Haiku comes easy for me. I use the process of writing haiku to settle my mind, get focused, or just to have fun.
Today, I needed to run a quick errand. The thunder was already rumbling from a distance as the sky turned black. Rain was visible a few miles away and I thought I might be able to reach my destination in time and get back before the heavens let loose with another deluge. I was half right. I made it, but soon as I turned around to bike back… The Storm. And these weren’t any little pissant raindrops, either – they were full-fledged, fat, heavy raindrops that don’t waste any time soaking you.
The thunder was closer. The rain had come. The sun-blistered roads were steaming from the coolness of the rain. A slight, cool breeze blew.
Haiku. I biked home.
And the poem wrote itself.
“A picture,” I thought.
I ran inside, grabbed the camera and tripod. I set the timer to wait 20 seconds, then take three shots in succession. Boom, boom, boom.
The rain didn’t care.
The road became a river.
Did I smile? Oh, yes.
The 2011 South Bend Urban Adventure was a blast! For the 2nd year in a row, my cousin Christine and I ran / cycled / swam / rafted / slip ‘n slided / shortcutted / bullshitted / videoed / commented / connived / contrived / schemed and had an incredible time completing 24 checkpoints, biking 20+ miles, and attempting to win fame and glory on the streets of South Bend, IN.
It’s been raining the last 4 days off and on. I’ve been doing a test ride of a 2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno this weekend and wanted to get it out as much as possible. This morning, sitting dejectedly in the living room watching the continuing rain, I thought, “I can’t go out on the bike and ride! It’s raining! I’ll get wet! The bike’ll get wet! I’ll look silly! Dang!”
At some point, I started thinking, “Hey, dumbass! When you were a kid, did the rain stop you from wanting to go outside & play? What’s wrong with you? Are you gonna melt? Is the bike gonna break? Don’t you remember the fun of riding your bike through the biggest puddles? Good lord, what’s happened to you?!?”
That was about as much fun as I’ve had riding a bike in a long, long time.
I’m reminded that there’s nothing wrong with childlike thinking.
There’s nothing wrong with getting wet.
There’s nothing wrong with getting dirty.
There’s nothing wrong with doing things with abandon.
I don’t need to worry about what others think.
I don’t have to color inside the lines.
This may seem like a stretch for a guy who already pushes the envelope as much as possible, but even I get into a rut. An hour out on the bike in the rain, careening through puddles, feeling the water against my face, not worrying about my clothes, the bike, my hair, what others might be thinking… that was a refreshing reminder.
this is an email i sent earlier today to the teacher / mod of tonight’s #bikeschool tweetchat – this doesn’t give all the issues or details i’m dealing with, but it’s the thrust of the problem. posted here for background for the #bikeschool crew.
Long story to a short question:
I bought a great road bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November with several intentions, the main one being commuting the 7.5 miles from home to the high school I teach at here in Pensacola.
After 6 weeks of commuting (and loving it) I come to find out that I’m being targeted by a local gang that several students in my school belong to. A teacher at the school next to mine was severely beaten, bike destroyed, money, laptop, etc. stolen 2 years ago and left for dead in this neighborhood during his morning commute.
The problem: to go around this neighborhood makes it a 14 mile ride (one way) and takes me through an even worse neighborhood to the south. To the north is I-10. This neighborhood is bottlenecked through this gang’s territory and there’s no way around it.
I’ve searched high and low for sites with info on how to physically protect yourself while riding, but have found little to nothing on the situation I’m facing.
My wife, the school-based gang expert, the school-based sheriff’s deputies, and my vice-principal are all telling me not to ride to work. The teacher who was beaten two years ago says he’ll never ride to work again through that neighborhood. The guys at my local bike shop say a) carry a gun (no thanks) b) carry a knife (again, no) c) get pepper spray d) ride really fast and stop for nothing. (I should mention that being a high school teacher, it’s illegal for me to have a gun, knife, or pepper spray on my person on school property).
Dude – is there a solution to this problem that doesn’t involve not riding the bike to work?
i’ve been riding a bike since i was a little kid. fearless, reckless, i destroyed bikes & parts of my body in jr. high by not thinking about anything except having fun and taking risks while riding. as i gained as much weight as i did in my adult years, my riding declined to the stopping point until 2 years ago when i started to reclaim my health and lose that weight. i had bought a cheap Mongoose and now rode in the neighborhood up to 18 miles a day, but only for health.
i’m 42 now, 90lbs lighter, in a lot better shape than i’ve been in many years, and… i’m kinda scared.
