Bike MS 2019: The Jekyll & Hyde Weekend

Saturday September 7 was a picture-perfect day for a bike ride. Probably the best day weather-wise since my first ride in 2001. We’ve had nice days, but this was just beautiful – mildly warm with a mildly cool breeze to keep things comfortable. But Sunday showed another side of September that we’ve all seen before.

Friday afternoon I arrived at the Lewis & Clark Community College campus a little after 4, and went to a now-familiar spot where we have camped since the MS Chapter moved the ride from Columbia MO to Godfrey IL in 2015. My long-time riding partner Harold Anderson was relaxing in the shade, satisfied at having erected our tent on his own, and only slightly annoyed that someone came in and pitched their tent a mere two feet from the side of ours. “That’s just like life in the City!” he said. It would just have to do.

I then discovered that the EV charging station at L&C was on the blink, so I had to forgo the charge that would get me back home on their clean, renewable solar energy. But then I realized that I’d forgotten a critical component that can’t be purchased at the local Walmart: my registration packet. So I called my lovely bride and interrupted her happy hour with a friend. “Can you help me out? I have a problem.”

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2018: The Bike MS Ride That Didn’t Happen

Over the years, we’ve experienced all kinds of weather, from hot and dry to cold and wet, and everything in between. But the ride went on in spite of whatever Mother Nature had to throw at us, even tents rolling across the field like tumbleweeds!

But this year the ominous forecast of what the Gordon had in store for our ride route left the event planners in a predicament. The stormfront was expected to fall into a lull over the area, dumping 4-6” of rain in from Thursday through Saturday (100% chance of rain hourly from Saturday at 4 a.m. through Sunday at 5 a.m. according to Weather Underground!) At the Bike MS ride a couple years ago, the Lewis & Clark Community College campus was absolutely deluged with rain, turning their beautiful front lawn into a mud bath fit for the finest pigs. In fact, the grounds were practically destroyed, and the weather caused quite a mess for the event planners. Continue reading

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Bike MS: Gateway Getaway Ride 2017

It’s been two weeks since the ride, and a very busy time since then. A 25th wedding anniversary cannot be celebrated in a single day, you know, and though the U2 concert in St. Louis was cancelled, the Cardinals played on, as did Billy Joel. Suffice it to say, there was hardly an evening on the calendar (or time on the weekend for that matter) to sit down and compose my musings about the MS Bike Ride until now.

My primary takeaway was that the weather was spectacularly glorious! We couldn’t have had better weather – the temperatures were comfortable, no precipitation whatsoever (not even dew on the grass in the morning!) and the wind was either at our back or gently blowing toward us. Over the years, we’ve had merciless heat, thrashing wind & rain, and uncomfortably cold riding weather (practically everything but snow!) In my recollection, this was the most beautiful weekend yet.

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An Open Letter to U2

2 July 2017

Dear, Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry,

I started to write this three months ago, and was distracted away from it to attend to something else. Procrastination took over from there. Anyway, I was inspired to write this letter in spite of the fact that I have no idea how to get it to you all or whether you’ll actually see it. And yet I trust that this intuition is strong enough to act upon.

While we’ve listened to U2 since the early years and had always enjoyed your music, we’d not see your band in concert until 2001 in St. Louis. The experience still brings emotion to my body. Thanks to your policy to open up additional seats days before the show, we scored tickets to what would be a life-changing event. Just months after the 9/11 event, we were still recovering from the shock of the terrorist attack. And the Elevation tour seemed to be written and staged to honor and soothe us.

As it turned out, we’d not yet even bought the ATYCLB CD, so the music from that album hit us fresh. It was incredibly powerful, and felt like more of a spiritual experience than a concert. The energy and the passion were palpable, and we emerged from the concert practically speechless. Continue reading

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Movie Review: Where to Invade Next

WhereToInvadeNextLast night we watched Where to Invade Next, a film by Michael Moore. While many people disregard Moore as a provocative liberal, he identifies a number of policies and programs that other countries have implemented that seem very enviable and ideal.

Moore travels to nine largely European countries under the ruse of an invader attempting to steal their ideas and bring them back to America.  In each segment, he plants an American flag as a symbol of victory.  What’s particularly interesting is that each of the ideas is rooted in our own American ideals.

In the movie, Moore interviews both government leaders and the beneficiaries of the policies and programs that are highlighted, including: Continue reading

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My Reflection on the Election

I love this characterization of the presidency!

