Dirt mining.

Breakfast: eggs, hamburger meat (free range even), mushrooms, steel cut oats, flax seed, honey, coffee, rice milk, water.

Objective: on the bike strength training (big gear hill repeats).  Then ride to work (late).

Legs: feeling goodish.  Not sure yet.

Stomach: feeling like sitting around some more and watching youtube videos of Fleche Wallone.

Finally, back to training!  And training means big breakfasts and large bowel movements.  I have accomplished both today, and may be accomplishing one more of those things in a short time to come.  There’s no better way to start the day then waking up, loosing five pounds, gaining five pounds, and then loosing three more pounds.  All within 30 minutes.  It gives you a great feeling of accomplishment and lets you know that the day is just going to keep getting better and better.

More time on the bike means a lot more food.  Which means a lot more food going to someone who doesn’t really need it–someone who is just riding around on a plastic/metal toy for hours on end, eating up precious calories that could be going to nourish someone who really needs it.  Some poor guy in a dirt quarry in Africa, taken out of his village to break rocks with a sledge hammer for 18 hours a day–against his will and for almost no pay.

Before they came and destroyed his life, he had it pretty good.  He and his family didn’t have much, just a few cows and a small thatch-roofed hut.  But no one else in his village had any more or any less than him, so he lived in relative wealth among his people.  There were plenty of yams to be had, plenty of cheep beer, and few rainy days.  Life was just swell.  Until they came.

It happened on one of the few rainy days that they had.  Three military trucks came and burned the small village down, shot those who ran, and tied the rest up to be taken to slave camps to mine for gold, diamonds, and in our friend’s case: dirt.

The unstable government of this African nation (well, stable actually sense it’s always so UNstable that it can be viewed as being stable), had many causes.  Overpopulated cities, lack of education, a poor transportation system, lack of free media, a non-democratic government that always seemed to be involved in multiple wars, ohh wait.  That’s the United States.  Uhh, well I guess all that stuff plus no money, and more powerful countries aiding terrorist groups to cause trouble so the richer countries can get at the African country’s oil, diamonds, and gold with ease.  And dirt.

Our friend was beaten, yelled at, and thrown in the back of one of the large trucks.  After a bumpy, 47 hour ride in the crammed truck full of 30 of his friends, the truck stopped.  They were kicked out of the back and handed picks and sledge hammers.  The handles of both were worn and splintery and immediately our friend got a big splinter right between his index and middle finger, right in the notch there–the worst place for a hand splinter, other than under your finger nail.  Just as our friend, we’ll call him Bob since I don’t know any good African names, thought this day (or week now) couldn’t get any worse, he got another splinter under his thumb nail.  Damn sledge hammer.

He and his fellow prisoners were taken down into a large pit or rock, 400 feet down into the earth.  There were forty or fifty other forced labor workers there already, hammering away at the rock and carrying it out by walking  up a large wooden scaffolding on the east side of the quarry.

They were told to keep a sharp eye out for dirt and or mud, and to immediately report any they found.  There was a penalty of death for smuggling dirt out of the mine, so they better not even try it or else.  The upside to finding the dirt, though, was that once a ‘worker’ found 1200 grams of it, they were set free and paid $6.50 for their time.  Only the first batches of workers had found any dirt though.  It was all during the first week of digging, and for some reason the mine had produced no more once they got below 20 feet.  The quarry company had lost some $2.7 million dollars during that first week as they kept their promise to the thousands of workers they had paid and let free after finding their 1200 grams.  Business was bad now, and they made up for it by cutting back on food and water for their workers.

As the weeks and months wore on, Bob’s strength decreased as his fingers continued to get nasty splinters and his stomach remained empty, causing his ribs to protrude, his cheeks to go gaunt, and his arms to dwindle like small twigs.  He cursed the endless amount of boulders to be smashed, he cursed the guards with their guns, he cursed the hot sun, and above all he cursed the US based compost company that had hired this mining outfit to fulfill a large quota of dirt.  The composting company had been cutting their compost with dirt for years, and their profits had increased because of it.  They decided to move their dirt quarries overseas, since it would be cheaper, and now cut their product with 50% African soil (marked directly on the bag as a marketing technique), which allowed them to sell a bag of compost at Home Depot for $7.80, an unbeatable price for people that didn’t realize the point of composting is to ‘reuse’ discarded food scraps for fertilizing your yard.  They saw “Now with African soil and minerals” and couldn’t help but buy an extra bag of it.  Just think of the petunias that could be grown with THAT exotic compost??!!.  Most of the consumers didn’t realize the negatives of this kind of overseas operation, where the dirt was collected in Africa, the ‘compost’ collected in the sewers of India, and the mixing and bagging operation carried out in China.  They didn’t realize it was taking good American jobs and shipping them overseas, and they didn’t realize the minimal wages the workers were paid.  “At least they have jobs now,” was a common attitude for those who took any time to think about it at all.  But Bob would disagree.  He wanted his old life back.  A life free of constant splinters, being yelled at, and smashing rocks against his will for a half cup of rice a day.  Like a cyclist, he spent the majority of his day being hungry.  Except in a different way.  Maybe it would all be bearable if he could at least have an extra quarter, no eighth cup, of rice.  That would be do-able.  But no, greedy ‘ol Kennett needs it to ride up an extra hill today.  And the reason for riding up a hill on a bike is….uhh…

Well, this weekend was the first true weekend of riding in a long time.  Real riding, not sitting in groups drafting and chatting, but real base miles.  December is closing in and it’s time to start building up the hours.  Quinn and I did a cool 4.5 hours on Saturday.  Low points were getting screamed at by an old fat guy with a rifle to get the — off his —-ing property–for about five minutes straight while Quinn and I were on the edge of the road next to his driveway trying to get Quinn’s fender to stop rubbing.  Quinn called the police, and was politely informed by them that threatening to shoot someone while waving a rifle about and screaming obscenities is NOT against the law, and to please not call back until someone was shot and bleeding out on the pavement.  Other low points were when Quinn dropped his glasses and a car ran over them (most of the low points happened to Quinn by the way).  A semi truck almost hit us in an intersection where it failed to see us coming, or failed to care probably.  And last but not least I can’t remember the fourth thing but I’m pretty sure there was a fourth thing.

Anyways, I was pretty tired after the ride and woke up the next morning feeling tired too.  I had planned on doing three hours that day (sunday) and headed out the door deciding to just take it slow and see how I felt.  And for some reason I felt pretty good, and averaged over 260 watts.  Not bad considering last week was my first week of base miles.  Ok, time to go ride and eat some more food.  Sorry Bob, but humanity is messed up.

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