A Quick Thought On Cars and Bicycles

I really hate driving a car. I don’t do it very often.. maybe 20 miles a week, at most. Usually to help out family. Driving a car in traffic, in the city, along side 3 million other idiots (including myself), makes me feel sick, anxious, unhappy, and ungrounded. The entire experience of driving in the city is one of pure insanity to me.

traffic-jam

This morning, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that a “person” has opened the gas tank on my truck and siphoned out it’s contents. This happened some years back as well.. While living in my van in Salt Lake City, working a construction job, I awoke, at 5 am, to the Van being rustled violently to the effect of 2 dudes wrestling the 5 gallon gerry can of gas off the back of said van. This can was my “fuel gauge”. Since the fuel gauge on the vehicle did not work, I would simply allow it to run dry, pull over, run a siphon hose from the can to the tank, which were right next to one another, and then get on down the road. It worked like a charm for years. That early morning theft cost me 100 smackeroos.

Gasoline, right now, if I am not mistaken, is rising rapidly towards 5 bucks a gallon. When people walk into the bike shop and complain that a bicycle starts at 3 or 400 dollars and goes up rapidly, it completely blows my mind. These same folks drop 100 bucks a week into there gas tanks alone. Not to mention maintenance, tires, insurance, parking, and of course the absolutely splendid experience of getting the opportunity to drive one of these luxuries along side several of your 3 million best, angry friends!  What a bargain! On top of that, the last time I a took even a casual glance at the cost of buying an automobile, they seemed to generally start at around 3000 bucks for a used one.

Admittedly, my Surly Ogre, which I built myself, every spoke and bearing, cost nearing 4 grand, but to complain that a used, quality commuter might cost a few hundred bucks is, without a doubt, completely absurd, and in my humble opinion, exactly what is wrong with the mentality of Americans today. Walmart and Target are doing more to perpetuate this lie than most.. They sell “bicycles” for 70 bucks that fall apart before you can load it into your trunk and do absolutely nothing to further the notion that the bicycle might have some real merit in this culture by rejecting the people who make said purchases and furthering their concept that the auto is greater than the bicycle.

This is extremely unfortunate.

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Grand Cru Sabot Pedals

Platform pedals, to me have always been the most realistic way to pedal a bicycle around. Call me crazy, some do, I admit, but a good platform allows one the freedom to wear any type of footwear over any terrain, and have the ability to utilize the same given footwear in double duty to hike, swim, or simply hang out or kick back. A good platform is comfortable as well.

I have gone through, over the years, many types of platforms, from cheapy, entry level DH pedals, to boutique, high dollar ones. All of them had either a combination of bearings and bushings, or some merely had bearings alone. All of them developed into gritty, heinous feeling instruments after a period of usage, which, either rendered them useless, or required a tedious rebuild, which only prolonged their destiny to the junk pedal box.

I recently ordered a pair of the outstanding Grand Cru Sabot Pedals from Velo Orange.. These sole saviors come with not two, but three sealed cartridge bearings for optimal smoothness and ease of replacement. Honestly, I’m quite certain I have never felt a smoother pedal. At 90 frog skins a pop, these suckers obviously fit squarely into the high dollar boutique category. Good stuff costs money. Bad stuff costs even more.

The finish on these are impeccable, they come with an extra set of pins, and there are easy accommodations for toe clips, if that is your bag. I personally like a half clip just to keep my feet on the deck while riding in the rain, which is often. I’m not so concerned with the upward pull that so many clipless enthusiasts seem to desire.. I find a free floating rhythm and just pedal.  I Always have…  These are my new fave’s.

Gran Cru Sabot

 

 

Grand Cru Sabot Pedals

Two Days in the Delta

Back in October, some friends and I went on a sweet overnighter via bicycle – Here’s a recount:

The Sacramento River delta area nestled between the bay area and Sacramento are a maze of sloughs, levies, farms and vineyards. John Boyer, the owner of Edible Pedal,and I decided it would be a blast to take a couple of days in October and ride down to Brannon Island.

On the Branch Line Trail

On the Branch Line Trail

It’s a leisure cruise through a myriad of riverways, country roads, and both native and non-native history.

