Why ride a bike?

Part One, The Practical Reasons:

  • A bike is faster than walking.
  • A bike is faster than taking the bus (especially if you consider the time spent waiting for the bus and walking to and from bus stops – you can’t just walk out the door and have the bus magically arrive).
  • A bike may be faster than a car (when you consider getting stuck in rush hour traffic and the time spent parking/getting to and from your parking place).
  • A bike is cheaper than a car:
    • cheaper to buy – you can buy a phenomenal bike for $10,000 – like a Ferrari but $2-300,000 cheaper (depending on the Ferrari model). A bike for basic transportation is maybe $15,000 less than a car for basic transportation. (Comparing a Trek FX or Zektor to a Toyota Yaris)
    • cheaper for daily use – no gas or electricity to buy, no parking fees to pay.
    • cheaper to maintain – a bike is much easier to work on yourself – no sheetmetal in the way; if you pay for maintenance, it is still way cheaper
    • cheaper to insure
  • A bike is cheaper than a car for society:
    • fewer resources used to produce them
    • no fossil fuels burned to power them
    • fewer urban acres devoted to parking, which makes more land available for other development (at a higher use-value) or open space, which creates less impervious surface, thus decreasing urban runoff:
      • this means less pollution of waterways
      • fewer urban floods
      • faster recharging of underground aquifers
    • less wear and tear on existing roadways, less need for ever-larger roadways
    • A bike is the most efficient form of human transportation in terms of energy usage per mile traveled.
    • I’ve never fallen asleep riding a bike.

Part Two, The Health Reasons:

A picture is worth 1000 words. So two pictures must be worth 1000 words plus a whole lot of data I therefore don’t need to cite.

  • riding a bike burns fat
  • riding a bike leads to greater aerobic fitness
  • riding a bike causes minimal stress on joints
  • riding a bike leads to lower stress levels, reducing mental health costs
  • as obesity and cardiovascular disease lead to greater societal health costs, riding a bike has public health, as well as individual health, benefits

Part Three, The Fun Reasons:

  • Riding a bike can be done alone, with family, with friends, with strangers – whether you like your fun in solitude, with loved ones, or as a way to meet new people, you can do it on a bike
  • Riding a bike lets you observe the little changes in the world around you – you can see your surroundings more easily than in a car so you can see wildlife (whether urban or rural), watch seasonal changes (seeing flowers bloom, trees bud out and leaves change color, watch and hear waterways freezing and thawing) [We won’t repeat pictures you’ve already seen here – scroll back through old posts for more.]
  • Riding a bike gives you time to think and reflect – or to stop thinking and just feel the rhythms of your body and your interactions with the bike, the road, and the world around you.
hoarfrost
Half-fast Fall Classic, Devil’s Lake
Sunset, stormy night (NOT a fire in the distance)

Part Five, Because Frazz Does It:

Short subjects (or, in Herb Caen parlance, three dot journalism…)

Ice fishing season started before deer hunting season. That is not normal. To continue weather weirdness, I saw all of this within a couple of minutes, on the same small bay:
* piers dismantled and stacked neatly by the shore
* piers frozen into the ice, likely destined to become scrap metal by spring
* ice fishers
* shoreline fishers working a 30’x30′ opening in the ice
* someone fishing from a boat…

I just watched “The Donald Trump Story” on television, but under its original title “Gaslight”…

I hope to answer the question “Which is harder – the Death Ride or the Horribly Hilly Hundreds? ” I rode them 27 years apart so it’s not a fair comparison so far. Both are about 200 km or 125 miles. The Death Ride climbs 15,000 feet, the HHH about 11,000. The Death Ride climbs to over 8700 feet. The HHH never reaches 2000. The Death Ride contains five epic climbs; the HHH about 40 short and steep ones. My experience is that a long steady climb allows one to settle into a rhythm. A short steep climb tempts one to charge up it, only to have to do that 39 more times – so my current hypothesis is that the HHH is harder (for me), as long as you hang out at elevation before Death Ride…

If I fail to answer the question, at least I plan to have fun and tell you about it after. Now I just need to get the time off work and make the arrangements for the 40th anniversary Death Ride.

I got two STDs. The Death Ride is July 11, 2020. The HHH is June 20,2020 -doing them three weeks apart wouldn’t be a fair comparison, either. Save the dates…

I just earned my last badge.

At work I was invited to try lovetoride.net. We formed a team and recorded all of our riding for a month. At the end of the month I won a dozen tamales, so I did it again the next time. In addition to tamales, one can earn virtual badges for things like encouraging others to ride, riding a century, commuting by bike… Last year I noticed the badges were piling up but I was missing two: “Legend”, for recording 10,000 miles on the app, and “Super Commuter”, for commuting by bike 200 times in a calendar year. So rather than just recording rides for a month when they were running a promo, I started recording all rides just before the coast-to-coast trip. 10,000 miles came soon after. 200 days came in November 2019. No big deal. That’s just doing what I normally do for the first 40 weeks of the year. But now I have a fake badge to show for it…”Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

If you’re not blazing a trail, you’re just breaking wind.” Frazz, by Jef Mallett

Life is what happens…

…to you when you’re busy making other plans. John Lennon said that in the song ¨Beautiful Boy¨.

He wasn’t the first to say it. Cartoonist Allen Saunders (Steve  Roper and Mike Nomad, Mary Worth, Kerry Drake)  said it in 1957. I don’t know any other writer who had three comic strips in syndication at the same time. Saunders’ strips were soap operas before TV came along, though they continued into the TV era.

