December Update or Winter Is (Finally) Here …..

Fluffy 1e

 

 After an extended autumn, winter has arrived with a vengeance and not a moment too soon. It’s only 10 days ’till Christmas, and things are finally starting to look and feel seasonally appropriate. Not that I minded the extended warm weather, but it is nice to feel the cold north wind in your face, as you dive head first into the holidays.

I’ll get to Christmas plans in a moment, but first I’ll bring you up to date on a few developments. Ski season has started here in Iowa, and I was treated to a new (for me) experience. I got to ride the first chair of the season at “Seven Oaks”, our local ski hill. Not that the 275 foot vertical in any way compares with Vail, Aspen, Keystone, or even my former home (Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario), but it was a genuine thrill to be the first on-piste!

This follows a very successful bike season, where I racked up well over 5000 km and won a silver medal (20 km ITT) in my last Iowa Games. I had a lot of fun riding my Pinarello this year and intend to keep on cycling, but I have decided to quit racing. I no longer need the motivation that racing gives me, just being on the bike is motivation enough. Truth be told, I am just tired of the training needed to be competitive.

Christmas will have an added boost this year, as in addition to the usual festivities Olivia will be home from university!!! We’ll all be glad to see her (picking her up from Iowa City tomorrow),  but I suspect Bun-Bun will be the most excited of all. He can often be found sitting outside her room, as if wondering where she has gone. Apart from the “homecoming” it will be the usual quiet Christmas in Iowa. Christmas Eve tacos are a family tradition, and a late (too late for some) start Christmas Day is expected. Am I ready??? Yes!

To all, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas!

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The Day After ………

Rick at Tim's

It seemed somewhat appropriate that as I sat down to write this post, the tornado sirens began to howl. It was only the monthly test of our early warning system, there are few tornadoes in November, but after what happened on election night, who knows? Perhaps what I heard was not the warning system, but the anguished wail of America.

To say that the Trump victory last night came as a surprise to me, may be the understatement of the year. I was stunned. How could the political experts be so wrong? Seems my idealistic view of a warm and welcoming view of America, is not shared by all Americans. Does the “Land of the Free” not apply to everyone?

This morning the shock and dismay of election night, had devolved into a feeling of abject sadness. Not that the results actually affect my plans, economics dictate my future is in Canada. I’m just sad for what this means to Americans, to the world.

The silent majority has spoken. Only time will tell what impact the choice made last night, will have on the America of the future. America is broken, the severity of the damage revealed last night. As difficult as may be to see it this morning, today is the first day of the rebuilding process.

Jewell Farmhouse 1 bw

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Election Day In The USA ……

For Kathy #3

Well the big day is finally here, and not a moment too soon. For months Americans have been bombarded with facts (too few), half-truths, and outright lies, from a pair of candidates, who seem unable to avoid controversy. This is my first presidential campaign since moving to Iowa, but I am assured that this is an election like no other. Tomorrow will be a new day and life will go on, but what sort of life will it be? Will it be a slow, methodical march towards an America for all of us, or a return to an America filled with hatred and mistrust of those different from yourself. I know where I would choose to live, and I do have a choice. How about you? What America do you want to call home?

July 4th #2

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October Update – The Election Issue (and other news) …

Bunny in Bag 2 8x10n

Autumn 2016 Iowa, USA. For 2 weeks now, I have attempted to put together a Canadian perspective on the current United States’ General Election. I am however, at a loss for words. Never have I seen anything like what has transpired on the American political stage, over the last few months. Perhaps just short of the “Theatre of the Bizarre”, perhaps not, but at this point I think many voters are wondering aloud if a “do over” is possible.

So sorry, no insightful perspective today. With all due respect to the American electoral system, how can anyone comment seriously on an election where one candidate plots to jail his opponent if elected, claims that the election is rigged against him, and that any criticism of his character, is due a conspiracy by Democrats, Republicans, the media, the international banking elite and Carlos Slim! Reality television this may be, but whose reality.

In other news … my pet rabbit Bun-Bun, has experienced, and survived, a serious health issue. No need to go into details (they are of an intimate nature), but thanks to the superb care he received at the Iowa State University Small Animal Clinic he is once again a happy and very healthy rabbit. Crisis averted, the family and I can look forward to his company for years to come.

This is a busy time of year. Cycling season is winding down (over 4000km and a silver medal to date) and I am looking forward to ski season. The weather here in Iowa is not very October like yet, it was over 70F today, but the days are getting shorter. I am already looking forward to my Colorado trip in April. Sadly, my annual trip home has to be delayed until the spring. Bunny surgery is expensive. A belated Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving to all.

Bunny in Bag 1 8x10n

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Cycling In The Heat, At The Olympics, And More …….

