Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

25 June 2016

Don't Mess With....My Hair!

He was a young guy, in really good shape.  She was the attractive young woman who dated him...though, not for very long.

So what, exactly, was the "deal breaker"?  No, one didn't find out the other had a spouse and family in another country--or was an axe-murderer.  And no other "dim, dark" secret--like the one that led to my other blog--was revealed.

By now, you've probably guessed that I was telling one of my stories, in third (rather than first) person.  So...do you want to know why I broke up with her?

All right...I'll tell you anyway.  She wouldn't go bike riding with me.  In fact, she wouldn't ride a bike, period.  

OK.  This is nothing new. I'm sure some of you are, or have been, in relationships with people who don't want to get on the saddle and pedal.  Perhaps you, too, ended a relationship with a person for that reason. Or, maybe, you've found a way to accomodate your differences:  You go for your rides while your beloved does something else.  Afterward, you wine and dine together and, to burn up those calories, engage in another kind of physical activity--one for which you don't need a dynohub and LED headlamp.

Now, being as young as I was, I had almost no concept of compromise and no skills in mediation.  (I still don't have much of either, I'm afraid.)  So there was simply no way I could come up with a solution--even to keep such an attractive young woman at my side and keep up the appearance of being a macho heterosexual male.

But even if I were more adept at the art of negotiation, I wouldn't have wanted to come up with a way to keep us together.  You see, what really bothered me was the reason she wouldn't ride:  She was afraid that it would mess up her hair.

I kid you not. (When was the last time you heard that?)  She was kept herself perfectly coiffed.  (Later, another partner would keep me perfectly cuffed.;-)) Of course, when I met her, that was one of the first things I noticed:  her nearly perfect chestnut mane.  Still, I told myself, it was entirely frivoulous and pointless (I actually used to say things like that to myself!) to devote so much of one's attention to such a thing--and to deny one's self other pleasures and experiences in the service of such devotion.

Now, many years (decades, actually) later, I can say this:  I wanted her hair.  And I wanted permission to be so fussy about it!  Yes, I was jealous.

Anyway, I hadn't thought about her, or the story I've recounted, in a long time--until I saw this:

If you don't live in or around Roanoke, Virginia, you might not know that such a rack was actually built.  Its creators--the design team of the Knowhow Shop--say it was inspired by this question:  "What would I lock my bike to if I were really small?"

I wonder whether any of them had a girlfriend who wouldn't ride because she was afraid that it would mess her hair.

24 June 2016

Lael Wilcox Beats All Comers--Yes, Including The Men--In The TransAm

In previous posts, I've mentioned the Bikecentennial.  

A few years after it, something called the Race Across America started.  Lon Haldeman won its first incarnation in 1982; Severin Zolter of Austria won last year.  

It is comparable to the European super-races like the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana mainly in its overall length.  Those races are in stages and consist of a number of diffent kind of events, such as mountain stages and sprints.  On the other hand, Race Across America is a straight-through race, from some point on the West Coast to some point on the East Coast. (The first edition began on the Santa Monica Pier in California and ended at the Empire State Building in New York.) This means that riders choose when and where they stop and how much or how little they sleep.  Another difference is that roads are not closed to traffic for the race's course.  So, perhaps, it's not surprising that both of the fatalities in the race's history are the result of collisions with motor vehicles.

It seems that someone had the bright idea of combining Bikecentennial with the Race Across America.  Thus was the Trans Am race born.  

Run every year since 2014,  it is a transcontinental race, like RAAM.  Also like RAAM, it is not in stages, so insomniacs can ride through the night, if they like. (I imagine it is better for the mind, as well as the body, than binge-watching Gilligan's Island.)  The most interesting aspect of the race, though, is that it's run on the Bikecentennial route--which is 6800 km (4200 miles) long.  That's at least several hundred kilometers longer than any RAAM, Tour, Giro or Vuelta route!

The other morning, the first American to win the race arrived in Yorktown, Virginia 18 days and 10 minutes after departing Astoria, Oregon.  Lael Wilcox came in ahead of 51 other riders.  As of this writing, four others have finished and eight others have scratched.  That means 38 others are still en route to Yorktown.

(You can follow the riders' progress here.)

For most of the race, Wilcox chased Steffen Streich (who, in spite of his name, hails from Lesbos, Greece) and caught him when, after awaking from a 2.5 hour sleep on the last night, began riding the course backward.  When she encountered him (They'd never before met.), he suggested that they ride together to the finish.  She reminded him that they were in a race.

Now, if you're not from the US, you might not care that Wilcox is the first American to win the race.  You might not even care that Wilcox rode the second-fastest time in the history of the race. Only Mike Hall (of England), who won the inaguaral edition of the race, completed it in less time: 17 days and 16 hours.  

The most interesting aspect of Wilcox's feat is--at least to me--is that she is one of the few women to have ridden it.  Think about that:  The only man who bettered her in the history of the race is Mike Hall!

She is making me think of Beryl Burton, of whom I've written in earlier posts. For two years (1967-69), she held the 12-hour time trial record.  Not the women's record, mind you:  the record.  Moreover, her 277.25-mile (446.2 kilometer) ride was a full five miles (eight kilometers) longer than any other 12-hour time trial!

Hmm...Could Lael Wilcox beat all comers in the RAAM--or some other event?

N.B.:  All photos by Nicholas Carman, from the Gypsy By Trade blog

23 June 2016

It's A Toxic Waste Dump. Keep It Clean!

The last part of yesterday's ride took me, before Greenpoint, through the industrial necropoli along Newtown Creek.  Actually, there is still a lot of manufacturing and trucking in the area, but the corroding concrete carcasses and brick buildings bubbling with the anger of acid in the rain and sunshine echo and mirror deaths past and future.

Among those of the past are the Lenni-Lenape who lived along the shores and lived on what they picked from it and fished from the creek.  In their day--two centuries ago--the creek, and other New York waterways, were the world's richest oyster beds.  Charles Dickens and Alexis de Tocqueville remarked on the ubiquity of those bivalves: even day laborers ate them for lunch!  (According to some histories I've read, the oyster bar was invented here in New York.)

Pilngs from a bridge built in 1836 and decommissioned in 1875 over Newtown Creek.   It  connected Williamsburg, Brooklyn (on the oposite shore) with Maspeth, Queens

Today no sane person would eat anything from that water.  In fact, most people wouldn't even touch it, as a century and a half of dumping all sorts of petroleum by-products and other chemicals have rendered Newtown Creek--as I mentioned in an earlier post--one of the nation's most polluted waterways.

But at least there are attempts to make the waterway and its shores, if not pristine, at least something other than a toxic tragedy.  Could the day come when we'll ride on a green path and stop to pick berries or flowers along the way?

Until then, we can only heed the warnings on the signs posted near the creek.

What, exactly, is this one saying?  "Due to poor water quality and contamination of sediments, within Newtown Creek," it explains, "it is NOT advisable to swim, wade or consume fish or shellfish at this location."  OK, that makes sense. But in the next sentence:  "Please help keep this site clean (italics mine) by not littering or dumping debris."

Hmm...I wonder whether anyone actually reads signs before they're posted.