Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Know What Comes Next: Humans Are So Predictable

This sign requires no caption

When I saw the sign in this location, I knew what was coming next. Construction code, or standards, or traditions, or union rules, or whatever, compels them to erect this sign in this place while performing certain lane-blocking construction tasks, I get it. Right behind my picture-taking position, a high-speed resurfacing operation was underway, ground off the old surface on Monday, finished the repaving on Tuesday, and moved on. Very slick operation. 

But while they work, they have signage traditions that must be upheld. So they stuck this NO LEFT TURN sign in a place where not making a left turn leaves you in an inconvenient spot. Going straight doesn't get you anywhere, unless you are a cyclist willing to cut through a loose gravel alley and up onto the canal path (me, once in a while). Going right, then turning around, sure, but who wants to do that? So when I saw the sign I knew what was coming next. I just took out my camera and waited.

After I crossed straight, then went up the sidewalk, I felt that an amendment to the sign is required: EXCEPT FOR BUSES, BICYCLES. Aw yeah. Get up. Go ride.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Discouraging Summer Cable Fable

Found next to canal Monday

I've said it before: don't use cable locks. Even so, I don't like to be proven right. I imagine the story went something like this, it's not hard to guess: after a hard day at work, guy walks out the door to get on his bicycle to ride home. The first thing he notices is that it's 114 degrees in Phoenix today. The second thing he notices is that his bicycle and cheap cable lock are not where he left them. What's next, a two hour bus ride? Call a friend who doesn't get off work for another hour? Walk in 114F? 

This is probably a good place to insert my helpful little yellow card (too late for this guy though):

Even though we're hitting our summer heat zone in Phoenix, I run into people who commute by bicycle because they want to, because they enjoy the ride. I wouldn't want someone who is not discouraged by this hot-as-blue-blazes weather to be discouraged by a theft due to the old snip-snip of the useless cable lock. Think of it: this next picture doesn't discourage someone, but the first one does.

Fresh-ground asphalt, ready for resurfacing on Campbell today, reminded me of a BBQ grill

In my version of the summer cable fable, of course, the guy meets a girl who works in a bike shop who replaces his lost transportation, falls in love, likes the girl too, and uses a U-lock for ever and ever. Get up. Go ride.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Flowing Through a Hot Rock Garden With Cactus

Summer heat, hills, rocks, cactii, solitude at Dreamy Draw: a perfect combination for a yin-yang flow ride

Chieko Mori and her koto music may seem like an odd choice for accompanying a video of a Trail 100 mountain bike ride in Phoenix on a blazing hot summer day. Allow me to explain.

It's been a few months since I hit the trails on my mountain bike. But I got the itch for rocks and bumps, and knew that I would have the trail pretty much to myself due to the heat. I drank a lot of water beforehand, and also on the ride, and even with that, the 107F heat was almost too much. I'm not quite used to it yet, and as the video shows, my selected ride starts out with an uphill I-think-I-can chug that I have never really enjoyed as a ride in itself. But as a necessary gateway task to get to the better part I do enjoy, I'm willing to use that granny ring and seek a working relationship with heat and gravity. It proved to be a challenging relationship though, this day: on the way up the hill, sun verily beating down on me, I felt how long it has been, and how I'm only partly acclimated to the heat this early in the season. So I slowed down, pounded down the water, and started seeking flow and balance on the ride, rather than speed.

Add to that my current reading choice, Before the Deluge: The Vanishing World of the Yangtze's Three Gorges by Deirdre Chetham, and you can understand why I was thinking about my old friend The Tracker statue, which is located just south of this mountain preserve, and is gazing in the general direction of my ride. 

Statue of a guy pulling a boat along the Yangtze River, looking at my trail area

Take a look at Chieko Mori playing her koto. At the start of my video, below, the two ideas seem very far apart, the hot rocky spiky trail ride against the delicate music of the koto. But, in the end, as I do my best to flow like a river through the swoopy turns of the downhill stretch to Tatum, and particularly at the end of the trail when I set the camera down and show myself emerging, it feels more coherent to me. The run down Tatum past the oleanders is just for fun.

