Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cell phones

I awoke to a spring snow storm this morning.  Snowy roads don’t scare me as a bicycle commuter, but there is something that does: inattentive drivers. 

The Salt Lake City Council discussed banning cell phone use while driving a car Tuesday.  Nothing scares me on my bike commute more than inattentive drivers.  Driver inattention is a factor in four out of five vehicle crashes.  Last week a Salt Lake City teen was killed by a driver who ran a red light because he was on a cell phone.  Yet some council members don’t think banning cell phone use while driving is a good idea.  They are avoiding the issue by claiming a city-wide ban wouldn’t be effective and that the issue should be taken up as a state-wide measure. 

They’re missing the point.  This is their chance to set a precedent.  Just like California’s environmental policy tends to precede national environmental policy by five to ten years, Salt Lake City policy leads state policy in most issues.   

If you live or work in Salt Lake City, or just visit it occasionally, follow this link to the City Council webpage and give one of them a call.  Tell him or her that you want the city to ban cell phone use while driving.  It will make the roads safer for everyone, and all the cyclists you know will thank you for it. 

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why I blog, why I bowl

About a month ago a Hooptedoodle reader wrote to me and said that he had been riding his bike to work this winter because I do. The story goes that one particularly cold morning his wife saw him suiting up for a ride and asked him what he was doing.  After telling her he was riding to work and she asked why, he replied “Because Chad does it.”  Apparently I had inspired him to make a lifestyle change. 

Several months ago Sans Auto went to a lecture by Robert D. Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone: The collapse and Revival of American Community.  He blogged about it.  I checked Bowling Alone out from the library, thumbed through the pages, looked at the charts and read the captions. Then I decided not to read it.  It was too thick and I had got the message just from the back cover. 

Instead, I decided to use the time I could have spent reading it making new friends in a bowling league.  I recruited some guys from my office, found a league and signed us up.  As bowlers, we’re terrible, even though we have managed to win a few games.  More importantly, we’ve managed to develop friendships with some of the other bowlers in the league, most of whom are in very different social and economic classes than we are.  Sans Auto inspired me to join the league, to do something new. 

Those are just two examples of people being moved to make small choices to improve things for all of us.  It’s small but it is progress. Can it be bigger?  This is something I think about often.   How do we get more people to think about the consequences of the choices they make? 

I would love to see more people riding bikes to work.  I can think of dozens of reasons why people should do it.  Health, society, environment, enjoyment, the list is long.  But why don’t people listen?  How do we help people see they are hurting themselves and all of us by driving to work?  How do we help people see they are hurting society by living so far from their work, by not knowing their neighbor, by mistrusting people that look or act different, by buying things they don’t need? 

What moves you?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Surf's up


It pays to have connections.  Mags’s father knows a professor at one of the local universities here who specializes in—I’m not making this up—the history of surfing.  After a little professorial back scratching, we were lined up with some free surfing lessons.


I'm not afraid to boast that I stood up on my very first attempt at surfing, and Mags got up on her second try.  I can brag about it because you weren’t there to see how small the waves were.   Mags says surfing feels like flying.  But the one drawback to learning to surf is that boogie boarding isn’t much fun anymore.  Boogie boarding after surfing is like riding your kid brother’s bike with training wheels after you learn to ride a two-wheeler.  It’s so juvenile.  I’m going to give surfing another go Friday.


We made a trip to the Honolulu Farmer’s Market yesterday where we bought more fresh fruit than we can possibly eat.  Not being one to back away from a challenge, I did my best to diminish the fruit pile today at breakfast.  I ate a bowl of oatmeal with 2 bananas sliced up inside, most of a pineapple, some fresh coconut, 2 pieces of toast with homemade guava jam, and 1 and ½ papayas covered with the juice of 5 mini lemons.  You know, a traditional Hawaiian breakfast.  Oh, there were raisins in my oatmeal too. 

To counteract all that goodness, I had Spam sushi for lunch.  You know, a traditional Hawaiian lunch. 


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fueled by papayas

Well, surfing seemed like a good idea at the time, but I guess I’m too cheap to rent a board and pay for a lesson, especially when I have two boogie boards at my disposal, free of charge. 


We arrived in Honolulu on Friday afternoon via a turbulent flight.  I’m always amazed by the human psyche.  I love bounding over rough and rocky trails, even on my hard tail mountain bike, but the slightest bump in an airplane and my knuckles turn white and I start taking stock of my life. 

My goals for this trip are one, to spend more time immersed in the ocean than on land, and two, to consume my body weight in fresh tropical fruits.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that achieving these involves a bicycle.  Mags’s parents live on the North Shore of Oahu, by a great swimming beach and a swanky resort with hot tubs that I falsely feel entitled to use.  Every morning I hop on a borrowed bike, pedal out to the main road and hang a left.  Five minutes later I watch the sun rise from the middle of Turtle Bay. 

The drawback to all this swimming is that it makes me awfully hungry.  In light of my Lenten fast, I’m fortunate the nearest taqueria is 1,500 miles away, but if I make a right turn instead of a left at the main road, there are a couple of fruit stands that are ideal riding destinations  I’ve eaten more papayas in the past 48 hours than in my entire adult life.  And how many of you can say you’ve eaten an entire pineapple in one sitting?  Incidentally, I can also say the same thing about Green River watermelons. 

The best ride for achieving my goals involves making a right, followed by a left.  Eight miles later I can be at Malaekahana beach where the waves are perfect for honing my boogie boarding skills.  If that doesn’t make me a faster racer, I don’t know what will. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Race report


Saturday was my first race of the year.  My mom made the trip down to St. George to watch me, so I felt like I needed to make a good showing to make her proud.  Well, that’s not completely true, but I need something to explain my 4th place finish.  See, last year I was over 10 minutes slower and finished 11th on the same course.  I don’t think I did anything different this winter to prepare.

At the start of the race I found myself at the front of the pack.  I don’t know how this happened, and it certainly wasn’t deliberate.  Rich (who I hear has been training all winter) was sitting on my wheel and I eventually let him pass with the hope of following him until the end of the race when I would blow past him just before the finish line.  That’s how I saw it happening in my head.  Apparently Rich had a different idea, by the end of the first lap he had a 15 second lead on me.  His teammate Brad (number 15 in the photo above) passed me at the start of the second lap and I spent that entire lap trying unsuccessfully to stick with them. 

By the start of the third lap I was starting to realize I wouldn’t be catching Rich and Brad.  I just wish I had known there was a guy (Brian) behind me ready to pass.  He went by at the bottom of the first climb and again I spent the entire lap watching him widen the gap between us.  It was depressing, but I did have fun passing all the sport riders on the final descent.  I actually felt fast on the downhill, which doesn’t happen very often. 

So the upshot is that I need to improve my stamina.  I’ve got to maintain my race pace for the whole race, not just the first lap and a half.  Either that or throw some thumbtacks on the trail in front of Rich and Brad. 

I’ve got a few ideas for increasing my stamina.  Naturally, none of them involve training, which is not a hooptedoodly thing to do.  Here's what I've come up with:

1-Bowl more.  Perhaps sticking around for a fourth game after league night will help. 
2-Do more yoga.  I still haven’t used up the 5-pass card Mags gave me for Christmas.
3-Take up surfing.  Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea.