Saturday, August 15, 2009

travelling light


here's one pair of my wheels.
a carbon fibre road bike made right here in peterborough.
it's first owner was hockey player john druce.
john put the bike to good use as one member of a team of riders
fundraising to help find a cure for cancer.
i've been doing quite a bit of bike riding this week.
my body is carrying an ambient ache about it that wakes me up in the night.
but i feel amazing!
on wednesday night i went out on a club ride.
hmmmm . . . i always bike alone. so this was a stretch for me personally.
to share a place that my friend lorenzo - an ojibway elder - describes as my place of meditation.
"some people sit still, you sit still on wheels!" this accompanied by his right-from-the-belly-button laugh!
i discovered that riding with other people has rules, expectations, ways of relating . . .
one guy chirped at me; "you need to become more predictable!" okey dokey!!
now there's a learning opportunity for me!!!
but i have to tell you that even though there's all sorts of compromise, it's also a major rush!
there's something really magic about linking in with a chain of people - mmm hmmm a chain, in which each rider takes turns at the front breaking the air and carrying the other riders in a slipstream. when you get tired you slip back and someone else picks up while you get sucked along. it flies along at fourty to fourty five km/h - travelling over sixty kilometres in two hours. i can't do that on my own.
biking is filled with life metaphors.
working with other people involves compromise.
so how to turn that compromise into something that works for everyone?
what does that look like?
what does that feel like?
what is the price tag for the compromise?
so i'll go back again and try and be "more predictable" and i get that 'cause it must be really scary when you're in super close to each other - thirty centimetres off the wheel in front of you - and the nicely tanned, skinny old man (that's me) reefs on the brakes for a corner because apparently (and i didn't know this) when you're with serious riders, you don't brake for corners no matter how fast you're going, even if they are spread with a nice fear inducing mixture of sand and gravel!!
so, speaking of my buddy lorenzo. i decided to take some of my sage up to his home north of peterborough yesterday. lorenzo uses the sage in his smudges.
it's roughly 46 km each way so a round trip of four hours. as you can see from this map . . . basically you head north from peterborough following the otonabee river, go across country, ride around the top of chemong lake and then down a long point that pokes into the lake - right to the end of the point where the village of curve lake is located.
~
it was a hot hot day.

i used three litres of water.
not bad mileage - 31 km/litre!!

riding beside rivers and lakes is filled with magic and beauty. breezes too!!!

the stunning campus of trent university. where i did my undergrad learning.

a moment of reflection.

the otonabee river just south of lakefield.

an island unto itself.

around the top of chemong lake.

there!
thanks for coming along!!

26 comments:

Goldenrod said...

Now THIS was a fun post for me to read! You live in such a beautiful part of our world, Steven, and I was tickled to see you include so many wonderful photos of what you saw along the way.

A question ... your bicycle ... is that seat farther back than normal, or is it just my faulty memory of how far back the seats normally are on bicycles?

I don't know about your wish to become 'more predictable' ... as an experiment in human adaptability and behavioral science, maybe. (?)

ellen abbott said...

How wonderful to be able to ride to your friend's. I have a very plain vanilla bike which is exactly what I wanted...one speed, coaster brakes, upright handle bars...does me fine. I just wish I could ride it in the summer but for me, that's courting heat stroke.

steven said...

hi goldenrod, it is very beautiful here - very!! the seat is set for my body and also because this is a road racing bicycle and not a touring bike (my other one is a touring bike with pannier bags and a different frame geometry) the seating and handlebar positions are different. becoming more predictable - well i have made no one any promises!!!!! thanks for your nice comments and for dropping by!!! steven

steven said...

hello ellen, i don't drive a car so the bike is how i get around. this was a special trip for me as it's a bit further than i usually travel and the destination was very special to me as well!!! i worry about heat stroke as well but i drink lots of liquids, eat electrolyte tablets and gel bloks which help keep things stable. i'm 52 and it's becoming more important now to do these little things than in the days when i'd have a bottle of water and that was it!!! thanks for visiting and have a lovely day. steven

Linda said...

Woah, that is a hike and a half, Peterborough to Curve Lake and back!!!! I'm impressed! We are coming up next weekend for the Loving Spoonful. I am looking forward to visiting around the Otonabee River and Chemong Lake. I used to spend my summers at Pigeon Lake and Buckhorn. I love Kawartha (especially the ice cream)! We may make it up to Curve Lake too. We will see how much time we have. Thanks for the pre-visit tour. Lovely!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Now that's a good friend. A four mile bike ride to bring sage for smudges. And I imagine that is pretty predictable!

steven said...

hi linda - it's a bit of a ride but honestly it's really lovely. if you're driving and you pass through lakefield you can stop in at hamblyn's right by the bridge across the river for ice cream. the whetung gallery in curve lake is filled with the most amazing art as well. my wife was just at the buckhorn art festival which might still be on when you come up but don't quote me on it!! pigeon laek - beautiful!!! lucky lucky you. have a peaceful evening and thanks for dropping by!!! steven

steven said...

hi bonnie - i forgot to put the distances in imperial for my american friends - in miles the trip was just under sixty miles. my buddy's special to me so this is nothing in the grand scheme of things. he's done some magic for me in the past!!!! oh and thanks for the thanks regarding the "organization" of next week's meme. it's a pleasure and i'm so excited to see what comes of it. have a lovely hot day wherever you are today. steven

willow said...

Wow, that was an impressive trek, Steven. I can't imagine not driving anywhere, but it would be the healthier way to go!

Love the Klee fish on your sidebar. He should be your mascot.

Alaine said...

