The Face Of Death/I (Don’t) Like (B)ike…

While I was out riding my bike yesterday, my mind started wandering which I took to mean that possibly I was beginning to enjoy biking… but I don’t have my hopes up. I won’t belabor why I’m biking if I don’t enjoy it because I’ve mentioned my foot condition many times over the last year and a half but I didn’t exercise all last year hoping against hope that my feet would magically heal and that I could start running again (which I do enjoy)… so it’s swimming or biking. There are several reasons why “I don’t like bike”… some are rational and some, not so much. First and foremost is that I am an urban biker. I could take the front wheel off and chuck it in the car and drive 25 miles out of the city and get out and ride but, and here’s where I’m not sure how rational this is, driving my car so I can bike is counter to the way my mind works. The problem with urban biking is traffic… now there are some bike paths in town but they have to negotiate areas with heavy traffic to get from one segment to the next. The problem with traffic is that many people don’t acknowledge cyclists, have never learned cycling hand signals or simply are not paying attention. This is where the face of death comes in. When I was young, I always wondered what would be the last thing I saw before I died and having been filled with ridiculous iconography imagined some horrific grim reaper coming to fetch me. It always reminds me of this scene in “The Meaning Of Life”… my favorite part is where Michael Palin asks the grim reaper how they all could have died at the same time with a priceless expression on his/her face as though he/she had caught the grim reaper in a lie…

Well, I’ve updated my idea of the face of death and the last thing I might see before passing. Would that I had my camera a couple weeks ago and had the presence of mind to take a snapshot of what this image would be like (as well as avoid my death) but that’s absurd. Anyway a quick google search returned a proximate substitute of my new image of the face of death…

In my actual case the girl wasn’t putting on lipstick, her car was red, she was about 17 and while she was talking and cutting into the other lane on a left hand turn (and running me off the road), she was gazing up into the sky. She never acknowledged me or was even aware of what she had done. I was most certainly as insignificant as the trees and other plants that provide her sustenance. Next up, equipment. This is my bicycle…

You may remember a post I did last year about borrowing my friend Vern’s bike. Well when my sister came to visit with her boyfriend, Andy, and he wanted to go for a bike ride and I couldn’t explain how to get from my house through the neighborhood into the park and back, I figured the only way to allow him to ride was if he rode Vern’s mountain bike and I got my road bike out. The problem with my bike and the reason I had borrowed Vern’s in the first place is that when I extended my studio, I ended up leaning it against the wall under the overhang of the new addition and forgot that it was there for two winters (it was behind something). You can see it leaning against a wall in the last picture of this post. So I had to get the bike road ready and I did. The stunning revelation was how much smoother and easier the road bike rode than the mountain bike and I really had the impression that I was fighting the mountain bike as well as the hills. So after Andy and my sis left, I continued to ride my road bike which leads me back to equipment. Over the years I would get all ambitious each spring and buy new tires, batteries for my little speedometer, chains, brakes, etc., only to ride for a week or two and go back to running… because I don’t like bike! So now I refuse to purchase accoutrement because I don’t want to spend the money and gradually stop cycling again. The result is that I’m the old dude with the old bike with rusty parts, decrepit shoes, clay splashes on my legs laboring up the hills in the park. The bike is at least 15 years old and it has the pedals where the shoes clip in. This leads me to a subset of equipment… the shoes. The shoes are old, the insoles were eaten when a family of mice made their home in them when I moved them from my old studio to the basement while I extended my studio. Then after I brought them upstairs to ride with my sister’s boyfriend, Dingus drug them out from the shelf they were on and chewed the back of one of them off…

They also force your toes into a point. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous post but in addition to my PF, both of my big toes were broken when I was younger at different times. The result is that my left one will not bend down without excruciating pain. I’ve learned to avoid this and it doesn’t happen often but every morning Sofia gets up while we’re still sleeping and runs and jumps onto out bed. About 6 months ago she ran and jumped and jammed this toe really hard. Since then it hurts in both directions and especially after being jammed into the narrow toe of these shoes while I ride. Now if you’ve never had these clip-in bike shoes, the advantage of them is that your foot is secured to the pedal and you can push the pedal down as well pull up with the opposite foot. I’ve been told that the this can increase power by 40% if you do it properly. Well yesterday I had just started out and I hit a slight incline and pulled up with my left foot for a little extra power and I actually heard my toe snap. The immediate pain almost made me fall off the bike. I was trying to decide whether what was going on inside my shoe with my toe was more like the movie where the good guy gets his shoulder or thumb dislocated and his friend comes over and snaps it back into place or the movie where the mafia guys cuts off or breaks the fingers of and underling to teach him a lesson. The pain subsided during the ride and the word’s still out on which it is. Next is the seat. Over the years the cover came off and then the cushion and finally the duct tape. So I have a steel seat with no cushioning and I’ve had certain anatomical parts go numb over the past couple weeks and I guess I will break down and fix that problem today. Here’s the seat…

Last but not least, the entire circuit around the longest perimeter of the two parks near my house and the trip to and from the park adds up to a mere 11 miles. So I guess if riding is the only way I’m going to be able to stay healthy and continue to do physical things like… throw, I’m gonna have to commit to this activity. But… I don’t like bike. In other news, I’ve been shooting photographs of the work that I got back from the Chicago show and I finally solved the color thing which I’ll post about tomorrow or the next day. Suffice to say that once I started changing out pictures on Etsy, I have decided to go ahead and re-shoot everything to provide a consistent look to the shop. I’m not done yet but here’s how it looks now. I posted this fat mug to etsy yesterday and was surprised when I went to shoot it. Since I was in such a hurry to get everything packed for the show, I never really got to examine any of the pieces before they left. Well this cup has a strange and wonderful iridescent quality in areas under the glaze. I don’t know if I can duplicate it but I sure like the looks of it…

On the 5 year old silliness front, I came downstairs yesterday and walked by the living room where Mom was working out with weights to an exercise DVD and Sofia was standing next to her with little 2 pound weights, one in each hand. I said, what are you doing and she said… “ifftin waighfs”. Her mouth was full. I said, what’s in your mouth? and she said… “ader olts”. It took me a bit but I finally got that she was lifting weights with Mom with a mouthful of tater tots. Of course this, like taking a picture of your photo tent, reminded me again of drinking a beer while you’re peeing.