The rocks of the trail and the cactus lining its sides, with the heat beating down on me, would all initially appear to be working against a feeling of flow and ease, right? It would be very understandable, expected even, to emerge from this ride dehydrated, bloody, tired, and beat. But in fact I felt quite the opposite. As if it had gone by very quickly, as if the ride at the end was smooth and easy, and those elements of nature were actually working with me, or I with them, understanding how to be in harmony with them, how to be near the cactus and ride over and around the rocks in the searing heat as parts of the whole. If you fight them they bite back. So I just roll them and think of koto music.

The zen moment was at around minute 8 in the video when the only other bicycle rider I saw out there rode by. She greeted me with a cheery "hello," and flew on by. I did not give chase. I thought of giving chase. But this was the yin-yang heart of the ride: one cyclist alone out there is in the zone, but meeting another does it become a race, like the old saying? I guess that depends on what music each is hearing, alone, at the moment of meeting. Get up. Go ride.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Bicycle Commuter Perspective: New Stoplight Timing at 44th Street and Campbell

As a bicycle commuter known to try out different things to trigger lights, as well as using a stopwatch to time them, I notice when the timing of stoplights change. The repaving of 44th Street in Phoenix has, at least temporarily, resulted in what seems like a change in the stoplight timing with great advantages for the bicycle commuter. In the video above, I show how well it works. This video is representative of what I have experienced on my recent commutes, too: I now have enough time to make it to the turn-off before being overtaken by northbound traffic. These few extra seconds are HUGE. Compare it to my previous video below.

It seems that there are 10 to 20 more seconds in the cycle, which is more than enough time to make the turn. I wanted to be super-accurate about this timing, but since it was a Saturday morning, picture me in a low-caffeine state rolling up to a stoplight trying to activate the stopwatch, take a photo of the sensing loop, make sure the camera was recording, and watch the light and traffic to make a safe turn. I succeeded at the essentials except for careful timing. So the 10-20 second observation is based on reviewing the video, as well as my subjective experience this week. Adding in 20 seconds to the light is all that is, or would be, needed, that is clear in the videos. I hope that it stays this way, but my uncertainty derives from the ongoing construction in this zone. The extended timing may just be while they finish the repaving and repainting. 

Here's the same zone going back the other way, for comparison, also on a Saturday morning. At rush hour, it's a much more frantic turn for a bicycle commuter, for sure.

Southbound shows the significant differences. That entering driveway about 2/3 of the way through, the five lanes of traffic to negotiate, the odd angle of the intersection itself all come into play. The video speaks for itself, I think, just one more thing to show you:


Finally, a rear-facing mount I am happy with! Gorilla tape firmly holding the supplied mount to my rack is the perfect solution for me for this camera. I've tried many different methods, and found this one to be the most satisfactory. It is stable, firm, removable, and shows very little vibration compared to the others I've tried. Get up. Go ride.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soleri Bridge Summer Solstice (+1) Solar Noon, 2011

The sun, directly aligned with the pylons at solar noon

Business travel prevented me from wandering through the Soleri Bridge and Plaza with my parasol on the summer solstice itself. However, I am fortunate because the sun moves very little in the sky from one solar noon to the next around the day of the solstice, according to the Wikipedia article: "The days before and after the solstice, the declination speed is less than 30 arcseconds/day which is less than 1/60th of the angular size of the sun, or the equivalent to just 2 seconds of right ascension." Which is great if you happen to want to check it out on the day after the solstice, not so good if you are an astronomer, navigator, or calendar shaman trying to figure out the exact day and moment of the solstice. The difference is probably not discernible with the human eye, is what that means.

The formula for the solar angle at zenith on summer solstice is refreshingly simple, and gives the angle of a pylons of the bridge which were designed to match it: 90 - latitude + earth's axial tilt angle. Which gives a figure extremely close to 80 degrees, at this latitude, with current tilt.

On this blazing hot (112F eventually, a hot dry bicycle commute) day, only a few of us turned out for "Soleri Bridge Solstice + 1, 2011": me, and a few of Soleri's entourage who appeared to be there to talk about it in front of the camera (I may add the link here if I come across the video).

