Hub City Tour 2014: Century Challenge Complete

At the urging of my spin instructor, I decided to tackle the Kentucky Century Challenge this year. The Kentucky Tourism Cabinet sponsors a challenge involving four century (100-mile) bicycle rides: the Redbud Ride (London, KY) in April, the Horsey Hundred (Georgetown) in May, the Preservation Pedal (this year in Winchester) in June, and the Hub City tour (Elizabethtown) in September. Finishing three of the rides allows you to purchase a commemorative jersey for $30. Finishing all four gets you the free jersey.

After finishing the first three rides, I figured that it would cost me more money to do the Hub City Tour than to just pay $30 for the jersey. My only incentive for doing the Hub City ride was pure bragging rights.

At the end of the day, I decided I needed to finish the job and do that last ride, on 13 September 2014.

The weather was just about perfect: overcast, morning temperature just under 60 degrees, with a projected high temperature approaching 70.

The ride map–with hill profile–showed some menacing hills, with the worst of them between mile 45-78. Total elevation gain was just a bit higher than the Redbud Ride, but not as much as the Preservation Pedal or the Horsey Hundred. But the toughest portions were clearly on the back 50.

My plan was to go out with the early-birds. I enjoyed riding with them at the Preservation Pedal, so I figured this would be a good way to finish. This time around, though, there were only three of us: the leader (Bill), myself, and another rider named Tim. We departed at 7:15.

The first 45 miles were pretty easy. Because the temperature was so mild and conditions were so good, I barely broke a sweat. The hills were relatively mild, there was no storm-related debris (which was a problem at the Preservation Pedal), and the overall number of cyclists was light. The rest stops were well-stocked, although we all had plenty of Sports Beans, water, and Gatorade “just in case”.

After mile 45, the ensuing 33 miles were easily the most difficult of the entire Kentucky Century Challenge.

The hills were steep, but not too steep, and yet there was very little downhill relief. With rolling hills, you can use the downhills to provide power to guide you through the uphills–this worked well for the first 45 miles–but if the relief provided by the downhills is not commensurate with the difficulty of the uphills, you can get knocked out of kilter.

I got knocked out of kilter.

Making matters worse, I started having trouble with my shifters. My first gear wasn’t quite catching, and that made the uphills more difficult than they otherwise were.

On top of that, no matter which way we turned, there always seemed to be a menacing headwind. I remarked, “God has a sense of humor.”

After the rest stop at mile 65, we were all hurting. Not from fatigue–I felt great on that front. But my quads were hurting. Bill was also hurting in the quads. (That was saying something, too, as Bill is a very seasoned rider!) We weren’t looking forward to the nasty hill that was coming up at mile 78.

But something interesting happened. From mile 74-78, we boned up for that hill, and–yes–there was a set of hills that were sort of challenging, but nothing seemed overly nasty. (It didn’t hurt that my shifters started working and I got my first gear back!)

When we got to the rest stop–which was at mile 78.3–I asked, “When are we supposed to get that really bad hill that was on the elevation chart?”

I was told, “That was it. You’ve already done it.”

Me: “Really? That wasn’t that bad.”

All that worrying was for nothing; the nasty hill wasn’t really all that nasty. My quads still hurt, but I knew the worst was over. It was going to be rollers for the next 24 miles in.

At the final rest stop (mile 94), I got some cookies and Gatorade. My quads were sore, but I wasn’t really that bad otherwise. I figured I’d get some extra carbs “just in case”, but I figured I had this one in the bag. Just don’t do anything stupid.

The last 8 miles were relatively easy. Turning onto Ring Road–one of the main loops around Elizabethtown–was good psychologically. I also enjoyed going through the E-Town sports park. I knew we were getting close. When we turned onto Mulberry Street, I felt even better. Then we made it to the intersection of Helm Street, just one left turn and about 100 yards to go.

At the end, my quads were killing me. Most of the pain was from the 33-mile stretch from 45-78. I figured I’d recover pretty quickly, and I was correct: I had no leg soreness in the morning.

Overall, I thought this ride was the toughest of the 4, mostly because of that 33-mile stretch. The weather was perfect, though.

In a sinister way, I like century rides. They are comparable to ultramarathons: you’re guaranteed to have your endurance tested, and there will always be a suck factor. I’ll never be fast, so I might as well just go far.

Now I have a critical decision to make: the Ironman folks have moved the Louisville Ironman triathlon to October starting next year. This is due to the fact that–being in August–the nasty heat has made Louisville a proverbial grave yard for triathletes: they have more dropouts than any other Ironman event.

