22 April 2008

Bike Route For Mimi

Here's a bike route that will get one from Plant II (Boeing Field) across the First South Bridge and then to Alki. There are two sorta dangerous traffic crossings, first turning off East Marginal Way onto River Street to get to the bike lane across the bridge, then again at Marginal Place SW - a short little block long street that dead ends at the Spokane Street Bike Trail. The Duwamish Trail is pretty nice, extending from the time you come off the First Ave S. Bridge until north of Terminal 107 Park, but it dead ends out onto West Marginal and you've got about 4 blocks of what can be pretty heavy traffic and no left turn lane. An alternative is to continue along West Marginal and UNDER the bridge, which is ok for going to Alki, but not for heading east to go downtown.

10 April 2008

Donald's Beacon Hill ZigZag

Having just gone over the 2,500 mile mark for the year yesterday (heck, until 2 years ago, I'd never done more than that in a YEAR), I decided I needed a little bit of celebratory ride, so took an extra little bit of time tonight to give myself a really awesome commute home from work.

It all started out with having to stop at Pike Street Market to pick up a couple pounds of broccoli rabe for my nephew Chris' birthday party Saturday. We love that stuff, and I promised Ma-in-Law (Carmen) I'd have some. So I left the office and when I pulled in to the produce stand, the guy knew exactly what I was looking for. I suppose when a guy rides up on a custom black and red bike as distinguishable as mine is 6 or 8 times over a month period and always buys nothing but broccoli rabe, he might eventually figure it out, right? So, paying my $7.00, I pack my booty safely away and head off down 1st Avenue until I can drop over to the waterfront. Haven't figured out how I want ot go to get home yet, thinking I don't really want to go out the Duwamish, I came in that way today. Don't want to just go up Beacon, I've been doing that a lot. Hmmm. Maybe I should tackle Holgate. That's 11 and 12 percent a good part of the way up for a half mile. Yes, no, yes no. Back and forth with myself. Aw, what the heck. GO FOR IT!. So after almost getting creamed by an inattentive driver who was holding a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other, punching buttons to dial while leaving the light, I cautiously let all the traffic go, swept over to the left lane and with my now nearly 40 pound bike, climbed up to 13th, dropping down through a little gully before having another little one-block grinder to McLellan. That's when I decided do have some fun. I'm gonna do a BEACON HILL ZIG-ZAG tonight. There are several roads straight up and down Beacon Hill, west and east sides, and I've ridden pretty much all of them. So if I go down one, up the next, down the next, I eventually get home. So I dropped down McLellan to the east and was going to go up Cheasty, but it is now closed for repaving as part of the light rail project. So I had to go over the "corkscrew" pedestrian bridge over Rainier and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and dropped to the east side of Rainier and headed south through the neighborhood back streets, coming out by Safeway and Hollywood Video. There is a little shortcut with a really steep hill I've never ridden on that goess between MLK and Rainier, so I figured to myself, "Self, we oughtta head up that little bugger." So I did. I measured 23% for just a couple seconds, VDO said max. sustained climb was 20%. Then it was through the new housing development and up Columbia Way, then around a dead end loop, just for s&g's and back to Columbian to where I could actually get through and I wove my way up and down some more steep little zig zags until I dumped out to the Chief Sealth Trail, heading still southerly to Myrtle. I should have gone down Orcas and up Graham, but it was starting to get to be dinner time. Heading west on Myrtle, I needed to stop and get a gallon of milk and a bunch of vegetables, then headed back down hill just so I could do ONE LAST CLIMB before heading for the barn and finally coming up to Webster and a little left rigt left right and with a nice little 11 mile after-work ride, managed to get a little over 1,000' of climbing in. I weighed the bike when I got off. FIFTY-EIGHT pounds!!!

What doesn't make me walk, makes me stronger.


Somebody asked me recently when would the price of gas be so high that it would force me to make changes in how I view my relationship to the automobile. Well, I'd had enough a long time ago, and it wasn't just about the price of gas. We are a nation of greedy little piggies. I've already foregone driving out of state for 1 ride this year, and am probably foregoing another one, as well. My next vacation will be spent totally on bicycle, 4 days of just me, my lovely Katrina and the road (if the weather cooperates at all, that is). Like my foster father used to say, it's gonna get worse 'fore it gets better.

So what are you willing to give up, that remains the question? Are you willing to give up the comfort of a nice warm car during those cold and dark winter days and ride your bike to work come hades or high water? Are you willing to ride to the start line instead of driving, or give up rides that require you to drive more miles to and from the ride than the ride itself? Are you willing to put racks and panniers on your bike and use it as a utilitarian machine to do your chores instead of simply a hobby? Are you willing to take extra hours per week changing clothes from bike stuff to work stuff back to bike stuff and take on the added laundry burden of that? Are you willing to spend the added time in maintaining your bike because you are riding in conditions you would otherwise not ride in (i.e., rain, slush, etc.)? What else?

