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Monday, March 30, 2020

Vidal Sassoon and the Ruination of My Hips

Sometime in the early Eighties I had a pair of jeans that I really loved. I wore them all the time and since I was still a little kid I even wore holes in the knees the old fashioned way - by doing kid stuff on the floor, ground, in the garden, crashing bikes and roller skates and all that... There was a narrow metal copper-colored label riveted to one of the back pockets. I think it just read: Sassoon. Were they hand-me-downs from my sister? Or was I really so chic?

Sometime toward the end of their useful life - my mom was not a holey jean fan - something shifted in me. Maybe it was the early stages of becoming a man, of noticing that girls walked differently from boys. And maybe it was something about those sexy slim-fitting jeans that prompted me to notice that I was still walking with a pronounced swing in my hips. Like a girl. Well I had to put a stop to that immediately. I remember consciously focusing on not moving my hips while I walked. Social pressures ensured that I kept up my diligent training and before long I was walking straight ahead at all times. No more swing.

But that's not a very natural way to walk. Even for a man. It forces all kinds of straight-legging that shuts free flow down and stiffens up almost every join from head to toe. It turns one into a board. After years and decades that board-body is no longer going to be able to do much of anything but peg-leg up to the bar like a cowboy - something my childhood self would have been delighted to attain.

I wasn't ever a ballerina or anything so it all worked out okay... for a while. But then I started running. And running and running and running and over the years started focusing on form and how to improve stride and pace and efficiency and speed. Across the decades I've come to believe that none of that focus on form was going anywhere until I got to the root of the problem. Cowboys don't run.

I can't and don't blame Vidal for this. If anything, he showed me the way all those years ago and I just chose to ignore him. Actually, now, if anything, I should thank him and those jeans because now I have a point of memory that I can go back to. If I can just imagine myself wearing those jeans again and walking like I used to when I was a kid and being willing to roll around and move freely like a real human animal then maybe I can bring some of that swing and twist and freedom back into my gait - to my hamstrings and glutes and hips and back and neck and mind! Freedom at last to run freely through the world as goddess intended!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

keeping track

As cyclists, as runners, as people, I suppose, we keep track of things. So many miles recorded. Or, distance, anyway, I should say. Some of us keep track of other things, too. Number of rides in a month. Average heart rate trends. Minutes per mile. 

I tend to total up each week, and then each month, and then each year, and then start over. I've never totaled all the years. That would be a lot. I'm not sure it would really be useful information for me. A few decades? A few times around a globe. But not really around the world, around the Earth. Around town... 

I got to the end of last month a totaled it up, as I do, and then went straight on to the next month. I hardly even gave that yearly total a second thought. We kind of have a sense of that as we go along anyway. Each day's schedule becomes fairly predictable as it rolls into the week's which rolls along and along... Some shifting here and there but mostly staying the course. 

I wouldn't say it's pointless, though. Keeping track becomes part of the process. A daily connection, a checking in. Sometimes even a motivator in it's own right.

Of course, these days, there's Apps that will do it all for you. "They'll" even send you a message at the end of the year with all your stats all tallied and graphed. Some stats that you might not even have known were being tracked. Who needs a pencil and a log? What's a log? What's a WebLog... LOL. Wink, wink... Who knows anymore...

I like my App stats, though. And my App friends. And I'll keep them. But I think I'll keep my pencils, too. And the process. The sharpening of the pencil, even. Journaling the day in micro poems of distance or route or people along the way...

Sweeping the path, chopping the wood, carrying the water... moments into moments...

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...