So, this just happened. After reaching 16 months of consecutive bicycle riding couple of weeks ago, the blurb I put in my 500th bike ride in a row on Strava sums it up well:
I ain’t fast, suck at hills, don’t have a ton of followers, or a fancy bike, but I git ‘er done. Different parts hurt and I’m plum tuckered out most days. So mebbe a forced break’s a-comin’. Or mebbe not. I Just Keep Pedalin’.-moi
Thing is, I didn’t plan on this streak. I just one day realized that if I rode a little bit every day, it might be easier than a long ride every few days. And like my other streaks (yoga for 7+ years and walking, writing and virtually no flour each for 3+ years), at some point, a little voice started saying “Don’t Break The Chain.” It’s a little phrase attributed to Jerry Seinfeld writing jokes every day for a year, which he said wasn’t true. But it’s still a good handle for a challenge.
In a world where half a million Americans have now died of COVID-19, millions of Texans were without power for most of a week during the bitter cold snow and ice storm, and some still have no water or water damage. Plenty of other injustice continues: price gouging, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, unemployment, poverty, and climate change just to name a few. I know it really matters very little what one zaftig mid-aged bicycle dude in Austin did in his bike. Yet, life goes on. Content must be created, stories must be told, and horns must be tooted. So since you’re here, it’s like the Buddhist path: once started, may as well finish.
As summer winds down and autumn finally cools us off, my stock is trending upward and quarterly reports are good. By that I mean my bicycling progress, of course. As mentioned in my post 55-Mile 2020 Birthday Bike Ride with Friends; 5,009 Miles for the Year, I’ve surpassed 2019’s total miles of 5,005. And, that was 81 days early, too. While I continue to come nowhere close to breaking any wind, um speed records, like the tortoise and the hare, I’m not the fastest dude, but I do get there. The race is on to cram as many kilometers as possible into the rest of this most shitty of years, 2020. And it occurred to me while naming last night’s ride that my formula for success is simple, although far from easy. Allow me to explain.
Alright, alright, alright. I don’t literally mean on fire. But it is a quote from Matthew McConaghey as Woody Wooderson in the Austin-area film Dazed and Confused. Matt is apparently one hell of a dude, citizen, University of Texas at Austin professor (really!), and he happens to live up the highway from me. Oh yeah, I guess he won an Oscar or something for acting in Dallas Buyers Club. That’s all a seque, because alright is how I performed on the bicycle in July of 2020.
My recent year-end recap, 5,633 Miles in 2019: 5,006 Biking, 627 Walking — My Longest Year Yet!, did not completely capture the immense efforts I put out to reach that biking goal. I don’t say that to brag; it’s just the fact. I began back on October 11th and up to January 8th, I rode for three months, biking every single day. I pedaled on average 22 miles per day. I can assure that is a lot of work, but if I can do it, it’s doable for many people. (For confirmation, check out my Training Log on Strava.) For more numbers and what they mean, do keep on keepin’ on. That’s what I did, and you can, too.
Like many people in the modern era who are privileged enough to have a smart phone, electricity and mobility, I take a lot of pictures. Some good, some not, a few great. Who’s to say, though? If you like them, great. If not, move along. Trouble is, I don’t use that photo platform named after your grandmother, so when I’m riding my bicycle and take a pic, it goes either here, on my Strava fitness app (follow me there if you’re a bikester) or doesn’t see the light of day. Occasionally I post a blog with a lot of photos and some words to explain them. This is one of those times. Enjoy the whole “picture paints a thousand words” thing, yada yada.
No clip in shoes. No shorts (well, no padded shorts; I may do my small part to Keep Austin Weird, but my mother didn’t raise no idiot). Just started doing errands and since conditions were perfect I Just. Kept. Pedaling. I had several extended stops as is obvious from the elapsed time, including getting refreshments, soaking up the sun (sitting on a park bench) sending emails, two short meetings plus a stop at home to recharge my lights and Garmin vivoactiv hr watch.
Still, I was pretty happy to meet my goal, even if I was a week late due to the rain, wind and cold on my actual birthday. And it was pretty good for a 9-speed heavy steel bike with non-skinny tires. I didn’t even have to get out of the saddle and stand up on the pedals on the very steep Highland Hills Drive, either. I probably could have kept going, but as the farmer said to the pig in the movie Babe, “That’ll do. That’ll do.”
Birthday. The word strikes joy in a child’s heart but apathy or fear in adults. As we age, it seems more and more people care less and less about celebrating birthdays, either theirs or others’. Presents, gifts and cards dwindle. After just ending a very tiring job earlier in the week, and with rain and wind arriving as part of a cold front the morning of my special day, I had not made many plans.
But I still wanted to set out on my now fourth annual quest to bike my age in miles while collecting freebies. While I didn’t hit my goal, I did manage to complete my longest day in the saddle since August 15th (about when the job really kicked off) and my longest ride since June 30th. What follows are some images and info about my day.
A Visitor of Some Renown
Dr. Adonia E. Lugo, (maybe I’ll call her Doctor Wheelgood), who is Affiliate Faculty in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University Los Angeles, was here in Austin for the Imagine Austin Speaker Series. Her talk was called, “Mobility Justice: People Power & the Future of Urban Transportation.” Those in attendance said it was quite good. I wouldn’t know.
That’s because unfortunately, I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, which really bummed me out. A guy who knew about it said he was sure I was the one who told him — until he noticed I wasn’t there. Well, duh! I actually blogged about her recently in The Invisible Or Utility Bicyclist An Ignored Population. In it I reference her book (which I need to get and read and review here). It’s called Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, a memoir about racial justice and sustainable transportation. The good news is that her talk was recorded on video and will be forthcoming at this City of Austin link. Continue reading