Tag Archives: Bicycle

How to Turn 60

Audrey and I pause for a selfie before riding the Sac and Fox Trail.

My 60th birthday won’t come again, but tomorrow will the only day after my 60th birthday, and that day won’t return, either.

But if I were to be stuck, “Groundhog Day” style, in a 24-hour period that would repeat—well, today might not be my best choice, but it would be a decent choice. Today was a pretty good day.

It began with me fixing a special breakfast for myself—I made plain oatmeal, added some butter, salt, pepper, two over-easy eggs and cheddar cheese. It was a tasty way to begin my birthday.

We’ve had rain recently in Iowa, a pattern expected to return tomorrow, but today was cool in the morning and very pretty in the afternoon. I have been driving to work most of the week, but today I put on the special bicycle shoes and rode my road bike. A day at work is always a better day if I get there and return on two wheels.

And for lunch, my wife took me to Taste of India—probably the best restaurant in Cedar Rapids for a birthday lunch, if you like Indian food. I do.

After afternoon work, I got home about 4:30, and noticed a flat of mums on the front stoop. My wife had already gotten me two Rose of Sharon bushes for my birthday earlier this week, and I will plant those this weekend. Mums are one of her favorite flowers, but I enjoy that splash of fall color, too—and I love to plant pretty things. I think of it as an investment in hope, the future and the wonderfulness of this planet we find ourselves inhabiting. Planting always boosts my mood, so seeing the flower flat was another reason to smile today.

And the house smelled divine when I got home. Someone had baked an apple crisp for me.

Before we watched “Thor: Ragnarok,” a DVD someone got for me on this special day, I attached the bike rack to the van and loaded our mountain bikes on it. My wife had suggested that, if the weather was right, we might enjoy a bicycle ride on my birthday—if I agreed. I did, and I suggested we got to the Sac and Fox, a trail I have been on several times this year, but have not shared with her before today.

And the bike ride on the trail was delightful, featuring perfect late afternoon golden light, and clouds enough to keep us from warming up. We had ridden maybe 5 of the 7 miles on our way to the south end of the trail, and I had noted to Audrey that, although it had been a very pretty ride (the Sac and Fox is the prettiest bike trail in Cedar Rapids), I was surprised there had been no deer. I had encountered deer on my summer pre-RAGBRAI rides on this trail.

And almost immediately, on cue, there, up ahead—a group of maybe seven deer, adults and fawns, loitering on the trail. They moved north off the trail as we approached, but stayed nearby in the woods, so I paused and photographed them.

Two of the deer.

Yes, the ride went well. And we felt we had earned our post-ride supper of apple crisp with ice cream (that’s all we had—but honestly, after a Taste of India buffet, how much could we have possibly eaten?).

My birthday season hasn’t really ended yet. The weekend after Labor Day, we’ll probably host a family brunch with kids and grandkids, and that will be fun. And probably there will be cake.

I don’t know that I would recommend 60 all that much. My body is aging, and showing its wear and tear in various ways. I’m still battling a stubborn ear infection, and getting to learn what my father’s life was like as his hearing faded away. My arthritic knees and hips dictate a certain slowness to my gait, when they don’t inflict pain. My family has a weight-loss challenging going, and I truly am trying, but at the start of your seventh decade on this planet, trust me, weight does not melt away. Well, I suppose apple crisp suppers (or savory egg and oatmeal breakfasts followed by spicy buffet food) don’t help, either.

But, whatever. I’ll do what I can and also try to enjoy myself. I’m 60. The little things don’t matter any more. And today I had a very good day—thanks, mostly, to my wife. Shout out to my delayed twin, my four years to the day younger sister, who still lingers in the midst of her sixth decade.

Sis, 60 is coming, knock on wood. And when it gets here for you, I hope its arrival is at least as nice as it was for me.

We ride off into the sunset.


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Tune for Tuesday A Day Late: The (Borrowed) Bicycle

The wife's bicycle

My wife’s bicycle. I don’t have the bike shoes to ride Jon’s, which is stored in my garage, and the junk bike Ben brought home is not yet ready to ride, so, since my bike is lame with a broken spoke, I rode (and, I’m sure looked ridiculous) on this one today.

Well, blog fans, I’m sure I’ll write later on my bike blog about today’s commute—in the morning in Jon’s car and this afternoon on a borrowed bicycle. Mine is in the shop and not back yet.

As it turns out, Audrey’s ridiculously small girl’s mountain bike felt really fast to me, so I was going to post “Faster Than Sound” from “High Spirits”  as the Tune for Tuesday on Wednesday this week, but I didn’t find a YouTube video of that particular song, so we’re stuck with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Also, FYI, I noted some Iowa lilies in bloom on the way, and these large Asian lilies bloomed in my garden. Stella De Oro have been around for a while, but other lilies of summer are starting to kick in. I’m sure the ride this afternoon, while it will feel a bit awkward, will be flower fun!

Asian lily

Asian lily bloomed today in my front garden. Others are budding and won’t be far behind.

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Black is the new Black

Handles of new bike

I plan to move the airplane my sister got me, if it will fit these much fatter handlebars. Part of the new bike.

I just finished a blog post on my other blog about my new bicycle.

