Friday, August 29, 2008

Fair Talk

Tammy, Rachel and I made it out to the state fair yesterday. I was hoping to get out and ride before we went so as to create a caloriedeficit so I could eat to my heart's content but I didn't make it. I'll have to put in a more serious effort tomorrow.

Rachel had planned to bring a couple of friends but neither of them could make it so it was just the three of us. Tammy and I sort of figured it would only the two of us going but Rachel still wanted to come with us. We were glad. We don't get to spend enough time with her these days as her friends consume so much of her time. She made the comment on the way to the fair that she can't remember a time this summer when she felt like she was sitting around wasting the day. She said she's had a full summer. I'm not sure that means she's ready for school to begin but more to the point that she has no regrets about how she managed her break.

I didn't eat much before getting to the fair so the first stop for me was the pork-chop-on-a-stick stand. Probably the best $6.50 I spent all day. Rachel had never had one before so I indoctrinated her with a bite. We do our share of munching our way around the fair but we try not to go overboard. 'Try', meaning, we're not always successful.

A few hours into the fair I noticed a picture/text message on my phone from my brother in Portland. He sent me a photo he'd taken at their state fair that day. We traded a few more photos throughout the day as we each worked our way around our fairs.

We enjoy the Fine Arts building most of all. That's where they display photos, drawings, paintings and ceramic work people enter into the fair. Most of what people submit doesn't actually get accepted so you would like to think that what you're looking at is only the best. I have to wonder when I see something like this to the left. Seriously, how is it that either of these two works of art are worthy entries? If that weren't enough, they were both for sale for the ridiculous price of well over $1000 each. I'm sorry but they're both pretenders among a sea of some incredible talent.

The painting to the right caught our eye. It was titled Sister and Brother but I think it was Tammy who said she thought it looked like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Usually, there is at least one piece of art that takes a stab at offending Christians but I saw none this year. I had that feeling I have when I leave home without my wallet—something's missing.

For all my criticism of the judging and what is accepted into the display, the Fine Arts building would still be my number one recommended stop at the fair. It's just that art in and of itself is so ripe for interpretation and criticism. Rachel and I admire another unusual piece here. See what I mean?

We headed off next to check out the booths under the grandstand and that's where Rachel met up with Camille—her best friend. By this time our dogs were barking and we needed to take a load off. What better way than to stretch out in a hammock? It's almost unfair to the consumer. Sure, the hammock feels comfortable; just the same as a #3 value meal at McDonald's would probably taste good to a starving person. No doubt they sell lots to weary fairgoers who have never sat in something so seemingly comfortable.

Tammy can't help herself when she goes by the pro-choice booth. She has to stop and ask them if they know where the pro-life booth is at. It's a yearly ritual. Not much activity at the pro-choice booth but there was quite a crowd around the pro-life stand where people were signing up to get on the email list of MCCL.

I'm still waiting for my pro-life Democrat to step forward and welcome me into their big tent.

We walked around some more and signed up our neighbor across the street to win all sorts of cool stuff: cook-ware, workshop clothes, and a mattress where you dial in your "sleep number". We're great neighbors in that regard. You don't have to sign up for the stuff—we do it for you!

Leaving the grandstand, we walked around in search of who knows what. We eventually passed the Republican booth where in years past we would have stopped and filled our bags with all stuff Republican and plastered the front of our shirts with Bush and John Kline (my neighbor) stickers. Not this year. I couldn't bring myself to get within 100 feet of the building. I remember just a few years back, Tammy signing up to work the phones for John Kline. They've totally lost us now.

(I'm the Air Traffic Controller down the street, John. The guy who is happy to do his part to get costs under control but is frustrated that management hasn't contributed 1 cent of their not-so-hard-earned money toward that effort, nor will they until guys like you demand it of them.)

Tammy and I were enjoying an iced tea and a lemonade when we got a call from Rachel telling us that she's about to ride the Slingshot with Camille. I ask her if she can wait ten minutes until we get there and she assures us that she can. We get there just in time to watch them launch. Camille bought the on-board video from the camera mounted on the ride and Rachel said she'll get us a copy.

