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Friday, June 16, 2017

traffic calming ahead

I first saw the sign, “Traffic Calming Ahead,” several years ago, a few miles from home. I was a little confused by it. And yet, intrigued by it, as well. It was, after all, a rather traffic-y day so the thought that traffic would be calmer ahead seemed a pleasant notion. Somehow a fixed metal sign couldn’t possibly be giving realtime updates, could it? Maybe it was more psychological than that. The age old Jedi Mind Trick… Tell people that traffic will be calming ahead and they’ll relax and traffic will actually calm! (Sorry, one should never put an exclamation point after calm—that just doesn’t look right.) 

I’ve seen this sign now a few other places, although I forget where. And somewhere along the way I figured out that it was warning of various techniques and/or devices such as “road furniture” intended to create a safer, smoother, calmer road experience for all users. 

Despite these signs, and their psychologically coercive powers, traffic has not calmed. At least not the outliers of traffic. Certainly I’d like to recognize those among us that are calming influences in our road community—the “non-anxious presence in traffic,” as One Speed Go put it (I can’t stop thinking about that, by the way.) So there’s, like, this 65/35 ratio, I’d guess. 65% are cool. 35% are freaking out. 

And more to my point, they’re freaking me out! I mean, hey, man, I’m just trying to bliss-out here. I’m just peacefully following the rules of traffic like the majority of us are, moving calmly along, navigating the roadways. I’ve got the sails all set just right with the perfect breeze, a loose grasp on the mainsheet, leaning back to starboard… when all of a sudden a speedboat comes roaring through across my line, leaving a wake of turbulence that really salts my game, ruffles my feathers, takes the wind out of my sails, bums me out, man… 

Sometimes these speedboats are cars, sometimes dogs, sometimes comments… And it makes me reluctant to ride. Because riding isn’t fun in those situations and it feels unsafe in those situations. And it makes me feel like I’m alone out there. The lone bicyclist. 

But I know we are many. And maybe that’s how I proceed. Thinking of the other un-anxious road users out there. Breathe in. Breathe out. Let it go. Lean back, find that breeze. Be cool, be cool, be cool… 

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Buy New Shoes to Run Faster

It seems every time I get a pair of new running shoes I go out for a really fast run to try them out. Nice high cadence, powerful footfall, really getting a feel for the new shoes. There’s an excitement, and a hopefulness that these new shoes will finally be the pair that takes me to a new higher level in running. Plus there’s just something sexy about anything new. That must be a part of what drives our shopping culture. 

This worked for me again yesterday. The form and effort all came together to take off a minute per mile from my normal run time. And the amazing thing… yes, I bought new shoes, but I had only ordered them online… they won’t be here for another few days! The power of our minds… 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I was shocked to discover a crack in my seat post clamp today. I thought Thomson products were more or less indestructible. Or at least of some of the highest quality parts available. But I guess everything can fail. Strangely, too, it doesn’t seem like a part that would have much stress put upon it through normal riding conditions. I rode home hoping that the seat clamp would hold until I got there (it did). I removed it. It didn’t seem to be overtightened. It seems to be the right size. So strange. Thomson offers a three year warranty on seat post clamps. I don’t remember exactly when I got it but I think it was a little longer than that. So I’m back to the original quick release clamp on Mindful Mule. I got the Thomson clamp after my seat and seat post were stolen a few years ago while using the quick release clamp. I generally don’t park my bike in compromised settings anymore so maybe I’ll just stick with the old clamp. Too bad—I thought the Thomson looked sharp. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hooray for Oury

I bought these grips a few years ago. It was one of those situations where I needed a few extra bucks to reach my Free Shipping threshold. I’d always had a bit of a crush on Oury grips. They seemed like the cool kid grips of MTBers. As I recall these were also on sale. Probably because no one wants boring brown grips on their bike. It’s all about flash. Right? But what color would a mule choose? Aha! Add to cart. They’ve sat in the shed ever since. I liked my old grips and they weren’t quite falling apart yet. They were my second pair of Ergon grips. Now, finally they’re ripping apart and getting pretty gross. And I felt like I needed a fresh new feeling in my life. As directed on the package label I used rubbing alcohol to slide them on. That worked really well. I think they look pretty sharp…

Friday, December 2, 2016

Strava (almost) killed my blog

It used to be that I would go out on a run or ride and I’d think about things. I’d distract myself from the fatigue, the pain, the monotony, the cars!, as well simmering in the joys, the uplift, the enlightenments… A title would come to mind as a marker to recall and retell these thoughts through the blog… But then I became an addict—addicted to Strava… which soon led me on to fitbit, etc. Soon my thoughts were converted into GPS files and segment times and numbers and graphs and steps and data, data, data… What was left of my thoughts, those titles, were whisked quickly away from the blog and posted to Strava where I might gain a few Kudos from followers. The Kudos being the new form of acknowledgment of existence and worth. It’s a strong addiction, this cyber side world to fitness and activity. And, honestly, not one I’m willing to give up. However, I do also recognize that there is a lot of value here in the blogspot - and a community of support and inspiration that has given me so much more than KOMs or PRs ever could. So I am still here… riding, running, dreaming…