This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016, time to pedal forward

        I woke up this morning to realize another year went away last night.  It has been an eventful one which started just like this one with a "Hair of the Dog" ride sponsored by Rupert's Pub.  It's a myopic event where everybody meanders around the downtown area for a bit before enjoying a pot luck buffet and few beers while discussing how close they came to last year's goals.  I get left out  of those conversations since I don't keep track of mileage.  I tell them I went places and saw stuff but have no idea how far or how fast.  I wonder if they enjoyed it more knowing they must improve this year to reach last year's goals.
        Last year started like this one will.   A few months of frigid commuting when I was noticeably alone on the streets if not for the court appointed cyclists struggling to the liquor stores.
After the months of winter commuting to my part time gig as a teacher and listening to the daily remarks about how impossible my ride to work was each day,  I was ready for spring break.
       Making the pilgrimage to Cleveland was like cycling through all four seasons in a week.   April in Michigan and Ohio is changeable but you really can't appreciate how changeable until you live outdoors on a daily basis.  I started in a freak snowstorm, went home and restarted the next morning.  The weather changed to unseasonably warm and beautiful,
back to freezing rain and snow and back to just plain cold and dry.  Despite the trip being both interesting and surprisingly scenic,
 the weather was the the most challenging of any trip I  have taken.  I finished the quest and, no, I didn't have tickets to a Cavalier's game.  Nothing trivial here.

It was a pilgrimage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  As I said originally, I have done sillier shit, but I endured snowstorms, freezing rain, single digit temperatures and freezing rain
to come home with a fucking t-shirt!
    The springtime became a typical renewal of enthusiasm for the "real" bikers who forsake their wind trainers and succumbed to the temptations of daylight savings time.  The club rides resumed in earnest and continued with fever until June 7th happened
The tragedy nobody in the world conceived.  Nine cyclists run down by a drugged up loser in a borrowed pickup truck.  5 dead and the others critically injured.  The driver faces trial for five counts of 2nd degree murder.  I spent the following week riding and answering calls from people all over the world expressing their condolence and concerns.
Even Lance Armstrong offered his notoriety to help publicize the tragedy by coming to help "finish the ride" with a group a week later.   It's a day nobody wants to remember but will never forget.  It makes us all aware how vulnerable we are to choices others make.
    I was traveling the country side on a previously scheduled trip where I was talking about it constantly; either on the phone with callers, answering e-mails or discussing it with people I met on the road.  The rest of June was a flourish of activity and fundraising.
The club donated all proceeds from our annual charity tour to the victims and their families. 
     At the end of June there was reason for another journey.  Returning to my college haunts in Kansas City for a conference was a good excuse to ride the legendary Katy Trail across Missouri.   I was able to have a reunion dinner with one of my former classmates and his wife.  That was a wonderful evening. Another special treat was stumbling into my first experience with a Critical Mass ride.
There were about 300 of us riding about the shopping and tourist areas of Westport, The Plaza and Brookside areas, taking over the streets for blocks until we paused for a break 
at one of Kansas City's famous fountains.  After a few days
 As trails go, the Katy is one of the better I have seen.  Winding through the Ozarks and along the Missouri river it was a trip you can make as quickly or as leisurely as you please.  A network of cottage businesses have developed to service the traffic from the trail system, accommodations are easy to find and the country side is scenic and rich in historical significance.
It was hot, and the shelter of the trail was a welcome relief from the city streets.
I was never really alone although some of my company was less than sociable.  No, those are not dogs but baby bulls and I was between them and their mother who was wiley enough to find her way into the woods.   It was one way to get the heart rate up while off the bike.
After a few days and some more luxurious scenery along the Missouri, I found my way to downtown 
St Louis for another train ride home.
     Being a well known eccentric I became an esteemed member of the Citizen's Advisory Committee
to the local Transportation Committee last year.  July afforded an invitation to the regional Transportation Planners Conference.   Does that sound like a party or what?  Well it's not, but fighting the nap jerks was not all that was accomplished.
A couple of days of meetings and (totally fascinating) public speakers had me all agog over their preoccupation with developing complete streets.  The changes being planned and implemented here should thrill anybody who goes places on bikes.  It will probably frustrate the majority of cyclists who will find parking in short supply for their BMW's adorned with rooftop Trek Madone's, but screw them.  The traffic engineers are seeing the light and developing better traffic patterns which will not only facilitate active transport, but encourage it.
The goal is in sight!
     In August I found an adventurous advantage to the Hunqapillar.  A bike like that gave me the means to dispense with planning routes.
Using all purpose 29er tires I finally learned the freedom of truly open road touring.  Granted, I was in Western Michigan and very familiar territory, but riding along I just pointed myself in the direction of my next stop and took whatever road looked interesting.  Occasionally, I glanced at the GPS on Google Maps,
but had no qualms about heading down an unfamiliar road as long as it was in the right direction.  It's a new form of freedom I am going to develop in the coming year.
     September brought about the end of the "season" as most cyclists view it.  We lucked out and had a perfect day for our annual anniversary ride for the local club.
In October I enjoyed another gravel run through the idyllic forests of Yankee Springs at the Barry Roubaix Grand Fondo.  And the fall marched forward into the advocacy season when the club managed to push our local administrators into adopting minimum 5' passing ordinances.  That was a great step forward
and I discovered the excellent documentary "Bikes vs. Cars" on Netflix.
Watch it.
I finally found the the tatoo I'd been waiting all my life to define me.  It was a good year, but  one best left behind after the murders and the  most embarrassing presidential election in the history of the American experiment.  Time to put it behind us and move on.


  1. A good look back at a decidedly mixed year.

    A request: May I use that picture of the sign that says "may use full city"? I've got a Facebook use for something like that. I can credit you and link back to the blog.

    1. Sure you can use it. Don't worry about giving me credit, I'm not sure who sent it to me.