I got out this morning on the Rollerblades Tammy and Rachel got me for my birthday. The wheels are a bit larger than those of my other skates so they'll take a bit of getting used to but I'll manage. I went out for a 14 mile loop this morning and stopped off at my mom's home to say hello. I had thoughts of blading into Farmington to show my new wheels to my brother at his cabinet shop but I'm glad I didn't. About 4 miles from home I began to develop blisters on both my ankle bones which would become worse by the mile. I was glad I wasn't any further away than I was.

I got up to 26 mph at one point but it didn't feel I was going all that fast. I can see myself getting up to 35 on these babies but if I remember correctly, it's that sort of thinking which caused me to retire my last pair of skates. I knew it would be just a matter of time before I'd crash hard on them if I didn't rethink my approach to using them. The adrenalin junkie in me.

I was able to get out for an afternoon ride to help burn off a few calories from our time at the fair. I think I came up a few miles short in that endeavor so I'll have to get out again tomorrow. Darn.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Birthday Blogging

Some of Rachel's friends arranged a surprise birthday party for her last night even though they weren't very good at the surprise part of it. She saw them hiding in the bushes around the house ahead of time so the gig was up.

I miss the days when I played a vital roll in her birthday parties but I do admit that the preparation is much easier for me now that she's older. Sometimes I was simply one of the drivers to help transport all the kids to Chuck E Cheese as we did for her 10th birthday. But other times I was the headline act as was the case when I played a clown, Squawky Potatochips, for one of her birthdays. Sorry, no photo or video.

You can't be a clown without some magic tricks so I spent quite a few hours ahead of time trying to learn to juggle in addition to learning some magic: the floating dollar bill, cups with vanishing ball and a couple of other gimmicky tricks with coins and cards. The party was a success even though I stumbled right out of the starting gate. The floating dollar bill trick was a bust when the dollar bill began to slide down the oh so thin thread which held it aloft rather than float stationary in front of me. To my credit, I managed to recover and had them laughing and that's all that mattered.

A couple of years later I would be Austin Powers. Most of the prep work for that birthday party fell on Tammy as she had to make the costume for me. She actually did a great job and we still have it.

I treasure those memories we made together.

This year I was at work while the surprise party played out. Tammy was home (and I'm glad she was—you'll understand why when you see the video) to record the kids singing Happy Birthday to Rachel. I'm not sure you'll recognize their version. What's with all the guys? I'm concerned...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blankets, Birthdays, Biking and Being Judgemental

Rachel and I stayed behind while Tammy took a road trip to Babbitt this weekend. Her mother and sister were setting up a booth at the craft fair in Embarrass and she wanted to be there to help them with it. Sales weren't as good as they'd hoped for but they had a fun time. Maybe it was the trip to the casino in Fortune Bay they were referring to when they mentioned the word 'fun'.

One of the vendors was selling some fleece blankets. Tammy didn't see Dogs on Velvet Playing Poker but she did eye a loud and proud marijuana leaf blanket with a complimentary Confederate flag.

Tammy mentioned to the guy that this was a family-oriented craft fair and did he need to display his marijuana blanket so prominently? He told her it was his best seller.

This is his best seller? He's got to aim higher.

Rachel turns 17 today. She told me this morning that in one year she will be legal to make decisions for herself. Then she said, "But I don't want to...I don't want to be that old yet". It happens fast I told her and there's no slowing it down. I remember when she was going into 2nd grade and how she looked at the older kids as being "cool". I asked her what age she would have to be before she was one of the cool kids. The 3rd grade she said.

I've got some video somewhere from the mid-'90s of the neighbor kids putting on a 4th of July parade in the neighborhood with their bikes all decorated. They grow up so fast. I should try and locate it for Tammy and Rachel to see.

Me? I'll be 51 tomorrow, going on 27.

I had a beautiful ride yesterday. It was a breezy day but it was sunny with low humidity. There's a ride I do when I have enough time and the winds are from the northwest which takes me out along hwy 7 to St. Bonifacious. There are some good climbs along the way and the scenery is nice.

