When I engage the front door’s dead bolt, or remotely secure my car doors, I do it by habit, without much thought. Not so with my bicycle: I need to remember the lock, bear the burden of its weight (a function of its invulnerability, increasing with a cycle’s worth and the crime rate around it), then find an immovable object to which my bike can unbreakably bond. As I uncoil the cable then shut tight the shackle, I’m fighting the forces of another’s temptation—and when walking away, I look back to see things as they might, betting that theft appears more trouble than it’s worth. How lighter life would be if everyone were able to buy the bicycle of their dreams.
I have trouble with cue sheets:
--The type is always too small on the files supplied
--If it's pouring, when it comes time to turn the sheets over, and you must take them out of their holder, or bag, and they get soaked
--When I look down at the list of turns, it's very hard to figure out at a quick glance where I am on the sheet in order to figure out what the next turn should be. By the time I have, I've either missed the turn or crashed
So, this was my solution:
--First I reformat the file so that the type is much, much bigger. I eliminate all the columns except point-to-point milage, turn direction, and turn instructions (see photo below)
--Then I take the printed pages and trim them to around 6" in width, and tape them all together, end to end, resulting in a long, continuous sheet
--I tape the start to the top roller, roll it all up onto the roller, tape the bottom to the lower roller, then roll it all onto the lower roller—voilá—ready to roll.
Now, each time I make a turn I simply turn the crank to bring the next turn into view; each time I glance down at the cue sheet I see exactly what turn I'm headed for in an instant—no scanning a long list, trying to remember the last turn I took.
And there's never a need to take the sheets out of the water-tight box in the rain.
I take life one step at a time, and that's how my Q-Box serves it up.
Riding steeply up a New England road, I offered apologies to my flatlander friend for what must have been a foreign foe: Gravity. “Wind is much worse,” he boasted. “It erodes you as it did this once-jagged hilltop.” “But only one way,” I countered. “Later on, it will simply push you along.” “Not always so,” he chimed. “Wind’s fickle and capricious, even taunting at times. I’ve had it change direction and face me again just as I turned back towards home. You can curse the upturned earth while you climb, but you know you have its promise of payback once you crest—and unlike the untrustworthy wind, every mountain can be taken at its word.”--PSK
The last ride of any consequence I attempted was last summer—the Englewood 600K. At the 100-mile mark I was fading fast in the heat, my stomach in need of a plumber. I bailed. And satisfied myself until the snow came with short rides around town—jaunts that continued after the snow melted, months and months and months later. So last Sunday, standing in front of Knapps Cyclery waiting for the starting toot at 7 am, I had yet to put more than 20 miles on my odometer at one time in what seemed like years.
This is all said, not to set up a defense of my 11-hour-26-minute time, but to help explain why I'm so impressed with myself for finishing at all.
I won't give details of the ride, since there were no memorable climbs or descents, mishaps or misadventures. I didn't spend more than ten minutes riding with company. Ten minutes in total. It was, for the most part, just me and the wind (and the pollen that floated on it).
So what did I learn in my solitude? I came to realize a number of things:
--If I had any regrets over not trying PBP in 2011 after bailing 1/3 the way through 2007, I finally let them go: I realized that I couldn't have gone anyway, having broken my neck the month before. This had never occurred to me before, in the two-and-a-half years I've spent regretting not going back.
--I realized that I have never DNF'ed due to missing the close of a controle or finishing past the final cut-off. Since starting riding brevets in 2005, I have never DNF'ed for anything other than quitting. Wow. That's a take-away thought.
--I came to appreciate that momentum-loss (wind) is worse than elevation-gain (hills). [see my next post]
--There was a lot of flat-fixing going on, it seemed. I'd like to see some data on this, especially how the flats correlated to tire size. As I passed stopped riders wrestling with tubes of black vermicelli, I realized I'm happier rolling on wide, heavy tires than running the extra risk of a puncture. Fat beats flat to the unhandy.
--I learned that lack of preparation may not be a deal-breaker, but it sure don't help.
Photos of cyclists taken in remote areas are commonly shot from behind, the lone traveler heading off to who-knows-where, braving the elements, terrain and alien culture. What’s conveyed is a sense of both adventure and loneliness—like images from a dream quest, perhaps one with no end. From the back the riders are faceless, so they are Everyman—or at least everyone who has enough strength of body and independence of spirit to take on such a challenge. The next frame may have them a speck in the distance; in the following, they may have disappeared over the far and boundless horizon. I can’t help wondering: Who’s holding the camera? And I hold my empathetic feelings of isolation in check, because most likely this lone soul has companionship—and it’s even odds they’re on their return-trip home.
Take a hoola hoop, stand it on its edge, and give it a spin. As its axis precesses, each spot on the rim goes round and round and up and down, like a child galloping on a merry-go-round.
While we normally think of the seasons as cycling like a wheel, the year of a cyclist is like that point on the hoop, as the highs of summer rides descend into the lows of a winter spent off the saddle.
Now we’re at that point where the ring makes contact and rebounds again. For the first time since early fall we are looking up at the coming season instead of riding head down into a bitter wind. And bracing against a cool April shower we’re reminded that better cycling lies ahead.