photo block

Monday, November 18, 2019

Red Tail Invited Ground Squirrel for Brunch

One day Red Tail invited Ground Squirrel for brunch. Ground Squirrel was very excited. She had known many friends who had been invited to brunch by Red Tail in the past. They had never returned so she assumed it must be the most lavish brunch in the clouds that one would never want to leave. So she happily accepted Red Tail’s invitation. “I’ll meet you under the Lemonade Berry Bush at 10am sharp,” Red Tail instructed. Ground Squirrel could hardly sleep that night as she stayed up thinking about all the lovely seeds and nuts and refreshing herbs that would be spread across Red Tail’s table. And she was also really looking forward to catching up with all her old friends. Ground Squirrel was bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning when she showed up early to wait for Red Tail. He showed up casually late as if he really didn’t care much. “Curl up into my talons and I will carry you to my brunch,” he rather gruffly squawked at Ground Squirrel. Just as she was rather uncomfortably settled into his talons Red Tail began to flap his powerful wings and they slowly began to rise through the branches of the Lemonade Berry. Just as they had broken free from the last rustling leaves Old Man came running down the arroyo past them. All were quite startled for a moment. Even Red Tail lost his normal cool and his grip on Ground Squirrel. As she fell a few feet back down to earth she suddenly had a flash of enlightenment. She was for brunch! She quickly spun around and scurried straight back into her burrow under the Lemonade Berry. Her heart wouldn’t calm down for quite sometime and she wasn’t even hungry anymore. She decided that from then on she would abide by her name and stay on the ground…

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tour of Cal No More

So the news is out there that the Tour of California week-long professional bicycle stage race will not be returning for the year of 2020 which in my mind puts it at extreme rick of never occurring at some future date.

It's a bit sad and surprising. It seemed to be well attended and sponsored. And there were some great stages over the years.

A couple of favorite stages that come to mind were both seen in person. It's still the only bicycle race I've ever seen from the ground. I remember George Hincapie crushing it on a breakaway on several loops around the Rose Bowl which also included a climb up and out and back in, I think up Holly St somehow. That was some great hard fought racing! I think that was the first race I ever saw.

And then one year a stage started right here in town. Which was lot's of fun. Mission Street was closed off all morning with all the team cars and bikes lined up for viewing and general swag and excitement all around. I even pulled my daughter out of school early that morning so we could soak in all things cycling for a brief moment. She was in Pre-K at the time so really big deal, I know! I wonder if she'll remember that.

In recent years I've felt a little overwhelmed with riding the mountain roads around here because of all the speeding cars and motorcycles. It hasn't felt safe up there on a bicycle for a long time but I do love those roads and those mountains. And that was one of the amazing side effects of Tour of Cal - it closed off roads to cars for the racers but fans on bicycles could still head up early before the race and enjoy the mountains car free - oh, and sure, the race... I'm realizing now that I didn't take nearly enough advantage of that loophole...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

sneak up on opportunities

When I was a kid, like, in my teens, I liked to work on cars. Tinkering, turning bolts, fixin' stuff... but mostly just hangin' around with other car people... There was an older guy, probably in his sixties or seventies back then, whose house we'd frequently hang out at - there were always a least a few old cars in various stages of repair lined up in his driveway.

He'd been fixin' stuff his whole life it seemed and pretty much new all the answers to our questions even if he usually tried to hold back his opinions and let us figure it out on or own. He mostly just sat around in a folding lawn chair nearby and drank. There's a certain kind of clinking sound that ice makes on those hard plastic tumbler glasses and that sound still reminds me of him. We called him Chuck. Not his real name. Not changed here for privacy, that's just what we called him.

To give you an idea of his ways, we were once trying to figure out why one particular car kept leaking oil on the ground. Chuck didn't tell us what was likely to be the source of the problem but rather suggested we just pour the oil straight on to his driveway instead of into the engine - "Avoid the middleman," he laughed and laughed...

And his advice for those tough to loosen stuck bolts, "Well, you gotta sneak up on 'em, ya see... Don't let that bolt know what you're up to until - Wham!" And, you know what, it often works.

