25 October 2007


Inevitably in the middle of every bicycle ride I think of great topics to write about. I swear some thoughts I generate are absolute genius, probably would make the rest of the world ride bikes, conserve , pollute less , love one another , and so on. Kweli, haki, the honest truth. I can't wait to get home to blog.

Inevitably I get home and those thoughts I had rehearsed and worked out in my mind are unrecoverable from my brain. Damn. So on Sunday's ride I decided to use memory tricks to come back with my thoughts.

We were having an afternoon party for Nashesha's 9th birthday, which means by noon I should start setting up tables, chairs, shade, buy drinks, fill cooler, ..... So I plan to go alone at an early hour and be back by 10 am.

Aero tuck.

The first thought I have that I wanted to wow the world with happened on the other side of town heading east just before light. There were a fair number of Phoenix one speed bikes, guys transporting stuff around before sunrise. One guy laden down with cargo came screaming down a hill in a perfect bicycle aero tuck. Hands close to the stem, elbows way down, head behind the hands, back flat. I wondered how he had learned that and why most guys in my club haven't caught on. On steep hills don't pedal but get aero.

I wanted to remember and for once I had no faith in my memory ( or I remembered to remember my memory is non existent). So I decided I would choose one word to jar my memory later. And so my mantra became the 9 words or short phrases.

So this is the mantra I kept repeating (until breakfast when I SMSed it to myself).
"Aero tuck.
Bells kusalimia.
Standing good.
Smiles safi.
Buses 615-645.
Realistic Exercise.
Breakfast. "

Now let me elaborate, I have done the first one.

Bells kusalimia.

I have a bell on my bike, used to warn pedestrians not to cross the road as I am coming and when I come up behind a pedestrians walking abreast across the road and want them to give me a space.

Today I learned to use the bell to say hello to the other bicyclists. I was part of them. Mostly they would ring their bell and look at me, no smile , no wave , no nod. But I knew the ringing of the bell was saying " Hey, see ya man, keep pedaling, have a good day". I no longer felt like a rich white man on a $800 bicycle but one of a group of people using bicycles for transport.

Standing good.

There are a couple of small rises in a section of downhills, and instead of shifting down I stood up to power over the rises at speed. the bells were making me happy and that standing was also good. Life is good.

Smiles safi.

After the series of downs I was moving at a pace where I could see what was going on around me, and it was now day light. I noticed a 2 year old child strapped on the back of her mother. What I noticed was this beautiful smile. All I could think of was this child was happy. So i looked at the mother and she had the same happy smile. I wondered what exchange they had had that they were both so happy.

Buses 615-645.

Daylight is around 6am. At 6:15 the first 80 seat long distance bus whooshed by me. That went on until around 6:45. Some gave me plenty of room , some beeped, some gave me a couple feet. They travel at 120-140 kmph. I only got unnerved a couple times, but made a note that maybe I should start earlier and have breakfast when the first bus passes.

Buses passing close made me think of safety and wearing a helmet and being visible. I used a biker friend Flic to remind me. She was riding through Africa and got hit from behind by a Truck in Rwanda. (She looks to be recovering completely).

Realistic Exercise.

Am I realistic to expect others to do what I do on a bike, or commute to work. I think nothing of riding my bike the 6km to the office. It is not exercise or much of a work out. But then I have always enjoyed physical exercise. As a kid I had friends that lived miles away, and thought it nothing to run/walk/ride to their houses.

Would the average person ever get to the point of being able to ride to work and think nothing of it. Or would they think of it as a painful experience every day.

I ride about 50 km on the highway and turn off near a railroad line and ride another 15km or so into a huge flat plain. There is a tree here and there and some clusters of houses, some short dry grass and ploughed up fields. Not bush but I enjoyed it. I see 3 hacked up trees with a bit of shade and a horizontal branch/tree to sit on and I stop for breakfast at 8:35. (Ha! I know the time because I SMS myself the list)


And then I had a wonderful breakfast out in the plain. <>
I had a sandwich of peanut butter and jelly and a smoothie I had made at home. I could watch some planes taking off from KIA airport 10 km away and remember the times it was me in the plane looking down on this dry plane and thinking how could anyone live there.

So back to memory. I used the mantra, adding a word for each one. That got me to breakfast, when i resorted to technology and sms my mantra to myself. Good thing because it is now Thursday morning and I am finally getting this down.

However I was just able to repeat all the list just now.

And reading through my thoughts they aren't that earth shattering. They were better during the moment. I no longer regret having forgotten those fantastic ideas on my bike rides. I was enough to enjoy the thoughts at the time.

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