Friday, December 31, 2010

Oasis: Some Thoughts On Thoughts for 2011

Water and shade in a dry land

I read a few great posts this year written by bloggers reflecting on blogging. Two that really stuck with me and caused me to think more about what I'm doing here, and where I might seek sustenance and positive energy to move forward with it in 2011, were Jon Grinder's Feedback post on Two Wheels, and the always-interesting Chris Johnson's response post Pondero Un-Cropped? on Pondero. The comments on those posts also struck me as notably supportive and sustaining, in the sense I am using it in this post. 

I liked limom's Message in a Bottle image, too: write something personally meaningful today, put it into a bottle, send it out into the digital ocean to ride the inter-waves to a possible, but unlikely, distant and future reader. Yes, I also enjoy sharp analysis and spreadsheets produced from cutting edge studies like Steve A's, but for my own purposes, I have been seeking a theme which is locally relevant, and resonant for me. But this causes me to ask myself: what is it that I am doing here?

The short answer is, probably many things, but if I look back at the efforts that I think came close to actually accomplishing what I wanted, I find one common characteristic, one that I want to focus on a little more in 2011 at times, to explore, amplify, dissect, and expand it. This theme or idea is oasis. Let me explain a little more.

For One Speed: Go!, this idea is meaningful and important to me because what I hope to do is, once in a while, put out a short, meaningful, thought-provoking bit of word and image to sustain people in their journeys through what is often a barren and thin landscape of ideas out there. Probably bicycle people. So, a small audience out of a relatively small population. Out of that, probably a small proportion who would be looking for something like oasis. Because, let's face it, "What I thought about while riding my bicycle around today" is not about to be a hit movie or a top story on a hit reality newsertainment TV/blog/iTune. 

Shade for a cyclist in a bleak landscape

When I think of an oasis, some words that come to mind are restoration, shelter, refuge, sustenance, water in a dry land, shade from the relentless sun, a place of rest while on a journey, a place for travelers to gather where all are welcome, a campfire glowing in the middle of a vast darkness with people gathered around it eating, drinking, and telling stories before resting and then setting off on their own journeys. Oasis.

Art can be a kind of oasis
For me, art, too, can be a kind of oasis. The picture of above is from a work in the Scottsdale Public Art "In Flux" series where artists put work into windows in unoccupied properties, which we still have more of than usual. This particular example is called "The Ceramic Jungle" by Pete Goldlust. Imagine, or just go look at, the alternative: block after block of dark, empty storefronts with "For Rent" signs in the window. Or this:

Sustaining in lean times

In practical terms, oasis is something you need when riding a bicycle, or walking, through the desert. Water, shade, rest, shelter, sustenance, information passed on from one person to another about place, techniques, tools, distance, great trails, adventures, inspiring feats, and local facts. A meeting or gathering place. The human side of transportation. It's a perspective that I see generally missing from planning and construction in the Phoenix Metro area. There's lots of great stuff being done. But with all the growth ahead, with the challenges and unknowns we're likely to face, exploring the possibilities of oasis seems interesting to me. Some more visual cues for oasis:

Signage: how far to the next oasis? Where am I? Where can I go from here?

When I close my eyes on a hot, dry ride, I see this

In a desert of cars, an oasis for bicycles and pedestrians (though short on actual shade and drinking water)

A portable oasis of one's own, to carry around a beautiful plaza while conversing

And music! An oasis needs music, if we're lucky, a group of skilled musicians will be stopping by the same night as we are, or perhaps a lone player with a flute, or just some wind chimes hanging from a tree.

When I'm out there riding in a typically hot, dry place like Arizona, these concepts behind oasis take on a reality and depth that I want to explore further. While doing that, I'll post some of what I see and think, while trying to build my own little oasis here. I think many of the blogs I like and read regularly are trying to do something similar. Please wish me success with my own little oasis project here in 2011. I wish you success with yours, and hope that you experience some great rides, with some great people, in the coming year. Happy New Year, friends and fellow riders. The rest of the program stays the same, however. Get up. Go ride.


  1. Whatever you are doing, you are doing it well!
    You also make wishes come true(umbrella girl=the stuff dreams are made of)!
    OSG IS the oasis.
    At least on my blog roll.
    Oh, and thanks for the mention!
    My head is all big now.

  2. Just discovered your blog about a week ago, and have been DEVOURING the archives. 'Oasis' is perfect--a place to go, or return to, or ride past in a hurry but remember for another day...For me, your posts on anger are, and will be, oases.
    Thanks for what you do.

  3. limom, thanks man, and I am enjoying your updates on the new Bianchi. Many happy rides ahead in 2011 on that for you I'm sure.

    Slowvehicle, thanks for stopping by the blog/oasis. My posts about anger are sincere expressions of my thoughts on the subject. If I can write a few on the subject in 2011 that live up to the idea of oasis, I'll be happy about this endeavor. OK, I'll probably be happy about it in any case, because it's a pretty quixotic activity, if you consider it, and Don Quixote always makes me smile.

  4. I like your varying takes on "oasis." Just keep the brit-pop band out of it, if you would be so kind ;) I look forward to further posts from you on this theme.

  5. Apertome, I'm glad you said something about the brit-pop band, they were at the back of my mind while writing this post. I think I have to write some more "what I felt like while riding in 115F today" posts to give some depth to the oasis concept, though. I'll work on that. When it gets back to 115F. I kind of miss that now. I had to where gloves on my commute this morning! Brrrr.

  6. Good job...keep it up
    I've been taking in this section of the valley since I first came to asu in 1970... ...your work adds a layer of overlooked information that's the perfect frosting to the cake... ...thx for your efforts


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