Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Normally This Wouldn't Bug Me That Much

The sidewalk. It is there for you.

Under normal circumstances, in a typically chill state of mind just riding along, this wouldn't even phase me. Let alone cause me to take a photo. Let alone blog about it. My reaction is information that I feed back into my own critical processes. I don't like the way that my reaction in this particular instance feels.

Stop looking at your watch. I'll tell you what time it is!

I had some kind of negative thoughts about situation. Less than nice impulses. Other than positive reactions. So I slowed down, took out the camera, took a few shots, and thought it over. By the time I put the camera away and went around him, I more or less made my mind up. I'm going to take a blog break for a while. Not sure how long, but as part of an overall take-a-step-back-and-regroup type of activity. Because I think a tendency toward impatience and overreaction could partly be related to how much time I've been spending, at work and at home, on the computer. Information overload, super-fast processing, responding to floods of emails (ha ha, work, not the blog) with too little time to reflect. Got to do some work on those things. Got to slow down a little. Take some longer rides without the camera along. Stop and smell some flowers, pet some kittens, take my kids to the museums, hug the loved ones, that stuff. Posting here is lots of fun. That's the main reason I do it. So I'll look at this as taking a pause to go and recharge the fun batteries. Rather than leaving you with Mr. Got To Run In the Bike Lane pictures, though, I'll put the blog on pause with some great flowers I saw on the commute ride home tonight. Take care. Get up. Go ride.

Flowers for a blog break

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Master of the Gates

Blue heron surveying a canal structure

I honestly don't know what he thinks he's going to eat here. The main fishy type edibles are large, sterile grass carp which don't produce little heron snax. I partly wonder if it's just an aspiration thing: he stares at the carp, watching, biding his time, thinking to himself, one day, one day I shall eat you, my large vegetarian friend. But come on, there's no way, right? He looks determined, though. Colored like a fighter jet, isn't he? Blends in. Except for the hi-vis beak. Er, carp spear. He is a big bird--the canal structure doesn't really give you a sense of scale, but he was standing tall. Waiting. Watching. Do bird stomachs growl? Get up. Go ride.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Braindead Ducktastic Canal Ride

A canal bank sun duck

Goin for a ride.
Where you goin?
My usual braindead canal route. Really tired, but it's such a nice day out there, and the ride always revives me. 
You're saying you're a zombie. I know the feeling.
Well, yes.
I thought they didn't like sunlight much.
This one does.
Well, be careful out there.
It's Sunday afternoon. It'll just be me and the ducks. No problemo.

How was the ride?
It was ducktastic! I left my zombie brain out there somewhere.
Did you ride a different bike?
Yeah, I took Bip, the steel mountain bike. 
There's some udon noodles left for dinner. You could put some of those crab ravioli in from last night, that should be pretty good brain food.
That sounds fantastic. Let me show you my baby duck pix. They were glowing in the low angle sunlight. Just floating along. Free and easy. That image might be useful in the coming week.

Get up. Go ride.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On The Salutary Effects of a Bicycle Ride in the Springtime

Indian Bend Wash rocks for effect only, not ridden on with the fixed gear bicycle

Sunshine: check.
75F temperature: check.
Warm breezes, fresh air, flowers in full crazy bloom: check.
Ecstatic birds: check.
Stressed-out brain needing some fresh air and bicycle riding: double check.
Bicycle: check.

Lots of folks rode bicycles to the BBQ festival at Scottsdale Waterfront. Guilt-free pigging out!

By waiting until later in the day, and then just riding and riding in the fresh air and warm springtime sunshine, I got some of the rejuvenation and recreation that I needed. At one street corner, about five people sat on bicycles waiting for the light to change, and I just wanted to turn right and squeeze past them to continue on down the bike path. To do so, I had to brush by the flower boxes which were overflowing with fragrant blossoms of brilliant red, purple, pink and yellow. I felt their petals brush against my bare leg as I floated through the clouds of their delicious fragrance. It was windy out there, actually beyond breezy, but the warm air and flowers everywhere made me not care at all.

