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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Basho

There is a great article about Matsuo Basho in February's National Geographic. Basho was a haiku poet in 17th century Japan. A Zen Buddhist, he embarked on spiritual journeys walking around Honshu "shedding all worldly belongings and casting fate to the winds...paying heed to nature's modest drama." I started reading Basho's poetry and prose in 1988. My poetry here in this blog is inspired by his work. Riding a bicycle is a spiritual journey for me, my Buddhist path, slow enough to observe the fleeting ephemeral essence of the natural world and my own life.

We begin another journey today. We are packing up to head back to Logan. We should be on the road for 6 or 7 days. Leaving my Florida home rips me right in half. This place is in my heart; it is part of me. More than just familiar, it is what I know. Florida's ecosystems have become deeply rooted in my soul.

Our journey begins
As the chickasaw plums bloom
There's sand in my shoes

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Consumption Again

The beauty of the internet is that there is always someone writing things that I want to say. That is to say, it has already been said. Here is a link to Jared Diamond's latest op-ed in the NY Times. It is long, but worth reading.

Monday, January 28, 2008

DNF

A cyclocross race
Will make your body scream "STOP!"
But your brain says "GO!"

On Saturday afternoon I pedaled over to Gainesville, a nice two and one-half hour singlespeed
ride in the rain and sun, cold and hot. Jim Smart and Kristen Bowers picked me up at the northwest Starbucks near 43erd Street. With caffeine in hand, I hopped into the back of their "big white marshmallow" with their friend Jeremy, and we were on our way to Largo for the State Cyclocross Championship races. We looked like real racers with two bikes on top and two bikes on the back of their Volvo wagon. The "marshmallow" moniker was the running joke for the trip. With six air bags, we were told that a car crash would be like bouncing around inside a giant marshmallow. I told Jim he should charge admission.

We stayed the night at Erik DeKold and Kathy's house in Tampa. (Thank you Erik and Kathy!) We woke up early on Sunday and headed for the races. The course was really difficult with a lot of mud, tight turns, and quick ups and downs making for a slow ride. A 29er or MTB with a 36 x 18 gear would have been an ideal bicycle to race.

Jim and I did the Master's 35+. Below is a picture of Jimbo in the mud (photo by Erik).


I did well for the first lap or so. I made a move and was in second for a little bit. I got a cramp in my diaphragm (kick-in-the-side) and quickly moved to the back of the race. After two more laps, my 48 x 22 became really hard to turn over. I knew before the start I was over-geared, but there was no choice. With one to go, I quit. Did Not Finish. DNF is better than DFL. Jimbo, on the other hand, held on for the Silver. He was by far the strongest rider in the race, and on any other day, he would have been the state champion. Truly, I have never seen Jim ride so slow and passive. We are still trying to figure out why he had such a hard time.

Kristen, unlike her spouse, was blazing. She easily won the Women's Expert race. Her fastest lap was only a few seconds slower than Jim's fastest lap! She also took third in the points standings for the entire series, having only done two races. Here is a shot of her flying remount taken by Christian. By the way, us guys don't do it like this!

Erik and Jeremy did the Men's B race. It was the most competitive race of the day. Erik fought for second for most of the race, but ended up in third. He slowed down the last few laps allowing the 4th through 7th place riders to get pretty close to him at the end. Jeremy was 7th, less than a minute behind Mr. DeKold. Below is a great shot of Erik flying over the barrier. That's me on the left with Erik's camera. Both of the other photos in this post are by Carrie Pratt. Thanks Carrie. I steal photos because I do not have a camera.



Gold, Silver, and Bronze for our crew, those are pretty good results. They may even let me tag along again next year, if I keep my promise to do a little more training. A little more than nothing at all is a good place to start.

