Tuesday, February 20, 2007


So most of you know I'm not an overly religious guy, but don't forget four years of catholic high school taught me a thing or two that I still remember. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, which if I remember correctly (and according to the Internet) is a time to reflect, do good work, abstain from unnecessary pleasures etc. So, I'm challenging everyone to a global warming lent. I can't tell you what to give up but for my Catholic family the whole meat thing is a starting place. Many people contend eating organic, vegetarian diets helps reduce global warming. Other "easy sacrifices" to try over the next 40 days include recycling grocery bags, try to use the same bags each time you go shopping between now and Easter. Give up one car trip a week and walk to the corner store (do we really have corner stores anymore? Mine is 2 miles away, but I'll ride my bike).

I'm not really sure where I'm trying to take this, just asking each of you to make a minimal sacrifice now to better the environment, just until Easter and if it isn't too painful keep it up after. If any of you take me up on this challenge let me know, the most unique idea will win a prize (not sure what but in line with the uniqueness of the sacrifice).

Cheers, I'm starting to think of Mexico. Maybe I'll give up snow?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hopefully a few of you are catching up on my blog since I sent out my last mass email. For those of you not on my email list, as part of my effort to raise awareness on global warming I've created a newsletter to keep folks updated. Since my technical skills are bad at best I haven't figured out how to post a link to a pdf online, so if you are interested in a copy send me an email (dmccune7@hotmail.com) and I'll send it out to you. This blog is intended to be a mixture of random rants on cycling, global warming and keeping family current on life. Over the past month or so it has been mostly global warming and riding if there are topics you'd like to see more about let me know and I'll try. Later this week the site shifts over to family focus as we are headed to Mexico for a week on the beach. For those of you in Colorado or Utah I'll post pictures from my beach chair, most pictures will have Seamus playing in the sand as I'm not planning on moving. The weather is expected to be in the 80's and after the winter we've had in Denver it is just what I need. I did a long road ride again on Sunday, 4 hours including a climb up Lookout. I rode Lookout 11 days ago after about a month + with no climbing and felt pretty stale. This time, even though I haven't done any additional climbing I felt a lot better, probably because I've done a few hard efforts in the mean time, trying to get my body in shape. I knocked a minute off my time on the climb from a week ago and posted my best time up Lookout ever (by 4 seconds). Hopefully this is a good sign that as I work towards race fitness for the summer I won't get worked over as hard in the Expert field. When I upgraded to Expert middle of last season it was a tough transition with a lot of back of the field finishes. I've been working hard to improve my conditioning so I can finish middle of the pack. Only time will tell, but I think improvements are at hand.

Just read an interesting article on US policy related to global warming (article), it is nice to see that the issue is finally becoming apolitical which seems to rarely happen. While policy change is important, personal habits can cause change/improvement at a quicker rate than waiting for legislation to be written, passed and implemented. So, what have you done today?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Morning Ride

Most of my riding comes pretty early in the day, either a 4:30 am trainer session during the week or long rides on the weekend where I hit the door about 7:00. Today I was a little later than that as a short ride was on tap, 2.5 hours. I set off to Cherry Creek resovior which is one of my usual haunts for rides, nice rolling terrain, limited cars and multiple loop options.

Besides being cold the ride was good, hardly any traffic, roads clear of ice and snow and a special treat at the rez, a pack of deer. Given that the resovior is really in the middle of the city I'm always a little surprised by the number of deer out there at times. This morning coming around a cornor there were 10 deer crossing the road. Pretty cool way to start the day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I’ve been thinking about recycling a lot recently as to me it seems counter-productive to helping the environment. I mean think about it, I throw a bunch of random stuff in my recycling bin (cans, bottles, paper etc.) with no concern. Someone comes, takes it away and has to sort through it, break the materials down to a raw state and reengineer into a new product. All of these steps along the way take energy which in most cases causes carbon or methane to be released into the atmosphere, which helps promote global warming. Damn, maybe we’ve been duped on this whole recycling thing. So I had to look into the benefits of recycling, and the good news is there are many benefits.

First recycling reduces the amount of garbage in landfills producing two benefits, less land used for industrial purposes and less methane being released into the atmosphere. The land is good as it allows (potential) for more plants, trees, farming etc. which all help offset greenhouse gases. However more important is that landfills create a huge amount of methane gas as the trash decomposes and breaks down. Therefore the less we put in landfills the less methane that is created.

Additional benefits of recycling include not having to use virgin materials to create products. Even if a new tree is planted for each tree cut down to make paper, cardboard, tissue etc. the amount of carbon removed from the environment is less than that of an older and larger plant. Using virgin materials dramatically reduces the benefits vegetation provides to the environment (learn some more about plants). The manufacturing of materials, either raw or recycled is fairly similar so the energy utilized is equal, therefore a net zero result from how much gas is emitted from using recycled materials.

