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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Microspikes

I suppose this fits in the category of Trail Shoe Test Lab although microspikes are more of a shoe accessory—just try wearing them without you shoes!

There's a snowy mountain on the horizon. It’s been watching over me for all these years. Of course, snow melts, but at its high altitude more or less at treeline it always looks bald.


And there’s a trail to the top! Let’s take it! Let’s take it a lot! Over and over again! 


But with big mountains comes big responsibility. And big preparedness. I tried visiting the mountain with burley hiking boots and the mountain said No. Its snow and ice turned me around halfway to the peak—right about that moment when I saw a group of hikers coming down wearing crampons and helmets and carrying ice axes, oh my!


So I prepared so more. I guess I need crampons, I thought. But that seemed so serious—I’m no mountaineer! Or am I? Maybe there’s a middle ground. A mountain hearer? Perhaps. After all, “the mountains are calling,” as He said. And the middle gear for answering that call for me turned out to be microspikes—not the cute little ones with Track&Field spikes but those with a dozen one centimeter-long daggers! So practically crampons. (And they do come with a cute little carrying bag!) 


Well, they stretched right on over my boots just as they should and amazing they were! Right up the mountain I went… Because, “I must go…”

Naked Without My Bike

Trying to leave the house these days seems to be getting more and more challenging. Let’s see… Do I have everything? Pockets check: wallet, phone, mask, another mask… Sweater, hat, gloves? BYOBags… Pants?! Check.

But sometimes it still feels like something is missing as I walk along the sidewalk… I find this sensation to be particularly strong the day after a long day of riding. My legs longing for that sensation of smooth circular motion. There’s an endless soothing in that pedal stroke that doesn’t translate to walking. 


After a few blocks I’ve more or less recalibrated my expectations to the footfalls of walking—especially once I start dreaming up my next ride!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Why Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

Well anyone who’s been late for a very important date knows about this riddle… But here’s another perspective that also leads us in various directions… 

I was just sitting down at my writing desk (the one with the computer…) with another half cup of tea, when, gazing through the window (the looking glass, nearly), I chanced to see Raven alight on Deodar Cedar across the way… An inspiring moment!


That moment reminded me that I often rehearse thoughts about writing while out on long rides on my bicycle named, would you believe… Raven! 


So, why is a Raven like a writing desk? Well, both Raven (the bike) and the writing desk provide a space and/or opportunity that, while may not be totally free from distraction and/or interruption, at least, helps to guide or focus our thinking toward a certain end… (the end of blogging, as it is still dead...)


Perhaps they allow us to wonder… about a bird… a bike… the land… 

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…