Do I want to race?
I could quit, just ride for fun
And smell Spring's flowers

The ride's discomfort
Is a metamorphosis
It makes me feel right

No, I want to ride
Hours on the bike - cold, dark
Before the snows melt

Monday, January 21, 2008

More Trip Pictures

We stopped at this cemetery on day four, somewhere (Weimar??) between San Antonio and Houston. The vegetation here looked just like north Florida with magnolias, live oaks, and St. Augustine runner grass. We were hot and tired. We had begun day four in Kerrville, a beautiful little town in the Texas hill country on the Guadalupe River.

Day five began in Lafayette, Louisiana. Above is the re-planted beach at Pass Christian, Mississippi. This area was flattened pretty good by hurricane Katrina (notice the live oaks in the background coming back along with the new houses). Lupine and Patty were overjoyed to get out of the car and see the Gulf of Mexico.

There are no pictures of day five or six. We were getting tired of the trip by then. Above is a shot of mangroves at Chokoloskee. We needed more driving so we went to the Everglades. We may be in the Everglades for all of next winter if Patty gets to work with the Park helping to place Florida panther crossings.

If we live in Chokoloskee, I may get a job here working for cafe con leche and Cuban food. Delicious!

Me and Lupine in the Fakahatchee Strand.
Florida still has a lot of oranges. Hamlin oranges. Really, the Hamlin is an important variety of juice orange in Florida. Remember this picture the next time you buy a half gallon of the good stuff for $3.49.
Goodbye Waggles. We are going to miss you, old man.

Our next destination? Logan, UT, by the first week in February.

The Trip. What a Trip.


I finally have some pictures of our cross the country adventure to share. I'll try to keep the comments to a minimum and let the pictures speak. Above is the Book Cliffs north of Moab on day one.


How did the animals do? Pretty good!

How did you fit 2 dogs, a cat, a 6 year old, two adults, and all of your stuff in a Honda Civic?

Day two, blue skies of New Mexico near the San Francisco River Hot Springs, west of the Gila Wilderness.

Day three, on the road in El Paso. I can do anything as long as there is coffee.

More to come. Stay tuned!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Turn to Rant

I listened to an episode of To The Best of Our Knowledge this morning as I made my coffee. One segment covered The Apocalypse Reader, 34 short stories about the end of the world. Hey, it's on everyone's mind. When I listen to or read any form of news almost every story is about the impending drastic changes in our world: the economy, the price of oil, melting ice caps, rising tides, economic stimulus, and political unrest in many countries (this week it is Kenya and upcoming elections in Venezuela). Living on Earth is a great source. Their lead story in every episode is always global warming.

I rode with the TT group in Gainesville on Thursday. It was good to see some of the old guard (Peter, Pat, and Bryan) and some of the old trails. The talk of the group, when we talk, is always about carbon footprints and sustainability. Conversations about biodiesel versus bicycle and quick inflation with a CO2 cartridge versus a re-usable plastic pump are common. Isn't that funny, CO2 vs. plastic pump? Gees, Louise!

So yes, I'm always thinking about these things, the apocalypse, the economy, and sustainability, thinking about them as I continue to lead a comfortable, nearly-average American life. I have reached a few conclusions, however. First, walking is the only sustainable form of transportation. Don't think for a second that bicycles are sustainable. If all the metal parts were made of recycled materials fabricated with solar energy and there were no petroleum based tires, tubes, and grips, well then, perhaps. I will continue to ride my bike, don't misunderstand me. I may even try to go without a car at all. I'm just saying that pondering how to inflate a butyl tube with the smallest footprint is a waste of time. Next, I know for sure that our economy can not and will not continue to grow. A fossil fuel, consumer-based economy is a dying economy. My question is, why is growth the goal? Why grow? To what end? Aren't our leaders smarter than that? All they can think of is a tax cut so we can take the extra cash and buy more unnecessary plastic items. This is smart? I look forward to the day when a reporter says "the economy shrank last year...less houses, less cars, less corporations, less sprawl, and less items purchased from Wal Mart." Sure, when this happens my life will be hard. I am OK with that. My life is hard already, hard by choice. When the apocalypse happens, I'll still be on my bicycle. When bicycle tubes can't be found, I will walk.

