Friday, May 05, 2006

Goin' back to the desert

Date: May 3 & 4
Mileage: 20.4 & 37.2
May mileage: 83.6
Temperature upon departure: 37 & 35

South wind and bike commuting in the rain, nothing much to do but stare at pavement and daydream.

It's high time to tap-dance barefoot in hot sand and go for swim in the abrasive water of a silt-choked winter. Soak up some of that sadist sun wrapped only in thin cotton and SPF 45. Wolf down burnt spaghetti in a tin cup and wash it down with sun-roasted water. Season my sunburned skin beside the spring-sweet smoke of a juniper fire. Watch the sun set before 10 p.m.

It's time to lay in the the shadow of endless canyon walls. Make sand angels in the wash. Watch clouds drift through a thin sliver of sky. Keep an eye out for coyotes and big horn sheep and eat gummi worms in my tent without fear of bears.

It's time to go back to the desert and go where cars don't go. Go where bikes don't go. Go where even feet shouldn't go but someone's going to make me get on that rope.

It's time to go back to the desert like I never even left. But I sure do miss it.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

$3 a gallon

Date: May 2
Mileage: 26
May mileage: 26
Temperature upon departure: 46

Because of all the bicycle riding I do and the small town that I live in, I don't buy much gas anymore. Maybe one tank a month currently, but summer travel season is about to begin. While I was driving around town today, looking for an auto shop that could squeeze me in for a tire change, I noticed that gas prices have officially hit the $3/gallon mark. Wha?

In three days I leave for a trip to Utah, so I have to catch a plane in Anchorage - about 215 miles from here. I went online and did a little research, and realized that driving my car to Anchorage, parking it for 9 days in the Dimond Parking Lot, and then driving it home will actually be more expensive than simply flying between Homer and Anchorage. So I bought another plane ticket. Now, instead of slogging down the Kenai Peninsula in the middle of the night upon my return, I'm going to be napping through a not-even-long-enough-to-reach-cruising-altitude flight on a turboprop plane.

I don't know if I should be horrified that it's actually cheaper to fly than drive - or relieved. When you think about it, there are a lot of pluses to the skyrocketing gas prices. Those gas prices have motivated me to get my lazy morning butt in gear and start bicycle commuting to work. They've convinced a lot of other people to ride a bicycle, period ... something many haven't tried since they were kids. My hope is that people will soon discover that they don't have to wait for technology and politicians to sort out any impending "energy crisis." They will discover that they are their own alternative energy source. They'll reunite themselves with all those once-vilified-but-so-missed carbohydrates. They'll trade in their high blood pressure medications and diet pills for natural, old-fashioned shots of dopamine and adrenaline. The suck up some of that sweet clean air, and they'll get themselves to their destinations, with their own power ... be it 20, 200 or 2,000 miles away. The economy will make room for this slowed-down lifestyle, because demand will push it that way. All economy is, after all, is a well-organized way of life.

And people will forget what they ever saw in oil. They'll realize that they had possession of the most valuable commodity all along ... freedom.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day, May Day

This bleak photo, which was taken from my back porch at the very recent time of 9:55 p.m. AST May 1, really fails to capture the tiny flecks of horizontal snow whipping across the yard. And thus I, who did everything I could do to make winter my friend, am officially depressed.

On the plus side, the Internet has yeilded some great information about training for 24-hour bicycle races. Most recommend finding a mileage to shoot for, and shape my training accordingly. Unlike my last long race, in which I was just working to finish, I think I will go into the 24 Hours of Kincaid with a little more ambition. Because I'm banking more on my ability to remain in slow motion for long spans of time more than any actual speed, I think I'm going to shoot for 150 miles, or about 13 laps. It's impossible for me to really guestimate possible mileage because I don't know anything about the course. I may end up actually completing way less, but I think it's good to aim high.

Now the only thing I need to do is come up with some formula that will translate road-bike training into trail miles (which, as this picture shows, are impossible to ride at the present.) I could ride my mountain bike on gravel roads, but it's still not the same. I think I'm just going to ride my bike, a lot, and hope for the best.