Late autumn conditions have been dry, mostly sunny and not too cold here in Central Texas. Waking to some light rain and grey skies was a welcome change, just in time for winter which officially begins tomorrow. For a car-less dude like me, going places generally means getting on Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer bicycle and dealing with whatever Mother Nature throws at me. While I was prepared to ride in the rain, it turned out that I didn’t need to and so I chose not to take advantage and rest.
Job Club Holiday Edition
As I navigated the day, the cool cocoon of the clouds made for a perfectly pleasant, if pensive mood. The life of a bike rider is about far more than the actual riding of a bike. And as I have written before, resting is important for mind and body to heal in between biking. As we approach certain holidays (like the opening of Star Wars 9), the end of 2019 (and the end of the decade), A Dude can’t be blamed for blogging about some of the simpler stuff. (Ask not about the alliteration, I admit it’s illogical and inconsequential.)
I biked a few miles to the weekly job club meeting. It was wet but not raining at the moment, so I didn’t have to get all suited up with poncho, rain pants and booties. As usual I was late but in time to sleepily get some green tea, a banana and a little chocolate. I hadn’t had my usual oatmeal but the damp weather tamped down my hunger too. The holiday edition of this group is always about gratitude, dealing with the stressors of money, travel, family, expectation of gifts, and the societal pressure to be happy. All are very hard to do when you’re unemployed.
The high point was the leader, long-time friend and Austin jewel Kathy, reading Mike Reiss’s delightful How Murray Saved Christmas. A modern parable disguised in a children’s story, it’s about a Jewish deli owner who is pressed into service to substitute for Santa Claus. Hilarious, poignant and instructive, it’s a story worth reading aloud. It’s a big day of giveaways and the takeaway for me was a very nice woman gave me her gift card, and I gave her the colorfully painted metal lion shaped from a big tin can in Zimbabwe. I spoke with fellow blogger Doug of What One Writer’s Wrought, and a few other folks.
Advocating for Protected Bike Lanes
Then it was time to do some bicycle activism and advocacy — an important part of what A Dude Abikes is about. As I described in my last post, Austin Bicyclist 2019 Death #4, I’m part of a small crew of volunteers working with Bike Austin to win the campaign for protected bike lanes on the same dangerous road that Merry died on this past Monday. Long-time cyclist and advocate and good buddy Sam, with whom I worked on this issue a year and a half ago, picked me up with his car fitted with a bike rack. I was grateful to not have to ride as the rain had picked up. We headed to do some outreach to businesses.
Negotiating big corporate chains, local franchises, closed businesses and finding open ones with the owner or manager there was a bit challenging. But in the space of an hour and a bit, we successfully signed up five small companies who agreed that bike lanes without protection were not safe, and better sidewalks and crossing facilities would be good for business, too. If you’re in Austin, to learn more about the campaign and take action to prevent more senseless deaths, see this link from Bike Austin.
Tired and hungry, I opted for being dropped off than cold, rainy riding. I did some communicating with folks, and was able to arrange for a white ghost bike to be donated. I need to arrange for permission to permanently secure it at the crash site as a tribute to Merry so it will be a reminder that we need safer streets. I also found an ally willing to spearhead a ride of silence in the new year. That was a productive afternoon.
Nap, Dinner and a Movie
My bed beckoned big-time, so I succumbed to a satisfying siesta. Then bad-boy Bruce picked me up in his pale Prius and we were off to burgers, fries and a delightful movie featuring the music of dearly departed George Michael called Last Christmas.
Starring the delightful Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones fame) who can sing, it is a romantic comedy with a soul that reminds us that one can have a heart and show the spirit of Christmas all year-round. There is a pivotal scene involving a bicycle, of course. All good movies must have one: The Bicycle Thief, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Quicksilver and so on.
The rain had abated, so Bruce and I perambulated the neighborhood for my mandatory daily 1.5 miles in just over 30 minute walk. Then it became time for this blog and afterward, a little Stephen King-influenced TV show, the excellent Castle Rock original series on Hulu, and a little of his memoir and instructional book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Only biking a few miles today makes me feel a little guilty, like I’m forgetting to do something. But the effects of not riding for hours on end is that I have time to work to better my community, enjoy a but heartfelt movie and time with a friend, and give the body and mind some well-deserved and much-needed respite. As the shortest day of the year passes tomorrow, it’s a good time for reflection on the year about to end and the new one to begin.
What have we learned? What can we do better? What do we want to accomplish in the new year? What does it all mean? Share your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned.
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