Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrate The Freedom Machine

Forty years ago I began my rant: Car usage is overdone, we are addicted to the automobile and the apparent "convenience" of happy motoring. The oil companies/countries hold all of the cards and the noose will tighten. Driving is violence and we've become callous to fatality numbers as high as fifty thousand deaths a year...just in this country....and this does not include the cancers, lung diseases and effects from a quarter of a million injuries resulting from automobile accidents each year. A gallon of gas at the Terrible Herbst gas station on Shaw avenue in Fresno set me back 25 cents in 1972. That was the last gasoline purchase I made in the seventies. I scrapped my fire-prone Mercury Meteor in May of '72 and invested in a bicycle.
Jimmy Carter had it right in 1979 when he explained that the Middle East was holding US hostage, and maybe we shouldn't be in such a hurry to use up the Earth's account of dinosaur juice. Nobody wanted to hear it. Americans wanted a big dose of patriotic cheerleading, we wanted to hear that we were bad-ass invincibles, we voted for Ray-Gun the Conquerer. I didn't return to car ownership until Ronald Reagan was voted in for a second term...."I might as well help use it up," I reasoned.
It wasn't a major purchase, I bought Grandpa's '63 Chevy Nova for $1. We drove the snot out of that car...98,000 miles of California backroads while researching our California Dream Cycling guidebook. In 1998 we upgraded to a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that could carry us over deteriorated highways after the "coming depression". In 2005 we re-Jeeped so that we could drive through the coming financial disaster and inevitable lack of road repairs....sure to be on the horizon...and now I have a 4WD Honda Element, a go-anywhere delivery van, beautifully sensible for errands run from Bodfish Bicycles, a shop we have orchestrated and composed as a livelihood for eighteen years now. During this period I have commuted by bicycle ninety-five percent of the time.
Of course, gas and oil are not getting any cheaper ($4.59 a gallon as I write this)...oh yea, I was going to wax brightly about my freedom machine. I love my bicycles, best bargain of a lifetime, I throw effort into my bicycle and it rewards me locomotion, birds singing all around me, a speed sensation that is earned but controllable and sweet, deep breaths and full circulation of life fluids to every extremity and all I had to do was hop in the saddle and rotate my legs. There are numerous roads and paths where you are not battling with motor-bullies. It's out there, right now. Wait for what you consider acceptable pedaling weather and get out there...rediscover the magic of self-propelled travel one more time and you are guaranteed less stress about these tumultuous times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Pause Between Wars

Here we go again! Gas prices in the small village of Chester just hit $4.50 a gallon...what'll push them to $5? There are a half-dozen possible scenarios that I can see unfolding in the next month...all include Iran and most involve a pissed-off Israel, and hawkish Americans. It's time to bring the kids home from Afganistan but, I'm hoping the trip doesn't include a layover in Tehran.
Regardless, we knew 2012 wasn't going to be a "business as usual" kind of year. The bicycle business could improve considerably...I've seen three Nightly News interviews at gas stations this week which featured disgruntled motorists saying, "It's time to buy a bicycle."....warms the cockles of my heart. These commuters and shoppers might just fall in love with their own bodies and their ability to self-propel. Hearing the birdsongs of Spring and smelling the daffodils on their way to the Post Office or grocery store may cause permanent change...may give us all a little relief from busy-ness as usual.
Oh ya, it's going to be ugly, in so many ways...but, it's already ugly. There seems to be no way to put an end to all the unrest and unhappiness in the Middle East. Ron Paul is on to something, " isolationist America" is not even possible yet, I'm sure a few hours of thinking like an isolationist could be a good thing. In addition to pedaling around town to accomplish a handful of errands, I prescribe a few hours of silent foot-twiddling on quiet roads and paths in the country. Regular doses of "meditation in the saddle" can help us gain perspective and to savor each new day. We are only along for the ride...might as well take in as much oxygen and put out as much CO2 as you can with each breath as you possibly can, and I know no better way to pull this off, (without ruining your knees and ankles), than in the saddle under your own power.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is Cycling Better Than SEX?

As crotch-based activities go, I honestly believe that cycling is one of the best. I suppose it is a disadvantage to have to wear specialized clothing to perform well at this hard-breathing form of exercise...small price to pay to eliminate chaffing and any embarrassing messiness. Oh yea, I'll go out on a limb and say, Yes! Cycling is as good as, and sometimes better than Sex.
What else can result in your lungs, heart and legs working so cohesively and rhythmetically while keeping a smile on your face for two hours... during each and every outing? It doesn't make you want to take a break and smoke a cigarette.
The fact that you have to perform in public may be one of the disadvantages. You get used to it, but it is one of the downsides. As a group activity cycling can be invigorating and will never result in disease or jealousy. Cyclists are seldom obligated to long term relationships or legal contracts. We are always free to drop out of the peloton and rejoin later, no hurt feelings.
Cyclists do need to be "on the same page", can't have Fat Tire enthusiasts mixing it up with the skinny/hard tire types...not for long, anyhow.
Getting back-in-the-saddle after a few weeks off often results in a sigh of relief, "Oh baby, where have you been?" The answer is always the same, "Just hanging around waiting for your remount." Loyal, loving and obedient, my ride seldom disappoints.
I'll admit, there are times when I feel inadequate, however, good coaching or a more appropriate gear, usually puts the smile back on my face. Cycling and sex can work together for a life of excellent endurance and satisfaction, yet, riding my bicycle five times a week seems reasonable and it's a lot cheaper than a stockpile of Viagra.