Just Meaningless Stuff, and Riding that Damn Horse

I really enjoy making things. Artwork, drawing, painting, design, and so forth – I’m a designer and design teacher, so those things might kind of go without saying. I love to occasionally play with words and make them do things that don’t happen when otherwise random letters get placed side by side. Bikes…well, you’re here on The Early Morning Cyclist, so hopefully I’ve made it somewhat clear how much pleasure I derive from the making – or at least the re-making – of classic bike stuff.

What I hate, is having to needlessly remake, rebuild, redo. Redundancy has a place, but not unwarranted, useless, pointless, futile, meaningless and hopelessly purposeless squandering of time. Point in case: Last week. Flickr made a change to their otherwise wonderful photo site by adding in a new Camera Roll feature. With time on my hands I decided to check it out, and in doing so also managed to watch it somehow delete every single image going back to January 12 of this year.

Surely that didn’t just happen, I told myself. Seconds later, clicking through my now empty albums I felt physically sick. In a panic I directed my browser over to the blogs I manage – no images on Flickr, so all of those that were linked to this and other blogs, to student websites, to lesson and tutorial sites…all of them – all of them, and I mean every stinking one of them were gone.

Uncharacteristically, I didn’t feel like breaking or throwing anything. I just felt empty. Purged. Deflated.

And I’ve felt that way, more or less ever since.

Some images I have archived in more than one spot. Others, I simply did not – they are permanently gone. For a few days every stinkin’ time I thought about this development, I just said Fuck it! Yup, right out loud. With no other verbal context, I’m certain people around me must have thought I was experiencing some sort of delusion, and I’m sure my foul mood didn’t help to convince anyone otherwise. I was ready to write my final essay for The Early Morning Cyclist, and call it done.

When my brother and I were kids, we kept a couple of magnificent horses and one malignant Shetland pony named Dan. Dan had a glare in his eye, and a demeanor that said, “Yeah, get on my back – just try it!” I learned to ride on a noble five-gaited Morgan named Mickey, but my brother didn’t like the idea of climbing up onto the back of a horse that stood fifteen hands high at the shoulders. He looked at Dan, and Dan glared at him. Then he climbed aboard.

Things went well as my brother and Dan trotted around the barn yard. My brothers feet, even at that age, nearly dragged ground because Dan was so short. Gaining confidence, the two cantered off around the barn. As they came around the other side, Dan was no longer cantering. The little troll of a pony was running at top speed and bucking like he was in a rodeo. My brother was yelling – I recall it as screaming, but he has a manlier memory of things – and Dan threw him off, my brother summersaulting before landing on his back, the wind knocked out of him.

Dad insisted he get back on the horse, but my brother – understandably – declined to do so. In fact, he never did get back on Dan or any other horse for that matter. They were non-factor to him henceforth, largely because he didn’t get back on the damn horse.

It’s been raining a lot recently, and school was winding down. Graduation and grades and final exams and all sorts of other stuff left me – once again – riding when I could fit it into my schedule. Excuses seem to have become easier: I’m tired and crave a nap; better go get something to fix for dinner; this chair seems awfully comfortable; the wheel on my Velo-Routier is out of round; I wonder if I have any new email messages…

A couple of days ago I decided to stop tracking my mileage and just ride around town. The app I’ve been using gives me more damn information, but I don’t ride for data.

Or at least I didn’t use to ride for data. It seemed that I was becoming seduced by numbers. All the hills I was the official “king of the mountain” on. The various climbs that I was either first, second, or third riding. Invisible cyclists I’ve never met, yet was competing against. Meaningless stuff, really.

So I rode around town just to shake the data monkey from my back. Totally cold turkey, and it was refreshing not to have any sort of misgivings about doing so. The next day took my 1966 Paramount off the hook, checked the tires, and headed out for a similar ride. I marveled at how much I enjoy riding this bike, at how well it fits me, at how easily it can be both a fast bike and a comfortable, long distance bike – and at how little I cared about the “fast” part, because it was still relatively light and nimble.

My friend Mark Pace of Pace Bicycle Haven fixed me up with vintage-ish British bar and stem to replace the too new Cinelli cockpit I’ve been running on my 1946 Hobbs of Barbican. They worked perfectly well, but drove me crazy every time I looked at the engraved logo on the side of the stem. Functionally fine, but aesthetically perplexing. I’m a designer, an arbiter of taste, and dammit I have a right to be judgmental about such things! Mark also took care of the 650b wheel by making the thing nice and round again.

I think I’ll go out and ride tomorrow, rain or shine.

Sometimes, I guess you just have to get back on the damn horse. I guess this also means The Early Morning Cyclist will be around a while longer, but I still wish there was a way I could kick Flickr really, really hard.



2 thoughts on “Just Meaningless Stuff, and Riding that Damn Horse

  1. Paul Glassen says:

    You have my whole hearted sympathy for your loss of your photographs. A so-called “ransom ware” attack made years of documents unreadable – unless we paid their ransom. I am still looking for some way of fixing this problem but, failing that, have resigned myself to the loss of all those documents.

    I owned a ‘cyclometer’ briefly when they first became available back in the ’80s. After just a while I tired of its novelty and haven’t had one on a cycle since. I ride to get away from all these things. Now every time a group rides stops, everybody’s nose is on their damn ‘hand-held electronic device’. Same when I go paddling with canoeing friends. To hell with it. That’s no way to live; a slave to your gimmicks

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