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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.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bridging the Gap of Acknowledgement

We're all in our own little worlds. Bridging the gap to communicate with someone in their world can sometimes be a challenge. It helps if you're more or less on the same plane, experiencing the same flow.... but not always.

For example: Cyclists! That ever strange gaggle of interpreters and complicated communicators. Cyclists seem to scan other cyclists for everything from rider positioning, geometry, kit, components, frame brand, speed, etc. in order to decide whether or not that other rider gets a quick wave or nod of the head or ignored!

Runners aren't a hell of a lot better with each other. The chances of getting a quick wave of acknowledgement decrease over the terrain on which one is running - I'm gonna go with 60% for trails and then decreasing through paths, roads, and sidewalks...

Hikers might be the best at interacting with each other. Kudos! Possibly 8 or 9 out of 10 will initiate or respond for quick interaction. Yet walkers, strangely, have perhaps the lowest score of all: maybe it's all too close for comfort around town at close range and Is that person waving at me a crazy psychopath?

Oh, yeah. Drivers. Sorry. You're last. Not even a turn signal anymore. When was the last time anyone waved at a stranger in a car passing in the other direction. Maybe on a country road somewhere - which brings up the point, of course these percentages are going to change for different regions around the state, country, world... but I'm experiencing this here now and it's probably spreading your way soon if it hasn't already arrived.

Now, back to bridging that gap. If we're going with the highly researched (LOL) 60% best hope for wave back communication between people sharing the same trail running experience, what kind of expectation do we have for cross activity interaction? A cyclist to a runner? Unprecedented! Dismal.

But why? Let's change all that. Let's step outside our little worlds and be a part of the big one! And then, ironically, the world will be a smaller place...

Why, just today, I waved at a driver for intentionally not right hooking me! Amazing.

A wave, a peace sign, a wink... It's all good...

And pretty soon everyone all over the place will be waving and smiling and chatting and getting to know each other and all like, You go ahead... No, you go ahead... No, really, you go ahead, I'm in no rush...

It will be hilariously safe and we'll all get to where we're going 5 minutes late and no one will care because we'll all be on the same flowing plane...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Underwear and How to Wear It

Underwear. You may not think about it too often, but if you're a runner you probably should. Because it does a lot for us as runners with all that wicking and cooling and supporting, etc. But it can also do a lot to us; two words come to mind: Stink and Chafe. Yep.

As far as the stink goes I still have no real clear understanding of why activewear of any kind seems to smell so terrible so quickly. Nor do I have any suggestions on how to address the issue - but I'd love to hear some!

With chafe, on the other hand, I've discovered something. Clearly a lot of research and development has gone into the making of the running specific underwear that is now widely available at your local running shop. It's so soft and sleek and smooth and, I mean, it even looks beautiful! But all too often that smooth beauty is only on the outside. And while those no-see-'em seams do look great in the print ads and websites, they won't do you much good if they're not against your skin... So if your running underwear doesn't have flat inner seams, wear it inside out. Trust me, you're gonna like it...

And, yes, of course there's lube of all sorts these days, and I highly recommend them! But wouldn't it be better if those were less of a necessity and more of a preference...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

a little bit at a time

Sometimes little pieces of conversations linger in our minds. Mottos, mantras, advice - call them what you will. I've had some of these lodged in my head for decades. They surface once in a while. Bits and epiphanies on our longer challenges...

I wonder if the people who spoke these words remember them. If they still hold onto them all these years later as I do or if the words were left where they were spoken - unnoticed and discarded moments of genius...

One of these moments goes back twenty years, more or less exactly. There was a guy going about his work - unloading or loading a truck (it's endlessly one or the other, right?) - and a passerby commented, as they strangely often do, saying something like, "Big job today, eh?!" Our truck guy responded sagely, as if he'd always thought of it this way, "a little bit at a time..." 

And of course! I mean, how else?! You can't unload it all at once! And even if you could there's another ton to load right back up... And then there's tomorrow and the next day and on... 

Another moment that's been surfacing for me recently is from about ten years ago (probably not exactly!). A brief acquaintance of mine was discussing the methodical approach of a good welder. He used a certain phrase to describe the process. It's probably a phrase well used in the welding trade but it was the first and only time I've heard it: "Laying down nickels." He could have said dimes or quarters, I don't remember, but the point is he was talking about one weld about the size of a coin. One coin at a time... a little overlapping the last one... patiently laying down perfect quality nickel-sezied welds... all the way down the line... over and over and over again. No rush. You've got all day... and tomorrow and on... A little bit at a time... 

Just like each step, each stride, each pedal stroke. You can't get there in one giant leap! And you shouldn't even try. It will probably take you longer and lead to injury. Quick steps. Low gears. Again and again... All the way down the line... 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

darkness

The days have been getting longer now for about a month. I can almost get home in the evening without lights on the bike. But not quite. And anyway, it's probably better to overlap significantly into the various shades of dusk. The dream world, however, seems to lag behind a bit - still hung up on darkness. The other night I was riding my bike in darkness, in dream. Isn't it nice to get those extra miles in! I was riding up Arroyo Blvd. A route I take frequently. It's a nice windy road with older homes on the east and the Arroyo Seco natural area and wash to the west. Always, it seems, as I come around one particular bend in the road there is a car parked on the right side which forces me further left into the lane. I usually anticipate this. And it wouldn't be a problem except that, well, you know, why do so many cars take this route? And this night, this dream, was no exception. I rolled around the bend through the darkness, drifting left to move around the parked car. That was when I noticed I'd forgotten my light. I didn't see the beam reflecting off the car. Interesting that we otherwise hardly need lights at night, if we could always be riding alone out there on the streets. And it was then that I heard the sound of two other cyclists overtaking me to my left. I gave a quick wave of the hand which was illuminated in their headlights. They didn't seem to mind that I had no light, understanding that, well, who needs one, if we have the road to ourselves... As they passed I also realized that I'd forgotten my helmet. (At least I had my pants!) And it was fine. Out on a bike in the cool darkness...