Category Archives: Cycling

Keep Going

Published / by JT / Leave a Comment

This might be one of the “biking as writing” or “writing as biking” posts. More likely, it’s gonna more proof that you’re never too old to do stupid shit.

The end of November didn’t suck, though the potential for major suckage stank up the place. The Bride was bouncing back from not one, but two bouts of strep throat, and the day job had me pinging off the walls. The Saturday before Turkey Day had me 28+K words shy of the needed 50K words to win Nanowrimo. There was lots of Real Life going on inside and outside the house, yet somehow…

Maybe I was having a letdown this morning from the stress, but The Bride got me a Trek Marlin 7 as an early Christmas present, so time to boo-yah some trails. (Hey, I’m a veteran. We can use military slang without understanding the correct context. We’re cute that way.)

Here’s where the “stupid poo-poo” thing sneaks in. It snowed yesterday. The dirt trails were snowy and wet, so they were (follow the logic here) muddy as hell. To multiply the “stupid ca-ca” thing, my spiffy new bike does not have wheel guards or fenders, so (more logic follows) I got muddy from the spin of the wheels. Hey, Mom, I’m a mudder now!

No, I did not have to get muddy and, yes, my pretty new bike is not pretty now, but darn it, I can’t remember the last time that five miles of hard work felt so good. This morning’s ride could be a metaphor for that last week of Nanowrimo: the long, hard slog in the mud. But the followers of this blog (both of you) are the smartest readers in the world and you already figured it out.

While I have your attention, I will mention ASIN continues to be read and bought, making it my most successful book. “Success” is relative, as Mr. King sells more books in a second than I have in my life, but I’m pleased as punch. For those of you who use Goodreads, my profile is updated and I’m posting short reviews of the books in my life. More about GR in the next post.

Time to gird the old loins now and try to hit the daily writing goal while watching truly awful Raiders/49ers football. Y’all be good to each other. Mostly, be kind. And if you’re having any small or large crisis in faith or confidence, gimme a shout-out because I believe in you. Take care.

 

Flat Tires

Published / by JT / Leave a Comment

kona

Another grey winter day with a hollow wind that would tear the flesh off my bones if I were foolish and young enough to go outside, but I won’t. I got the amoxicillin blues, again, this time with a small fever, so my thoughts stray to warmer days as I close my eyes.

I miss my bikes.

I used to be a bike-riding nut to the point where a ten-mile ride was a down day. Before work, after work, during work, all weekend. Get up on the seat, pump the legs, wipe the sweat that stung the eyes. Slowly up the hills with my lungs expanding to get that last little bit of oxygen, then down the hills keeping pace with the cars and focusing on the blur in front, praying for no surprises that would send me ass over tea kettle.

There were more than a few of those little accidents. Whenever I announced a ride, The Bride invariably responded with, “I’ll get my cell phone.” But she was right because I’ve fallen all over this town, which happens when you balance a 77-inch body atop two small wheels in a ten-pound frame. Most often it was scrapes on the calves and lost skin off the elbows, but there were the crashes. Two come to mind: a slide against a concrete wall (scars on the ribs), and the intersection at Carson and Highway 50 (right shoulder never the same).

But the dozen or so abrupt stops pale in comparison to the thousands of miles of early morning sunshine, late afternoon breezes, the inevitable road dance between bike and cars, and the smiles and waves from my fellow aficionados. They got it, too, that feeling from the burn and the speed and the sense of flying from Point A to Point B. We’ve seen things that people in steel boxes never see or ever will see unless they’re brave like us.

But those days are behind me now due to a non-biking injury. A ten-mile ride would now have me in Advil and heating pads for a week. So my bikes are gone. They’re in the back shed tonight, huddled together in the cold, uncovered except for cobwebs. I can sense the rubber on the tires going rigid and flaking off, and the frozen air is eating through the grease on their chains.

A wise man would sell them to someone so they can find the road again but I can’t do it. Father Time has taken a weed whacker to almost everything that brings me joy, plus there’s the normal things that come with the approaching sunset. I can’t eat like I used, can’t sleep, can’t even stay awake like I used to. I’m not going to cut myself off from everything that made me smile.

