Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lycra Presence

I was up early this morning when the first of several groups of riders blew by. One last ride before the Ironman in the morning. "Good going guys, you look fit and ready. Love the colors, your thighs are gorgeous, really"! It was a sweet sight, that stream of Lycra and color and bikes right by my house. I could feel a shift in the bike energy of the neighborhood. 

I have loathed riding this road and generally so do other cyclists - I never see any bikes rolling by. In addition to being a busy thoroughfare, Prairie Ave has no shoulder in this stretch, save for the white line. I dash down that line to the nearest side street thankful that the speed limit is only 40. I feel small and vulnerable and it irks me to feel intimidated. I know it can be harrowing for a bike; cars have small leeway and not all are as attentive to my ass as I would like them to be. Safety in numbers guys! Thanks for bringing bike presence to Prairie Ave.
(ps, this is not my photo, it is clearly a googled image)

Ride Comments: 

I was pulling the kid along the bike path to Blue Grass Park and its various slides today when I spied a chick hauling a trailer ahead. AH HA! Game on, let's see what you got. We took no time at all to catch them, game as she was through curves and crossings. They were a petite blonde and a boy that looked to be getting just about to the age of getting his own bike. In other words, a load; a shifty load crammed into a space just big enough; antsy, eager. Not like the Kid. He is still small, there is room in his ride for two of him. So he has a blanket, a bottle, a toy, a hoody; all the comforts.  Speaking of comforts, the other day I swear I saw a little girl with an iPad in her dad-powered trailer. At any rate, we shared a hello on the pass then she said, “Look Jason, we're getting passed!”  Jason didn't look too pleased. I thought someday soon that will be me, load still move-able, but the weigh ratio shifted. Some day he will be too big go fast with, or to fit in the space. But for right now he sings to unwritten songs, and I bike through mom infested playgrounds.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two Rules

I have few rules when I go for a ride save two rarely invoked rules:

1:  Ride until it is fun.
2:  Stop when it is no longer fun.

Rule #1 rarely comes into play. I love to ride. But even I have those days where my head is full of clouds and brooding voices and riding sounds like a crap idea, like pretty much everything; a bunch of stinking crap. On those days as I fight myself on every point, inching closer to a bike ride can sometimes be excruciating. “It’s windy, it might rain, I’m tired, I don’t have time, I don’t feel good, I have work to do, I need to write, paint, look for a job. I got shit on my mind…”

When I finally find myself straddling the bike and pushing off, the fun usually starts there. Childhood glee generally jumps up to play right then almost no matter what is going on. But some days, some days Glee stubs a toe and refuses to be consoled. Those days my mind is so loud that I forget to hear the birds, my nose misses budding flowers, and I am not grateful to be able to ride so free. Those are the days I have to ride until it is fun. I ride until my mind gets over itself, till my body drags my attention to the ride, till the birds sound better than the bitching in my head. Sometimes the bitch is loud, complaining about money and men and me. Those days she wants to put the bike away and wallow in misery alone. And so rule #1 was born.

It always becomes fun at some point at some level. Sooner or later the Bitch shuts up and attends to steady pedaling. Mindlessness follows as motion and freedom satiate my senses. My body feels strong, the air is brisk, not cold, birds chirp, flit and dive. Riding in traffic becomes a ballet moving to the rhythm of joy. Ah, this is so fast, so beautiful. So Fun.

From there, I smile and ride where the day leads. I can say that the bad Mojo blows into fast miles when the tide turns. Burning bad energy for fuel: I Love To Ride.

Now I can ride for miles and hours and days. Until I can’t. That brings me to Rule #2.
After the pleasure of the ride is achieved, there is little that can ruin it aside from a mechanical failure. Even that does not necessarily kill the day, it just slows things down, I can change a tire, ride with one foot, fix a chain. No, what can steal the fun from a ride is generally a physical failure: my body takes ill and I barf or my trick knee acts up and I can’t pedal, or I crash somehow and road rash is bleeding into my sock. And even then I might still just think I am a badass and can go on. So, if mechanical failure doesn’t suck out the pleasure, and physical failure makes me tough, the only thing left is riding conditions. Miserable cold, driving rain, snow, ice, or perhaps gale force headwinds. Still, that alone, if I am out usually just reminds me how mighty I am!

