them) and they were both in their 60s making me look like I had a wooden leg and a plastic lung. They rode like machines. I really need to train harder. That's Henry in the front of the picture below and Alex right behind him. I'm taking the picture over my shoulder while pulling. The ladies in back are daughters and daughters-in-law.

I made it back into McCall solo--as I got dropped when I hit the wall. No worries, though, as I got to the massage table while there was no line. $10 for a thirty-minute post-race was $10 well spent. I think the spa (located in our home town) has a new client. I'll probably send Carrie first. She earned it.

Total stats on the ride:
Day one:
Distance: 59.32 miles
Time: 4:32:23
Avg. speed: 13.1 mph
Max speed: 35.8 mph
Calories burned: 5020
Avg. cadence: 68 rpm

Day two:
Distance: 49.20
Time: 3:19:09
Avg. speed: 15.2 mph
Max. speed: 37.6 mph
Calories burned: 3284
Avg. cadence: 69 rpm

I used my heart-rate monitor on the Garmin 305 Carrie bought for me for the first time on this ride. It says my average heart rate was 126 bpm and my max was 143 bpm. I have no idea what that means, but I assume that the first number is a bit high and the fact I didn't die may be a good thing. If anyone knows what that is, let me know--or I'll look it up myself. Everytime I go to the doctor, they tell me my blood pressure is normal and my heart rate is too. So I'm putting it out there for your closet MDs to tell me if I should be concerned.

Thanks to all my sponsors for their wonderful (and GENEROUS) support on this ride. I know I ask you folks every year to do what you can, and you continually amaze me and my family with your generosity and true devotion to this cause. I invite you to come ride/visit/watch next year. McCall is a beautiful location and would be a great place for a vacation.

Thanks again--and lots of love to each of you!

MS Ride a Success (Day One)

I finished. The MS Ride up in McCall this year was terrific. It was tough. It was challenging. It was well-supported. I love the ride and I love the opportunity to participate in such a fantastic cause. I've got a few pictures from it--although only a pair of them with me, since I didn't really know anyone in the ride (that changed after I rode...I'm a talker), but enjoy!

On day one, I climbed the first thirty miles--seriously--it was an "out-and-back" ride of mostly climbing the first thirty miles--and left the lunch stop ready to head down the mountain. About a mile or two into it, I noticed something on my front tire that looked like tar or goo. I stopped and realized that I had a "herniated tire" and that unless I could find a tire (not a tube), my ride would be over, and I would miss the downhill I had earned. See the picture below for a look at what a herniated tire looks like (note the blisters):

So I hopped into the SAG wagon that would take me to the twenty-mile rest stop and waited. He was also the Sweep car, so we had to wait for the last riders to go--he couldn't use his radio because he wasn't "HAM-certified" or something. Yikes. On our way down the mountain, we came across two brothers (who I'd seen a few times already) who were having their fair share of mechanical problems. One of them had just gotten his third flat of the morning (that was about one per hour). His brother Jason had already flatted once and also broken a cleat on his shoe. Good times. I suggested the issue wasn't "tubular" but instead "rimular" or "spokular" and that he ought to check that out. To make a long story short, we swapped wheels, rims and all, so I could ride down the hill (he was done--plus the SAG wagon had beer and he was thirsty). Here's a nice picture of the "two wrongs make a bike" pair of wheels:

That night, I joined my family, was super grumpy and sore, and actually got a reasonable amount of sleep. Special thanks to my wonderful wife for putting up with me and allowing me to do this without too much "leaving the kids alone" guilt. I love this cause and I love this ride. Mostly because I love my Mom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where I'll Be Riding This Weekend

Just in case you're wondering where the MS Road, Sweat and Gears ride is this weekend, here's a look:


And the elevation:

Both the day one and day two rides are "out and back" rides, which means I'll be on either side of the road, depending on the time of day. I'm excited about the ride, but the elevation should prove to be quite a challenge. I find that the harder the hills, the more I think about my Mom, your ears should be itching or burning--or whatever they do when people think about you--almost all weekend!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Uncommonly Common

In the vein of "you can find anything on the internet" I got a bug to look up my surname and see how common it is. I don't see it as all that common--and the variations of it are even less common. Little did I know that my name is #574 in America and there are an estimated 52,495 Randalls in America--meaning that 19.46 people per 100,000 share my last name.

My wife's maiden name is #807. I guess the Randalls have been more "fertile."