Friday, November 27, 2009

Pokey, my trusty sherman tank, er, bike

Rain was predicted today so I figured it was a good a time as any to pull out Pokey, my very first road bike, and give him a spin.

Pokey is a Rivendell Romulus. Rivendell doesn't make them anymore, alas. It's a great all-around bike. Nowadays he's my funky weather / touring bike, with plenty of room for fenders, wider tires, and all the junk one could ever want to carry.

This picture was taken nearly five years ago, just before Lee & I set out on our first (and so far, only) bike tour. We started out from Port Townsend, WA and went along the Puget Sound, over to Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, Whidbey Island and back to PT. Day One of our trip, from PT to Sequim, it was raining like stink (heh, Rain Shadow of the Pacific Northwest, my ass). Pokey performed great that day and he's been a trooper for many years since.

Today I took Pokey (sans front rack, paniers, bags & banana) out to Sunol and back, along Niles Canyon Road. The heavens opened up on me about halfway out to Sunol, but thanks to Pokey's fenders and all the wool I was wearing, I stayed sort of dry and pretty comfy. Retro-grouchitude has it's advantages.

Lee and I are talking about doing that Washington/Vancouver tour again next year. More than likely, I'll bring Pokey again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Training rides

I've started doing early morning training rides and occasionally I'll be keeping track of my time over a set course to see how I'm improving. The course is a mostly flat loop of the Alameda Creek trail & Coyote Hills park, starting from the bridge at Union City Blvd and first heading out to the bay, turning around and heading back to the trail around Coyote Hills, once around the park then back onto the AC Trail to the bridge, a bit over 11 miles. It's another couple of miles to & from home which works well as a warmup & cooldown.

Today I recorded my best time so far of 43:40, which works out to around 15.3 mph. I hope to improve on that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Right To Life

Although this blog is primarily about my cycling life, this poem moved me...

A woman is not a pear tree
thrusting her fruit in mindless fecundity
into the world. Even pear trees bear
heavily in one year and rest and grow the next.
An orchid gone wild drops few warm rotting
fruit in the grass but the trees stretch
high and wiry gifting the birds forty
feet up among inch long thorns
broken atavistically from the smooth wood.

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb
in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to
butcher for chops. You slice the mountain
in two for a road and gouge the high plains
for coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not
call them yours unless you wished to eat them.

Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.
You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,
fields for growing babies like iceberg
lettuce. You value children so dearly
that none ever go hungry, none weep
with no one to tend them when mothers
work, none lack fresh fruit,
none chew lead or cough to death and your
orphanages are empty. Every noon the best
restaurants serve poor children steaks.

At this moment at nine o'clock a partera
is performing a table top abortion on an
unwed mother in Texas who can't get
Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die
of tetanus and her little daughter will cry
and be taken away. Next door a husband
and wife are sticking pins in the son
they did not want. They will explain
for hours how wicked he is,
how he wants discipline.

We are all born of woman, in the rose
of the womb we suckled our mother's blood
and every baby born has a right to love
like a seedling to sun. Every baby born
unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come
due in twenty years with interest, an anger
that must find a target, a pain that will
beget pain. A decade downstream a child
screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,
a firing squad is summoned, a button
is pushed and the world burns.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes
of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,
no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine, not your calf
for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory.
Priests and legislators do not hold shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you
I want it back. My life
is a non-negotiable demand.

From The Moon Is Always Female by Marge Piercy