Now that I'm about two weeks into keeping my normal ride going, everything is starting to feel better. The hills get easier each day (which also means I can climb the steps in the subway station better too!).
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Those are Egrets on that last photo, as best as my 3X Optical Zoom lens camera could capture them.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Now that being said, one of the great joys of bike riding is that special kind of serene silence. You, the air, the road ... all joined as one with nothing but the gentle hum of the tires and the occasional accent of a shifted gear. But then all of a sudden, a tune pops into your head and it feels just right too.
So what are those tunes? What music fits so well for bike riding? It's a fun topic...
I'm going to begin with something so obvious, it's almost silly to mention. For anyone who has seen Breaking Away, you can't help but find yourself shifting into the electrifying musical gear that is the last movement of Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony. It's from the scene where the main character is riding in the wake of the 18-wheel truck, building and re-building up his speed again and again to match the trucker, until he is racing ahead at an unbelievable rate. But this scene would be nothing without the music. And what music it is!! Fast, powerful, yet light as a feather ... clicking along with brisk string bows and staccato woodwinds. It truly matches the rapid cadence of a bicycle -- bright, swift; yet rich and full of meaning.
Here's a great box set that I love featuring all Mendelssohn's five symphonies, plus some overtures too (these photos are from both sides of the box and the booklet inside):
I got it a used cd store (as you can probably tell by the smudges on the cover), but while this is an old copy, it has been re-released by Deutsche Grammophon in beautiful new packaging. The London Symphony Orchestra and Claudio Abbado perform all these symphonies and overtures wonderfully. So if you like the Fourth Symphony, listen to the Third too. Its cool, bittersweet beauty always reminds me of an autumn morning ... and a late-season bike ride.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Nice sunrise, don't you think? It actually wasn't quite as dark as it looks, but it sure came out cool in the photo. For my usual morning ride, I get up at around 5:20 am, hit the road, come home, take a shower, then head off to work.
Monday, April 13, 2009
You know the type -- the "Best Rides in [enter your region here]" books. They usually have about 45 chapters or so, each of which details a particular bike ride in the area. Every chapter follows the same pattern: a map, a four or five paragraph description of the ride, and a step-by-step list of directions. Here's one I just bought:
Now for me, the fun of these books isn't just having them as a practical guide. It's using them to dream about a cool new ride in an unfamiliar place. I live in southern New England, so it may take me years before I pack my bike in a car, head up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and try the Franconia/Kinsman Notch Challenge (page 115). But just reading about it is thrilling in itself, and thinking someday...
"Road Biking -- Northern New England" is a great example of a Bike Travel Guide. It's well written by someone local to the area who is a bike rider herself. You can pick it up, start reading anywhere, and learn so much about this most mysterious, breathtaking, and beautiful part of the U.S. That's another great thing about bicycle travel guides ... they're fantastic local guidebooks in general. It says a lot about the nature of bike riding. We see life on a personal level, where a general store, a hill, or a winding road are monunents in themselves.
It's written by Sandy Duling and published by Falcon Guides (Pequot Press).
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Nice shot of Boston, but wow ... the wind sure was brutal. I saw many of signs of the rough winter we had this past year. Huge potholes, sandy roadsides -- I felt like I was riding Paris-Roubaix myself.
It still felt good to get out there and ride though.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Listening to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen cover bicycle races like the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix (coming up tomorrow on the Versus channel), or the Tour of Flanders (last Sunday), I get that same kind of feeling ... that this isn't just one race on one particular day they're describing. It's part of a great history and tradition, filled with endless stories and visual images, and yes ... even it's own geography (because bike racing is all about a love and exploration of place). I really admire people like that, who can build a deep and rich mythology around the things they love.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I did take one ride two weeks ago though. It was about 42 degrees outside (which is still pretty cold on a bike), but I just had to get back on the road after such a long, brutal winter here in Massachusetts. Besides, my bike looked so raring-to-go sitting in my living room. I kind of felt sorry for it. So I put on my long biking pants and a sweater, zipped up my bright red windbreaker, pulled on by biking gloves and my helmet, and headed out into the windy, brisk New England dawn. It turns out the cold didn't feel so bad, really. I stayed pretty close to home, away from the waterfront, where the ocean wind from the Atlantic can still pack quite a punch this time of year. But after an half-hour or so, my fingers started to feel pretty numb. So it was time to head back. Nevertheless, clicking into the pedals for the first time this season sure felt great.
And tomorrow's forecast ... rain! Well, maybe I'll hang out at the local bike shop, look at all the beautiful new 2009-model bicycles, watch the rain fall across the window, and hope...