Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cyclist What Do You Need? 110°F Commute Edition

Water: the birds know what's up

Cyclist, what do you need when it's late afternoon, 110°F out, blazing sunshine, and a bike commute lies ahead? I imagined all the drivers passing me inside their air conditioned steel boxes asking me.

Not a ride, don't ask. Water comes to mind. Curiously, I don't carry water on my commute. It's less than 30 minutes long. I find that guzzling ice water before leaving has the dual benefit of some internal cooling from the ice, and more than enough water for the commute. But I make sure to know of some backup sources along the way, just in case: flat tire, blown knee, crash, mechanical, Other, you never know. So, in answer to the first question, I would say, ice water and knowledge of water.

Why the photo of the bird next to the painted grapefruit tree in the irrigated front yard?

No matter how hot I may feel, it always cools me down to see and hear the birds splashing in the irrigation. It may be triple digit heat, but they know what's up, and are having fun at it. The grackles, in particular, seem to be in mating season, because suddenly the males are all puffed up and vocal, and the females slightly more interested than normal (but at a safe distance, to judge the display). 

Cyclist, what else do you need?

Not a lot else. A bicycle in good working order. A workable route with the least traffic possible. A bag and a rack for carrying stuff, as there's no gentle way to say that a backpack in this heat sucks. A steadfast motivation fueled by reminders of the greatness of cycling for mind and body. Encouragement, or at least understanding, from those around exposed to my quixotic quest. A calm and focused mind prepared to react effectively when something negative or challenging occurs.

Makes sense. So, why the photo of the inner tube discarded in the gutter? 

I put that as an example of something which challenges the calm and focused mind prepared to react effectively. Because, my reaction was, what idiot cyclist did this? Which is not calm, or focused, or altruistic, or forgiving, or any of the other things that I wish to be. I gave myself the time to take a few photos of the tube to overcome and manage my negative reaction. RAIN it in: recognize, accept, investigate, non-identify, works for me.

I recognized my reaction for what it was. I accepted it and that I'm probably normal in having emotional responses to human folly. I investigated it along with my response to it: too wordy and personal to include here, but reflecting on morality, personal relationships with the environment and creation, on casual defacement of public space, on the inevitability of assholes too lazy to pack out a leaky tube, along with the absolute necessities to not refer to them as "assholes", to overcome frustration or anger at their assholery, to live in the fact that I and my reactions are not always perfect or pretty, then to forgive and forget it all in love and gentleness (he of the gutter tube and me of the mean reaction). And non-identify: this happened, this gutter tube and my reaction to it, I honor it and understand it, and it is not me.

After the photo and the RAIN, I paused a bit longer to think:  should I pick up the tube myself? Looking up the street, I saw the rare street sweeper approaching, which caused me to wonder about its effectiveness at hoovering up discarded bicycle tubes. It did; it was highly effective.

A bottle of water might have been welcome during the tube, RAIN, and photo session. I looked across the street at the birds splashing in the irrigation and 110°F, and thought: now who's right? What would the neighbors and drivers say if I dumped my bike on the sidewalk right there and joined the splashing birds? I know what they would say: that crazy cyclist finally did something sane. Like I understand the birds, they would, for a moment, understand me.


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