Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

17 January 2017

After Speed And Flight: A Free Lunch (Or Dinner)?

I don't remember the last time I've had such luck with weather!

Once again, the day began sunny, with a temperature of 60F (15C) on my parents' porch, and quickly climbed over 70F (21C).  By late afternoon, after thick cumulus clouds passed over, it was 77F (25C).  Although the clouds muted the sun and had dark undersides, there was never any real threat of rain.  Such clouds are not unusual on warm days in coastal areas.

Yes, I rode along the ocean again--along Route A1A, to be exact.  Today I would follow it from the Flagler Beach Pier, along dunes and beaches of hard-packed sand to the beach that bills itself as the World's Most Famous.

Although I have been there a number of times before, I am always a little surprised at what I find in Daytona Beach.  It's not like any other beach town or resort--at least, not like any other I've ever seen.  Driving is actually permitted on some parts of the beach, as it is in other nearby beach communities like Ormond Beach.  But that beach--which is often called "the birthplace of speed", where several land speed records were set--today has a speed limit of 10MPH.

  And, it also has an important place in early aviation history, where several speed and altitude records were set.  Not surprisingly, the nation's premiere aviation college, Embry-Riddle, is located nearby.

It has its share of beach-town cliches, including the taffy stands and tacky souvenir shops.  But it also manages to combine, in a few blocks near Main Street, everyone's idea of Haight-Ashbury in 1967, Woodstock in 1969, the East Village of those years and a current NASCAR rally all in one.  Oh, and there are religious folks and some genderqueers that would make most drag queens seem like suburban housewives.

And there are residents who are, or seem, completely oblivious to--or just don't care--about it all:  

They probably follow this bit of advice:

and don't even pay for it!  Of course, they might not get the best seats in the house.  But, hey, if you were eating stuff that people pay real money for, and it didn't cost you anything, you wouldn't complain, right?

Then again, there are some folks who, one hopes, won't follow that advice:

Actually, I'd worry about them eating Joe himself--except, of course, that alligators don't go into the ocean.  (Then again, there is the occasional shark!)  But I love the warning, "When fed, the alligator loses its fear of humans and becomes accustomed to handouts."  Hmm...Is there a political philosophy expressed in that?

Interesting that it should be posted at the entrance to the Lehigh Greenway Rail Trail,near the end of my ride.  Is there some kind of cosmology here:  Humans spend their Hamiltons and Jacksons (soon to be Tubmans) on stuff sea birds eat, and said humans can become an alligator's free meal by feeding them what those birds eat?

How does it all end?

I tried to find out whether that was Flagler Beach's version of Stonehenge.  But nobody seemed to know what it was.  I did see a sign nearby that exclaimed "No seawall!"  

For me, it's hard not to agree.  Then again, I just visit once or twice a year.  I don't know how I'd feel if I lived there and my house was inundated by a storm.

Thankfully, I don't have to answer that question.  I didn't have to do anything; I just rode.  

And what a lovely ride I had.  At the end of it, I didn't eat at Joe's:  I ate at Mom's.  And I didn't have to pay for it.

16 January 2017

Who's Going To Make What Great Again?

Today I took two short rides: before and after having lunch with my mother and a friend of hers, of whom I am fond.

My rides took me through alongside creeks, swamps and woods, as well as through small-town streets lined with shabby houses and suburban subdivisions full of houses that are imitations or parodies, depending on your point of view, of structures built by Spanish, French and English settlers to this area.

Once again, the weather was delightful.  At one point, I even saw two frolicking fawns just yards away from me, and white herons that ambled even closer.  People seemed relaxed, even if they were doing home repairs or yardwork.  The kids were happy, of course:  They had the day off from school.

The reason is that today is the holiday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 88 yesterday.  He didn't live to see his 40th birthday, and many of the people for whom he fought had even shorter lives that ended as tragically as his.  A few years ago, a student of mine who is about a decade older than I am, and grew up in Jacksonville--about 105 kilometers (65 miles) from where I am now--told me about one of those victims: a relative whose flaming body dangled from a tree in Mississippi.  As a little girl, she saw that.

It probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that from 1882 until 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state in the Union.  I don't think it would cause much consternation to say that the next states on the list were Georgia, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas.

Florida is right behind them.  The "Sunshine State", however, had the highest per-capita rate of lynchings among the states from 1880 through 1940.  In fact, Florida's lynch rate, in proportion to the population, was more than double that of Alabama and nearly four times that of Texas!

