Saturday, January 24, 2015

Trunk Bag Grocery Shopping: It'll Fit

Trunk bag, about 90% full (top webbing still empty, though)

The trunk bag is one of my favorites: easy on, easy off, compact when empty, holds a lot when full, expands to hold more when you need, has a place on top for the helmet to ride when I'm carrying it around. Still, I've been tempted to use a larger bag for grocery shopping, in order to make sure it all fits. But, after a few outings to tune the shopping list, it all fits.

Contents: 3 lbs of plain Greek yogurt, 2 lbs of chicken, cans of smoked trout*, smoked sardines, and salmon, macadamia nuts, two large bars of Noir Amer dark chocolate, Chia seeds, Uncured Apple Smoked bacon, tool kit in box, tools in red tool bag, cell phone. Not shown: mini-pump, lights, rain jacket (all packed snugly).

It only took me three or four trips to get the system down smoothly. This outing on a warm Saturday afternoon went fast and smooth. Easy lock-up and unlock at the rack, easy shop, easy ride in the sunshine. Total round trip including prep and unpacking less than an hour, I think (blogging overhead, photography, musing, and stopping to smell citrus being picked not included).  And no circling the busy parking lot looking for a spot: bike parking right up front, no waiting.

What is this thing in the middle of the sidewalk? Why do they do that? Why do they paint around it?

*Post-ride blogging fueled by one can of smoked trout, and inspired by Carina Round singing on the DVD version of "What is...Puscifer"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Almost Partly Beautiful

Morning sky blue and whispy

This world just before sunset. 
The hills robed in light, the sky all ready for any possible colors, for a moment.
In the morning the forecast called for partly cloudy, 
but all we had was this a single delicate whisp.
Just before evening fell, though, the artist's brush left impressions flung across the sky.
It was partly, it was almost, it was beautiful.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Three Little Bicycle Dramas

Will my bike with fender and rack made for getting groceries in the rain fit into the rack at the store?

Could a sunset on my ride home be more glorious than this one portending storm but not delivering?

Is it fair, just, right, or reasonable to compare sunset A with sunset B, or is each glorious unto itself?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

People Are Broken But The Ride is Perfect

The System, is down, the system, is down, the system, is down (no water=no power) (go listen to this while reading)

People are broken. I am people. I am broken. The system is down. All amounts of engineering and debugging are only bandaids to those inevitable truths due to entropy imperfection and the limits of a finite selfish and irrational mind.

But the ride is perfect. Go, hard, into the afternoon, push the muscles and breathe the air, feel the sunshine and wave at everyone. The nice people and the mean bastards. The downtrodden and the rich percenters. Wave hard as they whoosh behind you and watch your perfection in motion.

It's momentary. It's fleeting. But in the ride, perfection may be found. In the flow and balance, the arc and turn, the wheel and excellent quiet. Wind and sun. Pedals. Muscles that go when you require it.

Imperfection parts like a sea of craziness. The system may be down, but it is but a speck fading in the distance behind you, because the ride flows out in front like infinite possibility, unlimited, unknown, but pulling you into it.

People are broken. But the ride is perfect.

See me? I'm the molecule-sized bicycle rider going like crazy down that wonder-tube

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fines Double in School Zone

Double may not be enough

This is a short school zone, right in front of the school only. It is crowded with kids on foot and on bikes, as well as other pedestrians, a few bicycle commuters, a lot of vehicular traffic. Limited or no sidewalks, either, with kids often walking in the bike lane or on the shoulder, depending.

I do not revel in the misfortune of others, including those who get traffic tickets, but perhaps this is a good lesson in slowing down when it should be very obvious that you ought to slow down. And pay attention. And put the cell phone down. And perhaps just leave the SUV home and walk or bike on this mild Arizona January morning, rather than speeding through a school zone full of kids, and receiving a doubled-fine ticket. Or worse.

There was in the recent past a kid who sometimes came to this school on a horse. That's more like it.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Awake! Arise! Ride Out O Cyclist!

Contemplations of Sky, Oleander, Cloud and Mountain Reflections

During my years of former car commuting, I frequently expended tens of minutes of precious life each day moving at the speed of a crawling toddler through the former environs of the Hohokam native Americans who spent their days in and around the Salt River digging canals, and tending their small plots of beans, corn, and squash. The freeway which tears through their archeological heritage is named after them, and is decorated with large-scale ground art meant to evoke hints of this heritage. East of Sky Harbor Airport from satellite view is a good way to see this.

In my car, I frequently turned the music up very loud, I think in an attempt to penetrate and excite senses otherwise dulled by the repetitive, stressful, isolating drive I did twice every day. One day blended into the next, one traffic jam bled into another in my mind, until the string of days tightened into one continuous blur of loud music and the numbing, angering view of taillights and bumpers in front of me as far as the eye could see.

Although I was certainly moving through a historically interesting and evocative zone, important for understanding the context of this area, all I remember is cement, vehicular steel, heat, and frustration. I wanted to be anywhere else but there, twice a day, for an hour every day.

Sunlight catching a load of trusses far ahead in the fog

In contrast, I can't wait for my bicycle commute. The chance to slow down, to actually smell flowers and listen to birds each morning, to pause just a moment to contemplate reflections of sky and mountains in the puddles, to meditate on my way to/from work about place, history, neighborhoods, and the local environment, is priceless to me. To breathe the air, to pick citrus in season right next to the street, to feel my muscles propelling me to work, changed my life. 

I broke out of my car. In an infinite yet transient moment, when I pause to look into a puddle as far as I can, I see the reflections of the blue sky, white clouds, and brown mountains written as if in a chasm opening in the ground before me, and in one breath I feel whole and happy. Try that in a traffic jam some time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Old Yellow Bike at the Arizona Falls

Below the power plant falls--have they changed?

There was me, long-ago me, trying to imagine a future day when I would be at ease and could go where I wanted, do what I please, ride my bicycle out where I wanted, return home whenever I felt like it.

Tricky light with the gloomy clouds, a fill flash might have worked better

There was me today, riding my flatland commuter fixie project bike with the new handlebars on my easy ten mile get-up-go-ride route, my mind kind of at ease, my destination wherever I wanted it to be, my schedule pretty open, my time due home unknown. It seems like this was that ride that long-ago me imagined. Apparently, on reflection, this was the day.

So many holes...

There will come a day when I can't ride any more. When knees fail, when back goes for good, when lungs or heart begin to struggle, when the physical plant wears out. This day, I suppose I will look back on, to remember when I could do these things. When I did them. When I close my eyes and hear the water of Arizona Falls cascading over the dull hum of the generator. I will look up at the lights, hear the machines beeping, and think, this power was made from water.

In the meantime, though, more rides, ride the day, I say, live these moments and know them for what they are, now. Also necessary, important I think, to know that others may be on some similar journey, from the first mode, in the second, middle mode, moving inevitably, eventually, to the last. Solidarity in understanding this contingency while holodecking the now as if it were hyperreal.

Ride the day, be home on time, though.