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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Memorial Day 2024

If tomorrow all the things were gone, I'd worked for all my life
And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife
I'd thank my luck stars, to be living here today
Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I'd gladly stand up next to you, and defend her still today
Cause there aint no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA
God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood (1984)

God Bless The U.S.A. featuring Lee Greenwood, Home Free,
and the Singing Sergeants (2021).

Memorial Day is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past, and renew our commitment to the future of America.

Today, as in the past, there are problems that must be solved and challenges that must be met. We can tackle them with our full strength and creativity only because we are free to work them out in our own way. We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.

I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.

This Memorial Day of 1983, we honor those brave Americans who died in the service of their country. I think an ancient scholar put it well when he wrote:  "Let us now praise famous men . .  All these were honored in their generation, and were the glory of their times. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore." As a tribute to their sacrifice, let us renew our resolve to remain strong enough to deter aggression, wise enough to preserve and protect our freedom, and thoughtful enough to promote lasting peace throughout the world.

President Ronald W. Reagan, May 26, 1983.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

GDMBR - Ride With Reinhart

A fair number of the folks who ask about my ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route ("GDMBR") are considering their own. To start their preparation, I point to the maps and book by the Adventure Cycling Association, the creators of the route, and then to readily accessible journals and articles available on-line, including my 50+ blog posts. GDMBR Page. Also, a growing number of cyclists now document their experience by video.

In my relentless research before riding the GDMBR, I watched just about every YouTube video I could find. I even watched the 2010 movie "Ride The Divide" showcasing the Tour Divide, which is an informally organized "race" that piggybacks along most of ACA's GDMBR route. Some videos were professionally staged, edited, and produced, some were little more than a collection of phone videos, and many fell somewhere in between. I enjoyed them all and learned much.

Now three years removed from that ride preparation, I still enjoy watching new GDMBR videos as they come out. Not surprisingly, I learn something every time. Plus it's just fun to experience it anew, this time through the heart of a kindred spirit.

Of all the videos I've watched, a recent series stands out as the one to watch to prepare for a ride of the GDMBR. Ride With Reinhart - YouTube Channel

Reinhart toured the route over 53 days and posted a 10-20 minute long video for each day. So, the episode for any given day is not a long watch, but the series does take some time to work through. I watched 2-3 episodes at a sitting, occasionally going back for another look.

I found Reinhart to be engaging, informative, and entertaining. A guy I'd probably like to ride with. He includes a short summary of the previous day's ride, a description of the campsite or accommodations, and a look ahead. As one would expect, Reinhart carefully attends to weather, water, food, and shelter, but does not let logistics dominate. Each day, he includes significant video footage of the roads, scenery, and encounters with others, with at-the-time commentary. 

Each video looks like it presents an honest, unvarnished glimpse of that particular day on the route. Strung together, the series paints a comprehensive picture of the overall experience.

For someone preparing to ride the GDMBR, or for someone who wants to dive deeply into the day-to-day experience of riding the GDMBR, I recommend the Ride With Reinhart video series. I know that I'll watch it again. 

Ride With Reinhart - 2023 GDMBR Wrap Up

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Outside The Norm

While I enjoyed a quiet cup of freshly brewed coffee in a city park one overcast morning, a great disturbance in the force snapped my attention to the nearby bike path. A solitary Canadian Goose angrily stomped about the base of a large cottonwood tree, squawking and generally creating a ruckus. 

Thinking that perhaps a perceived predator wandered too close to a hidden nest, I scanned to find something, anything, to cause such a scene. Nothing on the ground. Not even another goose. Maybe in the sky above. 

Then I saw it.

No way. Another Canadian Goose stands on a large limb of the cottonwood tree, a solid 40 feet off the ground.

What series of circumstances and decisions put that relatively large, heavy, web-footed water fowl up there? Maybe it had something to do with the other goose aggressively patrolling below. I don't know. Somehow, that Goose landed in dramatically unfamiliar territory, far outside its norm.

Maybe it's time to do the same.

Addendum. After a little research, I learned that Canadian Geese have been known to nest in trees, although rarely. I certainly have never before seen one high in a tree. A lesson in creatively adapting to circumstances, despite limitations and obstacles.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Long Live Long Rides

My post last week entitled "Better Coffee For Bikepacking" elicited a variety of responses and a number of suggestions. Thanks to all. I will try some new options, while continuing to tinker with what I have. If I find something that works better for me than the CoffeeBrewer or the AeroPress GO, I certainly will write about it.

In the meantime, today I arose to some kind of wonderful morning for enjoying coffee outside. 40 degrees. Little wind. Overcast. Drizzle. Like riding through a cloud. Almost heaven. South Dakota. With my Jones 29+ already set up with packs and loaded for breakfast, I only need to dress appropriately before pedaling.

After about an hour of lightly spinning around town, I stop near the base of M-Hill at Founders Park. The City of Rapid City, or a couple of kind citizens, finally moved two picnic tables under the shelter there. Great timing. It will be nice to be under a roof today, even though I wouldn't get very wet out in the open.

Looking for that next long ride, somewhere out in the prairie beyond the Black Hills.
Not from today, but not long ago.

Onto the task at hand. Within a few minutes, I savor a sip of fresh hot coffee made in my AeroPress GO with beans roasted by local cyclist Christopher Grady of Sawyer Coffee Lab. Oh. That is good. That is very good. 

Soon, I am ready for a second cup. For some reason, I decide to conduct a direct comparison with Starbucks Via, the instant coffee that I used on my 2021 ride of the GDMBR. More accurately, I carried it until I simply could not stand drinking it. Today, the Via instant tastes okay, although well short of that from the AeroPress GO. Little wonder that it failed after a few weeks on the trail.

I realize that this goes beyond coffee. Something that works well enough for an hour, may not work over a day. And something that works for a day, may not work over a week. If for a week, will it over a month? Some things must be lived out.

Long rides reveal much, particularly with all the trials that emerge with the passage of time. Much is revealed over time - about coffee, food, gear, components, bikes, and especially the person pedaling. What awaits discovery during your next long ride?

Long live long rides.

Long Hard Ride, The Marshall Tucker Band (1976).