cycling update

A little over two weeks ago, I cycled a loop around the lake with the training series I’d joined. It was raining, and I struggled so much mentally. I’m not a stranger to exercising in adverse weather, and I’ve done plenty of difficult runs and cycles. But on this ride, I just kept saying to myself, “Never again.” I was just not having fun. With more rain predicted for the following weekend, I ultimately decided that I was not going to cycle 63 miles / 2700 ft in the rain. I dropped back to the next slower group (“yellow”) which also cycles shorter distances. When the next weekend came, that group ended up canceling their ride. (The group I had been part of (“green”) proceeded.) Ultimately, there was very little rain, and after a brief period of elation when I thought I could just sleep in, I realized there was really no reason not to get out there and cycle.

The yellow group had been planning another loop of Lake Washington for Week 4, so I headed out and did it solo. It went so much better for me than the week before. I’ve realized that after many years of exercising solo, I’m kind of set in my ways and don’t necessarily like cycling in a group. First of all, I like to set my own pace. I tend to cycle faster on flats and slower on hills. Personally, I don’t understand why people increase their level of effort so much on hills – why not try and maintain a constant level of effort? Second, I like to stop and take pictures. It’s a small thing, but photographing to the scenic spots I pass really adds enjoyment for me. Third, I can stop and eat whenever I want. With a large group, we’re constantly stopping when the group gets separated due to hills or traffic lights, but it’s always for an indeterminate amount of time, and I find myself scarfing down gels or snacks. In the end, we stop for MORE time during a group ride, but it’s on someone else’s schedule and I feel like it’s much harder to take care of myself in terms of nutrition. And I can’t stop and take off or put on a jacket if I’m hot or cold, or deal with a minor mechanical issue. It’s annoying.

Last but not least, when I’m cycling on my own, I can make decisions on the fly about changing my route in the face of adverse weather conditions, whereas with a group, I just feel trapped.

With all these factors, my second lake loop felt so much easier. I averaged exactly the same pace as with my first loop, though admittedly I took a slightly different route with about 10% less elevation gain. Despite covering a couple of extra miles, my elapsed time was a good half hour less. Much of that was because of not waiting around at the start. I HATE waiting around to get started. Also, this is a Seattle cycling series, and the start points are all over greater Seattle. Traffic on Saturday afternoons in our area is an absolute total f-ing nightmare, and it’s a special kind of torture trying to get home after a long, exhausting bike ride. I really hate sitting in extreme traffic when I’m tired like that – I find it very anxiety inducing. It’s hard to overstate how bad Saturday traffic in Seattle is. Anyway, when I plan my own rides, I can often re-route them to start nearer to my hosue.

Then, last week, I started feeling sick. I’ve had multiple instances of sore throat pain followed by a cold recently. This is pretty typical for me, but what’s not typical is the long duration of the buildup. Normally, my throat will start hurting, and within 24 to 48 hours I’m sick. Recently, it’s been 3 or 4 days of sore throat pain before the hammer drops while feeling otherwise fine. I wasn’t sure whether to go out for Saturday’s group ride. It was supposed to be hot (over 80 – very hot for those of us used to sub-60 temps) and a long ride. I ultimately decided to start earlier and do an easier ride, though almost as long as the planned ride.

This was my longest ride, but due to significantly less elevation gain, it really wasn’t a challenging ride, certainly as hard as what the main group did (2400 ft of gain). I think it was the right choice for me, though, as I got out of the sun more quickly, got some exercise but didn’t stress my body as much. I was feeling sicker the next day (yesterday) and am still not 100% today. And S is also sick, and J is out of town, so it really wouldn’t have been a great time to destroy myself on the bike.

Hopefully I will be feeling 100% by next weekend. There’s a planned 75 mile ride on the docket. That will be a great challenge for me, assuming I do it.

Life and death on the court

Decades ago, I was a single issue voter. The Democratic party’s position on abortion was sufficient for me to cast a vote for Kerry. No other issue was required. I could have differed from them on every single other issue, and I still would have voted Democrat. At the time, of course, I’d also come to believe that I’d been greatly and sadly mistaken in accepting the WMD justification for the war in Iraq, and I probably would have voted for Kerry on that basis alone as well.

