I am a desperate man who demands to connect...who denounces the dullness of money and status...who will not bow down to accolade or success - 'i am the strange hero of hunger' - I am the strange hero of hunger - Billy Childish
I start this with a sense of awe. I began to cycle just this last June, held a long fascination and finally dropped in to this simple and amazing activity. I returned from Berlin after the residency I did for the month of April feeling rather, well, rather out of shape. A conversation took place with a multitude of people I know, and I had determined that a bike was needed. I chose a Specialized Roubaix after several test rides on a variety of bikes. The wrists that I broke two years ago this week were still giving me trouble, and the Roubaix felt like it allowed the bumps and potholes here in Seattle a bit of forgiveness. I loved my first ride out on the Burke Gilman Trail the minute I got on it. I made climbing a priority, knowing that if I wanted to loose weight, find my fit again, this was the direction for me. 6 months later, 5 pant sizes and two sweater sizes down, I'm still loving this activity. The clarity in my studio, with my work, and my ability to problem solve I attribute to cycling. This now brings me to the focus of this last week and the joy of a winter riding challenge. Rapha (clothing for cyclists) along with Strava (app for cyclists) challenge riders to ride 500km from Christmas Eve to New Years Eve with a focus on success, failing, and appreciating the challenge of cycling at this time of year.
December 24 - Seattle - North Bend(Twin Peaks)
47.2 Miles - 1,785 ft
I have for sometime now, desired to ride up to Snoqualmie Falls, so it seemed appropriate to take this on for the first ride of the Festive 500. Much of the way up from North Seattle requires cycling on a rather busy highway which in my newness to cycling, can be intimidating. The reward this day, was the falls roaring after some rather heavy rain storms in the days before. It felt epic, it was worth being wet and muddy for...
December 28 - Woodinville
48.3 Miles - 2057 ft
One of the carryovers since my days of riding a Lambretta for years is the common wave or acknowledgement from fellow riders. I still carry on this tradition, even though it seems oddly received by passing cyclists. I still wave, and will carry on regardless. I do find that it will be easier to take photos of cyclists without a sense that I'm even there at times, and in that abstraction, I think I will find a odd joy. No fake waving, or smiles, cyclists do their thing, to train, or to focus, to let go, meditating. I truly get it, I'm there myself.
December 26 - Seattle - Renton - Issaquah
70.6 Miles - 4734 ft
One of my dearest friends recently survived open heart surgery, it came fast and recently. I think about Marty pretty much every ride since, not throughout the ride, but at various points during, at odd turns or stops. Sometimes things step out from walls or signage, as this Keith Haring influenced graffiti did on the ride. It just seemed to sum up in a simple form the energy of life. Life going and life suddenly altered, but in all ways and in all moments a reminder to celebrate. I ride with a certain joy, even on steep climbs, pouring rain, soaked, cold rides. I celebrate that feeling of electricity. The watts we pour out. Its a celebration on life.
December 29 - Puget Sound
39 Miles - 2753 ft
I have lived most of my life here in the Puget Sound. One of the first jobs I had out of high school was delivering balloons around town, requiring a good knowledge of streets and ways around town in order to get folks their bouquet of balloons on time. I felt then as I'm feeling now over the course of six months, that a new depth of knowledge of Seattle has taken place. I see more tuned in, stopping more to take in sights and smells and sounds I didn't seem to notice before. Winter seems to make all this bolder, faster, as you need to see it before night falls on you like a boulder. It takes on new life in these cold stormy afternoons.
December 27 - Shorecrest
27.5 Miles - 1837 ft
Switchbacks, I never fully noticed these prior to cycling, even on a motor scooter, not like I do now. They are a thing of beauty, regardless of pitch, length, everyone of them are a work of art. I smile every time I encounter one. They are haiku made of pavement.
December 30 - Seattle - Everett - Seattle
61.6 Miles - 3,465ft
The aesthetics of cycling play an integral part in my love of it as an activity. As making things is how I make my living, arrangements stand out, significant form, et al. Design is a tricky business, and restraint in all forms of art can be difficult for some. I need breaks from the work, most everyday at some point. Distance allows for clarity, doing something completely different than making things or moving pigment around is turning out to be key for me. I see faster, clearer, allow space where I used to crowd things. I'm loving the space that cycling allows. These cold wet days included if not more so. Art takes stamina, riding, especially in this hill strewn landscape I live in, take the same. They work hand in hand for me. For this, I truly am grateful. Cheers and a Festive 500km to all!