For me, I was tired of being one of the freeway drones every morning and every evening, sitting stuck in rush hour traffic and spending 45 to 90 minutes each way to get to my office and home. I was tired of trying to find solutions to make my commute more tolerable. I was tired of getting to work stressed out, leaving work stressed out and arriving home stressed out. I was tired of getting to work with a headache and feeling nauseous some days and tired of a general sense of anger when I had to get in the car to drive to and from work. Price of gas? I wish it would go higher. I wish it would get so high that more of us would simply say, I'm taking the bus. I'm riding my bike. I'm taking the train. We are a nation made up of individuals who think they are so entitled to every luxury, a life of leisure and we as a nation have a very poor sense of social responsibility.

I made my choice last March. I had a new bike, my job was going better than it ever had, I was at a pinnacle in the company I worked for and well respected by my peers. But I was sitting on the ferry on my way to a claim inspection when I heard of an opportunity that I thought might get me out of so much travel, allow me to make some positive change in my lifestyle and after considerable thought, a call to my wife to see what she thought, a call to my sponsor to run it by him and a call to a good friend to seek his wisdom, I made the jump. I am here a year later with a new job that pays more money, doesn't EVER require me to drive a car, allows me to ride my bike or bus every day and I know where I'm going to be sleeping tonight. I am up by 5:30, on my bike by 6:15, in the office by about 7, on BikeJournal for a half hour before chagning into work clothes and starting to "work", and there when everybody else trickles in complaining of bad traffic, bad weather, bad bus experiences, bad experiences with other pedestrians and the like. I, meanwhile, when asked by co-workers (as they are wont to do) how I am, can almost always respond "GREAT! Life is beautiful. Isn't it a beautiful morning?" When they complain about the cold, I chuckle to myself. When they carp and whine about freeway traffic, the price of gas, the price of parking and the like, I laugh uproariously (to myself, of course)and have a few things posted around my cube that really identifies that I rode in, and everybody sees me in my bike clothes morning and night. In the afternoon, when I leave, I have just spent 9 hours in a very stressful job, but I get on my bike and RIDE. By the time I get home, the stress is melted away.


09 April 2008

So what did that dream mean, anyway?

The bicycle is, of course, a bicycle. Me is, obviously, me. The bridge and road I am riding on is my life direction. The spiraling to the left, I think, is confusion as to possible direction of my life. The sudden end of the pathway and dropoff down to the water, I think, represents a major crossroads and life change. The water, I recall, was very murky and brown. I think this is indicative of a lot of stress and uncertainty about where things are headed, how I feel about some personal things going on in my life, and a bit of trepidation about my commitment to riding vs. commitment to other things and how I am placing priorities in my life. Of course the sinking and a feeling of drowning is pretty classic symbolism of a feeling of being overwhelmed. The decision to let go and rise above whatever is going on shows a need for decision and action, and I remember thinking as I was coming out of the dream and back into reality I was going to have to figure out how to get the bike back, so the action I took in the dream was obviously to not allow the bicycle to be the dominant factor in my life.

I tend to be a bit of an all or nothing kind of guy. I think it is a very real part of my nature. Balance is not my strongest suit and, like other forms of compulsive-obsessive behaviors (in my life, my chemical addictions) there are such definite good payoffs to cycling (e.g., increased endorphine levels, better physical and mental health, easier to keep weight off, feeling better about myself because I'm trying to do a really healthy thing) that they tend to foster that all or nothingness and I can easily end up allowing the bike to take control of my life. Of course, I've been trying to modify some of this year's cycling to do more by doing less, and it's going with some interesting results, both positive and not so positive. So this dream, then, seems to me to be a bit of a release of some of the confusion and tension I've been feeling about this process of introspection I take on.

Geez, how did I get so serious all of a sudden??????

08 April 2008

Last Night's Dream

Last night I was awakened by a dream. Not necessarily a bad dream, but definitely not what I'd consider a good dream, by any stretch of the imagination.

I was riding along, enjoying the springlike weather. It was warm and I had on shorts and short jersey. It was yellow and blue, so I am thinking it must have been my new Sacramento Wheelmen jersey. I had been riding along on the street, but was coming to a waterway. I think it was the ship canal between the Ballard Locks and Lake Union, though the scene was a little different than what I know that area to be. There was a bridge over the waterway. There was an exit from the street/trail whatever I was riding on, going left and appeared to be at the same level as what I was on, though the trail going that direction was a bit lower. I executed a left turn, and spiraled around in a circular counter-clockwise rotation to get from where I was onto the trail, but at the last minute discovered that the pavement I was on ended abruptly with a 3' or so dropoff down to the river. I got my bike 90 degrees to the edge, but was unable to remain upright and fell over to my right side, falling, still straddling my lovely Katrina, into the water. I sank like a rock until I finally realized I could either go to the bottom with my bike or let go of the bike and swim to the surface. I thought about this for a bit and finally let go of the bike, and woke up as I was just about to break the surface of the water. I was left in a half-sleep trying to figure out how I was going to get my bike back out of the murky river which was very deep.