I encountered a problem as I headed south out of Waconia. Hwy 284 was torn up and I had to find an alternate route. While trying to avoid going back the same way I'd come I took Hwy 10 east out of Waconia not sure where it would lead me. I don't carry a map; just an Edge 305.

Hwy 10 turned out to be a beautiful road. I'm so used to taking my regular route that I'd never considered this way before. New pavement and a wide shoulder with a warm breeze to push me along. I'm not sure it gets any better.

Are you judgemental? I think we all are at times; I think we have to be. It's not an attribute to be proud of but neither is being naive and being taken advantage of. Sometimes we have to make judgments about a person or a situation as a part of maneuvering this world of ours. But sometimes we unnecessarily assume the worst in people without having a clue. We're all a work in progress.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lindsay and Joe's Wedding and Remembering Kelly

First off: happy 36th wedding anniversary to my brother Bryan and his bride, Sue!

I went over 4000 miles on the road for 2008 with my ride today. I'm around 1000 miles behind where I was last year at this time but I'm okay with that as it's all a part of the plan to take a more conservative approach to my riding. I'm giving some serious consideration to buying a pair of inline skates and picking up that activity again. I used to do a lot of rollerblading a dozen years ago but quit in favor of my bike. I'm ready to make room for it in my schedule again but I need some new blades.

With the reduced mileage, I'm still maintaining my fitness. I had my FAA physical yesterday (the FAA's birthday present to me) and while I was laying on the table having my EKG taken, the tech said to me that my heartbeat was 37 beats per minute. I like the sound of that.

My niece, Lindsay, was married last Saturday. Lindsay is Keith's daughter. She and Joe asked me to video their wedding for them and I was happy to help. I lacked getting any photos though as I was preoccupied with my Sony Handicam. Keith and Kim divorced ten years ago but they sat together for the ceremony. Kim was teary-eyed for much of the service. Keith told me that he choked up after walking Lindsay down the aisle and giving her over to Joe. I can imagine. I don't think I'll be able to keep it together as well as Keith did when my turn comes.

Early in Keith and Kim's marriage when she was pregnant with their first child, Keith, our older brother Bryan and I took a trip to the U.P. to install an alarm in Maria and Norm's home. It was late October 1981 and a stormy, snowy day as we wrapped things up and headed for home. On the return trip, we stopped at Bryan's house in Maple Grove where I'd left my 1971 Pinto wagon. Keith and I would drive together to the south end of the metro where we lived.

When we got to Bryan's house we got a call that Kim was in the hospital in premature labor at just over 6 months; much too soon for there to be a realistic hope for survival back in those days. We got in the car and I drove as fast as I could to get us to the hospital in time for the delivery. I don't recall that we spoke much on the way. I was pushing my aging 4 cylinders upwards of 80-85 on the freeway and running through red lights when it was clear. We got to the hospital in Farmington, 45-50 miles south and saw an ambulance for Children's Hospital waiting outside. They were there to transport the baby to the hospital in Minneapolis where they could provide the best care available should the baby survive.

We weren't there long at all when Kim delivered Kelly. Keith was by her side while I waited with mom and dad outside in the hallway. There may have been other family members there as well but I can't recall. I don't remember if Kelly cried after she was born; I'm not sure that she could. She survived for as long as the oxygen in her body would sustain her as her lungs weren't developed enough to support her. What I do remember was hearing the sound of Kim sobbing as Kelly passed away. It was very sad. Not an easy thing for a young couple to come to terms with or for any couple for that matter.

I hadn't thought about what I've just written in a long time. I bring it up because of a conversation I'd had with Kim the night of Lindsay and Joe's wedding reception. She said that the wedding had been an emotional time for her and that Keith had made it worse (in a good way) because of what he'd done earlier in the day. Keith had gone to Kelly's grave that morning and snipped some flowers that were planted there and added them to the bridal bouquet which Lindsay would carry. That was very thoughtful of Keith and no doubt took Kim by surprise. The added emotion of bringing thoughts of Kelly to mind was more than Kim was prepared for.

