Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lazy summer riding: 215 days and counting

Smile from the trail.
A few odds and ends from the past week or so. It is now at the point in the summer when the time seems to be speeding toward Labor Day; it's the same sort of phenomenon that made it difficult for me to enjoy Sunday afternoons as a kid. Looming responsibilities and school somehow seem to cut into enjoying the moment.

In any case, I have maintained my consecutive days of riding, which total 215 as of today. What may have been a bit of a challenge to continue early on has considerable momentum now, and even a family road trip coming up soon doesn't hold much threat to breaking my streak. Daily rides for transportation and daily rides to keep either kids or dog happy contribute to the mass of the spinning flywheel.

A few nights ago, we came upon a fire burning near the dirt trails in our neighborhood park. Julie saw a few teenage boys running from the direction of the flames, but I was too concentrated on the flames themselves and whether anyone had yet called the fire department to notice them. Within minutes, the flames were more than ten feet tall and the area was crackling.

Julie rode to the site of the fire to see if anyone needed help.
Several people at the park called fire and police, and trucks arrived within a few minutes.
We haven't yet found out exactly what happened, but it's likely a group of teenage boys were up to no good. For our girls, it was exciting to be on the arriving end of a fire truck excursion. The firemen had the flames out within a couple of minutes, but smoke and falling ash stayed in the area for some time. Fortunately, there were no injuries and the damage was minimal. A couple of days later, we surveyed the site.
Poor quality phone cam doesn't show a lot, but much of the underbrush here was turned to ash.
The trees in the fire area appear mostly unchanged.
A day after the fire, we attended a local outdoor concert. The highlight of the music was Sousa's Washington Post March, which seemed just about perfect for an evening ride.
The Dummy makes a good seat or picnic table, or provides a little shade during outdoor events.
The low evening sun and a backdrop of threatening clouds makes for some great imagery that I am just barely capable of capturing.
Earlier in the week, our out-of-town guests departed, but not before I took the girls out for one last ride. They took the opportunity to practice some skidding, and were impressed with my stories as a kid of skidding my way through tires all the way down to the cords. Perhaps their parents will have to foot the bill for some new tires for their bikes back home.

Yesterday, I was among a small group who took a B-cycle ride with Mayor Hancock of Denver. The purpose was to observe some infrastructural improvements in a couple of neighborhoods, as well as to see where there are shortcomings in the network. From an advocacy standpoint, it is encouraging to see bicycling issues taking a higher profile than they have in the past, though I have enough experience to know that improvements are hard won and take a lot of time and effort.
Mayor Hancock on the left, as Phil of Denver B-cycle leads the way.
After the ride and on the way to the office, I spotted a derelict and partially stripped Fisher Advance, predating the Trek buyout, circa 1990. It's always sad to see a nice old steel bike go out like this. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

On a ride with 8 girls

Six girls out in front. Another two are with me bringing up the tail.
In our household, I'm vastly outnumbered by females. It has taken some time for me to orient myself in this situation. I grew up with only brothers, and during a long stretch of awkward and ungainly years, girls were a distant phenomenon. To me, they were as unknowable as Martians, or Venusians as the case may be.

In years since, I've had opportunities to make progress in understanding. As it happens, in addition to the female members of my own household, my sister-in-law and her two daughters visit annually, an event of which we are currently in the midst. Added to that, today we also had a school pal over for a visit. As might be imagined, these factors led to a planetary alignment mandating raucous, girly activities.

The afternoon was filled with squealing at various decibel levels, trending toward the upper end of the spectrum. I must admit, I took refuge in the bike barn. The cacophony subsided somewhat as a couple of pizzas met their end. Then, the horde issued a call for a bike ride to the dirt hills. At last! They were speaking my language. It just so happens that I have sufficient bikes to equip them all, so with a little tweaking and adjustment, we were off for a summer evening ride.
My co-pilot kept me apprised of the status of the convoy.
Already accomplished at mugging for the camera.
Our fleet of bikes stretched out for about half a block as we made our way through the neighborhood to the park and the dirt trails. As is the case with this bunch, there was no shortage of competitiveness, so a little racing and jockeying for position ensued. By the time we got to the park, some were ready for the dirt and others were ready for a rest.
The Dummy with my home-built removable second seat back installed. Details to follow when I am able. 
For the astute reader, Scout is the eighth girl on the ride.
Meredith was a first-time dirt bike rider. From the sound of her yelling, dirt riding was a hit.
After many circuits, interspersed with frisbee throwing and running in the grass, it was time to head for home. I'm not certain that I can say I understand the intricacies of the feminine psyche much more now than I ever have, but I do know that they like riding bikes as much as I did and still do. I'm also more than a little proud that my group of girls whooped it up on the dirt hills on their bikes, relishing the bumps and skidding up clouds of dust.

The lone boy of similar age who passed by looked at them in wonder and perhaps a touch of fear from aboard his bike; a pavement-bound BMX with training wheels serving as outriggers. The irony doesn't escape me that I take much satisfaction in knowing that my girls will likely befuddle boys of their generation.