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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...)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

If a tree falls in the forest...

Or... If we run through the forest, or the arroyo, or the town and we don't track it with GPS, or post it to Strava, or even calculate our minutes per mile, did it really happen? Does it even count? 

Running has become such a tangled community of one with the many. There are occasional group runs and when we post our activities to social media we have the potential to make new friends and maybe new actual running groups as opposed cyber groups. Still so much of running is a solo pursuit, though. We have our various schedules and paces and goals and so almost by default we are sent out into the running world alone most of the time - but not really quite alone anymore. What used to be secret, quiet, dark early mornings alone are now so often shared  with our "friends." Some of these people we may see on a regular basis and some of them we might have never even met. How much of our running are we doing for them and how much are we doing for ourselves? Do we ever run unplugged? Or without headphones... or without blogging it! 

Running just for running... running on the land... for joy, for fun... for the feeling of being a human running... footfall, footfall, footfall... in nature, on earth... with the spirit... with god...

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Après Le Tour de France

Another Tour has come to a close but I still have so many images and colors flashing through my head - the riders, the landscapes, the fans, the towns... So much to reminisce about!

And deeper lessons to be found. One thing that I'm reminded of year after year because of my Tour addiction is to ride ones bicycle out in the proper place in the road. We see that these racers get closed roads for all three weeks and wouldn't that be swell! To ride wherever one wants anywhere on the road - even on the wrong side of the road on a screaming descent around blind corners! I don't think I could get myself to ride like that even if the roads were completely closed. But dialing it back a little... I find myself riding further out in the road after each Tour. Out in the proper place. In a safe position to avoid the door zone and mindful, of course, of the fact that many drivers find this a confusing, frustrating place for a bicycle to be and so giving them the impression of yielding towards the right to allow them to pass on the left. It's very nearly a Jedi mind trick. Starting out in one's safe and responsible and appropriate and legal place on the road - I don't want to get into the number of feet/meters from a curb or car because every situation is different and must be adapted to on the fly - as the sound of an overtaking vehicle approaches from behind the bicycle rider ever so slightly slides to the right - and here I'll suggest that it often doesn't take more than a few inches to pacify the passing driver. Of course, if the situation and the surroundings allow for it, go ahead and give more - as much as possible, really - why would one want to ride anywhere near a car - but, as we all know, sometimes we must...

So There. Leçons de Le Tour.