Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Against The Wind


It's easy to justify driving your car when you're going to Costco to pick up a shipping container's-worth of food and paper products. But I was just going to buy a little camera and decided to take my bicycle. I used to ride it daily, but it's been moldering in the basement for a while. At the last minute Dave surprised me by offering to join me.
 
Huh! Back in the '80s he found a bike at Goodwill for $15 and bought it on a whim. It was a classic, and identical to the bike he rode in college: a bright orange Schwinn Varsity. The sucker weighs in at a smooth two hundred pounds if you take the saddle off, although that makes it marginally less comfortable, and you do need a strong dwarf with a wrench to take off the wheels. 
 
He rode it straight downtown to surprise me at work, and we rode home together, uphill, and then he stashed it in a dark corner of the basement. Fifteen years later he peeled a felt of dust off it and joined me on a half-day trip, after which it was dispatched to an even darker corner of the basement. The geyser of inspiration for Dave to ride a bike has a fifteen-year periodicity, and I guess he was due again. So we hauled out our bikes, pumped up the tires, blew up one of them with a boom that dropped war vets for a mile around, and eventually spanked them into working condition.
 

Our route took us along the Columbia River on a dedicated bike path. It was swell! It was grand! The temperature was mild, ospreys wheeled in the sky, herons struck picturesque poses along the shoreline, wishes were lavishly granted. I marveled once again at what a wonderful invention was the bicycle: with almost no effort at all, we were gliding along at a nice clip, with Mt. Hood smiling in the blue in front of us. We were strong! We were sailing! There was no limit to our powers! We rolled smugly through the acres of SUVs at the Costco parking lot and found, to our amazement, a bike rack right out front. It didn't have a scratch on it. I bought my camera and we headed home.


Within a few blocks we were back on Marine Drive and nothing was right. We ran into something a lot like Shinola. We were pressing miserably into the wind, pedaling hard just to stay ahead of our own dark impulses. Here's the thing. When the wind is at your back, you don't even notice it. You think you have superpowers. But a headwind is debilitating. You'll brave the rain; you understand the rain. You're fine with pushing up a mountain; you understand a mountain. You expect to work harder when you've loaded up your saddlebags with heavy things. But you can't see a headwind. You can only feel it, and it feels pervasive, and wrong, and deeply unfair.

Still you battle on, with salt in your eyes, inching closer to home. But you can dream. You can imagine flipping it around just one more time, just to feel those righteous sails billow, to be mighty and invincible again. All we need is one U-turn, and we're suddenly awesome, we're right back in charge. Just two white kids flying into the future we so deserve.

46 comments:

  1. What a cool read! I confess I laughed at the tire boom that dropped war vets for a mile around(!) but I could really feel myself on your bike, esp the tiresome route back :) PS. Dave's orange Schwinn, nice! Pootie sure gets around :)

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    1. Pootie? Oh, you have no idea! In fact, I'm not sure where the little Dickens is right now.

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  2. Super! that you got your exercise and that you had company along the way.

    It was no dummy who advised me 70 years ago (give or take a decade) to leave home into the wind. Since the winds local to our house shift about so much, I wouldn't know which way that would be did I not check with NWS.

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    1. My friend and I used to ride to Multnomah Falls and back for training--about 70 miles round trip--and we'd feel so strong and righteous until we got back on Marine Drive and HIT THE WALL.

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  3. My first bike was also a Varsity-- brown though. Wasn't much of a rider until I was in college. If it's a recreational ride Joan and I see if we can manage the route so the headwind is when headed outbound and a tailwind going home. Wheee!

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    1. You and Cop Car. I swear I never once gave it a thought. I just had a destination in mind and that was that. Oy.

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  4. Sadly my bike sits idle in the barn. My husband fixed it up for me and my first trip out I wrecked. It has been parked since.

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  5. Aww Pootie is adorable in his riding gear.

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  6. I have a nice bike, too! I also haven't been on it for a few years, either. Now it's too snowy and icy to think about using it. Maybe in April or May...

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  7. Pootie's sidecar is a work of art!

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    1. It is a Hardly Davidson. (My bike is a Davidson.)

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  8. My first bike back in the 50's was a 24"-rim, fat tired Schwinn that was indestructible (I tried). I'm amused now that fat-tire, off-road bikes are a thing (we gave one to a grandson last year), but they have a gazillion gears, pneumatic front forks, and a price tag that would kill my Dad if he hadn't given up on this insane life at the age of 97 twelve years ago.

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  9. I ride my bike usually once per year. I start watching LeTour de France and become inspired.

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    1. I get inspired watching Le Tour, too! I get on it and ride like Lunch Hamstrung!

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  10. Same thing with canoeing if you have every noticed!

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    1. Canoeing would definitely be a one-way event for me. Bring the car.

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  11. Yes, people who don't bike always think that rain will be the problem. Who cares about rain? It's wind that wrecks a bike commute.

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    1. That was always our little secret. There I'd be, riding to work in a 35-degree pouring rain in the dark, and I knew people thought I was brave and miserable, but I was so cozy!

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  12. Love the last line. "Just two white kids flying into the future they deserve."

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  13. You could write this whole thing and substitue "canoe" for "bicycle" and it would all hold together fine. Love this little memory.

