One year ago I wrote about my anniversary of not owning a car when my car was hit on January 25, 2005. So now it’s another year, and I suppose A Dude Abikes is a little bit proud about that accomplishment. In last year’s post, I referenced Trump’s hair, Star Wars, real war, the environment, love and of course, bicycling. Well, what a year it’s been! Yes, the nightmare of a proto-fascist becoming president has come true. But so has resistance come alive; A Dude Abikes attended the March on Austin with 50,000 friends, where he experienced a great deal of hope. We’ve had another Star Wars movie, Rogue One, which if you think about it was about suicide bombers. War in Syria and other places, probably some love somewhere, the hottest year on record, threats to re-open pipelines, etc. ad nauseam. But most interesting to me, the biking. So much biking. ALL THE BIKING! Did I mention I biked 5,306 miles in 2016? I’m STILL sore!
Take It Easy, A Dude
This year thus far I’ve been taking it easy. I have no real mileage goal, so there’s no need to go out on a Sunday night, tired, with cedar pollen choking me, in the cold and wet, just to finish out 100 miles for the week. Been there, done that, got no trophy, trophy wife, or weight loss. (JK re: the trophy wife.) I may not even make 200 for the month. I have, however, begun walking and some other workouts including weights, swimming, elliptical when I can access a gym. The yoga continues, so there’s no problem there except I want to get to harder classes and my nightly gentle yoga and one class a week is not enough. But hope is that by doing more balanced exercise I will have a better chance to get in better overall shape. Riding 10 hours a week put a major cramp in A Dude’s style and time bank. Of course I continue to bike when I need to go somewhere. Just last night I went on my first ride of the year just for fun with Saurabh and Paulo. I titled my ride “Tuesday Twenty-Two (Point 2) with Team T.I.T.S. (Time In The Saddle).” As always, I encourage you to check out on my ride on Strava.
Bike Activism: Savings Lives and Trees is Sexy
Having some time back from riding only when I need to has allowed me to do a bit more volunteer work with Bike Austin, a great group nearly 1,000 strong that advocates for better infrastructure, has group rides, and more. I’m part of a committee working towards protected lanes on Rundberg Lane and Cameron Road. I rode part way on the latter Sunday to attend a meeting and literally had to find a corner to have a good sob. The wind gusts of 45 miles an hour coupled with the close calls of people passing me at high speeds really taxed my adrenal glands and I was just a puddle afterward. Which is why we need bike lanes so badly; it’s super scary and dangerous to do what I did, even on a Sunday. Cameron is like a six-lane highway and drivers show little mercy. Along with the emotion of the inauguration and protests, heavy on my heart was the news that a pedestrian had nearly been killed a few blocks away Friday — a scene I came across. Then a cyclist was put in the hospital from having a wreck Saturday ON MY STREET. Both appear to be the fault of each victim, but still. It’s gives A Dude pause to consider his own mortality. So I’ve been putting out the petition to the neighborhood and will be working more on this goal. If you’re in Austin, I urge you to sign it: www.BikeAustin.org/RundbergCameron
Where Do We Go From Here?
I’m an independent voter so I’m no apologist for the Democratic Party. But the threat to progressive gains made under President Obama is very real, despite all his failings (and bombings of other countries). Trump is already undoing them by executive order, the Affordable Care Act is going to be changed, and who knows what is coming down the pike from our Narcissist-in-Chief.
So why am I sitting here writing a blog instead of going to meetings, writing letters and protesting? Well, it’s night and laundry needs doing, my stories are calling, and soon, the bed, before another day of slaving for the man. (I don’t use the word slave as a white male without knowing how some might construe my intent to be callous or tone-deaf to racial realities. But the of it as someone stuck doing something they don’t want is common enough that it should not warrant a disclaimer. But just in case.) Well, because I must tell my story; no one else is going to.
Do Your Art, Dude!
David, a regular attender at One Page Salon, the author’s gathering I attend most months, was asked by host Owen Egerton how will a Trump presidency change your writing. He said it wouldn’t, and he exhorted the crowd to “Do your art!” A Dude agrees: in times of repression, controlling the terms of public discourse, and outright censorship, there is nothing more important than expressing ourselves authentically. Not letting the man keep us down, or silence us. And make no mistake, bicycling is a radical act in car culture, even in Austin, because it’s still oil-friendly Texas. Reading the backlash against bike lanes on the neighborhood list is much more harsh than I would have imagined it would be. That inspires me to do more to be like Jim Hightower used to say: guess what that thing in the middle of the washing machine that stirs things up and cleans them out is called? The agitator! Agitating without irritating someone means you’re not being effective; agitating without irritating EVERYONE is definitely an art. Speaking of art, I met this cool beautiful model name Bea on the ride home. Her sister Correen was taking pictures of her wearing clothes she made, and they wanted photos of me and my bike. A Dude is always happy to oblige. Hello, Ladies!
So while I’ll be out there protesting Trump and his party’s policies with the best, I’ll also be working for positive change in my community through bike lanes, but I’ll be telling my story occasionally here in this blog, and hopefully in a book. An author I met offered to sit down and chat about it. A friend gave me a listening session. I got a new laptop so can really get crackin’ on the writing and hopefully editing of photos and videos. A fellow rider extolled my “bicycling prowess.” I’ve declined numerous invitations to join this year’s AIDS ride. And when it comes up and I tell people about the 5,306 miles I did in 2016, they are always impressed. So the ingredients are there. It’s just a matter of time, effort, preparation and stick-to-it-tiveness. Something I developed in spades on the bike and just have to figure out how to apply to this blog, and the rest of my life. The second slide of art below sums it up well:
We all have a story to tell. Celebrate yours. And don’t forget to color outside the lines!
You and A Dude: Let’s Be Friends
I am writing for myself first, but it’s really not all about me. It’s about the biking, people, issues, experiences, stories, the good, bad and ugly — the suffering and also joy — all that goes into biking. And your support as audience, no matter how small so far, is deeply appreciated, even if you’re just reading this one piece and never return, are lurking, or a fan. Let me know what you think by commenting in the box below! Of course you’re welcome to become an email follower if you don’t have WordPress and a regular follower if you do. But also, if you bike, get out there and cycle – safely, of course! Or walk or paint or whatever it is you do to make yourself and the world a better place. A Dude Abikes may also be A Dude aHikes because he’s walking alot more, but as long as he can stay upright he’ll always be A Dude Abikes. And like my namesake (it’s homage, Ethan and Joel – don’t sue me!), I hope you’ll agree that “it’s good knowin’ I’m out there.”
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
–“The Big Lebowski”
P.S. A Dude Abikes wishes you a Happy New Year!