Archive for November 5, 2008

This is why we roll.

I hadn’t really planned on riding today, but I suddenly found my schedule booked for the next few days, or possibly, weeks. Fortunately, I had a brief window of opportunity this morning before going in for an MRI this afternoon for yet another follow-up to the infamous bee encounter.

So naturally, I grabbed my bike and hit the road.

The very first thing I saw was a dog peeing on an Obama sign; following the giddiness of yesterday’s election results, that seemed to sum up the current state of politics in this country.

As I rode, I found myself giving some thought to why we ride.

Of course, every bicyclist has his or her own reasons for climbing up on the saddle. But for me, it’s not a question of transportation, or concern for the environment, or even a reaction to high gas prices.

No, my riding is primarily of the recreational variety, though I suppose there’s also a social element to it, as I sometimes fall in with other rider and enjoy the company of a new-found friend, at least until our routes take us our separate ways.

It’s also my primary form of exercise — and a very effective one, at that. I started riding seriously again about three years ago, after a layoff of a few years. Since then, I’ve dropped 45 pounds, lowered my blood pressure, resting pulse rate and cholesterol levels. And I’m no longer embarrassed to get caught without a shirt on.

That’s what I was thinking as I rode today.

Then I looked up and saw a perfect azure sky coming to rest on a sea as smooth as glass, with only a few small breakers rolling gently into shore. As I rolled down the coast on a nearly deserted path, I watched pods of dolphins playing just off shore, while pelicans dive-bombed straight down into the surf like a squadron of feathered Japanese Zeros.

And it occurred to me that life seldom gets better than this.

In that moment, I realized that this is why I really ride. Because there are moments like this that only occur on a bike; I could have seen the same things walking along the beach, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Because so many of the best moments of my life have occurred as I rolled silently along mountains and plains, bayous and bays, and countless urban scenes of every description.

And because, as Timur pointed out in the second link above, it’s fun.

Really, really fun.

 

Connecticut now requires drivers to allow at least three feet of separation when passing a cyclist on state roads, something I called for here recently. An Indiana paper reminds you to take extra precautions when riding through the cold and dark. Finally, the Washington Post reports that vigorous exercise — such as bicycling on hills — can help a woman cut her risk of breast cancer 30%.

Just one more non-cycling related post

Today, all Americans finally became equal.

I have never been more proud of my country than I am right now.

Riding tandem

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve tried to keep a narrow focus. Like the name implies, I’ve written almost exclusively about bicycling — and primarily, about cycling in Los Angeles.

Today, though, I’d like to discuss another subject, just this once. So if you’re only interested in my thoughts on cycling — and thank you for that, by the way — check back in a day or two, and I promise to be back on subject.

And I promise to never, ever do it again. Until the next time, anyway.

But as you’re undoubtedly aware, there’s an election tomorrow. I mean, I certainly hope you know that by now. And I assume you’ve studied the candidates and the issues, and you don’t need me to tell you how to vote.

I trust you to do the right thing. Really, I do Whatever that may be.

But let’s talk, for just a minute, about California’s Proposition 8, the proposition that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage in this state.

People opposed to same-sex marriage have long argued that we have to defend the traditional definition of marriage; that allowing members of the same sex to get married would somehow weaken the institution or marriage. Some have even argued that thousands of married men and women would leave their spouses. once they were able to marry someone of the same sex.

So let me reassure you, from my own personal perspective.

In the five and a half months since gay marriage has been legal in this state, it has had no apparent effect on my marriage.

None.

My wife and I are just as married as we were in April of this year, or any of the previous 11 years since we tied the knot. And to the best of my knowledge, neither of us has felt the slightest desire to leave the other for any reason, let alone to marry someone else — of any sex.

Of course, maybe it takes a little longer than that. Like 6 months, or maybe a year.

But as far as I’m concerned, an inability to keep your zipper up in the presence of someone other than your spouse poses a far greater threat to marriage than allowing anyone to share the rites. As does an apparent willingness in this society to walk away from a marriage when things get hard, or someone gets bored.

And despite our close proximity to West Hollywood, I have never seen any sign of the infamous gay agenda that so many supporters of Prop 8 refer too, though I have seen a fey Filofax or two. Nor has anyone ever tried to recruit either of us to switch sides — although my wife is endlessly amused when someone turns around to check out my bike-firmed butt.

But let’s face it. Marriage isn’t always easy; but with the right person, it’s worth it.

And who am I to deny that to anyone?

My biggest problem with Prop 8, though, is that it takes away a right that people already have, and that thousands have already taken advantage of. It makes discrimination an official part of the state constitution — just like the Jim Crow laws of the deep south — and confers a separate but unequal status on a sizable minority group.

And that can never be right, no matter how you dress it up.

I trust you to make your own decisions, for your own reason. All I ask is that you vote. And that you do the right thing, whatever that means to you.

But as for me, I’m voting no on 8.

 

Gary encourages us to Bike the Vote — I couldn’t agree more — while LAist tells you what retailers are willing to break the law by rewarding you for voting. Here’s proof that a three-foot passing limit isn’t just a figment of our imagination. Bike Girl braves that which Angelenos fear most, and describes how others can survive the rain, as well. My friends at Altadena Blog announced the 2008 edition of the Tour de Altadena for all you San Gabriel Valley riders. And Bicycle Fixation gets it’s 15 minutes of fame in USA today.

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