Like Steve Martin as Navin Johnson in the great 1979 movie The Jerk exclaimed gleefully, “The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!” While not jumping up and down, I was similarly enthused. My membership to the League of American Bicyclists arrived in the mail. Who are they? What are they about? Are there any extraordinary gentlemen and copious amounts of Sean Connery’s beard involved? Why did I join? These are the burning questions I was yearning to be learning the answers to, as I’m sure you want to know as well. Well, A Dude Abikes is here to share them with you. It’s free of charge except for the time you spend reading, and you do have to pay some attention. I hope you’ll jump at the chance to go past the button for Continue Reading. Continue reading
I AM A JEW. I’m out of practice, in that I haven’t been to shabbat services in many suns. It is more accurate to say that I’m Jew-ish. I was also simultaneously brought up in another faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism. As far as ethnicity and identity go, Judaism, being the parent of Christianity, is much more well known than UU’s. Jews are 1.5% of the US population; UU’s are far fewer. I’m also an atheist, or if you can’t handle that, an agnostic (which I wrote about here). But I’m also a bicyclist. And we are legion, but still a minority compared to car drivers.
After the heinous hate crime that murdered 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 27, I realized two things. First, writing a blog about biking seemed, well, frivolous. It many ways, it is. But also, I noticed that there are parallels between Jews and bicyclists. Both groups are minorities. Both are hated irrationally. Both are targetted victims of violence. Vehicular violence isn’t as “sexy” (newsworthy) as gun violence, but it’s still violence that ruins and destroys lives. This post explores the intersections (pun intended) of this topic. Continue reading
Bicycling is a violent sport. I don’t mean falling off, crashing into trees or getting hit by cars. (That stuff also happens.) I mean in the sense that, depending on how you ride, you are punishing your body in some form or fashion. This is true of most physical activities and sports. But when you go that extra mile, and push yourself beyond your comfort level, you are into suffering, pain and yes, violence. The human body is quite resilient and can usually handle what an athlete (in my case, fathlete) throws at it, and it will eventually recover. Tonight was one of those times where I was challenged quite a lot, and on a bad road, I was eventually dropped. But the greater the challenge, the more one learns about oneself. Tonight’s unexpected group ride (my third in about as many weeks!) was a prime example. Come with me on this hairy, scary ride! Continue reading at: https://wp.me/p75hY4-1JT
“I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.
-Chatles Bukowski, from Jay Dougherty, Introduction to Charles Bukowski
The other day I wrote about my take on the perennial struggle that many writers and other creators of art face: how to pay the bills while making their stuff. Well, today, that arm wrestling came into stark relief as I reported for duty at my new, albeit temporary, job. As a result, I’m getting to this blog quite late, later than usual even. Aside from throwing a wrench into my schedule, and reducing my bicycling time, I still did my walking and yoga. But the job had some positive things about it, too. Maybe you’ll relate.
Saturday it wasn’t raining for a change, and I was heading tired and home from some errands near the Peddler Bike Shop when I saw a group ride approaching. I inquired what it was about, and one woman said, “Join us!” Always looking for more miles to ride and new people to meet, I obliged. Turned out, it was a women’s group ride, but since it was a special occasion, they made it co-ed. And since most group rides tend to be other dudes, and while I enjoy hanging with other bros, I saw it as a rare opportunity to “ride like a girl.” By that I mean just as awesome as a guy but backwards in heels, like Ginger Rogers. Just kidding. Continue reading
Today I had the pleasure to make the virtual acquaintance of former Austinite, now Denver-area, soon to be Pittsburghian writer Lauren Modery. Her blog is Hipstercrite, and her latest post To Geoffrey Owens —Thank You on Behalf of Working Class Artists. It draws on the experience of former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens, who was shamed, then praised, for having a “day job.”
What does any of that have to do with bicycles? Well, everything and nothing. Readers of this blog know that I can and have linked a bicycle to Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and actor/director Tate Donovan, to chocolate, and to racism. (I’m still not sure but I’m really, REALLY hoping that it’s not racist to use the words chocolate and racism in the same sentence.)
The fact is, that work is for most people not in the 1% (like future ex-US President Tinyhands Orangehead), an inevitable part of life. A Dude is no exception. For almost a year, his work has been this blog and a book in progress, biking his ass off (though it’s still there), daily walking and yoga-ing, volunteering, among other things. But today, he rinally had to join the working class again and get the dreaded J-O-B. He rode there on his bike, of course.
Last night I biked out to one of Austin, Texas’s brew pubs, where they make their own beer. Cold but dry after rain early in the day, it was not long but I had the bike rack all to myself. Riders from the recent Mamma Jamma Ride which I was part of on September 22, 2018 were invited to have a free cold one, socialize with others, and pick up their gift bags or some extra goodies. I decided to ride over and join in. And you can join me for this little night cap. I mean recap. Tee many martoonis, sorry! Just kidding.
Early on Saturday I attended a 4-hour League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Complete Class. Four other students and I assembled in a parking garage to learn how to teach people new to bicycling how to complete some standard drills. But even an old dog like A Dude Abikes can learn new tricks. And some of what we learned is stuff that we’d been doing unconsciously and, in some cases, incorrectly. So here’s a little overview of the experience. Continue reading
Thursday was my birthday, and for the fourth year in a row, I pulled off a bike ride (one year was on the weekend instead of the actual day). It was a nice, cool day, and I was joined by one friend in the morning and another in the afternoon. Since it was a workday others were busy (or just not into it). Dinner and dessert happened with the first rider and some other friends. And along the way I picked up some freebies. Some of them are good for a few weeks, so the celebration continues. Traditions are nice.
This evening I headed over to the Austin Yellow Bike Project again. After all the pucking functures of innertubes on my bikes lately, and needing to be frugal, I decided to save money on buying new ones when the ones I had were perfectly good, except for the holes. Finally the weather has turned and we got back into the 60’s, which is really refreshing to we Texans used to 90 degree days and more. It was a delicious temperature to bike in, although only about 4 miles. And since the shop is a big warehouse, it’s good wrenchin’ weathah, to borrow a turn of phrase from my Vermonter friends. Continue reading