No, the only thing that takes me out once I am having fun is a combination of failures: a broken pedal in the rain with a cold setting in from crashing and sliding through a puddle of mud. Sucky. It just reminds me how crap things are and how long it’s been since I've had sex and this seat ain’t no substitute and I am cold and life sucks and I hate this stupid bike.

Time to stop and go home: once the bike is the enemy, it is time for a break, a shower, a meal or an attitude adjustment. Save your wrath for making art.

Ride Comment:

Early morning riding finds different people out. This morning at before 7 came across something special. I wish I had taken a photo. But I was too busy oogling the pink fenders and a long haul trucker cargo setup. It was a bicycle that extended the rear forks so that there is room over the rear wheel for a seat/cargo setup. The seat (two person seat?) was a skate deck with room on either side to rest your feet on. On the right foot platform sat a black and white border collie. He wagged his tail as I scoped them out on the way by. Nice!! Like with two thumbs up. I wish I had talked to her. What, I am shy?

It was like this bike, except instead of a pack on the side, there was the dog:

Lots of spandex clad fast cyclists everywhere. Surprisingly they have appeared to attract more occasional bikers to ride as well, the roads were pleasantly busy with cruisers and trailers and mtn bikes and kids as well as triathletes and roadies.

Ode to Roadkill: this one still lives as it meanders its way across the path. Hurry Up you Unisexual Freak, traffic awaits.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Athletes Are In Town

Out running errands today and checking out my new basket.

I painted a milk crate black and bungeed it to my back rack. Probably not the best of attachment options, but it rides stable and I love the size and its ease of access. I just need to girl it up if I am to continue using it. Flat black is boring. On the other hand, it is as heavy empty as my pannier was full. I don’t know how much I care about that, but it is just a note.  A complaint I can refer to should I need to explain to myself my sluggishness at some future ride.  I have room for flares now.

Coeur d’Alene is sponsoring an Ironman triathlon this Sunday. The town is flooded with people as transition areas, vending booths and official tents are being erected everywhere. It is nice to see to see downtown active and filled with people. I am sure it is good for the local economy, but more importantly, it is fun to watch: all those nubile bodies at their peak of freshness. Yum!  (Yes, I could have volunteered, I will take that under advisement for next year. )

I have never done an Ironman length triathlon, only Olympic distance. It is a huge distinction. The Ironman, if you did not know, consists of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Olympic is 1mi/24 mi/6.2miles respectively.  The difference in training required is astounding.  If you commute to work by bike, you can fit Olympic training into a schedule fairly easily, a few more hours a week, a reasonable diet and you are good and finish easily. But a serious lifestyle changing and challenging commitment is required for an Ironman. The paper this morning had some stats about averaging 225 miles of biking a week, 7 miles of swimming, and 48 miles of running. Ouch is all I can say. I can imagine that in addition to the finely honed bodies: strained relationships, lonely spouses, exhausted muscles and stretched tendons are just part of the routine. It is a lot of time alone in your own head. But then we are all alone in there so you might as well face it 'head on'… but I digress.  In the past I thought that it would be awesome. I would finally prove to myself that I am an athlete and not fat.  I have only made it to Olympic distance not fatness. I still have issues.

And finally I just would not find the time as Art increasingly demands time in my day. Or so I have decided.

Hence:  for now I am only riding for enjoyment and utility.  I am of a different mind, for now, that does not find training fun. I am pretty sure I never did enjoy hearing that constant nagging voice always sounding off in my head: ride more miles faster, run more hills, eat better, lift more weights, no parties, no straying off task.  The challenge to overcome was the goal. That was the fun. And I rode with gritted teeth, ran with a perverse determination and swam endless miles imagining sharks at every shadow. Yes, fun.

