The next race on the calendar for this athlete is IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells. Race day, December 5th, is only three weeks away so the hard training is coming to a close pretty soon.
Scratch that! All this training is hard.
I just want to share with other athletes one little thing I have learned over the years…
Have you ever noticed that athletes are responsible for knowing the courses? Athletes that get lost have no one to blame but themselves. The lost ones do complain, but the fine print in most athlete guides always puts the onus back on the athlete. I agree with that completely. The following images are excerpts from the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells athlete guide and are representative of many athlete guides. If the print is too small to read in this blog post, allow me to paraphrase:
…if you get lost, that’s your problem…
Preventing the “I didn’t see the turn sign” Excuse
The following is what I do to minimize the chances of getting off course in any race. The basic assumption behind this list of actions is that the race director will publish a map of each course and/or turn by turn directions. For example, have a look at these course maps from IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells. They are crude, at best, but at least give a good idea of what is expected. If a race doesn’t publish course descriptions, then maybe they want us to get lost. In that case, I would email or call the race director for course descriptions.
Drive the bike course and bike the run course. This only works if you live near the race or arrive a day or two ahead.
Map the courses on Google Earth. This is the best way to know the courses if you don’t have access to drive or ride them before the race. For me, this is like a super visualization exercise. It’s not a matter of just having the paths marked out. You need to actually do the work yourself to get the benefit. Having said that, I’ll send anyone a copy of my Google Earth kmz file for the 2021 Indian Wells race so they can see what I’m talking about1) Any KMZ file that I have created is just my understanding of the courses and not an official representation from the race management. Like I said earlier, their maps are kind of crude, so it is possible that I misinterpreted something. It’s also possible that the race director didn’t proof the maps very well before publication, but that’s a whole different thing. .
Any KMZ file that I have created is just my understanding of the courses and not an official representation from the race management. Like I said earlier, their maps are kind of crude, so it is possible that I misinterpreted something. It’s also possible that the race director didn’t proof the maps very well before publication, but that’s a whole different thing.
Thank you for helping me support Habitat for Humanity.
On August 12th I set a goal of raising $300 before the Cal Tri Newport Dunes Triathlon. As of right now, we have raised $370 and the race is five days away.
¡Fisto Bumpo! ¡Alto Cinco! Woo Hoo!
I want to recognize a few names for their generous support these last couple of months.
On Behalf Of
LG's Donut Cravings
Patricia Clayton Diaz - Awesome Blog Subscriber
Patricia Clayton Diaz
The Other LG
There’s Still Time
As of the date of this post, there’s still time to make a donation to Habitat. Actually, I suppose you can make a donation any time you darn well please. But here’s the thing: everyone who makes a donation through my fundraising page by October 30, 2021 6:00pm PST will get their name written somewhere on my hot triathlete bod for the race 1) Don’t get too excited. My bod is only hot because I’m wearing a hoodie in the house . I don’t care if you donate $1 or $50. I just love that you show your support for humanity.
This is probably my last post until after the race.
You may not consider 7000 feet to be very high. In fact, I’m sure the Leadville 100 runners would scoff at 7000 feet as they look down their noses. When you run at 12,500 feet above sea level, you pretty much have to look down your nose to see someone at 7000 feet.
I, on the other hand, consider 7000 feet above sea level to be a recipe for oxygen deprivation and a chance to see William Shatner at the apogee of his Blue Origin flight.
I did not see William Shatner.
Most of my endurance training for the last – as long as I can remember – has been at sea level near the North Carolina coast or in North Texas or some other low lying areas including four recent days of running and swimming near the California coast. My lungs are well adapted to an abundance of oxygen.
About a week ago, I drove from near the California coast to New Mexico (~5600 feet) in a rented Jeep Wrangler. I asked for a compact car and they gave me the Wrangler, but that’s another story for another blog post. The day after arriving in New Mexico, Lori and I drove to Mancos, Colorado for the Mancos Cowboy Half Marathon and 5k. Lori ran the 5k. I ran the 13.1 miles.
