African Connection links are now in the sidebar to the right, just below the My Travel section.

Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Roadkill Connections

You are no doubt wondering how various rogue posts on issues not related to bicycling make it into The Long White Line blog. If so, have you considered that these posts may, in fact, be related, albeit in ways that are, perhaps, just a bit obscure? It's like that television show Connections that aired on one of those channels for smart people; I watch anyway, but don't tell! Every episode was a study in how some event in the distant past was directly related to something familiar to us today. One fairly obvious example was how Genghis Khan's invasion of eastern Europe is directly related to today's practice of airlines charging for checking a bag which subsequently they will most likely damage and/or lose. Others were considerably more obscure; if you'd like to see what sort of things were addressed in the show, check out the episode summaries here.

My last post was an introduction to my visit to Kenya in late July. I saw a bike or two there, and was even asked if I'd like to buy one that I was looking at while waiting outside the hardware store in Isiolo. And that might connect Africa and bicycling. But there is another, more interesting connection that I'll walk you through here.

It starts with my Bucket List, one I started several years ago. There were a few of what I am sure are standards for such lists. You know, like "Visit Hawaii" (on tap for later this year) and "Cross the Equator" (did that during the 2008 trip to Uganda). And some that are a bit less likely to happen such as "Fly in a Lockheed Constellation." After I started riding, I did update the list to include "Ride a century (100 miles)" (September, 2005) and a couple of other riding-related goals.

But as I thought about the whole idea of a bucket list, it occurred to me that if I was actually able to cross off each one of my 50 things, I might be the next to go, so to speak. Thus, I decided to add one thing to the list that I was sure would never happen, just for a little insurance. After giving this a lot of thought (at least three minutes), I decided to add "See a dead hyena on the side of the road." That would keep me around for years to come, I reasoned.

This brings us back to the trip to Kenya. During which, on the drive from Nairobi to Isiolo, I saw – you guessed it – a dead hyena on the side of the road. I just hate it when that happens. Sure, the hyena couldn't have been all that thrilled either, but in all honesty, I didn’t care a whole lot about that.

So what to do? I figured I should put renewed effort into my riding, this having been an off year so far. If I can get in better shape I might just stave off the threat of checking out due to having no more items on my bucket list. So I have been able to get in a few more challenging rides in the last week or so. This weekend, I managed to work in climbs up County MM, Hunder Coulee Road and Chipmunk Ridge Road (nee School Section Road). These are three of the more challenging climbs in the area and it felt good to have navigated them. Those rides brought my totals to 1,220 miles on the road with 52,640 feet of climbing. Well below where I was last year at this time and below my goals for the year. But, the pace has picked up and there are still a few months of riding left. It may turn out to be an OK year on the bike after all.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to add another item to my bucket list: "See a live opossum on the road." THAT should do it for sure!

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