How the Riding’s been…..

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated my part of the Long Bike Back and all-of-the goings on.  So let’s start here:

Since the end of trip I haven’t stopped riding, but I must admit that cycling around town here has become far less interesting and more dangerous.  I long for the open tarmac of Idaho, Wyoming and western Nebraska.  I long for the days where nothing mattered more than getting on the bike and doing another century.  I long for a new town, a new hotel room and a new face pouring me a beer.  I am longing for new memories.

Where I live is an amazing place, certainly not for its natural beauty or friendly people but for the access to art and opportunity for expression.  I would however, trade all of it to get back out to the scorched earth of eastern Oregon or bask in big sky’s of Idaho.

Although I’ve been riding, I’m not clicking in as many miles as I’d like to or perhaps should be.  But here is a short rundown of a few of my favorite rides since October 2008.

On our way out of Iowa I took a very nasty fall.  Spraining my wrist, bashing my head against the cement highway, damaging my cherished bicycle and breaking the tray for my odometer.  I had to use grey gaff tape to secure the odometer/computer back in place, which held through the next six falls and 1200 miles.  Sadly my tape work was no match for Southern Westchester, on one of my first rides back home, I crashed because my cleat slipped out of its pedal and I went back down for another asphalt groping.  My left hip absorbing the brunt of the fall and leaving a gnarly bruise, I got up brushed off the stones, tar and broken glass and continued riding only to realize about a mile later that my computer the one that had logged all the miles and info since Boise had been lost.  I was crushed.  I spent days looking for it.  In leaf piles, drainage vents, yards and driveways, anywhere I could think of along the route that morning.  No luck.  Emotionally I was split, I knew that this was very Zen* and in a way fitting, but at the same time, typical, sad and too much of Murphy’s Law.

*I only say Zen b/c of a story Todd Coolman told me about Monks, who make sand art.  After they feel a work is complete, they look at it, ponder it, enjoy it, then sweep it all away and move on to the next work.  Exactly what we’re doing here now.  Moving on.

Not far from our home is where the oldest weekly ride starts called the Gimbels.  The Gimbels is a 50mile or so part race, part rider get together.  It was started in 1947 and leaves at 9:20 am every Sunday and most Saturdays regardless of season, rain or snow.  Within the peloton you can hear multiple languages taunting each other, old friends re-connecting, re-hashing last week’s battles, who sucked or who really soared and of course gear geeking.  Anyway I’ve ridden in the Gimbles a few times, once on my 29er which was a joke after 30 miles, but this past February, I decided to get up early and hit it.  Despite the awful rain, I managed to complete the ride in about 2.5 hours.  My gloves where like refrigerated wet towels, my clothes sticking to me like a layer of skin with icicles forming in the creases.  It was horrible, but I felt like a hero and now I get to write about it.  I giggled to myself most of the way that morning thinking about what I would say about the experience here on our LBB blog.  Sadly this transcription pales in comparison to the heroic adventure I had concocted in my mind.  Anyway last Sunday I rode in it again and it was pure joy, not to mention really fast, 28 mph at times!

I’ve been doing far more off road riding which is much more enjoyable now.  I can roll over obstacles I never could before and I’m not falling nearly as much, which is also promising.  With dreams of mounting a podium I joined the NYCMTB Team, but just when I was paying for my USA Cycling license I had some more health set backs for my back, which I have to allow to heal before I can compete.  Honestly I would probably loose anyway, so where’s the fun in that?  Who am I kidding though it would be pretty sweat to ride around with a team on all the amazing trails here in the North East.  Needless to say I’m very disappointed but I’ll get there.

A couple of weeks ago Julia and I got a private off road tour of the concord grape vineyards along the shores of Lake Erie.  Pat Sheridan (our guide) took us through a maze of tractor lanes and picker trails that yielded fantastic and almost surreal vistas of lake Erie.  Sweet ride and a great way to spend the third anniversary of my collision with the SUV that brought us here.

While down in Maryland a few weeks ago I rode with Julia and her father Len through Civil War battlefields at Antietam National Park.  I love it there very much, the ugly beauty of the brown arid useless fields really rouse my imagination about what happened to make it the bloodiest single day battle of the great(?) war.

We wondered off the beaten path to find some delicious dirt that took us along the banks of Antietam creek.  I almost ran over a turtle, I rarely get to see turtles, so I played with him/her for the time it took my partners to catch up.  I loved that turtle.  To me the shell of a turtle is much like a bicycle, it pretty much has all you need to travel throughout the world.

Julia and I rode as part of the Aeolian ride, which was an awesome 90 minutes of cycling.  The Aeolian ride is hard to explain, but in brief, we are wearing white nylon suits that (when filled with the air and wind generated from riding) balloon into different shapes, you can wear a rabbit, a droplet or a ghost.  It’s a very cool live motion performance art and something I had always wanted to be a part of.

At the Fat Tire festival I got to meet Gary Fisher, which was oh so very sweet, but I have to say that nothing compares to seeing the new Raleigh Bikes that are being unleashed to blow our minds this coming season.  Raleigh has really upped the anty as far as cool bikes that are a dream to ride.  I want the XXIX pro & the Rush Hour.

Jennifer Clunie executive director of the New York State Bicycling Coalition invited me to speak at the Coalition’s annual legislative breakfast in Albany.  I was far too nervous speaking in front of all those officials.  It certainly wasn’t one of my best speeches, but the commissioner of the DMV sent me one of Governor Patterson’s, official declarations that May is Bike Month, which was a really nice surprise!

Thank you for all the thoughts on the mailbox incident.  Just so that you know I am not screaming in pain as much as I’m screaming the mother of obscenities. It was my second fall of the day, the first took down big brother Pete and that stupid mailbox (which is still broken as of last month by the way) came out of nowhere, I couldn’t wear my contacts because of the ulcer in my eye and with the rain my glasses were useless.  I had also just repaired another flat in that icy cold central New York Autumn shower and had an unbelievably frustrating morning dealing with Pete’s faulty break cable.  The same break line that I’d stayed up late working on the night before.  Either way it is ok to laugh at me, there is so much more coming to poke fun at and I enjoy reading the comments, positive and negative.  Next up is my best Coen Brother homage. (Which is directly below my posting, check it!)

So what is the next adventure?  Well as much as I want to announce what we’re planning next, now isn’t the time.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make our roads safer, change our driving habits and of course watch a really cool film about two brothers and two cool chicks bicycling across this incredible country.

-Pearson July 2009, New York

One Response to “How the Riding’s been…..”

  1. Megs says:

    Bummer about the odometer, man. I’m down for another trip to Idaho Falls sometime if you wanna get one from the same shop. Well, if the same staff is there at least (nudge, wink). Watched the clip for the P.A.T. and just about peed thinking of all the people staring at you two. I don’t even know how I drove in a straight line when that’s what I saw in my mirrors. Miss you guys.