I’m strongly considering signing up for the Louisville Ironman next year.

After doing the Century Challenge, I have a good idea where I stand and where I need to be for the Ironman. I’ve done marathons, so I know I can handle the distance. I’ve done century rides, so I know what goes into one. I’ve never done a century ride and and marathon on the same day, let alone after a 2.4-mile swim on the same day. It will be a heck of a time–and money–commitment for training, but it’s doable. I have a psychoticpsychological mindset for a long day of endurance.

But Ironman or no Ironman, I plan on doing the Kentucky Century Challenge again next year.

And my quads will be ready.

By Amir on September 14, 2014 | Endurance Sports | 2 comments

The World Is Evil

WARNING: Links that are in bold are to very gruesome pictures and video. If you choose to view them, it is at your own risk. I include them to show the extent of the savagery of elements who are of key importance to Americans

While I realize that the title of this post would qualify for a “No s***!” response by many of the regulars, there are a number of naive persons, particularly in our government, who seem to not get that.

In Europe, Russia has taken Crimea and has invaded Ukraine. While most European nations appear to be outraged at this development, it’s not like they are in a position to present a material threat to a Russia that is led by a sly, intelligent strategist who wishes to return Mother Russia to her old glory and has warned the world of his country’s nuclear capacity.

The United States is in no credible position to fight this one, and Putin knows it. We are downsizing our military, the public does not have the political will for a war with Russia, we have neither the troops in the pipeline nor the money in the war chest to fight them, and a draft would be a political disaster. Similarly, Western Europe is not exactly in a high state of combat readiness on this one either.

Other than economic sanctions and protests to and from the United Nations, Ukraine is on her own. Russia will almost certainly win this one, and–make no mistake–this is a major blow to the power of the United States.

Meanwhile, in Syria and Iraq, ISIS/IS/ISIL/Whatever-the-hell-they-call-themselves today continues to take air bases, oil fields, and cities, imposing Sharia-on-steroids, mass executions, strangling women to death, forcing Christians to “convert or die”, and selling Yazidi women into sex slavery.

Our Defense Secretary–Chuck Hagel, a Purple Heart veteran of Vietnam who should know better–says that “ISIS is beyond anything we’ve seen”. Apparently, he has forgottten about the atrocities of the Japanese in WWII, the Nazi concentration camps, the killing fields in Cambodia, Mao’s slaughters in China, The NVA’s atrocities against South Vietnamese, Stalin’s purges and mass murders, Lenin’s Cheka, the Turkish genocide against the Armenians, but I digress.

No, seriously, while the violence of ISIS is troubling, it is comparable to what often goes on south of our own border.

What’s the difference between ISIS strangling a woman to death and a cartel enforcer beheading a teenage girl?

Mexican carteliers also seek to intimidate in ways that ISIS can appreciate, beheading enemies with chainsaws.

And while Iran is known for hanging criminals, Mexican cartels are doing the same.

I realize that Cartels are, at least technically-speaking, outlaws, even if we have been known to provide weapons to them. The same can be said for ISIS, which wages war against recognized sovereign governments. Oh wait, we armed them, too.

While it is true that most of the extreme cartel violence is south of our border, Mexico is flooding our country with “children”, some of whom work for the cartels. At least ISIS is over there, not over here.

Oh, wait!

But I’m sure that our Dear Leader, who has admitted that he has no strategy for dealing with ISIS, has this under control.

By Amir on August 30, 2014 | Defense, Politics | 21 comments

Credit Where Credit is Due

I heard a true story recently, first-hand. The teenage daughter met a boy at a church camp a year ago, and they developed a long-distance, chat friendship/relationship. This turned into a bullying, manipulative, abusive, inappropriate relationship from the boy. The parents saw the chats and intervened, including immediately talking to their pastor about the events. Immediately the pastor stated this would need to be reported to the authorities and then proceeded to do so. He told the parents this was required and not an option.

Yes! With all the pastoral staff getting it wrong in this world, there is at least one guy out there getting it right.

By Ame on August 28, 2014 | News/Opinion | 10 comments

Passing Thoughts on the Greg Kelley Child Rape Case

I haven’t been following the Greg Kelley child rape case, but a number of people whom I follow on Twitter–including Boz Tchividjian–have been opining about it.

In this instance, you have a popular high school football player, living in a house that functioned as an in-home day care, accused of sexually-assaulting two 4-year-old boys. One of the boys waffled, there was no forensic evidence, Kelley had a fair number of character witnesses–including a football coach–and few enemies, not to mention a clean record. So many people made it their Christian duty to proclaim the glories of his innocence.

