Book Review: HEFT ON WHEELS by Mike Magnuson

Courage is a word you could use to describe bicycling, especially the urban kind I do wherein one risks one’s life while several-ton killing machines blow at high speeds mere inches away. Or bike racing, or BMX riding with the ramps and jumps and tricks, or screaming down a mountain biking: all take courage. But writing? It doesn’t take any courage at all to sit down at a laptop and start hammering away, right? Well, that’s easy to say if you haven’t tried to write a book. And when it comes to memoir, laying your soul bare to people you never have, and never will meet, takes some a big chunk of gumption.

I should know, because I’ve been writing this blog for over five years, albeit far less courage since I use a nom de plume / velo, and I have written a book — a memoir — as well. I have yet to find the courage to even show it to others to read. (I’m getting close to sharing with two beta readers once I figure out the details, having finally just found two volunteers.) But in Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180, his 2005 memoir (I know, I’m very late to the party), author, creative writing professor, magazine article writer, and cyclist Mike Magnuson has courage in spades. (Heft is a follow-up to a previous memoir, Lummox.) As quoted in a speech he gave, I’d even go so far as to say he has “sixteen suitcases full of courage.”

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A Third Chat with Sophie the Fairdale Who Turned 15(,000 Miles) on Jan. 15th with a 15-Mile Ride

Back on April 14, 2020, I wrote a post I called “Another Chat with Sophie the Fairdale, Who Just Turned 10(,000 Miles).” Well, as you can see, we’ve just hit 15,000. So that’s worth a third chat, wouldn’t you agree? Good, I’m glad. Yes, I know you can’t really talk to bicycles. Well, you can, but they don’t answer. If they do, that would be news. Just play along, it’ll be fine, I promise. Jeez, so literal! By the way, Fairdale Bikes are an Austin company and I have to thank Fairdale Bikes, Bike Austin and Hill Abell with Bicycle Sport Shop for gifting me with Sophie in a raffle back in 2017. Be sure to check out my first post about Sophie: The Fairdale Weekender Archer: A Review of My New Bicycle I Won in a Raffle!

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15 Months of Consecutive Daily Bicycling

I considered not writing this blog. A month after writing 14 Months of Consecutive Daily Bicycling, what could there be for me to possibly add? Well, not much, to be honest. I rode my bike a lot, it was challenging, but somehow I survived and made my goal. Yay me. End of story, right? Well, one would think so, except that those pesky bike miles are more than just numbers on your screen. The represent calories burned, hours spent, and effort expended. I biked farther in December than any other month of 2020, so that’s why it becomes hard to just skip commemorating the occasion. Because while plenty of people bike every day, many faster and further (and none of them get a medal for it either), for me, 15 months certainly ain’t nothing to sneeze at. And these days, we do our best not to sneeze around others, amirite? Because, ‘rona.

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10 Reasons Why I’m Biking Only 10 Miles a Day for 10 Days

If you’re new here, welcome. If not, you know that I just completed my longest mileage year ever on bicycle and foot. (For that story, see A Devil of a Year: 6,666.66 Miles…) As if all that distance alone weren’t enough reason for a break, I’ve got a life off the bike, you know? So this post talks about some of those other activities and goals. As I wrote in It’s Tapering Time: Biking Less Means Health Gains, “For 2021, I am considering making my #BikeGoals based on time. I walk, do yoga, and write, each for 30 minutes a day (well, writing often takes longer), so why not bike that much (or little)?” So, what does that mean for this dude? Let’s find out.

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A Devil of a Year: 6,666.66 Miles Bicycled in 2020 (7,278 Total with Walking)!

6,666.66 miles:  That’s how far I bicycled in 2020. Add in about 611 miles of walking, and that’s 7,278 miles I traveled on my own power. (By the way, almost 4 miles were swimming, which I started right before, you know, IT.) By IT of course I mean the novel coronavirus pandemic, aka COVID-19, which might quite possibly be the work of Satan, if he exists (I’m not a believer). But the other Devil in my analogy is the person in charge of getting the United States of America through this mess, which instead he made worse. He dropped the ball big-time, and is about as far away from godliness as you can get. So he’s the other evil one: Future Ex-President Tinyhands Orangehead. Whether you’re a religious person or not, I think we can all agree that 2020 was a Devil of a year (or two Devils).

