I can feel the heat coming on. My outside thermometer reads 102.4 right now. Supposed to have a nice cool down on Monday through Wednesday, but still, the desert summer is knocking on my door. As it was, I got up at 3:45am to ride this morning, and that will become all the more necessary over the next four months as the over night temperatures inexorably rise…and rise…and rise. But for now, it is perfect riding weather. Hardly a cloud in the sky, dry as the proverbial bone as well. So, over the past two weeks I’ve logged 370 miles, a little below my average of late (650 the preceding three weeks before that—2,612 since I got back on the bike after my heart procedure on February 15), mainly due to last Saturday’s South Mountain Time Trial. In any case, I’ve been hitting the hills, working hard to get to my personal goals by June 13th (the end of my 2010/2011 riding year). Right now I am pretty well on schedule for 8,750 miles (2,450 miles farther than ever before [1998], and 3,330 miles farther than just last year) and 300,000 ft. of ascent (climbing), a solid double last year’s number. I am still too big and heavy to ascend with the rocketmen (and don’t expect to get much lighter, as I’ve already managed to drop below 10% body fat), and too chicken to descend with the crazy guys (I like my skin and limbs right where they are, thank you), but as I close in on 50 years of age, I really don’t concern myself too much with that. I compete with myself, push myself, set goals for myself. I don’t live to ride, I ride to live, as they say…and to study!

This morning as I enjoyed the gorgeous Sonoran desert on an 80 mile ride, climbing over 3,000 ft., I listened to three debates featuring my good brother Michael Brown (two on Jewish issues, one on homosexuality). I finished those off, and moved on to the next volume of Ibn Ishaq’s life of Muhammad before getting back to the house. Yes, eclectic listening tastes, to be sure, but that’s when I do Dividing Line prep, sermon prep, book research, you name it. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to get at the grocery store anymore, but, if it is about debates, books, etc., it still sticks in my aging brain. When that stops happening, I will have to re-evaluate things! But as it is, I continue to rejoice in having a sport that pushes me to the limits but, at the same time, gives me uninterrupted study time to do what I do. You can’t beat that combination!

It won’t be long till the monsoons start here, and once again I will be able to catch some incredible sunrise photos as I ride. I’m looking forward to it, for as long as the Lord gives me the strength and ability to press on.

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