I sometimes forget about that part of Keith's life and how he's still got a hole in his heart from the loss of Kelly. He's not one to talk about her but I know she was a great loss to them both.

No doubt Keith couldn't help but think back on what sort of person Kelly would have grown to become when he sees his daughters becoming adults and now Lindsay being married.

The reception was fun and the dance floor was full most of the night but they never played the Hokey Pokey or the Chicken Dance. I didn't realize it until later. It's possible we cut out too early but I don't think so as it was thinning out quite a bit by the time we left.

Tammy was late getting to the wedding because she couldn't get off work so Rachel and I hung out together with family. They had the usual disposable cameras set out at each table for people to use to take random pictures. Rachel had the idea that we should mug for one photo together on each of the cameras. And so we did. We didn't get them all but I think we managed to take at least a dozen photos of ourselves just so Joe and Lindsay won't forget that we were there.

I asked Rachel about how we're going to work it out when she gets married. I assume that both her father and I will walk her down the aisle but what are we going to do about the father/daughter dance I asked her. To my surprise, she said that she's actually been thinking about that. She said that she is going to dance with her dad first but that she'll dance with me second and that's the dance she's looking forward to the most. How sweet is that? I absolutely feel bad for her father that he pays so little attention to her that she would come to feel this way but his relationship with her is what it is.

Rachel wants me to learn to waltz with her for the dance we do together. Anybody who knows the love I have for her knows that that is as good as done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rachel's Trip to Guatemala

Rachel came back from Guatemala late last night. Tammy picked her up at the airport just before midnight. I stayed home in favor of getting to bed early as I had to be up before the sun. When she got home she peeked her head inside my bedroom to tell me she was home and that it was an incredible trip. She was so excited and I was happy for her. I got out of bed and wandered downstairs to the biggest hug she's ever given me. Tammy and I sat and listened for an hour as she told us about her trip. She had so many stories to tell and from time to time her eyes would fill with tears as she recounted some very personal moments. The box of Kleenex on the counter behind her came in handy.

She told about the children she worked with and how they were so poor but they didn't know it. They were happy, giggling, laughing kids who lived in a very simple world. But their world is a difficult one where very few of them attend school beyond the 6th grade and where many of the young girls become mothers much too young with little or no prospect of breaking free from their world of poverty. Their time as happy-go-lucky children will be fleeting for many. The photo to the left is of a 16 year old mother with her child and a friend. I see a woman much older than 16 in that photo.

Rachel thought that she and the other kids on the mission trip were going to be helping with the construction of a home which is being built for a missionary couple, Jeny and Wayne Monson, who lead a church there. Instead, they found that they would be working with some young children of people associated with the church; which was fine with Rachel as she's good with kids.

They attended nightly church services which sometimes lasted up to 3 hours. Rachel said they were powerful with alter calls and lots of prayer for healing. The music was incredible.

She said the food was very flavorful and not what she expected with one exception; a bean soup which she avoided. Thoughts about how she would adapt to the food were a bit of a concern ahead of time but it turned out to not be an issue at all.

The only complaint she had about the entire trip was of a rooster outside their hotel window which would crow throughout the night. She said it would usually begin around 2:00 AM with a strong and loud crowing but by morning its voice would tire and trail off. It was annoying to say the least and the kids talked about how they might get rid of it but of course they let it be.

The outhouse left a bit to be desired.

Not that Rachel is ungrateful for the many blessings in her life but I have no doubt that she has a new appreciation for the life we have after seeing how others less fortunate live.

The morning they left for home she said she spent some time by herself reflecting on her time in Guatemala. She climbed up on the roof of the hotel they were staying at in Antigua (not the city they'd spent most of their time in) and had David Crowder playing on her iPod. She took the photo to the left. She said there were tears as she recalled all she had experienced.

