My First Political Rally

26 10 2008

I’ve never been a political person, as I always thought politics was a sideshow intended to keep some people busy. Of course, this is the worst possible way to treat the democratic process, and this current election cycle is having a profound impact on my view of politics and the democratic process in the United States.

I would still classify myself as a Ron Paul supporter. If you see what is happening in the financial sector these days, it was pretty obvious that Ron Paul knew what he was talking about. He is the only person who ran in the primaries that wanted to not only end the war in Iraq, but remove all United States occupation of foreign countries. That meant closing all foriegn military bases worldwide. Perhaps this would be a drastic step to some people, but one that is necessary. Other countries have embasys here, but no military presence, so why does the United States have almost 200 bases abroad? Not that I know about foreign policy, but I do know that all those bases cost money to maintain. And rather than spend the money outside the US, why not spend it here? I could go on and on about the American Empire, as my research has lead me down some very disturbing rabbit holes. Needless to say, I didn’t like what I found, and it has motivated me to at least try to participate so that my children will have a future without such problems.

So, as it was today, part of my journey toward being a patriotic citizen of the United States, I took the opportunity to check out the Obama Rally in Denver today. I am in Denver for a programming class, and decided to use the time to recharge my batteries. I set up this trip nearly two months ago, and only last night, after trying to figure out what to do, did I find out that Barack Obama was going to be giving a speech at the Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver. I thought if nothing else, I would be able to hear what he has to say without media interruption, and I would be able to experience firsthand what all the fuss is about when it comes to political rallies, and take some cool pictures while I was out there.

Obama sign at rally in Denver, CO (10/28/08)

From my friend’s place, I took the lightrail to downtown, and in the process already ran into several nice people who were obviously voting for (or have already voted for) Obama. From there, it was on to the park, where a line that streched around several blocks awaited me. I forgot to bring my jacket because the forecast was supposed to be for nearly 70 degrees; it was 45 according to my iPhone. I wasn’t sure of what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the civility of the crowd. Only after I looked at the Denver Post heading did I find out that 100,000 people attended the event; the single largest crowd to attend a political rally in the United States. I feel pretty humbled to have been part of it, even if I was just one amongst many.

I was in the back of the crowd the whole time. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of Barack Obama, however, I did hear his speech. While I can’t say that I was deeply moved, I was impressed by his few moments of candor with such a large audience. He repeated many of the political jibber jabber that goes on in a campign without being demeaning or attacking his opponent below the belt, or with subjects that don’t really matter.

He arrived, he talked, and he left, and I was at least part of the moment. It’s not much, but it was still an impressive sight to behold. Prior this his appearance, but after his opening acts had completed their local campaigning, the sound of people chanting his name was something that I hadn’t heard before. I heard this faint chant of “obama” coming from somewhere. In less than a second, it grew lound enough that I could determine the source: the amphitheater where he would soon be speaking. And shortly after that, I could truely hear the chant in full blast. It was very impressive.

In all, I would say, that I am still a Ron Paul supporter. If the republicans had the wisdom to nominate him instead of their current nominee, well, things would be different. However, I actually took the time to read (listen) to Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, and was agast to find out that his struggles as a youth, as a working class man, as a parent and as a human were so close to my own, that it was clear that if I couldn’t vote for the guy to who made the most sense, well, I could vote for the man who at least symbolicly represents me in the government. And, that is perhaps the reason why he is so popular. The nation can see in him a little piece of themselves, somewhere. From the minority angle, to having only mom around, to having to fight for everything he ever had, this is the story of most American voters.

I’m not a drastically different person after all this political soul searching. I am moved after seeing so many people dedicated to the cause of getting one man elected to the office of President of the United States. I see their enthusism, and somehow find it containgious. I will continue to push myself to particiate in the greatest experiment in the history of the world, as it is the only way it will succeed. I want to continue to set a positive example and leave a good foundation for the future, for my children, and for everyone else’s children. That is what drives me these days, and it seems, that is what drives Barack Obama, and that is why he gets my vote.