On the one hand, you could argue that I could and should continue to vote Democrat for reproductive rights alone, since if we’d had Democratic presidents, abortion would still be universally legal in the US today. However, since 2004, we’ve had 12 years of Democratic presidency and 8 years of Republican presidency, and the Supreme Court has shifted from 5-4 left-leaning to 6-3 conservative. All I can conclude from this is that Democrats are wildly incompetent.

Right now, we have Sotomayor, a T1 diabetic at 69 years old. We have probably 50/50 odds in terms of who the next president will be. Life expectancy for a T1 diabetic is optimistically 65 to 72 – Sotomayor is 69. That is, she could drop dead at any minute (just like Biden). If the Dems had any sense, she would have stepped down six months ago. I realize she, like most people, does not want to confront her own mortality, but this is ridiculous. There is a 50/50 chance Trump is going to win, and I’d say a 50/50 chance that if he does, Sotomayor will be forced to step down due to health, and the court will go 7-2. If that happens, quite apart from my personal views, it will be an absolute disaster for the country. The next Democratic president will be under incredible pressure to pack the court. Angry left-leaning types will threaten revolution. All this can be avoided for sure if S steps down and is replaced by a healthy 50-year-old left-leaning justice.

From the Hill:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared that the talk is “nonsense” and said she was surprised that this issue has entered the discourse. 

“Where did this come from?” Warren said. “I don’t want to add any fuel to the fire on this. I think she’s doing a great job, and I am grateful for her public service.”

I dislike Warren for many reasons, but I’ll certainly add this to the list. SHE too is very old and should step aside for younger blood, but that’s beside the point.

“She’s not 70. I might remind some of my colleagues to look around, check their birth certificate,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a Judiciary Committee member, told The Hill. “She’s going full speed ahead. I’m not aware of significant issues, and I am aware of extraordinary competence.”

“This is not an RGB situation,” he added, using the common abbreviation of Ginsburg’s name. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also told reporters Monday that he wants Sotomayor to remain on the high court.

A number of Democrats indicated they were floored that this conversation is even happening, as Sotomayor has given no public signals she is considering such a move or that her health has changed recently.

“I think she’s doing a great job, and I think she should stay. I’m a little baffled by [the chatter],” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.

Is there no one in office in this country with some backbone and willingness to do and say what’s right for the country as opposed to their own personal interests? If a leading Democrat would stand up and state the obvious, I swear I would support that individual for president. We’ll end up with a 7-2 court, and people will blame Trump, and whichever right-leaning justice has the misfortune to be appointed, but Trump will literally be doing the job 50% of the populace elects him for. Why are the Democrats and Biden failing to do the job that 51% of the populace elected THEM for? Why does Sotomayor consider her personal ambition and career more important than the future of the country?

Sensible commentary from the HuffPost:

Supreme Court justices have made hundreds of trips and public appearances in recent years. But only one sitting justice appears to have taken the unusual step of traveling with a medic: 69-year-old Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

There are towering stakes for Sotomayor’s ability to remain a Supreme Court justice. At 69, she is beyond conventional retirement age and is the oldest of three Democratic-appointed justices remaining on the court.

Her dissents, with their trademark clarity and righteousness, have made her a favorite of many liberals. But the window in which President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats have an all-but-guaranteed ability to appoint her replacement is rapidly closing. 

“It’s fair to point all this out,” said Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, which sued to release the documents.

In August, he noted, Sotomayor will have spent 15 years on the court.

“Fifteen years was the average tenure for … [U.S.] justices for the first 150 years of our republic,” Roth said. “In the last 55 years, that number has now doubled. But the idea that Justice Sotomayor might be considering staying on the court until, I don’t know, Naomi Biden [the president’s granddaughter] is president, is probably not something a lot of folks would want to see.”

Sotomayor appears to be the only justice for whom security agents are required to wear personal protective equipment, per the documents. But Sotomayor’s caution around COVID-19 due to her preexisting condition is already public knowledge. Sotomayor avoided in-person oral arguments until early 2022, and she was the only justice seen wearing a mask when she returned.

As for Sotomayor, privately, Democrats have told reporters they are worried about the optics of pressuring the first Latina justice to step down.

RBG’s failure to step down forever tainted – I would say destroyed – her legacy. The case for Sotomayor to step down is just as strong as it was for RBG; it’s just not as clear to the average person, since most people are not aware that T1 diabetes will reduces your life expectancy by around ten years. Sotomayor’s “effective” age is 79, not 69.