it’s true that even a small headwind affects the pleasure of the ride. you have to push a little harder. it’s not easy breezy.
i have developed a yogic cycling mantra in these times when the weather or terrain are causing friction: feel good, stay grateful.
oh, and “at every intersection, look every direction” – practice conscious biking. some times i look up from the handlebars and i suddenly realize i haven’t been paying attention. for how long? what did i miss?
despite my frequent anxiety, i have been working at cultivating and maintaining an attitude of gratitude. you should see my life. it’s amazing. there are, as with any life, complications and uncertainties. but they are all my choices.
i seem to get caught up in the philosophies of right vs wrong. can something be
right but evil
wrong but good
evil but right
good but wrong?
i think we all grasp the wrong but good, good but wrong. but the right but evil, evil but right? that seems a lot more complicated.
i get overwhelmed.
i love this time of year. late spring/early summer always feels full of so much potential.
speaking of which, for the 7th year in a row on June 3: False Profit presents Spring Training, a free day party @ Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland. honestly it really is one of my favorite days of the year. i sit around on all day on a blanket in the sun in a beautiful park overlooking the bay, listen to my friends play killer music, dance on top of waterfalls, and everyone i know shows up. it’s awesome. you should come.
.::.Filed in autobiographical, me myself and i, philosophical ramblings | Tagged with anxiety, bicycling | Comment (0)
as i’ve mentioned previously, the pathway through aquatic park in berkeley is often a human obstacle course, with the playground and babyjoggers and frisbeegolfers and dogs off leash, none of whom stay to the right or seem aware of anything but whatever they are focused on. you can ride around the other side, but it is exposed and runs along the freeway and so is often 1) windy and 2) full of exhaust from 1-80. so while riding through the park sounds safe and lovely, this is more often than not the part of my ride that leaves me swerving and cursing more than the city streets.
this morning was no exception, and as i came around one bend, there was a man standing facing the path, crouched in a squat-like position, eyes darting quickly back and forth. he was an older man, wearing sweatpants, and didn’t look particularly out of place, but it was the darting eyes that spooked me. he was fully in a pounce position. what was he doing? i moved over, picked up pace and rode quickly by, but when i turned to look back, HE WAS RUNNING FULL SPRINT BEHIND ME. now, in retrospect, i assume this was just an older man out doing some sprints in the park and that his furtive eyes were just looking out to make sure the path was clear before he jumped back on for his next interval. totally normal. but looking behind you to see a man sprinting after your bicycle is sort of disconcerting. and so i sped up more, and rounded the next bend.
unfortunately, around the next bend, another old man was entering the pathway off the grass with a walker, looking the other direction. i tried to warn him for a second, but my reflexes took over and i hit the brakes. too hard. and over the handlebars i went……
like most accidents i didn’t realize what happened at first. i quickly noted that i’d only hit my hands (gloved) and knees, no head, and got up. the old man had turned around and was standing there, and he said “are you ok?” and i said “yes, thanks, i’m fine i think, i just didn’t want to hit you.” i got back on my bike and pedaled away.
and then i realized that my right knee really did hurt, the initial adrenaline shock wore off, and the whole experience of being chased by an old man/almost crashing into an old man had sort of shattered my nerves and i just started crying.
i guess the good thing about working alone is that when i got to the office i just laid on the floor and cried until the feeling wore off. and then i went to get some coffee.Filed in autobiographical | Tagged with bicycling | Comments (2)
(it’s National Blog Posting Month aka NaBloPoMo again, and so i will be posting all kinds of things, polished and unpolished, long and short, meaningful and silly, every day for the next 30 days.)