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12 Responses to “The Face Of Death/I (Don’t) Like (B)ike…”

  1. Irregardless Says:

    Jim: Your readers should know that your dislike of bike goes way back. Perhaps you could share some early video of bike dislike with the world. For those who don’t know, there is video of a five or so year old Jim learning to ride a bike in analog format out there that is priceless. I promise it will go viral on youtube in no time.

    I will gladly pay to have the analog converted to digital.

  2. jim Says:

    hey mattie, i never made the connection with that long repressed memory. i wish i could find that tape… i’ll have to ask the siblings if they have a version. i’ve told alicia of the infamous tantrum but she’s never seen it and of course i don’t act that way now!

  3. meredith@whynot Says:

    that bug! I want tater tots while I am working out too!
    We were almost “done in” on our trip to become grandparents last week.
    A car just drifted in our lane without the drivers knowledge since the ass was trying to punch in something on his GPS.
    We stood on the brakes and thanks god so did the car in back of us- as this ass wipe almost hit us, the car in front of us and the guard rail.
    So my face was three guys in business suites lost and planing a trip other then what the set out on if I had not looked up and yelled for Mark that they were headed our way.
    Ass wipe- I was relived to make it through and then I was just mad! Can you tell?
    Cell phone and Gps!
    Look at a damn map people!
    Oh- this is about you.
    Good luck with the bikes and watch out for the ass…….wipes!

  4. soubriquet Says:

    Drinking beer whilst peeing…

    Ohhhh the good old days…

    Some years ago I had a (motor) biker friend who was recovering from a major calamitous smash. so calamitous that in between screwing bits of titanium into his skull, the surgeons had to remove his spleen.
    His spleen!
    Yeah. Me too, never been quite sure what the spleen’s place in the order of things was.
    So I asked “So what’s it mean to be without a spleen?”
    “Well,” he said, chugging back a beer, “I’m not allowed to drink guinness any more”. “What else?” “Er… nothing really, just no Guinness.”.
    So ever after, I remain convinced that the main function of the spleen is the breaking down of the dark stuff in Guinness.
    His crash? Well, the woman coming the other way had a crying child in the back seat, so she turned around, at sixty miles per hour, to hand the child a toy.
    All that safety cage stuff, and the airbags kept her family’s troubles fairly minor. Steve was still having operations two years later, and he’s two inches shorter than he used to be.

    • jim Says:

      hi soubriquet, this is absolutely fascinating to me. i had a friend in high school who had his spleen out and he rode a motorcycle too but i’m not sure he had the spleen out because of a wreck or not (my memory fails me). anyway, what i do remember was never getting an adequate explanation of what exactly was the tragedy of not having a spleen. of course, in rural america, in the early 70’s, we had never heard of guiness but i’m elated to finally have a satisfying answer to the question. thank you!

  5. Tracey Says:

    My husband is a big mt. biker and has broken a collar bone, leg bone and been hit by a car. I say, stay off the bike and drink Guiness. As far as the feet thing, if you drink enough beer you don’t know that you have feet and don’t need them cause you can’t stand up anyway 🙂

  6. cindy shake Says:

    So glad you are OK -physically from the bike ride geeze. Hey, now that I know you can eat tater tots while lifting weights, I just might try exercising more 🙂

  7. Michael Says:

    My wife says it’s good for you to pee outside on the ground. I’m not sure she’d agree with the beer in hand, though. I started running again a couple of weeks ago. I’m managing to run every other day. Sometimes I jog. Sometimes I run. I’m hoping my knees will hold up. I biked to the store the other day because my pickup truck is broken down right now. There’s nothing like running or jogging to get the blood flowing. Biking gives me too many opportunities to rest.

  8. Ron Says:

    I laughed quite a bit while reading that! Sorry, but it was pretty funny. Maybe I can relate all too well. I can’t run, bad knees. We have a lot of folks who cycle around here but they are all Snobs! And I don’t want to spend the $$ on all that gear. Plus I just can’t imagine wearing those tight shorts, I’m sorry but I won’t do it!
    Good luck with all that. I do like to pee outside and drink beer. I think Tracey has a good solution to it all.

  9. Patricia Griffin Says:

    Was riding my bike during a three-day trek for the American Lung Association and got hit by a car… Actually, we were walking our bikes up the steepest paved road in California. It was out in the country in the central coast area. Two OLD cars came barreling down the road right toward us, like they were racing. One of them plowed right into my bike. Somehow, in an instant, (without even remembering how we got there) my friend and I had jumped into a ravine along the side of the road, our bikes kind of on top of us. One of the cars had lost its brakes and the other car was trying to get in front of it to make it stop before it hit us….??? That was their rationale. Anyway, we had a few scrapes and bumps AND I got a brand new titanium fork out of the deal. Worth more than my bike at the time! Long story, sorry.

    Loved the tater-tots and weight-lifting combo!

    • jim Says:

      wow patricia! it’s like something out of a movie. unfortunately, i think that the longer one bikes, the more likely that something crazy and dangerous will happen. i had a mentor in college who used to say about motorcycles… it’s not “if” you ever get in a wreck, it’s “when”.

  10. Skinzilla Says:

    oh please please find and post the five-year-old bike tantrum

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