Rants on Cycling and on Life


anxiety on the road home
tonight I stayed a few minutes late at work
not terriblely late yet late just the same

each late minute late cuts into my potential personal time before I expect everyone to be home for dinner
not prepared dinner
gathering for dinner
selecting, deciding, preparing a dinner that I may be a part of
although it is a beautiful night I lack the urge to ride
it is a beautiful night on an unseasonably warm winter day
yet somehow my spirit was not drawn towards riding
but... as a bicycle commuter the option "not to ride" is not an option
the bike was with me and I needed to go home

the option of route and duration still held potential for variation

against my rideless desire I pointed away from home
started down M Street into georgetown
just a few blocks in almost to Wisconsin Avenue a whim redirected me
not feeling like doing the loop over the bridge into Virginia onto the Mount Vernon Trail
I did a u-turn on M Street and pointed towards the path on Rock Creek Park
this path is also the path leading me home
a path not as direct as the city streets but potentially direct just the same
once pedaling for more than 15 minutes my urge for home lessened the acceptance that a 45-60 minute bike ride was a good option weaved the paved bicycle path maneuvering past lightless runners avoiding fast head ons with oncoming cyclists
most with lights some with HID systems too bright blinding me on the approach
ontop of all that...
always feeling anxious about the cars speeding at fifty-five miles an hour four lanes thick just to my right

the cross bike was feeling good

the level of intensity was moderate
as the path does not permit much more
passed the asian man living under the bridge
passed the old cemetery on the hill
passed the section of woods where I dislocated my shoulder
passed a healthy young "co-ed" at the street crossing an dipped down towards the tunnel along side of the rear entrance of the zoo
opted not to look too closely as the light follows where I point my head
making a look or a glance appear like a stalker with night vision glasses

with a wall of tile just inches from my shoulder and elbow
as I made my way through the tunnel
I could see a couple walking into the tunnel coming towards me
the detour path through the zoo was closed and locked

the pollution filled tunnel was their only option

as I got closer I plotted my move
with darkness hinting at the absence of on coming traffic I popped off the curb and fit into the line of cars moving the same direction as myself

the girl gave a little hoot and a holler with approval
take energy where you can get it
I took that energy and took it up a notch

ignoring the Zoo exit which would be my fastest and most direct route home I continued on the road down Beach Drive

ignoring the notion of getting back on the bike path that meanders along side of the road
the rush hour traffic was thick

cars passed aggressively

with no computer it is hard to guess-ta-mate my speed

though odds are I was closer to being within the legal limits of the 25 MPH than the passing cars

the cars passed and moved in front of me

some cars moving obnoxiously close in front of me.... perhaps too soon

in the distance I could see that there was a line of stopped traffic ahead

the cars that passed me had closed in so close to the right that I could not keep up my pace

passed a few cars while measuring the side view mirror at my shoulder and the gutter of obstacles at my front wheel
with an opening I cut to the center line watching for cars ahead looking to see who each driver was in each cockpit as I passed
wondering if they intentionally blocked my path or if they just drive without thinking

as I reached the front of the line the timing was good the light was about to turn green
I slowed in anticipation
always ready for that last set of cars to run the red light
always ready for
that car looking to jump the gun making an aggressive left turn ignoring the no left turn sign

moving steadily forward having now officially passed my house I notice that my headlamp has died
still blinking on the front and the back
but no headlamp
the car behind me lights my path

through this light and the cyclist enters a part of Rock Creek that is less unusual to have cyclist riding upon it
a few blocks forward the road splits
the three splits in the road free up some of the cars behind me
the car immediately behind me is timid about passing
the car immediately behind them is honking
so my spidey senses tell me by the distance and intensity of the repeated honks

the car is not following too closely
they are pacing behind me
it is a paradox
as much as I appreciate their caution and concern
there were several places to pass
which would have eased the pressure from the following line of cars

this stretch of road is a wonderful winding path
a canopy of trees overhead
the creek with all of its rocks that give it its name
yet without a headlamp there is not enough comfort to enjoy the ride

only as long as I am being followed do I have light
as the cars pass I lose their white beams and can only borrow their tail lights
if a another car follows
things are fine
if there are no cars behind me
complete darkness

in no time at all a handful of cars pass
the car with the horn
the cars behind the car with the horn
there I am
panic strikes as I see nothing but black
my eyes can not make the adjustment fast enough
a car in makes the turn headed my way in the distance
I am fine
still in my lane
still holding the right path

