Here’s a blog worth following

This is about people riding their bikes from Seattle to St. Louis. They started with nine riders, including me. I dropped out at Quinn’s Hot Springs in Montana, returning to Seattle to celebrate a grandson’s graduation from Seattle U. Two other riders had plans to go to Cody, Wyoming, and then return to home in Cincinnati.

So there are six riding now, three to Omaha and then three on to St. Louis. Carol keeps a blog worth following. Check it out:

https://carolla1010.wixsite.com/wanderers

“He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life”

Virginia Woolf

“Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth. Roll up that tender air and the plant dies, the color fades. The earth we walk on is a parched cinder. It is marl we tread and fiery cobbles scorch our feet. By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. ‘Tis waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.”

  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Generational wealth starting from zero = never catching up

Isabel Wilkerson

“. . . colored people, having received next to nothing in material assets from their slave foreparents, had to labor with the knowledge that they were now being underpaid by more than half, that they were so behind it would be all but impossible to accumulate the assets their white counterparts could, and that they would, by definition, have less to leave succeeding generations than similar white families. Multiplied over the generations, it would mean a wealth deficit between the races that would require a miracle windfall or near asceticism on the part of colored families if they were to have any chance of catching up or amassing anything of value. Otherwise, the chasm would continue, as it did for blacks as a group even into the succeeding century. The layers of accumulated assets built up by the better-paid dominant caste, generation after generation, would factor into a wealth disparity of white Americans having an average net worth ten times that of black Americans by the turn of the twenty-first century, dampening the economic prospects of the children and grandchildren of both Jim Crow and the Great Migration before they were even born.”

“The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson

Dear bike riders: Give me some buying advice

Say you were going on a long-distance bike ride with your sister and you had never been able to keep up with her in previous trips. And now she will be on this next ride with her newly purchased electric assisted bike. She will travel halfway around the world while I am putting on my shoes.

I will only be on the trip for one week – she goes on forever. During that one week of my pedaling, there will be one day of gravel riding. I have a road bike, which tend to go over on gravel.

But I also have a mountain bike that has been converted into some Frankenstein monster bike: no knobby tires, no bar ends but now with fenders, two bells, compass and headlights. The fenders, bells and compass could go away to make it at least somewhat presentable on the trail. Ride that bike for a week? After riding my road bike for several years, I feel uncomfortable on the faux mountain bike, like my torso is being bent upward between the handlebars and the seat.

So given these choices below, offered to me by biking friends, what would you do:

Buy a gravel bike: “It’s all I ride anymore,” says a riding friend who also owns a road bike. Clerks at three bike shops tell me it is the bike to have for Seattle: low gears for hills, wider tires for wet streets and the option to start riding non-paved roads and trails. My sister has already suggested two other gravel trips we could in the years ahead. So, dear bike riders, would you buy one of these:

Website: https://www.bikeswift.com/collections/complete-bikes/products/marin-four-corners
This bike is out of stock, but my bike shop has one sitting on its floor.

Buy an electric assisted bike: In even suggesting this, I have already been called a wimp by a biking friend. A gravel ebike could go every day on the upcoming trip except that the battery range is up to 50 miles on a trip that has at least one century day. The battery goes dead, and I’m left pedaling a 40-pound bike up hills. My sister would go twice around the world while I’m doing the walk of shame up mountain majesties.

https://www.bikeswift.com/collections/complete-bikes/products/marin-fairfax-2-w-swift

The bike above is not the Marin Four Corners, but it is close enough, and the Four Corners could have electric assist added. That’s part of the problem on this bike and others like it: The electric assist looks like something added later. Mostly because it was added later. One of the problems with buying the Richey above would be if I added electric assist later it would look like something that had been added later.

https://hilltopperbikes.com/product/discover-electric-gravel-road-bike-c9/

This is the Hilltopper Discover Electric gravel bike. The battery is in the front tube as if the bike had always been planned to be an electric assisted bike and not cobbled together later in its life. However, it is out of stock. I talked to someone who answered the phone at Hilltopper, who said COVID had done no favors to its supply chain or its ability to bring people together to build bikes. I heard that from other bike reps I talked to: Lots of people want bikes now, perhaps to stay socially distanced and go somewhere, and the ability of the bike builders to keep up with the demand ain’t there. Maybe by summer, as Hilltopper’s website says.

Switch bikes: The first two days of the trip cover 105 miles, including the gravel trail. I could ride the Frankenstein bike for two days and have a SAG person carry my road bike for me to switch to for the rest of the week. Frankie could be left out back of the motel and could be picked up later, depending on how I felt about it after riding it for two days.

What would you do, dear biking friends – or strangers. I’m willing to listen to some sage advice before digging – or not – into my wallet.

“. . . what nature is death and of what nature life?”

“. . . if sleep it was, of what nature, we can scarcely refrain from asking, are such sleeps as these? Are they remedial measures – trances in which the most galling memories, events that seem likely to cripple life for ever, are brushed with a dark wing which rubs their harshness off and gilds them, even the ugliest, and basest, with a lustre, an incandescence? Has the finger of death to be laid on the tumult of life from time to time lest it rend us asunder? Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living? And then what strange powers are these that penetrate our most secret ways and change our most treasured possessions without our willing it? Had Orlando, worn out by the extremity of his suffering, died for a week. And then come to life again? And if so, of what nature is death and of what nature life? Having waited well over half an hour for an answer to these questions, and none coming, let us get on with the story.”

  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf

What humans do: Hoping to find a better spot in the sun

“They did what humans have done for centuries when life became unbearable — what the pilgrims did under the tyranny of British rule, what the Scots-Irish did in Oklahoma when the land turned to dust, what the Irish did when there was nothing to eat, what the European Jews did during the spread of Nazism, what the landless in Russia, Italy, China, and elsewhere did when something better across the ocean called to them. What binds these stories together was the back-against-the-wall, reluctant yet hopeful search for something better, any place but where they were. They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done.

They left.”

“The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson

https://madcapschemes.com/2019/09/

My bets could win money on this race, except they didn’t

“. . . the winner got away well, but the favorites weren’t hampered at the start and either could have beaten the Irish trained horse, only that they just didn’t.”

“The Tale of the Gypsy Horse” by Donn Byrne, collected in The Dick Francis Complete Treasury of Great Racing Stories.

Reading a horse story, I came across this famous dog passage

“Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

“Silver Blaze” a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle, collected in The Dick Francis Complete Treasury of Great Racing Stories.