31 May 2006

Kent Petersen & Family

Damn it, I don’t want Kent Petersen to be a hero. I don’t want his family to be heroic. I wish they wouldn’t call so much attention – that there be more of them, somehow, that wished to do what they do, that carried it out and that liked doing it. I think it touches a deep chord, somewhere, for a lot of us. Surely, Kent Peterson would’ve been nobody to someone like my father growing up poor after a civil war. “So they have no car. They walk or ride a bike to work. What the hell’s so strange about that?”

The fact that something as natural as walking to work or riding a bike to a store has become so unusual tells a lot about where most of us are headed today. How did we get here? Or worse, we actually allowed things to become this complicated? To Kent & Family: My Deepest Respect.

29 May 2006

Bike Day

It was Bike Day yesterday in our little corner of the world. About 200+ turned out. Beautiful weather for a Sunday morning. A nice day with the kids. We were escorted by the Local Police so it was nice to own the road for one day, watching all the cars just stop and move out of our way.


Shouldn’t it be Bike Day everyday?!

26 May 2006


I didn’t go bike riding yesterday – at all – and I was bitten by a horse.

I could’ve been bitten by a number of animals, normal biting animals, like a dog or even a flock of killer geese. Hell I could’ve even been bitten by a snake. But no, I had to be bitten by a horse.

I needed a zero day yesterday ‘cause my legs went from feeling like concrete to slush in two days. I needed to recoup so I ended up visiting my friend Fran, who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I should mention that Fran’s father is a wine-maker-virtuoso of sorts and so makes his own wine – many, many barrels of wine. And so when you go over his farm house you cannot leave without drinking…say …at least one of those barrels. Quite bucolic, these parts are.

If I had ridden my bike like the good boy I should’ve been yesterday I wouldn’t have ended up at Fran’s.

Oh, yeah, Fran has three horses. No bike talk with him. His youngest horse is a bastard…and I assure you he has this most incredibly powerful jaw…literally took my hand and wrist in his mouth and playfully played VICE with my bones.

So there. Ride your bike. Be good. Never know when that horse’s gonna bite you.

24 May 2006


Like the song about Mondays I just don’t like Numbers. Never been good with them – despite the grades – and let’s face it: I just don’t like them. In cycling there’s lots to learn about numbers: number of spokes, chain links, cassettes or, worse, number of miles per trip, average, maximum, cadence, heart-beats per minute…WAIT…luckily there’s just

two pedals

two wheels

one seat

I want to count no further than that; I don’t want to count my kilocalories per Big Mac (cause I don’t eat either kilocalories or Big Macs) and I don’t want to know how many hills I gotta climb to get rid of those two cool beers I had after I finished climbing those same hills that made the beer taste so good in the first place.

Can I not count?! Can I just enjoy the ride and not be faster than yesterday? Can I stop improving for the sake of improving? What happens when we really, really stop improving? Isn’t that sort of like riding a bike downhill….FUN!!!

Can I just ride my bike or must I ride by numbers?

23 May 2006

The Poodle Challenge

I did not want to ride yesterday. I was cold all morning curled up at my desk. Figured I’ve been over-doing it on the bike and though I did not ride on Sunday, the zero day did nothing for my legs. But I had to worry about the Poodle Challenge knowing that Ruby can easily ride his 20 kilometers to work everyday and be done with me easy. And so I am dumb enough to try and stick with him by making my commute at least 20 ks when it is only about 7.0. So I rode 21.74. Being that much smarter than me, on 22 May Ruby only rode 7.0. That’s it. In other words I rode his normal commuting mileage and he rode mine. There must be some strategy here – somewhere. (Thank god this is over at the end of the month.)

21 May 2006


My legs feel like concrete columns. And I don’t mean in strength. Only in weight. My thighs hurt. They hurt when I touch them; when I walk; I suppose they hurt even while I sleep. My mileage for the month is a mere 167 kilometers (103,77 miles) and still

mean people from all over the world challenge me. Little me! I’m having a glass of milk and I’m going to bed.

18 May 2006

Et tu, Brutus?

Never trust your biking friends and surely never trust them when they’re wearing serious amounts of spandex and fast looking bike glasses – those that cost more than my little bike. My so-called friends are nice guys – presumably. They know I’m a beginner; they know I have a modest road bike for commuting purposes (and to defeat my children on half-hour outings). (I can out-ride my children in case you didn’t know.) My friends knew the most I’ve ever ridden uphill without stopping and gasping for life was a mere 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), with one or two rolling hills in between. I’m a beginner for god’s sake!

So why, then, did they try to kill me?

They promised care, kindness and lots of easy learning. This included 26.4 kilometers of huge hills, boulder-ridden roads, tree branches in my face, in my spokes and countless near-falls and gasps for life. I wanted to go out for a ride not to cross the Amazonian rain forest on a commuter bike. (Not to mention the geese strategically placed on the apex of that last hill waiting to attack the last and slowest rider: that was me.)

So I did it. “See? You did it,” my ex-friends said, smiling. It was best I had no breath to respond. (Which reminds me: semi-automatic weapons will now be included on my list of required biking equipment.)

16 May 2006

The Fun of Pain

I must be improving my commuting skills but it’s happening slowly. I’ve purposely been increasing my return-home commute ‘cause I like this stuff DESPITE THE PAIN!!! Okay, I’m sick. Yesterday I conquered about 3 kilometers – out of 12.4 - of steep hill country, non-stop, though I was basically doing walking speeds for most of the climb. Except: when you walk you can talk. Am I to worry when lungs feel and squeal like bag-pipes? Is it normal to use very, very nasty language while talking to oneself on a bike? Like: What the f&%k am I doing here climbing this hill on an opposite direction from my house where food and warmth await me?