Pylon shadow a few minutes before solar noon

Shadow shrinking...

Almost gone...

Solar noon: when does a lack of shadow cause a smile of appreciation?

Photographer between the pylons, illustrating several solar phenomenon simultaneously

Camera tripod solar noon crosshairs


We are right to mark the passing of our too-few days, the changing of the seasons, the orbit of the earth around the sun, even the varying obliquity (axial tilt of the earth)(Wikipedia again): "ε = A + B sin(C(T + D)); with A = 23.496932° ± 0.001200°, B = − 0.860° ± 0.005°, C = 0.01532 ± 0.0009 radians/Julian century, D = 4.40 ± 0.10 Julian centuries, and T, the time in centuries from the epoch of 2000 as above. This means a range of the obliquity from 22° 38’ to 24° 21’, the last maximum was reached in 8700 BC, the mean value occurred around 1550 and the next minimum will be in 11800. This formula should give a reasonable approximation for the previous and next million years or so. Yet it remains an approximation in which the amplitude of the wave remains the same, while in reality, as seen from the results of the Milankovitch cycles, irregular variations occur. The quoted range for the obliquity is from 21° 30’ to 24° 30’, but the low value may have been a one-time overshot of the normal 22° 30’" 

In the year 11800, 9789 years from now, the angle of these Soleri Bridge pylons would differ enough from the zenith angle on the solstice due to the variance in obliquity that they will still throw a shadow at solar noon. To any blogging astronomer cyclist of that year who happens to want to visit the bridge to see the pylons in all their shadow-free momentary signifying glory, just beam over here earlier or later, when the solar noon is about 1 degree lower in the sky. Now, I don't actually have any idea at all if this bridge, bicycles, blogging, or Scottsdale itself will be around 9789 years from now. However, I do hope they still have parasols. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Turn I Always Miss

Looking out at the turn I always miss

There's a clearly marked sign: UNDERPASS -----> with an arrow pointing down here. Even though the sign itself is obvious, though, to my eye, the turn itself blends into the background, and more often than not, I ride past it. Even though I've ridden it dozens of times. The rest of the TCT route, I could ride with my eyes closed, I know it so well, but for some reason, this turn, which is just before Tempe Town Lake, I ride by it. Next time out here, I think I will just ride by it on purpose, and keep going, to see where I wind up. Sometimes, you have to listen to those subconscious agents, to try to find out what they want. OK you guys, I'm riding, I'm riding, where the heck are we going now?


However, in this case, I have a feeling the subconscious agents may be deceived, or just plan wrong, or absentminded at best. Because when you take the correct turn here, and go through the underpass indicated by the sign, you soon encounter the Indian Bend Wash nature viewing area, shade structure, and watering spot, which is much-needed and very welcome as the desert summer weather comes around. This Most Dependable Fountain stands stoic, waiting to provide crucial resupply of water most dependably. I tested it to make sure it was still working dependably:

A most dependable fountain, functioning within nominal operating parameters, intended for humans, with secondary provision for dogs at ground level

There's also a doggy dish at the bottom of this unit, which fills from a button on the opposite side. I saw a guy watering his dog in the TOP bubbler, though, (tip of the hat to my Wisconsin readers), holding Rover up to the nozzle while Rover lapped away. I love dogs, and know that pet owners smooch their own pets all the time, but I didn't feel comfortable with this particular strange Rover's oral bacteria transferring to my water bottle, and knowing that there's an excellent refill station just a little further along the path by the lake, I skipped it. Yuck. Just yuck. I tested the doggie bowl down by the ground and it worked just fine. I considered filling my water bottle with the doggie fountain, but just shook my head and laughed at the backwards way things turn out when you are delayed two minutes by missing a turn you have no good reason to miss. Perhaps the ground here was too hot for Rover's tender paws. I believe he was riding in a basket, and I can sympathize with tender paws. Get up. Go ride.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Am Gravity's Cat

One of 600 tiles in "Words Over Water" at Tempe Town Lake

As I read some of the tiles in the "stone book" set into the top of the wall while cycling around Tempe Town Lake on this week's semi-extended, hot weather edition TCT, this one struck me square in the neurons, and I decided immediately: if water is gravity's dog, following it everywhere, then I am gravity's cat. Me-ow.

