Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chapter 8: We All Were Once All Bike Commuters Once

Laddy and Jake had many summers together before graduating high school.  It was around this time the two boys went their separate ways although cycling remained a part of their lives, in different ways.

While in college, Laddy didn't like walking across campus to class, and he detested asking for rides from other kids in the dorms.  Too many times he reached out for a ride to grab a bite to eat or for a lift to Wal-Mart.  Soon the responses seemed the same, "Dude, find someone else, a taxi, or get a bike.  Just stop asking me, ok?"

"No more asking for rides," Laddy told himself.  It was time he returned to what he loved and enjoyed; it was time he found a bicycle to tool around on.  After all he thought, "There are lots if kids here riding bikes."  He only needed to find some wheels, not a perfect bike, but one that could transport him to and fro to complete simple, daily tasks.  

Following this last rejection from his dorm room mate, who refused to "carry him" to work.  He immediately ran down to the coffee shop and grabbed the school's free newspaper, "what may be for sale or for trade," he thought.

Laddy flipped through the want ads, scrolling up and down the column, "Damn! Nothing."
His next move was online.  He pulled up the local craigslist and found what he needed, an inexpensive, older bike that had a rear rack and a handlebar bag.  There was only one problem; this "perfect" bike was a brakeless, single-speed, raspberry horror-show.  The color was cool with Laddy.  Bicycles that are painted unpopular colors didn't grab much attention, but a single speed bike without brakes, "that's a horse of a different color," he muttered to himself.

He called the number listed and haggled a bit on the price before seeing it live.  They agreed on $150.  The seller, an older fella, with a large scar across his forehead, and a dark tan had been a bike messenger in the city for a few years during the 1980's.  The raspberry monstrosity got him through many sticky situations and cost him little to maintain.  The old fella share a few stories about dodging cabs and buses, and the occasional police officer who scrambled at times to ticket the messengers for taking shortcuts on sidewalks or going the wrong way up one way streets.  The old guy smiled when he told Laddy his war stories.

Laddy asked him about the scar across his head.  The old messenger touched the scar on his head, and slowly said, "Oh my,"  and continued to rub his face, while smiling a bit.  "I got distracted while heading uptown."  He continued the story and his face turned red, "Yeah, I saw a beautiful young lady, and I couldn't help but look at her.  I forgot to watch ahead and flipped over the handlebars as the bike rolled into a deep pothole."  The seasoned messenger shook his head, "My bean took all the impact."  He concluded his tale of woe, "Always wear a helmet; keep yourself safe above all things."

 Laddy nodded in agreement, and asked about maintaining a single-speed bicycle.

The retired bike messenger said, "To be a successful messenger in NYC, you had to have a reliable bicycle with no downtime due to mechanical failure."  Pointing to  the raspberry nightmare, he laughed, "She doesn't look like much, but she was always got the job done, and she will do the same for you."

He reached out, pulled her off the hook on the ceiling of his garage; holding onto the headset, he rolled her over to Laddy and said, "Take her." 

She was beautiful.  The raspberry color was strange, even a bit effeminate, but with the slightly dirty white handle bar tape, drop bars, and a well broken in leather Brooks saddle, the raspberry horrow-show was a delight.  Laddy's heart beat with excitement to ride her.

Laddy did take her.    He handed over the $150 dollars and climbed aboard his new, yet well used, raspberry stallion.  He circled around a few times in the messenger's driveway.  Laddy fell in love instantly. He pedaled forward then backward.  The beauty of a single speed bicycle is its ability to move forward and backward, to apply the pedals simultaneously to balance the bike in a single place much like a helicopter hovering above a battlefield.  His heart beat faster still as he joyfully pedaled away.

The old messenger hollered, "Be careful going down hill, Laddy, you gotta back pedal REALLY HARD to slow her down."  Laddy raised his right hand and waved in acknowledgement and rode off into the sunset back to campus.  He thought about his first bike ride with Jake and recalled that summer night on the beach and the beautiful lady in blue.