Lori had a very successful 3.1 miles that ended in a sprint to the finish. The runner next to her didn’t have a chance. Her running is getting better all the time. I felt bad that she had to wait around so long for me to finally finish.
To be fair to myself, I did “run” the 13.1 miles, even though it wasn’t what what I would consider normal running. The race started out fairly usual. There were some flats and some hills, but somewhere around mile 4 the course veered off the road and onto a trail; if you can call it a trail. I’d call it a hilly pasture with a few vehicle ruts here and there separated by steep ravines and gullies. That section was “off the grid”, but it was marked by little red surveyor’s flags which were plainly visible to those who were not blurry eyed from lack of oxygen. I almost got off course, but thanks to a friendly shout from the guy in the blue shirt behind me, I made the turn and didn’t get lost.
Descending into the gullies and ravines was the best part. Reaching the crest of a ridge and letting gravity take over is a pure thrill. The knees may disagree, but the soft soil provided plenty of cushion for each footfall. It was more flying than running. Ascending the hills out of the ravines was the worst part.
Overcoming gravity was not my strength that day. This part was not really running either. I think any reasonable person would call it climbing. Yet, as hard as the climbs were, they were worth every painful step, because at the tops of the ridges the views of the Mancos valley were beautiful and a pleasure to see.
After running through a couple of flat pastures, we were off the “trail” and back to pounding the pavement of Montezuma County roads.
There were only 60+ runners in the half marathon, so that’s an average of one person every 1100± feet. Obviously, it doesn’t really work that way, but the only place I actually “ran” with others was in the first mile and in those hills and ravines. It got a bit lonely out there from mile 6 to the finish, which is a good thing for me. Only the handful of runners that passed me would have seen me suffering. I did try to smile and say encouraging things as they went by. Things like, “Good job! I hope you’re not in my age group.”
By about mile 8, the legs were feeling the effects of climbing up the hills three miles ago. That’s when the little voices began, “It’s ok if you walk. You’re not going to win this race anyway.” About a year ago, I learned some tricks to deal with those voices.
Acknowledge them. Talk back to them as though you know something they don’t. Tell them that it’s only going to get easier from here on out.
Bargain with them. Tell them you’ll slow down, but only after you speed up. I find that after I pick up the pace a little, the voices go away for quite a while.
Remember why you’re doing this. There’s a reason, or several reasons, you put yourself through such torture and if those reasons are sincere, then the voices will quiet down.
Focus Focus Focus. Focus on running form. As soon as you feel like you are bending at the waist or holding your shoulders tight or scuffing your feet, pull it back together. You can also focus on breathing or counting steps. My little voices hate that.
So that’s what I did. Even though my form and pace for the last three or four miles resembled a drunk Quasimodo, I kept running. Of course, I exaggerate, but that’s how I felt. Quasimodo probably would not have finished in two hours and 17 minutes or taken third place.
If you’ve read to this point, you are probably wondering why I’m telling you about my experience in this race. By the way, thank you for sticking with me.
I’m excited about this race because, despite poor preparation for running at altitude and in hills, it was a race was well executed. The variables I could not control did not concern me. The weather, the competition, the terrain, the size of the finisher medals were not important. The post race food didn’t even concern me.
Of concern were four items:
Clothing. I chose to wear a shirt over a tri suit instead of running shorts. The temperature was 28F and the one piece suit is quite warm. There’s no gap between shirt and shorts. I may have looked silly running with a chamois in my hind quarter, but so what! The chamois and I finished in good time.
Nutrition. A pack of Clif Bloks in the pocket cures most hunger pangs and muscle glycogen deficits. Of course, they do need to go from the pocket to the mouth before they can be effective. I also liked the nutrition at the aid stations so I got lucky.
Form. Run form is important to me. Yes I want to look good to impress the woman who drove to the race with me, but I also want to run efficiently. Each time I felt like Quasimodo, I focused on run form and the world became a better place. It actually does make me feel better to run with good form.
