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Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Squeaky Bird

We’ve had a lot of good birdwatching around these parts lately. Mostly all the old familiar favorites as they migrate through again. One day I’ll learn their names. For now I’m just happy to see them again—it’s been several months! 

I was listening to a particularly sweet sounding trio of little birdies recently on a long stretch of a bike ride. So lovely to hear them again… But, they sound so regular… And are they following me? Oh, it’s my shoe rubbing on my crankarm…


Days later I heard a squeaking rattle coming up from behind. Clearly, this was some sort of ill tuned vehicle (MM would never sound like that!) So, as I was approaching a winding blind curve that I wanted to take at my own pace, I slowed to let this chortle mobile pass me by… But when I looked back there was no vehicle behind me at all… It was a gaggle of crazy nonsense birds fluttering around through the branches… 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Let Me Ride

(In the parlance of our beloved Beatles:)

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mindful Mule, she comes to me

Spinning wheels of wisdom

Let me ride


And in my hour of darkness

She is track-standing right in front of me

Spinning wheels of wisdom

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride

The winds, they whisper wisdom

Let me ride


And with the broken-transit systems

The world will come to all agree

The bike will be the answer

Let me ride


And if their habits can be parted there is

Still a chance that they will see

The bike will be the answer

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride

Yeah, the bike will be the answer

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride

The winds, they whisper wisdom

Let me ride


And when the night is cloudy

Still that headlight shines for me

Ride until tomorrow

Let me ride


I wake up to the sound of freewheels

Mindful Mule, she comes to me

Spinning wheels of wisdom

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, yeah, Let me ride

The bike will be the answer

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, yeah, Let me ride

The bike will be the answer

Let me ride


Let me ride, Let me ride, Let me ride, yeah, Let me ride

The winds, they whisper wisdom

Let me ride

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Enter the Night

Fall’s arrival has been presenting itself for weeks. It’s the same old slow process, of course, but every year it catches me off guard—It’s getting dark so early, I think. And stepping out in the morning the air is crisper (despite lingering 100 degrees days,) the light sharper—Suddenly it feels like life in the mountains—memories of summers at altitude where the season shift comes earlier, still, than down here in the valley—the coastal plain, really. 

I haven’t been riding at night for quite sometime. Well before the pandemic, even, I mostly stopped the practice entirely—preferring to walk, perhaps using the train to get further afield. It was a phase that centered on staying local and safe, and one that will continue some of the time—I certainly do hope to continue with a good amount of walking—I mean, what more human thing could we possibly do! It’s got to be good to get in a few daily miles… 


But I’d forgotten about what it feels like to experience the night on the bike—these perfect early Fall evenings when all you need to carry is the lightest of extra clothes… And lights! Light up the night!


A week ago was my first night ride back. I wasn’t really expecting to be out so long, but as often is the case on these leisurely weekend afternoons, I was. And, not having ridden at night for years I had no lights on the bike. But I had some reflectors (which are so Cool again now that we’re old) and luckily, a light sweatshirt! Which of course I didn’t put on when I started the ride because I was just going about a mile from my friends house and figured, It was a hot afternoon, I’ve been sitting comfortably outside in t-shirt and shorts all afternoon… But then! it hit me—that first, coldest ride of the year, again! It used to happen to me at about this time every year. You think it’s warm, you think it’s Summer… But it’s already Fall, my boy. And the cool evening bicycle-windchill reduces you to shivering. 


So, in my age-old wisdom I stopped the bike. Put on that light long-sleeve shirt and all was well. Although, without lights—so, little streets, slow speed, ride like an invisible butterfly… a moth, rather. 


The forecast for Fall is that it will continue! The forecast for biking: Same! So I dug around in the shed to find and dust off the lights. Amazingly, both front and rear still held a charge! But I recharged them anyway—age-old wisdom… 


The following week, after another lingering afternoon of a similar nature, when I was a little further from home and another friend arrived to extend us into the evening, I didn’t need to worry about a thing—Be Prepared, they say! A prepared, cozy, happy, calm cyclist waltzes through the night… enjoying the breeze… the crickets!!! and the quiet… the evening blossoms… and the Moon! Hello Moon… O! to ride a bicycle through the night again… 


Sunday, December 27, 2020

It’s Not Like Riding a Bicycle

It’s like riding a bicycle, as the saying goes. Once you’ve learned to ride a bike you can pretty much pick one up for the rest of your life and make a decent ride of it… Which is true, I suppose… like… in a park or a quiet cul-de-sac… 

But a friend recently asked if he could borrow or buy a bike from me. He’s a runner and a swimmer and is thinking about getting into Triathlon. We’re the same height and I’ve been wanting to get rid of a bike. All good so far. Glad to help. 


But despite that old saying it’s really not quite so simple as just riding a bike. I’ve been riding for, like, forever now and I know so much—probably too much. And as a wizened old cyclist I’d happily help this fellow get into biking and share all my knowledge and equipment and recommendations, etc. 


But it’s also the pandemic. And how much of that can one really accomplish through text messages without going frustratingly crazy? 


There are questions I need to know the answers to. And I can ask them all. But I don’t want to overwhelm or turn him off to riding. 


It reminds me of a Northern Exposure episode. I believe it was Marilyn Whirlwind that comes to Chris Stevens to ask for help learning to drive a car. Chris gets really into it and guides her through a full education about the automobile and how it functions and its history, etc. I don’t think they ever even get her behind the wheel. His efforts were all too much. She decides she likes walking. Something like that. At the end of the episode, on Chris’s radio show he sums up his experience by comparing it to someone asking him what time it is and him telling them how to build a clock. 


And I worry that I’m overthinking it and doing the same thing with this friend of mine.


I guess at a certain point we just have to point someone in the right direction and let them find their own path. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Even Cyclists Get the Blues

We almost didn't have Le Tour this year. Luckily it was eventually rescheduled... in September! That was weird. And kinda cool. Seeing France at a different time of year was nice. So many of those stages finishing up further into the evening because of the shorter days. So much riding into the sunset... 

But back at home pretty much everything is getting rescheduled, or postponed or cancelled, too. I notice a lot of the regular groups rides are active, although mine is not. I haven't ridden with anyone since the beginning. I've been riding by myself pretty consistently, though. Trouble with that is that I tend to be overly repetitive. So I do the same route every time. At pretty much the same speed and intensity. 

The heat is manageable. It's summer. It's normal. But the smoke from the fires is tough. I suppose that's normal summer, too, but it just seems like a lot of them this year. Sometimes we can ride through if the wind is right but seems best to stay close-ish to home in case the wind shifts. 

And riding solo all the time is just a little too much. I like riding solo. A lot. But I also like riding with people. And 6 months is a long time without someone to ride with. 

And riding solo feels a little more vulnerable. I'm not exactly sure where everyone is driving these days as there's basically nowhere to go but it seems like where ever it is must be of a quite urgent nature as everyone is speeding and impatient. I know. Again, totally normal.

Maybe it's just everyone is feeling everything a little more intensely. The stressors aren't subsiding. 

And so perhaps we're feeling it too. Perhaps we're feeling a little over squeezed. A little bummed. A little unmotivated. Like, what's the point exactly. What's the point of going out on a ride and dealing with all of that risk. 

This is meant to be fun and invigorating and relaxing. But it's not so much.

So we take a break. We probably need it. Fall will develop and bring cooler temperatures at least and the fires will have to stop and we'll find that vaccine and everything will be okay. Maybe not the same. But it will be okay. It will get better than it is right now. This break will give us rest and peace and we will ride again. We will Ride Like the Wind!