Thanks for taking us on your bike ride, beautiful countryside. Take care; bikeriders worry me, only for the fact that you've got nothing much to protect you from the fools on the road these days!

steven said...

hi willow, nice to see you!!! i've always either been a runner or a cyclist. fitness is sort of a side effect rather than a goal to be really honest. i really love being on my own travelling places. it allows me to talk, sing, hum, fart, whatever comes to happen without bugging anyone. i love that i can experience things at a slower pace that i might otherwise miss.
i love paul klee's work a lot. your suggestion made me smile a big smile because in the beginning of this blog this was the post: http://leakstev.blogspot.com/2007/08/origin-of-golden-fish.html if you read it you'll see how very intuitive you are!!! steven

steven said...

hi alaine, thanks for visiting!!! i appreciate your concern. i've got to say that with very few exceptions, drivers are becoming much more attuned to cyclists in the area i live in. you have to be very aware at all times and thinking your way through situations before they arise is a really valuable tool. i love the feel of traffic next to me and i ride on roads where the vehicle speed is 80 kph quite often. it's something you get used to but don't take for granted. i have lots to live for so i make sure i make the extra effort to earn the privilege by cycling with care. thanks so much for that alaine!! have a lovely day!! steven

Elizabeth said...

A cool ride indeed.
Eco friendly, exercise, landscape the whole thing.
Thanks for taking me along.

As per a transformative moment, for me it was
two weeks after my daughter's birth when I lost a lot of blood, was hospitalized, and almost died.
I was 30 and thought: Oh boy, that was a close one, I think I had better start writing.......
However, I'm not quite sure I could write about it on my NY blog ---too public or TMI (too much information)

Hope your weekend is peaceful.

steven said...

hi elizabeth, i just love being alone!!! the bonus elements you describe are definitely there as well but i've been a cyclist for so long it's just a way of life for me.

my first wife experienced a very similar experience in the birth of our only son. she didn't know that she had a cyst growing on her ovary and when she gave birth it burst blowing a major artery out and draining most of her blood into her abdomen. nobody knew, they just thought it was a tough labour.

it's tough that some stories, some art, some music, some ideas are hard to put into the context that our blogs have established for us. but i get that. i love visiting your blog for it's cool simplicty and depth. thanks for that!! steven

Titus said...

Hi steven, what a congruent universe we live in - I was just reading The Times Saturday supplement and they have a huge article on people and their bikes.
Very impressive ride and what a strange, foreign land. And how light.

steven said...

hi titus, i have two bicycles. the other's equipped to take me, my lunch, my laptop and any marking or extra clothes i need for a school day. otherwise it gets to take me on long journeys - last year a 500 km round trip that i'm thinking i might do again next week!! hmmmm. i thought some of the pics might have something of the feel of the norfolk broads about them ... but then i've only seen them in pictures. have a lovely evening. steven

Titus said...

A litle bit broader with you! And it's a different green entirely.

Eryl Shields said...

These pictures are fabulous. There is something of the Norfolk Broads about them if you unfocus your eyes a little, Norfolk is very flat and reedy.

There is something so cool about riding sixty miles on a bicycle to take a friend some sage. It would make a great short story.

steven said...

hi eryl, thanks - i took these pictures with my daughter's camera because it's much easier to carry than my own. so the pictures aren't as clear and crisp but it's the sense of the place that i hoped to share so there you are.
i have always wanted to write short stories, you know, the ones that make you stop breathing as you're reading them, or that you're part way into and you think "oh yeah, that's absolutely how it is and i could never have said it that clearly myself!"
at this point in my life i can write a decent sentence or paragraph sometimes and that's where it begins i suppose!!! thanks for dropping by and leaving your kind comments eryl. see you again. steven

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Steven, I love the tour. Please post a photo of your touring bike... I'd like to see how it compares to your other one.

The pictures along the way are wonderful & I love the sage!

Predictable? Well, I can see that when you're in a group of riders... wouldn't want anyone slamming into the back of you & causing a pileup... but aside from that, please keep the unpredictability!

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely post but a bit geographically confusing - Peterborough? Trent University? But those shots don't look like the Midlands of England!

steven said...

hey crafty green - and i live about fourty km from newcastle! it's crazy making isn't it ?!! no wonder i feel at home here. steven

Dan Gurney said...

I enjoyed this post. I used to do a whole bunch of group riding--a real high for me. It's as close as I've ever come to feeling like a schooling fish or a wild goose: part of a larger whole. Yes, ride predictably, smoothly. Don't brake. A steady wheel is a good one.

steven said...

hi dan, sage advice. don't brake!! every instincy in my body cries for me to brake on turns, before nailing a pothole at speed, but i see that in the school or herd, those are life-and-death choices that don't fit anymore!!! especially when you're one foot off the back of someone's wheel and there are eight people behind you on the same knife's edge. i know that somewhere out there someone's written a book matching the experience of biking to life metaphor but i tell you it was never so clear to me as when i rode home alone after that group ride. i'm hoping to go out again this wednesday to apply what i've learned. today i'm biking 50 km to my mum's home down by lake ontario. then i'll bike back - and it's almost all uphill on the way back - tomorrow. see you!! steven

Totalfeckineejit said...

THat's a real cool looking Bike ,Steve. I used to love cycling when i was younger(and thinner!)never cycled in a pack though, it sure sounds like a blast!

Barry said...

I haven't ridden it but I've driven it. Not nearly as much exercise, but I can brake at the corners and the scenery is the same. Its also faster driven, if not nearly as good for either the environment or my own personal health.

You live in a beautiful part of the country. We just love visiting.