It was probably the funniest book I’ve ever read.
Not the best book. Not even the best funny book. That would probably be Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, or maybe its sequel Sweet Thursday, though Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 wouldn’t be far behind.
But hands down, the laugh-out-loud funniest pages I’ve ever turned were between the covers of A. C. Weisbecker’s Cosmic Banditos. To over simplify the synopsis, it’s the story of a couple of small time drug smugglers who stumble across a collection of physics textbooks, and decide to live their lives according to Quantum Theory. Meaning that anything can, and probably will, happen at any given time, if it hasn’t already.
Something I learned the hard way as a result of the infamous beachfront bee encounter.
I mean, look at it this way. A totally random event — a massive swarm of bees — occurs out of the blue at what would normally be the safest place to ride — a quiet stretch of off-road bike path along the beach — at what should be the safest time to ride — the middle of the day after tourist season is over and the kids are back in school.
The result was a couple nights in intensive care, with no memory of what happened. Or how. Or why, for that matter.
And that’s been eating at me ever since.
You see, every accident I’ve ever had, every near accident, every mistake I’ve ever made on the saddle, I’ve analyzed to understand exactly what I did wrong. So I could make sure I never made that same mistake again.
But it’s hard to figure out what not to do when you have no idea what you did. Or didn’t.
And how you avoid something as random as a massive bee swarm suddenly materializing in from of you — and disappearing just as quickly — I have no idea.
So when a fellow bike blogger mentioned in passing that La Madonna del Ghisallo was patron saint of bicyclists, I was sold. Even if I haven’t managed to sit through a Catholic Mass since my mother died just after the millennium.
That’s the beauty of a Catholic upbringing, though. Once you’re in, you’re in. No matter how much you try to escape, or how hard you rebel against the doctrine of papal infallibility.
So, I may know on an intellectual level that a few bucks worth of sterling sliver won’t keep bees, or cars, or falling anvils away.
But I believe with every fiber of my being that if you truly believe something will work, it will. Whether that’s a lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot, or faith in a patron saint.
And in a world like this one, you’ve got to believe in something.
Streetsblog reports on the LAPD’s report on the Hummer incident, which evidently suffered only minor damage from the cyclist. LAist covers the meeting as well, and Alex rebuts most of the LAPD’s report — including offering a photo proving the Hummer had no plates, despite what the report claimed. L.A.’s ex-parking meters are reborn as bike racks, some of them, anyway. Tucson Bike Lawyer relates how local police threaten to ticket semi-conscious cyclists after a collision. After all these years of Portland envy, now we have to turn green towards Minneapolis, too. Denver police ask cyclists to obey the law on their local Bike to Work Day, as roughly 6% of local downtowners regularly commute by bike. After three dead cyclists in one month, Boise authorities say it takes time to investigate them thoroughly. San Francisco tries to make 18th Street more bike, pedestrian — and yes, even business — friendly. Finally, North Carolina police say cyclists are starting to cause problems, too.
I did 12 years of Catholic schooling then went off to Berkeley for undergrad. It was the beginning of my enlightenment. I never really looked back, that is of course until my fiance had a really bad bike accident due to a reckless SUV driver last year. I’ve had La Madonna del Ghisallo around my neck (and her’s) ever since. It doesn’t really get me back to mass, but at the very least it grants me the peace of mind and confidence to get back in the saddle. Whatever works, you know.