I always enjoy riding by and through this great public art in Scottsdale

For whatever reason, maybe a certain sum total of miles, or just being too mentally beat down to think about it too hard, stopping the fixed-gear by pushing backwards with my leg power suddenly made sense to my hamstrings and knees on this ride. CLICK!! I used the hand brakes very little. I'm not ever planning to take them off the bike, but now I get it, in the physical sense of muscles coordinating in the proper way to make some physical action possible. It's a great sensation: those thigh muscles are among the largest in the body, and when they go to work scrubbing off speed by offering resistance to the rear wheel via the chain, it feels like they are being used for a task appropriate to their form, as if converting kinetic energy from my forward motion on the bike into waste heat to slow me down is one of the things they are actually good at doing. They got me into the forward motion speed situation in the first place anyway, so spending the energy back the other way to slow down seems to balance the books a little.

Pima Freeway lizards along "The Path Most Traveled", along with a few of the billions of wildflowers in bloom

I was a new man after this outing. I rode out by the aluminum horsemen of the deluge, or "Water Mark", as they refer to the horse statues in Indian Bend Wash, to see if they were spouting water yet. I've been back several times since the monsoon storm last October when water was running in the wash, but the horses were dry. 

Water Mark horses shooting jets of water out of their mouths: no check.

Still disappointed today, as far as giant aluminum horse statue mouth fountains goes. Oh well, the flowers sung my way, and my thigh muscles figured out how to be brakes. Get up. Go ride.


Friday, March 25, 2011

You Are Here (Now)

What I'm Hoping For

Some time between now and Monday morning when it's time to go back to work again, I am hoping to find or make a moment to pause on my bicycle in a quiet place to listen to the birds, and to my own breathing, and to be there in that moment and place and not elsewhere or elsewhen. A place with trees and warm air and near-silence. That would be quite a contrast with the week I have had. Stillness and quiet would be most welcome. And most achievable on a bicycle. Have a good weekend. Peace. Get up. Go ride.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bicycle Commuting: Fenders Are Fundamental

Fenders are required equipment for the bicycle commuter

A commuter bicycle needs fenders. I am not given to frequently employing unambiguous declarative sentences here, but there you go. I tried riding my bike to work for a few weeks without them, and even in Arizona, I would run into puddles, rivulets, and other forms of street water, and getting drenched from muddy water flying up your back in an unwanted and unwelcome rooster tail, and flying off your front wheel, and getting all over your bike itself, is a deterrent. But install fenders, and voila: anything short of a flash flood and I just ride straight through it. Having a rack and bag on the back also helps, but with a rear fender I save the bag and bike from all that slop. I'm sure everyone who has them already views all of this as simple and obvious. It is, once you unite the bike with fenders and commute on it regularly. But for someone who doesn't have them, and/or who doesn't commute by bicycle, the reaction, "fenders?" is quite natural. But their utility in this role is great. Now that I have them, I can't imagine commuting without them. Fenders fenders fenders.

About the photo: I'm not quite sure why the pavement is motion-blurred and the palm tree trunk reflection looks quite sharp. It's farther, and it's probably simple optics, but anyway the result is rather odd looking to me, and I like it. Fenders: get some. Get up. Go ride.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Umbrella Me With Otherness

Pavement imagines a bicycle

Monday's warm spring showers washed the day's dust off.
I paused at a stop sign to watch the cars roar past, headlights twinkling the drizzle.
I thought to take photos of their streaking passage, but the images did not please me.
This one did: my machine's image spackled across the pavement.
My watts kept me warm. My spin carried me home. 
The cactus and I had water running down our skin. 
I'm the one on the corner with a bicycle, catching raindrops on my tongue.
The cactus is the other one, shorter, greener, with more spikes.
Both happy with the spring rain.
A BMW SUV changed lanes on a quiet street with big puddles to avoid drenching me.
A woman in a black car reversed back into her driveway to let me know she saw me, recognized me, waved and smiled back, umbrellaling me with her dry thoughts for a damp cyclist.
Umbrella me with otherness. Hope at me in the falling water. 
Fire mirror neurons in an infinite regress of back scattered subliminal.
You. I. Get up. Go ride.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's a Zoo Out There, Don't Use Cable Locks

Insert bike into slot A, pivot bar B through wheels and frame into locking chamber C, secure with owner's padlock D

The Phoenix Zoo is a super bicycle friendly place. For one thing, you can take your own bike inside, and ride it everywhere, if you feel like it. I wouldn't recommend doing it on a crowded spring Saturday in mid-March, but on a quiet summer day, it could be a fun way to go and observe the different ways the animals beat the heat.

