It’s been a little quiet on the Bikeleptic front this year. It’s been a busy freaking year, between transitioning career opportunities, moving across country, stress, anxiety, cycling bouts of depression, manic and otherwise childlike wonder of new experiences; it has been difficult to juggle everything.
Two months into our new lives, things are finally beginning to settle into a routine. I am beginning what may turn into the nightmare that is applying for new healthcare after being without insurance since May.
But if you want to hear more about daily happenings, you can follow us at Carpenter and Weaver.
Long story short, it’s been business as usual and I was itching to get out and stretch my legs. Having been digging deep into the local active transportation scene here, I had found a few different groups that did regular rides. Not the deeply developed and intricate calendar system of Portland, Oregon that you basically need and so was thus developed, an app to merge the various cycling events that transpired throughout the area.
Lancaster does have a dedicated group of cyclists. Everything about Lancaster has seemed dedicated and community-orientated.
I found out about Slow Ride Lancaster from Facebook several weeks ago, but because of conflicting errands, the last couple of rides that they have offered just haven’t meshed up. The same thing can be said for the other four or five groups I’ve been following.
Finally I said, no more!
NO MORE, DAMNIT!
So, I changed my status from “Interested” to “Going” on this Facebook’s event page and stared at our stable of still packed up bikes. Of all my bikes, the easiest ones to prep for the ride the next day was going to be one of my two freak bikes since we didn’t break them down when we packed them. Otherwise it would be scrambling for pedal wrenches in tool chests and making various adjustments that just seemed unnecessary at that moment. Tall bike it was!
I just had to put the seat post back on and turn the handlebars back up, which we had to fold over to fit (barely) into the U-Haul we pulled with the car so we could bring the cat tower and my freak bikes across country while the rest of the steeds rode in the POD.
Foreshadowing; I’ll just tell you now, I didn’t raise the seat high enough and had to stop a little less than a mile away from the house and didn’t have the handlebars tilted far enough forward, having to borrow a multi-tool (because I didn’t have/couldn’t find) my own tool kit before the ride. You definitely know when things aren’t right when you’re riding a ‘tall-bike mile.’
My sound system bucket was a bust. After getting everything charged (which requires two different units plus the iPod) and buying a new 9 volt for the receiver – I also found out that the Apple Driver was broken on my laptop and so I fixed that during my breaks at work and was able to upload some fresh beats. . . at the end of the day, I find out that I am missing the stupid $1 1/4 Inch Male Plug to 1/8 Inch Jack. You know, the thing that I NEED to plug either the bluetooth transmitter or the iPod to the system so it will actually work? I have no cables that will do that. I looked. I looked a lot. I tore a lot of boxes apart over the course of 30 minutes after getting home from work prior to leaving for the ride just “looking” but mostly fuming.
So, I gave up.
Fuck the sound system.
I left the house in a tizzy, but I got out of the house by myself for the first time since we’ve moved, and that was an accomplishment. About half a mile down the road, my handlebar bag fell off because it wasn’t clipped down all the way. Damn my myalgiasic hands!
New experiment is this bluetooth hearing aid-like earbud I got. Used it to run my directions on my phone, since I had no idea where I was going. It was nice to be able to hear the directions clearly since sometimes when I’m riding I can’t hear my phone when it’s in the map case or my hip bag and because if you’ve been a long time reader, you may have read about my anti-headphone policy. Since I’m in a new place and may be picking up some new traffic, basically it’s that I believe that cyclists should be held to the same standards as drivers and since it’s illegal to wear headphones while driving, I believe that anything that hinders you ability to hear the sounds of the road around you is dangerous. There’s some gray area on that, because some people say that they wear one earbud or that they wear them low enough to hear sounds, etc – but I’ve pulled up to other cyclists enough times to warn them about upcoming hazards and had them not hear me or have to pull out their fucking plugs with my standing next to them. This is all anecdotal of course and if I felt like writing an entry on the research, I would – but I have better things to do than telling people that common sense like “hearing your surroundings” is going to keep you safe.
Regardless, you can pick up a cute little clip-on personal speaker for $10 that takes batteries and an iPod or non-Apple product at any big-box store. They’re not shoved in your ear, and you can clip it on your backpack or handlebars. That’s what I ride with when I don’t have my sound box. Except I didn’t this last Friday. I took absolutely no music.
The ride was amazing. I was told that they had a counter and there was approximately 165 people there. I arrived just as the group was leaving the start location, which was fine as I just merged with the group. I think that was the best way to make an entrance! The ride leader, Jason, worked with the local fire department to have them open a hydrant at a cul-de-sac down town so that we could make a couple loops and get sprayed down by a glorious stream of water before heading out into the neighborhoods. There, we were met by about a dozen families; kids with water soakers, sprinklers lashed to the side of cars, adults arcing hoses in glorious rainbow arcs. I don’t think I have ever been that happy to be sprayed down.
After dealing with two months of humid, muggy, stuffy heat – this was so great to just be splashed. None of my weird “getting splashed with water” neurosis kicked in; even when a little kid hit me down the side with a water pumper – I just laughed and pedaled and talked with all these wonderful and friendly strangers, a big wave of cyclists as we wound through the city for about three hours.
Afterwards, at the end location, I met a great lady named Joclyn that, no shit, is a midwife for Amish ladies. She does a bunch of nutrition and natural care stuff. She also rode a really cool, early ’90s BMX cruiser the entire ride, used to be a bike messenger in Philly and all over; knows a ton of people in Portland including Sharky – and if you’re up on your Portlandia trivia, Sharky used to own Hungry Tiger Too when it was still good. I had a fan-girl moment with Joclyn, so excited to find someone that I might have some threads to build upon with.
I hung out at Tellus 360 with a bunch of The Common Wheel crew after the ride. Tellus 360 is first an Irish pub and second an ever-evolving event center. The guy that created it wanted it to be a place that things happened in, so you could go there one day for a cornhole tournament, yoga on the roof the next, mayoral state of the city the next and techno goth rave the next. The Common Wheel is like the Community Cycling Center from Portland!!! (Except from what I can tell, there’s no pick & pull Sundays, not that I need to be tempted…) They have earn-a-bike programs, community partnerships, adult repair classes – heart be still! I’ve only met a few of them, but I already love them. (I still love you all, CCC folks!)
I think I found some good advocacy roots.
My favorite part about the ride, though – was coming home at 11pm. It was a perfect temperature, the cicadas roared. I could smell people’s gardens, so alive and fragrant and wet. Garlic, from someone’s cooking filled the air for about half a mile. What few streetlights there are on the way home are shrouded by trees and I was thankful for my two headlights and sitting 8′ about the ground, rutted and patched from recent roadwork. It’s slightly downhill all the way from downtown to my place.
When I got home, I wasn’t sweaty, I was muggy.