Friday, May 30, 2008

Polo anyone?

"Redbeard," another guy & Brian

A couple weeks ago I biked to the Park Strip after work to witness the first bike polo game of the season. It looked brutal. Carnage. Wheels got broken; lots of crazy energy. Two college-age women I work with, Andrea & Tapia, tried it out while I hung around taking photos.

Last night I rode downtown again since the girls were bringing their new masterpiece - a polo bike to share. It was pieced together from a frame and other used parts. It was Tapia's last night in town before heading to the lower-48 on a bike tour. So it was also a bit of a farewell celebration.

Brian & Tapia

It was a smaller group this time, playing a manageable 3 on 3. Most of the mad-men weren't there. So, I took my turn on "Candy," the new polo bike. It was sometimes scary, mostly fun and took some concentration and lots of quick handling. It was pretty satisfying when my mallet actually made contact with the ball. Not so great when it bounced off my spokes and rolled the wrong direction! It'll take some practice to get better.

For a few moments I thought it doesn't really make sense for me to be out there playing polo & that maybe I should act my age and not hurt myself. But it was just so much fun and it doesn't really matter whether anyone else thought I wasn't a good player. Most people aren't. It's getting out there and giving it a shot. That's what it's about, right? Besides, if someone can tell me what it means to act my age, I'll give it some thought.

Andrea, Brian (the bike builder), Tapia & Rattle-can "Candy," the bike w/Spenard attitude.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

mellow ride

Tonight, riding home on the single speed, rather than sticking to the roads we took a few dirt trails: the Lore Road, Moose Track & Salmon Run trails. As I was pedaling behind Jon on Moose Track, just taking it easy, I found a rhythm, turning over the cranks as the trail rolled gently under my tires. For a few moments I entered that zone where I stopped thinking and just let the bike follow the trail through the greening woods.

Then I realized how easy it would be to allow such a mellow mood to overtake someone on a long singlespeed ride on familiar trails. I thought of our friend who races endurance events on his ss and understood so much more clearly how easy it can be for him to fall asleep on the bike and wake up on the ground with people staring at him.

These days things are so busy - work, home, volunteering, riding with friends - I have a hard time committing to it all. If a ride home through the woods can give me a bit of relaxation, well, that's just a bonus of commuting. But now that the bears are out and about, I probably shouldn't get quite so relaxed that I fall asleep.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome to the neighborhood

One morning last week a cow moose was roaming the neighborhood, stripping park from a tree in one neighbor's yard, eating the flower shoots from another. She rested in our yard, her body heaving - I thought I'd witness the birth of her calf but had to pedal off to work, sneaking out the side door of my garage to not startle her. Then I didn't see her again.

Last night, on my way home from work, I pedaled onto the bog trail near my house. I was crossing a boardwalk when I saw her again. I recognized her by the scar on her side. And there in the tall marsh grasses was her new little calf (see it?). Young and wobbly, hiding from me as I pulled out my camera and kept my eyes on mom.

I could hear the gulls and geese as the bog came to life with its summer residents. I tried to be patient without stressing out the mom who started walking behind some trees. The calf got onto all four legs and began following, slowly, as I watched.

I thanked them for sharing, then got on my bike and rode home. It was the best part of my day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vanity will get you

The driver of a Dodge truck intentionally swerved toward my co-worker, Peter, this morning as Peter was riding his bike to work. Lots of us commute to work each day from different parts of town. We mind our own business, stay alert and try to enjoy the ride before and after a busy day.

Then a truck swerves at someone. The thing is, Peter chased the guy. Words were exchanged, including a statement that next time Peter wouldn't be so lucky. At the shop, we talked about possible scenarios while Peter was on hold with the APD non-emergency line. He's going to report the guy. He might start carrying pepper spray.

Meanwhile, if you know a guy with a white Dodge Ram with the vanity plate "VETRAN," beware. He's no friend to cyclists. And, the worst part is, he's not alone.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

single speed

Last week, I finished building the single-speed. I did a quick spin around the neighborhood just to see how it felt. Saved from the recycling bin, it's pretty old school - ok, v-brakes aren't that old school, but compared to the discs, you know what I'm saying.

A steel frame & fork, used parts that were one step from the boneyard at work, it has Avid brakes, old WTB hubs. We laced new rims onto the hubs. New handlebar & seatpost. The grips I bought years ago for an old Schwinn Cruiser I used to ride. I never put them on the cruiser. Now they make a great way to dress up the ol' Bridgestone.

Those older bikes, though, sure made people lean over. With the use of a handy part called a quill stem extender I could get the handlebar high enough that it's pretty comfy.

So, this week, I took it on a short five-mile round trip to a meeting. The skinny tires are pretty quick to get rolling, then just stand to climb the one little hill on the route. Pretty smooth. And it has what my co-worker calls the "magic gear." the 38x18 gearing doesn't require a chain tensioner to be taut. So for now I don't need the used tensioner that was given to me.

Yesterday, I decided to ride it to work. It's just shy of nine miles each way. Smooth, fast and light. I can't describe the pedaling on this bike. Once the instinct to try to shift was suppressed, I just rode quietly to work. I could get used to this.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

friendly, yet unpredictable

I was crossing a bit of the Campbell Tract the other day, riding and pushing through the slush on my way to work. A dog stopped in the middle of the trail, its owner a few yards behind. I stopped and got off my bike. That's when the person thanked me, told me the dog was just a puppy and wouldn't do anything. So I decided to say something.

"This is a leashed area."
"I have a leash in my pack," she stated, as though that was the same as the dog being ON the leash. "I didn't expect to see anyone here."

Well folks, I've heard a few dogs described as "friendly" just as they were starting to chase me or someone I knew down the trail or street. It's an animal with instincts to chase, hunt down, track or herd. Friendly? Sure. Predictable? Not so much. Hmmm, kind of like me...

Now please put your four-legged buddy on a leash. Maybe it'll keep him away from this unpredictable creature.