Sunday, July 12, 2015

A More Vivid Light by the Nighttime Shadows

Summer Sunday evenings the streets are nearly empty, and feel like mine

They are not mine, but they feel like it, these empty Sunday evening streets in the summertime. Although it's still quite hot out, once the roasting sun is set, the air gentles down to a softer feel, and the "dry heat" mantra starts to make additional sense. I hang close to the canal to feel the cooler breezes that sometimes float off it.

There's a compulsion to ride at night, alone, glancing at the lights reflecting off the canal, staring a little too long at Venus hanging up there brilliant in the sky. A light made more vivid by the nighttime shadows. As my sight grows accustomed to the night, I turn off my lights, and ride along in the darkness, running along the water. There's no time, there's all time, there's a volcano of time erupting around me, freezing me in the position of a smiling cyclist, sculpted in position for tourists to come and stare at, for all time.

Even if I don't blog for a few days to take a summer break, you can find me there, the volcanic statue of cyclist-me, down by the canal, my final expression: grinning, spinning, looking up at the stars.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

In the Grasp of Night

What a four second exposure of a dozen Segway tourists buzzing across the Soleri Bridge looks like

This night, monsoon brewing, I felt the night grasp me, power my ride, urge me onward.

Were they also in the grasp of night? Did they feel the lightning crackle? Hear the cicadas' poem?

Shaking off the weeks' peripheral concerns (the week that was, and the week that will be), I tuned into the cicada song that filled this night. Tailwind, canal-flow, night breeze, all were working in my favor, all working right. The car that sped up to the light that I ducked behind as if he wasn't there. The bike that disappeared beneath me. 

From the center of my bottom bracket, I affirm this night.

Still looking good, the golden tubes

Friday, July 3, 2015

Riding After Rains, Essentially Free

Riding after the rain, overcast and cool(er)

I worry too much. Too much. Like, wake up in the middle of the night worrying about it, kind of worrying. About stuff which, on examination, is minor. Logically, rationally, it's clear I should not do that, but whatever it is that powers that, revs it back up, and I start worrying again.

Often, riding the bike quiets that down. I think it's because I feel like I'm in the zone, the Csikszentmihalyi zone, where doing something with effort which is also good, meet. 

Sheep on the butte. He was all like, "No worries, mate!" (he's a zoo resident, but you can't tell from this side)

I was reading Elly Blue's fantastic book, "Bikenomics," before I set out this morning on my day off Tri-city Tour EZ spin, and came across a section where she points out that riding a bike costs practically nothing, particularly in comparison to other modes. That translated into the phrase "essentially free" in my mind, which I played with on this ride. 

Hunt's Tomb, a ready symbol of the anxiety of fate and death

First, there's the meaning most in line with Blue's usage, basically free of cost, no money was expended in the making of this ride. My 2005 Lemond should be fully depreciated by now, and other than tightening the rear hub last week, I wouldn't say there was any noticeable maintenance pre- or post-ride today. OK, there were some costs for food, etc, but let's go ahead and settle on no noticeable or required expense to ride.

Next, there's the meaning of essentially free to ride wherever I wanted to go. I set out, and thinking about the rains last night, decided to strike a route which would take me near, but hopefully not through, any mud or water aftermath. It worked well, but I went wherever I felt like, at whatever speed I wanted, stopping where I desired, and taking photos or watching birds, sheep, and lizards splashing in the mud puddles.

Desert version of a tide pool, just teeming with life when I stopped to study it up close

I also came up with the meaning of being free from oppression or injustice. This one felt particularly relevant on this July 4 weekend. I felt gratitude for this one, not living in fear, not trying to hide from power or might.

Also, essentially free of physical pain. This is an important one, too, as it hasn't always been that way, and I expect will not stay that way indefinitely. But on this ride, this day, I owned the zone of spinning my feet round in round in circles on the pedals and felt only the pleasure of muscles turning food into miles.

Finally, to bring some kind of balance to this post, essentially free from worry. The world did not change during my two hours on the bike, but perhaps I altered slightly. Something in the sight adjusts itself to midnight, and life steps almost straight, according to Emily Dickinson. The ride brings on the best sort of courage, the spinning, human-powered kind, wherein the self is affirmed, perspective is gained, any and all worries are gathered up and brought inside, shelved neatly where they belong, in priority order in the to-do case, ready to check off when time, opportunity, and the chance routing and timing of a freely chosen bike ride permit.