Rant over.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wildness and Bicycles

My time here in Florida is winding down. I find myself thinking about all of those old bicycles in my basement and backyard, and looking at the weather forecast in Logan. Cold. I have enjoyed being here in Florida. On Monday, Lupine and I were in the Ocala National Forest. We saw a black bear crossing the road! We took a little boat ride at sunset across the St. John's River at the Fort Gates Ferry. There was a bald eagle on a pole in the middle of the river. Every day this week, there has been nearly 1000 sand hill cranes on our lake. The wildness of this part of Florida is incredible. It seems wilder than Logan. Wilder, and at the same time there are so many more people, roads, cars, crime, and consumption (the stuff link again). In Florida it seems we have to drive the car no matter where we want to go. I can't believe how much gasoline I have poured into the Honda's tank while we have been here.

We are so insulated in Logan. There is much to be said about a place with limited sprawl (on the Florida scale), an excellent free bus system, and wide streets. In Logan, I can ride my bicycle anywhere I need to go. There is an emphasis on children and the people are fiscally conservative (they buy less stuff). If I could just have clean air and get everyone on a bicycle. While I'm dreaming, I would reforest the mountains, and reintroduce wolf, grizzly bear, and bison.

I will get on all of this just as soon as I get back. OK, I will at least recondition a bunch of old bicycles.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saddle Time

It's raining here at the lake house! That is a rare site. Really, it never rains here. So, if this keeps up for a month or so, the lake might fill up again. Seriously, the lake is about as low as I have ever seen it, so rain is a good thing.

The Tour of San Felasco was a lot of fun yesterday. I spent the entire day chasing Jim Smart and cutting the course (I have no pride. I even cut off several miles at the end). I am so slow, and Jim is so fast, he may never ride with me again. The legs felt pretty good, but my rear end sure hurt. I developed some saddle sores from my attempted tour down to south Florida.

Oh, I haven't mentioned how that little ride turned out? Well, I bailed. I cut the course. On Wednesday I rode over 100 miles and ended up calling Patty to come rescue me near Orlando. Here are some lessons learned:
  1. Don't sleep on the ground in just your clothes.
  2. Take a sleeping bag and a pad.
  3. Don't put all your stuff in a backpack. The extra weight on your back will really change how your bottom contacts the saddle. Ouch.
  4. Don't attempt to ride the Florida Trail on a cyclocross bike.
I will try it again some day. I'll just be a little better prepared.

I still plan on posting some pictures and stories from the cross country trip. It may take a while.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Stuff

It is so wonderful to wake up in our north Florida house. I sip my coffee, look out at the lake, watch the fog lift, and listen to the sand hill cranes. Patty's parents gave us an inexpensive espresso machine. It works, sort of. Since we have been here, we've bought other stuff for our "other house", sheets, pillows, comforter, odds and ends. Patty's parents have offered us one of their couches and another bar stool. We would have to rent a van and burn the gas to go down to Port Salerno to get the stuff. So, I grapple with stuff and the ethics of stuff. I have been pondering it for the last few days, and then I came across this. Watch it. It will make you ask some questions and it may even change your life. Me? I have to go to town and buy a gasket for my toilet. I have been told to buy a new toilet, but I will try to fix the one I already have. Wish me luck.

On a sadder, less global note, today is the day for my dog waggles' euthanasia. I have been thinking about the impending moment of his death all morning. Then, right on cue, NPR does a story on capital punishment. Thanks Nina.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We Made It

We are home in Florida. I know, so many of you wanted daily updates. I'm sorry, but there was just no time to blog, and few hot spots to blog from. We made the trip in 6 days.

In the next few days I will put up some pictures and tell the tale. We have an Internet connection here. The short version: the cat is cool, he did not run away and acted as if every place we stopped was home. He never put his claws into my head. More later.

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