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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunglasses are so cool… Or are they? (Part II)

Having previously determined that sunglasses are not nearly as cool as we give them credit for, I’ll move on now to the flip side of this, as usual, counterintuitive storyline. Cool, cloudy, wettish days are when sunglasses really shine. Because they keep the skin around your eyes blocked from the cold wind and therefore give you the impression that you’re not so cold. And as we’ve likely all learned by now it’s all about our impressions of this world. Our minds rule our world. If we can tweak some minor sensory inputs that factor into these impressions, these perceptions then we expand the limits of what our mind will allow. We may only be talking about micro adjustments here, marginal gains, in the parlance of our times… but more and more I’m starting to believe that the difference between feeling good on a run and feeling like crap can be ever so slight, if not even the same but with a different perspective. As in running, in cycling, in life… put on those rose-colored glasses (or take them off or whatever) and enjoy these moments just a little longer, fuller, faster… a little more…

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

when locals disappear

There are a few riders that I frequently see passing by on my street. I know them well as riders only. I don’t know their names or where they live except that I assume (perhaps wrongly) based on their regular presence that they are from somewhere fairly nearby. Although, my street is a common throughway for many people on foot and bikes and cars so they may live far away. But to me they are the local riders. I know each one of them by their style and posture and cadence as they’re coming up or down the street long before I could possibly recognize their faces. And, actually, if I were to be standing next to one of them in, let’s say, the checkout line at the grocery store, I’m quite sure I’d have no idea who they were unless they happened to be wearing their full kit. But still they are my locals—people I look out for—my friends, if only imaginary… 

Which is all well and good (having imaginary friends—they’re so easy to deal with!) But in cycling things take a twist. We hear stories, read the news about, know people who… let’s say, didn’t come back from their ride. And so we worry. We worry when we haven’t seen one of the locals for a while. We hope they’re just taking some time off… nursing an overuse injury… taking another route these days… or maybe they moved to Portland… We hope they’re okay. 

And so it is with great joy that when, after what seems like months have passed, we see them again, riding by, looking more or less the same and unharmed… we want to jump up and wave and call out and hug them! But they don’t know me and I don’t know them and maybe they’ve never even seen me on my bike—maybe I’ve never ridden past their house. So I can’t—we can’t. But, to all those local cyclists, my friends, please remember when you’re out there that I am looking out for you, that we are looking out for each other… and please try to remember to ride by my place once in a while! 

Friday, December 7, 2018

mindfulness bell

On another one of those too early Monday morning routes I found myself sleepily pedaling along in a bit of a haze. Not really paying attention to all that much that was going on around me. Probably not the best state of mind to be riding with. It was just another one of those days as far as I was concerned. I came around a curve and out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse (could it be... a fleeting glimpse!), a fluttering - a downward spiraling fluttering... and then, still more or less unaware... pling... the softest little faerie ding I've ever heard. Comparable only to that bitchin', dark, slow, quiet backroom jazz trio wire brush percussion accompaniment... The stem of the falling oak leaf had brushed against my bicycle's bell, Mindful Mule's bell... Mindful Mule's Mindfulness Bell! And suddenly, oh my! It was autumn! I looked up at the sky, the beautiful blue crisp sky, and the light and the colors and the clarity and the sharpness of the details - everywhere! It was going to be a beautiful day! It was a beautiful day. And I was there, awake, aware, mindful...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sunglasses are so cool... or are they?

There was a time in my life when I never left the house without my sunglasses. We certainly get enough sunny days here in SoCal to justify that habit. When it comes to riding the bike around my habits haven't changed all that much. Sometimes on those early weekend morning group rides it's hard to remember every little detail for preparation when sleep is still lingering: coffee(!), breakfast, pump tires, sunscreen, lube(!), arm sleeves(and/or etc. to weather), snacks, electrolyted water, cash, credit card, lip balm(!)... and let's see... helmet(!)... I know I'm still forgetting something... Ah! Sunglasses! I did forget my sunglasses on a ride recently. It felt very strange. Almost like one of those dreams where you've forgotten to wear pants to school... I must have been very tired that morning! As a result my eyes were watering for much of the ride from all that wind that they're not accustomed to. 

On long, hot, sunny running days, too, I've found that sunglasses can be very helpful - partly for their light dimming effects, but perhaps more for the psychological swaddling. Never heard of that? That's because we don't like to admit that we're essentially hiding behind those sunglasses a lot of the time. I mean, it's fashion, really. We all do it. Dress a certain way to fulfill a certain look. Ever seen a security guard wearing a pink Hello Kitty hoodie? 

Or as the Mule would suggest: wear blinders. Block every distraction out. Pull that cap down low. Ignore your sleepiness, your hangover, your fatigue, your knee tweak... get that run done! 

But what about those days when you don't desperately need those blinders? Running, as we all know, generates heat. And I'll take any little bit of cooling I can get. In an attempt to capture these marginal gains of cooling I've recently been running without a hat and without sunglasses. The hat and sunglasses keep the sun off but they also block wind and trap heat. So find a shadier route to run and and allow yourself to be a little more exposed... and a little cooler. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Smashing Goatheads

Well it's goathead season again. And it seems to be a good crop this year. They've spread all over the place. Probably the way of the future. So far I've seen three in my bike tires. Only one resulting in a flat. One of them I picked out and carried home with me, not knowing what to do with it otherwise. I didn't want to throw it to the side of the road where it might sprout a new plant for the following season. I didn't want to drop it back in the gutter or road where it might just cause the next cyclist to flat. When I got home I decided the best thing to do was to plant it. I know it sounds crazy but bear with me. My thinking was that it would be restricted to the small pot that I planted it in. The thorny seedpod would breakdown and germinate in my little back patio plant collection and would not cause harm to any more tires. Additionally I'm kinda interested to see how long it takes to grow. And aside from its nasty little thorned seeds it really is quite a lovely sprawling specimen. Of course once it starts producing its seeds next season I'll have to murder it. Sweet, sweet revenge!

As for any other goatheads I pick up along the way in the future I imagine I won't be wanting to take any more of them home with me. So I've decided, and I've already started this procedure with that third goathead, to destroy any goatheads at the side of the road using whatever is available to me. A small stone worked well to smash that last one to smithereens... (insert crazed cackling laugh...)