Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shin Splints

Beautiful day in Mpls. It started out around 31F. I suited up quickly -- it's amazing how much faster you can dress when it's not -5. I rolled away from home my usual 5 minutes late. Pedaling through Lyndale Farmstead Park I had to dodge a biker who wasn't paying attention on the trail. About 50 yards later I saw why he was facing downward because huge glare ice slicks were everywhere. I fell into the trap of scanning the path 10 to 20 feet ahead. As I prepared to pop out onto the road I didn't notice the entire intersection was ice, instead I was focused on the car that was also approaching from the north toward the stop signs. I hit the street and no sooner did I literally hit the street. Wait, I'm not gonna admit it. I didn't crash again. Instead, here's what really happened -- the road rose up to meet me; it smote me upon my knee, my right knee, like a vengeful god, a damned jealous god. Damn that jealous god! That makes three impacts on the same spot in two weeks.

I showed a co-worker my knee while he was eating a late lunch of sushi. It seemed well timed. The beauty of it is this -- two thicknesses of scab pressed into the raw flesh to create a new, larger third scab. Just yesterday I was victoriously picking away the unnecessary scabby edges. That's it -- it's time to shave my legs again. I always crash less with shaved legs.

Thursdays are my short workdays except today I didn't have to be home early. Instead I was headed to the Hennepin County Government Center to apply for my passport. I rode away from work at 4pm in a wool jersey with no vest. Full sunshine massaged my shoulders. The temperature was around 46 degrees. My lungs happily drew in the warm air. My body was soaking in the abundant heat. I locked my bike outside the government building totally prepared with a pre-printed application and all necessary documents. Or, so I thought.

Turns out my birth certificate is not certified. I mildly disputed this with the woman at the counter. How could this birth certificate have worked for everything else I have ever needed it for my entire 35 years of life? She said it wasn't right. She asked where was born. I told her West Virginia. She couldn't even find West Virginia on her photocopied form of contacts for official records. Instead she just pushed it toward me and said I could figure out how to contact them for a certified copy. I told her this certificate had worked to get me into Canada many times, no questions asked. She said, with a fake smile, "A lot has changed since September 11th." I told her I'd used it just last year -- in 2007. "Have a nice day," were her last words. I thought they ought to be her LAST WORDS. The scene was straight out of Fargo. Riding away, without passport application submitted, I thought what had really changed since 9/11/2001 was that our government gets to treat us all like suspect assholes. I'm thinking of becoming Muslim to really tick them off.

I called April and vented my spleen. She calmed me and told me things were cool, we're not going into labor today. That knowledge procured, I stopped off for some beer and pulled a solo Bridge Club on the Bryant Ave pedestrian bridge. It was so sunny and so warm. I stood there sipping my Horny Goat and watched all the activity occuring around me. People walked, folks rode, dogs barked and jerked on their fools' leashes. Things of note: I saw a lot of bare flesh. People in MN never cease to amaze me. As soon as it's relatively warm they eschew all long layers for short sleeve shirts and shorts. I wonder how many muscle pulls and strains are suffered in March? In addition I was shocked by how many fat couples I saw jogging together. I am a modern person and hesitate to use the word 'fat', but these were people who appeared to have last subjected their bodies to vigorous physical activity in Sept/Oct of last year (or 3-5 years prior). Oh, bless you, pudgy folks. But you're gonna hurt so much for the next three days you're not gonna run again until next spring.

The other thing of note: the number of cyclists on clean bikes of all vintages and conditions who were bombing down the path sans helmets. It's 2008, people. Helmets are light and cool and color-coordinated. Buy one. Wear it. Especially if you don't ride your bike all year long -- that means you're going to be rusty with bike handling come spring. Add ice and other gawking trail users to the mix and you have a high probability of a crash onto your already feebly populated melon.

Then, it hit me. Why, in our culture, do we treat exercise as a leisure or recreational activity? That is a complex question, I know, but it strikes at the heart of my ethos. I had lots of other thoughts, but I'll briefly extrapolate this one. I am anti-car for the trifles we label "daily needs." I am also anti-mass-transit for a like reason: both encourage duffing, i.e. sitting on one's ass and letting an engine take them where they want to be. Carpooling and bussing and trains are better for the environment, but they still encourage lazy people. It also occured to me tonight that my main argument is not about the environment, it is about laziness. Automobiles, in fact internal combustion engines, are a luxury. It is only our society that has constructed them as necessities. I stood there on the bridge and thought, rather haughtily, I drink plenty of beer. Before I left work I ate a slice of deep dish pizza that I didn't need to eat which probably provided me 500 calories. But I'm not as worried about those things because I ride my bike everyday, two hours a day. Most "health professionals" recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. My 2 hours is more intense than moderate and I don't have to pay a membership or schedule extra time -- plus, it serves a purpose.

What if people thought of exercise serving a purpose? Don't look for anyone to market that angle anytime soon. That would seriously cut into sales of gym memberships, snow blowers, lawn mowers and, well, cars. Not to mention ATVs, jet skis, fishing boats, leisure yachts and Segways. I don't care what it is -- if it burns petrol (okay, I was just picking on Segways 'cause they're stupid) for anything but useful purposes (and I'll define useful ON MY BLOG -- like food production, for one), I'm against it. NASCAR can kiss my ass and Formula One can kiss it, too. Seafood in Nebraska -- why? Cruising and joy riding ... parents can give their children a better legacy, if they care to. Fuck it -- I'm anti-oil for the simple reason that it has defined our culture. And everyone driving a car everyday, you're so outdated. Start dressing accordingly.

1 comment:

Blogstyle said...

I think god is trying to take all the skin off of your leg because you have index shifting. Then again, I double flatted and ended up riding the last mile home on the rim with a 12 pack of PBR on my handlebars, wtf do I know?