She told about arriving back in the states and having a layover in Atlanta. She was in the bathroom when a lady in high heels came in all made up and complaining about something which to Rachel seemed trivial. It struck her how much we take for granted in our country. After having lived among the people of Guatemala and seeing the laughing kids living in impoverished conditions (which most in this country will never know) and then to see the woman in the bathroom who appeared to have so much but seemed unhappy. Maybe it's not a fair comparison.

We sat and talked later when I got home from work and she told me that she wants to be more radical (her word) in stepping out of her comfort zone at school this year. She wants to make friends with kids who are shunned by others. She wants to be able to sit and have lunch with them and not care what others may think or say. That's not an easy thing for a person her age to try and do especially in a high school setting.

She talked about how she's grown so much this year. I've never seen her as being a self-centered person but I see her moving even further toward being one of those who reach out to others in need. This trip to Guatemala came at a perfect time for her.

As a parent, it's my job to help prepare her for the world and teach her what I think is important. I didn't anticipate that she would be teaching me so much as well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

1000 Days! Congratulations, Reid and Critical Mass

It must be Thursday in the suburbs. I was walking our pups this morning and SUV after SUV came driving by with its lone occupant; usually a woman in search of the next garage sale around the bend. Garage Sale Thursday. Garage sales serve a useful purpose and we've hosted our own in the past but I have one request for those in search of bargains. Please show more concern for other motorists and pedestrians who you're sharing the road with than for what may be for sale in somebody's driveway. I thank you in advance.

Let's hear it for Area 5 at Minneapolis Center! We've reached a milestone of 1000 error-free days. Let me qualify that. As an Air Traffic Controller, we have to get it right all the time with respect to separating aircraft. That's not to say that we don't make errors because we do; we're only human. The key is in catching and correcting a mistake before it becomes a problem. It's what we're paid to do. But that doesn't mean a little something given to the Controllers who made this achievement possible wouldn't be appropriate on management's part to show their appreciation.

[rant] The fair natured part of me would expect that management would do the right thing but even the most naive' of us in this organization know that what ought to happen and what will happen will likely be two entirely different things. I expect that those in management will take home the spoils of time off awards and bonuses and the Controllers who actually did the heavy lifting to make this achievement possible will be left with vanilla sheet-cake. Cynical? You betcha. I've watched for the past two years as management within the FAA has gone on a drunken spending spree with money taken from the pockets of Controllers while continuing to enjoy their yearly raises and whatever other bonuses they ingratiate one another with, leaving the controllers to look on in disgust at their hypocrisy on display. [/rant]

Some more good news. I'd like to give a shout-out to my trainee, Reid Beucher, for fully certifying as a Controller. I've been working with Reid for the past 15 months as his primary trainer. He's a natural and the FAA is damn lucky to have him in their ranks. It's my hope that they'll soon begin to treat him that way. They could begin by apologizing to him for requiring him to shell out 70K for a college degree they said he needed but now no longer require. A lack of quality candidates to choose from has caused them to rethink their need for this unnecessary and expensive requirement. They could also reimburse Reid for his expenses while he was away at the FAA academy in Oklahoma City because they didn't feel it necessary to pay him any sort of per diem even though he was an employee. Upper management has also seen the error of their thinking with respect to the latest new-hires and so they've begun paying them per diem. Too bad for the others who came before them. You're outta luck.

Congratulations, Reid! You've been a pleasure to work with. Enjoy the other side of the week and hopefully, we'll still manage to bump into each other from time to time. :) That's an awfully large bottle of wine. I see the celebration has begun!

I've been contemplating getting a new saddle for my bike for some time now. I finally went out a couple days ago and purchased a Selle SMP Evolution. I've been having some concerns with my other saddles and the sporadic continuing prostate problems I've been experiencing. Are those problems simply a part of the aging process (quite likely) or are they more associated with the amount of riding I do and the saddle I've been using? The Evolution saddle has a cut-out through the middle which relieves pressure on the perineum while placing weight on the sit bones where it belongs. It's a firm saddle which is what I was looking for. I imagine most people think that squishy saddles would be best for comfort but that would be wrong. Squishy saddles may be fine for people who ride infrequently over short distances but they're not desirable for any sort of long-distance cycling.