I love this characterization of the presidency, and credit Women for Justice for the image!

There was a protest in downtown St Louis today that I chose not to go to. I respect and appreciate the people who went out to protest the president-elect that so many feel is unfit to be president. However, the people have spoken. Short of any election rigging, it appears that Donald Trump won the election.

Instead, I chose to go biking in the woods. It was a beautiful day, a gift of sunshine and 60 degrees in mid-November. There’s a relatively new trail in Wildwood called the Bluff View that has become a favorite. While I enjoyed the rugged ride, I found myself fixated on the election results. As I passed other riders and hikers, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them voted for Trump. Several weeks ago, while still under the illusion that there was no way that Trump would win, it didn’t even occur to me that even these people deep in conservative West St. Louis County could bring themselves to vote for him.

How wrong I’ve been.  White people, both the haves and have-nots, voted for Trump in strong numbers.  Perhaps for reasons as varied as their backgrounds.  People who are angry or desperate for help, or people who are just convinced that the GOP has the answers.  Big government: bad.  Big business: good. Continue reading

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2016 Gateway Getaway

sro-day-1After a great ride last year, each of the ten members of Team Microgrid committed to recruiting another cyclist for this year’s ride.  We raised over $5,000 again last year, and everyone seemed eager to ride again this year.  And then the bottom seemed to fall out.

David moved to North Carolina, and Tim moved to California.  Patrick couldn’t ride, so his friend Jon decided not to ride.  Chad and Brea had a wedding to attend.  So that left Gordon and Angela, and my loyal and faithful friend Harold to form a team of four.  And none of us came through with the new recruits.  So it was just a bit simpler this year.

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My Volt Love Story

2008 Chevy VoltWhen I saw the first production design Volt in 2008, I was fascinated.  It was a great looking car, and the idea of running on electricity was particularly alluring.  Now, if the truth be told, I had not been a fan of GM since I was a kid coveting the Camaro or many other of their muscle cars.  The beginning of my spiral down was when we went through five clutches on our ’74 Vega before discovering that the flywheel was actually off balance.  And I continued to shake my head with disgust over the years at the declining quality of GM’s cars.

I’m pretty sure I saw Who Killed the Electric Car after I discovered the Volt, but I was certainly pleased to see GM offering an EV again.  What was particularly appealing to me was the backup generator that would allow you to drive an EV most of the time, but still have the flexibility of driving long distances.  Frankly, I think their ingenious EREV platform will help us make the transition from ICE to electric.

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Film Review: Merchants of Doubt

“We’re the negative force—we’re just trying to stop stuff.”

merchants-of-doubtMarc Morano, Executive Director of, a leading site for climate change skeptics.

This quote sums up the theme of Merchants of Doubt, a hard-hitting and at times discouraging documentary which details the campaign to discredit scientific climate research. Morano is one of those talking heads you’ll find on the cable news networks, grinning from his side of a split-screen shot, the other side occupied by a slightly rumpled but well-meaning and credentialed scientist. “I’m not a scientist, although I do play one on TV occasionally,” Morano laughs in the film, “Okay, hell, more than occasionally.”

That doesn’t deter him from spreading doubt in the guise of information: “Communication is about sales. Keep it simple. People will fill in the blank with their own, I hate to say, biases, but with their own perspective in many cases.”

Morano is just one of a host of unsavory characters presented in the documentary, all putting their remarkable communications and sales skills at the service of the fossil fuel industry. None of these persuaders would necessarily deny that climate change is happening, but they’ll do their best to cast doubt on the science and paint the green movement as the public face of a socialist uprising. Continue reading

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Team Microgrid Rides Again!

Microgrid EnergyOnce again, Microgrid Energy sponsored a team to ride in the 2015 Bike MS: Express Scripts Gateway Getaway Ride on September 12-13.  We first formed a team in 2014, and raised over $5,000 for the Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Our goal is to raise at least that much again this year.

The event, long held in central Missouri in and around Columbia, was relocated to the beautiful campus of the Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL this year.  While this location was certainly less convenient for mid-Missouri residents, the bulk of the riders in the annual event are from the St. Louis region, so this was a welcome change for most.  The new location offered much more comfortable amenities, including indoor showers, a swimming pool, an air-conditioned dining hall, and an all-around more attractive surrounding than the fairgrounds that regularly host livestock and equestrian events. Continue reading

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