This looks like a John Randall Nelson, of Anthropomorphic Bicyclist fame

Gordy's shot of this on his Tri-City Art Ride post reminded me that I wanted to head down to Tempe to see some more of John Randall Nelson's sliced up signage art. My usual TCT route most often takes me around the North side of Tempe Town Lake, but  seeing that picture on the sprockets blog inspired me to ride the length of the south side of the lake, straight into a hot 103F, 5% humidity 15-20mph headwind. Riding across the river / lake on the Rural Road bridge with that wind blowing straight sideways disconcerted me. Ever feel like that, riding next to a railing, looking down at a river or freeway below a bridge, and the wind gusting and shoving you around a bit, with cars wizzing by on your left (separated by a low wall in this case, but still)?

Unless the hot crosswind just blows you off the Priest Drive bridge, then at least try to land in the water

Today the wind was my neighbor's dog. Not the stoic, silent, wait-for-master by the front door type of faithful companion, but the big, slobbery, jump up in your face and knock you down and smell you in embarrassing places type that ends up ripping your new jersey with his untrimmed front claws. Not on purpose, he means well, and he's just being a dog, but, yeah. And the kicker is, he couldn't swim if his life depended on it. Someone needs to teach that dog how to doggie paddle.

This came in handy today, very cold water, acceptable taste and no odor. You can even take a sink bath
if you like a mid-ride freshening up.

Gravity's cat likes to let gravity think it's the master. It rubs up against gravity's leg, purrs, and flops down on the carpet at gravity's feet, rolls around playfully, and lulls gravity into a sense of peaceful ease, then BAM! Out come the claws, and gravity doesn't know what hit him.

Of course, it also occurred to me that I am mostly water, although a constantly decreasing percentage on a dessicating ride like this one, so I am mostly gravity's dog, although I'm not certain that chemical content transfers metaphorical sense. But I am most definitely not gravity's female dog, at least not on today's ride. Even in the heat, the moderate hills that I rode around Papago, I told gravity: I am not your female dog. I am your kitty cat. Which caused gravity to smile, and rub me behind the ear before pouring me a bowl of my favorite kibbles. Mmmm, gravity kibbles. Get up. Go ride.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quince, Jerome: The Breakfast Spirits Rise Up!!

We had breakfast in Jerome, Arizona, at Quince (keen-say, Spanish for 15). While not immediately bicycle-related, we did see three devotees grinding up and over the mountain, which presents a combination of elevation gain, narrow roads with tight switchback turns, and automobile traffic that is not for the faint of heart or the fragile of spirit. The route is popular with a certain hardy, spirited road cyclist for just those characteristics. Check it out, and grimace:

17 miles of spirit-sapping delicious mountain climbing

Art for sale in the bathroom, possibly a view of the inner struggle of a cyclist grinding up Mingus Mountain

These are reputed to be customers who left poor tips

Me, I just drove up for breakfast. The food at Quince was outstanding, inspired by New Mexico, faithful to its origins but also interpreted into something unique. The breakfast burrito was fantastic, constructed around a chorizo of mountain-scaling power, and covered in a perfect green chili sauce. Many breakfast burritos I've eaten have been very good and very filling, jammed with potatoes, eggs, onions, and various meat products, and I think of the good ones as dense packages of power-punching flavor to fill an empty belly. Quince's breakfast burrito was something else entirely, though, possibly like dancing with Salma Hayek: hot, tasty, ineffable, you never want it to end. 

Unlike cycling up Mingus, I imagine, which has to cause you to start wondering what you've gotten into, somewhere around mile 11. I may give it a try some day. Cycling up Mingus through Jerome, I mean. Dancing with Salma Hayek is pretty unlikely. Although I've heard they crank up the music at Quince on Friday nights, and with food and decor like that, I suppose anything's possible. The pancakes were also excellent, fluffy and silly-huge, and the scrambled eggs with cheese blend also made me want to go back for more. And, it would not be complete if I didn't mention that the coffee was excellent, with top-notch service, too. Master Chef Valdimir Costa's cuisine left me feeling ready to do the impossible. 