Yeah, sure, this is FUN.

11 May 2006



"It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep may be."

- Virgil

Now that’s a crock of shit. Obviously, Virgil had no bike.

I’m tired of reading of urban commuting battles like the rest of us poor, rural bikers face no dangers at all. There we are riding along: “Oh, so fresh and aromatic these tulips, are they not, dear?” No. Well, yes. Tulips are cool; they don’t move either willfully or negligently; they do not jump; they make no animal noises; they don’t cross the road when you do. I like tulips that way. I really do, dear.

But there’s real danger out there, people; bike commuting is brutal. If you guys think otherwise or consider yourselves so well prepared, then tell me how the hell do you experts get a bunch of sheep to continue crossing the road without having them stop in the middle of it to stare at you? C’mon smarties? Have you ever had a hundred sheep stare at you, sheepishly so to speak? Scary shit. Do not trust Virgil.

No. Calling them ugly four-letter words doesn’t work. You can’t bang on their window; can’t slap their hood. They just stare at you. (If they could speak they would say they just didn’t see you.) What then is it they find so interesting and what is it that keeps them from finishing their crossing maneuver just when you arrive? What the hell does the traffic code have to say about that? A bike is a vehicle, a bike is a vehicle, a bike is a vehicle. Bahhhhhhh! No respect. These are real right-of-way issues, people. They’re supposed to stick to the green part of the highway. Why don’t they “shew” away when you shout “SHEW!, SHEW!?”

Hell, you guys don’t know one thing about difficult and dangerous commuting. (They did outnumber me they did, those puffy white things.)

They outnumber us all.

07 May 2006


Handle- Bars

While riding with my seven-year-old the other day on our way back from bike-camping he came upon a startling revelation. After my customary “CAR COMING FROM BEHIND!” warning we simply cruised side by side down this lovely hill, pine and eucalyptus surrounding us. Suddenly, he said:

- Dad, if there were no cars at all, wouldn’t that be great?

- Why do say that?

- Cause then there would be no accidents and everyone could ride bikes on any road, even really little kids.

- Yeah, that would be nice.

- And no pollution, too.

- I think you’re on to something, son.

And he rode on for the next half-hour without saying another word.

05 May 2006

The First One, The Baby, The Big One

Hey, I started commuting this week and I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it, alright. I mean riding 2.49 miles one way in 15 minutes, a howling wind pushing on my backside – and getting tired doing it – isn’t something we need to discuss much further. I was a sport, okay. The first day was like this:

I did what I was told; I followed instructions. I folded my shirt nice inside my right pannier, same for the slacks. Shoes, fresh socks and a T-Shirt on the left. But, hey, you’re not supposed to sweat on a fifteen-minute, 2.49 mile ride, mostly downhill. (Don’t ever listen to that rubbish and don’t come back to me about my being over-weight or under-trained. I’m just under-height and quick as lightning on the granny gear. So what if I look like a helmeted-hamster! At least I can reach my pedals.)

On your first commute you sweat. Believe me, others lie. It must be a right of passage or something equally medieval. You’d expect someone to give you some recognition – knight errant on a bike honor thing - but reality is harsh. My lovely family waved and laughed as I closed the garage door. “Now what might be so funny about dad riding his old, ugly bike to work?” “C’mon, dad, dads don’t do that sort of thing…they race and do cool stuff like that.” “Hey, I can race, buddy!” (I could if I really wanted to...just not my thing.)

Minutes later not one stranger even waved at me, though I saw a couple of guys smirking as I zoooomed past. (“That’s the guy who grew up in America,” they said, or something to that effect, shaking their heads.) Now what was that supposed to mean? Were they talking about me? “You talking to me?!” “Hey, bud,” I wanted to yell, but shit, I’m already downhill and can’t go back up to see if my Latin-macho image was being questioned. I must grant it to commuters, but bikes are safer that way.

I change gears the way I change tenses, okay. I can do that; I’m a bike commuter now. So picture this: I’m near the office so I wanna look extra cool making that last turn, but children on fixed gears rumble by. “Hey guys…”. They’re too fast and far ahead to hear me. Man, I wanna look like a commuter. I am a commuter. I need to yell at a car, to win my road space, something. Hah, there. A slick Ford Fiesta comes from behind and gets right next to me. I see the right blinker on. Now what does she think she’s about to do…cut me off…I’m a commuter, lady…but she smiles and waves me on in front of her.

That’s it?! My first commute in? Is that all? No Star-Spangled Banner?

I refuse to discuss my commute back home. Do you know how sheep – yes, sheep – react to the sound of a miss-shifting Shimano?

02 May 2006

You know what they say about dogs…


Maybe it’s applicable to bikes as well. Do bikes “look” like their owners? I came upon this reflection when Shawn Kielty, blogger-biker, noted that perhaps one ought to find “his inner bike”. Now that’s stretching karma concepts far and wide and deep inside, I suppose.

I’m much more superficial, I guess. I’m content for now to look a bit like my bike or to have it look somewhat like me. Considering my Purple Pig, god rest its karma wheels in the Heavenly Kingdom of Painless Hills, I’d better take a closer look at my looks. Unless ugly, aging bikes look…well, interestingly mature?

I thought not.