Friday, July 25, 2008

Bright Spots

Been feeling a little blah lately. Haven't had much energy to devote to updating the BLAHg. Blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah. Between settling into our new place, cleaning our old apartment, working, eating and chasing Sylvia through the maze of boxes which is our living space -- well, it just doesn't seem like there's been much time left over. But I have to say it is very nice, exceedingly great in fact, to be out of our old apartment. It is grand that we're not lining the pockets of our slimy landlord anymore. It's awesome to be able to crank Black Sabbath twice as loud as I ever listened to it in our old place and not risk pissing anyone off. It's beautiful to hear the girls' voices echoing through the hall upstairs.

Twice in the past week I've had a couple of extremely out of the ordinary encounters with SUV drivers. While riding my Big Dummy in different parts of town, both these drivers pulled alongside me and had conversations out their windows about my bike. The guy in the Yukon this morning wanted to know what frame size I was riding because he's going to get a Dummy. He's already an Xtracycle rider he told me. The woman last week wanted to know where I got my bike because she wants to check one out herself. Pretty cool and definitely not what you often expect when a car slows and the driver rolls her/his window down to have words with you while riding.

If you ride bike paths, and I know you do, do everyone a favor: A) get a bell and ring it and/or B) don't be too shy to state in a firm and audible voice "On your left!" when you pass other trail users. I was reminded this morning of one annoying thing you shouldn't think adequate for the situation -- flicking your brake lever. You know the trick: Slick roadie on his Trek Madone pulls up behind you, palms on the lever hoods with finger cocked to give the lever tip a short snap producing a just-loud-enough-to-be-truly-annoying "TICK! TICK!" that is supposed to indicate "Coming through!" It's minimalist and I'm sure quite chic and Euro in some crowds. But just like the autobahnesque double light flash on the interstate that some stuffed chode thinks is really supposed to get you out of his way so he can do 90 all the way to the cabin, it's rude and arrogant.

While I'm on the topic of picking on cyclists, get some damn lights! People, please, for the love of Jesus and the Mary Chain, BE SEEN! You might think you're all safe and stuff on the path away from dangerous drivers. Nothing can hit you of any consequence, right? People die from bike collisions, by the way. Or maybe going stealth is just your style. Well, guess what? That shit ain't cool. Bike lights are cheap. They blink a long time on one set of batteries. I actually had a friend tell me he has had folks on the Greenway tell him his bike lights are too bright as he rides by their unlit asses. Get over it. The paths are crowded, at this time of year especially. If you wanna hide out stay at home with your door locked and lights off.

Lastly, if you don't know me and I don't know you, don't draft my wheel. True story: Just last week some twit in tights, aero bar and all, drafted my Big Dummy for nearly a mile before I turned off. Classy -- a try-to-be-athlete drafting a 40+ lb cargo bike. I guess I should take it as a compliment that I hold a good pace.

After a recent comment from a friend and reader, April and I had a wonderful discussion about my attitude and blog persona. The thing that was most enlightening for me was being reminded of something I've known a long time: I am not a cheerleader per se, nor am I a very good handholder. I think, I examine, I do. I'm not going to love everyone all the time, in particular if they pull stupid human tricks or exercise a flagrant lack of judgment. I expect others to think and I hope they examine and I am happy to see those who connect the dots in order to engage the do portion of the equation. But too often if one moves to the do without thought or examination that leads to errors and a generous margin for ridicule. That's where I step in. I love to call these lapses in synapses as I see them.

I'm not so upset that I'm not more of a cheerleader either. There are people who start clubs to engage everyone and their Aunt Edna to join with them in what they believe to be the greatest hobby that has ever been contrived. Please visit them for casual conversation and gratuitous amounts of back patting and bottom slapping. (For cycling, might I suggest Mpls Bike Love.) Over the course of my life I've had countless friends and acquaintances tell me I've inspired them or someone they know by the things I do. I take that as a huge compliment. I try my best to do and to do well and to do consistently. I really couldn't care less why someone else doesn't do. But in the grand scheme I see that too many hide behind walls of excuses. That may just be a human trait -- hell, I love a good excuse as much as the next bipedal. However, when I see fortresses built of excuses I get bent.

We need doers. We need cheerleaders, too -- don't get me wrong. We need lots of things, like critical discourse. We need to be able to take that criticism and enact real changes from it. We need examination and we need thought. It's never a good idea, in my opinion, to shut one's brain off, nor to engage in action before shifting one's brain into gear.

Enough of that. Give it all up and check out the funniest Ebay post ever. Thanks to Sov for revealing that little gem.

Have a great weekend.


Snakebite said...

"But in the grand scheme I see that too many hide behind walls of excuses."

You know about excuses, don't you? They are like butt holes. Everyone's got one and everyone's stinks.

Glad to hear the new house is working well.

The Dude [LFoaB] said...

Good points, all [and the ePay link was quite funny].

Re: Lights. I've let it be known, mainly at Minn Bike Love, with what we've invested in "See"/"Be Seen" lighting on our steeds & the appalling lack of lighting on many bikes we see [don't see] at night... any stealth riders hit us and I'll beat their asses into the hard, Tundra, Minnesota earth before they even have a chance to apologize.

The whole "Hipster Movement" isn't just funny and sad... it gets pathetically annoying & dangerous too.


burnt said...

Mr. Fleck, it's truly a shame you are no longer in the neighborhood. So, what say you to the Five-O? Are you coming back? I won't be rockin' the Wrangler skinsuit but I'm heading back.

Patch O'Houli said...


Wish I could. Too much travel. Off to Japan today, Germany in a month, Interbike ... We still aren't moved into our house totally! You have a grand time in them Black Hills! Don't bet Ziegle a steak dinner either.