Monday, December 30, 2013

Falling in Traffic

Being home is normal, comforting, reassuring, familiar & all that jazz.
For better, & sometimes worse.

It has been a roller coaster.  Alongside many many reunions, I had a job within a week of arriving, was back at school in the next couple weeks, got back to the radio station, the venue & started a bike mechanics workshop.  Shortly thereafter I was sick of uni, feeling unchallenged & by the time exams rolled around I was bored, anxious & afraid of staying & leaving all at once.  Ideas sometimes crush me with their immensity, then lift me with their possibility.

My anxieties about being home are channeled into winter cycling.  This has been my personification of re-exploring familiar territory; the only cure for reverse culture shock.

I stumbled into it because the snow came, & I was still on the road.  Just trying to keep what's natural.  Cycling has been a major component of city life.  I've had a bike in every city I've lived in; Magellan in Winnipeg, Storm in Auckland & Artemis in Melbourne.

I thought this was new terrain, but this is the city I grew up in.
I thought I was going to re-learn to ride a bike, but most of the hazards are year-round.
(Especially the giant metal instruments of death.)

The day of the first snow, I was excited to take it on, but mostly terrified.  There are two types of people my father hates: Winter cyclists & I forget the other one.  It is simply impossible.  Summer leisure (& the sunny optimism of a bike bell) combined with ice, snow drifts & -40C weather.  Impossible.

The road had me locked in a staring competition for alpha dominance.  I wasn't going to lose.  As a cyclist, I shrug off aggressive drivers & stand my ground.  While developing my road legs as a winter cyclist, I admittedly made a couple rookie mistakes.  Cars HATED me.  My terror was at it's highest on my way to work during rush hour on a busy street.  Everybody thought I was out of my mind & I had to agree.

It took about 2 tactical changes in strategy to make winter cycling my new favourite thing.
1 - Know your route/Avoid traffic.  2 - Dress warm.

Now I am defying physics.  Not only do I make the impossible happen, but I dominate it!
I relish tucking my scarf under my goggles & wearing my touque over my helmet.  I glide along beautiful vistas of the river (i.e. ice).  I am grateful for long underwear.  (This is my first true winter in almost 3 years.)  I dance at stop lights & hope people are watching.  When passing a group of people at a bus stop, I holler an aptly timed Hyaw! while speeding by.
(Also, harnessing momentum could be my most important lesson of the winter.)

When I first arrived back in the Peg, I wiped out because I forgot that we sand our roads in the winter & don't clean them for the rest of the year.  The first time I wiped out in the winter was because of bad roads.

Today, I fell in traffic.  Capital B Bad.  This is exactly what the fear is!
I've been sensitive to Magellan's boundaries thus far, but today is particularly icy.  I'm still riding on regular tires.  So far, my fingers have remained crossed in my gloves.  Smartening up is a privilege.

I've got so many plans to act on, and a lot of preparation involved to make them happen.  Prep makes it a reality, which seems like the obvious choice when accomplishing the impossible!

I'm racked with hesitation to move forward, but momentum can only be gained with motion.  Action is the fun part, but prep is a key component that could otherwise get you (me) killed.
(Have I convinced myself enough?)

On the one hand, danger is part of the thrill. (?) On the other hand, NO IT'S NOT!  STOP BEING AN IDIOT & BUY SNOW TIRES!
Also, do all that other stuff you're looking forward to. :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Excerpt from Bumdom

I was going through some memories via the journals from my travels.  It's no secret I love to write.  It's important.  Sometimes I'll read back to a week ago & be surprised at the insight or stupidity that I don't remember.

Directly in the center pages of my sailing logbook is a direct copy of the first 2 pages from Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck.  It was the last thing I had written in 27 days at sea, before we landed in the Marquesas the next day.  I can only remember the sentiment.

It makes me think of that hiccup in my friends' voices when they're planning a trip, & the excitement underneath that suppressed grin & bright eyes.

Here's verbatem.


I copied down a few passages, flipped it over & smelt it again before re-reading the 1st 2 pages.

When I was very young and the urge to be somewhere else was upon me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.  When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.  In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.  Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.  The sound of a jet, the engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.  In other words, I don't improve; In further words, once a bum, always a bum.  I fear the disease is incurable.  I set this matter down not to instruct others, but to inform myself.

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going.  This to the practical bum is not difficult.  He has a built in garden of reasons to choose from.  Next he must plan his trip in time and space, chose a direction and a destination.  And last he must implement the journey.  How to go, what to take, how long to stay.  This part of the process is invariable and immortal.  I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teenagers in new-hatched sin, will not think they invented it.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over.  A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys.  It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness.  A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing & coercion are fruitless.  We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, a trip takes us.  Tourmasters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound & inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip.  Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax & go along with it.  Only then do the frustrations fall away.  In this a journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.  I feel better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it will understand it.

6:30pm -> 2:30 local time
4734kn arrived!
Mon Aug 29th [2011]

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Thousand Snowflakes

I had a thousand snowflakes for breakfast.

Being home is normal.  Absurdly so.  Have I been away for years, or was it all a dream?

Today is the first day of snow.  Normalization cycle complete.  (Next.)

Seasons have a psychological effect.  In this part of the world every month is explicitly distinctive.  Today is a perfect day in October - zero degrees, overcast, & a light snow with windchill.

The changing of the seasons puts me at ease, like exhaling.  Season people need it.  It gives a sense of time as the year passes.  The ground is missing for the leaves; the whole world becomes muted & vibrant at once; geese are doing their final provisions before heading south; even the rivers have receded in preparation for the freeze.

I was showing concern about being desensitized for the inevitable winter.  My mom completely shot me down, saying she's never known anyone to enjoy winter more than me.
Frost in my veins; I forget where I come from.

Overseas, they would debate the cold with me, & condemn my notorious untruths such as "Relaxing will make you warmer."

We know the warmest we will feel all year comes from frostbite.

and Winter is coming.