Ride2Survive

I tried typing with a sore, swollen wrist with Naproxen and Tylenol 3s in my system the day after the event – not the most effective way of writing. As such I had to get my thoughts down while this amazing event was a little less fresh in my mind, the day after the day after the event. It was probably the most enjoyable and worthwhile injury I’ve ever had, too, but more on that later. Apologies in advance for a long journal entry.

Months of preparation

It’s a mix of pride and melancholy when something you’ve been preparing for months for is finally done and that’s certainly the case with this. I’d never heard of Ride2Survive last year when I stumbled upon it while Googling alternatives to the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I wanted to find something big, challenging and sweaty that I could do to help in the fight against cancer. My wife is a six-year breast cancer survivor, captaining a Run for the Cure team for a couple years and raising a fair bit of dough along the way. Cancer research and treatment is very important to us for obvious reasons – after this experience, even more so.

What made this ride all the more special for me, is that it really became a family affair. My wife Connie volunteered to be a ride day crew member, as did my 19 year old son Tyler. My eldest son Malcolm wasn’t sure he could make it up to Kelowna, so he moved back home for a couple days, holding down the fort and dogsitting. Both my kids donated money, too. The whole thing really warmed my heart.

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Why anti-cyclists have it wrong

As someone who both cycles and drives a fair bit, I’ve got no axe to grind with either side of the bicycle-automobile debate. I’m an equal opportunity hater when I see a member of either fraternity doing something stupid. I lament the helmetless nimrod zipping his bike through stop signs with just as much gusto as I do the asshat in the truck who seems to take joy at blasting by a cyclist as fast and as close as possible. Neither one is showing any respect for those around them and they each give a bad name to their respective peeps.

bike lane photo
Dunsmuir bike lane – photo from Vancouver Sun blog

However, I never feel my personal safety is threatened at all when I encounter bad cycling behind the wheel of my Xterra and I cannot say the same thing when I experience dangerous car drivers as I pedal my bike to work or for one of my several weekly training rides. As such, I’ll admit I come firmly down on the side of cyclists when the inevitable us versus them debates erupt once in a while. In Vancouver, where I live, the debate seems to never end. We have a very cycling-friendly city council and, from what I’ve observed, some of the worst car drivers anywhere. So, when council announced recently that they were set to expand dedicated bike lanes in Vancouver with another $3 million in funding, I knew the anti-cycling frothing wouldn’t be far behind. After all the first time they spent $3.2 million for dedicated Hornby and Dunsmuir Street bike lanes, some local talking heads insinuated that the sky was falling. I haven’t seen any follow-up studies, but have heard nothing of the mass business closings predicted at the time, and every time I’m downtown I see pretty heavy bike use on both these arteries.

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2009 Boston Marathon race report

I have an odd history with marathons. I took a fairly large break from running up until a couple years ago and endurance races seem to be lumped into pre and post break categories. All my pre-break marathons fell in a fairly consistent range of 3:06 to 3:17. I think I did over ten races in that time range. The three I’ve done in the past couple years (post-break) have varied wildly, at 3:40, 3:20 and now, Boston, the slowest I’ve ever done at 3:41.

While age and more inconsistent training have a role in these results, I have a somewhat inexplicable habit of cramping or locking leg muscles now. Pre-break, not once do I remember my legs cramping significantly. Last year was also marred by a sticky abdominal injury – likely a sports hernia that I’m getting a consultation for in June. However, it doesn’t impact running any more, with just a slight ‘sensation’ in the area at times.

Prior to my recap of the race, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wife and kids since Christmas. My training was mixed with pretty demanding time constraints as I did MA coursework and some busy project work at my job. I was a little too fractured and a little short of time and temper sometimes. Back to more manageable running demands now.

Pre-race

The hotel we’re in is a bit cramped and poorly soundproofed, so sleeping has been tenuous at best. It’s been pretty good since the race, but all three nights prior to the race were very poor – likely time zone adjustment and too much stuff in my head for the most part. At best I got 12 hours of disjointed shuteye over that time period. This ended up playing itself out quite a bit during the race, as I could never pick my pace up after the initial few miles out of Hopkinton.

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A reversable food crisis

The biggest problem with the current food crisis is not that it exists, but that it never should have happened in the first place and can definitely be reversed. And it’s not just the wrong-headed rush to create biofuels, but the products our food system produces the most of (and how it produces them), which exacerbate the reduced availability of crops to directly feed people.

Biofuel

When you consider that the 25% of US corn crops currently used to produce ethanol will rise to over 30% next year, and is mandated by George Bush to double present levels by 2015, there would seem to be no relief on the horizon. As the flavour of the day, Corn’s price is going up and farmers are beginning to convert other crops to corn in order to cash in. It’s an answer to high oil prices, but it hardly seems the right one. We use roughly the energy we produce in making biofuel, and there are environmental impacts to that production, too.

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