For another thing, though, there's these interesting bicycle racks. I don't recall seeing them other places, but then I don't exactly have a catalog of bike racks or anything. They've been here at the zoo for quite a while, anyway. The most interesting thing about them is that all you would need to lock up your bike here is a good padlock. No chain or cable needed! But the concept doesn't seem to have caught on, neither in widespread use of the design other places, or even people using their own padlocks in this rack.

Cable-locked in a padlock rack

Also cable-locked. Take a look at how many racks there are here.

At least for some bikes, those bars capture both the front and rear wheels, although for the bikes pictured, none of the owners chose to use the racks in this way, or else their bikes didn't quite fit, I'm not sure. But one thing I am sure of: those cable locks are almost useless, except for just-a-minute lock-ups to get a coffee or something. And I'm not sure how a good padlock inside one of these protector cages would compare to the security of a u-lock in a conventional bicycle rack, but I am confident a padlock would offer much more security than a cable. I almost want to print up cards to stick on bikes in racks, "CABLES ARE USELESS, GET A U-LOCK" or something along those lines. Maybe with a 'tube link to a video like the one below--not even a bolt cutter, just a brake cable cutter! Yeah, I had a bike stolen once locked up with a cable, and they left the cut-up cable behind just to teach me a lesson. Which I learned. Get up. Go ride.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reassuring Words to a Palm Tree Trimmer

Remain calm; all is well, continue working and consuming

Don't worry: generally speaking, shoe spikes and straps are very reliable.
Have no fear: climbing belts and tree straps rarely fail.
No need to check, all is well: your chainsaw is sharp enough that it won't kick back up there.
Chill out dude: those 20 mph winds are of no concern to you.
Bees? Nah, they don't bother palm tree trimmers, not currently, according to the International Beekeepers Commission.
Snakes, scorpions? Officials and experts confirm that there's nothing to be alarmed about.
Suffocation? True, it has been a danger before, but there doesn't seem to be any of that happening right now.
Dropping trimmed fronds and hitting coworkers, cars, children, or property? Experts on falling things have been interviewed, and watched video of these fronds falling. They indicate that they see no reason to stop dropping them at this time from this tree.

Something tells me that this fellow up in the tree wouldn't just listen to these words. He will check his shoe spikes and straps every time. He will secure his own climbing belt and only use it if it appears to be in working order. He will sharpen his own chainsaw regularly. He knows from experience that high winds, bees, snakes, scorpions, and suffocation, among other things, are real dangers to palm tree trimmers, and will take precautions. And he will do his level best not to drop the fronds on his coworkers, nearby cars, or people, not by using words to tell them that he won't, but by actually not doing it.

Take those words of reassurance up there, multiply them thousands of times, and publish them non-stop on Internet news sites and blogs around the world, and he still wouldn't just trust the words. In fact, repeated so endlessly like that, a drumbeat message that sounds so similar from so many different sources, he may even doubt them more. In fact, he may even begin to suspect that behind the message is something beside truth-seeking curiosity and the need to know. Stay calm, tree-trimming guy, keep working, don't panic needlessly. In our calculus of fear, you don't need to know everything right now. Go about your business. We'll tell you more in our own time. Right now, civil order, and the continuance of the normal activities of daily life, are a higher priority than needlessly alarming you about probabilities, possible outcomes, historic predecessors, or risks to you and your family and coworkers. No, the palm tree guy would not listen to the words of reassurance alone to prepare to go up that tree. He would verify everything he possibly could on his own, then proceed with caution, rather than going on trust. And the more mere words were repeated to him, over and over, the less he would trust them, I'm sure.

Current count of the phrase "no danger" on g00g1e news: over 3000. Check your own spikes. Verify your own climbing belt. Keep your own eyes open for bees and scorpions up there. Seek accurate data, and take care. Get up. Go ride.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

En Plein Air

With the fringe. On top.