Among the arguments:

  • The children weren’t being truthful; one of them even recanted.
  • He had such a clean record.
  • He was never seen doing anything improper with children.
  • All they had was one child’s word against his.
  • He had the guts to testify on his own behalf.
  • So many Christian people were ready to sear by his character.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I don’t know Kelley, so I can’t say if he’s innocent or guilty. I do know this much, however: a jury of his peers heard the case–including even his own testimony–and found him guilty of two counts of super aggravated sexual assault, which meant he faced 25 years to life in prison.

In a plea deal reached in the penalty phase, Kelley admitted guilt, waived his right to appeal, and in return received 25 years. He’ll be in his 40s when he leaves prison, and will have to register as a sex offender.

As for the arguments that others have made, they sound very familiar.

Do children lie about being molested? Yes–those of us who are old enough can recall the McMartin preschool case, and I know of some firsthand accounts of false accusations within the foster case system–but it’s not as common as one thinks.

A child sex offender often has a very clean record–older ones usually pass background checks–and the first indication of any problem is the arrest.

A child sex offender rarely fits the mold of the reclusive, creepy pervert. In fact, many are affable, popular, and good with kids.

A child sex offender will pick his spots well, and usually does a spectacular job avoiding being noticed abusing children. Some of them are so sly that they will abuse children in front of other adults without being noticed.

A child sex offender will often have a mother lode of character witnesses–often old ladies–who will swear that “he’s such a kind soul; he would never hurt a fly.” They become unwitting enablers.

Sometimes, victims will recant, and the reasons can be complex. Is it always because the story was made up? Uh…no. In fact, I know of cases were accusations were likely recanted because someone coerced the victim into recanting.

The only thing I see in Kelley’s defense here: he’s not old enough to be slick and manipulative. (Then again, that might be why the law caught him.)

I tend to be in the camp of letting the justice process work. Do people get wrongly convicted of heinous crimes? Absolutely. If Kelley is one of those so convicted, I hope he receives his vindication.

OTOH, I tend to be in the camp of letting the process work. We have jury trials for a reason, and Kelley used all of his options, including taking the stand. He lost.

I realize that many will swear to his innocence, but the jury saw otherwise.

I cast my lot with the jury.

By Amir on August 25, 2014 | Sex Offenders | 5 comments

And No, I Don’t Endorse Men “Playing the Field”

I had to say that, because of the headline in this article. (HT: Vox Day)

Women who have several sexual partners before getting married have less happy marriages – but men do no harm by playing the field,a study has found.

According to new research by the National Marriage Project, more than half of married women who had only ever slept with their future husband felt highly satisfied in their marriage.

But that percentage dropped to 42 per cent once the woman had had pre-marital sex with at least two partners. It dropped to 22 per cent for those with ten or more partners.

But, for men, the number of partners a man they appeared to have no bearing on how satisfied they felt within a marriage.

Researchers said the study showed that sex with many different partners ‘may be risky’ if the woman is in search of a high-quality marriage.

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

By Amir on | Feminism, Game, Game/SMP | 13 comments

Bad News for Mark Driscoll

If these accounts are correct, then Mark Driscoll needs to at least be suspended, and his leadership needs to get serious about demanding that any return to the ministry be contingent on apologizing to the individuals involved as well as demonstrating, through a pattern of conduct, newfound humility.

As for how long he needs to be out, that’s a matter for his leadership to determine. But he definitely needs a hiatus if these charges are true.

This is not about rants he made 14 years ago under an anonymous moniker. Nor is this about his occasional juvenile antics. This is about basic ministerial comportment, and fostering a healthy Christian culture.

Mars Hill is in need of a major cultural orientation. The Acts 29 model–which Driscoll himself created–is indeed a good one, now it is on Driscoll to demonstrate the personal humility to abide by the terms of accountability that such a framework provides.

By Amir on August 22, 2014 | Christian Life | 6 comments

Well Written on Ferguson MO

Professor Hale has this to say about Ferguson, MO.

Sadly, I agree with him. I wish he were wrong, but I believe he’s spot on here.

By Ame on August 20, 2014 | News/Opinion | 2 comments

MSM is Catching onto Sovereign Grace Problems

I figured it would be a matter of time before a major outlet started covering the sex abuses and coverups at Sovereign Grace Ministries.

The Washington Post has jumped into the fray, with a surprisingly light article.

The SGM scandal makes the all the televangelist scandals look comparatively petty. Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart–the two poster children for scandal in the 1980s–engaged in consensual immoralities with other adults.

