Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category

Cascading Thoughts

October 6, 2014

Someone mentioned synesthesia to me the other day and defined it as the opposite of amnesia. Although that’s not at all what it is, the latter notion stuck with me. The opposite of amnesia; A swirling vortex of thoughts and memories, cascading all at once. This overwhelming mental state I understand, since I’ve lived it time and time again. Some marvel at my recall or the quick and lateral associations I sometimes make, but often it is more curse than blessing. Ideas, concepts, memories, feelings, vague intuitions followed over-enthusiastically — all this blends in an uncomfortable palette of being. Deleuze’s multiplicities. Or nothing to do with post-modern French philosophy at all. Just an assault.

This then is the quest — to tame the brain and find flow, rather than get caught in eddies and backwaters.

Yet as I sit and write this, sitting on a rock overlooking a quiet backwater in the river, autumn sun dipping below the treeline across the shore, the bubbling flow of a gentle waterfall just upriver, I think there is virtue in how I think (imagine the convoluted nature of that). That my ruminations and absurdities amount to meaning. Or at least coherence.

Wasn’t it the “weeping philosopher”, Heraclitus, who said that “No man ever steps in the same river twice“?

Eddies, backwaters or thundering waterfalls…

It’s all flow.

Red Cedar River No.2

August 29, 2011

Red Cedar River

August 25, 2011


August 25, 2011


May 10, 2011


November 19, 2010

Postcard from the last ride of the season; a familiar Quebecois quaint.

On the Bike

October 20, 2010

Maybe it’s because I’m reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and thinking about “quality”, but revelations about the big ideas in life are currently coming in the form of machine metaphors. My machine is a bicycle. My bike is my solace, my left arm, my drug. Since I’ve come back to Montreal I’ve hit the bike hard, rediscovering old routes, some deeply embedded in muscle memory. I’ve been riding maybe 30-40 Km/day, most days, weather permitting. That works out to ~ 200 Km/week. Not bad, all considered.

But something has been bugging me the whole time…The bike itself. I had it tuned up when I got here and, as in the past, asked if maybe the chain and cogs should be changed — I complained that they were slipping when I really started to pound the pedals out of the saddle, and the drivetrain felt soft. Like many mechanics before, this one suggested it needed a tune up and cleaning, and after that it was OK. But just OK. There was still slipping, still this sense of losing power with each pedal stroke. The amount of energy I put into a ride seemed disproportionate to my speed and distance. It was annoying.

The other day I got a flat…A bad one, a broken valve on the tube. I needed a new tube so decided to just bring the bike in. I asked this mechanic the same question…Should I change the cogs and chain? And, unlike everyone else before him, he thought about it, agreed and did exactly what I asked. He went into the back to find the parts, and they weren’t even that expensive. The whole deal cost less than a major tune-up.

And the result? Phenomenal. I feel physically down today, battling a chest cold, but the bike, the bike is beautiful. Fast — all the energy of each pedal stroke transferred perfectly. Even though I was sluggish, the bike wasn’t. A problem that had been bugging me for months, maybe even a year, was solved. No big deal. And it was solved the way I thought it would be all along…

I feel as if life is coming around to this too. Like the drivetrain is getting a refit — and power transfer to the proverbial pedals of existence is moving towards 100%. It’s amazing how these things happen. You can go forever just making minor repairs, or fiddling, and hope that makes the difference. But until you deal with the underlying issue there will always be slack and lag. Then, overnight, you spot the true crux of the problem. And here the emphasis is on you. You know better than any expert or mechanic what the problem is, since you “ride the bike” everyday. Sometimes you just need to insist on the validity of your own perspective, and fight for what, instinctively, you know is good for you.

When that all comes together it can be a beautiful thing, a smooth and effortless ride where all your energy is properly transferred to movement. Oddly, you find this dynamic space so often follows a sense of being totally sluggish or stuck.



May 26, 2008

I’ve been riding a lot. The weather out here has been really nice, and there’s some great places to ride. Today I headed out in the afternoon to explore the farther reaches of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. It takes you up out of town into the countryside for about 50 km, ending in Sooke. I usually ride about 20 km up and back, but I pushed a little further today, exploring. Sunday. The trail becomes quite remote, and instead of dodging other cyclists I was avoiding robins and even a wild hare, winding my way through the lovely Metchosin woods…

I decide to hit 30 km mark and maybe turn around. A pretty good ride. At 29 km my tire blows. Not a slow leak, but done. The sound of air quickly rushing out of the tire is…deflating. I haven’t seen anybody in about 15 minutes. And yet, the surroundings accompanying my dilemma are idyllic; Lovely fields with horses, woody glades, hidden little ponds and streams.

And so I rattled through the countryside on my rim for a couple of km (something you’re not supposed to do unless you like buying new rims!), gingerly trying not to put any weight on the deflated back tire. My snazzy ride had become a clanking, clunky hunk of junk…

I stopped in front of a farm — suspiciously eying up the livestock as I munched on some trail mix. I think about walking up to one of these random farms and seeing if they have bike stuff. But knocking on the door of a remote farmhouse seems too conveniently like the start of a bad horror flick. Besides, most people would probably be fairly unhelpful. Or worse, too helpful.

So, anyway, it’s back on the bike, chugging along in the boonies on a rim that I can hear getting dinged up by the rough gravel trail. The clouds looked a little menacing, and if it had started raining it would have been a party…

However, with the sun holding out, I made it to a “real” road. A road with a bike shop on it (which was called, appropriately enough, “The Bike Shop”). It was late, but fortunately the place was still open. The shop owner, kind and helpful, resurrected my rim and slapped on a new tire and tube.

The final (thankfully uneventful) 20 km into town I thought about how the whole ordeal was strangely fun. For most people a flat out in the bush is just a pain. And in some ways it was. But it was also the road less traveled, an unexpected detour, and a seemingly insurmountable problem solved fairly easily.

It didn’t hurt, of course, that coming home I had the wind at my back and it was all downhill…


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