Da Code

It’s no secret that I don’t hold the general American populace in the highest regard. It’s not that I hate people, it’s just that as a group (and particularly IN groups), people are dumb. Even with this attitude as my baseline, people still manage to really disappoint me from time to time.

This time it’s “The DaVinci Code.” First, there was the book, which got a lot of people really riled up. Now, there’s a movie, which apparently gives those same people entirely new reasons to be upset. I’m not going to rehash the story or the resulting fallout here. If you’re reading this, you’re online; if you’re online, you’ve already heard about it.

I will present a short list of reasons why I find this latest string of protests particularly stupid:

1. It’s fiction.

2. It’s old news. The book was released 3 years ago.

3. It’s not the first time these ideas have been presented.

4. It’s fiction. This one’s really important and should be mentioned twice.

5. By all accounts, the movie isn’t particularly good.

6. Protests=free advertising.

7. Anyone whose faith is shattered by a crime novel was probably on pretty shaky spiritual ground to begin with.

C’mon, people, get with the program. “The DaVinci Code” was a really well-written, well-researched thriller. Read it, enjoy it. If the ideas presented in it bother you, try an open discussion with your family and friends. You might just expand your mind by some tiny little fraction.

But, I’m deluding myself. I can try to explain it ’til I’m blue in the face, but it’s all an attempt to avoid the really painful reality that all these protesters want is their 15 minutes of shame, er, fame. Why can’t they embrace the positive impacts of such a phenomenon?

Opus Dei could use this as an opportunity to make a lot more people aware of what they are really about. The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (Ever heard of them? Sure… NOAH? I get their newsletter.) could embrace this chance for some publicity. Rosslyn Chapel could probably take care of any funding issues for the next decade. But no, let’s all just protest and make asses of ourselves.

At least I can take some solace in the fact that this time, it’s not just America being amazingly stupid. It’s global.

Iron Man, Part II

Stupid work always getting in the way of fun…

So, we’re a few miles into the ride. We’re wet. Completely. Any misconceptions we had about keeping dry at all were now gone. But, hey, we’re having fun.

Somewhere around the 10-mile mark, we were climbing a pretty steep hill. I decide to take my front shifter down a notch to assist in the climb. Nothing happens, literally. I stopped like I hit a brick wall. So, I hop off the bike and walk to the top of the hill. I tried to give the shifter a quick inspection, but everything was soaked and caked with sand. (Part of the problem? Perhaps.) I manage to get the chain to the center and figure that’s a decent compromise. I still have 8 gears in the back, right?

A couple miles later, I notice that my back brakes are not grabbing so well. Hey, it’s wet out here, but I’m thinking I should have a little more stopping power. I tighten things up as well as I can under the circumstances and figure it’s enough to get me to the half-way point. There, we’ll find a rest stop and some mechanical help.

The rest stop at the halfway point was actually more like the 18-mile mark. Good for the psychology of finishing the ride, bad when you’re really looking forward to some mechanical assistance. The first thing we see pulling in is a big Eriks’ Bike Shop tent.

Side note: Erik’s rules. I bought my bike there, and they’ve been great. I’ve been back for lots of tune ups and adjustments, and they’ve always taken great care of me. I’ve dealt mostly with the guys in Bloomington, but I’ve been at the store by the U and had the same experience there. If you need a bike, fo to Erik’s.

Anyway, the guy at the tent throws my bike up on the rack, adjusts the shifter, tightens the brakes and lubes the chain in about 30 seconds. Suddenly, everything is the best it’s been all day.

We went inside for some Gatorade and muffins before heading back to the trail. My wife wasn’t holding up quite so well at this point, so we took our time, resting a bit and fueling up. This is where our difffering approaches to things became a minor issue: my approach in this sort of situation is to just keep going as hard and fast as I can and get through it. Hers is more to slow down and take some time with it.

We spearated shortly after the rest stop. I figured I could get 10-15 minutes ahead of her by the end of the trail, warm up the truck, get some clean clothes ready, all that kind of crap so that when she came in, she wouldn’t have to deal with any of that.

The second half of the ride was much less eventful. The trail levelled off quite a bit and went more highway, less park. I maintained a pretty good pace and headed back to the truck. By this time, a fair number of riders had finished and left for the day. so I loaded up my bike and pulled the truck much closer to the ending point. I grabbed all our clothes and headed inside to wait for my wife. Turns out our timing was just about perfect, as we arrived just a few minutes apart. Clean clothes and a big bottle of Gatorade improved our situation immensely.

Upon arriving home, we hosed off the bikes as well as we could, locked ’em up and headed inside. A couple loads of laundry took care of the most visible damage, however, our legs weren’t going to recover quite so fast. We headed to the Y to sit in the hot tub for a bit, which helped, but we were both still in pretty rough shape. The rest of the evening was spent with a big bag of Thai food and as little movement as possible.

All in all, I think it was a positive experience for me. It was brutal, and it will be a while before I try for that kind of distance again, but I’m feeling pretty darn good about myself. Now if I could get the rest of the sand out of the living room…

I am Ironman

I would like to take this opportunity for a little bragging. Yesterday, my wife and I rode in the Minnesota Ironman. Being our first time, we opted for the 30-mile route, but that was plenty for a couple of beginners.

We arrived in Lakeville with some trepidation, as it had been raining for about 36 hours straight, with no sign of letting up. The temperature was hovering at a cool 49; we’d be safe from snow, but still mighty chilly. The weather didn’t seem to be affecting the turnout, as we had to park a good half-mile from Lakeville North High School, the official starting point. Still, we had used the half-hour drive to convince ourselves that this would be so horrible it was fun, so we were ready to go.

We rode up to LNHS to get signed in and to make sure wheels were properly attached, seats were adjusted and everything was in order. We had missed the main rush, so it only took a moment and we were ready to go.

Our first mistake was not stretching. This wasn’t a quick trip to the store for ice cream, this was a 30-mile ride. We probably would have been better off with muscles that hadn’t just gotten out of the car.

There were three routes for the ride: 30, 62 and 100 miles. About a mile into the ride, the three routes separated. Ours (the 30-mile) quickly got off the main roads and onto a nicely paved path around Lake Marion. It was cold, it was rainy, but it was actually looking pretty good.

My second mistake was thinking that my glasses were going to do any good whatsoever.

Unfortunately, after a couple miles, we split off from the lake and got into some much hillier territory. Still, it was a circular route, so I figured every trip up a hill meant an equal trip down a hill at some point. Unfortunately, Lakeville puts a stop sign at the bottom of every hill. As deserted as the roads were, it was tempting to blow through the stop signs. But, that’s generally a bad idea and besides, this was a ride to promote bicycle safety and awareness; hardly the time to bend the rules. So, every time we got a little momentum going, it was time to stop. Every time there was a decent-sized hill to climb, we had to start from a dead stop.

I’ll have to call that the end of Part One, as I actually have to do some work now.