Wednesday, July 11, 2007

150 MPG!

I don’t think about it anymore, I just do it. I moved closer to work a few months back, from 18 miles each way to 6 and committed to full time bicycle commuting. I took the bus once, my first day in the new house, but have otherwise not missed a day. I rode two or three times a week from the old place but it took more time than I had to ride everyday so I drove part way and took the train the rest of the way. At first it seemed like a big deal to ride everyday. I had been in the habit of bringing my work clothes on the drive/train days but when you ride everyday that option goes away so I had to figure out how to manage with no petroleum power. Turns out not to be nearly as difficult as I had feared. Business clothes folded around a 10” by 12” stiff plastic board (a flexible plastic cutting board trimmed to roughly the size of the cardboard that comes inside new dress shirts –don’t forget to round the corners and sand off any sharp edges…) arrive at work much the same as they left home. Oh it’s not without changes. I upgraded my pack to be able to carry enough clothes for the better part of a week. This was the best investment in my cycling gear yet. I can even carry my laptop in it when need be and unlike the cycling specific models, it centers the weight on my hips and leaves my back completely ventilated. Anyway, since I don’t think about it, it didn’t occur to me that riding home might be a problem on the day I donated blood. Not, that is, until I was wired for harvest and was handed a small innocent sheet of paper titled AFTER YOU DONATE which informed me that I must “avoid over-exertion or strenuous exercise for 12-24 hours”. Did I mention that since my ride is only six miles, barely enough to get warmed up, that my routine is to ride hard and sprint at the end? Well OK, I don’t have to ride hard but it is slightly uphill and there was a pretty stiff headwind so there was a certain amount of effort required just to get home. So it all worked out OK though I was about a 50 mile ride tired when I got home. The point of this story is that while I was lying there in the capable hands of the phlebologist, it occurred to me that I no longer think about bicycling to work as my only transportation. I just do it. It’s no longer different or unique. It’s not a big deal; it’s just how I get to and from work. So I think to myself, how many others could ditch their car and ride their bike to work everyday? What would happen if suddenly lots of folks no longer thought about riding their bicycles to work but just did it? With the recreational rides I do above my commute, I ride nearly 800 miles a month but only drive my car around 200 which takes roughly 12 gallons a month. So just for fun I did the math and it turns out that I am getting around 83 miles per gallon. If I take out the special trip miles that aren't happening anymore (which is about 100 miles), it would be only 6 gallons a month or 150 mpg! And I don’t even think about it, I just do it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Drafting Dragonflies

Summer’s here, roadies swarm the pavement Small clutches of carbon, scandium, aluminum, ti Rolling smoothly, glistening flesh in the sunshine Sweet whirring of gears shifting through the wind

Click, click, click

We are all alone out here together Grabbing a wheel, Pulling through the breeze Grinding up the hills at our own pace

Grind, huff, click

Slingshot as we may, cluster as we must Expanding each to our own limits A spotty paceline but always returning Swarming to defeat the wind

Whish, huff, rest

Today we were joined, our lycra swarm By dragonflies playing on our currents Grabbing our draft, darting in formation Spinning off on their own pleasure cruise

Playing, flying, free

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Life 2.0 in full production

It’s been a long road. Inventing a life is never easy, harder still when the old one must be systematically destroyed to obtain the raw materials for the new one. As I traverse my life, I realize I am building the bridge upon which I walk across the chasm and dismantling the bridge behind me to recycle my past into my future. It’s a tricky construction project because the foundation must be maintained or the whole experiment falls into the abyss.

After many years of marriage, I realized I was dying. Not the immanent death you could see if your car was sliding towards a cliff and you at least knew it was time for taking preventative action. No, it was more like the glacial pace of growing up in Love Canal where years, even decades passed as the toxins invaded slowly, steadily. For me it was marital monoxide, a one way corrosion eating away at my spirit, my vitality, my life.

I don’t always take care of myself as I should, raised in the Christian tradition of God first, others second, self last. I took the self last part and crafted a life of adaptation, subjugating my own desires to those perceived of others I chose to be close to. Now I don’t think being self-less is a bad thing but without getting my own oxygen mask on, I was starving myself and letting my own life slip away as I struggled to attach others’ oxygen.

But then I woke up.

I believe that happiness can be cut out of whole cloth. I know that satisfaction can be derived and self-worth maintained in the most hostile crucible shat out from the twisted depths of humanity’s darkest bowels. Viktor Frankl ripped the covers off the part of my psyche behind which this knowledge lived but mine was a more insidious demon; my liberty wasn’t taken from me, I systematically handed it over to someone else in the name of love. No, it wasn’t as horrific as the holocaust by any means but I volunteered for it; I thought I was acting in my best interest by acting in her best interest.

I missed the most important of life’s lessons: I failed to replenish my own reserves as I nurtured the reserves of my other.

Modeling is the process of creating a vision of something. Implementing the model doesn’t always work out as intended since the world is more complex than we have sensory capability to perceive but it always has an effect. When lives are joined, a model is agreed upon and the more the elements of the model are exercised, the more solid and self-perpetuating the model becomes. It’s nearly impossible to redraw the model once the vision becomes reality (which of course is why getting the model right is so important).

When I realized I was dying, that the model could only sustain one life, I was faced with a fork in my road. I could sustain the other until I expired or I could redraw the model so that I could sustain my own life. The options were as different as oil and water and could not be blended. In choosing to sustain my own life, my other believed that sustaining my life could only come at the expense of hers. True or not, that was the unintended truth of the model we had used for nearly twenty years. I roughed in my self-sustaining model some time in the last millennium but only recently completed Life 2.0 based on that model. It’s not perfect but it is sustainable and having survived what seems like a near-death experience makes life even sweeter than I had been able to envision. While the intent was to save my life, the richness now woven into my days is beyond what I could read in the model as I was developing it. Life 2.0 has been going for a while, perhaps it’s now 2.3 or 2.6 but that doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is that Life version 2 is in full production and Life version 1 is no longer supported.