“New” Cycling and How That Applies to Life…

I decided to post today’s pithy thoughts to my blog, since it’s been an age and then some since I’ve updated. It’s been nearly 30 years since I rode a bicycle that was not considered a “performance” bike, complete with clips (For those ‘old school’ among our audience, these are clips that the bottoms of my biking shoes snap into to secure my feet to the pedals. This is to enable you to not only push down on a stroke, but to also pull UP, thus increasing your drive on the bike.).

So…nearly 30 years since I’ve been on a bike that does not secure my feet to the pedals. For most of you, you are left wondering…well, what’s the big deal, Pol? I’ll tell you. There are actually two things:

  1. Nearly 30 years of cycling in a manner that enables action on the downstroke AND upstroke gives you a different style of pedaling.
  2. The last year since the back surgery, since waking up to have one foot/lower leg that has not regained sensation and/or 100% motor control, means that I have relied upon that toe clip to keep the “floppy leg” in position, and to have it still be a contributing member of the team.

Since I no longer have the time to do the kind of riding I used to on this bike:

My trusty Trek, with more than 3,000 miles on its frame.

Since my rides on this bike usually meant “get on, go fast, get off,” that precluded leisurely rides with my sweetie. Times, and demands, have changed. I no longer enter Century rides for charity (lack of time), and it’s lonely doing those “get on, go fast, get off” rides without my sweetie.

Thus we decided that it was time the nice road bike went on its way and in its place we welcome this new set of wheels:

New wheels.

It’s a sweet little bike, nice action, smooth Shimano gears. It’s a sort of baby mountain bike/road bike. Just what we want for leisurely weekend rides and/or camping trips with some light trail riding.

I took delivery of the new wheels yesterday. After a happy evening spent tinkering and adjusting, I took it for its first ride today. Things that I learned:

  1. The aforementioned floppy leg does not do so well just sitting upon pedals. I can push down, but there’s no pull up. When I pull up, lo and behold, the…wait for it…FOOT COMES OFF THE PEDAL! How very odd!
  2. When #1 happens, the result is that unless I take my eyes off of the road to lift and place my left foot into place (I can’t feel in that leg/foot, remember, so cannot do it by ‘feel’), said floppy foot/leg ends up kind of wonky on the pedal. The result? Floppy foot falls off said pedal, twists the attached ankle (which is okay, as I can’t feel when that happens, but I end up with no forward motion as I am not, in fact, actually propelling the bike anywhere!

The other, and far more prosaic, thing that I learned this afternoon is that I do not know how to NOT “get on, go fast, get off.” The idea of a “leisurely ride” seems to be a bit beyond my ken.

I got on, raced off, and then thought…um…now what? I raced over to my first destination (lunch), then raced over to Starbucks where I drank tea and graded papers. Then I hopped on again to run my errands. Halfway to my destination I realized that…I didn’t really have to go so fast. I could, in fact, go…slowly.

I could even take a moment and look around. Enjoy the lovely day. See who else was out and about.

What an odd thing to do; ride a bike, look around, and enjoy the scenery.

Huh.

Wonder if anyone else has discovered this?

I may have to try this again sometime.

In the meanwhile, I’ll sit here grading papers, watching football, mentally packing for my trip next week, with a little corner of my brain dedicated to working out plot points on the next book, and another to considering what it is I will make for dinner. After all, one can’t rush into this whole “leisurely” thing.

Tonight: Football and fiction, maybe some pizza


Living in a Kleptocracy…the Erudite Travelers of Southwest Airlines

Bob the book-reading Dragonfly
Bob the book-reading Dragonfly.

Back from our honeymoon, which was combined with the GCLS (Golden Crown Literary Society) annual convention in – God help me – Phoenix, Arizona. The coolest we found the temperature was 91-degrees (F) at 4:30 in the morning. Why were we up at that time while on a honeymoon? More on that later.

The convention was great, as usual, and you can find photos of the venue, seminars, other things and the awards dinner here: (http://photobucket.com/polrobin).

We had to take a short hop during our vacation up to Salt Lake City for Kit’s doctoral graduation. On the flight up we encountered (overheard his booming voice behind us) waxing philosphic on everything from the expanding universe to global warming. In his words, “global warming is crap…the Earth will heal itself. It can shake us off like a dog shakes off a flea.” I leaned over to Kit and said, “Don’t we have to flea-dip our beastie to get rid of fleas?”

He went on. And on. And on. However, he couldn’t hold a candle to the guy we had on the flight back from Phoenix to Burbank last night. HE was a prize-winner. After spending 30 minutes of the trip on the back restroom, he came out and loudly began his dissertation on life. From memory: “Paper money isn’t worth crap, it’s part of a government conspiracy. Silver is the only way to go.” That took up about 20 minutes. Then came the discourse on General Patton and his career as a sharpshooter. Apparently Patton “NEVER” missed. Not once. The came the detailing of the amount of “ass” he got while stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War. This was followed up (in increasing volume) by his opinion on the Iraq War. When he began to go into killing women and children I began to gear myself up to address him. He was loud, crass, offensive and very, very drunk. Fortunately the lovely woman squeezed in next to him caught my eye and managed in her very gentle and genuine way, to deflect him.

She was an angel. And after we landed and she and I chatted, she said she “had my angels around me” to help her deal with him. She must have, I tell you.

Then he went on about the “Kleptocracy” of America. As he was going on about that, he insisted, “if you go to Wikipedia, you’ll see…it’s right there.” At that point Kit, me and about six others just lost it, laughing. During his Patton tribute, an older gentleman who probably was around when Patton was on the Olympic team, just shook his head, laughing silently. It’s amazing how much nonverbal communication can be shared amongst strangers while one man is loudly holding court to a captive audience.

Writing this, I decided to look up his word. What do you know? (And yes, this is from Wiki)…

A kleptocracy (sometimes cleptocracy, occasionally kleptarchy) (root: klepto+kratein = rule by thieves) is a term applied to a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats) at the expense of the population. A kleptocratic government often goes beyond mere cronyism and nepotism, or awarding the prime contracts and civil service posts to relatives or personal friends rather than the most competent applicants. They also create projects and programs at a policy level which serve the primary purpose of funneling money out of the treasury and into the pockets of the executive with little if any regard for the logic, viability or necessity of those projects.

What do you know?