So what does this mean? It means that recycling really does help the environment, by reusing materials and reducing landfill space and gas emissions. So, what have you done today?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Five hour rides and what is global warming

Well it’s been a hell of a week, thus the lack of updates. Two birthdays, lots of work, and finally a solid week of riding on the bike. I took a ½ day on Wednesday to celebrate (my birthday) and proceeded to bust out a 5 hour ride. The roads are still wet in a lot of places from all of our snow, but Lookout Mountain has been plowed and was mostly dry. I rode the climb three times and was definitely feeling it the last climb. It’s been about 2 months since I hit Lookout so it was nice to get in the ride, as Lookout is my favorite place to ride the road bike. I’ll need to get in a lot more rides like that to be ready for the FireCracker 50. I guess taking time off work makes for a busier week, but when there is already too much to do a long ride is worth it. Saturday was another busy day with my mom’s b-day, shopping for glasses for Ade and a 3 hour ride, but I must say those two long rides in one week felt good.

Now, on to Global Warming and what exactly is global warming? This question has been brought up a lot recently, I think due to the IPCC report released last week. To put it simply global warming is caused by greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and others) being emitted. Greenhouse gases let light/heat from the sun in, which is nice, but then trap the heat in the atmosphere, not allowing it to escape back to space. Some heat trapping is good as it keeps the temperature livable on Earth, but too much is bad causing temperatures to rise and effecting Earth’s ecosystems (how we live with each other and other animals etc on Earth).

The problem with global warming is that we are helping to accelerate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases for numerous reasons. Some reasons are somewhat beyond our control, for example a larger human population on Earth now than at any other time. However, and most importantly, some are very controllable for example emissions of CO2 because of fossil fuel usage (think gas, oil, natural gas etc.). Now I’m not sitting here saying I don’t like having a nice warm house or a car to get to bike races in, but what I am saying is that we can each individually and collectively do a lot to reduce our CO2 emissions and reduce the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming. Now it is important to keep in mind that all these gases/causes of the greenhouse effect occur naturally, always have, always will. What is just as important, if not more so, is to know that the emissions of these gases have been accelerated by our actions.

So in layman’s terms greenhouse gases have always existed and no matter what we do will exist. This truth helps naysayer's with their argument that global warming is a myth. But the facts point to a very accelerated level of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases since the Industrial Revolution (I know thinking back to high school history is painful so here is a link). Gas emissions have accelerated even more dramatically since the popularization of the car. But the good news is there is a significant amount that can be done to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, such as driving less, recycling, planting trees/flowers, using less energy (turn off lights, keep temperature lower in the winter, higher in the summer). So, what have you done today?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Scarlet Fever

Well I had planned on writing something on Friday, or at least Saturday, about the UN report on global warming, but life had other plans. I went down to Houston on Thursday for work and got home late Friday. No biggie, write something on Saturday, but Seamus had other plans. When I had left Thursday he said he was sick and “my neck hurts”. We figured just a cold with a sore throat, especially since that seems to be going around. Ade stayed home with him on Friday and noticed a rash coming on. By the time I looked Saturday the rash was bad, all over his groin, back and face. Needless to say a trip to the doctor was scheduled. Strep throat plus a rash outbreak on the body equals? Scarlet Fever. It sounds so 1800’s but I guess isn’t uncommon. A prescription of antibiotics and life is good, aside from the rest of Saturday being a day of complete lethargy for Shay.

The good news is after less than 24 hours he is back to himself and running around like a mad man. So finally a chance to read about and write about the UN report, reuters article on report. I have started to review some of the actual report http://www.ipcc.ch/, but there is a lot to read and digest. In any case highlights include (in layman’s terms) that it is highly likely human activity has caused global warming. To that I say no shit. Yes there are natural trends and warming cycles to be considered. I won’t even debate that we are in a natural warming cycle, but I will also say we are accelerating and promoting the problem. Carbon Dioxide emissions have increased from 310 parts per million in 1958 to 381 ppm in 2005, a significant increase. What has caused this, well I’ll venture to say car emissions (how many of us drive two cars a day?), wasted resources (plastic bags, ipods, computers etc.). While all of these items certainly make life convenient they do tend to waste. Since I don’t have to worry about my status in the scientific community I’ll say humans (Americans) have caused a significant amount of this global warming.

And now for the bad news, even if we drastically change our ways now the effects of our negligence will be seen for 100 years. One of the reasons global warming is a topic that is important to me is not because of how environmental changes will affect me, but how they will affect Seamus, and his children. I may not have much to leave Seamus when I’m gone but at least I can make an effort to improve the planet, or leave it only slightly more messed up than when I was around for Seamus. I wish the UN report had good news, and in ways it may, but overall even our best efforts will cause planetary harm for 100 years. Hopefully the planet responds like the human body and you can abuse it for awhile (think college) and then repair the ill effects later. Maybe the parallel to bike racing makes sense, crazy and unhealthy in college, but after because of all the riding pretty damn healthy. I mean I’d venture to say I’m in better shape at 36 (yea that hits this week) than I was at 21. Anyway sit down and read the report, then ask yourself what have I done today?