Welcome to The Human Ride.

Because we're all in this together,
this blog is an ongoing chronicle of what it means to be human,
with a focus on what it means to be human ... cyclists.
The good. The bad. The ugly.
The joy of a ride on a lonely country road.
The pain of a cyclocross race.
The rage that comes from dealing with aggressive drivers.
The appreciation of a fine piece of cycling artistry.
And anything else that comes as a result of loving bikes
and living.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Big Manzana

OK, so I've been so busy with work and out of town that I haven't been riding. Riding my bike. It sucks, but while away, I've done a couple of runs, runs that have actually resulted in p-a-i-n.
I've been runnning here:

Which, coincidentally, is exactly where the next story took place a few days later ...

Joaquin Baca-Asay - Running Man

Today, while shooting a simple scene on the bank of the Hudson river, I witnessed the passionate intensity of Director Joaquín Baca-Asay. We had to shoot a few seconds of a woman walking a dog along the waterfront, answering her Blackberry. Simple. The usual foot, rollerblade and bike traffic was detained for no more than 30 seconds every time we shot a take, so that our actress would be in the clear.
Well, one über-achieving blonde would have none of our TV commercial-filming nonsense. She ran around our traffic-stopping First AD and proceeded to run right into our scene, ruining our take, and continuing on her "very important run."
Joaquin paused for half a second to look at her in amazement, got off the dolly, and, being the spry, agile, 5%-body-fat-terrier that he is, proceeded to bound after her. Yes! Even in a fashionable trench coat, mauve-genta scarf, snowboarder-chic knit cap and Garbo sunglasses, it took him 4.7 seconds to reach the running maven of self-righteousness. Joaquin then delivered an on-the-run lecture about the film industry's contribution to the economy of the City of New York and chastised the intruder for her lack of respect and patience. In spite of her profusion of "Stay the f**k away from me" protests and one final, irrelevant "I'm on call!" pronouncement, our director made his point. Wow, this should put him over the top for a DGA (Director's Guild of America) Award.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It Ain't That Cold.

The Sunday after Christmas I went out for a ride alone. I had been sick and needed to get some kind of a ride in. I like riding alone, even though group rides are much better training. Riding alone I get a chance to mentally detach, clear my head. I get to stop whenever I want to. Sometimes to talk to people like Pedro, who that day was proudly strutting his two-wheeled awesomeness.

Almost always, I get a wave, nod or shout out from a homeless person. Going over the Elysian viaduct, I can see a park below, usually where a couple of dozen homeless people are camping out. A sad figure, hunched over on a bench, staring at the ground, noticed me up on the bridge, straightened up and gave me a long-distance wave. Here’s a photo of the park, after I went by.

It was a cool day, not terribly uncomfortable. But I could see from a distance, that quite a few members of the Houston Fire Department were going to be uncomfortable.

I never found out what was burning. Maybe one of these tanks. Hope not.

Today was a little different. It was definitely cold. Not cold by Minnesota or Colorado standards, although, believe it or not, it was colder in Houston this morning than in Breckenridge when I took this photo two weeks ago.

I decided to go on the Saturday Ride, which today was a.k.a as the HTFU ride in honor of the low temps we’d be enjoying. Riding in cold weather requires the right gear and a judgment call, since it’s just as easy to over-dress as it is to under-dress. I wore this today:

Dressing in removable layers is essential. Wearing too much clothing that can’t be taken off or opened up to ventilate could make a person sweat, and being wet on a cold day could be disastrous. Also, your toes will always be cold no matter what.

On the ride I was surrounded by quite a few other riders, most of whom I know for different reasons, though mostly just from participating in races or rides like these. All of us were nicely layered in our removable layers of clothing. There were other layers of protection, as well. Riding in a group, there’s shielding from wind, calling out of potholes, ice patches and cars, as well as camaraderie, friendship and human warmth. The group is a nice place to be. Today’s ride was a casual ride, a no-drop ride. That means that if someone can’t keep up with the group, the group will slow down to let that person re-incorporate. I was happy about that, since I got dropped a few times.

Usually there’s a good amount of chatter, and for the most part, I enjoy listening – today especially – since the cold air made my mouth numb and I mumbled like I had tequila in my water bottle. I heard people talking about their bikes, their kids, their husbands or wives. I hear movie reviews, complaints about work, comments about food and fashion. There are a lot of smart alecks on these rides. I struggle to keep up – both riding and smart-alecking.

One of the riders along with us today was Meril Moen. I’ve known Meril for almost thirty years. When I first moved to Los Estados Unidos, my brother and I were roommates with Meril. Thirty years holds a lot of shit going down. And a lot of joy. The things we’ve lived through, good, bad and stupid could fill a book or two and I’m not going to get into that here. Meril and I don’t keep in touch too frequently, but like all good friends, we don’t need to, and we pick up where we left off just as if it had been yesterday. Cycling has helped to reunite us once more.

After the ride was over, we rode home together – we live just a couple of miles from each other. Meril had told me earlier that he was going to try his first road race. He’s in his fifties, like me. I smiled as we went our separate ways, feeling warm and protected, knowing that he’s going to be one of the many riders along the way in that bigger group ride, the human ride.