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Monday odds & ends...

I had the chance to go to a Kona watch-party on Saturday, but decided to stay home instead. So I only caught about 75% of the NBC coverage because my kids were either screaming or busy trying to get my attention the rest of the time. But I liked what I saw. As usual.

I think they do a good job each year of balancing the pro race with the drama of age groupers trying to finish before midnight, overcoming obstacles, or just explaining the day-to-day suffering we go through as triathletes to train and race. Most of us only dream about riding Queen K in the World Championships of our sport.

Then again, how many of us had our initial interest in triathlon come from seeing the annual broadcast and quietly thinking to ourselves, "hey, I want to do that." It's a nice reminder each year. 5 years ago if you'd told me how far Ironman is I'd have been unable to even ponder that number. Once you're in the fishbowl, things mutate and suddenly going for a half mile swim or riding 30 miles is something you do for an easy day. It's nice to take a step back and remember how the outside world sees us. We're extremists and also they're totally in awe of our ability to push our bodies in that way. It's easy to drift towards future goals without stopping to respect where we've been. I totally respect the sport for shifting my opinion about what is possible.

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Race season is just ending for many of you, but it feels "just around the corner" for me. Once the holidays are over it's just a couple months until I need to begin training for...whatever it is that will be on the 2014 calendar.

We've started to throw a few ideas back and forth. The first of which was to combine our yearly trip to a Minnesota sheep and wool festival with an organized bike ride in the area. Turns out the bike ride is farther into the year than we remembered so we'll have to pick one or the other. And I think we're leaning towards the bike ride together.

For those of you new to blog, one of my favorite trips lately has been to the Lake Pepin area. That's the widest point on the Mississippi just south of Twin Cities. It's full of history and amazing scenery with all sorts of natural wonders. A trip around the lake is 72 miles with the option to add a side trip to make it a full century ride. It'd be my first one and it seems like a great place to ride plus the kids could see the grandparents. So that's penciled in for June.

I haven't talked about it much because I don't want to get my hopes up, but I applied to be a part of Team Rev3. So I've held off doing too much season planning just in case I happen to be asked to join. But, assuming that I'm not molding my season around the Rev3 series, I'm planning on doing Ironman 70.3 Racine in July and then the Columbus Marathon in October. We'll see.

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For those not familiar with the suburb of Chicago where we live, it's an odd place. Weirdsville. I won't even try to do it justice because it would take an hour of writing. Hometown of many celebrities. Known for architecture and the arts. It's a mix of families and aging hippies. Densely built with urban problems but also home to houses that go for a half million dollars (and more). The taxes are high. The roads are full of potholes. Amazing schools and farmers market. But you have to pay to park in front of your own house. We have something like a dozen oddly named citizen commissions where residents give recommendations to our village board--who then sets policy that our unelected village manager implements with the day-to-day operation of the town. There's never a dull moment...which makes it interesting to live here. But it also makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and, well, move to a sheep farm somewhere to avoid the stupidity and hassle.

Some of you may recall the years-long process of getting a traffic light installed at our nearest intersection. Then there was the village trustee who tried (unsuccessfully) to suggest that there be a ban on eating in your car. Now, the geniuses at our Board of Health have moved on to suggesting an ordinance requiring kids under the age of 17 to wear a helmet. Parents can be fined $25 if they're caught.

I'm in favor of kids wearing helmets as a general statement. But I cringe at the idea of trying to turn that basic advocacy position into a mandatory activity with penalties for non-compliance without good reason. It's as silly as banning large diet sodas, eating in your car, or candy bars in school vending machines. I don't think anybody should be chugging 64 oz of Diet Mountain Dew, but by God it's your right as an American to have one if you want.

So I'll be tuning in tonight to our village tv station to watch the Board meeting where this new law gets a first reading. I've already complained to the Trustees about the law generally then got a chance to read the first draft over the weekend so I sent a few notes on specific elements. Like oh-for-instance that your definition of a bicycle would leave out a good chunk of the under 17 crowd immune from having to comply with the new law. D'oh!

I knew the law would be severely flawed when the idea first came up. It's impossible to write well. Ok, maybe not impossible--as I told my friend who is the trustee, I'll accept less than perfect but even that's so implausible I'd never attempt to do it. It's not worth the time and effort. Wearing a bike helmet is between parents and children. Not a third person in the relationship undermining parental authority.

I think what really irks me the most is that this dumb idea came from the Board of Health under the disguise of general safety...rather than something from the cycling community. As I've said to a few others before, the reason this didn't come from the bicycling community is that we don't believe in it. Oh, we believe in helmets. But we're busy trying to get too many other things done with local communities to worry about asking them for mandatory youth helmet laws. We want bike lanes and bike racks and laws requiring drivers to give us 3 feet and we want Idaho Stops and a myriad of other issues. You don't and won't hear many cycling advocacy groups bother to say helmets should be required because we recognize that some people don't want to wear them even if it's a good idea. Fine. And it's such a petty, minor issue in the grand scheme of safety. You already have to wear them for most organized cycling activities, but what you do on your time is your business.

What really happens in these instances is busybody, safety-obsessed types who want to wrap our children in bubble wrap come up with harebrained ideas that fall under the general heading of "keep the kids safe!" Which is not necessarily the goal of good parenting whatsoever.

This morning, Cole fell in the alley on the way to the car because he had his blanket over his head. Last week, he tried to eat some Play Doh and ended up with a blue tongue spitting soggy modeling compound all over our living room floor. Experience is a better lesson than well-meaning attempts to protect our kids from harm. We're mostly obsessed with child safety as a society because we know, deep down, that we can't ever really get there. That's an existential problem. Not a legislative one.

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