Riding it has been a pleasure, although I’m getting adjusted to a new style of biking. The bike is lighter, but appears more substantial. I do feel it’s more of an in-town, commuting, old-man bike, but I think it fits me. I just have to get used to fitting into that category.

My new bike

Parked in the garage, my new bike. Old one in background.

Anyway, it is not the only piece of new technology that both features a Model T (black) color scheme and has come into my life lately. This is the year of black devices, for me—and they include:

  • A new Kodak digital camera. It has largely been a hit. I hope the flower pictures haven’t been too overwhelming, but the new camera makes such pictures fairly easy. My post about being stalked by a butterfly could not have been as good without the mad insects close-up images, which my old digital would not capture. It’s not the best digital camera—I would someday like to have a digital SLR and a couple of lenses—but it’s pretty good.
  • A new cell phone. I was due for an upgrade and the cell phone Katy and Wyatt gave me after I washed mine was having trouble keeping a charge. The new cell and I are still in an adjustment phase. It has a slide out QWERTY keyboard, which is nice, but I often miss calls because it’s more complex to answer. Old cells were like radios on Star Trek—flip them open and you’re talking with Scotty (in fact, I think cell phones were deliberately designed with that Star Trek look in mind). This new one doesn’t flip and there is some odd combination of key punching, like the old triple fingered salute that was used to boot computers, that I have not mastered. So I miss some calls fumbling with the phone.
  • And finally, Blacky III, the new bike. An awesome bike that I am really enjoying. It doesn’t corner as well, because I’m up higher and my center of gravity doesn’t allow for fast directional changes, but it’s efficient and fast. As I stated in my other blog, it’s a bit like riding an old banana bike (I never owned a banana bike—my 1970s experience with them strictly involved friends’ bikes) because of the angle of your arms and the upright stance as you ride.

Anyway, Black technology may be making it a bit harder for you to phone me. But, I’m snapping pictures and moving from place to place—and sooner or later, I’ll learn to answer the new cell.


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Bicyles and mowers in a Flat world

If I had to re-train, if my career completely fell apart, I would be tempted to become a bicycle mechanic.

I’ve been reading “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” which, while it does present some potential strategies to deal with changes our world is going through, is also depressing. We seem to be in the midst of an environmental crisis, and we can’t get our act together enough to even acknowledge, let alone start to solve, our problem. If I were Barack Obama, I would not only pursue solar and wind—I’d license 100 new nuclear power plants and tell Neveda to suck it up—we’re going to pick one of their seismic resistant mountains and start burying crap in it. Say what you will about nuclear power, the real environmental problem is carbon, not radiation.

Anyway …

The book talks about the need for “cradle to cradle” technology. The idea is that you can’t keep throwing stuff away, and companies should be forced to recycle.

I am attempting to fix my mower. My stupid dog chewed through the pull cord. A small part, but on my poorly designed Yardman mower, there’s not easy way to solve a simple problem. It requires knowledge and tools I don’t have.

My Trek can’t be ridden right now because the back wheel is not “true.” If I had the tools and some training, I think I might be able to fix it.

In this culture when your pull cord breaks or your wheel isn’t true, it’s sometimes easier to buy a new “thing” than fix the old one.

We need more bicycle mechanics. If I could listen to “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” while using my hands, life would not be bad …


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Driving the old Continental

Second try …

I attempted without success to blog yesterday about media changes and what those mean for journalism education, but I failed somehow to save the blog entry and all my words were for naught. I’m sure I come back to that topic, but today I’m randomly wanting to write about bikes.

I rode my Continental to work today. It was an invigorating experience. Normally, I commute on a newer Trek, but some fat old guy got the back wheel all out of “true” and it has to be fixed before it’s ride-able again, so I broke my old bike out of mothballs this morning.

The 30-year-old Schwinn gives a different riding experience. It’s the difference between driving a Taurus (the Trek) and a Miata (the Schwinn).

To elaborate:

The Continental has 10 speeds to the Trek’s 15 (although I can’t use one of the Trek’s front gears, so it’s really just a 10 speed, too). The “hill climbing” gear, or granny gear, on the Schwinn is not as “granny” as the Trek, so when I get to Mount Mercy, riding the Trek is a lot easier.

But ho man—the ride there on the Schwinn. Yowza! Steppenwolf should have been playing the soundtrack. The narrow tires made for a much bumpier ride, but the slightly bigger wheels and slightly more aggressive 10th gear made for a fast ride. Fast for an oldie like me, anyway. I ran several 4-way stops because I wasn’t used to 20 mph on a bike anymore, and you can’t stop like you’re tooling along on a slow Trek.

My legs were much more worn out, too—did not realize I was pumping so much harder.

My usual commute is around 30 minutes, but I think I finished in just a little over 20 on the Schwinn. Took the trail home, which involves extraneous travel east and west—the trail route is almost an hour-long ride on the Trek, but was a 40 minute ride on the Continental.

I bought the Schwinn in 1974 and used it to commute to my first job at a Dairy Queen in Muscatine, Iowa. Now, 35 years later, I’m commuting on it to Mount Mercy.

Well. What a bike. It’s uncomfortable, a bit rusty and ugly, and man oh man, is it still fun to ride. “Born to beeee wiiiiiiild!”

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