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  14. I look at my bike every time I go to the shed, it's propped up on top of a pile of stuff with the front wheel removed and I know I will never get it down by myself, so there it stays. It needs new tyres anyway.

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  15. I bought my first bike in 1952 with my "wages" as pocket was called. A half-size, for short little legs.About 3 years later, my legs having lengthened a couple of inches, I upgraded to a ladies model.Gears? What the hell were gears? Most of the boys had Sturmey Archer 3 speeds.I had leg muscles.Oh, yeah, I lived where hills were pretty steep, as in get off half way up and push that sucker.

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    1. I've never had a granny gear on my bikes. There have been times...but, as you say, I gots me some quads. BTW, "as pocket was called?" We don't know that term!

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  16. I loved this, but I don't know what some parts of it mean. Perhaps I'm over thinking it. A Schwinn Varsity? I think I had one -- a really sturdy, one-speed bike with a "coaster brake"? I think mine was supposed to be red, but within one season it faded into some kind of orange, with lowlights of cinnamon on a cloudy day. I had been hoping for an "English Racer" - those three-speed bikes that had a mysterious inner-hub gear change mechanism. I wanted one because a kid named Craig in my 2nd grade class had one. Craig was a really cool guy, with olive skin and Vitalis in his hair and some nifty black shoes that instead of lacing up had a wide black lever that pulled the shoes tight onto the feet as it was lowered against the rest of the shoe. Anyway, Craig's English Racer had a **speedometer** with a chrome frame holding the green-tinted glass in place. So when Ma & Pa Downs proudly presented me with the Schwinn one-speed tomato-colored bike, I saw all of my aspirations to 2nd grade coolness evaporate in a heartbeat.

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    1. Your astounding memory makes me flabbergastric.

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  17. And now I finally know what to call that layer of dirt and co-mingled cat hair on the domicile's hard surfaces that I never get around to removing - "the felt of dust". Thank you Murr.

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  18. More years ago than I care to count, I was a "strong dwarf with a wrench." I did not last in the bicycle mechanic business, not because I was actually too tall to qualify, but because there were other fellows in the shop who could do just what I did but in half the time. Still, I learned a lot. What I did not learn was how to disassemble and reassemble a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed internal-gear hub properly. I still remember the time I carefully took one apart, carefully laid the bits and pieces out on the garage floor in the order in which I'd removed them and facing the direction they had faced before I'd removed them, and carefully found that the bits and pieces fit together perfectly the wrong way. That hub locked up as tight as if I'd poured it full of epoxy. I never got it to work right. But what really caught my eye in your post was "Shinola." I was surprised to learn, a decade ago, that someone had bought the name and was selling not shoe polish but (among other things) bicycles priced from $1,000 to $3,000. I was somewhat relieved when I reached the end of your post without finding you had bought one.

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    1. Nope. My long-distance road bike is a Davidson and my commuting regular bike is a lovely mixte from Miyata. Shinola bicycle? REALLY?

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    2. I'll email you a link. Watches, clocks, jewelry, other stuff too.

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  19. I know that wind. The pervasive, deeply unfair one that blew all my little nursery pots of baby plants way down the yard, breaking their stems, ripping off their leaves, and leaving a sad smattering of petals. I had to content myself with planting the little root balls that remained. Now that's deeply unfair.

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  20. Because of two surgeries (in the same knee) and because of horrid hills, I now have an e-bike. I sort of think it's cheating and I don't know how much I am peddling and how much the bike is. I compare it to an electric wheelchair that looks like a bike. It just doesn't seem as if I am out for a bike ride!

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    1. I don't know how they work. I thought they just took over sometimes? Or are they constantly contributing energy?

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    2. That's the thing---I don't know. I can't tell.

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  21. I was kinda waiting for this whole post to be a metaphor about how we’ve all been riding into the wind for the last 9 months. My ride is a 10 speed Motobecane. As smooth a ride now as 40 years ago when I bought it. I would, however, like to trade in the drop bars for something a little more user friendly on my current 71-year-old self.

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    1. I had a Motobecane once, and also a Gitane from 1969 that I sold in a garage sale for $5 (and had to insist on that).

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  22. E-bikes are a thing and totes wind-proof. Just sayin'.

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  23. احدث اساليب الصيانة فى الاسكندرية لان الصيانة السليمة يجب ان تتم على أيدي متخصصين لدينا فريق عمل متميز من المهندسين والفنيين والمتخصصين .متخصصون فى صيانة واصلاح الأجهزة المنزلية , نحن الأسرع فى الوصول اليك ، فريق الصيانة فى خدمتكم على مدار اليوم , اتصل نصلك أينما كنت
    نتميز عن غيرنا بالإلتزام مع العملاء ، العمل الجاد ، الاحترافية في الصيانة , توفير خدمات راقية المستوى , فريق عمل مدرب بإحترافية
    صيانة كريازي بالاسكندرية
    توكيل صيانة كريازي بالاسكندرية
    صيانة ثلاجات كريازي بالاسكندرية
    توكيل صيانة ثلاجات كريازي بالاسكندرية
    رقم صيانة كريازى بالاسكندرية
    صيانة ديب فريزر كريازى بالاسكندرية
    توكيل صيانة كريازي بالاسكندرية
    صيانة كريازي بالاسكندريه
    صيانه كريازي بالاسكندريه

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