After revisiting winter as a metaphor with my last post, I’m feeling a bit poetic. My first attempt at poetry (in this blog — I wrote plenty of sappy rhymes in my school days) was a tribute to nature titled Poem: Word to Your Mother (Earth). The second one was called Verisimilitude: Leap Day Twenty Twenty Poem; it dealt with a day in the life and went a little into politics including the environment. In case you missed them, or have forgotten, enjoy. As for today’s words, they’re about the longest period of subfreezing weather in Texas for a long time and the third heaviest snowstorm ever, resulting in power outages and water line breaks for millions across the state and many here in Austin. In fact, there’s an Austin water crew digging up the street to fix a leak as I write. This poem is also about life, politics and nature; I’m beginning to see a theme.
What does nature and political poetry have to do with pedaling a bike? As always, I think the best weapon against climate change is the bicycle. It was warm enough today I went out for a 10-mile ride. If it’s cold where you are but you’re brave and layered up enough, be safe out there. Or if you have one, get on your stationery bike or put your bike on a home trainer like I did the last few days. And if you’re amongst the hoi polloi, well, I doubt you’re reading this dude’s blog, but if so, have fun on your Peloton. We don’t judge. But before your pedaling, or after, here’s my poem. I don’t claim to be a good poet, but it’s like art: I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like. Hey, I’m no Ralph Waldo Emerson or Mary Oliver. I hope you like it.
Thick white fog hung over the East Texas lake early that sultry, steamy summer morning. The ground clouds mirrored the layer of gauze of sleep over my still slumbering eyes. We’d been awakened at the butt crack of dawn a bit too gleefully by the Scoutmaster or one of his slightly sadistic and sycophantic Scout leaders. It was the Big Day. The one we’d been dreading, anticipating, and otherwise talking about all week. It was time for mission impossible: the Mile Swim.
Slowly our shivering selves made our way to the shore, shedding shirts, shoes, and sleepy heads. Safety spelled out in a speech, suddenly it was sink or swim and shut the hell up time. The rest is mostly a blur, but somehow I and most of my Scout siblings, suffering silently in solidarity, finished the damn thing. One thing is crystal clear though: there were some alligators in that water. I swear I shit you not… seriously!
After another convenience store stop to refill my water bottle with ice and water, have an indoor nature break, and to refuel, I began thinking about the modern day oasis. There’s many a night when I feel the need, the need for speed (or at least my slow version of it) and also get hungry, in other words, have a snack attack. Plus, I simply must get out of the Texas heat and humidity, and these little shops fit the bill. It occurred to me that these places and the people who run them are an important and overlooked part of the biking experience. The clerks, often young from India, Bangladesh, Mexico, and many other places play a crucial role for the bike casual rider and weekend warrior alike. So I thought it was high time to sing their praises.
If I had seen a second of that program about dragons and stuff on the Home Box Office channel, I could continue the allusion. But I haven’t so I can’t. But I can however tell you that the hotter-than-hell-fire breathing dragon that is summer in Central Texas is starting her terrifying approach. Temps are already topping out at the low 90’s in Austin, Texas. People, get ready, a lack of rain is comin’. I share my tips on how to deal. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor in real life or TV. I’m just telling you how I deal with the heat. If you have or may have a medical condition that makes being outside dangerous, ask a real doctor, not a dude. This goes for everything on my blog. If my experience helps, great. But always use common sense, take responsibility, and you do you.
Saturday I got myself down to Bicycle Sport Shop on South Lamar for Bike Austin’s 9th Annual Hottest Day of the Year Ride. About 40 folks from a young age to not so young arrived to sample the mocktails, peruse Bike Austin t-shirts and brave the heat. The good part was that the route was a short 10-miles and took us to two splash pads and two pools. While technically not the hottest day, it was warm enough, 99 F heat index. A Dude was serving as one of the ride leaders, and it was an eventful afternoon. The next night I put in the first longer ride in a while, 31 miles total. So let’s check them out. Continue reading
“I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves….”
— Night Moves by Bob Seger
He awoke this morning from a deep slumber, face down, lines engraved on his face from the pillow. The unemployed, aging cyclist trudged to the bathroom then back to bed for a much-needed snooze after another late night staring at screens. Before the alarm went off, something outside the drafty casita woke him for good this time, and gingerly, he rolled out of bed. Not ready to face the wind and likely rain on his bicycle, he texted a fellow attender of the weekly job club, pleading for a ride. The gangly and kindly grad student (who may or may not have been spying on him for his thesis) agreed.