SGM, on the other hand, conspired not to report the sexual abuses of a former staffer.

C.J. Mahaney claims he had nothing to do with any of that, when in fact it all happened on his watch, on his ship, with his people, and his culture.

By Amir on August 18, 2014 | Christian Life | 1 comment

Ergun Caner’s Son Commits Suicide

While I am a skeptic of Ergun Caner–his claims to be a former Jihadi are not congruent with known facts–I empathize with him regarding the suicide of his son Braxton. That’s not something a father should have to endure.

Apparently, a minister named J.D. Hall had badgered Braxton about his father. Not only was that inappropriate in that Braxton is not responsible for his father’s actions; it was also Braxton’s duty to honor his father, even though his father was short of the glory in some aspects of his life. Hall should have been a catalyst for Braxton to honor his father, not undermine his father’s place in his life.

While Hall appears to be quite repentant, the whole episode is a reminder of what to do–and not to do–regarding the confrontation of sin.

Confront the offender. Don’t take it out on the wife, the children, or other relatives.

Otherwise, you are misrepresenting the Gospel and showing a reckless disregard for the mercies of God.

Ergun Caner is wrong, and is worthy of censure.

His son did not deserve to be attacked for the offenses of his father.

By Amir on August 13, 2014 | Christian Life | 3 comments

Shocker (Not Really)

Many years ago, after pro tennis player Chris Evert married Andy Mills and had settled into motherhood, she said something to the effect that her prior life had been all about her. The way she said it led me to think she had at least one prior abortion. While she’d had an otherwise solid reputation, I also figured that no one is pristine.

In 1974, when Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert had their romance, I was in first grade. I knew little to nothing about tennis–although I would become an avid player and fan in my teen years–but I remember Chris Evert becoming a household name. Jimmy Connors, who won three of the four majors that year, wasn’t bad in his own right.

They had been engaged, but broke off that engagement quite abruptly. Most had chalked that up to some combination of Connors’ playboy lifestyle–he would eventually marry a Playboy playmate–and their youth, as well as the logistics of two top-ranked tennis players being under the same roof.

Well, last year, Connors, in his autobiography, provided more insight into the breakup. During their youthful bliss, Chris Evert became pregnant, and, well, that couldn’t get in the way of her career. In Connors’ own words, he didn’t really consent, but didn’t really fight it either. At any rate, after that, the relationship ended.

Connors and Evert would go their separate ways: Evert would become one of the greatest women tennis players of all time. Her winning percentage–over 90%–is the best ever, and Martina Navratilova probably accounts for most of that 10% of her defeats. Connors would enjoy his share of success: he would win five U.S. Opens and two Wimbledons, and a mother lode of other tournaments. Their personal lives were not without issues: Connors would marry, have children, and persevere despite his own infidelities; Evert would marry, have an affair, reconcile, divorce, remarry, have kids, have a midlife crisis, divorce, remarry, divorce, then really lose it.

Evert, by her own admission, described her attitude as one of entitlement.

The media raked Connors over the coals for talking about the abortion, with at least one outlet saying, “That isn’t his story to tell.” On that front, I disagree; the child was no less his than hers. While I understand Evert’s outrage at Connors’ outing her–no one likes having a skeleton in their closet put on full display–it is fair game.

Yes, Connors is a douchebag–and to a certain extent would probably wear the label–but it’s not like he doesn’t have the prerogative to discuss the impact of her decision on his life.

And yet we must all take in the warning here. Make no mistake: your character will eventually catch up with you. It may not always become a public matter, but–at some point–you are going to come face-to-face with the reality of your decisions.

Julius “Dr. J” Erving was an outspoken Christian in addition to being one of the most celebrated athletes in his day; with a reputation as a charitable gentleman, he often received cheers from opposing fans. Trouble is, he–for lack of better words–got around. An affair with a reporter would produce a child.

Doc would take responsibility: he provided for her financially, including her education. But he tried to keep everything hush-hush.

In 1999, an up-and-coming tennis player–Alexandra Stevenson–would make a splash of her own: she reached the semifinals at the 1999 Wimbledon. Some reporters did some digging into her background, and noticed that the father listed on her birth certificate was none other than Julius Winfield Erving. This would begin the public unraveling of Doc’s otherwise sterling reputation, as his infidelities would lead to the breakup of his marriage.

I say none of this to pile onto Doc or Chrissy. Truth be told, they are probably far from the worst offenders in their respective sports.

Still, the lesson here is poignant.

By Amir on | Personal, Pro-Life, Sports | 9 comments

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