Friday, March 27, 2009

I think I'll name her Betty

It's here, it's here! My new granny bike (omafiets) arrived yesterday!

She arrived with a new (used) rear wheel rim and a bunch of fresh spokes in both wheels. The rust (an anti-theft approach) remains but the bike is quite smooth to ride. Bertus was even kind enough to help me adjust the seat position.

Last week I went out and bought a new chain lock and front and back lights. Yesterday afternoon I picked up a new rear-wheel lock and a bell. (This is Amsterdam where "anything goes", but the police have a zero tolerance policy regarding bikes without lights or bells.) As the sun was setting I finished adding all the accoutrements. It only took a few screws and four zip-ties, but it makes Betty feel like my bike.

And now? It's time to ride.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I think I bought a bike...

I love my mountain bike. It`s a Kona Kilauea and was the Bike of the Year when I bought it. I used it for racing for years and have not only kept it maintained, but flourished expensive upgrades on it. And in addition to being expensive, every part of the bike shares an important racing-bike property; they can all be quick-released from the bike in a second. The wheels, the suspension fork, the seat and post, the lights, computer, titanium bits... it is impossible to lock securely. And so here in the bike theft capital of the world, I don`t ride my bike much.

I have often explained to people that bikes aren`t purchased in Amsterdam, they are meerly rented for a limited period. Collectively we share a pool of bikes that slowly rotate owners through a dance usually performed in the wee hours of the morning.

And last night I got approached for a bike. But in a slightly different way that makes it all seem more legitimate than normal. I met a man I`ll call a bike-repair entrepreneur. He was riding his own bike down the street when he suddenly stopped, jumped off, and picked up another bike from the side of the road. Then he grabbed a lock off his bike and started to chain up the bike he`d just picked up.

I was walking past at the time and had to stop with curiousity. He explained he repairs abandonded bikes and sells them again. Abandonded? He pointed out the huge bend in the back wheel. It had been run over by a car, apparently. And instead of locked with the other bikes in the rack, it had been left unlocked and laying along the side of the road.

Some time today Bertus (the bike repairer) will return to that spot, unlock the bike, and he will walk it home. In the coming days it will get a new rear wheel, a few little fixes, and then one more city bike will be back in service. In my service!

In Dutch it`s called an omafiets, which means grandma-bicycle. No gears, no hand brakes, wide handlebars and an upright position; I`m going to feel so Dutch going through town. I can`t wait!

Perhaps I should send a message to Bertus, just to make sure he doesn`t forget, I`ve got first dibs on the new omafiets.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I've got nothing to say

This blog has always been, primarily, about writing. I take my ideas and practice conveying them with written words.

Today, however, I have no ideas. I want to write. I want to blog. But beyond," I'm okay," I don't have anything to convey. I've got nothing to say.

Perhaps I'm living too much inside. Not just inside my apartment, but inside my head.

I have been out. I've been dancing with the glitterarty. I've been social with my friends. I've even escorted a lovely woman through town for drinks and food. I've exercised and been to the dojo. I've kicked and been kicked. But the best description I can come up with is that it's largely been on "auto-pilot".

Not to say I'm ignoring my friends! In a conversation, one-to-one, I'm there. But the surroundings aren't. The area beyond my friend, or laptop, or book just disappears.

I'm looking for the words. Just the right way to express the feeling. It isn't numbness, it's not emptiness. It isn't loneliness or longing. It's not about sad or happy or busy or bored. Is there a word for "inside-ness"? Is there an english word for the feeling of being protected inside your head regardless of where your body is?

So I wanted to blog. I wanted to write. I wanted to open a small window to the inside-ness and reach tentatively outside. But I've got nothing to say. My mind, like this post, is full of words but without a point.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Including Moderation

"Everything in moderation, including moderation." It's an idea at the front of my mind lately. And I have a good example. The other day I went to McDonald's for a burger. It was my first trip there in 6 months.

I've been on a wonderful health kick for the past few months. I started karate with fitness goals. I now spend multiple days a week exercising and increasing my fitness, so that I can do better with the karate.

But the motivation included some ideas such as giving up McDonald's. In retrospect that's just silly! A trip every few months for a greasy burger will not affect my health. However continuously denying myself a tasty treat can serious affect my motivation.

As always, the idea is "balance". And so most days it's about home-cooking, veggies, vitamins and satiety. But other days, at 2am and in the rain, hunger will be satisfied via the most expediant method. If that's McDonald's then so be it.