Til next time,  Laddy and Jake will see you on the road.

My First Ride

Can you remember your first bicycle ride?  I can.  It was the summer of 1973.  My mom and dad bought me a two wheeler with training wheels.  The two wheels were made of hard solid rubber.  The seat was deep green and made of plastic; the frame was lime green.  It was ugly, but to a 4 year old it was beautiful.

My dad took me out to the backyard patio and started the process of holding on and letting go as I wiggled in the seat, tipped back and forth, and then, BAM, I actually pedaled unassisted for a few revolutions.  It was time to hit the street and go for distance w dad's help.  The Big Wheel was a toy of the past now.

I don't remember how long it took that day to go completely solo, but it couldn't have been too long since time flies when you're having fun.  It felt like I had my first three speed the next day.
Oh my, my first three speed.  My first "real" bicycle.  It was blue; it had a white banana seat.  The seat bar was tall, if it was two feet high it was five.  The handlebars were tall too, chopper like. The shifter sat in the center of the cross bar (the ball buster).  Wanting to be like Eval Kneval, I shifted all the time hoping to get just a little more speed.  The speed existed in my mind which raced up and down Hyman Ave always believing to be the fastest cyclist in the neighborhood.

What a feeling!  Doing things for the first time.  Riding all over the neighborhood.  Riding to grandma and grandpa's house or jumping on your bike, heading for the  5 & 10 for a pack of baseball cards was independence. Traveling by bicycle was the best experience a child could ever enjoy.

Any baseball cards I didn't want (usually Yankees cards), I placed onto the spokes with a clothes pin.  The card clicking against each spoke, faster and faster, click, click, click, made my three speed a motorcycle.  Zoom, I could go as fast as I wanted, as loud as I wanted.  The louder the rattle, the faster the bicycle spun.  Oh what fun.

Once dad let go of my Lightening Lime bicycle, he not only taught me the virtue of patience, but he taught me to trust my ability to accomplish the impossible.  Riding a two wheeler for the first time gave me a taste for adventure.  I could go anywhere, anytime.

Enjoy the adventure.  Til our next adventure, I will see you on the road.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Hope of Spring

Ahh... Has spring finally sprung?  Not yet.  Although we have had some wonderful weather just prior to the official date of the season of winter thawing into the seasom of spring, we were blasted by serious snow and brutally cold weather.  Running outside, well for me anyway, was not gonna happen.

These past few days of warmer weather has been nice, yet the rain keeps me indoors.  I am not a fan of running in the cold or the wet.  Today, I am sure those runners who stepped outside to run had a pleasant experience.  The temp was moderate, around 40.  The rain still hung above them in the clouds.  However, here I am still inside hoping the temp climbs to 45 or I will ride the cycle trainer again.

The Clash sung a song entitled,. Should I Stay or Should I Go in the 80's... I run this refrain in my mind whenever the weather sits in limbo between nice and not-so-nice.  What will I do?  That is the question of the season.

Should i stay IN or should I go out?  I remain uncommitted to this point.  If I had a running partner to motivate me to run outside, it would not matter the conditions outside because we are in it together.  We can chat and have a coffe at the runs end and put our mind right for the days ahead after such a catharsis.  Yet, running solo, to me, is a quagmire.  It's lonely, quiet, and long (regardless of the distance).  My mind only drifts to the end, but its still the beginning.

I miss those friend runs.  I wonder if someone may ever run w me again asking, "Hey, lets get out there today although the weather is frightful, we can do it and persevere Mother Nature's wrath.
If you have a running buddy, gey outside and run.  If you run solo and see another solo runner, gain some courage and run alongside him or her.  Who knows, maybe he or she wanted a running buddy just like you.

Til then, I will see you on the road.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Since My Last Post: Too Much has Happened

Well, here we are in 2017.  Several months have passed since my last post in September of 2016.  The primaries ended, the election of Donald Trump has been completed, and I started shaving with a straight razor; I also moved my running and cycling indoors.