Old Truck Steering Wheel

Old Truck Steering Wheel

Relics of old farm trucks turned food delivery vehicles, migrant farm workers feasting on Sunday barbecue, harvest festivals, pumpkins and children.

Bing Kong Tong

Bing Kong Tong

It’s about 50 miles to Brannon Island from Sacramento.

John Lucas

John Lucas

My friend John Lucas builds custom steel and aluminum cycle trucks that scream “Sell Your Car”.  Lucas showed up for the ride with his single speed cycle truck wearing jeans, flip flops and  an old brim hat. After 40 miles or so, he said his feet hurt a bit, but other than that, he managed the round trip total of 100 miles without incident.

Michael

Michael

Although paying for camping is not my usual routine, since we had a group of 6 or 7, it seemed best.  The campground on Brannon is a state run outfit.

John Boyer

John Boyer

A casual ride with friends and great October weather.

At Camp

At Camp

Cycle Truck in Camp

Cycle Truck in Camp

Ridin' Home

Ridin’ Home

A Bold Step?

Alaska Range

Central Alaska Range

My mind’s eyes focuses intently on a people and a society that is not focused on a realm of technology but one that inherently desires to achieve a sense of wonder regarding a planet that they inhabit with all species and not on one that intrinsically needs to overcome and destroy their surroundings in order to achieve a means to place themselves squarely at the “top” of an imaginary dimension of superiority amongst the living creatures around them.

 This is my vision, or some may say, fantasy. A fantasy it is not, I say. What do you say?  Technology is a misnomer in the regard that, of course, we have the upper hand above all that surround us, but, ultimately we do not control. We control ourselves. We are engaged in a culture that does not assume responsibility for our actions, but instead, we rely on a seemingly grotesque vision that we must dominate the planet; that we are privy to all that is and all that will ever be, which, in a sense, is not only killing us, in a sublime fashion, but killing all that surrounds us. A species that assumes such cohesive control over everything in it’s path must only, in this authors humble opinion,  be considered mad. A species that destroys it’s surroundings in order to achieve dominance, is a stupid and feeble species indeed.

  I am quite certain that when I say this, it is correct, at least from my limited perspective of the world at large, but nonetheless, here goes, I know that technology is not the answer to our most perplexing questions. I know this with all of my heart and being. I sit here writing on a computer, that I am told, it’s processors are built with a resource that only comes from a small place on the planet; one that is probably decimating an entire culture of peoples in the process; I do not condone this, but, I am using this technology to convey a message from my heart in regards to all of our future. Our children’s future. The future of the Bears and the Salmon, and the Wolverines, that cannot be rejuvenated once depleted. The use of technology is a tool that must be used to further all that is and not to destroy it. We MUST become more responsible to ourselves and to others. And when I say others I certainly mean the Bears and the Salmon and the Wolverines and all others trying desperately to make a home on this globe, where, in fact Humans are the common enemy.

So how does one make sense of all of this, You ask?  First off, I am not a purveyor of wisdom; I am only a man who wishes deeply to connect with You, the human, in order to perceive the world we live upon in a harmonious way.

Living in harmony with nature, at least in this culture, is the stuff of fairy tales. It seems to be only an acceptable thought undertaken by children, the mentally feeble, or the unrealistic idealist. But to me, any other way of looking at the world is total madness.

We seem to exist in a culture where there is little intention in regards to utilizing the technology we have to actually better ourselves; and when I say better ourselves, I mean bettering all species, because for all species to flourish is for us to flourish as well. We seem to be utilizing state of the art tech in order to entertain ourselves, to distract ourselves from the real questions at hand.

Technology.. A bicycle is a form of technology; It’s metals are extracted from the Earth utilizing toxic methods and polluting means, rubber used is created much the same, not to mention the machines created to accomplish such tasks.  But, people!  Bicycles are here. Now. Utilizing them and educating our peers, needs to happen at this juncture in time.

I don’t drive often, but when I do, the experience of stammering along on a crowded freeway going either 5 mph or 80 mph, depending on the time of day, really makes me ponder that we are headed for  a painfully disturbing death, not only for ourselves, but for all around us. I know that this is not the way we are supposed to live. In fact, it really makes me want to vomit.

