While biking to work today I had an epiphany. And by epiphany I mean the kind of realization that arrives with the clarity afforded by a near death experience.
Because that is in fact what I experienced.
In less than ten minutes.
There was the guy who roared through a red light at the Key Bridge M Street intersection. There was the woman who did a no-look pull out from her parking spot (and almost took out the car ahead of me as well). The final one happened a mere hundred meters from the entrance to my work when some shitwit in a Land Rover (an oldie but a goodie: What is the difference between a Land Rover and a hedgehog? With a hedgehog the pricks are on the outside) roared out of the parking spot where he’d just been dropping off his his over-privileged ankle-biter at the snooty private high school down the road with such velocity that he careered into the oncoming lane of traffic. As my brother would say, obviously running late for his meeting of Arseholes Anonymous.
People in this area love to debate with either mild jocularity or spittle-flinging fury (depending on whether the conversation is around the water cooler or over the Internet (more about that in a moment)) whether DC, Maryland or Virginia drivers are the worst in the region. However this is basically like debating which is worse: a serial killer, a cannibal serial killer, or a necrophiliac cannibal serial killer.
Still plenty of life left in this one! (Doghead Saddle, by Jordon Esser, Creative Commons Licence).
To a surprising degree, we live our lives according to notions of genre. When it comes to entertainment the role of genre is obvious. We like rom-coms but don’t like sci-fi or horror (I don’t understand those people, but they do exist). Yet genre rules our work lives as well (the types of reports we produce, the inter-office memos. . .all of these often fall into predictable categories with their own conventions and sets of expectations). But it is equally true of our mediated social lives. It is one of the reasons I’ve pretty much abandoned FB; every visit I see the same old genres of posts playing out over and over again, people saying the same old stuff, engaging in the same old debates, occupying the same old positions, the stunning lack of originality of our species on soul-sapping display 24/7.
Recent exchanges on the listserv of our local randonneuring club, however, also had me thinking about some of the predictable but odd genres that seem to characterize the discussions that randonneurs have. Now some of these are specific to the strange world of long-distance cycling, but not a few of them also seem to cross over into the more general world of cycling. And not a few of those (especially the medical ones; see below) I see (or used to see) all the time on FB. So for my own amusement and, I hope, yours, I’ve collected a few of the more prominent genres of rando-talk here.
Posted in Life, and Other Ephemera, Philosophical Musings, Randonneuring, Uncategorized
Tagged biking, cycling, genre, listservs, Randonneuring, randonneurs, ultracycling
Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven’t before.
And yes, before anyone points out the obvious, I’m mixing my REM references.
My partner and I often talk about our Bike Mojo. But it occurred to me recently that we use “mojo” in a different way than most people. When people talk about their mojo they are using it to describe a skill or ability. Whether you are claiming to be an awesome playuh with the opposite sex or an awesome player of the guitar, talking about your mojo conveys something about your flash and dash.
But for us mojo connotes in part our enjoyment of an activity, but also our desire for the activity in the first place. So we’ll often have a conversation about how one or other of us has “lost their Bike Mojo.” That doesn’t just mean that we don’t feel like biking, it means that when we do go biking, we don’t enjoy it. The weather might be great, the road might roll accommodatingly, the wind might be always at our backs. . .but there’s no delight. No joy.
My Bike Mojo has taken a few serious hits recently.
Posted in Bike Rides, Life Cycling, Life, and Other Ephemera
Tagged African American history, Alexandria Virginia, biking, Civil War, cycling, Freedman's Cemetery Memorial, memorials, Mount Vernon Bike Trail
Kit ‘n Kish 600k
Now kids, gather round while your jolly Uncle Mark dispenses some sage wisdom about how to lead a virtuous life. . .and how to be a successful randonneur. The key thing you gotta remember is this: stay clear of poop.
- Avoid other people’s poop.
- Don’t poop on other people.
- Don’t poop on yourself.
If you can manage those three things, your odds of finishing a long ride, and the long ride of life, go up dramatically.
May 21, 2016
Those of us who have some attachment to Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, have become sadly familiar with the term liquifaction. It sounds like it should be a happy word, the word that someone would invent to describe the pleasant buzz you get from consuming just enough but not too much alcohol. Or the feeling you get from gratefully immersing yourself in a warm bath.
In fact the term describes neither of those states. Liquifaction is what happens to particular types of land formations when they are subjected to a strong earthquake. I will spare you the elaborate geological summary, and instead just say that one moment the ground is apparently solid and stable, the next it turns to water. The solid structures built atop that heretofore solid land crack, bend, and often collapse. As an added bonus, the process can concentrate heavy elements normally present in the soil but locked harmlessly away, depositing them as a toxic mess on the surface or releasing them into the air as a hazardous dust.
By now you are probably getting the sense that this particular brevet did not go well for me.
It has been a strange year, randonneuring wise, and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that it is a Paris-Brest-Paris year. This 1200k ride is the equivalent of the World Championships of randonneuring. It only comes around every 4 years, and you have to ride a complete Super Randonneur series (a 200k, 300k, 400k, 600k) the year before to ensure your registration, and then ride another in the same calendar year to qualify. Thousands of riders from all around the world meet in Paris in August to try and complete the ride from Paris to the coast and back in 90 hours (or less; there are other time categories for the genuinely insane). Quite a few people from our local club were participating but I was not among them.
Posted in Bike Rides, Life Cycling, Randonneuring
Tagged Ames, bicycling, cycling, Infrastructure, Iowa, Iowa Biking, Madison, Midwest, Roading, Upper Midwest, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Biking
April 18, 2015
The Good Stuff
At the end of the ride, begrimed, sucking down delicious high fructose corn syrup products and waiting for the Pizza to arrived I was talking with Mike, the DCR club president. “You know,” he said, “I always read your blog and enjoy it, even if I have to skip some to get to the good stuff.” I wasn’t at all offended. I assumed that he was thinking about posts like my last one, where my rando report was seemingly tacked on to a philosophical disquisition about the influence of middle-of-the road Greek pop singers. But I had to laugh; that is one of the things I like most about writing (and reading): what counts as the “good bits” is different for everyone. For my rando comrades these posts probably can’t contain enough bike geekery: they will delight in arcane discussions about the TPI of tires, the actual versus claimed lumens of lighting systems, and the dark magic arcana of wheel specs. For more normal people, the philosophical disquisitions probably represent the good (or at least the OK) bits and then it all goes rapidly downhill.
The short version of today’s ride: lots of going rapidly downhill, lots of good bits, lots of extra bits, and a bit of actual and metaphorical darkness. Pretty much a typical brevet. And after the last two rides, “typical” was more than welcome.