having injured myself several months past has raised the anxiety about crashing
at this moment there is no "Lost Boy" rock and roll vampire emotion as I dip in and out of the darkness
nothing but stiff parental fear

this patern of lights to lightlessness continues
as it gets later it gets darker
deeper into the path at the stop sign at the top of the hill I turn back
would have loved to have pushed it to the Mormon Temple
but the lightlessness of it all was too much anxiety for me
so at the stop sign I made a U-turn thinking I could reel in a well lit bicycle commuter who I had seen going the other way

not so
the transition from back lit to lightless was too sketch
it was sketch enough unable to read the pavement
never knowing how deep a crack would be or how may sticks and branches lie in my path
there was no way I would catch this guy with enough time to ride his lights home
sure enough
he always remained a turn ahead until the final turn home
we exchanged hellos
shared my dead battery tale of woe
mentioned the traffic
mentioned my efforts to catch him
then raced into a black wall of darkness of the final hill home

arrived home
no boys, no dogs, no wife
the leashes were gone
could see our cars out front

only when it was too late did I smell the pizza in the oven
the boys still ate it
even if it was "well done"

lisa went out to grab some carry out for us
after the boys finished we worked on building a two loop Thomas the Train set up
with the large maple blocks we build a series of tunnels
both four year old dean and two year old grant made significant additions
although I did nudge grant;'s blocks after each placement

that is enough now
there were books, books, and more books
then arguements about going to bed
I am tired

best I go and charge my lights
next time I know that I should not try to get two commutes home on one charge

level components
this afternoon I took a walk at lunch
had the camera
tried to find some cycling subjects to shoot
met a cycling guy named Reed
Reed just not involved in messenger work but hs is also involved in component design
he works with LevelComponents

pictures of reed and his trackbike to come
he did a few nice skids for me
but honestly.... I fumbled with the settings to do the multiple shots
did not manage to work the technology
did not get the sequence I was looking for

cool product
cool concept
if more people thought like this
the world would have a greater chance of having a cool future
xtracycle blog
extracycle product

book of lists
list of books
as I have not read that many books it should be easy to make a top five list

Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Nabokov Lolita
Kerouac On the Road

hold on...
that is not my top five favorite books of all time that is my top five favorite books when I was 20 years old

throw in

Katherine Dunn's Geek Love
Salinger's Nine Stories
something by
Hemingway... a collection of short stories will do

top five favorite adventure books

Into the Wild/Into Thin Air


The Perfect Storm
Goran Kopp's My Everest Adventure

a friend of a friend of a friend has this project
not sure that we need dumbfind if we have google
but it is interesting just the same

johan is a bicycle blogger in sweden
not sure about this image
but to me it looks like there is a song in his head
a song that possesses him so that he must dismount his bike and dance

maybe a dance
maybe he has toured so many miles that he no long desires the revolutions of the cranks
so he hammers out a bit with the legs extended
that is an experience I have put myself through each and every time I have toured

guess I tour thinking that I am in a race
while I race like I think I am in a tour


not one toaster, but two
not positive, but pretty sure
looks like I no longer have the only toaster on the block
it was only a matter of time
it was certainly bound to happen
the time has come
the time is now
now there are two honda toasters parked on my street

cyclist circles back for the pedestrian

not only does he work in still photograph
but here are some of his films

(if you only view one... this may be the one to view)

lists? This American Life
list your top five episodes of This American Life
not sure if I can list five off the top of my head
but. if someone were to talk about an episode
I most certainly would recall it and know how it effected me


this guy is headed to seattle to tell people why he hates seattle
so.... he is having an essay contest to see who will take over his blog

and unrelated
Martino of BIKELANEDIARY in Canada sent me this link to DC Lollipops/metropops

the bike
been doing some riding
trying to get back on the bike
doing some post work rides
some rides longer than others
usually not much more than an hour
as an hour is all I can afford

worked the late shift the other day
allowed me to drop my older son off at school
walk the dogs for longer than usual in the morning
then did around an hour and a half in the cold wind
it was good to get out for more than an hour
good to see how tired and slow I actually am

some other bike stuff brewing
still need some parts to finish my fixed gear project


had some recent communication with the creator of a new product
got it a week or so ago
the weather was warm and balmy
hardly becking full finger gloves
the temperature has dropped
currently I am riding my cyclocross bike with dropbars
need to try these things out
will let you know how they work out

harold and maude
the hunger
just to name a few from my Top Five "dark" films

a clockwork orange
mad max/road warrior (can I count that as one)

there were movies that as teens we watched over and over and over
that would be a different list
even if some of the films would be repeated