Quince: one more thing to love about Jerome. Get up. Go ride. 

Skullies in the window next door

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why salmon why? Goofin around with the 808 keychain camera

This was shot with my 808 keychain camera mounted on my handlebars. Anything I would say in general comments or evaluation of the 808 would pale in comparison to the excellent sites which have made the species something of an obsession: ChuckLohr (amazing),  The Real #11 thread on RC groups (the camera I'll buy if I get another of these), and HD808 #11 on Techmoan (review). But I will say a couple of specific things about this model on a bicycle. (and thanks to David Hembrow for first bringing these to my attention)

Handlebar mount: it's small!

Size, cost, and weight are the main positive attributes for cycling. I think the strange sound once I get going in the vid above is actually the wind buzzing the mic. And the lens is kind of narrow and causes the cars to look a little closer than they really were. 

In use, its controls are bizarre, at least to me. One button pressed turns it on, causing the little yellow indicator light to go on, then pressing the other button starts recording, turning the light OFF. So you can't tell by looking if it's recording or not. Also, if you turn it on but then don't hit record right away, it turns itself off after one minute to save batteries. Therefore, you need to double-check the light is on, which is hard to see in daylight with sunglasses on, before you hit record, then you don't know if it's recording or OFF when you look at it again. In addition, I think, although can't be sure because of what I just stated, that this one sometimes turns itself OFF while recording due to vibrations or bumps in the road, not that you would notice that based on the light. Actually I think it's really taking a JPG still because it goes into that mode when you press the buttons a certain way, then powering down. I think I could tell that if I could see how the light flashed when I pressed the button but as I said it's hard to see the light in the sunshine with sunglasses on. Anyway, for $20 (+ bring your own memory micro sd card) it works pretty well, and is fun to play with. The video is so-so, for sure, but it looks like I'll have to upgrade to the HD808 #11 to do better. The top video was shot in what is low light to the camera, although not to me. Here's a video in better light.

If you have to have one, then both ChuckLohr and the RC Groups sites above list sources, just make sure you read up on the subtle differences in order to have a better chance of receiving the one you want. It's cheap electronics which may work but caveat emptor. But for $20 and pretty good quality, and not a tragedy to lose or break, and probably worthy of further bicycle experimentation. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Go Outside, Why Ponder?

I think I shall ride my bike and sleep on the ground somewhere...

We look back and remember: what the "outdoors" may have looked like, way back when

Those of us who like to go outside once in a while, or more often, for a long walk, or bicycle ride, in the sunshine and free air, perhaps to have a long think or just to relax, face increasing doubts about our habits, bordering on outright hostility toward the very notion of "going outdoors." 

All the longstanding reasons or excuses for leaving your home are almost gone. It's only a stubborn, antiquated, and energy-wasting urge that compels anyone to venture outside anymore. Everything, and everyone, you need, is right at your fingertips, on the screen in front of you now. You're on the verge of the One-click Life(TM), why would you want anything else?

Work (telecommuting, remote work, telepresence), shopping, finding your true love, watching movies, everything you need is right there, all books (or at least the popular ones that matter) are now in electronic form for immediate download. Everyone you ever knew or need to know is on F-book, everything you've said or need to say is on the Tweeter, everything you need to know is trapped somewhere between g00g13 and the Wikipædia. For exercise, you can order the Z90Insane-Pump DVD set and break yourself in front of the big screen with death metal or nine other sound tracks to choose from. The world's music, art, history, culture, available for immediate access, each note, brushstroke, and historic fact with its own IPV6 address. 

Vices? Any one you can think of has already been done, thoroughly explored to its ultimate implications, photographed, and indexed, just type it in, there's probably an online community who have been there, done that, made the vinyl tank top. Here let me generate a UUID for that thought.