In Sacramento, the cops don’t give a damn about bicycle theft; to them, bicycles are reserved for either a few elitists, or homeless junkies unable to afford a proper car. This is utter nonsense and a typical view that American’s seem to have. Bicycling creates a feeling of euphoria and calms the nerves, invigorates the body, mind, and soul, and deeply limits the need for extracting fuels that are destroying what’s left of North Americas’ greatest wilderness asset: The Arctic…  Which is why I am headed there this summer. I encourage everyone to take a bold step in realizing that we are headed for disaster and that taking a leap toward an unconventional form of thinking is what is now in order.

Those who do not do this, are merely taking up space…  I’m going for a ride now.

Not Saddle Sore

IMG_8023

The Rivet Pearl…

IMG_8024

..with Ti Rails!

I’d rather be riding my bike today.. but, well, it’s raining. I know what you’re thinking; how can someone who raves endlessly about all matters northern, about how riding in the rain does not bother, about the “glorious” weather of SE Alaska, simply whine about a simple California drizzle.  Well, for starters, the trails I had in mind to ride today are going to be muddy. In fact, the trails I was going to ride today are in fact illegal. By riding on muddy and illegal trails, I set the stage for prosecution and closure by creating said muddy tracks.

Also, part of the reason for going on a ride today was to test out the new, famously good looking Rivet Pearl saddle, that was graciously given to me for such purposes by the fine folks at Rivet Cycle Works.  As soon as I get the chance to do some vigorous thrashing on this beauty, I will be posting a review, so keep Yer eyes peeled.

So, my time spent in the hours before heading to the bike shop to work will be filled with coffee and hopefully something interesting to say to you all.

Here goes…

I struggle as a writer, struggle as photographer, struggle as an adventurer, insofar as creating the means to do so. I fear not the “talent”, or the creative processes that are required for my sanity, or to paint a beautiful picture of the natural elements of this splendid planet.. I feel soo lucky to have been born here. This globe is beautiful beyond wordly description; that is why I must do what I do. The far reaches of this planet’s wilderness are my calling. This can cost a lot. Financially, yes, but this not what my voice speaks. These places come as a cost in regards to how one can handle the pressures of our given society and how one perceives self and how, not to behold, the “values” that we have been so engrained in believing. Why must we live the way most do? Can it be “acceptable”, by one’s family and peers, to embrace the beauty of the planet before us, to, perhaps, live as our ancestors did, to love all creatures, wether or not they are located in the food chain above us or not. To see and to feel the wind; to be there at that moment in time?

These are the questions and reasonings I behold, not to stroke an ego of self in regards to media or self promotion, but to truly empower one’s self as a Human; a human lost on a planet ruled by a species gone mad.

On certain terms, the living in a  city has been good for me. It has re-shown me the path that we ALL are on and the one that I must follow.  To recognize the destructiveness of our behavior.

I tend to “think” with my heart; my brain merely functions as a overseer to what needs to happen at a given moment in order to accomplish a task at hand, and nothing more. Heart is what guides.

What gets you off most: the thought of the new iphone 5 coming out, or what your heart might feel sitting or walking or riding a bicycle through hours of the most torrential rain storm in recent memory? Can you smell the odor of the trees coming alive with quench of the moisture, or do you merely quander at the thought of what your peers may think of your latest achievement? These are genuine questions that beckon the prose: Am I here to fully realize and experience the whole  of what we really have to offer one another and the planet as a whole, or are we here to simply entertain ourselves through the current form of technology?

I think not.

Dirt Trailing

Sunny Sunday, early afternoon, chores finished (sort of), bike screaming at me. Stop! I hear You! Grab photographic devices, off we go, off to river. Find dirt trails, green grass, bike tracks, soft dirt, bare trees, glimmering water. Past Hobo camps, fallen trees, railroad trestles and graffiti. Pass dogs’ seemingly intent on murder – pedal hard. Homeless man without teeth to bare grins wildly at the sky like something is coming for him. Bike glides silently toward an unknown realm where there is no city, no filth, no goal. Only to be a bike.IMG_7943 IMG_7946 IMG_7949 IMG_7950 IMG_7951 IMG_7953 IMG_7955 IMG_7957 IMG_7959 IMG_7960 IMG_7963 IMG_7970