Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crosswalk Part 2 (read as: Suicidal Pedestrians)

Maybe it's the change in the weather, or something in the air, but today saw an influx of suicidal pedestrians.

On the ride to work today I witnessed 3 different people, 1 in Somerville and 2 in Cambridge, literally run - throwing themselves - into oncoming traffic, dodging cars like in the movies! (While the Do Not Walk sign was flashing, of course...)

And why did they do this, you ask?  Was it to save a runaway baby stroller?  A small child in danger?  A little old lady?  Reunite with a lost love?


It was to catch a bus.

Apparently these days buses are worth dying for....

....that's just wrong if you ask me.

But maybe I'm missing something....

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I pushed myself to the limit each day, working and struggling so hard that, sometimes, I wanted to cry out in agony.  But I carried on with that unbending will to win day after day and created a string of solid victories.  Those hardships became the greatest assets of my life.  Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Human nature shows itself at its best in moments of trial.'  This is an ageless truth! -Daisaku Ikeda

My friend Mint posted this quote today, she is one of the people I picture when I hear the word resilient, and also brilliant... she writes this:

and also has a lot to do with this:

This exhibit was at MIT last spring (I'm overjoyed to have been able to participate!) and is coming to Harvard this fall, in November- stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This is a short one; please use a crosswalk. Please do not walk out from in between cars and expect me to see you. Please do not just step into the street without looking, assuming that everyone will stop and the world will pause because you stepped there.  Please don't stop in the middle of the street to text someone, especially when you're jaywalking.

A lot of people have a lot of things to say about bicycles and the people who ride them.  We may each be many things, but as pedestrians you might want to consider (and this is something that I consider every day, as I am a pedestrian every day - not just a cyclist), that some bicycles and cyclists may make you want to scream, but in general we are slower and less deadly than cars.  If a car, or a bus hits you, it's over.  A crosswalk isn't just for convenience, it's a place for these big ol' steel (or aluminum) beasties to expect you.  Please honor your life, and the lives of those around you, be they on two wheels or four (or more, or less for that matter); please commit to that act that so many of us heard on Sesame Street as kids,

Look both ways before you cross the street, cross at a crosswalk.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Track stand

This is a track stand:

(photo from Wikipedia)
It means more or less that the cranks are horizontal, the front wheel is turned, and you are at a standstill; thusly you do not need to place your foot back into the ground.  Good for visibility, for stop signs, for awkward stopping moments, and also "just to look badass".  

Charlie has been a fixie for two weeks, and I still can't do one of these, but every day I count the moments when it would be handy to know how.  So we'll keep rolling....

We've gone about 200 miles so far as fixed and a bit more than 5,300 miles since Charlie and I have been together. 

What we need now is a track stand tutorial....

Take my Breath Away (or sort of)

So what I'm talking about here is not this song by Berlin from the 1986 film Top Gun...

What I'm talking about is a little bit of this:

Running my very first 10k (Tuft's Health Plan Women's 10k) in record heat (for October), well over 80 degrees Fahrenheit... so it - quite literally - took my breath away.  Oh, I ran so very slowly, but finished I did, in 1:13:45.  Obviously I'm not someone for epic pro sports or anything, but I am someone who does what I say I will, and do my best no matter what obstacles come my way, be it hot weather or flat tires.  (Charlie was jealous he didn't get to do this too.)

Speaking of flat tires, I realized after the race that Charlie's back tire was a bit squishy.  Turns out (this we figured out the next morning), that there was a puncture right through the tire and the tube.  Pretty much a textbook situation for a patch kit, which I don't yet have.  What I did have was a spare tire and tube, ready to go.  Again what I didn't have was the right sized wrench for the job.  (When we lived in Waltham, I used our upstairs landlord, Jeremy's tools for things, as he and his wife Cindy are avid cyclists.  I haven't had to take the back wheel off by myself since then (Gasp!) and so, no wrench.)  So I filled up the tire as it leaked air, grabbed the extra tire, and set off toward Cambridge.  We made it before the wheel had gone to flat.  And Charlie and I waited outside the shop.

It was then that Manager Bud, Charlie's previous owner (personal savior (i.e. rescued him from the dumpster)) walked by and said jokingly that we shouldn't be stalking the shop and "what have you done this time?"... waiting for them to open of course.  They let Charlie and I into the shop and did what I lacked the tools to do.  All before the shop was open.  Thank you Cambridge Bicycle! (once again) And so as someone who has almost always had a job in which customer service was a part, to be the recipient of such excellent care, another sort of breath taking experience.  (If only all such customer service interactions could be so pleasant!)


Thanks be to:

-Courtney for telling me about her grand goal and letting me tag along, here is her documentation:

-Oscar's human, also known as Ryan, for waiting for me at the finish line, Gatorade in hand, even though he hates the heat.

- my sister, Abbie, for driving me around so that I could be lazy before the race.

-and to so many other folks for being awesome and supportive even if we all did doubt, just a bit, if my knee would last... well it did!  Here's to changing the status quo.....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bicycle Race

This song is called "Bicycle Race (I want to ride my bicycle)" (1978) and it is by the genius front man of Queen, Freddie Mercury.  It has a lot more going on than just the catchy "I want to ride my bicycle"* - but for today my cry is just that; I want to ride my bicycle because the sun finally came out and it's a breezy fall day.  And that would be so much more appealing than sorting through and identifying thousands of recovered files from our crashed network server...

*The video for this song caused quite a scandal back in the day, it was banned in many countries because it featured 65 nude models on bicycles in Wimbledon Stadium.  The other song on the original single LP was "Fat Bottomed Girls".  (And yes that's the one they used on Glee last season...)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on a fixed gear...

Charlie has been a fixie for a week....
.....incoherent thoughts on a fixed gear:

I hurt everywhere
and it's glorious.

Pedaling to stop was unnerving at first
now it's fun.

I hurt everywhere,
did I mention that?
Apparently I'm a lazy old bum who relied on coasting too much
(I will not let that be a metaphor for my life, eh?)

Apparently my equitation
(well that's what you call your position in horseback riding
what do you call it in cycling?)
was less than elegant
now as I await my muscles getting stronger
I am a clumsy lump
riding toward an idea
fumbling toward a better
(yes I sound like that Radiohead song)

Charlie is now the most exquisite dance partner
a pivot on
contact patches
with just a thought

Charlie is faster now
rocking the 42/16 gear ratio
(Oscar said that one time, hey! where'd you go?)
he passes the other bicycles
the silent blue ninja
except for the bell
please don't walk out in front of us!

More mindful of pedals going round
of the ground
of stopping
of what it really takes
to get from here to there
how far vegetables will get you
how a hundred miles in a week
means something
when you've pedaled every "step" of the way

Still trying to figure out a track stand

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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License