Category Archives: humanities

The Spirit of the Bicycle

Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Bicycles remind me of the Canadian rock band Rush.  They’ve never had the marketing machine elevating them to pop star status, but their audience grows over the years through consistent competency, practicality, artistry, value and pure fun.  They simply perform well.

west-looking

And so it is with the bicycle.  I was talking with a bike shop manager during a ride.  His ideal customer is someone just getting started and wanting an entry level bicycle, $400 or so.  They ride it until it wears out.  Through their experience, they have a clearer idea for the next one.  I told him that was my story.  I started riding almost 20 years ago on a Specialized Rockhopper.  It cost about $400.  Now, 20+ bikes later, I’m on a Specialized Tarmac.  Technology is wonderful, but the most important thing is your bike fits you, and is mechanically sound.  How much money you spend is irrelevant.  The ride characteristics come from you, the rider, from your heart and soul.  A good bike lets you do what you want to do.  It is intuitive, honest, trustful.  You are the instrument making the sound.  You make the bicycle go where you want to be.

wilderness-edge

The places we can go are fabulous!  When I was driving 18-wheeler across America for a living, I saw a lot of country.  But I missed most of what was out there.  The bicycle allows you to immerse yourself and get a 360 degree experience of the landscape surrounding you.   Cycling experiences make our senses and minds more impressionable.  It keeps us fresh, youthful.  If I would have had a bicycle with me on my 18-wheeler rig to ride during layovers, loading times, and rest days, I could still be truckin’.  We live in the best of both worlds.  We have macro-transportation capabilities to span the globe, and can find intimacy and serene pleasure too if we take the time to be quiet, humble, and explore under our own useful and fitting powers.  Keeping a balance is key.  We have to choose wisely, and accommodate ourselves to the world.

fr-445-specialized-action

The bicycle allows us to build an understanding of the world minus the scaffolding.  The structure of the cycling experience is almost unmediated.  What a brilliant, fun technology.  The bicycle is sustainable transportation.  It is practical and worthwhile.  My how we need it!

champions

tall-view

If you want to be a champion to future generations and create important changes now, be a champion of the humble bicycle.  Let people make music with the bicycle.  Embrace this technology and abide by it.   Unlike the rock band Rush, bicycles do not grow old.   We are on the precipice of big change in the world.  Bicycles help us move our story in the right direction and produce more positive outcomes, win-wins.  Bicycles build optimism, health, and–

  • get us out of our bubble
  • activate our inherent mobility powers
  • shift our perceptions so we tune in
  • stimulate creative thinking
  • help us meet new people, feel connected to our communities, and be a part of the world
  • assist us in creating change
  • deliver benefits in health and wellness, sustainability, and creative development

Bicycles put humans in a positive light.  Days are gifts as we pedal forward.  The bicycle abides.

at-the-dunes

resources:
Check out Specialized for bicycles.  The spirit of the bicycle is you!

A Complete Ride

We’ve all heard how sports such as cycling can be more mental than physically challenging.  Virginia Commonwealth University embraced the UCI Road World Championships in 2015 in Richmond, VA with a cross-disciplinary campus-wide effort to engage faculty and students in experiential learning.  Their work became “part of the university’s intellectual and cultural heritage”.  Studying cycling helps you realize it transcends any fixed categories such as transportation, identity, or even sport.  It is an integral part of the fabric of our lives.

VCU English Professor Gardner Campbell explained:  “The project was not just the experience of a sporting event. It represented something more, having to do with the possibilities of human accomplishment and the commitment it takes to get to your goals. Our students saw around them, as they were pushing themselves in the context of their own intensive courses, world-class athletes who were committing their hearts and minds and bodies to excellence.”

vcu-bike-book

The Great VCU Bike Race Book project gave students an opportunity to learn by doing and a chance to become “authors,” producing content curated into a virtual “book.” –photo from the article linked below

Read the full article here:  How a Bike Race Led to Experiential, Personalized Learning ,or,

https://campustechnology.com/articles/2016/11/16/how-a-bike-race-led-to-experiential-personalized-learning.aspx

This video of the final 5 kilometers of the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, VA shows an exhausted peloton.  The echo chamber of fans lining the cobbled streets, cheering in global tongues.  The winding course highlights city features, the 50 mile pedestrian trail to Williamsburg, Libby Hill, Governor Street, world culture shining in America, and Sagan’s all around cycling skills.  He only had a couple bike length’s lead over the last cobbled climb, but opened the gap zipping through the twisty turns, and extended it further with unrelenting commitment across the flats.  And the way his competitors great him after the race!