Pace. If you start out too fast, you’ll be walking my mile 10. If you start out too slow, you can always pick up the pace later on. My specific pace should have no meaning to you. It’s a very individual thing. Suffice it to say that I kept the pace under control in the first four miles. The legs felt great and wanted to go faster, but I’m quite sure that keeping the pace down in the beginning kept me from walking the last three, uphill, miles .
So there it is. A race report from 7000 feet. I had fun and I hope to do this race again next year.
Lately I’ve been quite busy traveling back and forth between North Carolina and New Mexico. It’s tough being a road warrior, sitting in airports, sitting on airplanes, sleeping in hotels, eating airport food. Thankfully, I only travel every couple of weeks.
Anyway, I have every intention of updating the 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina bike course video. I rode the course a few weeks ago and not much has changed. For the most part, the course is the same in 2021 as it was two years ago. There are two major changes to note and that’s about it.
At mile 11, you won’t have to move into the middle suicide lane. You didn’t have to do that in the 2019 race either, but the first video (below) says that’s how the course flows. The second video corrected that.
In 2019 there was bridge construction at mile 17 that forced all cyclists into the left lane. The bridge has been completed and you won’t have to leave the comfort of the right lane this year.
Below are the videos I produced in 2019 and 2018.
2018 Swim Course Video
The swim course for 2021 will be the same as it was in previous years. This video explains a couple of good things to know about swimming in Banks Channel that might help you. At the time I made this video, Brian Bohrer was the race director as you’ll see when you watch. He’s since gone on to bigger and better things in the Ironverse and the new race director is Sami Winter.
Initial 2019 Bike Course Video
Initially, the bike course at mile 11 was going to use the middle turning lane of highway US421. That changed and is mentioned in the correction video below.
I just finished reading a self published book and I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there were a few typos and layout mistakes, but the author did a very nice job of telling his story. His name is Rob Cummins and his book is called Chasing Kona. From the title, you know most of the story. What you don’t realize until you dig into the pages is that Cummins’ Kona is a familiar metaphor. It is the Holy Grail, the golden city, the fountain of youth. It is that object of desire that only exists for those who are prepared to know it. Of course, the event itself really does exist (unless it is canceled due to a pesky viral pandemic). But the Kona that Rob is chasing is much more than the annual event.
By the way, Kona is what triathletes call the IRONMAN World Championship held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It is perhaps the most coveted triathlon for those athletes, professional and amateur, who are good enough to qualify for it.
Cummins begins his story as a very unhealthy person. Smoking, drinking and sitting in front of the television are his athletic achievements during his teens and early twenties. Although watching the famous father son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt compete in the IRONMAN World Championship on television did not immediately start him on his athletic quest for greatness, it did plant the seed. Rob tells his story of how that seed sprouts and matures into a fully developed athlete capable of accomplishing the seemingly impossible. As hard as quitting the cigarette habit was, that appears to have been the easy part. Evolving into a Kona qualifier; that was the part that required the most willpower and discipline. That was what demanded a true lifestyle change.
I’ve said many times in these blogs and on the videos that triathlon has the power to transform lives. Rob mentions this several times throughout the book and goes into depth when he explains that the journey is the transformer; not the finish line nor the award ceremony. I’ve read better authors but, the emotional and mental roller coaster rides of his journey are detailed quite well given that we can not be there with him; we can only read his words.
Many of us watch great athletes and we dream about being like them even if we don’t intend to actually be like them. All we see is the result of their journeys. The struggle to attain athletic greatness is often hidden in the minutia of the undocumented parts of their lives. However, the dream of racing at Kona is so strong for many of us that we push through years of hard work to get there and Rob’s story invites the reader many times to believe that achieving such a goal is possible, even attainable, for the ordinary person. It all comes down to choosing which sacrifices to make.
Many triathlon stories are about people overcoming great odds to become champions of their own lives. Rudy Garcia-Tolson and Roderick Sewell were the first above knee amputees to finish an IRONMAN and the IRONMAN World Championship respectively. Sue Reynolds went from morbidly obese to Triathlon Worlds Sprint competitor in her 60s. Turia Pitt was badly burned in a range fire and rebounded to compete at Kona.
