Monday, August 30, 2010

Bikes Come, Bikes Go

Sometime back I came across a garage sale in the Glenview District of Oakland, and spied a mountain bike for sale for $45. A small Gary Fisher mountain bike, it had few miles on had been owned by a girl who went off to college. I thought Flashette might like this, so I bought it, but she didn't feel the fit. It sat in the garage for a while, then Max rode it to school his senior year (after his Nishiki road bike was stolen there) and it gave trouble free service. Then it sat some more. I am now quite pleased to report that it is currently serving who-knows what-duty up at Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock desert, being ridden by Lazlo, a long time friend of Max's, and also currently living in Olympia Washington. I couldn't make it to Burning Man this year (or any other year yet) but it is deeply satisfying to know that one of my bikes is up there...freewheeling the sands of surreal 21st century life. Oh, the tales it could tell.

Recently I spied a red road bike leaning against some recycling bins by Encinal High school. I stopped to look at it- an ancient Bridgestone, complete, but in poor shape, the frame just huge, the ugly factor amplified by it's pink electrical tape handlebar wrap. The elderly Asian man who owned it asked me to take it and he threw in a parts box of miscellaneous bike parts. This bike has been sitting in my garage since then, and I was going to either strip it for parts or sell it dirt cheap, when a member of Cathy's church called us to ask if we could supply her son with a bike, his was recently stolen, and he needed to get to work. He wanted a durable faster ride. I said sure, I have something. Surprisingly, the son was almost my age, he didn't mind the fugly bar tape, he was very happy to get it, and he mounted up and rode off into the sunset. So be it! Glad that worked out.

Last winter Team Alameda member Ron Arth called me up to offer me a beachcruiser bike for our exchange student girls to ride. I still have that and it is being put to good use by my current exchange student Joe, from Guangzhou China. Our other host son, Lorenz from Germany, is digging my Specialized Rockhopper, and he completed a 20 mile hill ride on it last weekend.

I ride my Miyata road bike to work everyday. I reset the odometer after my heart tuneup, symbolic of starting over, and I now have 657 miles on it. Riding to and from Bay Farm island. Nothing else. 11 miles every day. Its a workout coming back in the afternoon into the incessant fog blown headwinds, no even worse, it can be excruciating. Not unlike being waterboarded. Ok, maybe not that bad. But it can be really bad. I've found that stuffing paper in my ears helps a lot to mute the howling wind in my ears. I'm convinced from doing this day after day that the sound of wind whipping my ears is the worst mental obstacle to overcome, it saps my strength and morale. But it didn't kill me, so I must be stronger.

And still there are more bikes: the Army bike with its new fat slicks sits in the garage awaiting a ride to the produce stand. I also ride the AMF Huffy cruiser bike, rusty and grungy, but surprisingly capable and almost theft proof. Almost. Last but not least is my Lemond, still rocking the ultra low hill gears, still riding like the trusty steed it is. It is very good at what it does, which is extreme grade riding. Oh yeah, Cathy has two bikes as well.

So... lots of bikes in and around the house. A bike for every reason, a bike for every season, a bike fore every guest from every country. Living the bike life, hardly using the car, building my carbon credits and lowering my carbon footprint. Bikes....what amazing machines! I love 'em.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The New is Old Again

I'm stoked that I finally figured out a way (reverse engineering at its finest) to put the old iconic Flashblog header on the new blog. It was pointed out to me that there is no link back to the original blog, so I installed that over on the right side under the ads that are going to make me rich, rich, rich. So please click on one of those so I can make one eighth of a cent---my best guesstimate, because, like, the checks are not rolling in from Google.

I got to bed late last night, having spent a gustatory day in Santa Rosa with our friend Gaylyn, who treated us to gourmet dining after a lazy day at the Russian River. I bagged the 7am start time today for the Team ride. Come to think of it, I bagged the 9am Team ride as well. Just wasn't ready yet, and besides, the sun doesn't come out until 10. Is this Flash's new banker's hours? Perhaps for the time being. It works. It works well.

As is the case on these solo rides, I had no firm destination in mind, other than Tunnel Road, because Tunnel has the most cyclists on it per mile, therefore the most potential for Flashblog fodder. However, it was in Montclair that the synergy started to hum. The sun was out, it was warming up, and as I passed Peet's and glanced over to see if anyone I knew was out front, a cyclist pulled away into the street and was soon alongside me, and glancing over, I saw it was Mike, a regular at Peet's. He's a young guy from Berkeley, rides a fixie or an Orbea, and is often sipping a java at Peet's. I guess today he wanted some company because we rode together all the way to Sibley, and along the way we picked up a guy in the yellow jersey, and a guy in a red jersey, and we had our own little gruppetto, although the other two just tagged along and didn't speak. Mike seemed to be cruising effortlessly in his Rock Racing outfit, while I had to reality check my heartrate because I knew I was over my recommended max. pulse of 120 (shaking head) prescribed by my Kaiser specialists. Considerably more than that, but I felt fine, and that is what I needed to go that pace, which I can't say was fast, but indeed faster than my usual, and fast enough to stay in visual contact with a faster group of six that passed us. Riding with Mike made my reference points all hazy, and I was, just riding.

I pulled into Sibley and noticed eight women standing in a circle chatting, and immediately got a hit off their jerseys which boldly stated "Girls with Alti-2-ude". I told them how cool I thought that name was and one of them suavely mentioned they thought of it after a long drinking session. I proclaimed them all aspiring Death Riders, then asked them where they were going, and they said the Pinehurst loop, so I rode with them. We went the long way, Skyline to Redwood. down and up the back of Pinehurst, then they turned toward Moraga for their homes in Walnut Creek, while I made my way back up Pinehurst. They were good, C pace, good form and group skills, yeah, and good climbers. All of them prime TA material. Perhaps in the adjacent parallel universe they are. So I did my ambassador thing and invited them to this blog, so maybe we will see them in the future.
I took a favorite Flashcut down to Montclair, pulled in for a coffee, black, and listened to the bluegrass duo at Peet's. The sun was warming, the vibe was mellow and a sense of an electrical pulse surged subliminally along the meridians of my body. I felt nostalgic for the moment even though I was living in it. There's the Oneness. Right there. That's why I cycle.

Ride on my friends.