But I was younger then. And a little bit angry and bitter. For no good reason really except the taste fueled me. But that is another tale. I know that training was a good vent for a lot of errant energy.

I like to think now that I am riding solely for the fun of the ride, an errand made adventure, a visit to see a friend turned physical, a meander churning up a creative mind. I think I am probably stronger on the bike than I have ever been. Well, maybe not like after the summer of riding coast to coast, but for normal  American life.
Of course I was long ago schooled in what a difference living a bike life is from a cyclist.
Throughout my biking life I liked to call myself a cyclist, including the upgrading of equipment and gear whenever possible. I dressed the part and even relished the distinctive tan that can only be gotten on the handlebars with mesh backed fingerless gloves. I felt fast.

Then I traveled to Amsterdam. 

I went see a city that lives a bike life surrounded by art and water. We rented decent bikes and began a tour of the city and surrounding area. One particularly lovely ride, I was passed, quickly. Not that that never happens, but this girl had on a skirt with stilettos and on the back of a three speed girls bike was a basket full of groceries and wine and baguettes; with a front basket full of tulips. Long and leggy and blonde; she gave me a healthy gorgeous smile. I would show you the photo but I lost her as quick as she came. I  also lost the notion that gear or even the bike makes the rider. It might change a ride, but real strength comes from living on the bike. You aren’t a cyclist, it’s just the fastest, quickest and cheapest way to get to where you want to go. And because you ride all the time, you naturally get faster, safer and more aware. You get to that Zen of biking-isness. Where the bike is gone as a separate tool and the freedom of movement is all that remains. Fun and effortless.  Or at least so I like to pretend, headwinds, hills and all.

I imagine were I to see that girl today, she would also be chatting on her cell phone as she blows by. But I am getting ready for her. My heavy basket makes me stronger. Time for a baguette run.

Ride Comments:
The bike path across Hanley from Ramsey to 4th Street is awesome, except where it isn’t. I never missed the safety of a white line so much as between Mineral Drive and Government Way. There was a helpful informational sign that read “Bike path ends”. Sweet. Now I am on my own where a little help would really be nice. To the credit of the polite drivers in the area, they were respectful and the ballet went on undeterred. I complain as a seasoned rider. I worry for occasional riders.

Which brings up the piece of crap that is the Hwy 95 bike path. Please, there are miles and miles and miles of fresh asphalt put down around here yearly and that is allowed to such a state of disrepair. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Thanks to the guys at Home Depot that let me park inside by the register when I realized I had no key for my bike lock.

Quadriple thanks to the very gracious Dylan, working on the Marina at the CDA Resort.  I was looking down on the boardwalk and spied the most gorgeous sailboat. Long clean lines, navy blue, rather too large and too fast I supposed for this lake... I wanted to see more, nay, needed to get close! At the beginning of the ramp I read that bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk. "Phooey", I lamented aloud. off to my side I hear: “Can I help you?” There stood a beautiful young man pushing a cart stenciled with "Marina" on the side. I explained my lack of bike lock and my sense of urgency to see that boat. *My new love, my secret need for the snap of sails, the smell of water, sweet wind blowing through my dreams* He tells me he can lock my bike, he has a lock right here!  He locked my bike to the nearest rail.  Thank you Dylan.

About that boat… I can’t really explain. Perhaps this will help. My palms were sweaty. It was a rock star.

Once again, thank you Dylan. Apparently I could have pushed my bike down there, but I was so distracted by Big, Blue and Yummy that I might have dumped it in the lake. Sorry Honey, I did not mean that.

And lastly. On the way home, after such goodness, there was this:

Roadkill, I salute your life. And your balls.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He Don't Say Much...