It is easy for the reader to interpret these stories as inspirational but not identifiable. Reading these stories, including Chasing Kona, I found myself saying things like
– Yeah but, I’m not like them
– Yeah but, they have a job that allows them to train so much
– Yeah but, they must have more money than I
Like Rob Cummins, I too am chasing Kona. I have my reasons and I have my motivations. However, I don’t completely identify with Rob as an athlete. At least not from his book I don’t. On the other hand, If I actually met him, maybe I would feel like I were talking to myself; who knows? What I’m trying to say is that Rob’s circumstances may be different from mine and yours, but there is a valuable lesson in the pages of Chasing Kona. If you want something bad enough, you will figure out how to get it. Rob surrounded himself with the right people and the right circumstances. He even implies that his first marriage ended, in part, due to his single minded focus on athletic greatness.
– Yeah but, he’s currently married to a very supportive ultra runner
– Yeah but, he has the right body type for this
Someone reading my own triathlon story might also dwell on the differences and come up with their own list of excuses as to why they could never do a triathlon. In a way, I’ve been very lucky to have had such a supportive family and community. Some of that “luck” was made possible by my intention and actions. Before moving to North Carolina, I sought out the local triathlon club. I joined the YMCA where many triathletes trained. I sold a big, beautiful motorcycle to afford a time trial bike.
If you want to be something you are not or have something you don’t have, then something has to change. That is a universal law. In physics, they call it inertia. Wayne Dyer called it “The Power of Intention.” My desire to be a Kona qualifier pushes me closer to my goal. Every “Yeah but” pushes me in the opposite direction.
Chasing Kona is another example of how we can overcome adversity to achieve what we want; not necessarily racing in the IRONMAN World Championship, but success in business, success in sports, success in anything. We simply have to get out of our own way and begin taking actions down the road toward our goal(s).
-Yeah but, those authors have the personality to achieve these great things.
And maybe they do. And maybe I can change. And Maybe I need to begin by removing “Yeah but” from my vocabulary.
The title of this post may be a bit misleading. I’m not going to directly explain how to avoid a panic attack in an open water swim. What I will do is share my experience.
Above Durango, Colorado there is an unlikely lake: Lake Nighthorse. It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t make sense. There is no river or stream that feeds into it so someone must have been thinking outside the box when it came time to put water behind the dam. Most lakes I know of are created by damming a stream or river and flooding the upstream low lying areas. Not this lake. Water is pumped out of the Animas River 500 feet below to create and maintain the lake in which I had my second ever swim induced panic attack. The pumping of water has nothing to do with the panic attack. But the 7000 foot elevation just might.
There is nothing unusual about a lake 7000 feet above sea level. I’m sure there are lakes at much higher altitudes. The problem is that I have only been at this altitude for a little more than a week. I’m used to slightly lower altitudes… around 20 feet above sea level. The air is so much thinner up here. I’m out of breath typing this blog. Air is good. People shouldn’t compete in triathlons so far away from oxygen.
Two days ago the Durango Triathlon Club held the inaugural Nighthorse Sprint race at beautiful Lake Nighthorse. First, let me say it was a blast. Just being at a race and around other athletes was fun. It was an intimate affair of about 60 athletes and the mood was relaxed. Unfortunately for me, the competition was not. I’m used to being well above average with a fourth place finish, but there’s no reason to be upset about being last in the age group. In fact, statistically speaking, my performance was not an outlier 1)Grubb’s Test For Outliers, which means I performed at an appropriate level for my age and gender in this race. Being familiar with statistics is a great way to stay positive (or in my case, pathologically optimistic).
Now let me just say that I’m a pretty good swimmer, in the pool and in the open. One of my better swims without a current was at IRONMAN Lake Placid, 2.4 miles in an hour, ten minutes and change. Last Saturday’s swim should have been 15 minutes or less for the 750 meters. Instead, the official results say that the swim was just shy of 22 minutes2)https://thedriven.net/site/modules/step/frontend/upload/39707134589_1631710306.pdf . I panicked in the water which lead to actions not conducive to a fast swim.