I was able to get out yesterday for a shakedown ride with it and after making a couple of adjustments I could easily tell that it's going to work really well. My sit bones will have to get used to bearing the weight more than previously but I don't expect that to be a problem. I'm sorry I waited so long to make this change. I'm curious to see how this does or doesn't affect my little problem.

Have you heard of Critical Mass bicycling rides/protests? They began in San Francisco in the early '90s as a way of bringing attention to riders' concerns that automobiles share the road with them as well as their desire that we all become more dependent on bikes for transportation. That's all good but the rides have morphed into anarchy on wheels for the most part. Whatever concerns the riders may have are lost to their actions of disruption. No way are they going to win the hearts of motorists by irritating them.

Many large cities around the world now have some form of Critical Mass rides on the last Friday of every month. Minneapolis, near where I live has experienced problems with the riders. I sympathize with both the motorists affected by these malcontents and the police who have to try and keep the peace. It's my hope that people are able to differentiate between those sorts of bikers and people like me who peaceably want to share the road.

Here's a disturbing video from a recent Critical Mass ride in New York. I'm not sure what this cop was thinking but I can see no reason for his actions.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Guatemala for Rachel, Princeton for Me

Rachel leaves with her mission group for Guatemala in a few hours. She has to be at the airport by 3:00 AM for a 5:30 departure. It would be nice if she could get some sleep before she has to leave but as pumped up as she is I'm not sure she'll sleep much. Hopefully she'll nod off on the plane.

There was a meeting last night for all the kids attending the trip and their parents. It gave everyone a chance to get answers to any last-minute questions and send the kids off with a heavy dose of prayer. They also hooked up a skype connection with the people already in Guatemala who are heading the project on that end. The project they're working on is the building of a home for a missionary couple who are leading a church there.

We got Rachel a new digital camera since her other one died recently. She should be able to get some nice photos. she'll also be able to recharge her camera as they use the same voltage and electrical connections as we do.

The kids put together a few skits they're going to perform for the youth in the churches when they're in Guatemala. Here's one they did last night. You may recognize Rachel. ;)

I don't speak Spanish and I can't remember exactly what Rachel said they were saying; something about the house being on fire. I'm not sure how this skit or the others tie into their mission work but if the Guatemalan kids have a similar sense of humor as our kids, I'm sure it'll go over just fine.

It's back to work tomorrow for me so I used today to catch up on a lack of bike time the past few weeks. I was on the road by 8:45 trying to get some miles behind me before the winds picked up. I was about an hour late for that. I started out intending to ride to Rogers and back (a little over 100 miles) as I hadn't done that route in a couple of years. The day was beautiful and one that I wanted to take full advantage of.

The winds held me back some but I got to Rogers by around noon. Most often when I'm riding I can sustain my energy needs with whatever Hostess has to offer. Usually, it's their cupcakes. That wouldn't be enough for me today. I'd need something healthier. DQ! I made my way to the local DQ where I grabbed a seat after placing my order. I'm glad I wasn't in a hurry as I think I must have waited ten minutes for my food: a double cheeseburger. Maybe I'm spoiled but ten minutes seems a long wait for a simple hamburger at a fast-food restaurant.

My legs were feeling good so I thought I'd extend the ride to Elk River and add another 15 miles to my total. Once I got to Elk River I saw a sign for Princeton stating it was 18 miles ahead. I'd done this ride 3 or 4 years ago but I wasn't sure if I was up to the distance today. I went for it anyway. I knew that if the winds continued I'd have a tailwind for the trip home but I wasn't sure if they'd hold up or if they'd change direction. There was one way to find out. A stop at the Princeton Flight Service Station would give me all the info I would need and it would be a good excuse to possibly see some of the folks I worked with early on in my career.

I'd need to refuel first. This time Burger King got the nod and within just a few minutes I had their version of a double cheeseburger in addition to a large strawberry shake in front of me. DQ wins for taste but BK was hands down the fastest.