i bought The Bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November ’10 with the intention of commuting to work, saving money, helping the environment, and continuing my journey to better health. when the commuting didn’t work out because of gang-related issues (another time / another post), i committed to using the bike as much as i could for errands, pleasure, short trips and riding to Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola Beach is less than 10 miles from my house as the crow flies. it’s a gorgeous drive getting there, and without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
the problem? to get to the beach, you’ve gotta cross the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a narrow, 3 mile long bridge that crosses the Pensacola Bay, is subject to some strong crosswinds, and can be a little scary to drive over depending on the volume of traffic.
i spent months looking longingly at that bridge from the seat of my bike. i’d make it to the bridge, then turn towards town and ride around there. i made all sorts of excuses as to why i was scared to cross it on the bike. i mean, seriously! look at how people drive across that thing! and what about garbage in the road? if there’s lots of trash, i’m stuck! and crosswinds? c’mon! my lack of balance due to hearing impairment is legendary! one burst of wind from the bay and i’m either pushed into traffic or i’m over the side and in the drink. let’s not even talk about the fact that i can’t wear my hearing aids when i ride, so can’t monitor traffic well! all i needed to do was keep telling myself these things and i’d be sure to not risk anything by crossing that death trap.
but then the jr. higher in me has been calling. and The Bike? oh, man. i honestly had no idea how awesome riding a bike could be until i bought a Klein. such a sweet ride! i had to suck it up, get past the fears and excuses, and just ride the damn bridge!
i enlisted my friend Chris Baskind to ride with me, soothe my fears, steel my resolve, and not let me back out.
and 14 miles after leaving home, we arrived on Pensacola Beach in one piece. and it. was. awesome.
that old bridge doesn’t scare me any more. i’ve ridden across it 3 more times since my first ride a couple weeks ago. i took my Flip UltraHD video camera with me and shot the crossing, sped it up some, added some smooth background music, and put it up:
as i’ve become more confident with riding and with my ability to monitor what’s going on around me while riding, i’m branching out more and feeling good about using the bike for more than just getting healthier.
i’m NOT, however, riding like a jr. higher. pretty sure i’d be dead by now if i were!
I’ve been commuting by bike for a little over 3 weeks now. I park my bike in my classroom on the days I ride in for a number of reasons, not the least of which is paranoia about what will happen to it parked elsewhere.
The comments I receive from students & staff are frequently funny or incredulous. The best exchange so far was both.
Student: “You mean you rode that bike into school?” Me: “Yeah.” Student: “Wait. You rode that thru Wedgewood [poor neighborhood near PFHS]??” Me: “Well, yeah.” Student: [after looking me up & down] “And you didn’t get JUMPED?”
*we all had a good laugh at this point*
Me: “Would you have been the one doing the jumping?” Student: “Naw, I don’t do that no more.”
my latest change in habits on the road to continued good health (mine as well as the environment’s)?
that, my friends, is a 2004 Klein Aura V road bike. she’s taking the place of that clunky old mongoose mountain bike i’ve been riding the last several years. she comes courtesy of chris baskind, a car-free, cycling-enthusiast, cool dude here in Pensacola who maintains www.ecominima.com. i had been looking at bikes, chris mentioned on Twitter that he was selling his Klein, we talked, he made me an offer i couldn’t pass up, and i’m now rockin’ the road on this sweet thang.
and let me just say this: i figured that a high-end road bike would ride nicer than a $150 wal-mart bike, but holy crap! i had no idea it would make this much of a difference!! i have had so much difficulty reining myself in sometimes while out riding – it’s so much more fun, comfortable, smooth, exhilarating… i could go riding on and on!
i’ve been cycling to and from work (7.5 miles each way) several times a week for the past few weeks and am LOVING it! i’m committing to commuting by bike at least 3 days a week (the other two days i cannot due to other obligations).
i look at myself in the mirror some days and say, “Whoa! WTF!?”
in 2006, after avoiding the scale for years, a routine doctor’s appt forced me to get weighed at check-in. when it hit 320lbs, i was floored. i made some surface changes over the next year and lost 30lbs by 2007. then stopped.
the past 18 months have brought many changes in lifestyle and attitude. i’m still getting used to some of the results.
all changes were made gradually and with much research and testing.
what did i do?
started biking (up to 20 miles a day)
made dietary & eating habit changes
started cross-training & aerobic exercise
started lifting weights
switched to minimalist running (Vibram Five Fingers)
added Chi Running
became a vegetarian
started commuting to work via bicycle
promised NOT to become religious about most of the above
i’m down to 230lbs now and continue to feel better than i’ve ever felt. i continue to look for ways to eat, live, and think healthier.
fad diets don’t work, friends. we’ve got to get off our fat asses, get active, really assess the decisions we make about our eating, and make some gradual lifestyle adjustments! it’s not an easy task, but for many of us, it’s a necessary one!