In the comments in a recent post about canal-community connections friendly to hungry/thirst cyclists, I mentioned the Scottsdale Waterfront as the only other example I am aware of. On a day like today, in the upper 80s, single-digit humidity, and the scent of citrus blossoms filling the air, every ride is epic, all bicycles are vehicles of inspiration, and all smiles are full of possibility. I don't think that it's unreasonable or out of place to suggest that riding along and seeing these bikes in this spot on this day made me feel like this video. Get up. Go ride.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Populated Path Pictures

A common sight along the Arizona Canal

limom in a recent comment diagnosed me as showing empty paths. Well, here's some populated path pictures along the Arizona Canal, on a gorgeous day, where lots of people decided to ride their human-powered machines out in the sweet sunshine. Get up. Go ride.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drop Bar Blues

Back to drop bars you go!

I put the drop bars that came with my single speed back on in support of continued fixed-gear operations. I was going to shop around and go find some new ones, but then I spent a couple hours playing with different positions on the ones I already had, since I figured I already had enough crap, and found a setup I liked. The main thing I didn't like about them before was the low position of the hoods, so I mounted them higher and back this time, and then went for a test ride at sunset. My quads are crying right now so I guess the test ride was successful. And if anyone asks, I wrapped the bars asymmetrically on purpose, to make room on the top bar for my new headlight. I found that riding the hoods in this position was quite comfortable and natural for me. That's a more aero position than I could comfortably get with the flat bars, of course, and there's always the drops if I want more I guess. It may appear to some that those levers are too high with respect to the bottom of the bars, to which I reply: while elite racers may all fall within a certain narrow physical size and shape range, the rest of us come in different shapes, sizes, and levels of flexibility, and I feel pretty confident in saying that I may need different stuff, set up differently for my meditative spins than they do for their races. For one thing, I like my stuff to last longer than one race. But I do appreciate all the cool stuff they try out that eventually trickles down.

Some flatter topped bars like Nitto Noodles will eventually be procured

I'm looking at these as my transition bars. I rode the flat bars long enough on this bike to get a feel for what I liked and didn't like about them, and will do the same with these. The drop bars do offer several additional hand positions, and I mentioned I found riding on the hoods very comfortable when they are set up like this. It's a similar configuration to the brifters on my road bike, although those bars are quite different in being a more compact and ergo type. I was spinning to beat the sunset tonight, and while I didn't quite make it, I did pretty well. Oh, and I did leave the rear brake on the bike through this reconfiguration, because the freewheel is still flipped on the non-drive side and could be employed in case of need or desire some day. But man this fixed-gear bicycle is so quiet, I love it. Next up are some slightly quieter tires I think. I bought these slightly knobby tires for canal gravel path running, but I'm getting confident enough that I could go with some durable 28mm tires I think, and run in near silence. After the noise of the week, the hubub of the day, that silence is so very welcome. Get up. Go ride.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

29th Avenue and Unknown

Down there, into the unknown

A long time ago, I lived for an extended period in a foreign country which was so different from what I knew that what was actually going on around me at a detailed level was largely unknown to me. Initially, it was a stark and intense experience, to feel so cut off and alienated, and as time went by, of course I learned more of the language and culture and the separateness decreased. But, also, as time went by, I became more comfortable with not knowing, and for me, that was an eye-opening experience. I figured out that the intensity of the feeling of alienation arises from the way that we normally see ourselves against the fabric of the familiar culture and society around us, and when that fabric is removed and replaced with something utterly foreign and unintelligible, we can ourselves become lost and unknown. Without the familiar anchors, we're cast adrift. It's like standing in a well-lit room, then turning all the lights off, and feeling a sudden sense of vertigo and space.

It reminds me of an excellent work I saw at the Phoenix Art Museum called "You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies", by Yayoi Kusama. You walk into a pitch black room with mirrors all around, and little LEDs hanging all through the room. It's too dark to see much except the points of light reflected in the infinite field of the reflected reflections, and you, more or less a dark shadow, moving through and among them. It's entirely disconcerting at first, but then you grow accustomed to it, and being obliterated by a dancing swarm of fireflies becomes something delightful, or transcendent.

Which brings me to Saturday's ride. Mid-80s. Single-digit humidity. A light breeze. When you ride up to some of the tunnels along the Arizona Canal, you can look down and see all the way, or almost all the way, through them, and you know what you're getting yourself into. You can tell if they are clear, or if there is a family with a mother pushing a jogging cart with twins in it followed by two kids on tricycles. Some of the other tunnels are like this one, though, some more than others, where you just can't see. Prudence, safety, common sense, would dictate slowing the hell down, announcing your approach, exercising due caution.