The big question is, “Why did I panic?” Factors I know about that contribute to a mid swim freak-out include water temperature, swimming in a crowd, dark water, a tight wetsuit, and I’m sure there are others. For my particular case, I’m ruling out temperature, crowds, and dark water.
To gain an understanding of what happened, let’s look at the symptoms.
About 200 meters into the swim my heart rate shot up and I was having trouble getting enough air. Normally, breathing bilaterally every third stroke is sufficient for me until about 500 or 600 meters. However, by that 200 meter mark I was breathing every second stroke and still couldn’t get enough air. Two hundred meters ago I intentionally began the swim in an easy pace so I wouldn’t get out of breath. I knew the air was thin and wanted to swim accordingly. I’ve gotten into trouble before by starting out too strong.
After feeling the heart rate jump the only rational thing to do was slow down the pace a little. The inner talk was still positive, “You’re doing just fine. It’s only the thin air. Keep it easy and you’ll be ok.” The focus up to this point had been on swim form, high elbows, roll and stretch, activated core, etc. That changed when the wetsuit in which I was encased shrank two sizes.
Back on shore, the wetsuit felt fine. It’s a sleeveless little number with the neck split open for comfort. Of course, the suit didn’t really shrink, but it felt like it did after four minutes of swimming. Everything closed in on me. It wasn’t just my body. The face felt like it was wrapped in cellophane. Turning the head to breath gave slight relief, but facing the bottom of the lake became intolerable. Internal negative talk grew louder, “You can’t breath. You have to get out of this wetsuit.” I had tried calming my self by replaying the words of my friend, Mike, who use to say he felt comfortably cradled in his wetsuit. Thoughts like that used to work for me, but now I was falling apart. My arms slapped the water for several strokes. The legs sank. The core had deactivated. Mike’s voice faded into the void that lay beyond my tightly neoprene wrapped little world.
I did the only thing I could do… unzip the wetsuit and swim with the upper part dragging underneath me. As soon as the torso was out of the wet suit, the panic was gone and rational thought returned. I did have a few thoughts of taking off the whole suit and letting it go, but someone would find it and I’d get disqualified for abandonment of equipment.
As you can imagine, the drag of the wetsuit is the reason my swim was six minutes slower than expected. But, WOW! What a workout I got. My arms still hate me for forcing them through that situation. Rational thought began to leave again, because, at 500 meters, I was thinking to myself that I was doing quite well. I had visions of getting out of the water and hearing the spectators and volunteers and officials congratulating me for having such a good swim with such a huge handicap.
Did you see that guy? He swam the whole way with his wetsuit dragging under him. What a machine!
Obviously, no one knew what happened. Nor were there any comments about my swim. Once I stumbled out of the water, reality returned and the delusions of grandeur faded. It felt good to be on solid ground.
Looking back, I think I can fix this panic thing. It’s going to take a lot of work. If qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championship is going to be my goal, then I’m likely going to have to swim about 4 kilometers in a wetsuit at some point. This panic thing has to be fixed.
Heck! I swam Lake Placid in a full sleeve wetsuit, so I know it can be fixed.
Practice more often in the wetsuit.
Try to recreate the panic attack in a controlled environment to better understand the causes.
Meditate for focus and awareness.
Hypnotherapy and tons of psychotic drugs (the legal ones, of course). Maybe not this one so much.
That’s about all I’ve got. If you know of anything else that might help, please share.
Oh. By the way. I did great on the bike. My transitions were fast as usual. The run was a leisurely stroll in the park. Not because it was easy or enjoyable, but because it took a long time. The photographer even got a shot of me at the finish line.
If they have this race again next year, I’M DOING IT.
Who decides these things? How does the & get its own national day?
Yesterday Lori & I were driving into Farmington for a swim workout. For a city of roughly 40 thousand residents, Farmington has some surprisingly good swimming facilities. The main pool at the Farmington Aquatic Center is 50 meters long & 25 yards wide. Every time I go, I get a lane to myself. And at 5500 feet of elevation, I thought my lungs were going to explode in the first 100 yards of the 2050 yard workout.
