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Like riding through pudding

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Here are a few cycling-related thoughts going through my head right now. I’m hoping to have a big post about last weekend ready later today or tomorrow, but I want to hit a few other points first.

  • It’s hot. I mean, really hot. Temperatures are “only” in the mid-90s, but the heat index may approach 110 degrees tomorrow. I am having a really hard time riding in this heat. I tend to feel ill after spending too much time in the heat, and that’s no fun. “Fun” is the main reason I ride, so I’m really struggling to get on the bike right now.
  • It’s humid. I mean, really humid. I keep my road bike in the living room, and as soon as I walked out the door this morning, I saw water condensing all over my bike. On a positive note, my saddle felt cool when I sat down. To paraphrase Sarah’s boss, “Antler” Sharon: “It’s like riding through pudding out there.”
  • A cyclist in Indianapolis was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. This makes me very sad. I hope they catch the bastard. Is it just me, or are more accidents involving cyclists hit-and-runs than those involving two cars?
  • I took another look at the work they’re doing on 7th Street by the IU Auditorium, and I’m a little puzzled by what’s going on over there. There’s a section of road that was only open to pedestrians and cyclists. It’s been under construction since literally the day after the students left … and it’s still not done. The students return to campus the weekend after this coming weekend. Will it be done by then? Also, it appears what they’ve done is turned a straight, two-lane wide street into a narrow, winding path. I’m guessing they’ll put in some landscaping to make it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s far less useful. Cyclists and pedestrians will get in each other’s way. Everyone’s trip will take longer. Not a lot longer, but it’s sure to be inconvenient for everyone. What’s the point?
  • And finally, to the woman I saw this morning on the bike path: You need to leash your dog. This probably also means that if you’re going to ride your bike, you shouldn’t bring your dog. You and your dog are lucky that I am a cautious, diligent rider who saw the dog and didn’t hit it, and that I chose the passive-aggressive way of complaining about it in my blog instead of berating you.

Simplify

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Back in May, Sarah’s friend Julia came to visit. We spent a couple of hours with her cousin, Christopher. We went over to his place to hang out for a while, and as soon as we entered his kitchen, Julia spotted a sign that said “Simplify” in block letters. She started laughing and asked, “You have one, too?” Apparently, one of their relatives gave a “Simplify” sign to each of them. Both of them kept it, but neither seemed to be sure why.

This “Simplify” sign had a surprising impact on me.  I’ve thought about it a few times since then. Then yesterday, I looked at my bank statement online and felt stupid — “this transaction was unnecessary,” I thought. “This one, too.” There were several things on there that I just didn’t need. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much stuff is cluttering up my life.

Then, on my way home from work (I drove, since my bike had a flat tire), I saw a man laying on the ground and a cyclist trying to help him. I turned off on a side street so I could turn around and see if I could help. I turned around, and I was stuck at the intersection, but I could see across. A few people were trying to help the man, and at least two people had already called 911. The man appeared to be unconscious. He started to convulse a little bit. Moments later, he regained consciousness and tried to get up. Someone helped him to his feet. He seemed to have enough help, and I could hear an ambulance already, so I decided to continue on my way.

Another reason I didn’t stick around was that I knew I couldn’t do much. I don’t know much about first aid, and I took a CPR class back in high school, but that was a long time ago. I felt helpless. Fortunately, this guy already had people helping him, but what if I was the only one there, and I didn’t know what to do? I felt silly that I had worried earlier that day about my flat tire and getting a new tire and how I was anxious to get home quickly. Those things are so trivial compared to a human life.

I need to get back to basics. I’m going to make a concerted effort to simplify my life. I’m not sure yet what that will mean, but I need to figure that out. Two things I know it will involve are buying less crap and learning some first aid and CPR. Especially with all the cycling I do, and the hiking Sarah and I do together, I really need to know those things. Sarah said she’d take some classes with me, which is a great idea. I think I can get rid of a lot of the junk I already have, too. I have a lot of clothes that don’t fit anymore, and stuff I don’t use. It needs to go. I have two old bicycles I’ve been meaning to get rid of, but haven’t. I have no idea why, I just keep putting it off.