An incredible ride by Sagan, steadfastness, control and skill in the midst of seeming chaos.  The discipline of saving energy, then unleashing his heart’s desires at just the right moment.  Cycling is a global sport and a spiritual journey.  Sagan used the microphone after the race to call attention to the plight of refugees, and articulate a vision for shared prosperity for all humanity.  He won the road world championships again in 2016 to continue his reign.  We keep learning!

Virginia Commonwealth University is our Bike Org of the Month for November, 2016.

Detail on the course in Richmond here:  https://www.usacycling.org/richmond-2015-unveils-courses-for-2015-uci-road-world-championships.htm
A previous blog post on Sagan’s Richmond victory:  Achieve World Peace Through Bicycling

Pedaler in Chief

“Bicycles will save the world.”  –Susan Handy, UC Davis Environmental Science & Policy

How poignant this Rush song is today.  It was written in 1985 when greed was being institutionalized in America.  I grew up a confused child in a troubled world.

After high school I worked as a roofer.  I started college.  At 21, I drove an 18 wheeler around America the beautiful, and epic Canada too.  But it was the bicycle–rediscovered at the age of 22 when I realized the car could not save me and was too expensive for me to operate anymore–that changed me.  It was a tool that helped me learn Emerson’s Self-Reliance from the inside by living it.  It’s not easy, and I don’t know where this journey is taking me, but it is a fun ride.

mais-scene

What if our next President charged the country with cycling more?  Make a difference, bike more.  We don’t need everyone to ride, we simply need to support people that are out there cycling right now and encourage people that will.  Especially our youth, and young at heart.

If you’re feeling cynical during this election cycle I recommend cycling more.  It builds us up and connects us to the greater world.  I would also recommend voting.  We have to make our effort and let go of factors beyond our control.  We can only dictate our own effort.  And it works.

2012 was a pivotal moment on my cycling journey when Joe Shannon, Flagstaff Cycling’s Pedaler in Chief, gave me an opportunity to race again, build a team and smooth out my pedal stroke.  We keep growing the movement and spreading the word.  What if the next President of the U.S.A. embraced this new title, Pedaler in Chief, and built a team with all Americans and World Leaders?   Who knows, maybe big money can help more too.  Let’s ask.

References–
Check out Dr. Handy’s research here:  http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/handy/
Joe’s team is linked here–
https://flagstaffcycling.squarespace.com/
Cycling joins together disciplines:  UC Davis’s Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior

Points of Light

mai-walking

Mai and I made our annual pilgrimage to the towering trees at Aspen Vista above Santa Fe.  The cyclical chemistry of life comes to the forefront as leaves drop down, their fiery glory fading to a golden luminescence.  A sense of renewal drifts in the air as petals fold slowly into the soil.

santa-fe-aspens

santa-fe-colors

A cross section of the community walked the trail, beholding this symphony of color.  Envoys of beauty, these aspen groves, at once crooked and upright.  Imagine them at night like hands and spindly fingers reaching up from the earth towards the night sky’s starry points of light sprent across the universe.  A map seen by cultures everywhere continuous from ancient times.

santa-fe-forever

santa-fe-light

santa-fe-veil-of-light

Walking in aspen forests during Fall is special, but we don’t have to save walking for seasonal occasions.  Practical and social walking integrates exercise into our everyday routines so we get that essential, natural movement that renews our bodies and nourishes our spirits.

santa-fe-see-through-colors

santa-fe-menagerie

Walking strengthens us.  America Walks recognizes this and is elevating the respect we have for walking in our communities.  Walking tends to be hard where we need it the most, in cities.  America Walks designs health-promoting environments attuned to human sensitivities.

santa-fe-break-down

santa-fe-tree-family

Walking, cycling and nature are pillars of an American renaissance.  They are key to understanding the land, urban environs and our common heritage.  Everything is inextricably interconnected.  America Walks is our organization of the month for October, 2016.