sometimes my bike commute takes forever in a bad way: headwinds, cold rain, traffic lights. sometimes it takes forever in a good way: floating through sunshine, out of time. i forget where i am as i pedal into the day
give in to
fake plastic trees
it wears her out
it’s now been 2 years since i had a car to go to work or run errands during the day. i ride about 200 miles a month, mostly all over the oakland and berkeley flats but into SF now and then too, although i like biking there less. i feel like an idiot for all those years i drove a car instead of biking. why sit in traffic when you can fly through the breeze? many days my bike rides are the only thing worth doing, and both my body and mind have benefited immensely. i am SO LUCKY that nothing has happened to me (yet) – so many friends hit by cars, so many almost-accidents i see on the streets every day. but i am a conscientious biker, i ride safe.
winter and darkness and rain will be here again soon enough, it’s true, but i was fine last season. + another reason i will never move (back) to where it snows.Filed in autobiographical | Tagged with bicycling | Comment (0)
i got on my bike monday for the first time since valentine’s day, as it had rained the whole week after that (and by rain i mean MONSOON) and then i went to michigan.
it felt so amazing. my body rejoiced. have i mentioned recently about how much i love riding my bicycle?
some mornings i float. effortlessly. the sun is shining. the air is still. it feels glorious. i sail.
other times i have to fight it’s raining. there’s a headwind. it feels like work. i push.
but no matter – i am into it.
i don’t know if bicycling is saving me much money (with only a 9 mile RT commute i wasn’t driving much before) but it sure does make life more fun. and my sanity: if i didn’t have that half hour of fresh air+exercise before and after work i would most certainly be losing my mind right now.
an optimistic update on the ongoing shoulder/neck pain management:
after a year and half, the other physical therapies and whatnot recommended by my chiros, MDs, et.al. (alignment exercises, deep massage, heat/cold, etc) weren’t doing much but temporarily alleviating the tension/pain only to have it return. then i read somewhere not too long ago in some online article by some personal trainer who i don’t think was a physician that a large majority of neck/shoulder/back pain is the result of uneven muscles pulling your body out of alignment and that only weight training would resolve that problem, not muscle relaxers or the kind of light PT often prescribed. a study released in 2008 confirms:
“The higher percentage of pain reduction was due to the special effort made by the Danish researchers to follow exercise guidelines as set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine. This meant not babying the painful area, but instead, treating it the same as any other muscle group during a strength training session.
The people who just rode the stationary bike also reduced pain, but only slightly. The researchers felt theirs was not enough pain reduction to indicate the stationary bike would make for good therapy for neck problems.
The upshot of the study is that for people with trapezius myalgia, a good treatment would be doing high intensity strength training 3 times per week for 20 minutes under the supervision of a professional.”
so even though i was scared to do more advanced weights, especially free weights, because i had hurt myself doing those in the past, i said wtf and started going to the body sculpting class at the Y again for the first time since 2009. body sculpting is more or less basic calisthenics (push ups, situps, squats, lunges, etc), but with free weights/kettlebells or resistance tools (bosu ball, resistance bands). i do this 1-2x a week for an hour and it’s TOUGH. i am often sore for a couple of days afterward, sometimes in muscles i didn’t remember having. and i have to say (crosses fingers) — i think it’s working. i haven’t had a significant bout of pain since NYE and i stopped downing handfulls of pain relievers a couple of weeks ago. SO: YAY!
fingers crossed though because it’s not 100% resolved. i can still feel it there, that muscle knot below my shoulder blade, that tightness behind my right ear, there, lurking. and i am still on tenterhooks sometimes when i attempt something that i’m afraid will result in a pain snap. like yoga, with all it’s downward-dogging. but i have even started going back to yoga! which i was really missing from my life.
because of this i’ve become a bit (more?) evangelical about how much i believe physical exercise is important to sanity and well-being. i know this seems DUH, but it’s amazing how often people forget this (or willfully ignore it in favor of sedentary activities), and how RARELY doctors enforce physical exercise as a wellness tool. but watch The Biggest Loser! lives are changed by treadmills. if you have body aches, pains, moods, demons: sitting on the couch is most likely not only hindering recovery but part of the problem. get up and move.Filed in autobiographical, food, health & vegetarianism | Tagged with bicycling, pain management | Comment (0)
i am finding this “end of year” post difficult to write, and it’s coming out in pieces. i am trying to wrap up 2010 in my mind and in writing and it’s not going well.