And in that same way, we've sometimes got to sneak up on those moments in our day when we can get out and do our thing - whatever that thing might be... a run, a blog post... Things can't always be planned and scheduled. Sometimes we gotta just say, Hey, I've got a few moments here all of a sudden and - Wham! Get out there...

Thursday, October 31, 2019

smokey season

There's wildfires burning all over the state. Again. Some of them are even fairly close to Mindful Mule. Within a couple dozen miles. They've been burning now for a couple of weeks I'd guess. It's been very dry. Like 5% humidity on some afternoons. And it was pretty hot a few days ago. 97 degrees. This morning it was down around 44 degrees. Amazingly, if it weren't for all the news reports I'd have little idea that anything was even going on through all of this. There have been slightly gustier winds but nothing too significant. But today there is an obviously strong presence of smoke in the air. So much that I'm trying my best to stay inside. The fires haven't gotten any closer. I guess the wind has just shifted a little bit. Bringing the smoke my way. There Air Quality Index is still hovering down at around 50. Which is really not too bad. Given the strong smell of smoke I would imagine the AQI to be much higher. It's a very heavy air out there. It seems unhealthy. I wonder if maybe smoke doesn't directly affect the AQI reading. It should register as a particulate at least. There's been a lot of talk about the Santa Ana winds that are driving the flames. There's always a lot of talk about The Santa Anas. I've heard about these winds for as long as I can remember - for life. They've been a big part of that life, too. A long current of natural connection. They even burned down Brown Mountain ten years ago. Remember that?! And yet they feel like home. If the Santa Anas picked up a bit they'd blow the smoke away from me and Mule and we could get on with things. But they would also fan the flames downwind of here and extend the fire threat to others. It's very still out there right now. So I'll just stay put and sniff around some more. Maybe write you all a little note...

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Friends Don’t Let Friends Wear Sheer Bibs And Other Adventures in Lycra

Sometimes we become overly attached to our garments. Perhaps an old t-shirt from that trail race back in Aught Seven with the sweet multicolor silkscreen logo…  a pair of comfortable shoes that walked with us all over this earth… or our first pair of cycling bibs! We just can’t seem to throw them out and don’t really even want to stop wearing them despite their faded, ripped, stained, holey condition. 

It took me a long time to come to cycling bibs. Lycra shorts, sure. They’re comfortable for long spirited rides. Those have been with me for decades. (I like that I can pretty much throw the word decades into any conversation these days…) But as I don’t wear suspenders with my pants—let alone my shorts!—it never quite made sense to use them for my cycling, which is kinda sorta what bibs are, although to a much sexier level—you can tell already I’ve been turned… But one day a trusted riding friend was adamant about their advantages and so I thought I’d give them a try… And they are great. And sexy! But that’s not what this post is about…

We become attached to our things. We like to keep wearing them. They’re cool or comfortable or maybe we don’t want to throw down a hundred bucks to replace them… 

Have you ever been riding behind someone, though, and they seem to be wearing one of their old favorite shorts or bibs that have developed a certain amount of thinning of the fabric so that you are more or less just looking at their butt? Mostly just the top half of the buttocks as the chamois pad will always block vision into the lower depths. But there is clearly a cleavage thing happening that in certain angles of light may be more pronounced. I see it pretty frequently. I’ve grown more or less immune to it. I mean, it’s just a butt. And really, a cyclist’s butt at that and so often times a pretty nice butt! If you don’t want to look at it just ride faster…

But. Then there’s also the coffee stops and such. Again, not a big problem if you’re encircled by your riding crew. But if you’re alone or still waiting on the crew’s arrival or at the edge of Le Peloton de Cafe (not really a phrase) and seated next to a non-cyclist, a non-understander of the culture of a crew of old men that find it okay to ride around looking at each other’s butts… well, then, sometimes a certain insecurity arrises. A wondering. Have I worn these bibs too far? Am I offending that family breakfast over there? 

So my suggestion to the cycling crew is to be in communication with each other. It’s okay to tell your friend that maybe it’s time to throw down that hundred bucks… 

And anyway, a nice fresh pair of bibs feels really great!