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It’s Tapering Time: Biking Less Means Health Gains

Tapering means resting and recovering by biking less often, less distance, or less intensity. Usually the term is reserved for people are resting up before a big race, and if you’re a purist well, thanks for stopping by to point this out. As Kate McKinnon as Dr. Weknowdis said recently on Saturday Night Live, “We know dis.” I’m claiming the word because I’ve been riding my bike every damn day since October 11, 2019. (Only one of those rides to date was indoors on a trainer, during the pandemic by the way, to which fortunately I have not as yet succumbed.) If you want to read an article with technical information, this is not it. But if you do want something a bit more science-y, go look at Bike Radar for one that is. Anyway, I’m tired. While I’ll never truly get tired of riding a bicycle, there is a time to taper. Call it reducing, resting or whatever you want, but as 2020 ends, that time for me is now. Maybe you too?

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7 Years of My Consecutive Daily Yoga Practice

It’s Christmas Day here in Austin, Texas, USA. And you know what that means for this Jewd (Jewish + Dude = Jewd — Trademark me!): Another year of daily 30 minutes (or more) of yoga has come to a close, and another begins. Lucky number seven. Yoga is second nature to me now, but in those first days and weeks, I didn’t know how long I would continue, or if it would stick at all. I was just taking it a day at a time, and in a way, I still do. But it has stuck (sort of like my sticky mat), for over 2,500 days, which is nothing short of a miracle for A Dude. Which needs replacing, and Harry Hanukkah and that other guy with the red suit didn’t bring me one… again. Sigh… deep breath in, deep breath out. But given my other streaks in biking, walking and writing, all that yoga is no small thing and deserves some recognition, I think you’ll agree.

Here’s what I wrote about today’s event in my Strava fitness app notes:

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5 Years of Using the Strava Fitness App

Late in December 2015, I finally got a cell phone. At the same time, a cycling friend said I had to get Strava (strive in Swedish). I’d never heard of it, but figured why not. So the friend and I met for a ride, and I started recording all of my bike journeys ever since. At that time, I had to use the phone because I didn’t have a Garmin watch. Without Strava, or some other similar situation, I would not really know how far I’ve gone, and all the other data it captures. And man, have I gone far (better than being far gone). I mean, if you consider my having biked the equivalent of around the entire planet at the equator as far. I sure think 24,901 miles is a good, far piece. And what a long, strange trip it’s been.

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14 Months of Consecutive Daily Bicycling

For 426 days beginning October 11, 2019, I have swung a leg over the top tube, fired up the Garmin watch, and pedaled my bike around Austin, Texas. Starting and maintaining several other daily habits like walking and writing back on January 1, 2018 eventually led me to do the obvious one for a bike rider and blogger. Although I’ve traveled the equivalent of around the equator, and surpassed this year’s bike goal (and several other goals since), for some reason I keep at it. Why, you might ask? Well, stopping a streak would be very easy, but getting here was extremely hard. So I just keep on keeping on, so far, for now. Doing my small part to help Keep Austin Weird.

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611.8 Miles in November 2020. Oh Yeah: 5,999.9 Miles in 11 Months of 2020!

Penultimate. I used to think that meant a really great writing instrument. (Actually, I didn’t; I just made up that pun right now.) Anyway, November has ended, and December has begun. Eleven months down, one to go. I’ve already surpassed the number of miles from my second longest year, the first one I kept records. That was 5,306 miles in 2016, and now I’m on the cusp of 6,000 miles for 2020. Since I’ve already achieved my huge goal of the equivalent of once around the equator (24,901 miles), anything else is gravy. Yummmm…. gravy. Anyway, here’s a short review of my statistics from last month.

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