Monthly Archives: November 2014

Green Infused Classic Cars

One of the hazards of being a 15-20 hour per week cyclist is high exposure to traffic exhaust fumes.  The emissions coming from “classic” cars–and pre-particulate filter diesels–are amongst the worst.  We are about as advanced in our public attitudes with car exhaust today as we were with cigarette smoke fifty years ago.   We just have not made the connection that this car exhaust is killing people, and dramatically reducing the quality of life for everybody.  There is no amount that is good for you.  The classic cars are putting out a disproportionate share and making Southwest cities like Phoenix, Albuquerque and Las Vegas reputed for their health benefits and lifestyles failures in meeting clean air quality standards for metrics such as ozone.

That’s why I was excited to hear rock star Neil Young telling about his 1959 Lincoln which he converted to battery and ethanol power and went from 9 miles per gallon to 80.  This a great statement in the classic car area.  Cars are an important part of our heritage and Young has ingeniously transformed a beloved vehicle and made it less toxic to the atmosphere and the human lung.  Reconciling my love with motor vehicles, human health and environment has all of a sudden become less challenging.  Better choices with better outcomes for applying ingenuity.  If we could incorporate some job creation in this nascent custom car building and refurbishing industry by say implementing a classic car green conversion program at our local community colleges, such as Santa Fe’s Sustainable Technologies Center, that would be a great pathway to harness the creative talents of young people by coupling them with an extant passion infused with a new techno twist that’s better for everyone.   Infusing the car industry with sustainability focused tech shops could also do things like retrofit dirty diesels with particulate filters. Funds might be well applied here in creating industry that’s good for the environment and rolls right along with our classic traditions, giving this country a sweet lift.

Solar Roads

“If all the roads in the US were converted to solar roadways…the country would generate three times as much energy as it currently uses and cut greenhouse gases by 75%.”  from The Guardian article World’s First Solar Cycle Lane Opening in the Netherlands

Roads and cycle paths are not the only thing we can harness solar energy from.  Can you imagine what power we might harvest from solarizing the parking lots and garages around the United States?  Parking lots are an incredible use of space and mostly sit empty.  Mall parking lots fill only during peak shopping season.  Church parking lots get used for two hours once or twice a week.  If we start parking our bicycles in the spots instead of big vehicles, this will free up even more parking lot surface to generate solar power!

This a natural and exciting progression of applying technology to change the way we approach the most pressing problems in the world.  Often times the beginning of change involves a simple shift in the way we are accustomed to looking at things.  Thanks Professor Bicycle for sending this article from the Guardian about Solar Roads.  Compelling evidence sabbaticals are GOOD

River Colors

We rode down by the river yesterday to keep it simple.  We took a meander across Montano to Rio Grand Blvd and then on some back roads.  We saw llama, ostrich, geese, horses and more throughout this luxurious green belt space flowing through the center of Albuquerque.

fiery trees

fiery trees

vineyards and estancias

vineyards and estancias

there are many horses in the landholdings by the Rio Grande

there are many horses on the landholdings by the Rio Grande

The nights are getting cold here to near freezing.  The days warm up under the Southwest sun.  The low angles of the light and cooler air combine for sharpness and clarity.

cruising the Bosque Trail

cruising the Bosque Trail

many canals or acequias irrigate the lands

many canals or acequias irrigate the lands

broad fields make good homes for many kinds of animals

broad fields make good homes for many kinds of animals

Mai mentioned her body metabolism was lifted all day by this lunchtime ride.  Bicycling as I understand it is the best aerobic activity for your heart second to only cross country skiing.  I’ve met people in their 60’s taking bicycling up as a regular part of their life because of the manifold benefits both physical and mental.

riding past horses

riding past horses

down a country lane

down a country lane

a pretty sweet ride by the river warms you up and brings on a smile

a pretty sweet ride by the river warms you up and brings on a smile

Bicycle travel to me seems to have a lot in common with traveling by horse.  You warm up to the world and feel a part of the “ocean of existence”.  With the busy city swirling all around us we entered the realm of river time and had a nice ride immersed in this colorbanded world.

Slow and Local Roads: The US Bicycle Route System

People are hungry for roads that exude local flavor and can be taken at a slower pace, just like we are hungry to enjoy local and sustainably grown foods.   Route 66, The Mother Road, is very much one of these roads that illuminates the character of the land it takes one through.  Adventure Cycling is planning and promoting a US Bicycle Route System to include Rt. 66.  This is a great idea.  Perhaps it will become as famous and popular as the National Parks as a vehicle for discovery and delivering new narratives on national values and creating adventurous trails.