part one: recognition: grace
in my solstice blog post i talked about why this year hasn’t been fun for me. the thing that bothers me most about it is not that i feel like life has been cruel or unfair to me in particular – i am highly aware of my 1st world privilege and all the good things surrounding me – but that the overall affect on my mood and attitude has made ME not fun. a couple of nice friends told me after that post that despite how i have been feeling on the inside, i’ve been a friendly, positive force for them, and i appreciated that, because i think most of all this year i have been afraid that i’ve maybe rubbed some people the wrong way with my grumpiness, even though it was rarely ever personal, and possibly even damaged some friendships/relationships. my boss in particular – wow. the combination of 1. work stress 2. body pain 3. not sleeping 4. task boredom have sometimes compounded me into a srsly ….bitchy person at work. some days even i can’t believe how grumpy i am at work. and that my boss puts up with it. i feel guilty about this. which goes back to my last post about my main resolution for 2011 is simply to try to be a more positive person, even if in just the little ways. i want to have more grace.
part two: shedding skin, removing the unnecessary: austerity
like everyone else, i have (ongoing) goals of removing the unnecessary from my life, physically and mentally. clean out the shelves, get rid of useless stuff, release attachment to objects, cleanse the environment and body. the drastic Austerity Measures in europe this year piqued my interest in learning more about that idea, philosophically and economically, and while this 2010 Word of the Year has a bad reputation economically and politically, philosophically i am not opposed.
the crux (for me) here is whether austerity is, by definition, on the opposite end of the spectrum from hedonism. can you not be an Austere Naturalist (see: Hume), living life to the fullest, completely enamoured with creation, but without all the excess? isn’t that a better way to be, happier in simplicity? is this idea truly audacious in a modern consumer world?
more than anything though, i feel that simplifying my desires, my belongings, and my inputs and outputs will help me gain some focus. i need focus. there is too much extraneous going on here.
part three: reincarnation: focus
recently some friends started an email thread wherein they reported all the things they’ve done/accomplished/significant events for them this year. while i’m inspired by my amazing community, it also it made me sad, because i feel like i have notable nothing to say, and i didn’t participate in that thread. going on vacation to south america and watching a lot of really good movies and being lucky enough to have worn some fabulous outfits this year don’t qualify as accomplishments to me.
in retrospect, the two biggest things that happened in my life this year have been 1) again, the ongoing body work/struggle to find pain resolution and 2) becoming a full time bike commuter. at the beginning of the year i was certainly not expecting #1 to still be ongoing here at the end, and was unprepared for the mental toll it would take on my energy and commitment-to-do-things level. as for #2, i knew that biking to work and back would be somewhat of a shift, but didn’t realize that it would feel like such an accomplishment. according to my exercise log i have biked over 1500 miles this year. every day that i get out of bed and get on my bike and make it to work is sort of a little miracle.
but if these are the two biggest parts of my year, i’m not sure how to feel about 2010. in past years i’ve always found myself little side projects, moonlight jobs, or new hobbies that resulted in feeling like i accomplished something new and definitive. i feel like i just let this year the last couple of years roll over me. maybe this is what i needed and a natural downcycle but it feels very unproductive and i feel that now i am overly-anxious to DO SOMETHING in 2011.
“Someone told me not long after I moved here that people with talent and no ambition move to San Francisco, people with ambition and no talent move to Los Angeles, and people with talent and ambition move to New York.” (–PH)
OH HOW THAT RESONATES.
but WHAT? the thing is i still do not have any definitive goals. i can’t tell you what i want to do in 2011. or who i want to be. so in addition to more Personal Austerity and Grace, i need Focus.
so here’s to 2010: the year i went to South America, the year i bicycled nearly every day, the year the whole world felt volatile and entropic on both a personal and global scale.
may 2011 be full of austerity, focus, and grace.