Comic strips are the thinking person’s Twitter. Squeezing something pithy into one or four panels is a pretty good trick. A weeklong (or longer) story arc is like a tweet storm. When I say ¨the thinking person’s Twitter¨, I’m thinking less of Saunders and more of Watterston (Calvin and Hobbes), Mallet (Frazz), Wiley – last name Miller, but he signs “Wiley” –  (Non Sequitur), and Trudeau (Doonesbury).

Back to Lennon; I can’t help thinking of our president whenever I hear Lennon’s “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – “Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime.”

Today’s plan was for the annual Fall Colors Bike Ride – the famous Blue Spoon to Little Village festival of fine foods.  Tim, the instigator, announced that he’d be out of the area after we set a date. I found out only the night before that “area” meant “continent”. Tenny was the next to bail – a bad cold. When we were down to two, Rosebud begged off, saying he could do this week or next, but not both.

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Sugar Maple

I decided to do it as a solo ride. Since I’m used to following Tim, I thought it would be safer to scout the route ahead of time via map and make myself a cue sheet. That’s what I did but, when going to bed last night, the bathroom faucet wouldn’t turn off. When getting up this morning, the kitchen light wouldn’t turn on. I also realized that the point of this ride is mostly getting in one last ride with my friends and I would miss that doing it alone, even if we do it next week.

So it was off to the hardware store for parts to do some home repairs. On the walk back I ran into a couple standing at a bus stop and asking where to find the Capital City Trail – “the one that goes to Milwaukee”. I pointed out the trail, which they were standing next to (a bit confusing, as it is a sidewalk for the short stretch in their view).

I mentioned that Milwaukee is a long walk. She replied, “Seven hours. It’s a nature walk, plus we’re trying to get home.” She told me how their plans had been derailed and this was their contingency plan. I pointed out that the trail is not continuous to Milwaukee and how to get to the actual trail to Milwaukee after the Cap City trail ends. If they make it in seven hours, I’ll be mightily impressed.

By early afternoon the temperature had climbed to >40 degrees. Time for a ride! Instead of the Blue Spoon and Little Village, I settled for Farm and Fleet and the library. But the cafes wouldn’t have had the replacement water filter cartridge I needed, nor the library book that was on hold. So much for plans. Now life, on the other hand…

Frazz

We haven’t figured out how to reach Frazz or his alter ego Jef Mallett, so we’ll try here. A short ride to Manitowoc, a long ferry ride ride to Ludington, and we’re in Michigan; Frazz country. Frazz, or Jef, if you’re reading this, please join us when we pass through your neck of the woods in a few days.

Frazz is one of my heroes, for a number of reasons. He’s the school janitor at Bryson Elementary with intelligence way beyond his education or what folks expect from someone in his position. I used to be the maintenance guy at a housing project. We have both cleared our share of clogged toilets. Going to college at the age of 40 didn’t make me suddenly smarter.

Frazz is a triathlete. I’m a half-fast bicyclist and was, in my youth, a competitive swimmer and diver. On the other hand, I only ran to catch buses or soccer balls, not just for the fun of it.

Frazz is a successful songwriter (OK, end of parallels) who works as a school janitor because he wants to. I continue to work in a hospital at age 65 because I love the work. (Unlike Frazz, I also need the money.)

One of the main characters in the strip is Caulfield, a brilliant and underachieving child. One of my other roles in life has been as an advocate for advanced learners. Research has identified common traits of gifted students (current nomenclature is “advanced learners”, not “talented and gifted” [TAG] students). Further research has found that the terms used to describe those traits in white students and the same traits in students of color (particularly African American) are different. Donna Y. Ford is a prominent researcher in this field.

A white student may be identified as “inquisitive”, and a black student as “defiant”, for asking tough questions in class. A common trait of gifted learners has been identified as a “keen sense of social justice”. A white student may be identified as “sensitive”, a black student as a “troublemaker” for possessing and acting on that sense. Learning and teaching are culturally-based and black students frequently do not meet white norms.  African American students are 54% less likely to be identified for advanced services than their white counterparts, after adjusting for other differences.

Caulfield is frequently disruptive in class and spends a lot of time in detention with Frazz. Caulfield is African American. His teacher is European American.

Frazz is one of the few comic strips which has made me look things up. Caulfield introduced me to the term “benighted” (antonym of “enlightened”).

Benighted

Another comic strip (Pearls Before Swine) contains a recurring character who embodies all of the stereotypically worst traits of stereotypically arrogant bicyclists. He is identified as “Jef the Cyclist”. Due to the spelling of Jef, I suspect the character is a dig at Jef Mallett. So Jef, come and join us so I can ask you about that in person. (OK, I looked it up and my suspicion was confirmed. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t still like you to join us on the way across Michigan.)

Frazz can’t set his own hours, but maybe you can. Ride with us for a day. Here’s our Michigan itinerary:

MichiganWe have arrived in Ludington after a short bike and long ferry ride. Pizza and Sangiovese for dinner. Thank god for Google Maps, as the written directions and street markings did not agree. I found our destination with darkness falling.

Tent fly is soaked inside and out. Everything else is still damp.

We had a phenomenal lunch spread in Manitowoc at the home of a former Cycle America staffer. The ride was short and sweet, up the Lake Michigan shoreline. A75B59C5-6BC9-4685-9A5F-6ED9EFEB6722

We all got antsy on the ferry, wanting to ride more. We are within spitting distance of 3000 miles.

Boarding the ferry, our escort into Ludington, Michigan shoreline:

Sheboygan County takes their corn security seriously:8C41AE82-8DEF-4775-8F72-BD90344D0548More to come tomorrow on our day off. It’s past my bedtime. Another state and another time zone behind us.