Saturday, May 30, 2015

Nightacin: for Summer Desert Cycling, Take 1 Daily

Take only as directed

When summer comes around, the hundred degree Phoenix days, although they have their charms (less people! empty trails!), commonsense dictates earlier, or later, rides, with later usually winning out with me. 

Flying along the canal at night. I go way, way back with that. An early mountain bike, a Huffy I think, and not a bad bike really, with a 2D cell dim headlight. Way back. 3x6 18 speeds I think. More of the canal bank has pavement now, and lights, but still, I love the darker gravel sections. Something about that sound at night. The water running, the cool-warm-dry air, the occasional thousand Mexican free-tailed bats running along with me, very few other people. 

Tonight was all right. A good night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Freedom to Roll Together

I'll redefine anywhere

I remember once hanging out on a warm spring day in Tempe waiting for a movie to start. The afternoon was a perfect temperature, sunny and clear, blue Arizona skies and a slight breeze, and several hundred other people were just doing the same as my friends and I, just sitting in the open air, enjoying the enjoyment. 

Then these aggressive security forces started wandering around the crowd, seeking out certain people. To be specific, they were looking for homeless kids to hassle. This was in the days before the anti-spanging, anti-panhandling (a.k.a. anti-free speech) ordinances were rolled out, so the security forces were relying on the anti-loitering ordinance to roust out the homeless kids. The white shirts patrolled through the crowd of people sitting in the sunshine looking for homeless kids sitting in the sunshine, and proceeded to extract them from the crowd of us loiterers in that public place because they...well, because why? It's bothered me ever since.

In part, it may be out of the notion that excluding certain types of people from public places will lessen illegal activities that are, rightly or wrongly, associated with those types of people. Take the signage above. This may be in place because...well, because why? Whatever the illegal activities might be that might be associated with certain groups or types who like certain pastimes, aren't the laws against those activities enough deterrence and enough of a tool to fight those activities? Arrest people who break the law. Don't make more laws to break.

Back when I saw the PLEASE DON'T JUMP WALL sign, part of me wondered why not, while another part of me wanted to jump that wall that I never otherwise would have thought of jumping. The other side of the wall was just a dead-end street, nothing in particular clearly prohibitive of jumping the wall once you got over there, so perhaps it was something about the wall itself not withstanding a constant barrage of wall-jumping. It did look pretty fragile, and maybe its maintainers were getting sick of fixing it. Still, after fixing it once or twice, if that's what the problem was, I think I would have used stouter block.


Right after taking the skateboarder photo, I was nearly run down by a city vehicle crossing an intersection of the bike path. At first, I felt guilt for not being exceedingly vigilant about all traffic all the time, about not WATCHING OUT FOR VEHICLES, but then I thought, hey, I had the right of way, the intersection is unmarked, and I was already in the middle of intersection when he almost hit me, who was actually in the wrong?

Here are some alternative imperatives for consideration of the aggressive sign-makers, law-passers, and people minding their own business hasslers:


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Turn and Look in the Shadows

Ride in the light

Turn, and look in the shadows. What's revealed, what's discovered?

I rode through a row of trees casting a tunnel of dappled shadow. A dove vectored in, and paralleled me in flight close enough that I could read individual feathers in its tail as it matched my speed. Its wings whispered "Versailles, Versailles," in rhythmic beats.

At the side of my vision I caught a tiny motion. I turned, and there by the side of the path was an impossibly tiny boy scraping at the hard dirt with a shovel three sizes too large for his grubby paws. The path bank was rutted from the rains. He glanced up at me, smudged face and gappy smile, raised the shovel over his head and roared. Turn, and look in the shadows.

Seven baby ducks like brownish downy puffs full of wire and rubber bands paddling madly against the current. 

I don't have a checklist. I don't owe anyone anything. This different relation, this different conversation, like leaf shadows moving across a grid of beam shadows, being and becoming, those pillars hold up, and the fence contains, and the wires convey power, and the waters run wet and cold to dissolve and enliven the baked mineral lands, but the ebb and flow holds me in the moment, caught there in the shadows, rolled on muscle and steel, and life I know just then is something more than what we see and yet understand.

In a breath I hold, turn and look to the side. A bunny, munching the morning grass, freezes and looks back at me. No harm but harmony. 

Mama pulling a baby trailer rolls by. I imagine two eyes gazing out at me through the mesh window. A mind in there with neurons coming into being, joining and gathering a million times a second. Gathering light. Gathering information. Gathering the world up, to hold and mold into a self that's becoming. The other way, I turn and look in the shadows, and imagine the dappled light there throbbing like electrified strings of essential heart: if a poet-engineer had all the time, and space, and quiet that she needed, she could code up a new thing that would lift us above everything we think we know now. My art, my hope, my heart sings like that is possible. That it will be so. Maybe not for me, but for the kid in the back of that bike trailer, and the boy with the giant shovel, and those wired baby ducklings, some new love and hope dappling shadows purely, and everyone sees.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Duck Path Metaphors

Room for all, courtesy and compassion. Duty of care.

