It’s hard to not write about the elephant in the room when it’s far, Far FAR! bigger than that. Coronavirus is like sunlight, or water — except that it’s poisonous for many, and deadly for some. There are I’m sure much more eloquent attempts to explain and interpret what’s going on. After all, I’m just A Dude who rides a bicycle and blogs about it. My tiny corner of the internet is just one example of something a few humans think is kinda cool, or interesting, or important, but in reality is not. It’s frivolous, navel-gazing distraction.
And yet, we each do what we can to cope, to survive, and maybe again even to thrive. So I’m writing this blog. And it occurred to me that maybe I’ve learned a few lessons from biking 100-175 miles a week for 22 weeks in a row that might help me and you get through this. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (I’m not really suggesting you do that; please don’t.)
Back when the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jr., was running for president, he gave a speech at the University of Texas at Austin. By the end, he had the crowd of 5,000 Longhorns and some townie interlopers like me all riled up. He said “Repeat after me: “I am somebody. I AM Somebody! I AM SOMEBODY!” In true call-and-response gospel fashion, we chanted in full voice back. I believe that most of the time. But other days I’m just some dude who rides a bike and stuff, edits my bike memoir, and writes this blog. Sometimes there is no one theme for a post, so only a hodgepodge will do. This is one of those days. To quote John Lennon, another American icon of peace and justice: “My momma never told me there’d be days like these.”
One of the pleasures of being a car-free bicyclist in a bustling city like Austin is that there is never a shortage of cool things to photograph. When you’re stuck in a car, you can’t just pull over and take pictures. But see something interesting while cycling, pull over safely, and bam! You’re rewarded with plenty of images as you like. This is one of those posts where the words can’t paint the whole picture.
Biking 25 miles in one day can be challenging or easy depending on your abilities and how you feel. Then there’s the weather like wind, rain, cold or heat to contend with. Traffic can be very scary even if you’re used to riding in it. Also important are the quintessential questions that come up riding a bike like: what to wear, what to eat, where to go? I must have figured all that out because I managed to make it another seven days in a row for the 10th week. This past week I totaled 175 miles, which is huge – 25 miles a day if you’re counting. Or a mile for every hour of the week (168) plus seven. So what follows are some thoughts on my pretty stupendous week (or stupid, depending how you look at it; maybe it’s a little of both.)
Not that beast. I mean beast mode. I’m not a believer in magical numbers (unless my lottery tickets finally pay off). It was my second longest month ever, after the 731 I did in April 2017 including 202 Miles in 2 Days for the MS 150. Given my lack of a day job at the moment, I made it my bidness (as some people actually pronounce “business” in Texas) to bike my butt off (it’s still there, though). And bidness is goooood! That’s because I averaged 150 miles per week. Well, I guess it’s volunteering if I’m not getting paid.
It’s surprising that I accomplished this since it takes me longer than it used to. I could blame Sophie, the 28-pound steel bike with nine gears I’m riding, or the prematurely colder, windy and wet weather, but I’m just not moving very fast these days. Some people I know rode Das Hugel, an unsanctioned sufferfest that’s over a century and 10,000 feet elevation (I wrote about it last year.) A Dude doth not Das Hugel. However, compared to everyone who’s home sitting on the couch, I’m friggin’ Speed Racer. So perhaps my efforts are inspirational to somebody out there reading this. You don’t have to believe me, let’s look at the Strava stats.
Saturday brought me several opportunities as a bicyclist and advocate. First up was the appearance at the neighborhood association by one of the 10 City Council members of Austin, Texas. His name is Gregorio Casar, the son of Mexican immigrants, but he goes by Greg. He really knows his stuff, is genuine, friendly, and not pretentious at all. I believe he is the youngest Council member ever. Second was a Smart Trips Austin ride. It’s a City program to encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation including walking, the bus, and of course bikes. It was super hot, so it was sparsely attended, but I wanted to check it out and meet the two young staff people just the same. Third was I added 27 miles for a 30-mile ride. ‘Twas a pretty good day, if you ask me. Oh, you’re asking me? OK, I’ll tell you about it, then!
From the things that make you go mmmmmm department:
Mishap #1: Trash Cans, Trash Talk
Riding down a sidewalk of a busy four-lane road without bike
lanes, I swerve to avoid recycling bins, miscalculate, and Sophie the Fairdale’s
very wide handlebars catch them. I go
down like a Christian thrown into the gladiator ring trying to save the lion
with talk of Jesus. (Translation: Quickly.)
But unlike those unlucky folks, I bounced right back up, apparently