Friday, September 3, 2010

The Sole of a Roadrunner

Get the whole picture first

I took this picture in Phoenix, in late August, in the middle of the afternoon, near the hottest part of the day. He's executing a perfect one-handed stop / signal right / put the foot down. I can't tell which way he has his brakes set up, if that's the front or back that he's activating, and there's a few other details that might be considered worthy of comment, but I really just want to point out that he's barefoot. 

He looked calm and relaxed about it, but I immediately recalled the news stories about people burning their feet on the streets in Phoenix in the summer (for example, this one). I have no concerns about this man's feet though. This was at a stoplight, and we waited together for it to turn green for a long time, with no sound or odor of sizzling flesh evident. This was next to Roadrunner Park, and I was thinking that he must have soles like a roadrunner, to be able to stay cool and recumbent on that asphalt. 

I find this photograph very inspiring in several ways. The more I look at it and think about it, the more I feel like this may be my favorite cycling photo so far. And not because it's humorous. I'm not insensitive to the potential for laughing casually at some of the details, but the more I look at it, and try to look a little deeper, the more that I think I aspire, in my own way, to be like him. Not to ride barefoot in Phoenix in the summer, but rather to achieve a level of comfort, of familiarity, of confident harmony with my surroundings that would allow me to do things like that. That's flow, baby. It also demonstrates a high degree of enduring toughness. Hell, that's as tough as plywood wings glued up by J.E. Gordon himself. Have a great weekend. Get up. Go ride.



  1. I think I actually envy this guy. He seems to have this small, serene smile on his face; Buddha-like; Kannon with weather-toughened soles (and the sheer cajones to ride through town with no pants on: and I think *I'm* brave when I stroll into the supermarket in my lycra shorts!).

    Bodhisattvas pop up everywhere. I have a feeling Dogen Zenji would appreciate this fellow.

  2. I worry too much about my shoes and pedals--which shoes, which pedals, what kind of riding, where am I going, will I need to walk, if I wear cycling shoes where will I carry the street shoes, what if I break down...he goes barefoot in Phoenix in August, and the question is un-asked.

  3. I could be wrong, but aren't those shoes/shoe boxes in the background? I absolutely love this pic for all that it is saying.

  4. Hi JK, I think you're right, those look like stacks and stacks of shoe boxes, arrayed beneath a collapsible tarp holder minus tarp. He's pointing an alternate route that does not include them. :)


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