This morning's Quartz (link in image below) included a story about a path marked specifically for ducks along a London canal. I had a relevant experience with the restaurant-connected mallard shown above. I think they give him handouts occasionally, so he kind of hangs around waiting for the good stuff rather than scooping up half-decayed vegetable matter from the muddy canal. I can't blame him.

Duck path story from Quartz. Click image to go to story. #sharethespace

I can hear the literalists' cry already: oh yeah, that'll work great, what about a lane for the neotropic cormorants? To which I reply, one of those would be good, since they would line up in an orderly fashion, and I could paint blue marble eyes on each cormorant silhouette. 

I've been spotted. It seems he may not yield. Sharing is imminent.

The duck path is a metaphor, of course, one thing meant to stand meaningfully and provocatively for something else, something more, something greater: #sharethespace, in the vernacular. As I rode by him, he did not yield the center of the path, and seemed to sense that I would ease my way around him safely. He chortled at me in his little duck voice, so I chortled back at him best I could. I passed by near enough to note the texture of his glistening blue-green head cover, marking its sheen and small irregularities. Perhaps he noted my irregularities, too. Unique beings, passing one another in a specific moment, alive and experiencing in peace. I do not think I was wrong to feel a momentary deep affection for him.

I noticed that right after I passed him, he turned his attention back toward the restaurant, waiting patiently.

Monday, May 18, 2015

People on Wheels: I Want to Be There

A Spring day along the canal path

Eyes like blue marbles sparkling in the sun (1)

Eyes like blue marbles sparkling in the sun (2) (cormorants)(I think)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Three Spring Canal Things

Ducklings! I have about 56,000 pictures of baby ducks, here's one

White Amur Carp near the side of the canal. Info (and dreamy reflections) here.

Stray public art. I'm drawn to things floating away to the sea unintentionally.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Peace Love Happiness Hope Bicycles

Nice chalk, tunnel wall!

Since it was a dry (5% humidity) perfect Spring day for a longer ride, I got a bit carried away and just kept riding around today. I had a scheme, an experiment, if you will, to go for a long spin on a dry mild day without carrying water, to measure my water weight loss. There are several familiar water stops along the route of my Tri-city (Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe) TCT tour, so in case I started to notice any dehydration issues, I planned to stop and tank up.

But on this glorious, mid-70s day, no issues whatever. I did 24 miles in an hour and a half, and lost just shy of 4 lbs in water weight. I expected a bit more, but that was based on previous measurements I've done in the summer, on much hotter rides, so temperature is as expected a significant factor in water weight loss. 

Along the way, I diverted to my thinking spot. I was once again drawn to it. That spot has been the location where several momentous decisions were made, but I didn't think I had one to make today. I went anyway, to see what would happen.

Once more to the thinking spot

When I arrived, it was a scene of peace and tranquility. I offered up a small prayer of peace, love, hope, and safety for all cyclists, said amen, and just sat a bit, resting and soaking it all up. Instead of making a decision for change, I thought, what about using the spot for appreciating the now, for offering thanks for the right-here. So I did that, too, and it felt just right. Then the model drag boats cranked up, and that was just right, too.

A model drag boat ripping through the water making a tremendous racket

I flipped the camera selector to SPORTS mode to force a faster shutter, but it wasn't exactly brilliant sunshine, so it was hovering around 1/500th--enough to slow the boats down quite a bit, but not enough to totally freeze them stock still. I considered fiddling with the settings more, but this photo seemed good enough for blog.

Suddenly out of nowhere

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a group of Hawaiian shirt-wearing (some leis too) cyclists appeared. It was such a nice day for riding, they seemed perfectly natural to me. In fact, there should have been thousands of them out there, rather than a dozen, to match the riding perfection that was the day. Perhaps they were a party on wheels. I wished them all Peace Love Happiness Hope Bicycles, and rode on home.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Minor Scenes from a Sharaonic Legacy

Recently discovered by the OSG Institute of Street Anthropology Exploration team: sharrows on Osborn Rd

Let my people ride. In the days of the sharrows, there were sometimes signs painted on roads which encouraged cyclists and motorists to share the Way. On quiet streets with calm minds, this often worked well, although on busy roads with harried participants it sometimes got tricky, the Way less certain. 

A little farther west on Osborn, black paint is erasing the evidence of the age of the sharrows

But, as with everything, over the years the sands of time slowly blow across these ancient signs, gradually fading the memories of the age of sharrows. As fade the sharrows, so drift the days of our lives...

Then, when Osborn intersects with 40th Street, one can also witness the fading remnants of a greenish bike box, which is being bleached by the Arizona sun, and fading under the constant passage of unseeing tires.

One riding past blotted out sharrows might be surprised to see the extant bike box along the Way