So when it warms up and it’s time to get out the lawnmower, I’ll pause to run a finger along the dusty frames, maybe clean a couple of mirrors, even spin a pedal or two. I’ll remember a fast ride down a hill and the rush I had whenever I got home safely. That was always a warm feeling. Then I’ll close the door to the shed and try to think of something else.

Two-Wheeled Pensieve

Published / by JT / Leave a Comment

“I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind… At these times… I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.”
Albus Dumbledore via J.K. Rowling, HPATGOF

So many distractions and so many reasons to stay inside during this 21st Century: the persuasive lover, the internet, five hundred television channels, a dozen electronic doohickeys, and so on. And always, there are the words. No matter the deep blue sky or soft wind, there are few things more satisfying that wrapping oneself around a good book like a cat curling up in a beam of sunlight on a soft carpet. The downside of an inside life can be found in the pair of blue jeans that “shrunk” in the wash or sucking in the air a little to make the last notch on a favorite belt, or, worst of all, feeling the flesh jiggle and wiggle a little in places like it never did before.

On top of this is time flying by like the high-speed Shinkansen passing Mt. Fuji. It’s easy to lose the daylight when you’re thinking heavy thoughts about family, health, aging, day jobs, the death of idols, bills, unwritten novels, and the finished but unpublished books. There’s rarely enough hours in the day for everything that needs to get done.

But I got on the damn bike, anyway.

That old Trek is named Dollar after John Wayne’s favorite horse, but it also signifies the amount of folding money I’ve dropped on it over the decades, and we’ve had many an adventure together. It ain’t pretty by any stretch: the blue and black paint is chipped in places from a dozen or so crashes, the tires don’t have much tread, and the mirrors on both sides are twisted and scarred. It sits alongside a much prettier Kona Dew named Kash that looks like it’s going a hundred miles an hour even when sitting in the corner. I got Kash for whenever I feel the need for speed, and we’ve traveled hundreds of miles, but when I want a workout, I get on Dollar.

When you ride a bike, you’re never alone, for good and bad. There’s the dozens of weekend warriors trying to capture a week’s worth of physical fitness in a couple of hours. The speedsters in their tight jerseys whiz on by like they’re on fire as their smirks lend energy to their pencil-thin legs. And always the kids, so damn cute in their “Hello Kitty” and “Transformer” bike helmets.

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Bicycling is a sport played on a field with the two-ton behemoths guided by idiots who are texting, cell-phoning, and other such nonsense that sometimes distracts them from seeing the human-sized manatees sharing the road ahead. A two-second mistake by either the cyclist or the driver can make a ride go south in a blink of an eye. The worst of this translates into hundreds of road kills and thousands of injuries annually across the nation. Every rider has a story when someone in an oversized SUV drove too-damn-close to him or her, myself included.

I accept this and do the ride, anyway. In fact, there was a day when you couldn’t keep me off my machines but somehow they dropped off the radar and, to be honest (and this is the place for that, always), cycling has been an afterthought for a long time. There’s no excuse for it: Dollar and Kash are standing five feet from the front door, silent reminders of many roads untraveled. I’ve paid for their neglect, now packing 260+ pounds on this misshapen frame with the appropriate amount of high blood pressure to boot.

So I got on Dollar today.

And it was easier than I possibly could have imagined. Cycling starts with the legs and I zealously walk 10,000 steps every day when things aren’t hitting the fan at work. The reward for this effort was a ninety minute ride around town that felt like I hadn’t skipped a day. The best part was all of that crap you read above disappeared from my head, siphoned off as if dropped into a Pensieve, as I focused on the road ahead.

That best value of a long ride ain’t the miles but the cleansing of the mind as those everyday problems and noise they cause between your ears sort of fades away in the clean air and bright sunshine. I always let myself forget that to my physical detriment but there’s also the emotional joy of rediscovering, too.

I got the day off tomorrow and it’ll be in the sixties again. If you’re driving tomorrow, keep an eye out for me and my brothers/sisters on our two-wheelers. We’ll be enjoying the fresh air and thinking about nothing but the road ahead. Much appreciated.

(And now a word from our sponsor: The Author’s Page. Thank you.)

(For the Carsonites, today’s loop started at the Sheriff’s Office, then westward to the Governor’s Mansion, northward to Long Street, eastward along Highway 50 to Airport Road, south to the old prison, and westward over the Fifth Street Bridge.)