Saturday, July 20, 2019

50 Years Ago Tonight and I'm In!

On this night 50 years ago I was 5 weeks shy of my 12th birthday and about to enter 7th grade. Our family was vacationing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where we spent at least two weeks each summer. My parents had recently purchased the farmhouse my mother grew up in and its 200 acres of land—a mix of prairie grass and forest with a small stream and a strawberry field. Our nights were usually spent in the company of aunts, uncles, and cousins at either our farmhouse or Eva and Elvin's home in Winona, about 35 minutes away.

I made a lot of memories during our summers in the U.P. but none more lasting than the night we'd gathered at Eva and Elvin's home (50 years ago tonight) to watch TV coverage of Apollo 11 and man's first step onto the surface of the moon. The actual event of Neil Armstrong stepping off the ladder of the landing module that brought them to the surface isn't what stays with me all these years later, though. Rather, it's the memory I have of stepping outside (after Neil uttered the first words spoken on the lunar surface) and looking up at the moon, trying to comprehend the achievement that had just taken place, knowing there were people up there. It was truly awe-inspiring.

Our quest to put a man on the moon had been something I'd grown up with (President Kennedy proposed the ambitious endeavor eight years earlier). In junior high school, whenever there was a manned rocket launch or re-entry, we'd gather in our school's auditorium to squint at the relatively small TV monitors placed in front of the stage and watch the events unfold. It was exciting to witness and it captured my imagination. The launch of the first Space Shuttle in the early '80s evoked in me those same feelings of awe once again. I'll leave it to others to decide if the cost was worth the risk and the loss of life along the way. I personally feel it was a great achievement and one that helped unify us as a nation, if only briefly.

We have much more pressing needs and likely less discretionary tax dollars today to once again reach for the stars but what an elixir it could be for a divided nation such as ours; or even a way for countries to share the cost and work together for an even more ambitious goal. But that's just me dreaming. It's not lost on me that there's a lot of hurting people on this blue suspended ball we share and that their needs should matter most. Can we do both?

And where did those last 50 years go?

Edit: A friend gave me a link tonight where you can listen to the Apollo astronauts converse with Mission Control throughout their entire flight with the associated video of the events. It's an amazing website with more detailed information than you can imagine all compiled in one place. Check it out.

I golfed Valleywood Golf Course a few days ago with Lyle and Chuck. It's been at least 25 years since I last played there but memories of some of the holes were still stored in my internal hard drive. As I got to my car after the round and looked at my phone for messages, I noticed a data usage notification. The 18Birdies app I use for tracking my score and other details of my round had used a whopping 45.5 GB of data the previous 4 hours and my phone's battery was nearly depleted. Our service provider, Google Project Fi, has a limit of 10 GB of data that we can be charged for, otherwise, at $10 per GB of data, that was going to be one expensive round of golf.

I contacted 18Birdies to tell them what happened and they told me there's an update to the program to prevent it from happening again. Apparently, there are videos in the app's background that were set to play automatically and that's what was using up the data. A recent update has fixed the problem. I responded that this does little to fix my current overage dilemma and they told me to let them know what the additional cost is and that they will cover it. That's more than I expected. I'm pleased.

I've decided to take part again in the annual Dawn to Dusk ride on August 31st with the guys from the Silver Cycling club out of Lakeville. It's actually a bit more than a dawn to dusk effort. Last year I left home on my bike 70 minutes before sunrise and returned in complete darkness 216 miles (348 km) later. I hope the training doesn't take me away from the links all that much but I'll need to seriously increase my weekly mileage in preparation for the ride as I have little time to spare.

Video from last year's Dawn to Dusk ride.

My Tuesday Night Gravel rides will still be a part of my training plan.

Video from last Tuesday night below.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

An Icon's Days Are Few, The 3M PGA Tour Event and Riding Talk

I can handle the heat; it's the humidity I can do without! I wanted to powerwash our concrete driveway today in preparation for sealing it but it's too uncomfortable outside. So here I am, catching up on my blog with plans to go for a walk once the sun inches closer to the horizon.

Workers at the Black Dog power plant along the Minnesota River in Burnsville are in the process of dismantling their tallest smokestack. I'm sad to see it go. It's been a looming presence over hundreds (maybe more than 1000) of my workouts over the years, both cycling and running. I can't explain what it is about it that resonates with me—just that it's been there since I can recall. There were times I would pass by and nonverbally say a few words to it—a greeting of sorts until the next time. The running/bike trails have been flooded over since spring with not much relief in sight, leaving torn up and displaced slabs of asphalt strewn about. There's no telling when the area will be open to the public again. I'm hoping to get down there one last time before the towering stack is gone so I can say a proper goodbye.

With our steadily warming climate and an increase in severe weather, I'm worried that interest will be lost in trying to maintain the area. That will be a sad loss to many of us who frequent it.

I attended my first PGA Tour event last weekend—the 3M Open in Blaine, MN. A friend gave me a ticket for the final round. Kenny was working the "shot link" on the 12th hole, helping to track the players' shots. I got there early before the crowds and the heat and wandered the course, in awe of the lush grounds and seeing players I've only seen on TV walking alongside me. It was almost surreal at times. I followed the pairing of Jason Day and Kyle Jones for a few holes. The galleries were still sparse enough that a spectator could get as close to the players as the ropes would allow. In addition to Kenny, I spoke with several other volunteers working the tournament—they all enjoyed being a part of it. I'd like to sign up next year to offer my time and if possible, I'd love to be the person with the sign walking along with each group displaying the players' names and scores. How fun it would be to walk along with a group for the entire 18 holes, inside the ropes.

Here's a collection of photos I put together from the day.

I got out early yesterday morning for a longish ride (104 miles/167 km) on my road bike. I've spent so little time on it this year but if I'm going to ride in this year's Dawn to Dusk ride on August 31st, I'll need to rachet up my time riding pavement. I'm somewhat lacking the motivation to do the necessary training which will involve several 150-200 mile (240-320 km) rides to condition my legs. So far this year I've been content to push myself on my gravel bike where the scenery is much more serene and appealing. More time training means less time for other interests. I could probably get by with less mileage but I like to come prepared for these events. I don't want to be the guy who's struggling with 4-5 hours still to ride. What to do?

Here are a few ride videos I've put together since the last time I wrote here beginning with yesterday's ride.

It's time for that walk I spoke of.

That's all I've got.