April 28, 2004

Back in the saddle again 

The Easter weekend weather threw out my fortnightly cycle ride with my brother in law, but last Sunday we headed out along the towpath down to Washington's Crossing from a small park two miles south of New Hope PA.

With the luxury of a bike rack we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to drive out to some great places in Bucks County PA to cycle. This ride south along the canal towpath between the canal and the Delaware River literally only as wide as twenty feet perhaps was visually one of the most stunning rides as the trees unfurl their spring leaves. The area around Washingtons Crossing PA is very well kept and the ride was rated by both of us as the best route yet.

All this cycling is for a reason, Chris has entered a 5K run this weekend around the roads of Bryn Athyn and plans to enter a triathlon, swim, cycle, run later in the summer in New Jersey. I have been helping his training regime with the cycling. I have always enjoyed cycling and if nothing else the exercise is doing me good. But I too have a plan to enter a 20 mile ride along Long Beach Island on September 4, 2004 for the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Red Cross. My motive is simple, I love the island and the prospect of riding from end to end appeals to me. There are no real inclines and in September with the summer crowds one week into their fall schedules the island will be a little quieter to enjoy this event. Besides I need a challenge and this truly fits the bill. I have been talking about this event for over a year.

The good news is from the Sunday rides that only the weather dampened my spirit last weekend as after nine miles on a rough but well graded towpath I was still up for a few more miles.

I am setting my sights on the ride along the Schukill River along Kelly Drive in Philadephia next. Ten miles should be an easy target.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

I resume this service... 

As a resident of Pennsylvania I have been keeping a watchful eye on the primary election between Spectre and Toomey for US Senate that was resolved by a very slim margin yesterday against Toomey.

Among other things that have taken my time from London Chimes, my adoption plans to bring my daughter from China has taken a priority above all others. Yet I did have an opportunity to see Pat Toomey stand and personally make his case why he should secure the votes of those who stand for his policies.

Pat Toomey impressed me, as a man, somewhat quiet but gentley forceful in his argument of the policies he stood for and representing the GOP. Toomey is a family man, a man not much older than I who is not a career policitian but offers a "real-world" perspective on polititics that is refreshing in competiton with the incumbant who by default and protcol is support by President Bush. Yet, without vocal support from Bush, to be defeated by some 12,000 votes is an indicator that we have not heard the last of this man, whispers in the corridors of Harrisburg suggest that given the showing in this campaign Pat Toomey may be given a green light to run against Ed Rendell as Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. This is not a runners-up prize, and time will tell if the whispers become shouts.

Toomey had an army of volunteers helping him promote and get out the vote. One such volunteer is known to me and truly deserves his opportunity to assist in the Bush relection campaign later this year. He know who he is and I would not offer his name here.

Although I cannot vote in the US, this is the first election that I have participated insofar I have had signs on my front lawn, the only ones to appear on my street, and carried a bumper sticker on my car in support of Toomey, a politician that should be watched out for in the future.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

April 02, 2004

Spring Forward... 

For those residing in the US, this weekend is the weekend of the year that falls short for everyone as we wind our clocks forward one hour and loose an hour of leisure time in favor of daylight savings. The argument for this twice-yearly activity is in my personal opinion becoming thinner each year. Yet "spring forward, fall back" is the only way I recall which way to set the clocks each season.

Spring is in the air in Pennsylvania, as "in these here parts" the daffodils are starting to bloom and the rabbits in the back garden, a sure sign of easter around the corner, are bless their cotton white tails, eating the leaves on my tulips!

The lament of the gardner.

This is a time of year that I do miss in the UK, the Oxford Cambridge Boat race and this weekend the Grand National horse race. I have little idea of the runners and riders but I expect that the winner will be a horse with four legs and a great deal of stamina.

Many years I have sat and watched this most famous of British horse races, over the huge fences of the steeplechase course in Aintree outside of Liverpool. Beachers Brook and Canal Turn always thinned out the runners and riders in a lottery of a horse race for those who would wager a few pounds or more, to win or each-way.

The only year I ever picked a winner was the year that Aldeniti won, in the years following the dominance of the legendary Red Rum. Before moving to the US, I did select either a horse with an Irish jockey or perhaps the horse was Irish, for my wife that did rather well, but it was not really my pick.

This is a big sporting weekend, as Sunday 04.04.04 is the inagural running of the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the third race of the season. I have seen some but not all of the first two races that have seemed somewhat processional with Ferrari dominating the pack. It is always refreshing to see a new track, so new that the paint on the kerbstones might still be a little tacky and wet when the lights go green on Sunday.

Reports that the organizers tried to cancel the event as recent as four weeks ago have been reported (see www.itv-f1.com for the full story) but stepped up and have a track that looks very in keeping with the twenty-first century that again is reported to offer at least three good passing places for F1 cars.

A new track could just upset the current championship standings, we will see when the checkered flag is unfurled. But it would seem that HM Foreign and Commonwealth Office have increased the terror threat for Britons heading to the race. The scope for a terror attack in such a public arena as the first F1 race ever held in the middle-east has to be taken with some seriousness. The F1 circus has over the year courted all sorts of press, good, bad, neatly crafted and downright sour, but as a sport it has never been the target of terror. I truly hope that this remains a fact.

Terror activity has once again been brought to the fore with the discovery of a large bomb on the high-speed rail tracks in Spain again today. We should be thankful that this is a discovery rather than a report of the scenes last month.

Railways are "soft-targets" the airlines are more secure today than ever before. But we cannot simply cease all air travel and cease all rail travel as terrorist would win, this is not an option.

The question of oil has again been included in headlines as the price of oil increases. I understand that on average the price for a gallon of petrol (gas) in the UK is around $5.60. I presume this has been adjusted for the fact that an imperial gallon and an imperial gallon US are not the same. A US gallon is smaller, and again in these here parts in New Jersey the average pump price for unleaded (regular) is $1.69 some 15cents cheaper than neighbouring Pennsylvania. Although I have heard of report of $2.30 in other parts of the US.

The forecast is for oil prices to increase over the spring and into the summer months. I would appreciate readers in the UK and other countries giving me a running update on two questions.

The costs per litre for unleaded petrol, (I will do the conversion to US $) and the great international leveller, the cost of a Big Mac.

The snow report will be replaced with a comparison chart.

Meanwhile as the Spring Weather has arrived, the bike has been dusted down and ridden in the last week around Tyler State Park in Bucks County PA. I have a great deal further to go in working up to the LBI ride this September.... but in the meanwhile my brother-in-law is in training for a triathlon and I am helping him train on the cycling. A case of have bike rack can travel and cycle around some great places beyond our neighbourhood.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

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