I will start with the weather.  Although the snow has not been my obstacle to running or cycling outside, its been cold.  I cannot run outside when the temperature dips below 40 degrees, and I cannot cycle outside yet in the winter because I am still collecting the necessary gear to accommodate the cold breeze of winter cycling.  I made one attempt to cycle in the cold, the temperature was 28 degrees and snow was lightly falling. I wore my running gloves that did not possess the capacity to keep my hands warm while riding.  My fingers froze.  I  turned around and rode briskly home after four miles.  I hope to acquire a nice pair of cycling gloves once I meet my other priorities like paying taxes and such then I will attempt another cold ride.

I must say, that overall, 2016 was a splendid year.  My family moved from one side of Syracuse to the opposite side, and we transitioned the children to another school district and established ourselves as connoisseurs of local ice cream parlors; I learned that Lune Chocolate makes the best chocolate and ice cream sandwiches in Central New York, possibly the state.  As a cyclist, I started to enjoy hill riding since hills seem to dominate the roads around here.  I discovered the beauty of Cazenovia Lake and how beautiful it could be to live on a lake.  I love taking a spin around the lake.  The homes are gorgeous.  This summer, I will make a couple of cycling goals:  1.  to ride round Skaneateles Lake, 2. to do one bicycle over night at a local campground, maybe two.

Regarding politics, I sure hope Donald Trump can do what he says, "Make America great again."  It will be an arduous task to overcome the obstacles of the left who seek to push their agenda of street rebellion and anarchy.  The streets will become more and more violent as The Donald commences the implementation of taking America back from the Democratic thugs who plunged our nation into a socialist abyss of handouts and relative responsibilities.

Abortion, health care, and the environment are the abodes for leftist ideologues who manipulate an uneducated public that no longer pays attention to the meaning of words nor the long term affects of "government"actions.  People forget that  government programs do not work.  They have never worked.  They have never saved anyone any money, ever.  It was the government that gave us HMOs, Health care did not get any better nor did it get any less expensive.  As a matter of fact, since Medicare, medicaid, and HMOs were established, health care has gotten more expensive and less effective because, now, there is a guaranteed payor-- the government and an insurance company.  The costs have become divided, not less expensive.  So, now there is a move to increase the cost to the insured (patient) to alleviate the cost to the government payor and the insurance payor unless the insured (patient) is part of an inclusive government system like medicaid-- aka Obama Care's state exchanges.

Trump, will fail to restore our nation to the fee-for-service health system of the past because our citizens fell for the lie that fee-for-service is not affordable and is exclusive when, in reality, its the fee-for-service system that breeds lower prices and restores the "practice of medicine"to the physician.  Think about it?

Health care is my largest issue with Mr. Trump because, unlike most Americans, I know what he will do.  He will create a large interdependent, interstate insurance program that will be 100% regulated by the government and ensure "universal" health care comes to fruition.  The only winners will be the wealthy and the politically connected.

With that said, Trump will have a positive impact on smashing the highbrow attitudes of the mainstream media and lifting up the conversation among Americans to speak plainly again.  In short the pc language of the left will fade.

Last, shaving with a straight razor is just awesome.  I can now shave without an expensive replaceable cartridge system.  One razor and months of shaves before another honing that will last months again.  Beyond cost of blades, the entire process of wet shaving (that is the phrase used for "old time" shaving) is relaxing.  The lathering of shaving cream in a mug, the slow process of shaving the face with care, and the use of balm and after shave has raised my level of hygiene to a higher level.  This past year was a throwback year of sorts.  I wear bow ties (only the tying kind) once a week. I shave with either a DE razor or a straight razor.  The past is the new future.  I believe its important for Americans to know that the past holds the keys to our success as a nation.  Sometimes we cannot return to old methods, but where we can restore the past, we should.  Old customs like self-responsibility, self-discipline, and self-restraint are always virtuous and will always improve who we are as people and therefore who we desire to be as a nation.

Keep riding your bicycle.  Keep running.  Stay fit. Til next time, I will see you on the road.