Thursday, 19 June 2008

Twenty Years Ago

6-19-88 Sunday. This will sound like a fib, but it’s not. When I set out on my weekly ride this afternoon, the wind was blowing directly into my face from the west. I fought it all the way to the top of Gates Pass, 16.4 miles from my apartment. I didn’t notice the wind direction when I rode down the other side of the pass, but 13.5 miles later, when I reached the corner of Sandario and Picture Rocks Roads, the wind was blowing furiously out of the southeast—again, directly in my face. When I got over the Tucson Mountains and reached Ina Road, the wind was blowing from the northeast, and a bit later from the east. Naturally, I was riding in an easterly direction at the time. So the wind was against me for at least forty-two of the 62.5 miles I pedalled this afternoon. I can’t win! No matter which route I choose, the wind is against me. At least I avoided rain all afternoon. Despite the oppressive heat (106 degrees [Fahrenheit]), it rained in many parts of town. I know, because from the mountains, you can see just about everything. At places, the sky opened up and rain pelted the ground. The road was wet near the end of my ride, which tells me that it rained there less than an hour earlier.

My average speed was 13.72 miles per hour. Compared to my other speeds, this is poor, but when you realize that I climbed two mountains and fought wind all day, it isn’t bad. I’ll take it. I’ve now ridden 3103.5 miles in the past year. My average weekly ride in 1988 (twenty-five weeks) is 52.26 miles. Last year, for comparison purposes, I averaged fifty-eight miles per week. So although I’m ahead of last year’s pace at this point, I’m really not. Do you follow me? Finally, I rode at least half a mile in the dark. [In my handwritten notes, I said that I rode half an hour in the dark.] It got dark as I approached Sabino Canyon from the west. Just as I passed a female jogger, two coyotes trotted across the road, oblivious to the human intruders. I finally got the wind behind me on Sabino Canyon Road, so I cruised home, tired and overheated. The humidity is slowly rising, making it harder to perspire and stay cool. Only willpower kept me on my chosen route. I could easily have avoided the hills of Sunrise Road by turning southward from the foothills. But I didn’t.

As I rode this afternoon, I thought about social criticism. Not criticism in the negative, belittling sense, which has no point, but criticism in the positive, revealing sense. To be a critic of something, one has to be detached from it. One has to fail to identify with it. Why? Because otherwise one is criticizing oneself, and that’s hard to do. In my case, since I do not identify with many aspects of my society, I can look upon it with some detachment and objectivity. My society is an object to me; it’s an object of my criticism. For example, I am a critic of social values and attitudes. The fact that, for most Americans, animals have an inferior moral status (or none at all) betrays a defect in their thinking. It is also a sexist (that is, male-dominated) society, a society in which only white males are full citizens, full participants in the struggle for power and authority. My gaze also falls on movies and television, popular books and magazines, art, sports, and even hobbies. Though I am much interested in all of these things, it is as a critic—an observer—rather than as a participant. That’s why I don’t enjoy going to movies; I can’t get out of the critical mindset for even one minute.

I saved the bad news for last. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 103-102, to even the best-of-seven series at three games apiece. I honestly didn’t know how the Pistons would perform in this game, but there they were, with only minutes remaining, playing tough. They led by one point with a minute left. But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sank two free throws to give the Lakers the lead, and with five seconds remaining the Pistons couldn’t get off a shot. I was so exasperated by this performance that I flipped my folding chair upward, to the ceiling. It came crashing down on the carpeted floor, like my hopes. Things now look grim for the Pistons. They’re facing a seventh and deciding game, in the Forum, with their star player, Isiah Thomas, injured. He hurt his ankle today and is doubtful for Tuesday’s finale. If the Lakers win, it’ll kill me. I hate them so much. They’re Hollywood, greed, and elitism rolled into one. They deserve to lose.


There are no images (yet) from today’s stage of the Tour of Switzerland. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Addendum: Here is a breathtaking scene from the 2006 Race Across America (RAAM). Here is a blog post about the 2008 winner, Slovenian cyclist Jure Robic, who averaged 13.98 miles per hour. That includes sleep.

Addendum 2: It’s amazing that Robic rode across America in less than nine days. Michael Secrest is going to try to do it in two days. See here.

Addendum 3: Here is a New York Times story about training and fitness. I prefer Eddy Merckx’s advice: “Ride lots.”


The New York Yankees won their seventh consecutive game this afternoon. They are 12-6 in June. My beloved Detroit Tigers have won eight of their past nine games. They are 11-6 in June. The two teams may be fighting it out for the wild-card berth come September.

Addendum: Another hot team is Colorado. The Rockies are 10-6 in June. You knew they were too good to be playing as poorly as they were.

Addendum 2: Did I mention that the Yankees haven’t been to the World Series in five years and haven’t won one in eight, despite outspending every other team by a significant margin? Maybe there is a god, after all.

A Year Ago



Here is your entertainment for this Thursday evening.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Don’t fall into the trap that we in Canada have fallen into: that only free speech that doesn’t offend can be considered free speech. This is only a euphemism for censorship.

For those of us in Canada, it is too late. Once censorship has been given the cloak of official acceptability, it’s almost impossible to root out, because the advocacy groups that support it, and that now have the backing of the law, will do everything they can to hold on to their newfound powers.

We have opened a door that we can no longer shut. The United States still has a chance to save itself. Don’t throw it away.

Roy Weston
Burnaby, British Columbia
June 12, 2008


Is Barack Obama an atypical politician? Not according to Fred Thompson.