As with the Complete Streets concept, the US Bicycle Route System encourages bicycles to utilize existing transportation corridors and sees multi modal traffic as a value added element.  The bicyclist and pedestrian themselves are agents of positive change.  What I love about the Route 66 bike route is the extension of the power of the bicycle beyond the confines of a city.  It captivates the magic of roaming wide and far across the country side just like you would in a car.  This is a key attraction for igniting the imagination for traveling, stringing together not only the dense streetscapes of the urban environment but the long stretches of open and free countryside where people are living to customs and rhythms closely in tune with land and traditions.  At a slower pace places come alive and illuminate under the full power of our senses.  We can seamlessly experience the interconnectedness between locations.

Traveling slowly through the rural landscape tells us a story, much like the farmland along the plains surrounding the waterways hold incredible renewable values whose tales are told after harvest at the farmer’s market.  Route 66 is not just a place to drive through but a place to be in and appreciate, to taste and sample carefully.  By accommodating and encouraging a lighter mode of traffic and prevailing a slower way of travel, the local character remains intact and reciprocally flows back a greater ambient value toward discerning travelers.  Give yourself up a little and get much more in return.

Bicyclists are part of America’s lungs, legs, and fresh eyes.  These slow bike trekkings, like Lewis and Clark’s long journey, take great patience and inscribe America’s rediscovery into the ledger of our national experience.  Our national character is being continually revealed through intimate focal experiences strung together like a sequence of jewels along a golden banded necklace.  What is revealed through our daily contact with the land and people is as important and poignant to the data and images we collect from voyages on the space shuttle.  The scales inform each other so the big picture makes sense through our intimately located selves.

Most days I prefer to put my newspaper down and go check the daily news a bike ride delivers.  Find out what’s happening in the great bounty of the country outside more closely scripted city life.  Bicycling a local and slow road builds a continuous flow of adventure in my life and is the lamp by which I see.  I forge a stronger bond.  A motto for slow and local roads and the US Bicycle Route System could be: Ride where you love and love where you ride.

La Luz

“You do that for a while and you really build your strength up.”  T. Emmanuel on practicing.

big cholla cactus at the base of La Luz

big cholla cactus at the base of La Luz

La Luz is a most beautiful climb to practice bicycling on.  It is easily accessible from town but it takes you a world away.  You climb 975 vertical feet in two road miles.  That’s steep.  It begins at about 6,000′ and goes up to 7,000′.  There’s a trailhead for a path leading to the top of the Sandia Crest at the end of the road.  Many people run up that trail and then take the Aerial Tram back down.  There is usually very little car traffic on La Luz.  The road is windy so be careful.

La Luz is also known as Forest Road 333 and begins at the NE corner of Tramway

La Luz is also known as Forest Road 333 and begins at the NE corner of Tramway.  View from the base of La Luz.

Scintillating sky, mountain blue

The climb lures you in gently

The climb begins gently and lures you in

Scintillating mountain blue sky

Last winter I lifted weights in the gym.  This winter I’m looking forward to spending more time on the bike.  I much prefer being outside.  La Luz helps build strength and power.

you cover a lot of ground in two miles and come up face to face with the immense wall of mountain rock

you cover a lot of ground in two miles and come up face to face with the immense mountain

pinyon pine trees give off a sweet aroma and the air smells as clean as it looks

piñon pine trees exude a sweet aroma.  The air is pure goodness up here

Everywhere you look is inspiring and you are going slow enough to appreciate it

Everywhere you look is inspiring and you are going slow enough to appreciate it

The Sandia Pueblo call the range Bien Mur=Big Mountain

The Sandia Pueblo calls the range Bien Mur=Big Mountain

“All I’m interested in is this” Tommy Emmanuel tells us regarding his guitar playing.  Bicycling is the same for me.  My triathlete friends blow my mind.  I thrive on simplicity.  I am trying to learn to play new tunes on my one instrument.  That is endlessly challenging.

La Luz is one long crescendo

La Luz is a crescendo

2014.11.3 La Luz 180

The final bend before the top

The final bend before the top

Give La Luz a try after you have some base level training.  There is one hill more difficult than this in the area called Heartbreak Hill.  That is over on the other side of the Sandias and I’ll try it for a ride report.  The Sandia Crest Road Race goes over Heartbreak.

practicing on this climb humbles one

practicing on this climb humbles and uplifts

a road curving up

a road curving up toward a big adventure

felt sky

felt sky

You can play this climb over again, or do other climbs in the nearby foothills, or drop down Tramway toward the river and come back for an approach kind of like a tempo climb before you turn onto La Luz and go as hard as you can go

La Luz is a grand way to cap off a ride

You can do repeats on La Luz, or simply do it once.  You can combine it with other nearby climbs in the Sandia foothills, or drop down Tramway toward the river (elevation 5,000′) and come back for a tempo climb approach before you turn onto La Luz and go as hard as you can go.  La Luz is a great one for recruiting muscle fibers to work through your pedal stroke, and for training the ones you’ve got to sustain power!  Build the aerobic engine by climbing lots.