I’m hoping this simplification will help on several levels. It should help me save money, and I think having less clutter will make me more comfortable. It’ll be easier to find things if I don’t have so much junk to dig through. But more importantly, I have been trying to be more self-reliant in general, and I think that learning first aid — and trying to depend less on things I should be able to do without — should help me do that. I already feel more self-reliant from cycling. If my car broke down, or I crashed it, or something happened and oil prices skyrocketed even further, I could still get around. But if one of my loved ones got hurt, I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. That is unacceptable.

Sloth and parking

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

For some reason, I’m feeling pretty sluggish this week. Last week was a low-mileage one, I only rode about 75 miles. This week may be similar, although I’m hoping to get more mileage in by doing one or two longer rides.

I’m also at a standstill right now in terms of weight loss, which I know is related to my sloth, but it’s still frustrating. I weigh about what I did a week ago, I guess it’s good I haven’t gained any weight, but I stopped losing it, too. This is made more frustrating because I wasn’t exactly sluggish over the weekend, hiking over 8 miles and mountain biking 15. But that brings me to the other problem: it’s also getting harder to follow our diet because … well, I’m just hungry all the time. I thought this would get easier as time went on, but so far, it’s only gotten harder as I get hungrier every day.

Sarah and I rode to the public library last night, a ride that is mostly a subset of my commuting route. She hasn’t ridden much yet, so I wanted to show her a way to get to the library, where she has an internship. I don’t know if she’ll try riding to work or not, but I think she was surprised how easy it was.

I think Sarah wants to build up some more confidence before trying to ride to work, and I don’t blame her. It can be scary out there when you aren’t used to dealing with traffic. Hopefully, if we ride more together, she’ll get used to riding in traffic and learn how to do it safely. She did very well last night, the only mistake I noticed was that she rode in the door zone briefly, and she promptly corrected her mistake. I need to get Sarah a new seatpost or something — the one that came with her bike was terrible, so I replaced it with an old one I had on hand, but that one keeps slipping.

I took my mountain bike in for some service last night. The rear brake hardly works, it probably needs a new pad, but the shop had to order that. I also need to replace my saddle, as I bent the rails on my old one when I crashed on Sunday. The guy was trying to sell me on this $65 Specialized saddle that seems really nice, and he’s going to let me try riding it around the neighborhood first. I actually don’t mind spending that much on a saddle if I won’t have to buy another one for a long time. I just wish I could try it a little more first.

I’ve been observing lately an aspect of motorist behavior that baffles me, even as a motorist myself: people sure can be weird about parking. I started thinking about this yesterday as I pulled into the parking lot on my bicycle and found that the lot was so full that I could barely navigate it, even on two wheels. Cars were parked very close together, some even double-parked.

You might assume that they have no choice, but there is a parking lot with plenty of space right across the street — and we can get free permits (free to us, the company pays for it). If you get a permit, you’re asked not to park in the lots on either side of our building, and so are committed to parking across the street, but it’s not even a very busy street. I simply don’t understand why people would rather fight for a space right next to the building , possibly getting trapped, rather than park across the street with no trouble at all.

This also makes me think of people who will drive around for 20 minutes to find the closest possible parking space, instead of parking slightly further away and walking. What’s wrong with walking? Don’t people realize that in some cases, they’d actually save time by parking further away? Are people so lazy that they can’t walk a few hundred feet?

I’m just glad I never have to worry about stuff like this when I’m bicycling. I do still have to deal with the drivers who speed to a red light. Why the hurry to stop? If it looks like I’ll have to stop, I’ll slow down so I can keep moving at least a little bit, and hopefully by the time I reach the light, it will have changed. It’s easier to keep moving, even if only a little bit, than to have to put a foot down.

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