centered start to day
midday crises felt
handle best we can
centered start to day
midday crises felt
handle best we can
One hundred years of change in Exit Glacier, Alaska. Year markers show where the glacier was at that time. A huge amount of retreat in 100 years. Whether you believe this is based on global warming or not, I think we can all agree it’s time for us to care more about how we treat our home.
The normally high pitched snarl of the rented V Star 650 motorcycle escalated suddenly to a raspy scream, signaling an RPM way beyond a healthy range. The dramatic change in pitch shouted to my muscle memory “You’re revving way too fast! Shift up!” Reflexively, my left hand pulled in on the clutch as my toe slipped under the gear shift lever to move to a higher gear. At the exact same moment, my steady climbing movement up the steep hill slowed dramatically, giving my body a competing message. “You’re moving too slow for this gear. You need to downshift!” In the tiny fractions of a second that seemed to persist much longer, both hands and both feet performed an awkward dance trying to use the clutch, gear shift and brakes in the right combination to subdue the inner conflict.
As quickly as the emergency response got started, it vanished in the realization that the only action that mattered right then was holding tightly on the brake lever with my right hand. I didn’t need to shift up or down because I was in no gear at all. The racing engine and lack of movement confirmed the bad news. My clutch was fried. Not the best of moments for that to happen as I was about half way up one of the steepest streets I’d ever been on, a straight stretch of San Francisco’s famed Lombard Street between Polk and Larkin Streets. The only thing keeping me from rolling down the hill backwards was the firm grip on the brake, yet I needed to let up to gradually roll into a reverse turn so I could head back down the hill forward. Even the light weight of the V Star made it impossible to push up the hill. The trip back down to the flat intersection of Polk and Lombard was an interesting balance of more and less pressure on the brake.
I really didn’t want to be on that part of the Lombard Street, but it was the only way to get to the part I wanted to descend, the one-block, eight-curve, brick-paved section that the street is famous for. I didn’t get to ride it on that trip, but will return some day. I can chuckle about it now, but I was cranky then from the jolt of my fried clutch. I chuckle sometimes too at the thought of my friend who did ride it, but got stuck behind a group of tourists from Korea in a rented land yacht who stopped periodically to take pictures.
What follows is a picture of the curvy part of Lombard Street, and links to google maps for the curvy and straight parts of it. The google items should be interactive so you can move along them up or down. The featured image above is me sitting on the bike as a tow truck driver attaches it to his truck.
By The original uploader was Y6y6y6 at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One of my creativity research posts at Psychology Today. The study shows that simply thinking about the detail and vividness of your dreams each day can boost creativity. Click the dreamcatcher if you’d like to read the post.
Last week I tried a Tenacious haiku using the preceding week’s 7 words and no others. I had to wait for 9 prompts to get the 17 syllables this time, but here’s this week’s offering:
Climbing blindly, pleased
Measure timely opaque jolt
It would be fun to see other variations if you care to post them in comments. You could even cheat a little by adding a word or two or not adhering to the 5-7-5 model. Ah, come on..you know you want to… 🙂
Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 16A that winds through a beautiful section of the Black Hills in South Dakota. But truthfully, to say it winds does not pay due respect to this asphalt work of art. It twists and turns, climbs and falls, squeezes through tunnels, and corkscrews back on itself in a way that forces riders to go slowly enough to appreciate the beauty. The official description includes 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, 2 splits and 4 presidents. Four presidents? Yep. One end of 16A is near the entrance to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and riders are treated to a view of Messrs. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln off in the distance through the tunnels.
I am there to attend the 75th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally. Bikers who come to the rally come to party or to ride, and as I begin my trek along 16A, I hope that those groups are mutually exclusive.
The first section of mostly gentle curves allows me to nudge the throttle just a bit, only having to rein it in approaching a few sharper ones. But soon, I reach what seems to be a continuous string of pigtails, tunnels and switchbacks. The first of the pigtails appears, seemingly out of nowhere just after leaving a narrow tunnel, and I quickly downshift moments before I’m led around a 360 degree turn and pass under what looks like a wooden bridge supporting the road I’ve just traversed.
The ride overall is a full body, mind and sensory experience. It’s not just the exquisite sensation of my body leaned into the curves, but the absolute, full attention and immersion in the moment, the deep-throated growl of the engine, the vibrations reaching me through the seat and handlebars, the changing smells cruising past different vegetation, and the alternating coolness and warmth on my skin as I pass into and out of shaded areas.
I nod to the presidents as I exit the last of the tunnels but do not stop for a selfie with them. It’s time to get myself on into Keystone for a well-earned cold one now that my ride is finished, and let my body and mind reflect on the wonder of it all. As I park and climb off, I notice a fellow biker wearing an Iron Mountain Road t-shirt that reads simply “What Dragon?” I smile as I remember I’m wearing my Tail of the Dragon shirt with the map on the back. We will have much to talk about.
Most bloggers at this site know the musical Rent, which on the surface tells the tale of struggling artists in New York City, but at a more general, symbolic level is about life, death and love. The song, Seasons of Love asks the question of how to measure a year, in life. It is as deeply moving a song as I know of, and begins with “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” the number of minutes in a year and goes on to ask “How do you measure – measure a year? …In daylights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee…how about love? …Measure in love.”
I posted my first blog entry less than two months ago, but WordPress sent me an anniversary message yesterday to remind me that I have actually had the site for a year now. I’ve been on a sort of reflective roll recently with posts on what would you do with only 30 minutes to live, and a haiku about healing the world one heart at a time. In keeping with that flow and in marking my anniversary of sorts, I offer you not my own words but instead Seasons of Love. I hope the link works. You’ll have to supply your own tissues.