“The pedestrian is a social being: he is also a transportation unit, and a marvelously complex and efficient one…Transportation engineers are spending millions on developing automated people-mover systems. But the best, by far, is a person.”
– William H. Whyte, City: Rediscovering the Center (1988)

SimWorks Custom Bicycles

Has the Japanese bicycle industry lost not only their production power but imagination as well?”  –SimWorks custom bicycles,  Imagination and Creation of Your Quality of Life

We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve been busy, so I’m catching up on designating my bike org. of the month for April 2016.  I read about SimWorks in an article on handcrafted bicycles.  I checked out their website and was impressed by their narrative.  I’ve been wanting to write about them for months.

SimWorks suggests bicycles create a kind of social fabric between craftspeople and customers.  They think a quality handbuilt bicycle can “guide the next generation” into being a more conscientious consumer.  It’s bicycle manufacturing with personality and an intentional continuity between the manufacturing process and the user of the product.

The English translation on the website is not perfect, but the essence of the story still comes through.  SimWorks taps into the cycling roots of Japan and builds products that communicate history and meaning with their style.  As a sustainable enterprise it makes a lot of sense, with product quality and distinctness helping people be happier with what they have.  Craftsmanship like this takes time and cultivates highly valued and skilled artisans.

The diversity and variety custom bikes offer make the world more interesting and exciting, and they seem to generate a virtuous cycle between the maker and the consumer.  Cycling creates bridges to the future in a lot of ways, from rebuilding bonds between people and the environment, to connecting us to the integrity and identity of a manufactured product.

SimWorks sees themselves “changing the system”, encouraging us to look with precision and make decisions with care.  Their products are imaginative, dreams on wheels, and humanely empower the life they carry forward.   It’s never too late to build the kind of world we want.

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pictures from recent travels–

Exercise your mind

Bicycles and Reading are both grand adventures

tall glass of clouds

the New Mexico sky up close, in person, is definitely worth seeing

Crest road

the Sandia Crest road is great cycling

Lilacs and trees

above 10,400'

Great Cyclists from the Southwest

‘Cycling is freedom for me.  I can use the same thing I use as a mode of transportation as a form of exercise and as a form of competition.’  –Kyle Murphy, Professional Cyclist, Team Jamis

It amazes me how many great cyclists come from the U.S. Southwest.  Not all of them were born here, but the riding and lifestyle afforded by the Southwest is perfect for developing cycling potential.  Here are three notables with recent successes.

Brandon McNulty, 18 years of age, is having a stellar year winning top races.  In March he broke his own record on the South Mountain hillclimb above Phoenix by almost a minute.  Brandon said ‘the local race is special to him because he rode up South Mountain with his father when he was younger on Silent Sundays when the summit road is closed to traffic.’

Brandon-McNulty-South-Mountain-Time-Trial-2016

Brandon McNulty breaking his own record up South Mountain in Phoenix, May 2016. Photo from http://clippedin.bike/

Travis McCabe improves every year.  After nearly winning the overall at the Redlands Classic two years ago, he’s focused his training on maximizing sprint victories, playing to his strengths.  Travis has won stages at the Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila, and Redlands this year.

Travis Mcabe wins the Sunset Roadrace at Redlands 2016. Photo Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Travis McCabe wins the Sunset Road Race at Redlands 2016. Photo from Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

At age 36 when many pro athletes are retired and golfing, Eric Marcotte keeps winning and getting better.  He won the downtown criterium race at this year’s Tour of the Gila, and also won the road race in February at the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix.  Eric’s determination continues after winning U.S. National Championships in 2014 (road race) and 2015 (criterium).

Marcotte soars to victory at the Tour of Gila criterium, http://velonews.competitor.com/

Eric Marcotte soars to victory at the Tour of Gila downtown criterium.  Photo from http://velonews.competitor.com/

I received an email from USA Cycling with a few inspirational quotes on why we race .  Here are a few of my favorites.  For me, racing is a way of riding into health.
“The sense of community keeps me coming back.”
“I have found incredible friendships through bike racing and these friendships have endured.”
“It’s a rigorous mental exercise.”