Filed in autobiographical, resolutions | Tagged with bicycling, pain management | Comment (0)
yesterday the headwind was so strong that i thought maybe gravity had increased overnight. i was pedaling so much harder than usual, yet barely moving. it was psychedelically slow, almost unbelievable, and when i finally dismounted my legs were like jello.
this morning was bright and clear with less of a wind, but cold like we have not felt since last winter. i had to stop to rub my hands together, my fingers numb, and as i did so, i noted the birds flocking in the water at Aquatic Park. how can those birds stand what must be frigid water, while i stand here with 4 layers, freezing my ass off?
today we prepare for a trip up the mountains, where it snowed 8-10 feet in one day and overnight lows are below zero. i am not prepared for this; i had envisioned crisp late-autumn days and hikes on muddy trails and maybe some flurries and frost in the morning, just enough to be enchanting. i did not envision huge piles of snow and subzero temperatures, as if it were february. i pray we do not get delayed by road closures or accidents, and once we arrive, if this weather holds i do not intend to leave the cabin or get out my pajamas until sunday.
have a safe and happy thanksgiving everyone. be grateful.Filed in autobiographical | Tagged with bicycling, NaBloPoMo, tahoe | Comment (0)
so far this month (Nov 1-12), i have ridden my bike 108.7 miles.
in preparing for the dark rainy season (yet to descend – it’s been clear, warm and gorgeous this november thus far), when commuting on my bike i am now officially fully dorked out. 2 bright white LED headlights + a red tail light. rain fenders. a basket. a helmet- ALWAYS. bike gloves. a cycle jersey with reflective trim. tight bike pants with reflective patterns on the side. reflective rain pants (yet to be worn). and this windproof/waterproof safety vest in a bright yellow/green neon that is so bright i think it actually emits light.
biking in traffic, in the dark, i find these measures necessary. i am always so scared for the people i see without lights, without helmets, weaving in and out of traffic after dark. i don’t know about them, but my life is worth being a dork sometimes.Filed in autobiographical, food, health & vegetarianism | Tagged with bicycling, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
it has now been almost 14 months that i have been a carless commuter, 6 of which i have had no choice but to bicycle, as my bus route was cancelled. i love bike commuting. LOVE IT. but sometimes i have to remind myself to love it. sometimes when i crawl out of bed, after a not-so-good night’s sleep, to face a foggy, windy morning, the last thing i want to do is get on my bike and ride a 25 minutes to WORK. this seems to be particularly harder the last couple of weeks, but i’ve been actively reminding myself to ENJOY THIS. enjoy the fresh air on my skin, the endorphins and adrenaline, the little things like the smell of freshly cut grass or wet eucalyptus leaves, even on the foggiest/mistiest/windiest of mornings.
generally, Autumn is my favorite time of year. back when i was a child in the midwest, it signified several things: 1. going back to school (which i liked), 2. my birthday (10/1), 3. halloween, my favorite holiday, and 4. leaves changing color and crunchy leaf piles.
now, here in the Bay Area, it means 1. my birthday, 2. halloween, my favorite holiday, and 3. WARM DAYS and SUNSHINE after a cold foggy summer. but it also means: 4. days get shorter, 5. Daylight Savings Time is coming soon, and 6. eventually, RAIN.
4 and 5 and 6 are making it difficult to love the equinox/first day of Autumn this year, as a bike commuter. biking in the dark and rain is not fun, no matter how hardcore you are. but still: I <3 AUTUMN and i intend to make the most of every last luscious sunny afternoon until the darkness descends.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with bicycling | Comment (0)
the approximate scale is 15 to 30:
a nice-looking spectrum in its duplicity,
but there’s a lot of room in the middle.
my right arm is barely alive.
one of my least attractive personality traits
is that when i’m in pain i whine.
how much does it hurt?
i don’t know if i have a low threshold for pain or for complaining.
sailing through the wet-green and foggy-blue,
today is not the first day i wished my bike commute was longer.