top five war films
the deer hunter
apocalypse now
dr strangelove
hold on..... Star Wars?
and Spaghetti Westerns?
would have to have a top five westerns list

top five westerns...
yes I know I have not finished one single list yet

I love lists
list shows
list conversation
personal lists
fatmarc and soiled chamois started me thinking on lists
fatmarc had made mention of his top five movie list
then jason of soiled chamois mentioned The Smiths in his Top Five Song Lists
which had me thinking
but nothing had me thinking so much about lists until my iPOD put out THE SMITHS Rubber Ring
what a great trip back
this classic tune had me trying to create a list which then became two lists
then morphed into a labrynth of great music related experience
when the song ended I wanted more
but the iPod was on shuffle and my glass of wine was upstairs

upstairs also my crisper cleaner digital cable along with a few remaining pieces of holiday chocolate
red wine and chocolate goes on a list of decadent pleasures that occur too often

now back to my tangent... The Smiths in 1985 at Warner Theater must rank in my top five concert/shows in my limited experience concert/show experience
which tangent hops to Bryan Ferry... not a top five concert... although amazing with Johnny Marr at Constitution Hall.... but not top five
although Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls has to be top five make out albums of all time

thne a Lolapaloosa would rank up in a concert/show experience but maybe more about the good time or the time of the life than the music on stage itself

let me google myself
I most certainly can jog my own memory with a little search for gwadzilla lists
but before that.... I still can not believe that Fatmarc's movie list did not JESCO: THE DANCING OUTLAW
okay, if I am going top five and I may only want to include one documentary
I find that I gave a list of my thoughts on MUST SEE DOCUMENTARIES
so if I have only one documentary maybe Jesco gets the boot from BARAKA
hold on...
Ken Burn's the Civil War

this list idea needs more time

a stroll through farragutt park introduces me to bernard and george
each of them relaxing as the clients take lunch

a simple request....
make a complete stop with your car at stop signs
stop your car at the stop line
you may get rear ended by the car behind you
you may also make the road safer for the women with a stroller trying to cross the street

as for bikes...
view it as a yield sign
always giving others their right of way and the same respect that you would ask of another
in my world....
it is more about common courtesy and common sense than the law
the law and law enforcement exist because people lack common sense and common courtesy
(try ignoring the law.... live by the notion of common sense and common courtesy... chances are you will exist more within the law than before)

we never grow up
young old.... it is all the same
petty high school relationships are no different than many adult relationships
people still lie, cheat, and steal
there are adult in groups and adult out groups
people will go to their graves trying to bge cool

the other night a good friend of mine stopped by out of the blue
as it turns out he was doing some pre-spring spring cleaning
he had a few bins of toys
there were blocks, blocks, and more blocks
then some play mobil indians and tee-pees
some very cool stuff

the boys were totally excited
they showed their appreciation by ignoring the adults and escaping in the imaginary world of desert
as presented in miniture by play mobil cacti, rattle snakes, horses, and indians.... indians complete with head dresses

after dinner the indians were put away and it was onto the large maple blocks
funny to see the boys
each child knows the pleasure of building a structure
each child knows the pain of having another destroy that structure
neither child can empathize for the other enough to deny themselves the pleasure of breaking someone else's structure

adults are no different....
no one wants to be buzzed on the crosswalk or on the bicycle by a speeding car
yet... so many of us do it
no one wants cars to be speeding excessively in front of our house or our home
yet... so many of us speed by other people's houses and homes

it can all be so frustrating...
how do we educate the children to empathize?
how do we educate the adult children to empathize?


so many times I mention that blogging is more than writing
blogging is reading other blogs
blogging is searching randomly about blogs
blogging is being turned onto other blogs
blogging is being turned onto different ideas

reminded me that canada is cooler than the usa by sharing this
most people view MTV CRIBS as their personal UTOPIA here in the states

while my old friend gibby took me down memory lane as these images reminded him and me 3,200 miles away from each other about the C&O Canal

from the gwadzilla archive some rants about my efforts to ride the c&o canal in a day
(sorry if you have to wade a few short posts before that story)

saw Kevin Dillard (a contributer to messenger-esque demon cats) walking home from the fitness expo
did not see his camera
nor did I see his bike
but it did look like he scored some swag
not entirely sure of the photo credits
then again I am not entirely sure that Kevin was coming back from the Fitness Expo
he could have been doing most anything that a person does on a sunday morning in the winter


blogging, a whiskey and coke, and the distraction of cable television
perhaps a little reread of this last post may aid in allowing this to make sense