And pondering? A long, slow think that travels from point to point and stops when it needs to check references, recall a long-forgotten image, reflect on a friend's late-night strange thoughts that now seem very relevant years later, or stop at the library to try to find a particular reference after asking the librarian for assistance? Dude, just tweet it. Check the meme-er-verse, it's already been u-tuberized (1423123 views). Email is so 10 nanoseconds ago.

One possible alternative to resting inside four walls / metal boxes

Ultimately, sooner than we dream-dread, robots will be able to handle those last few irritating reasons for having to venture beyond the home pod. The reasons for the robots themselves to leave the yard will be gone. Once your robotic preferences, configurations, and relevant experiential data have been parked in the cloud, even your closest helper-bot can stay close to home and use its virtual extensions to "do" things at other locations remotely. The doctor, dentist, and hospital will come to you on demand robotically. Home birth with a robot presiding who can be anything from the world's foremost OB MD to an ancient earth mother midwife.

A UUID for your thoughts?

I've noticed that the more I ride in traffic, the more comfortable I get being very close to cars. It's probably a mistake, I know it, but so far so good. Today, on Scottsdale Road, at rush hour, I did a little lane splitting and rode at a medium speed forward between cars waiting for the stoplight. Every car, every one, the driver was alone, and talking on their cell, or texting while creeping forward. One did peer at me through the window, and telegraphed the thought, "man, it's like 105F out there, you must be hot on that bike," so I smiled back, and did my best to radiate deep thought, zen balance, and steely grace as I coasted by, and telegraphed back, "man, it's like soo inside in there!" But I think his attention span had already flitted to the next thought, and I was but a fading impression on his overworked and multitasking brain. Tweet!

Long languorous attention is good. Long languorous rides are good. An arduous hike up a barren rock is good. An out-of-control rip down a rocky twisting singletrack trail with cactus ripping at your legs is good, especially if it's 110F. And a good book recommended by a dedicated librarian is the best. I mention these because in a few years, when no one goes outside, ever, when even the house robots peek through a crack in the curtains with trepidation, someone will retweet this. For old time's sake. Get up. Go outside. Ride.

the UUID for this post is feb442d8-3e41-4da2-965f-2891b82e502d. Don't forget it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tempe Town Lake's Crossed Tied-Arch Bridge

Span 3 ready to lift

A bowstring, or tied-arch bridge, handles the horizontal outward thrusts of the arches in a tie beam, or the deck itself, at the bottom of the arch. The advantages of taking the horizontal forces in tension in the tie are that the bridge can be assembled and then dropped into place, and the supports only have to handle the vertical downward forces. These rubber dam abutments or piers probably have enough to worry about without having horizontal bridge forces pushing sideways on them, too.

The arches of this one also cross, which promises to throw some graceful and interesting shadows on the bridge deck. I wonder what a time-lapse of the shadows would look like as the sun crosses the sky. Or are there going to be tensile shade structures within the arches? Some of the renderings show them. (I searched for "crossed-arch bridge" because that's what this looks like, but got a bunch of dental information back instead.)

Time flies when you're building bridges

This TCT was on the last of the moderate temperature Arizona mornings for a while, I imagine. That's good in my book, though, I'm ready for the bright heat of summer to arrive. Technically, this was an extended TCT, since I ventured up north in Scottsdale to have a look at the wall destruction along the 101 before turning back south again to check up on the bridge progress. Honestly I was just looking for, and found, any excuse to ride a little longer. When they get this bridge finished, I'll inaugurate TCT2 with some even-longer route that crosses the new bridge. Not sure if I will be able to swing the time-lapse though. Get up. Go ride.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Goose Rules in Effect

Without signage or paint, boldly they crossed

I saw the birds up ahead on the multi-use path, crowding, queuing, you go no you go. When a break in the six lanes of traffic appeared, the leader boldly stepped onto the pavement. But I could hear the cars coming. About a quarter mile back, without looking, bicycle sense tingling, I could hear them coming, accelerating away from the light. Then I looked. A wall of cars, still accelerating, geese still crossing. So I set the bike on the grass, walked into the road, and waved. There were two or three seconds when I could tell the drivers saw me, but were not happy about the unexpected intrusion, and thought maybe it would just go away, and their acceleration continued. But they calmed down, I heard them slowing, a few brief honks, and everyone stopped. The geese themselves were both silent, no panic honking, and moved waaaaay toooooo slowwwwww. 

