Tag Archives: Harvard Classics


I thought it might be nice to ride to the park and read a book. So, I loaded up my handlebar bag with my Kindle and a snack, and rode the 8 miles over to Adam Ricci Park. I found myself a nice bench, had a snack, and read some Sophocles (I’m still working my way through the Harvard Classics.)

This translation sucks.  Do youself a favor and get Fagles'
This translation sucks. Do youself a favor and get Fagles’

I finished reading Oedipus and was feeling good, so I decided to ride on down to City Island before diving into Euripides. A bike ride is a nice way to clear your head between Greek Tragedies.

I got to City Island, but the whole park was full of noisy people, because there was a baseball game underway.

I can’t read the classics while the drooling masses are whooping it up, so I decided to cross the river and find a quiet park bench. Riverfront park was crowded, too, so I decided to just keep on going to Fort Hunter, and make a nice long day of it.

I didn’t bring along much of anything for lunch, so I stopped at a gas station, and scrounged up what I could.

Well Balanced Meal
A Well Balanced Meal – Banana, Fritos, and Iced Tea

I ate my strange lunch, and sat there looking across the river. My Garmin said I had come about 23 miles already. My all time longest ride is just shy of 50. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, so I decided to go for a few more miles and try to break my record.

I pointed the bike East, and rode up to Boyd’s Big Tree Conservation Area.

About half way up the climb (and, coincidentally, at mile 25), was the nastiest, most overgrown cemetery I have ever seen.

Trees growing out of graves and everything
Trees growing out of graves and everything

The whole place gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I was exhausted, hot, and sweaty, so I sat down to rest – just outside the cemetery gate where the ghosts couldn’t get me.

Cross-Check as Cerberus
Cross-Check as Cerberus

I sat there for a while, but didn’t really feel any less exhausted, so I decided to get on with it. I had the 25 miles I needed, so I pointed the bike towards home.

Everything was ok until around the 40-mile mark where the road climbs up from the river. This is when things got miserable. I pushed down on the pedals, but the bike didn’t want to go. It was like pedaling through molasses. I had the presence of mind to realize that I was bonking, but my brain was getting muddled enough that I didn’t think to stop at a gas station to buy more food.

I geared down and spun; that worked for a while. Then I got off and pushed. That worked, too.

I eventually made it home, got some food and water in me, and sat down with my spiritual adviser to think about what went wrong.

Feet up, Cat in lap.  Life is good.
Feet up, Cat in lap. Life is good.

My Garmin tells me I burned 5,000 calories on this ride. I’m guessing I ate maybe 1,000. So, I bonked.

I need to remember to eat and drink more next time, I guess. I’m going to have to figure this food business out if I want to go on rides much longer than 50 miles.

Suggestions are welcome.

On the plus side, I made it home under my own steam, and set a PR for longest ride in a day and one for most miles in a month.

A Grand Literary Adventure

The nutters who put on the Lake Pepin 3-Speed tour like to talk about what it is to be a “Gentleman Cyclist©.” They have a sort of decalogue (a tredecalogue, actually) of such a cyclist’s attributes. One of these aphorisms in particular caught my attention.

A Gentleman Cyclist© is well reasoned, well read, and well intentioned.


There are three parts to this rule, but for now, let’s just to focus on the part about being “well read.” The Google Machine tells me that to be “well read” is to be “well informed or deeply versed through reading.”

So, if I’m going to be a Gentleman Cyclist©, I’m going to have to read some books. Which books should I read, then? I can’t very well just walk into a book shop and grab the first vampire romance novel that strikes my fancy, now can I?

Varney the Vampire
Not the sort of book I’m looking for
What I need is for some learned scholarly-type person to assemble a reading list for me. The trouble though, is that academically minded persons nowadays are so full of wishy-washy post-modern malarkey, that they might even tell me that randomly-selected vampire romance novels are just as good as the finest works of literature.

As it turns out, there was an academical person –The President of Harvard, no less!– who designed just the sort of list I’m looking for. Dr. Elliot drew up this list in 1909, so there is a World War or two between him and the post-modern chicanery I’m trying to avoid.

Tea candles for effect. I need to dust.

The collection is called the Harvard Classics, and I found a complete set on ebay for a bargain. (The entire set is also available to download for free.)

I’m slowly working my way through the entire 25,000 pages of it. I made myself a nice spreadsheet to track my progress, but I should have a blog-widget type apparatus working shortly.

At the end of this project, I think I’ll be able to consider myself well-read. I am probably not very well-mannered, and I am certainly not well-intentioned. These are virtues I can cultivate at a later date. For now, I have books to read.

©”Gentleman Cyclist” is copyright 2005 by Jon Sharratt