So. Anyway. Lori & I were in the car and listening to satellite radio. The radio announcer announced that the nation was celebrating National Ampersand Day. “You should write a blog post about that,” Lori said.
I’m a nerd & I find the history & etiology of the ampersand interesting. But a national day to celebrate this little ligature? What is next? National Don’t-Go-To-Work-Day? What the heck, make it a month. Our nation is already suffering from a labor shortage because too many people are celebrating that one.
Let’s stick with grammatical symbols and ligatures, shall we? How about National Octothorp Day. You know the octothorp, right? It’s what social media has commandeered as the “hash-tag” (#). Some people call it the “pound sign.” Here are a couple of other suggestions:
National Question Mark Day: ?.
For the entire day, observers of this holiday will only speak and write in questions.
- How are you today, John?
- How should I be?
- Is that a trick question?
- Are you questioning my intent?
- How long can we keep up this nonsense?
American Bang Week: !
Computer programmers have a language of their own. A bang may be a loud noise to some, but us code monkeys often use it to mean an exclamation point. Alternatively, maybe the holiday should be called American Overused Punctuation Week.
- BIG SALE TODAY!!!!!
- That is so awesome!!!!!!!!
- !!!!!!!!!!! (no words needed)
If one exclamation point means surprise or shock, then five consecutive exclamation points must mean…
I don’t know what it means.
At Pride Month: @
This little gem deserves an entire month. Where would email be if we didn’t have the @ symbol so neatly placed above the number 2 on our QWERTY keyboards?
What’s that you say? Email is so 2000’s?
Alrighty then. How about social media? Out of all those people waiting in line at the DMV, most are thumb-typing like mad into their mobile devices. Are they solving great world problems? No. They are tagging other people in facebook.
- In line @NC_DMV. 2 hours already!!!!!!
- After this I'm going to @FluffyPancakes for a late breakfast with @everybodysBFF.
- Don't you just love @TriRiot? I do!!!!!
This one is celebrated all year long by many graduates of our fine educational institutions that failed to teach their students how to express themselves with civility, intelligence and precision. I’m not talking about everyone who drops an F-bomb or the occasional use of the present tense of shat.
I once had a professor who would cuss on occasion and make it sound like poetry. You hardly knew he was saying anything that would offend anyone. A woman I knew in college had a thick drawl (that is not a body part) and would sometimes say, “shee-it”, splitting a single syllable word right down the middle. Now that’s talent.
What makes me hang my head in sorrow for the future of literacy are those people who can’t open their mouths without @$!#?# coming out. Every other word!!!! Lori and I were at the Durango – La Plata Airport about a month ago when we witnessed a major public display of an F-bomb in action. It was more like an F-Machine gun. A would-be passenger missed his flight and was quite upset. He spewed, “F this” and “F that” and “F’n F-ity F F F”. I’m sure he noticed 10 of us standing in line, but he didn’t care if anyone was offended, because he was celebrating the festival of @$!#?#.
As long as I’m ranting, I’ll add this little bit. Have you ever noticed how so many modern comedians rely on harsh, offensive language to make people laugh? It’s pitiful. If the only laughs they can get are from that kind of language, they should switch professions; quickly.
That’s my take on National Ampersand Day. At least triathlon has a whole week to celebrate.
In a recent post, I mentioned my intent to raise money for the charity, Habitat For Humanity. The 2021 Cal Tri Newport Dunes triathlon has partnered with Habitat so when registering for the race, I set up a fundraising page. To date we’ve collected over $200.
Everyone asks for money these days. Amazon.com wants my money so they can give me free shipping. The Humane Society of the U.S. wants my money so they can put farmers out of business and the National Rifle Association wants everyones’ money so their executives can have lavish meals, private air travel and expensive golf club memberships1)https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/04/politics/nra-withdraws-lawsuit-letitia-james/index.html2)https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-new-york-attorney-general/new-york-sues-to-break-up-nra-accuses-it-of-corruption-idUSKCN2522BG.
