It was a super-rainy Bike to Work Day today, so I didn’t get the kind of massive haul that’ I’ve gotten the last two years (2013 and 2014). I stopped at only 3 of the 10 stations I’d planned on, because I feel the need to go much slower in the rain and slowly hitting 10 stations around the city takes some time. And I did need to get to work, after all. I hit Thunderbird for coffee, Quack’s Bakery for coffee and an oat bar, and Wheatsville Co-op for coffee and everything else. Wheatsville always has a deluxe setup with multiple vendors. This year’s Bike Austin bag had a free pass for B-Cycle too, which is cool—those funny red rental bikes with the super-low frames and enormous baskets are fun for short distances (that don’t include hills). I sported a bright yellow poncho to keep my backpack dry (no chance of keeping anything else dry) and it worked perfectly. What a blast to ride in the rain, even if slowly!
Major Taylor was the first African-American to win the world track cycling championship. Track cycling is the one where the riders go around an indoor track as fast as possible on bikes with no brakes and no gears—just one fixed gear. For Major Taylor to win the world championship in 1899, he obviously had to train harder than everyone else and maintain focus, as racial discrimination was a major force in his racing career. (Once he started winning races, for example, tracks began banning him.) He raced as a professional from age 18 to 32, and during that time developed 12 rules by which he both raced and lived. In 2010 graphic designer Chris Piascik developed an illustration for each rule. (Below the graphic is a typed list of the rules.)
- Don’t try to “gyp.”
- Don’t be a pie biter.*
- Don’t keep late hours.
- Don’t use intoxicants.
- Don’t be a big bluffer.
- Don’t eat cheap candies.
- Don’t get a swelled head.
- Don’t use tobacco in any form.
- Don’t fail to live a clean life.
- Don’t forget to play the game fair.
- Don’t take in unfair advantage of an opponent.
- Don’t forget the practice of good sportsmanship.
*The Major Taylor Association provides this explanation of the term pie biter: “In the track races of Major Taylor’s era, teaming and cooperation between riders to physically block or ‘pocket’ a strong rider was forbidden. Major Taylor was often a victim of these corrupt practices. The term ‘pie biter’ probably refers to a rider who agrees to block a stronger rider in exchange for a share of the purse.”
[11.12.13 post, re-run]
I ran across this handy comparison of 10- and 11-speeds. It is on the Performance Bikes blog, so you have to take it with caution. Performance is national retailer who has good prices on stuff, but you should hesitate before taking their advice and NEVER let them touch your bike. They have people dressed as mechanics, contained with a service-like area, standing around holding mechanics tools, but they are not mechanics (just people who I guess finished a training course or employee orientation or something) and WILL fuck up your ride. Anyway, I thought the Performance blog post was an interesting read. When I got my road bike, I went down to a compact crank on the front and miss that granny gear on these Austiny hills (yes, I know I should just become a stronger rider, but I should also floss every day, so). I hadn’t considered going up in gears in the back (currently just at 7, not 10). Something to think about when I upgrade in a few years, anyway, when I am that much older and closer to the grave and still not strong on hills.
I read a delightful article today entitled “My Daughter’s Ten Bicycles,” in which a Jewish man considers the 10 dimensions in which he bought his daughter a single bicycle. A lovely read, it is based on a 500-year-old description of the universe as a manifestation of the Creator’s 10 attributes:
- Chochmah (wisdom)
- Binah (understanding)
- Daat (knowledge)
- Chessed (love)
- Gevurah (might, restraint)
- Tiferet (harmony)
- Netzach (victory, ambition)
- Hod (splendor, devotion)
- Yesod (foundation, bonding)
- Malchut (sovereignty, receptiveness)
The author considers his purchase of a bike for his little girl through each of these 10 dimensions. My favorite one is the one related to Yesod:
In the sphere of Yesod, it was an act of bonding. The event became an integral part of our relationship. From this point on and to all eternity, this act will be part and parcel of what makes me her father and makes her my daughter.
That reminds me of my dad teaching me to ride my bike. I remember him telling me he was holding on to the back of the seat while he ran behind me, but at some point he stopped holding it, and I kept going, powered by my own momentum. I remember very little of my childhood, but I can recall that moment, when I realized he had let go and was just running behind me as a show of support (and to show me I didn’t need his support to power myself through the air). I did the same thing with my daughter, as I’m sure all parents do.
Today I participated in the worst kind of bicycling: a spin class. It was not the worst possible situation, in that the room had huge windows looking out on a scenic vista. The worst possible situation involves a class in a windowless room, where the sweating cyclists steam up windows that aren’t even there, and all hope is lost. Spinning sucks for various reasons: it’s boring, it’s hard, the room gets so hot and humid, you are the mercy of someone else’s musical tastes*, the other spinners can be intimidatingly fit**, and in general the rewards are far from evident. However, the rewards are there: when I’ve forced myself to go to spin class regularly over about six weeks, my bike speed on the road increased significantly. So, I’m going to force myself to go at least twice a week for the next few months. I thought I’d spice up this post with a song from a Danish band called I Got You on Tape, as the other songs I found with “spinning” in the title were not doing it for me. So, here’s this song. You don’t have to spin while listening to it. You’re welcome.
*(I once took a class from an instructor who favored use of Robert Earl Keene’s “The Road Goes On Forever” for a super-long climbing stretch, making for a miserable experience.)
**In today’s class, the instructor said at one point that the women in the class should be at 190-200 watts. I was hitting maybe 130. Oooof.
Tonight’s hour of hot yoga just did me in & I fell into bed instead of going for the night ride that’s become my custom this past week. I’m psyched for tomorrow’s bike commute, though. And so to bed.