On Saturday's ride, I decided to lengthen the normal route, yet still ride it at the same pace I usually do on the workout rides, which is fast enough so that I am pretty much spent when I roll up the driveway. Do that, but add six miles, see how that goes. At least the weather was perfect. This was just between me and the fixed-gear bike, nothing stopping us, no strong wind to complicate the equation. Only longer.

I tried to clear my mind, and as I hit my pace and kept going beyond my normal turn-around point, it seemed to me that my mind was clearing so much that I was forgetting myself. Not obliterated in a dancing swarm of fireflies or anything, just my mind slipping itself of itself for a little while. It gave me an overwhelming sense of not feeling tired when maybe I had an excuse to feel tired; it gave me the strength to keep going when maybe I could have easily invented an excuse to turn around. I kept going. And then I came to the 29th Avenue tunnel, when you can't really see what's coming. I just put my head down, and spun that fixed-gear faster and faster going down the ramp. I hugged the wall and dinged my bell, just in case, and plunged into the shadows. Somewhere down at the bottom, near the edge of that shadow, below the cyclist symbol, I evaporated and no one was on my bicycle. Just for an instant. When I rematerialized, the chain caught my clips and kicked my feet back into their circular spin. Where had "I" gone in that moment? 29th and Unknown. Get up. Go ride.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Under Construction But Aren't We All

New multi-use path tunnel under construction along the Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale

Indian Bend Wash, a green belt the runs through Scottsdale and serves as a flood control diversion channel, has had a multi-use path along at least sections of it for at least twenty-five years, and Scottsdale has made constant improvements and additions to it. Up until this project, though, you had to cross Hayden and go through Chaparral Park, because the path along the west side of Hayden Road stopped, crossed to the park, then crossed back at the north end of the park complex. I don't know the historic or practical reasons for it, but logically, I always looked at that section and thought that they would eventually put a path here because it would make sense to do so. And now they have (or at least, will have, once the tunnel opens).

New section of path along Indian Bend Wash, looking south (hope that's not too confusing). Whoosh.

The egret appears to approve of this path

Thanks, City of Scottsdale + residents + constructors for this terrific and logical path. I will express my gratitude by using it regularly. Oh yeah--have a fabulous Friday you slightly out there bicycling fiends. Get up. Go ride.

Brighter is Better

Fiat lux: let there be light! And the canal path was lit.

At the tail end of a product's life cycle, just before complete discontinuation, there's usually a short period of deep discounting to deplete stocks so that the new units, which are typically remarkably similar to the old units, can take center stage. I'm sure the new Eye Scorcher 9000s have features to recommend them, too, but price isn't one of them. When I saw the Niterider TriNewt at end-of-life closeout prices, I had to get one. Back when this model was $400+, that seemed too much for a bicycle light to me, and made the Magicshine and its brethren appear positively economical. But when the TriNewt showed up for just a little more than the Magicshine I picked one up.

I've had good experience with the quality and durability of previous Niterider lights, so that was also a selling point for me. In use, I found this one to have an excellent beam pattern: it illuminates everything in front of me very clearly, and also makes me very visible to cars, as well as other cyclists, pedestrians, and possibly airline passengers cruising at 37,000 feet.

One of the books I bought at the 2011 VNSA book sale, "The Complete Book of Long Distance and Competitive Cycling" by Tom Doughty (1983) (with Ed Pevelka and Barbara George), says this on p.30: "In general I advise against riding at night, because too many bad things can happen, most of them the fault of inadequate lighting on the bike." I did ride quite a bit at night back in 1983, usually late at night to get home from work, with no lights whatsoever. I believe my approach for my bike was "hide it in the buses behind the restaurant". I did try a few different versions of lights you could buy for bicycles then, usually feeble little filament lights that hardly seemed worth it. I still have an old Cateye that runs on two D cells that I could use for comparison, but there's no point since there's no comparison. This TriNewt with its LiON battery addresses the concerns that Tom Doughty raised about riding at night. It's going to be tough to get me to ever use a lesser light. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Spring Day on the Pima Road Path in Scottsdale


Looking north: to the left is Scottsdale, to the right is reservation land, and a ginormous new baseball facility for Spring training called "Salt River Fields at Talking Stick." The road is Pima, and it has recently undergone some improvements which include widening, and striped bike lanes. So, for several miles including the zone in front of the new sports complex, you can choose bike lane or multi-use path for cycling. I'm interested enough in why cyclists would choose one or the other that I may look for a good spot to set up shop one day to try to ask them about their riding choice. Some factors: the multi-use path is wide and sparsely populated (this photo is unusual in my experience), while that new asphalt along the road is sweet and smooth. Personally, I would prefer a bike lane to be wider than the one on this road, but it was painted on a road sandwiched between existing properties on the west and reservation / baseball stadium complex on the east, and I expect there were complex calculations and trade-offs to land on this particular configuration for the project.