Cochise County Cycling Classic XXI

18 10 2008

I can’t believe that the time for the 4C (Cochise County Cycling Classic) has come around already. It seems like only yesterday I was beaten down by the harsh winds and crazy hills and struggling to pull my butt across the finish line. Wait, why am I doing this event again?

This year, I thought I would have enough time and motivation to get back into cycling to be able to finish the 92 mile trek across the backroads of Southeastern Arizona with minimal trouble. I have been going to the GABA rides, lately, and getting in a few full weekend spins in under my belt, but I haven’t put in anything near the 92 mile I needed for this event. I knew I was in for some pain at the end, it was just a matter of how much I could endour.

The ride out was a tad wet, as the rememants of a hurricane were making their way across the gulf and into the desert. I was trying my best to stay with the lead group at this early part of the ride beause they would help block the wind at least until the ride started to go up into the hills behind old town Bisbee. No such luck this time. It turns out that I’m in the worst shape of my cycling life. I couldn’t even manage to keep up half way to the uphill portion of the course. I was so tempted to turn off onto the 45 mile route. I knew that if I couldn’t even keep up with those guys, I was done for the day. I reluctantly journeyed up the hill with a monster headwind while climbing a mild 4 or 5% grade. I actually made some progress on some people, so I started to feel a little better about myself. Then came the 8-10% part of the course. In my very early days of cycling, I hated hills. Then, I grew to love them as they made me stronger, and I could finish them off without too much pain. I wasn’t at the point of hating the hills, by then, but I really wasn’t looking forward to this one either. I took my experience and knowledge and kept riding up the hill at my pace, and mine alone. The trip through the Mule Pass tunnel on bike is always a little freaky, but this time wasn’t so bad. I guess I am just used to it by now. Once the big hill was over, it was time for the big giant downhill. This part of the course made the uphill so worth it. I flew down as fast as I could, I wantedt o enjoy the ride down. Unfortunately, head and cross winds made it difficult to catch the 50 mph milestone I was trying for. My top speed down that section was 45 mph. Not too shabby, but I’d been that fast before.

The fast part of the downhill is fairly long, but then it levels out into a more gradual downhill, where you can pedal moderately and still get some good speed going. It was here all alone, just me, the bike and the road where you can achieve bike nirvana. Hearing the sound of the wheel rolling on the road at a speed of 35 mph is sweet music. And having to put as little effort into generating that sound is icing on the cake. After coming down from that high, it came time to tackle the second half of the course. The long road home, riding into headwinds no matter which direction you are going. My legs were pretty much spent by this time, so I just decided to go at the best pace I could, and try not to hurt myself. I eventually flatted, and recovered. It took nearly 4 hours after reaching the turnoff at Davis road to reach the finish line. Not a good performance. The last 20 miles on highway 191 were done at 10mph or less with a 30 mph headwind howling at us the whole time. I eventually made it to the turn off that was 6 miles from the finish. I took a break and sat down with an old man and woman who were there to make sure all riders were safe. They sat me down in a chair, held my bike, offered me some water, fruit and candy to make sure I would make it to the finish line. The old woman offered to drive me to the finish, however I felt bad in doing so after having ridden so far, and come so close to the finish under my own power. She said she would drive me a half mile to the end and drop me off so they wouldn’t know. But I would know, and I in the future, I could not, in good conscience, tell my kids not to cheat if I did so myself. I turned down her generous offer and rode for 6 more miles of tormenting winds.

I eventually made it to the finish line, tired and dehydrated. As soon as I checked in with the event officials for my time, I plopped on the grass, and laid there, for at least 30 minutes. My legs were sore, I needed water and fruit, but knew that I wouldn’t be able to stomach them. I must have worried my brother, who finished with no problem. I mean, I looked and sounded like I was going to be sick. I felt like it too. I found something at the Circle K to get me hydrated and give me a little energy until I could make it to dinner. After a while, although I was still sore, I was able to walk, and felt much better in general. At least good enough to have some food.

In all, the 4C event is a good ride to see how well you will do in el Tour de Tucson; it is a much tougher event considering you are battling all the elements on your own. I know that I won’t be doing all that well this year in el Tour, and will probably switch to a shorter route for my own sanity and safety. So, until el Tour, ride safe