Friday, May 11, 2007

Dear Dr. Phil

Dear Dr. Phil,

I am writing today to share my experience this morning and ask for advice. For a while, I'd settled into a rhythm. As a result, I've grown complacent and comfortable. This morning I lacked much motivation. One of those days, as glorious as it might be outside... I could have just phoned this day in.

So, I decided to switch things up a bit. I tried out something I haven't done in a long time. I abandoned the one, so light, so svelte, so beautiful for another. Not as light, certainly more complex, but beautiful too.

I'm just not sure how I feel. I think I learned that sometimes when I am tired, I rely on the simplicity of what I'd come to grow so comfortable with. When I was feeling sluggish, it would feel as though I would be pushed to keep moving and not get lazy. This morning's re-familiarization with complicated left me feeling all that much more lazy. I'd put in some effort here and there, but then kick back and relax as if waiting for something to happen for me.

I'd try different positions to switch things up a bit and try to find something that worked for me. I enjoy the flexibility, but I am not sure that I was happy. What do I do?

Fortunately, there are choices in life. The good Dr. Phil prescribes the prescription of joy:

I am of course speaking of the difference between riding my Phil Wood SLR Fixed gear hub on my Quickbeam and this morning's ride on the parade bike built up with the ever so beautiful Phil Wood freehub. Both are things of beauty. Both have limitations... I truly find that when I am tired, it's almost easier to ride fixed gear. At least there is momentum to move the legs 'round.

This morning I am most definitely tired. I don't know if it's last night's long ride home in which I felt like playing "Boy Racer" and keeping the ol' tach pegged as much as I could. I think that I felt a bit guilty about running late and wanted to get home.... but I rode fast (for me.) I did take a combination of bike paths on and off street last night. I haven't really formulated any clear thoughts yet.

I did ask myself the question about funding for bicycle transportation. Just how do we justify it? I'll have to do some thinking and research on the funds generated by vehicle traffic, license, and gas tax revenue in relationship to spending on roads and highways. I find myself asking, perhaps we should put our money where our mouths are and have a bicycle registration fee? Make it a cool designed headbadge like emblem with a spot for annual renewal sticker? Public input on design, artist submissions, something like the state quarter. Not an enforced licensing by any means, but a way in which riders could sign up and put money where the rhetoric comes from? I definitely think that there should be a state permit required for riding bicycle trails. Make it like the state park permit. Again, difficult to enforce, but I think enough honest people would make having a program worth it. That's a thought for another day...

My biggest confusion pertaining to bike routes to date is a relatively recent change to Pelham Boulevard in Saint Paul. Again... Long time popular route for cycling. It seems it's an official "bike route" now? They re-striped the center lane of the road, moved the line several feet to the east leaving basically one lane for traffic going north. There's no special car-deterring pavement markings or silly white graphical depictions of a cyclist (complete with shaped helmet) painted on the road to signify our rightful place. But, they did put up "Share The Road" signs about ever block. Part of Raymond has been striped and there was a crew of about six people actively working on striping some more.

This morning, it would have been really easy to just climb in the car and drive. I am tired. Maybe it's the fact that this is the first time that I've ridden 3 days in a row for a while. Maybe I am not eating right, maybe the 6 hours of sleep I get a night are not enough. I think my strategy of parking the trash containers and a bike in front of the car helps. I am just making it easier to grab the bike than get in the car.

So, this morning I spent time concentrating on the interesting things that one gets to see via bicycle.

  • The young attractive girl by the UofM walking her big dog. Leash in one hand, bag full of shit in the other while smoking. Mmmm... Bet that smoke is great when combined with a fresh turd but a few inches away from your nose.
  • The guy I see almost every morning by the Plymouth Ave crossing over I94. Here's to you Mr. "bet you were recycling cans long before it became politically and environmentally correct."
  • The woman out this morning before 6am with here electric powered trimmer. Going at the whole front yard. Bet your neighbors love you... not just 'cause it looks so... um... "Nice" when you are done. I'm sure they appreciate your enthusiasm. It should be a nice dry day, perhaps what you've cut will dry and you can get it bailed by lunch time.
  • The difference between neighborhoods can be so dramatic. I'm sorry, but what is it about living in North Minneapolis that compels people to simply throw their trash anywhere. I swear, there's trash everywhere. Dorito wrappers, fast food, cigarette packages, general trash. The difference between one day and the next is noticeable. On occasion someone or crew must come through and clean some of it up... but within a few days... man. Don't people care about where they live?
  • The house where last fall they had the sign in the front yard "Happy to Pay for A better Minnesota." You see, they own a VW Beatle... with personalized plates... Wisconsin Plates! Since taking down the sign, perhaps they've changed their tune?
  • The guy with the garage door open... Inside parked a new Corvette and a new Cadillac. Out front of the house, a handwritten sign "House for Sale... $355,000... and a phone number." You'd think he/she might spring for something more than a Sharpie when selling the house.
  • To the Flanders rider... Saw you two times this week... evidently on your way to work too? Dressed in full racing regalia. Matching jersey, arm warmers, and shorts. I've said "Hello" twice. It seems that your "Race Face" is permanent. Each morning I've said hello, you look at my bike before looking at me with your blank expression... How come? Perhaps it's too early in the morning for you to muster up a return "hi." You do look miserable though with that big backpack on. You seem to be struggling to keep it on your back... At least your bike is light though...
  • And finally, it must have been a rough night last night at Santorini's. It's the bar restaurant next to the building I work in. Some mornings, I count the cars left in the parking lot from the night before. This morning there were 8.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Wow. Either your Flanders rider is the same guy I see in the morning near Ft Snelling, or there's two guys out there with ultralight bikes and heavy looking backpacks who won't say hello.

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