An Idea Whose Time Has Come

There is nothing that makes my heart’s yearning for liberty beat stronger than a bicycle ride through the Sunday Morning Aire

The biggest challenge of our times is keeping a healthy environment that will last and help human beings flourish for a long time to come.  If America is going to get serious about being a world leader in this respect then we have to make a full commitment to addressing transportation sustainability.  Our current transportation environment puts a serious chill on the free and safe movement of people by basic modes such as bicycling and walking.  Bicycling and walking are obvious assets for our physical needs and our economic ones, plus hugely significant for the uplift they provide in our spiritual, emotional and intellectual well being.  What are the barriers prohibiting people to move as freely on a bicycle and by feet as we get around in our automobiles?  What can we do to better support and encourage citizens to feel confident and strong making strides and taking rides?  How can we better realize mobility freedom and treat people with dignity now matter how they choose to get around?

The old order of car-centered destinies is being balanced by an emergent desire to have complete streets and roadways that include bicyclists and pedestrians with both infrastructure accommodations and a culture of egalitarian sharing.  Self propelled travelers are building a dimension in sustainable transportation based on John F. Kennedy’s articulation of American values–whether or not “we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated”–raising expectations that walkers and bikers travel with first class priority just as motorists experience.   This new shared road paradigm diffuses power across transportation modes and incentivizes responsible freedom.  Why would we expect anything less than for people to want viable options to utilize the transportation system as walkers and bikers and have full access to all the benefits the pursuit of happiness entails?  The yearnings we feel in car culture for security, self expression, mobility, and connection are expressed through biking and walking with equal zest and exuberance.  Seeking fulfillment by moving freely is a fundamental liberty with deep roots, and we must evolve and rebalance our transportation system to respect the opportunity to engage in beneficial bicycling and walking.  Transportation freedom involves us.

Full equality in transportation planning doctrine and equal protection under the law, a Constitutional right, have not yet been realized.  Bicycles are given full status as vehicles on the road but most States have “far to the right” clauses that create confusing dualities.  Discriminatory legal codes sap oxygen from a secure riding environment by articulating rights in the negative, placing bicyclist legal status on defensive ground and empowering those who see cyclists as a subordinate class.  Even with clarified laws, driving educators and the public have a long challenge ahead building an inclusive culture that accounts for the after waves of long practiced bias and neglect that left walkers and bikers out and ignored basic needs and legalized prejudice.  We can overcome this inheritance and make transportation sustainability and equality a central matter of everyday life by looking forward and upwards and making policy and law centered on our common understanding of human dignity and what it means to be human wanting to move freely under one’s own power.

Folks advocating for a multifaceted and holistic view of the transportation system are not promoting a cause but are everyday people who’ve encountered significant impediments going about a regular life that includes substantial walking and biking.  Bicycling and walking clearly call for across the aisle support as quality of life issues.   We can see that they are integrated into our conceptions of building a stronger and more sustainable America going forward.  Using our ingenuity we can create a lifestyle that makes us early adopters of transportation principles that define our values and help liberty shine beyond the status quo, making our claims to leadership in being generators of attractive lifestyles easier to support.   Integrating good opportunities for biking and walking into our street life is important for our self esteem and world image for defending rights and dignity and promoting freedom, health and happiness.

What can we do now?  Raise expectations for those people in power to implement change.  Hold elected officials accountable for establishing better safeguards to protect pedestrians and bicyclists, and for overseeing the allocation of resources for planning measures that distribute investment throughout all transportation modes, not favoring the stronger establishment of one mode over another, but empowering everyone.  Invest law enforcement protection equally to all human beings regardless of transportation status.  Work together to promote a balanced transportation environment that promotes self determination and equal opportunity rather than limiting us to one default choice, whether or not we want to do it.  We must work the democratic process to lift the expectations of how bicyclists and walkers are treated, and ensure demeaning and bigoted treatments are no longer within the boundaries of acceptable human relations.  We insist on accepting that the human spirit’s motivation to move should be freely expressed in diverse ways.  The transportation environments we build are reflective of this diversity, and expand the human spirit, not diminish it.  Our mobility is important physically but just as much symbolically of what it means to be free.  Ring your bicycle bell and let’s get moving.  Walkers and bikers are not beyond anybody’s comprehension.  We are everybody.  The need to move and associate freely by your chosen means is a basic human right and cannot be segregated away, and deserves to be undifferentiated and dignified by the State and people.  Let’s live it daily.

downtown Santa Fe is a pretty good place to explore on foot

downtown Santa Fe is fun to explore on foot with its compact density, surprising charms and delicious food

the natural environment is a stimulating and uplifting place to walk

the natural environment is a stimulating and uplifting place to walk.  let’s embellish these elements with our buildings

Being out in the open air makes me feel good and its carbon neutral

Being out in the open air makes me feel good and its cheaper than a movie theatre, and with much better light