The renovation of Pima Road also included some fairly subtle changes along the multi-use path, too. This path is well designed, and connects with the Arizona Canal and the Scottsdale greenbelt. And now it also can take you to a spankin new Spring training stadium. A game was just letting out as I was riding along here, and while the bicycle traffic was rocking right along, the automobile traffic was rather stuffed up, congested, suffering from a bit of post-nasal drip. Police from the tribe were directing traffic at the intersection to the south of this one, and they had their hands full. I waited at the MUP/street transition, and in due time one of them pointed at me and directed me across.

On a normal traffic day here, my perception is that automobile drivers usually see cyclists waiting at a red light to cross on the path, and will yield when the light changes and the cyclist has the GO signal, however: a cyclist who shows any sign of hesitation in heading across is taken as a signal for turning traffic to proceed. You have to be assertive. Which I am, so it works for me, but I do wonder about the less assertive rider waiting to cross here. It's the kind of quandary which arises at MUP-street transitions like this one. This path is straight, long enough, and empty enough that if you feel like it, and sometimes I do, speed is an option. But, while my confidence is high on hitting this intersection when riding on the road at speed on a green light and proceeding through the intersection with only a normal level of caution to check for cross-traffic, a green on the multi-use path intersection with the street still means SLOW DOWN. The alternative is dedicated tunnels, which Scottsdale continues to add at other similar crossings, but they are admittedly expensive. I took some photos at a new one going in along the greenbelt south of here, which are coming up in a future post. But, I will add that the advantages to a need-for-speed cyclist of a dedicated path tunnel are mitigated by the design features of these tunnels, like the new one at Goldwater Boulevard, which result in blind corners where you have to slow down anyway. Regular readers of this blog know that I have no problem with slowing down, and in fact advocate it in many different contexts for many different reasons. Impatience and needless speed are doubtless contributing factors to many a mishap. But I do wonder at the design decisions when millions of dollars are spent for dedicated tunnels so that path users do not have to wait to cross or be assertive when the light changes to get across, and then have to slow down anyway to check a blind corner or in case you discover suddenly as you emerge that you need to negotiate around a chatty group waiting to cross the other way. Connecting pedestrian paths could easily switchback to a place of mutual visibility rather than connecting at a right angle at the end of a blind wall, like in this photo (sidewalk coming in from the left). Which is not really how I intended to end this post but just go with it. Get up. Go ride.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Mysterious Route of the Raging Rhinos

What does it mean???

I was reading Jason Franz's latest blog post on Jackalope Ranch, Cycle: The Mystery of the Green Arrows, and I thought to myself, I have to keep on the lookout for green arrows sprayed on the streets on or near bike lanes. Maybe if I came across more of the green arrows, I could add to the discussion, perhaps helping to figure out what they are, or who put them there. Jason is sold on the idea that they mark bike routes of some sort, since they appear to point down bike lanes, and I have to admit that there is a certain irrefutable logic there. 

Unfortunately, my weekend rides around Scottsdale and Tempe turned up no new green arrows of the type referred to in the article. Possibly because I totally and purposefully avoided bike lanes all weekend. On my commute Monday, however, I did turn up an orange arrow of exactly the same configuration, pointing down a bike lane, and another at the corner, indicating a right turn.

The orange route goes right...but where? And why? And who?
Have you ever seen markings like this? Please tell me your theories.


They are Ultra-Rhino Muscle Psychosis Training Zone arrows. Until I learn differently. Get up. Go ride.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

as if we were young and days were ours

Know when and how to be cool

This weekend seemed to offer no time for riding. Full up with work, what can only be called chores, and necessary tasks put off until they can be delayed no longer: full of, just stick your tongue out, shake your head from side to side, and make the sound of a cat coughing up a hair ball. Packed with that.