Resources/Credits–
http://www.jamissutterhome.com/roster.html
https://ice.usacycling.org/why-do-you-race-tell-us-and-you-could-be-a-winner.htm
McNulty Sets New South Mountain TT Record from AZclippedin

The Return of Cycling Transportation

“When we bring the buffalo back, we’ll bring the people back because we’ll re-learn how to structure our lives.”  –Jim Stone, Yankton-Sioux Tribe, Return of the Bison

The bison is America’s new national symbol, sharing the stage with the bald eagle.  This is a great story.  It’s the story of conservation as a guiding principle of our nation.  It’s the story of a nation embracing the character of a place and relearning our native culture and inheritance.

Native to America

Photograph: Josh Barchers/AP from a story in The Guardian online, “Return of the Bison”

I would love to see the bicycle adopted as our national vehicle.  Like the bison, the bike is a way to structure our lives.  Bicycles have been with us, but it is taking time for us to appreciate them and give them the large scale transportation networks they need to reach their fullest potential.

Crazy Cactus on La Luz

For the last seven weeks I was “bikeless” while I healed from an injury.  I drove a car more than usual, and found myself feeling disconnected, separated from my surroundings.  I felt anxious.  You would think separation from aspects of life in the city would increase comfort, but it fed my fear.  I was startled by beginning my day hurtling down the highway at 70mph amongst 80,000 pound trucks and 6,000 pound SUV’s.  I didn’t feel safer, rather I felt more afraid.

Specialized with Sandia Peak on La Luz

I started riding my bicycle outside again this week.  I feel so much better.  Cycling transforms road anonymity into neighborly relations.  I’m moving at safer speeds, and the mass of my vehicle doesn’t constitute a danger to myself or others.  I’m nimble and freer.  Cycling helps me feel a part of my surroundings and that I’m making a more humane transport environment.  Cycling restores my connection with the beauty in Albuquerque.  It makes good sense to me.

La Luz bliss

Credits–the first photo is from an article in The Guardian called Return of the bison: new American national symbol tells story of strife and credited to Josh Barchers/AP
The other photos are from my first rides this week.

Walking the High Desert Landscape

A walk in the foothills above Albuquerque yesterday reminded me what good a walk can do.  Walking lends perspective on our health and where we live.  It’s a simple and powerful tool.

range

sprinkles

Walking helps the mind flow.  Seeing the sky’s movement while we’re walking or being startled by the color palette of a sprinkle of flowers can free up our thinking powers.  We tune into nature’s economy and open up to life.  The rhythm of movement kindles creative sparks.

biker up

curve

berries and twigs

Walking is a way of gathering information and experiencing what is going on in the world around us.  Reynold Levy recommends CEO’s grow their knowledge by walking.  “Take a walk, read widely…I am utterly persuaded that every nonprofit CEO should exit his or her office and walk two miles east, north, south, and west to see the organization as others do.  Elicit their point of view.”  Steve Jobs made walking an integral part of meetings with his colleagues.  Take a walk, boost your health, learn something new, shift your perspective.  Enjoy today.

cactus flower

seams

Resources:
America Walks offers tips for walking meetings.  National Walking Day is April 6, 2016.
Steve Jobs’ habit of walking meetings is documented in Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs

Seize the Day

whoa

I’m pretty sure the slower I ride, the more time I have to absorb what I see.  Plus I have time to chat with people.  This is such an exciting time of year to Spring forward making life anew.  Change happens one conversation and one bike ride at a time.  Carpe diem, walk bike talk.

Trail Miles

Elena Gallegos glow

Seize the day

La Luz in the fold

The confinements of the road are also the conditions of its freedom.  –Kenneth Burke, 1966

Bicycles Bring People to Nature

The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world.  –Richard Louv

A father of a young bicyclist told me “bicycling cures my son’s Attention Deficit Disorder.”  Yes, that and much more.  Bicycling fosters appreciation for the life we have outside.  And increases our sense of value and investment in the natural landscape, while making us more a part of it.   Check out this upcoming event in Santa Fe, and also Richard Louv’s provocative books.

Richard Louv at Lensic

“Louv makes a convincing case that we are entering the most creative period in history, that in fact the twenty-first century will be the era of human restoration in the natural world. This encouraging and influential work offers renewed optimism while challenging us to rethink the way we live.”

References:
http://www.santafewaldorf.org/louv/