Today, as I rode through the subdivisions, and the ramshackle houses, I saw many "Trump:  Make America Great Again" campaign signs.  In fact, I even saw a couple in a trailer park.  I don't recall seeing so many campaign signs for any candidate still standing on lawns, or tied to signposts or windows, so long after an election as I saw today.  

Now, I am sure that some of those who voted for Trump--and, perhaps, a few who didn't--are resentful that King gets "his own" holiday: something no other individual has.  Or, to be precise, no other white individual has.

I can understand, even if I don't condone, what they feel:  that they are losing "their" place in society to "privileged" minorities (which, of course, can include LGBT people as well as any number of racial and ethnic identities--as well as "the 51 percent minority"). One thing my own experience has taught me is that privilege is something you don't know you have until you lose it, and the process of losing it is painful and can cause intense anger and resentment.

What are students learning these days?

What I can't understand, though, is something I saw on a news program this morning: People who claim that if King were alive today, he would have supported Donald Trump's election to the Presidency.  I tried to understand their arguments, but those of the Flat Earth Society  actually make more sense to me.

Of course, cycling and writing have made more sense to me than all of those things ever could.  So did those fawns and herons I saw.

15 January 2017

A Quick Ride, The Race And A Race To The Bottom

Today I had breakfast with my mother and a friend of hers who's of a generation that didn't, and still doesn't, do brunch.  Later, I went to see La-La Land (nothing deep, but not bad)and went out to dinner with my mother and father.

In between breakfast and the movie, I squeezed in a bike ride. I just made enough turns to ride in circles (and sometimes squares and triangles and other geometric figures) that brought me back to where I started.  

Along the way, I visited an old friend:

Well, OK, I first encountered "The Race" two years ago.  Its creator, Wes Cackler, actually seemed to understand cycling.  Perhaps he is a cyclist?

Unfortunately, nobody in the city or county seems to understand that pubilc sculptures require maintenance as much as buildings or other structures do.  Well, to be precise, while there was grant money (apparently from outside sources) for the sculpture, no money was budgeted for its upkeep.  To be fair, the city's and county's arts budget is all but non-existent.

Enough about politics and philistinism.  The ride was pleasant, with early afternoon weather much like yesterday's.  I did something, however, that I regret--at least a little:  I stopped at "Wally World".

It was the same branch of Walmart in which I bought a tire and two tubes during a visit here a few years ago because I flatted, it was Easter Sunday and no place else was open.  Today, I had no such excuse.

You see, we don't have a Walmart anywhere in New York City and, to my knowledge, the nearest one is at least 100 km away.  The only department stores in the Big Apple that rival Wally's in size are those of Macy's.  But Macy's, shall we say, caters to a different clientele, and doesn't offer building tools and supplies or sporting goods, among other things.  And the other department stores, such as Kohl's or Target, can fit into one or two floors of Macy's.

The day I bought the tire and tubes, I took a quick glance at what was offered in the bicycle section and was neither pleased nor surprised.  Today, I wasn't looking for anything bike-related, but I decided to check out their bike section anyway.  

Now, it was sad enough to see brands I once respected, such as Schwinn, Mongoose, affixed to bikes that were, frankly, junk.  And it was rather disheartening to see Bell--the creators of the first bike helmet that offered both protection and performance--on generic bike parts and accessories to make them seem, well, less generic, as well as useless plastic "baskets" for the handlebars of toddlers' trikes.

Today, though, one of the mighty really had fallen, at least in my estimation.  A company that has a long history in cycling, and whose products I've used for almost the entire time I've been a serious cyclist, are now embossed on emissions from Chinese factories:

I can't believe the company that made the first really good frame pump for clincher tires--as well as other fine accessories--in France, for decades, is now on the shelves of stores owned by a company that has done more than most to enable child labor and other kinds of worker exploitation in developing countries.

I doubt that Walmart has ever sold anything made in France (except perhaps for some cheese) or any other European country, or the British Isles.  I don't think much, or perhaps anything, at all the store sells today was produced in Japan.  None of that, however, is as galling as the fact that the company continues to label merchandise "Made in USA" when, in fact, it is made in China  or other low-wage companies, or is made from components manufactured in those countries and assembled or merely finished in the 'States.

Zefal products, made in China, on Walmart shelves:  How the mighty have fallen!