But even so, I decided to pretend that I would find time for a good, hard ride on a perfect warm spring day. I quick-checked the bike, filled up a water bottle and stuck it in the fridge. As I did the chores, I slowly put on some bicycle clothing, set the shoes by the bike, and kept on working. Phone calls, emails, all that, but acting like there would be time. Make more coffee, power through the conference calls, put the helmet and cycling gloves on the table. A window for riding will open up before the day is through, I kept pretending. I imagined it happening while doing other things and feeling the hours ticking away.

They came for the swim
It was as-if thinking at its best. 

As if there would be time, 
as if I would soon be out in the sunshine spinning across the miles, 
as if I would be able to feel that chain direct-connected to the freewheel-less gear again, 
as if we were young and days were ours:
  • the endless possible and anything-goes
  • the sky is wide and what's over there
  • the earth is unknown and some place to see
  • the corner will turn and newness there
  • we'll talk for hours until the sun glows the sky-hammock purple
Then I levered the time-window open a crack and was ready to roll, an hour and a half of my own to ride. Go go go kid and the road is yours. Fixed gear operations have resumed. The dogs swim in the canals to cool down sometimes, and I presume that in their canine hearts when they hit the cold water and feel the current's flow that the moment is theirs and it's a puppy who shakes the water free from nose to tail. Get up. Go ride.

A glimpse of the infinite now in a dog's watery moment

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Goldyrocks and the Three Barrels

Cactus trio, at 80F, in the spring sunshine: and they were all like SPIKE!!

I think I grouched once here about a line of trees planted very straight and regular, and how it would have looked better if the landscaper had gone up to the top of the apartment and thrown beanbags from up there, and planted a tree wherever a beanbag landed. That still sounds pretty good to me. But, on the other hand, these three little cactii, planted carefully in their own little precise isosceles formation, while very regular in their own way, look just about right. Something about things in threes, I suppose. Here, check em out from a slightly different angle:

Goldyrocks and the Three Barrels

Oh sure, they are sitting there looking all confident, golden and relaxed when it's only 80F at sunset. Yeah, we're chillin, it rained a few days ago and we're good to go, full and round of spring's cool water, wildflowers sprouting up all around, pollen starting to fill the air. Four months from now, add 30F more, we'll see how smug and spiky you are then, we'll see. But in this moment? Here and now? Golden. If you hug these globular teddy bears very softly, the spikes don't hurt. It's OK, baby barrel: I'll squirt you with my water bottle when August burns. Get up. Go ride.

Friday, March 4, 2011

and the flowers were all like POP!!

I was riding home and thinking it was glorious early spring upper-70s weather, sunshine and short sleeves, and then the flowers were all like POP!!!

Just a few days ago I was wearing gloves and feeling cold on the ride in. We're still in for some weather ups and downs before the warm weather really stays, I'm sure, but this is a promising sign. Very soon, the scent of citrus blossoms will fill the air, and I will be pushed near and possibly over the edge again. In a good way. Ah, spring and the birdsong chorus. People locked up inside their cars have no idea. I may have to wear a flower in my helmet to celebrate the season. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Proper Interface Between Canal and Community

A bicycle rack, some trees for separation, a canal, some connecting paths

Too many times, I see neighborhoods and business turn their backs on the potential of the canals that cross our city. With fences, walls, gates, and neglect, people have turned away all too often. But consider one alternative. At Chelsea's Kitchen, a neighborhood restaurant and gathering spot at 40th Street north of Camelback Road, the path along the Arizona Canal is incorporated into the experience, embraced, appreciated, and also functional. Trees, flowing water, a gravel path, open air, bright sunshine, an occupied bicycle rack, parents pulling kids in a fancy red wagon: so much better than a cement wall, a bare parking lot, and the sixteen other kinds of generic visual hell that are not this. Put this into context: these bikes are not after-thoughts, not jammed in between the bollards and the garbage cans, they are included. Look at the space in this picture, they actually have breathing room in the form of a great open canal path!

Room to ride, room to park, room to breathe, room to spin around in a silly circle dance

The native plants landscaping is also a beautiful touch. This is a proper interface between canal and community, enabling, honoring, recognizing, supporting both. With bicycles, right there at the center. Get up. Go ride.