why do I ride

to start on the right foot, the best Nike commercial ever, withdrawn because it was too scary or something like that.
so, why do I ride my bike, run, swim like an anchor, and basically work to get and stay Rugged?
well, I actually enjoy it.  I kind of lost sight of that in the face of some reductio ad absurdum thinking, which I won’t get into now.
  1. there’s just something magical about riding a bike.  it just rolls along at speed like a magic carpet.
  2. I like the feeling of completing a challenge.  In a well timed race, like last week, I hit the finish line feeling like I’m going to keel over.  But when I see that i’m close to target, or better, ahead of target, 😀
  3. I like the people, for the most part.  Tony, my mother’s 85 year old training partner always has fun stories about his WWII bomber buddies, Jesse the drummer always has fun stores from the golden days of running, and sage advice, and the other two amigos, are, well, the other two amigos!
  4. I like that feeling of ruggedness.  when you know you’ve got the power to do what you want to do.  besides, legs like telephone poles and a six-pack just looks good.
  5. It provides a healthy outlet.  Better to spend my money on bike loot (and funding Swan’s real estate purchases and way more than hopeless biking habit) than drinking or drugs or anything else counterproductive.


And speaking of all this, I think it’s time to get ruggedified.


Save a life

On the news this morning, there was a story about a very high profile case where a doctor stands accused of hastening a terminally brain damaged patient’s death in order to harvest organs.  There is a fear in the medical community that this will cause people to be even more reluctant to become organ donors.  Currently, half the people on the waiting list for organs die waiting.  This is a travesty!  You’re dead, you don’t need your organs, but someone else does.
I am an organ donor and you should be too.  sign up: http://www.organdonor.gov/
Personally, I think organ donation should be compulsory, provided that you are in good health (most organ donations are from accident victims–people who die of old age diseases don’t generally make good donors).  I will take the controversial stance that there should be no opting out, because then it would no longer be totally egalitarian.  While some would protest that stand, on personal or religious grounds, my response is that not providing someone with needed medical treatment overrules any personal objections.  You’re dead, that’s it, your organs belong to someone else now.
Of course, there has to be a system of safeguards in place, to prevent organ harvesting from viable patients.  But if you’re brain dead, and not going to leave the hospital, someone else should be given the chance to live.  In the case discussed on CBS this morning, the patient was brain dead and would have died after lingering on life support in a week or so, damaging his organs in the process.  Speeding up his death had positive utility value to the people he saved.
This was an emotional issue last year for me, as my friend Chris Webber died from head trauma, as a result of being hit by a van while crossing the street.  I don’t know whether his organs were donated.  Also last spring, my college roommate Tony died of liver cancer.  I don’t believe a liver transplant was an option for him, but if it was, the system is guilty of killing him–he died because someone was either too careless to register as an organ donor, or selfishly wanted to take their organs with them.
Please register as an organ donor

Race Report: snowflake 4mi

Thursday, I was talking to Nikki, and she told me about the race on saturday.  Race?  awesome.
After staying at peter and julie’s apartment, I picked up my race packet and number, and went out to the course.  A friendly volunteer told me where there was a convenient deli on 102nd and madison, and gave me a buck to buy him some breakfast, I hope that muffin was good!  I stretched out in the warm deli, and headed out to the course to get the party started.  As an illustration of how small the world is, I lined up next to Maryann Totino, a fellow member of the cornell class of 2004 (and a quite good runner turned triathlete).
The race was 4 miles on the usual central park course, which is a little long for what I’ve been doing as far as running lately.  My timing was good, running about 6:35 miles, which would run me out of energy just at the finish.  Getting close to mile three, I could see the black tower of dad’s alma mater, Mt. Sinai medical center, and locked on to a woman wearing an orange singlet (in running races, I always play the ‘man’ strategy), 15 seconds ahead.  I started closing the gap, but then my lungs started to close down on me.  Without a heart rate monitor, I couldn’t tell exactly what my output was, but obviously it was over 90% (185b/min).  My chest felt like it was stuck in a cereal box, unable to expand, I couldn’t get enough air in, and started to fall back, a few of the people I had passed earlier scraping by me as we approached the finish.
My time was a respectable 26:11.  I was shooting for 26:00, but between dropping my hat and having to grab it, and my asthma attack, 11s off target isn’t bad.  And I beat maryann (always have to be competitive, don’t I…)
I couldn’t find Nikki, but I’ll see her soon enough to hear her race report.
Epilogue: my groin hurts a little, going all out running isn’t so brilliant when you’ve been mostly riding at mid-output base training level (175w avg/2h, 150 b/min)

Poverty + neuroscience = policy?

the greatest defeat in the history of the united states was not in Vietnam, not the war of 1812 where the White House was burned, nor will it be in Iraq.  It was the abandonment of the War on Poverty.  While there were disastrous mistakes, like the building of giant complexes that turned into behavioral sinks, the government programs did substantially reduce poverty.  And then the war in Vietnam went badly, the country’s politics turned rightward, and the programs were cut back.  Private charity can only do so much, people aren’t naturally inclined to give away enough of their money, and often say things like "that’s not my problem".  You pay your taxes for the government to know better, to do what has to be done.  The government’s priorities have been "defense’ above all else.  The B-58 bomber cost more than its weight in gold: its only purpose was to deliver a nuclear weapon to an unlucky spot marked on the navigator’s map.  No B-58 ever dropped a bomb in anger.  The current war in Iraq costs billions a month, we destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq, and are rather slowly rebuilding it.  They’re miserable, the lights are off and the taps are dry.  And the US isn’t any more secure in real terms–we just gave the Islamic radicals what they wanted, so they’re happy to leave the US to its devices.
So, last summer, I biked across the country with Bike and Build, raised about $3000 for affordable housing projects, and put about 30 man-hours into building houses.  that’s not much, even for one man.  I see it as the government’s job to do something, and I’m not averse to paying for it.  I don’t want to be asked for money, I want Uncle Sam to say to me, "give me your money, I’ll put it into housing, medical care, the environment" and not "give me your money, I’ll buy bombs, subsidise strip mining, and if there’s any left, i’ll contribute some to fighting poverty through charities that promote a conservative agenda."
This November, I don’t know who to vote for.  All the major candidates are pretty poor choices.  No one who wants to get elected really is going to talk to addressing the problems of poverty, Edwards did, and he’s cooling his heels on the sidelines.  And who knows how serious he was anyway.  so, if you can push the agenda with a candidate to make a commitment like Edwards, good.  endorse him or her.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste (read article).joseph drugslawrence build site

what you need out here

Thank you Tractor Supply Company, for a wonderful slogan.  The Bike and Build gear list is done, finally replacing the old gear guide that was mostly incomprehensible and rather less than useful.  It started as a simple list of the things to bring, and ballooned into a giant explanation of why you need the stuff you need out there.  so I hope it answers Badanes request for an explanation of why you should shell out for good stuff.
A big thanks to Emilio DeSoto for the awesome gear bag, Glenn, Jose who did a lot of work on it, Nate for the idea of the double sleeping bag system, and Badanes for the encouragement for doing it.