Category Archives: Bicycle

Biking Safety and Cell Phones

Let me begin by saying that I am guilty of talking on the cell phone while driving.

No more.

In all the thousands of miles I’ve put on my bicycles over the years, the only real close calls I’ve had have been due to my own stupidity. I’ve ridden against traffic, surprising drivers with my unexpected presence; I’ve ridden at night without lights; I’ve dodged in and out of traffic at  my own great peril. But I’ve learned not to do those things. I’ve aged and mellowed, and now am quite a safe bicyclist. I’m glad I am still here to report this.

But I’ve had three close calls in the last two days, and I mean close calls. Each time I have been vigilant (which is why I’m here to write this) and each time I have been obeying proper biking protocol. What do these three near-misses have in common? You guessed. In each case, the driver was talking on her cell phone.

The ability to multi-task is a great one. But it’s not for driving. Driving is for paying attention to all the unexpected things that come your way, like drivers and bikers who are doing the unexpected thing. When you’re on your cell phone, your concentration is fragmented. I was almost taken out by three SUVs with phone-talking women at the wheel in the last two days, and let me tell you, that is an event to make you pee your pants.

What if I, or some other cyclist, was now in the hospital on life support because you were making your nail appointment on the run? I’m begging you not to take that chance.

When I’m in the car, my phone is off.

Please do the same.

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Filed under Bicycle, Summer

Do We Care Enough to Act?

Global warming, it seems, is much like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Well, that’s not true. Some of us are driving more fuel efficient cars, riding our bicycles, recycling our newspapers, reading by energy efficient lightbulbs. Some of us even buy carbon offsets to ease our burdened consciences.

But in our hearts, we all know that we’re not doing enough. We look to big industrial plants in China spewing their poison into the air, and think: “What’s the use?”

Well, ponder this:

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” —Great Law of the Iroquois

What if we considered the consequences of every action we took as it would impact our planet 140 years hence? Would we trample as much of our environment as we do? Would we have as many children? (Would we grant celebrity to status to those who have 8, 14, 18 children?)Would we enact stricter laws so that our children’s children’s children (x7)… would have fresh water, clean air, fertile crop fields, a healthy ecology and abundant wildlife?

Consider the two-generation effect of damming a couple of important rivers in the west.  Salmon runs are endangered because the salmon can’t reach their spawning grounds. Sea lions hang at the fish ladders and eat their fill, so we shoot the sea lions. The bears can’t eat the spawned-out salmon and poop their nutrient-rich waste into the forest, which nourishes the trees.  We put one dam on the river and we’ve upset the entire applecart. Do we blow up the dam? No. Damn the seventh-generation! We need electricity to run our air conditioners! 

Would the Iroquois have dammed the river?  How about shooting wolves from airplanes? How about planting genetically-altered corn? How about sucking all the oil from the earth and replacing those empty spaces with salt water? How about throwing our chemical waste in the lakes, rivers and oceans? How about storing our nuclear waste in leaking underground bunkers? What, pray God, will be the consequences of all these actions in 140 years?

A seventh-generation amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been proposed, but the language is too vague for me. I fear for its viability in our greedy, litigious society. It reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight and other renewable resources determined by the Congress to be common property shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for use of future generations.” So it isn’t perfect. Let’s work on it.

I ask you to do something concrete to help our planet and our species. I ask you to spend some time seriously considering the seventh-generation consequences to each of your actions today, and then make your voice heard. Call, fax, email, write your legislators, both state and federal. Write letters to the editor.  Pass along this blog link. Call the president. Call Al Gore.

I’ll be doing all those things and more.

Listen. The Iroquois knew what they were talking about, and we should have listened long ago. If we work hard now, we can perhaps avoid global catastrophe.  If the time for this idea has come, their words could sail around the world in a viral fashion and we just might be able to mobilize the masses. When that happens, change occurs.

Let’s do it.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

Essential Stress

I have too much work on my desk. This is a cyclical condition. As with most things, it’s boom or bust; feast or famine. Right now, it’s manageable, but barely. Last week I kind of freaked out, but I knocked out a project and so it’s back to just “seriously intense”.

I like it just a little less intense than this, but I do enjoy my stress. I love my deadlines, love a little pressure. Today I want to get out into the nice day on my bicycle, so I have a little added pressure to get my scheduled “must-do” things done on a timeline that will allow for that.

Last summer I decided to take a couple of months off. No work, no school, no schedule. Just work in the garden, lie about and read. Lunch with the girlfriends. Bad idea. I was miserable, and started manufacturing grand schemes (aka “trouble”) in my mind.

Some day retirement will be an option for me, and I’m one of those who will have to do some serious retirement planning so I don’t drive myself nuts with inactivity. Or inappropriate activity (heh heh). But then does a writer ever really retire?

But for now, I have two research papers to finish, an anthology to edit, a weekend retreat to prepare for, two writing projects to progress, a garden to plant, and a husband and dog to keep happy. That’s a little too much for today, especially if I want my bike ride. Next week, I’ll have finished the anthology, one of the research papers and the retreat planning, and then my stress level will be just right.

As with all things, balance is always the goal, and when it comes to self-imposed stress, balance is particularly crucial.

Will I ever get it right?

Probably not.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, girlfriends, Marriage, Stress, time, Writing

Finding balance, an elusive sport.

There’s no question that it’s a lot easier to maintain balance in my life with a home, husband and dog. Still yet, it ain’t easy, at least not for me.

First of all, there just isn’t time enough in the day to work, exercise, floss, plan prepare and eat food, play music, veg on the couch, work in the yard, hang with friends, pay attention to family, throw the ball for the dog, do laundry, keep up with schoolwork, take the occasional trip to clear the mind, blog… the list is endless, and most of it is daily.

As a result, I eat too much or not enough. I exercise too much or not enough. I spend too much time on the couch or not enough. Get my drift?

But when I manage my time correctly, and can finish all the “must-do’s” in time to read for leisure, or flip through magazines or gardening catalogs, when I can end the day feeling good about everything I’ve done without putting my foot in my mouth, then I feel good about myself and my life.

But boy, those days are few.

The good news is that it’s almost bicycling weather again. Then my balance will be thrown off further, only  not by the couch.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, Marriage, Stress, time

My new bike

I have a new bicycle. It’s a sweetheart.

I’ve been in love with bicycling since my parents bought me a used blue Schwinn girl’s bike when I was about 8. I graduated to a 3-speed when I was about eleven. The summer between sixth and seventh grades I was never home. I had a bag of essentials strapped to my bike and I just went from friend’s house to friend’s house on my bicycle, sleeping over with this girlfriend or that. Always on my bike.

(The summer between seventh and eighth grades was even more bizarre, but that is a blog for another day.)

Anyway, biking wasn’t easy in Hawaii, so I put the bike away for many years, and then when I lived in the Oregon countryside it wasn’t practical. But when the Navy sent me to Washington DC during the first Gulf War, I bought a mountain bike and rode it everywhere from Maryland to Virginia and all places in between for seven months. The summer I came home from there I retired my car from April to October, doing everything on my bicycle, even grocery shopping.  I bought only two tanks of gas during those months.

I just sold that bike, 17 years and thousands and thousands of miles later, trading up to a Trek street bike. Sweet.  I love this bike.

My friend Jackie made me a custom messenger bag for my current essentials, and I’m out and about, feeling fit, saving gas, and smiling.

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Filed under Bicycle