Courting Colors

Great Blue Heron in Spring Plumage

Cardinal pitchers and catchers reported this week for spring training in Florida. Where did we leave those baseballs last year? Spring can’t be that far away. Yesterday, it supposedly warmed up some and Anne and I got out on our bikes. Our own form of spring training. It was brisk. It was too cold for Anne to wear her new three-quarter length bike tights and had to wear old full length ones.

The week of rain that we’ve had has left the bike path inundated. Orange cones were placed at the most egregious spots. They’ve never done that before. I’m not sure how helpful they were. The spots that were still flooded were self-evident. The ones where the water has receded were only of passing interest. Bicyclist have a real advantage over pedestrians at these spots. We can glide through the water, with pedals held level and not get wet. I could see where runners had cut cross-country and churned the soggy grass into mud.

We saw the pictured Great Blue Heron near Jefferson Lake. It is resplendent in its nuptial plumage. Is this another sign of spring or is fluffing its feathers, because it is cold? The bird allowed us to approach quite closely. Although, as you can see, we were being eyed even more closely. We are the bird paparazzi after all and shall not be denied our pics.

Later that day we had gyrotonics and we’re feeling it afterwards. We’re starting to get the hang of these exercises, which means less time is spent instructing and more time is spent doing. By the end of our period, I welcomed conversational asides, because they gave us a rest break. Maybe two exercises is too many. 

Ship of Theseus

According to Wikipedia, in the metaphysics of identity, the Ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether a ship, standing for any object in general that has had all of its components replaced is the same object. I’m pleased that this process has a name, because I have long practiced it.

I bought my Litespeed bicycle new in 2001 and immediately began upgrading it with new parts. I ordered them online and as time went on this practice became so common that the FedEx man once remarked to Anne, “I think your husband is building a new bike.” When I got home, Anne greeted me with a Cheshire grin and announce, “You’re busted! The FedEx man has outed you.”

Eventually, I replaced every part save one, the frame, which I still use. The frame is the heart of the bike. It’s a titanium mountain bike frame. I called the bike a Litespeed, but the only part of it that is truly a Litespeed was this frame.

It’s a Pisgah. It is named after the Pisgah national forest, which is located in western North Carolina. The forest was named after a biblical mountain that is located in the land of Moab (There’s an interesting coincidence.) and it is the mountain that Moses saw the promised land from, before he died, but I digress.

So, my Ship of Theseus, my bicycle, is not truly such, because its key element has never been replaced. It is still original. It looks original too. Its decals are worn, but other than them the frame is as new looking as the day I bought it. I could order new decals. I had to order a replacement emblem, the one on the front of the steering tube, because it fell off, but I don’t think that I’ll ever replace the decals. Their worn appearance is like a badge of honor.

Gyrotonics

St. Louis Central Gyrotonic

Yesterday, we embarked upon a new fitness regime. It is called gyrotonics and it involves the use of these pictured machines. We had our initial meet and greet, with Anne the proprietor. We’ve known Anne for years. We’ve ridden together on Team Kaldi’s, our Bike-MS charity team. She and her husband Chris are now co-captains of that team. In this first session we were evaluated and taught a few exercises. What is gyrotonics? After only one brief session, I don’t feel qualified to answer that question. It is the season for new year’s resolutions and this one is ours. Today though, I am feeling even that abbreviated workout.

In conjunction with gyrotonics, we plan on renewing our joint love affair with bicycling. We are planning two tours this year. The first is Cycle Zydeco. This four-day ride through rural Louisiana boasts bicycling by day and dancing at night. The ride coincides with a local Cajun festival. Other Team Kaldi’s friends talked us into this event and will join us. The other tour that we are planning is the MUP. This is a week-long tour. We’ve done this Yooper ride in the past and have seen it many more times as the riders annually pass the Cabin, but this year will be different. This year the ride shifts west and will loop through the center part of the UP. Weather permitting, we will also do the Bike-MS ride here in St. Louis. Last year’s ride was blown away by the remnants of a passing hurricane.

This all sounds like rather a lot to bite off and as we all know, most new year’s resolutions usually don’t go very far. But we’ve already put money down and most of it is something that we have done before. Today, taking advantage of the ever more frequent mid-winter thaws, we both got out on the bikes. It was only for a brief turn around the park, but it is a start. It is a new year after all!

Cycling Santa

Cycling Santa

I got back on the bike again, after a longer hiatus than I care to admit. It wasn’t much of a ride, just an errand. I had promised Anne that I would pickup some books that she had reserved. She got a job and took the car, leaving me with one of two alternatives: break my promise or ride over to the store. After some hemming and hawing, I chose the later. I pumped up the tires. Yeah, it had been that long. Threw a leg over the bar and off I went. There was some immediate discomfort down below, as I sat on the seat, but it soon passed. I had chosen the right level of dress for the weather, which is always hard to do, not too hot and not too cold. Well really a combination of the two, but it balanced out.

My destination was Left Bank Books. Still thriving, but a relic from the pre-Amazon era, it is arguably the best bookstore in town. On the way over I began doing my sanity check. It was a pleasant enough day that I had no concern that I would make quota. Back when I was still working and riding in the pre-dawn hours before work, I played a little game with myself. If I could count six other cyclist also out riding at that obscene hour, then I wasn’t crazy or at least I had company. I don’t recall how I settle upon six as the magic number. I think that it was the most that I could count, without too much risk of counting someone twice. Anyway, even in winter, on most days I made quota. On those that I didn’t make, made me ask what the heck I was doing out in such weather.

On summer days, especially on the weekend, I hope to make quota even before I get to the park. On this day, which really was quite nice for December, I counted one. I picked up two more in the park, but I was beginning to grow concerned. I got one more in the CWE, where I spied and snapped cycling Santa, outside of Mike’s Bikes. On the way back home, I was getting desperate. There were quite a few electric scooters motoring along and I toyed with the idea of counting them. In the past, I might have included an in-line skater or two. Just as I was preparing to leave the park, two new bikers appeared, giving me my magic number, six. I wasn’t insane! I didn’t have to count scooters. I was left with a question though. Where were the other riders? December days like these are to be cherished and not wasted on other things, like work.

Busking a Rube

British Busker and Rube at Covent Garden Market

I’m almost famous, because that’s what it’s all about, fame and fortune, people, fame and fortune and women too. Let’s not forget the women. For example, I was riding in the park today. At mid-morning, I almost had the place to myself. As the bike path crossed Pine, I encountered another cyclist though. He was eastbound on Pine. He was tall and fit and riding an all white bicycle, while wearing a team all white bodysuit with white helmet. He made quite the cycling fashion statement. Because it looked like we were going to intersect, we both slowed. He eventually nodded for me to proceed. I acknowledged with a profunctionary, “How’s it going?” He responded with, “Fine, Mark.”

It wasn’t until we had passed that I realized what he had said. For the life of me, I did not recognize him. This is not all that unusual. I’ve been living in this town for over thirty years and have been cycling in it for more than half of that. I’ve made quite a few biking buddies and have even more acquaintances in the cycling community. For a while, when I was doing the oh-dark-thirty dawn launches to ride in the park before work, I would routinely pass the Clayton Crew. John, a former neighbor, was a regular member of this 40+ boys club. I would call out, “Passing on your left,” and John would answer back, “Hey, Mark.” It didn’t take many repetitions before the entire crew knew my name and then by proxy, very soon after, almost everyone in the park. I felt like the mayor of Forest Park, fame and fortune, folks, fame and fortune.