Saturday, September 10, 2011

RtN first visit in a while

RtN, for my new readers, stands for Road to Nepal. This is the hilliest ride that is really close to Calgary on nice pavement. There are hillier rides further away, and some hilly rides on not so nice pavement. Road to Nepal, otherwise known as highway 773, has almost no flat sections, maybe 100 m at most. The rest is up or down, sometimes quite dramatically. How dramatic? 84.1 Kph (52 mph) worth of peak speed dramatic today, not even trying. The pavement is new a couple years ago. There is very little vehicle traffic, today, for example, I saw about 2 dozen cars and trucks. The start of this bit of bike heaven is mere 7.5 K from my house. A crappy, nervous making 7.5 K, admitted.

Today was a good day. I started off wondering what I should do, if do anything at all. In the end I decided that a bike ride would be good. As Linda pointed out, if I do it today and there's a problem, she's here to pick me up. That won't be true after tomorrow. My legs have been feeling pretty good, but you know when you've been having nagging injuries, or a slow recovery, there's that little bit of hesitancy? That's me. I went through a long patch where biking wasn't much fun, and seemed to be really hard on my knee.

So I was a bit worried about my knee today. I've had some good rides out 22X and 22, but RtN is sterner stuff. This is a tough workout. I know people, well, one person anyway, who drove 2 hours to ride this as a workout, since the plan called for hills, and there are no hills where she lives. Mountains yes, but no hills. So my thinking today was to tackle and see how things went.

They went well. I got down to 22X in 16 minutes and a little bit, which is a new record. I got down to the end of the road by 1:03 and a little bit, which is not a record, but I was surprised it was that quick. I'd been doing well on the hills, even accounting for a wind. That wind made the way back tough sledding. I'm guessing about 30 kph, steady from the NW. So that helped going south. Normally going north is faster, since there's more downhill, but not today. I pedaled a lot on the downhills. It took 1:20 to get back for a total ride of 2:23, over not quite 52K. Nowhere near my fastest, but I'm still pretty pleased, since I wasn't riding for a fast time. I was riding to try to spin up the hills and see what my knees thought of the whole darn thing.

And, I have to admit, to get a look at the views. Some of the views from the road are more than worth the price of admission. One of the views, only 11 K from my house, is a herd of bison. Yes, buffalo. They were complacent today, gently grazing in the sunshine on the way south, and napping on the way north. I took a good look on the way back home, since they were only a dozen yards or so from the road. These things are frigging enormous! Myself, I'd put in a sturdier fence. Last year there was a mama giving me the stink eye as I rode past, fearing I was going to molest her calf or something. I completely and totally believe she could walk through the fence and not notice, to get at me. And would, if she thought it necessary. I thought placatory thoughts toward her and pedaled just a bit faster.

Dinner tonight was BBQ beef tenderloin in a chocolate and merlot spice rub. It's even better than it sounds. Plus BBQ roasted spuds, and a super yummy salad, with a chocolate caramel tart with sea salt on top. And this. It's only been in the bottle 7 months or so, and OMG. If I'm sharing this, you know I love you.

It just so happened I was looking at our utilities bill the other day. The actual cost of water is $1.38 per 1000 litres. That's 13.8 cents per 100 l, or 1.38 cents for 10 litres, or .138 cents, CENTS!!! for one litre of water at the tap. And this is good water. Calgary consistently has some of the best tap water in Canada. But I'm boggled here, so let me say it again, just over one tenth of one cent per litre of water. Hold that in your mind a moment, as you consider how essential water is for life.

When I'm making wine, I buy bottled water from Co-op. It costs just under 2 dollars for 11 litres, or about 20 cents per litre. They make no bones about starting with Calgary tap water, and doing stuff to it, mainly to neutralize the chlorine and get rid of some of the dissolved solids. Considering that chlorine doesn't do yeast in wine any good, I don't mind paying a bit extra. On a per litre basis, it seems like a lot, but considering that make about 4 or 5 kits a year, and need about 7 or 8 litres per kit, we aren't talking a great deal of money when you total it up. As a markup, it's a bit steep, but at least they are doing something to it.

Now remember, just over one tenth of one cent per litre of water. Coke and several other companies use Calgary tap water as a source for their various water based products, like, astonishingly enough, Coke. They are a supplier of bottled water as well, but I don't remember what brand, and there is no indication  they do anything at all to it. I admit to not knowing the price off hand, but it's about $1.50 per litre range. Calculate that mark-up, friends and neighbours. And worse, if you buy water an event, it's even more. $4 a litre is not uncommon. And you're not even being kissed before you bend over.

What then pisses me off is people complaining about the price of gasoline. I happen to know exactly what form petroleum is in when it comes out of the ground. I know exactly what is done to it to get it from some remote wilderness to where you can pump it into the tank of your gas guzzler. This is an exceedingly complicated process, involving expensive equipment, highly trained people, and some of the most complex infrastructure ever invented and maintained by humans. Gas right now in Calgary is $1.16 a litre, and to be fair, it's more in other parts of Canada, probably up to about $1.50 a litre. And people complain, big time. It's even worse in America. Many people there think that more than a dollar a gallon, (an American gallon for crying out loud) is extortionate. Water. Gasoline. As my blog buddy GQH put it so succinctly and accurately when talking about libraries and another issue - Fuck You.

Basic economics says that if something gets more expensive we try to use less of it. Which, for water, there is a certain non-reducible minimum. Imagine how your life would change if water became more expensive, say, 10 times more expensive. Instead of a fraction of a cent per litre, imagine paying whole cents per litre, or even a dollar per litre at the tap. How might your daily life change?

I'm old enough to have bought gasoline for my car at about 35 cents a GALLON, a Canadian Gallon yet. (This was back before the sanity of the metric system came to town.) When I moved to Calgary in 1980, it was about 20 cents a litre and that was thought to be expensive. People are certainly trying to use less gasoline, but it's a bit like boiling a frog. The price goes up and down, gradually trending upward, and people keep on paying. We are accustomed to our lives after all, and public transit in Calgary sucks big time.

But what happens with it goes up, way up? Petroleum is a valuable product, too valuable to be burning in cars for transit one person at a time in a heavy metal vehicle. That will change very soon. Very soon it will come to a choice, do we use petroleum to continue to make fertilizer to grow the food we eat, or refine it so we can burn it? That's not a fun choice, but it's an easy one, at least for a rational person. Of whom there are an astonishing number of voters who are not. Some days I fear for my country. At that point, us triathletes will almost have the world by the ass. Commute 15 K to work? On the empty roads? No problem.  And if climate change continues the way it is going, winter might not even be much of a problem.

Do I want that world? Not especially, though I think it would be good for people to drive less. We really do need to be smarter about it, but raising taxes isn't particularly the way to do it. Especially since I don't especially trust our government with tax dollars. Basic economics is cruel, but inevitable. The trick is to see which way the wind is going to be blowing soon. Best to think ahead. Don't say nobody told you.

1 comment:

  1. So, um, are you going to post those dinner/dessert recipes, or what?


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