Bike Aug 2015

The heat index was 106F in Ames this afternoon. Not the kind of day that makes most people think of cycling ……. I guess I am not most people. I have found that cycling in the heat is do-able, even enjoyable, if you pay attention to a few details. For me these include proper hydration, reduced pace and duration, and finally a safety net. For many, that could be a fully charged cell phone. For me it is restricting my cycling to circuits of the local park (Ada Hayden), where I am never more than 2 miles from my car and a respite from the heat. Toyota air conditioning is immediate and effective.

To be sure 106F is usually enough to discourage me, but today I was inspired. After watching the cycling road races on the weekend, and the time trials today, it was impossible to stay home. I won’t bore you with a list of the winners, you can get that on any of a multitude of Olympic websites, but I will give you some impressions.

I was not expecting much, to be honest. The constant stream of negative publicity had succeeded in curbing my enthusiasm for cycling events that occur only once every four years. Boy was I wrong. The cycling venue was absolutely spectacular, with the hardest course in recent memory. The circuit included lung-busting climbs, treacherous descents, and even stretches of cobbles. Sadly, the descents were to play an important role in both the men’s and women’s road races, with serious crashes eliminating top contenders minutes from gold. That is not to say the winners (Greg van Avermaet and  Anna van der Breggen) were not deserving, they were, but it is heart-breaking to see someone’s Olympic dream to end, so close to the finish line.

The time trials today were equally entertaining, if less dramatic. Kristin Armstrong (no relation to Lance) took the women’s race, held in the wind and rain. It was a fitting gift for her 43rd birthday tomorrow, and was her third TT gold in succession. The men’s race was held under improving conditions and featured a win for Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara in his last Olympic Games.

The dedication of every one of these riders is impressive, something that I indeed lack. I ride now for enjoyment only,despite my yearly appearance in the Iowa Games. And I do find a bike ride enjoyable, even when heat index hits 106F.

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Back To Biking …

Iowa Games 2015 (5x7@300)web

Well the car isn’t packed yet and it may be a while before a move to Canada becomes feasible, so I guess it is time to continue with my original plan to talk about cycling. After all, I am sure Mr.Trump will provide much food for thought (and fuel for outrage) in the coming months. So cycling it is.

I am having a great summer! Iowa is very bike friendly, due to the favorable (if you don’t mind the heat) weather, and traffic free (relative to Ontario) roads. As of July 30th, I have ridden 2651 km and I feel pretty good. Roads here are far from flat, with rolling terrain in the countryside and some short steep climbs in town. As last year, I entered the Iowa Games as a test for my fitness and was rewarded with a silver medal in my age group. I actually finished off the podium, but since the fast guys save 1, were from out of state, I came home with a medal. Not bad for a guy with bad knees, on a 15 year-old steel framed bike.

At the other end of the cycling spectrum in the TDF, the Tour De France. This year’s edition was spectacular, with Chris Froome demonstrating that his success was not solely due to the strength of the Sky Team. He rode intelligently, as is his custom, but aggressively as well. He even attempted to out sprint green jersey winner Peter Sagan at one point. The backdrop for the race of course is France, but there were also forays into the Swiss Alps  and the Pyrenees of Spain and Andorra. Fan support was huge as always, and at times uncontrollable. Several incidents this year, will keep the organizers struggling for answers this winter.

Home life has been pretty terrific too. When not on the bike or at the gym, I’m kept busy keeping up with Kathy and the kids. We celebrated both Canada Day (Poutine and Moosehead) and Independence Day. The U.S. holiday included a traditional small-town parade and a spectacular fireworks display, as well as hot dogs, brats and potato salad. It was a very fattening week!

It’s late and time for bed. Talk soon eh?

Dayton House 39 IR (red filter).tiffweb

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Change Of Plans ……

rick-at-tims2Today I was going to talk about cycling …. about my efforts at the Iowa Games, about Chris Froome and his efforts at the TDF, and about how after a stretch of hot and humid weather (humidex to 112F) even 91F seems reasonable (even pleasant) weather for a ride. Today I was going to talk about the joys of cycling in the state of Iowa, home of the largest mass start recreational tour in the world RAGBRAI. That was the plan, but plans change.

Today when I returned home from a morning ride, I was greeted by Donald Trump making an open invitation to a foreign super-power …….. well here’s the quote.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican presidential nominee said, staring directly into the bank of television cameras set up at a golf course he owns outside Miami. “I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.”

Now I admit I am not up on the politics of the USA, but doesn’t that sound to you like the leader of the Republican Party is inviting an adversarial power to commit cyber-war on the USA? Doesn’t that sound to you that Donald Trump is asking the hackers in Russia to help him win his campaign against Hillary Clinton? Doesn’t that sound to you like the words of a man, a very dangerous man, who does not have a clue? Yet his approval rating grows.

Today I planned to talk about cycling, instead I am contemplating an exit strategy.

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