They were still in the middle of the road when the cars arrived. The people in the cars figured out why I had waved at them and seemed OK with it, generally. One person did honk at the geese but the birds appear to have been deaf. They crossed over the median at their slow, stately waddle-pace, and I couldn't watch because another line of cars was coming from the other direction. You might argue that there are too many geese out there anyway, pooping all over the place including the MUP itself yuck, but I also thought that it would be nasty from the automobile perspective to plow through geese at 45 mph so all around it seemed like a good idea to warn the drivers. I believe it all worked out OK this time, but as I rode away I couldn't help but wondering if it wouldn't be better for everyone (birds too) if those geese would just flap their lazy butts up in the air and fly across the road instead of waddling. Get up. Go ride.


Friday, June 10, 2011

That Which is Held With No Hands

no hands were used in the riding of this bicycle

I rode a significant portion of my commute with no hands on Thursday night, riding along singing REM tunes. On an empty street and still, warm air it felt like what to do. Life is bigger. I don't recommend riding regularly with no hands, but I also rode a couple of miles today with no helmet (forgot it, running late to meet someone), too, so, yeah, just a little letting loose was occurring. Through the traffic circle: no hands. Left at the turnoff: no hands. Waving and smiling at the woman riding the other way, her beaming back: one hand waving, no hands on the bike. Hell, I was waving at cars. CARS. One beeped a happy beep back.

The no hands riding experience gives you a sense of what balance on a bicycle really is. I put my hands straight up in the air for a minute, why not? This warm pre-summer desert air wrapped around me and I closed my eyes just for a moment. Three pedals, one, two, three. That which is held with no hands: now? Here and now? More at balance, everything beautiful in its time. Then it slips away, it all does, the next moment arrives full in itself, though. With no hands you're riding like a river over rocks through riffles down to the sea. 25 years ago I imagined what this would be and I think this is actually as I imagined it. Delusions for a fool. But her smile across the street was no delusion. That was a real instant. Actuality. With no hands. Get up. Go ride.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Love the Smell of Asphalt in the Morning

It smells like...bicycle commuting. Get up. Go ride.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rumble and Scrape

A Wirtgen W 2200 cold milling machine doing its thing: what it sounds like when 100,000 pounds of machine is rolling along on tracks scraping up pavement.

Let's get ready to rumble

What he left behind
This was just about the loudest, noisiest, squeakiest road machine I've heard working in a long time. Maybe ever. This massive, 50 ton cold milling machine is grinding along peeling off the top of the road so they can put down a new top. It's kind of hard to ride a bicycle on this, so I took the sidewalk option, but still road on it to cross the street. The scraping seems to have shredded the detection loops for the lights, which actually worked to my advantage, since they seem to have known it would happen, and just set the lights to change on a generous timer. 

New surface coming here
In a rational and well-planned world, they would put down sweet rubberized asphalt here, followed by sharrows, or a bike lane. I say that because this is my personal pet peeve stretch of Phoenix road, a primary and not easily bypassed connector marked as a bike route on the maps, bordered by a semi-busy sidewalk that's not really a good option, and populated with five lanes of traffic moving at 50 mph. I'll check it out when they're done and report back my findings. Get up. Go ride.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

When You Miss Now, Then, and the Future All At Once

Scenes from "River Now, River Then, River Future" along the 202 wall next to Tempe Town Lake

This freeway needs a unicorn chaser...hey! it has one!

Butterfly riding: I would

School zone

Space-tastic walk

All the references I checked say this wall decoration, all 545 eye-grabbing feet of it, was completed in 2000. I wonder if it wasn't removed for maintenance or something, perhaps covered up with bushes to give me an excuse for not seeing it, I don't know, I confess I don't remember seeing it before. Maybe this particular 545 feet of my ride are usually where the endorphins or dehydration set in and I usually blast past. Anyway, wow. Get up. Go ride.