Bike Rodeo at the Fitness Expo

this weekend a portion of my saturday was spent working the bike rodeo at the nbc four health and fitness expo at the dc convention center
it was a wild little scene
not just the bike rodeo but the fitness expo as a whole
this convention center experience is a part of city culture that would not occur for me to investigate had I not volunteered to help out with the waba/city bikes booth

first trip to the new convention center
first trip to a health and fitness expo
the whole thing is quite a scene
booth after booth after booth giving out a key chain that will never get to meet a set of keys
all sorts of free pamphlets that may never get read
wrist bands to causes that people don't even know

that said
there were free flu shots, cpr classes, cooking classes, fitness, safety booths
there were consultations for quiting smoking
there were free massages
heart and blood pressure tests
there were climbing walls and emergency vehciles
Home Depot aprons and a wooden craft project for holding a potted plant
still not sure what home depot that has little to do with health or fitness
but they had a great little craft set up with the highlight of that free mini orange apron for the kids

it was vast
a labrynth of health and fitness
guide dogs and face painting
raffles, roulette wheels, virtual longest drive, and other fair-esque fun
there was food
there was safety
there was education
some food for free
some food for sale
there was performance
there was competition
there were games and play areas
there were corners of the convention center room that I did not touch upon

the whole fitness expo was a two day affair
two full days of free fitness fun

saturday was my day to do my part with the folks of WABA
that is... the washington area bicycle association
it was a little bit of local whose who in bicycle advocacy
i was one of many small people in the presence of some pretty active individuals
phil koopman co-owner of city bikes was sharing the word of commuting
scott scudmore of more was working a position I was going to fill in the rodeo so he could go back to the booth of a cycling not for profit that slips me (but it will come back to me, was it bikes to the world? no?)
then of course there were some waba heavy hitters, dorcas and maggie to name a few

quickly I tried to fit in
some handshakes
some hellos
some explanation of the rodeo course and the rodeo routine
in minutes I was on my way

with pride I was wearing my city bikes wool jersey as I worked with other rodeo volunteers to try and get a rhythm
there were people handling waivers
there were people handling helmets
there were people organizing lines
there were people handling people
there were a few of us maning various points of the rodeo course
somehow in the evolution of the morning I moved from post to post
finally finding that I worked most efficiently working moving along side of the kids for several of the rodeo stops
with the kids who could ride I ran along side of them and barked orders and encouragement like it was an agility training event
when there was time offering a second loop with less guidance and only encouragement
there were kids who could not ride without training wheels yet were on bikes without training wheels
there were others that had to be caught before crashing
handbrakes were new to many
at least one child rode without training wheels for the first time

each kid was a quick little puzzle
first get a read of their personality
then get a read of their ability
inform them about the bike
inform them about braking
verify their understanding of hand brake only
then reexplain the course
on the first pedal stroke... re-evaluate their ability to ride a bike
adjust accordingly

eye contact was good and safety was stressed
no one went to the ER while I was on duty
not even me

the kids seemed to have a good time
I definitely had a good time

after my efforts at the rodeo ended I lent a little time to Phil's commuter section of the booth
tried to preach the word of the bicycle to those that would listen

it was a windy ride cross town to get there and back
not enough distance to really call a ride
but it was most definitely windy
it was most definitely cold

sunday was a little different
this time I was not there as volunteer
this time I went to the convention center with my two boys dean and grant
we went early after a breakfast outing
while lisa went to yoga then got to walk the dogs
after a warm breakfast at the adams morgan diner we went to the convention center
it was there that we learned that we were not the only early birds
it was difficult finding a space
but not absurd
difficult just the same

the morning into the afternoon was killed wandering around from booth to booth
running from tall fish with feet
running to the clowns making animals with balloons

coaching the boys to be polite and not grab
teaching the boys to be thankful when they were given the swag from each booth
allowing the boys space where they found interest
luring them away when I felt it was time to migrate to the next booth or activity

a good way to spend a cold windy winter day
lisa got a kick out of the polaroids from the got milk booth
lisa got to go to yoga and hike the dogs for a bit in the woods
the orange home depot aprons were worn well into the late afternoon
vanity mirrors, pencils, magnifying glasses, stickers, tattoos, condoms
free samples of things I am not familiar with all got poured onto the floor
as the boys searched their baskets for forgotten treasures
a few pieces of candy
a blow up beach ball from the circus booth
each piece junk reminded me of part of the day
and maybe will act to remind some people of health or fitness
the fireman's helmets came out after dinner

City Bikes DC