A few years ago I was in NYC at an exhibition of Paul Signac paintings. He was a neo-Impressionist Pointillist inspired by Georges Seurat.  Beautiful colors, intense details set down one point of color at a time. I was seated looking at a particularly large work when a passerby remarked that he must have been a really lonely person. At the time I thought “What do you know?” but it stuck with me.  
I wonder what he thought of during the hours and hours and hours of painting one point tip of color after another in a scientifically determined arrangement? I mean, this was before iPod, Stereo or even radio. So there is no music in the back ground like I often have.  Silence is the rule unless someone comes to visit and talk while he painted. And the scientific laying on of color means that he did not drink or imbibe in anything that would possibly alter his mechanical ability. Perhaps coffee, tea or smoking?
I am reminded of that now as I spend hours and days hovering over projects with the tiniest of paint brushes I can find. Then I get on my bike and ride on long solitary rides, over hill and dale, stretching my muscles and my imagination. Signac was growing up during the advent of the Penny farthing and was painting before common use of the bicycle. I guess that is why I do  not find any in his scenes. So, with no bike and no music, the work must have been consuming. I know that when my work is going well, there is nothing getting to me from the outside anyway, no music, no talking, no stupid chatter in my brain trying to distract me. No, when it is going, it is blissful, silent, the voices of angels singing.
But am I lonely?
Certainly I am reclusive often, but that is not the same as lonely.
It is not that I specifically eschew company.  I just stumble from studio to food to bike to sleep. Re-arrange and repeat.  Aside from family and the tenuous connection that Facebook provides, I am fairly solitary. I have always have been somewhat hermitical this is no shock to my system. I don’t miss company until I do.
New art projects and riding daily leaves little time to socialize it seems. But, I have a riding companion now. My great-nephew Brandon is thirteen months old and loves riding in the bike trailer. He sings louder the faster I go. I am teaching him to say “Faster Aunt Laurentia!”  And now I can say that am not alone; ergo, not lonely.
So there, don’t worry about me and my mental stability.

 Twenty miles is a long ride, time to sack out:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Away Too Long

And by away too long, I mean sex.  Everything eventually comes back to that.

I miss it, at least the idea of it. I ride and I ride and I ride and it abates.  Climbing hills is the best for that. I like to pedal until I am just too tired to summon desire between my legs, my crevice blissfully numb. 

I must be hormonal. How predictable.

Maybe it’s truly been too long but I am just bored thinking about it. I need substance to keep the dream alive. Vibrators and the internet aside, there is really nothing like the quiver of foreign skin intersecting familiar territory.

The other day I rode to a wine tasting. It was a great evening, a brisk ride to some viciously arresting red from a vineyard in Walla Walla named Forgeron. Taste buds at attention, warm with the glow of splendor. That night I had strangely erotic dreams. I have had sex dreams before with its fuzzy, hazy, faceless, body response writhing. You know - you wake up all sweaty and frustrated. This was different, verbal, challenging, flirtatious. By that I mean: me getting hit on, flirted with, verbal parries; several different ones as a matter of fact. Tall, handsome men with thick, thick bicycle thighs. I awoke slightly confused and rather aroused. I headed out for a hilly ride, into a headwind.

I definitely need to get out more. Socialize with people.  My bike, my art, and I are in this intense three-way right now.  Without some input soon, it might just become an insipid vortex.  

And off I ride. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

too long

I have been away too long.

Riding my bike, licking my wounds, learning the intricacies of the Labor Department and its unemployment benefits.

Mostly I want to have more spring days when I speed over a rise and around the corner to emerge along side a field of Lupins scenting the air the most tantalizing way. I wanted to stop and pick flowers, revel in aromatic intoxication. But instead on I went, fearing the cloying feeling of too much bouquet; savoring it until my nose was searching for something besides the freeway exhaust and rotting plant matter.

It was raining by then, not that I mind if I am moving fast, faster.

Twenty miles under clouds, a fording the path under river water, wet feet and smile - having no job isn't so bad. No, actually, I love my time. It is only the temporary lack of capital that I abhor. And that too shall pass.

Until then, I pray for pithy lines, for the rain to pass and  for inspiration to make itself known.

In the meantime, thank you Captain Crank for the innovative use of a back pack. A friend in need... indeed:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So many reasons to ride

You can find inspiring reasons to ride everywhere you look.
I love this blog and the riders inspiring riders: Chicks and Bikes

I need pink rims.