Saturday, May 31, 2014

long way to go

With just over 2 months before the 2014 edition of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour kicks off in Colorado Springs, I've got a lot of work ahead of me to be ready to tackle climbs like Monarch Pass, Cottonwood Pass, and Pikes Peak. I need to ride several times a week, even if they're short rides. I need to ride some longer rides and include hills in those rides.

To that end, the weather cooperated with us this morning and I got my longest ride of the year in, just over 58 miles. There were a few clouds, a lot of sunshine, a little wind. There were also some hills that proved that Kansas is not flat. I may have cried a little, so what?

As I suffered up one hill about 45 miles into the ride, maybe 6-7% grade, possibly 3/4 of a mile long, I thought to myself, just do that 10 times in a row and you can get over most Colorado passes. OK, Pikes Peak is not a "pass", and it's a little steeper in sections, and instead of 10 times I would need to do it about 25 times. But those are all details. I just rode 58 miles.

Over the next 9 weeks I need to do several 50 mile rides, a couple of 75-80 milers, and hopefully at least one century ride. To paraphrase a line from a movie: "If the good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise", Colorado here I come.

p.s. My Mother pointed out that the line wasn't from a movie, but how Tennessee Ernie Ford ended his TV show. A little search shows the phrase was around long before that, and several country artists have recorded songs with that title. If this phrase doesn't motivate me in my training to ride up the mountains, maybe Mr Ford's signature song will; Sixteen Tons.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

what's important to you?

Recently I read about a meeting of people concerned with the average diet in our country, and how it contributes to serious health problems, damage to our environment, and horrific suffering of animals. One of the participants was Mark Bittman, author of The VB6 Cookbook. His previous book, Vegan Before 6 described how he had gained weight and was facing the onset of diabetes, and following his doctor's advice adopted a diet which was vegan for the first 2 meals of the day, and allowed for some flexibility at dinner. He calls for everyone to be at least a part-time vegan.

When I started eating a plant-based diet it was purely for the health benefits. The more I learned about factory farming's impact on the planet, and the unimaginable suffering of millions of animals, the more my focus and determination changed. But I'm a strong believer in all the benefits from eating greener.
People who are advocates of the environment, or animal rights activists, are understandably passionate about conveying their message as fast and as far as possible. But sometimes that passion can blind them to the reality that only those willing to listen will hear their message. I follow lots of message boards, blogs, and posts that point out instances of animal suffering, pollution, and how activism is helping. But if you are someone who subscribes to those posts, they are preaching to the choir.

I've seen enough that I want to be a vegan for the rest of my life. I also know that some vegans come across as zealots, demanding change, and holding strongly their belief that this is an all or nothing proposition. I want to make a difference, but I don't think that's the way to do it. I think we need to see the difference it could make if everyone was open to an approach like VB6.

If you're someone who is concerned with your health, or just want to feel better, you could try being a part-time vegan. If you're concerned about the environmental damage from agribusiness, clearing rain forests for grazing, or the energy it takes to eat the way we do, you could try being a part-time vegan. And if you are an animal lover who can't stand the suffering of those reduced to units on factory farms, but still unable to go all the way, you could be a part-time vegan.
There are scores of resources available to help you learn about all the reasons to change. There are websites and cookbooks with recipes for delicious vegan meals. There are films like Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Food, Inc.

If you're willing to try, you can be part of the solution. Every step is important, every effort makes a difference. What's important to you?