The Flight Service Station was just a mile further down the road and when I arrived there I paused to get a photo of some signage out front. Lockheed Martin acquired the contract from the FAA to run Flight Service a couple of years ago but you wouldn't know it from the outside. (From the inside, yes, but that's another story.) Maybe I missed it but I saw nothing with LM's name on it—just a bunch of leftover FAA stuff. Maybe that was a bit of wishful thinking by the folks within who would love the chance to finish out their careers with the FAA and actually realize the retirements many spent a career working toward but were denied.

Once inside I was greeted by Brenda Nash. She used to work Flight Data where I work but transferred up to Princeton around 2000 as a specialist. She recently took a supervisor position. I mentioned to her some of the names of people I used to work with but the only one there today was Randy Bohn. I worked with Randy from 1983 to 1985 at the Flight Service Station in Huron, SD. He was one of the lucky ones. He was able to get his FAA government pension when Lockheed Martin took over and then go to work for them. He transferred to Princeton last summer and plans to spend another 2-3 years there before calling it quits. I was under the impression that LM was looking to close Princeton in the near future. I could be wrong.

Randy caught me up on several names from the past: Joe Gray, Arlene Bauder, Elaine Dargets, and Willy Kutter. They were some good folks to work with. I left Huron 23 years ago this month. It seems more like maybe 10 years; definitely not 23.

Brenda checked the surface wind forecast for me as I was getting ready to leave and it was good news. The winds would remain there for me for the ride home. I'd need them.

I was making good time until just north of Rogers when my rear tire flatted. I couldn't complain as it's been at least a couple thousand miles since my last flat tire. Easily the longest flat-free stretch I can remember.

I stopped a couple of times throughout the day to pop some Advil to help lessen the pain in my knees but once I got beyond 130 miles there wasn't much the Advil was going to do for me.

I pulled into the Holiday station 20 miles from home in Shakopee to refill my water bottles one last time but I didn't feel I needed any food for the rest of the ride. That was a mistake. No more than 5 miles out of Shakopee I was feeling like the bonk was chasing me down. I couldn't allow that to happen with the climb from the river bottoms on Hwy 5 just a few miles ahead.

If you've never bonked you don't know what you're missing. It's a horrible feeling where your glycogen stores in your muscles have been depleted and your body is left to burn fat for fuel. Fat is not nearly as easily converted by the body for fuel as is glycogen. Once your body switches over to fat for your energy needs you have two choices. You can either slow down, which isn't a very desirable option for a cyclist or you can eat something which your body can easily digest and get into your bloodstream quickly. That's why Hostess is usually my main choice.

I found a BP station in Savage and pulled in. I went inside and asked the Asian lady behind the counter if she sold Hostess Cupcakes. She questioningly tried to mimic as best she could what I'd asked for but I felt it would be faster to do a quick scan up and down the isles rather than try and explain to her what I was looking for. I told her it was alright and she smiled as I headed toward the back of the store. I couldn't find any, in fact, I could find very little in the way of quick energy food. I reached for a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and headed toward the counter. I was handing her some money when I spied a rack off to the side with a bunch of Mrs. Freshley's pastry stuff. I put the Reeses back and grabbed a couple of packs of donuts and went outside and sat down next to my bike. Mrs. Freshley's donuts are no match for anything Hostess. The things were 60% fat. Oh well. They'd have to work. And they did.

Within a few miles I was feeling my strength return and glad that I was nearing home. It'd been a long day plus the battery on my Edge 305 GPS unit was nearly dead and I really wanted to capture the entire ride.

I got home and Tammy came into the laundry room to meet me. I did my best to make it look like the ride didn't beat me up nearly as much as it did but I'm not that good an actor. I saw Rachel in the kitchen and asked her how her day was. She didn't say much about her day but she did tell me I was a bit gross. Actually, the look on her face said it all.

I'd been texting my brother Bryan occasionally during the day and sending him some photos along the way. I got home and texted him that I'd finished the day with 154 miles. He replied that that trip would've cost him $36 in gas for his truck. I think I got by for around $17. His truck at 23 cents per mile vs my bike at 11 cents per mile. I think I got my money's worth today.