DISCLAIMER: I do have a subscription to Amazon Prime.
So if little ‘ol me is going to capture some of those dollars flowing to charity, I have to get creative. Here’s how you and I can help Habitat for Humanity:
If you have horses, I’ll trim their hooves and turn over the whole $30 fee to Habitat. 3)Through October 24, 2021. Your horses should probably live somewhere near Farmington, NM or Durango CO
I’ll donate $2.00 for every comment left on this post or on the post I mentioned above.
If you subscribe to this blog, I’ll donate $5.00 in your name (you can subscribe on the “About” page or email me at email@example.com) 4)Blog subscription donations up to $100 until October 24, 2021
If you subscribe to the TriRiot YouTube channel, I’ll donate $5.00 in your name 5)YouTube subscription donations up to $100 until October 24, 2021
AND MY FAVORITE… you can donate any amount you like on the fundraiser page.
So far, I’ve trimmed four horses, acknowledged three comments and received $75 in straight donations. I’ve also made some of my own donations through a self imposed challenge. Each day I go without buying an expensive coffee to fuel my caffeine addiction, I donate a dollar to Habitat.
As far as triathlon goes, I’ve been working on a web page to calculate the effects of aerodynamic changes on the bike. Popular press articles talk about the time advantages of various position and equipment changes, but I am fairly certain we can answer those questions for ourselves using little more than a power meter, a long stretch of highway and the right computing algorithm.
On this day eighty six years ago, newspapers around the U.S. carried a story that shocked the nation. People everywhere woke up to the news that one of the most beloved Americans and one of the most celebrated aviators had died.
Will Rogers and Wiley Post perished in a plane crash near Point Barrow Alaska.
Post was known for several aviation breakthroughs including the fastest flight from Los Angeles to Chicago (9:08:02) 1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiley_Post and his solo flight around the world in 19332)Ibid. Can you imagine? Nine hours to fly from L.A. to The Windy City. We’ve come a long way in the last 90 years! But it was the passenger in Post’s pontoon plane on that foggy August day in 1935 for whom I mourn.
Does Will Rogers really need an introduction? I wish he were as widely known today as he was 86 years ago. Unfortunately, the collective memory of a nation has only so much room to hold events, dates and people. What and who do we remember? Stock market crashes, Shirley Temple, The Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt? Even Pickford and Fairbanks are hardly known in this 21st century. They were as big an item as Jen and Brad. Or is it Brad and Angelina?
Bogart and Bacall? Who? Do we at least know who Groucho Marx is?
Buildings are often named after great historical figures, government or university buildings for example. Some city streets are named after notable persons. But there is only one “Oklahoma’s Native Son” as far as I know. An entire state proudly accepts that nickname bestowed on a man who made a positive difference in peoples’ lives; not just Americans. In Ft. Worth Texas there is a coliseum named after Will Rogers and an airport in Oklahoma City carries his name.
As far as movie stars go, Will Rogers was the top box office draw of 19343)https://classicfilmguru.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/the-box-office-stars-1932-to-1939-part-1/ putting him above recognizable names like Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Bing Crosby. In 1935, the year of his death, he was second only to Shirley Temple4)Ibid. Rogers’ acting career, however, is a tiny fraction of his value to a nation with a fresh memory of the first world war and deeply entrenched in an economy that had more functioning bread lines than assembly lines.
Regular folk who worked hard only to end up out of work in the early 1930s soaked up Rogers’ words of humor, wit, and perspective with each radio broadcast, newspaper column and film. Today those same words are just as pertinent as they were almost a century ago. Cutting through the fog of oratory statesmanship and big PR campaigns came easy to this Oklahoma cowboy turned entertainer turned unofficial diplomat. His was the gift of gab: he delivered messages about everything from fashion to foreign policy that you and I and everyone could understand. Our chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank should take a lesson from Will Rogers.
“We’ll hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poorhouse in an automobile.”
