Have you ever gone on a ride and your stress levels go way up? Weird, right?

I did a ride yesterday after taking off ft about a month. It felt great to go out. Being sick, busy job, vacationing, you know, first world problems, have kept me off the bike.

Yesterday however, I felt really stressed out on the bike. As the elevation went higher, so did the stress levels, I was puzzled again why this was happening to me. Because it’s happened before. Nearing the end of ride, it clicked that these same stresses that we’re erking me (on a beautiful ride out of all places) were literally flowing out of me. I was in a battle, with the ride and stresses competing. The stresses being overrun.

So many times, I read of rides of splendor or of a renewed sense of life. To me however, my rides are all different and if I’m honest with myself, sometimes they aren’t as good as I wanted them to be. Not because of anything physical, but of myself getting in the way.

It’s a reminder to myself that in rides in the future, I’ll try to accept the surroundings as they are, hug the road, and focus on the job to be done.



Not Riding

I’m not riding much.

…is the inner dialogue I have in my mind as I approach the end of the day or sit down at my desk in the mornings. The early/mid parts of the summer had me riding nearly every day as per usual.  Then the second baby was born, then work was busy, then I went out of town and now I’m sick for nearly a week.  Where does the time go? Right now, not on my saddle.

What do we do as cyclists when we don’t ride?  I suppose the underlying angst during this time is to find a rhythm that equals the tenacity and smoothness we bring to a bike ride.  For each of us this is different.  For me, it means putting the same effort I put into a bike ride into taking care of my family or my work ethic into my job.  There is also shorter workouts I do – such as running.

Cycling has brought my running abilities to another level.  I ran a lot (for me) before cycling and it has been good to take it up once again. In 30 minutes I can run about 3 miles and have about half the calorie burn I would on a bike.  In my busy family/work schedule this is a great alternative.  Running also has helped me build up leg muscles I could not have during cycling.

Running has allowed me to spend my built up energy.  But, what do you do when you can’t ride?  Or, how do you cope?

Selection: Nature

Chapter I from Nature, published as part of Nature; Addresses and Lectures:

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood. When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet. The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men’s farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title. To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, — he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Yet it is certain that the power to produce this delight, does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both. It is necessary to use these pleasures with great temperance. For, nature is not always tricked in holiday attire, but the same scene which yesterday breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic of the nymphs, is overspread with melancholy today. Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. To a man laboring under calamity, the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then, there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has just lost by death a dear friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down over less worth in the population.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lviv, Ukraine; August 18-19, 2014

Terrific insight to a country in the intern’l spotlight.

gypsy by trade

Nicholas Carman1 1008

Following a few days at the hostel in Kolochava, and a few more days of riding, I finally received word from my mom that she was coming to visit us in Ukraine, again.  Last year, as we selected an eastward trajectory from France, we conspired to set a date and she bought a plane ticket to Ukraine.  We would meet just before my birthday.  We planned to visit her father’s family in the southwest, and her mother’s family in the far east, near Luhansk. 

Last Monday she wrote, telling me that she would not be able to come visit again this year, regretfully.  On Wednesday she wrote again, telling me that she had bought a plane ticket.  On Friday, she and my brother arrived in Kyiv and immediately boarded a train to Lviv.  Lael and I composed a roundabout route back towards Strij though the mountains.  We boarded an electro-poyizd

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Dirt Riding

Earlier this summer, I set on a course to slim down the Campeur and have a more speedy version of itself.  What began as a good idea to be always conscious of my speed fizzled out to a goal of having fun.  I was never going to be “fast” with the equipment I am locked into.

Now having Resist Nomad tires is a testament to the style of riding I’d like to be doing as much as possible.  Rambling around the community without worries of punctures due to road debris or gravel is a good feeling.  My first couple of test runs with them on pavement rocked! 42mm of goodness kept the ride bone-jarring free around these Birmingham “roads”.  The weight is a little more with the wire-bead tires but the resistance is less than I thought. Photos of the clearances and tires are in my previous post.

To test these tires out to the max, I took a trip over to Red Mountain Park. I immediately encountered large sharp gravel, sand, dirt and unsteady ground.  Frankly, I was just waiting for a flat but it never happened.  The wide body of the tires kept the bike upright even among dirt and sand conditions.  The park itself didn’t off much of dirt only gravel so I abandoned the trail and went down the powerline strip to get more dirt action.  Although, the tires could handle gravel, there was some minor slippage on hardpan dirt when taking sharp turns or steep ascents.

In the park itself though, I had sort of a freak accident. A large twig was caught between the spokes and eventually ended up being wedged in the fork.  The result was a bent spoke near the rim that I ended up not worrying too much about although I am replacing it now at the LBS. I thought that it was a bad luck sign to my eventual dirt riding days but I also believe this would’ve happened anywhere.

In all, the first dirt riding experience was positive and a good change.  However, I’m sure 650b wheels would offer an even better experience when it comes to off-roading.  The VO Diagonale wheels pack a punch though, enough to handle the rough stuff so I’ll keep on riding on these surfaces.

As always, I have more plans for changing gear on the bike! I soon will replace the white Velox handlebar tape that has lasted beautifully to a leather or least, a brown tape to match the saddle.  This is to work to the goal of drifting away from a classic constructeur bicycle.  I’m playing around with the idea of dirt drops. Possibly the Soma Portola but still looking at where my hands would be compared to what I have now.  On Instagram, the colorful gent, ultraromance has some he sports.  Sweet idea maybe?

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