Ten idle thoughts occurred while biking

Blessings on those who put coolers of ice water along a trail, who are responsible for mowing the verges, who had the foresight to acquire unused railroad grades to make trails, who resisted the urge to clear the growth along those trails, who have taken the time and materials to further add native trees and plants along the trail. A tunnel of shade is a treat on a summer day’s bicycling.

Enjoy both uphill grades and headwinds (wheeze!), that’s what the pedals are for, and downhill grades and tailwinds (whee!), that’s what the saddle is for, and may they always be in that order.

You can do it. I did. You won’t die. I didn’t. Just be a little in shape. I think I may have been. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Passing another bicyclist is a big deal. I’ve bee startled and have startled. To be truthful, the most fun I ever had was coasting between two older folks blissfully pedaling and chatting away. I just said a friendly “Hi!” I’m surprised they didn’t cuss a blue streak after they recovered from their fright.
Anyway, I’ve learned to holler “Bike on your left” when passing another.
It’s gotten a little tougher letting some folks know you’re there, what with earbuds and all. Flare gun?

There is one thing that will tempt me to don ear buds and plug in, a head wind and an upward grade. There’s nothing better than a driving musical track to help motivate. I recommend U2. AC/DC will do in a pinch. If you are by yourself, with no one else around, I’d recommend singing along with the cast recording of Hamilton.

Beans and bicycling (not to forget walking and running) are a combustibly hilarious mix. “Nuff said.

I’m amazed at how homogenous bicyclers can look, especially the more experienced. Oh, there are lots of colors, but the “in” crowd, when all dolled up in cycling garb, look alike. I expect it’s a matter of function, but I wonder. I can go 36 miles (maybe not 75) in jeans, which breathe, boots, which support my ankles, helmet (all of $19.99 worth) and t-shirt. I’ll get looks, too, although the majority of them express something other than admiration.

A corollary to the previous thoughts is the tendency for folks to think that expensive bikes are better than less expensive. While I wouldn’t suggest a person go out and buy a dime-store bike, I also wouldn’t suggest that a person should spend as much as a small car, either. In fact, an inexpensive steel alloy bicycle with one speed and a freewheel (a messenger-style ride) will get a rider around a lot of places. If, on the other hand, rides of 100 or so miles are in your future, you’ll do well to look at at little pricier model, At that level, though, training, conditioning and nutrition are even more important than how much you spend on a bike frame.

Ride in the a.m., as close as possible after daybreak as possible, in a well-wooded or heavily-prairied area. The bird song alone will make it a glorious ride. And, the morning air is cool and bracing.

I’ve met biccle riders who, similar to runner, get in a zone in which they perform better than they thought they could. That’s not me. I’m always ready to nod at persons whizzing past me or coming towards me. I’m always ready to exchange the one- or two-finger bicyclist’s wave. There’s so much to see when outside of an automobile. I’m not zoning out when I can get a chance to experience a little of the world around me.

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Cycle safely

There have been a couple of deaths recently in my state, bicyclists hit by errant drivers

One of the bloggers I follow, recently posted some thoughts on safe cycling, in the context of group rides. Riding in disciplined bunches is probably one of the safest ways to traverse highways.

We have “Share the Road” signs in our area, but I know walkers, joggers, bicyclists and motorcyclists who doubt that many drivers are aware of fellow travelers not in cars.

Anyway, those who read this column who enjoy bicycling, use your heads, obey traffic laws, especially in traffic, bicycle defensively and stay safe.

Here’s a window on modern news

Thanks to Columbia Journalism Review, there is a good, short story on the volume of reporting that has a tendency to mask the real stories.

If, for example, the news media would delve into the lives of those folks who still stand for President Trump, there would be a number good stories on how folks a little lower on the economic ladder still look to government figures to lift them out their circumstances (Republican or Democrat platforms be damned). There is a real perception there, rightly or wrongly, that Trump is on their side, and that can “trump” (sorry) more reasonable approaches and help feed the groundswells that allow manipulators to come to power.

Deluged

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Half a foot of rainfall in 24 hours makes for flood conditions in my neck of the woods. The Big Sioux falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are a testament to the amount of water flowing in area rivers, almost every one out of its banks.

The falls park is a mandatory destination for any trip to that city, including June 22.

It’s soggy around here, and there will be months of clean-up in flood-prone areas. Some are starting to call the events a “century flood.”

Ritual

High, plaintive, slow,

a youngster floats the national song,

over field and fence

while dozens not patient

hold hands to chest

and fidget

Chatter chases notes

in twilight’s gleaming.

Let the game begin.

Resigned

I guess I could get all worked up about the examples of corruption in our U.S. government, the endless end-arounds attempted by crooked folk at the state and federal levels, at the amount of waste that is part of budgets.

Then I remember a watermark in my time at a four-year liberal arts college in Iowa: “Bartleby, the Scrivener.”

There is a refuge offered, of sorts, in the fictional character that Herman Melville created. The story is not an easy read or the character easily explainable, but in the tale is told a refuge available to all, the active/passive “I prefer not to.”

That utterance comes to mind quite frequently, these days, maybe too frequently. I hope to use it sparingly, but it is always there when I’m faced with several bad choices in the candidates offered or with folks in governance that somehow got elected, even with the voters’ best intentions.

Bartleby wastes away in the story, but Melville’s phrase lives on. Maybe if more of us use it when exhorted to vote for a poor choice, we will make progress.