Will Rogers, 1931. “Bacon, Beans and Limousines” radio broadcast
Not a single politician with lofty ideals and big plans could escape the humor and wit that Americans loved to read each day in the papers. As early as December 1922, The New York Times began publishing some of the most famous ramblings which continued until that tragic August day in 1935. But if this humorist’s words poked at prominent men of the day, the poking was done with a finger and a smile. No harm was meant to anyone.
Where are those words today?
They’re around. Here and there. Mostly dim and twisted echos of what they were. Often not attributed to the Cowboy Philosopher who gave hope to the common folk of America. Oh Sure. Recordings are out there and volumes of his writings can be found if you know where to look. But the major cultural influence that was Will Rogers was laid to rest with the man who died in that plane crash. America was changing fast.
Dust was everywhere in the middle of the country. Farmers throughout the nation unhitched their mules and headed for better lives in the cities. Then that date which will live in infamy came and pulled the U.S. into another world war. Science quickly spread its objective form of democracy throughout the land and became the new savior of all things outside Sunday mass and the Sabbath. The honest and plain spoken words of a well traveled cowboy from Oologa, Oklahoma lost favor to political divisiveness, educated oratory and scientific explanation. That’s just my opinion. Nothing more.
I wonder how the junior tyrant senator from Wisconsin would have taken the words of America’s Cowboy Philosopher. Would McCarthyism have branded the beloved hero more red than white or blue?
Today, we don’t have anyone like Will Rogers to uplift us. Instead, we have politicians who lie to us and hide their real agendas from us. We have comedians who spew filthy language as a proxy for humor. We have self help gurus who want us to be the best version of ourselves possible… or so they say. We have fake news.
But hey. We have Dr. Phil. We should be fine, right?
Maybe this year, or the next, I will take a trip to the memorial in Claremore Oklahoma to see if the tale is true. To see if he will be sitting there proudly reading his own epitaph.
On October 31 of this year (2021) I will participate in the Cal Tri Newport Dunes Sprint triathlon. That particular race has partnered with Habitat for Humanity and I want to help raise money for the cause.
Here’s The Pitch
Not so long ago, Hurricane Florence introduced herself to Southeast North Carolina. She came bearing gifts: five feet of water on my property. For an entire year, my family and I lived in FEMA trailers. We were lucky. While spending the first night after evacuation in a shelter, I realized that so many of the other evacuees had it much worse than we did. We had a home (damaged and condemned but repairable) to return to when the waters receded. Many had nothing.
Did I feel guilt? No. I felt a sense of responsibility and a desire to make life better.
You don’t even have to spend any money. Keep reading.
Skin In The Game
And I’m not just asking for handouts. I’m putting some skin in the game.
Do you have horses? I will trim their hooves and donate 100% of the fee to Habitat up to October 24, 2021. Details are on the fundraising page. Unfortunately, my tools are at the ranch headquarters in New Mexico so your horses need to live near Farmington, NM or Durango, CO.
If your horses are too far away, let’s do a virtual trim. You donate $30, I pretend to trim your horse’s hooves and everyone’s happy. If you’re not ready to donate the full $30 trim fee, then consider donating $5 and you can pretend to trim my horse’s hooves.
Also each day that I don’t eat a donut or drink expensive coffee between August 15 and September 30, I’ll put in $1 toward my $300 goal. As if that’s not enough, for every distinct person who comments on this blog post between the same dates, I’ll donate $2 in their name (up to $100)1)Don’t worry. If you have to provide an email address to comment, I promise not to sell it or use it to build a mega database of contacts for marketing my… Nevermind. I don’t really market anything, so you have nothing to worry about. 🙂 . You can say whatever you want about anything (just keep it clean please).
Share The Love
If you know someone who might be interested in helping Habitat for Humanity, please share this post with them. Maybe you know a horse owner that needs a farrier. Perhaps you know someone who can leave a comment.
Don’t worry. If you have to provide an email address to comment, I promise not to sell it or use it to build a mega database of contacts for marketing my… Nevermind. I don’t really market anything, so you have nothing to worry about. 🙂