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Saturday, June 16, 2007


Santa Maria Monastery, El Puig, Spain.

Four Hours on a Bike Near Valencia

After freezing my butt off this past winter I swore that I wasn’t going to complain about the heat during the summer. It isn’t quite summer yet but temperature have been in the high 80s already. I’m not complaining but today’s overcast skies provided a welcome break from the pounding sunshine. It was a great day for a bike ride out in the country—not that there have been too many bad days for biking.

My only complaint with the heat is that I can only carry so much water. I can always stop some place and tank up and this is happening more and more. I was out four hours today and I didn’t exhaust my backpack water bag. I must not have ridden very hard because I also felt fine without eating anything along the way. Today’s ride was more like a tourist excursion than a workout.

I headed north along the bike path that goes to Alborraia and on to Puzol but detoured and headed towards the sea. The road that runs along the shore is kind of rough and slow so I took a side road that skirts the main highway north to Barcelona. There are only a couple of ways to cross over the highway and I chose the overpass at Al Farnals beach.

I stopped at a cafĂ© on the beach for a coffee and almost talked myself into going back home. It would have been a decent 1 ½ to two hour ride at this point. Instead I started back inland and pointed myself towards the Monastery of Santa Maria in El Puig which rises above the coastal plain. I came across a little tower right on the beach here that I think is called Torre de Graia, or something like that. I didn’t have anything to write with and I figured that it would be in my book and I could look it up when I got home.

From here I just pointed my bike at the monastery and pedaled. It’s a beautiful building started back in 1238 under Jaime I but heavily modified in the 14th century. There are the ruins of an old Arab fortification on an adjacent hillside where I climbed to get a picture of the monastery. It kept looking as if it was going to rain so I started heading back towards Valencia. Along the way I came upon a couple of metro stops for the line that runs out to Rafelbunyol which could come in handy if I ever have any bike problems in this area. Or if I’m ever too much of a sissy to ride home I can get on this line and it drops me a few blocks from home without a transfer.

Go See Sicko

I watched an advanced screening of Michael Moore’s newest movie, Sicko, and I have to agree with almost everyone else who has seen it thus far. It is funny, sad, poignant, highly entertaining, and one of the most important American movies to come along in over a decade. The movie reveals the horrible flaws in the American health care system as well as unravels to web of lies we have been told about countries with socialized medicine.

The movie points out that America’s health care system ranks 37th among western industrialized countries. I’m sure that if you are rich enough you can get the best health care in the world in an American hospital, unfortunately we aren’t all rich and some 46 millions of us are without health insurance. The movie’s main emphasis is pointing out that many people who do have health insurance are unable to get the care they need because of the profit motive that underlies our system which is controlled by private insurers.

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