Monthly Archives: April 2015

This Week in Bikes & Booze; 28 April 2015

Tease.

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

transitive v. To annoy or pester; vex.

transitive v. To make fun of; mock playfully.

transitive v. To arouse hope, desire, or curiosity in without affording satisfaction.

transitive v. To urge persistently; coax: teasing their mother for more candy.

transitive v. To gain by persistent coaxing: “the New York editor who could tease great books from the unpromising woolly jumble of an author’s first draft” ( Ian Jack).

transitive v. To deal with or have an effect on as if by teasing.

transitive v. To cut (tissue, for example) into pieces for examination.

transitive v. To disentangle and dress the fibers of (wool, for example).

transitive v. To raise the nap of (cloth) by dressing, as with a fuller’s teasel.

transitive v. To ruffle (the hair) by combing from the ends toward the scalp for an airy, full effect.

intransitive v. To annoy or make fun of someone persistently.

n. The act of teasing.

n. The state of being teased.

n. One that teases, as:

n. One given to playful mocking.

n. A woman who behaves like a coquette.

n. A preliminary remark or act intended to whet the curiosity.

tease out: To get by or as if by untangling or releasing with a pointed tool or device: “It takes a carefully trained expert to tease out the truth” ( Arthur Green).

Everyone has most likely been subject to teasing and has probably done their fair share of teasing as they get on with their lives. There is a prominent definition of “tease” that frustrates to no end if one is the type of human being that exists in the areas of the United States known as the Mid West and the Great Plains.

Let’s settle briefly on the worst tease of all; bitchy Mother Nature.

Seasons. I am told there are four seasons at last count although in the aforementioned areas of the US it seems that spring and autumn are almost non-existent. Mother Nature blasts us hard with unrelenting frigid winter temps and snow. Coping with weeks of below zero temps takes a strong constitution, particularly if one relies upon public transportation. Imagine stumbling to a bus/train stop in the dark below-zero hours of the early morning, bundled up against the painful cold that will stab any piece of exposed skin.

Imagine a bus/train arriving where everyone in layers and layers of clothing resembles the Michelin man and moves with as much grace and mobility as a heavy weight powerlifter clad in a squat suit. The furnaces of the bus/train you’re about to embark have been running full blast for days. Now imagine trying very hard to not puke on your transit companions as your body has to accommodate the transition from frigid to tropical in a matter of seconds while you’re trying see past fogged eyeglasses. Fortunately, you can bounce off every other Michelin Man in your bus/train while you’re trying to get situated and not puke.

After months of the frigid adventures above, the amount of sunlight gets noticeably longer, temps get marginally warmer and the snow/ice sheets recede from the streets and sidewalks. You begin to relax, to realize that yes, spring is on the way and there will be a day or two when Mother Nature throws her full weight into a gorgeously warm day where windows city wide are thrown open, where the city itself breathes deeply and throws lose the shackles of down winter wear and depression.

When we’re lucky, Mother Nature will let that scenario last a few days.

No, dear reader, do not be lulled into a false sense of lasting serenity cause just as sure as she brings on the heat, she’ll slam the hammer of lasting Arctic Pain down to put you back in your place. Don’t you dare pack away your winter gear till June if you know what’s good for you.

Supreme Tease = Mother Nature.

With all this in mind, it’s long past time to get on your bikes and ride outside again if one expects to have even a moderate base of fitness for the hot weather riding season.

The weather teasing is bothersome but I find the projections and forecasts I might make to be worse. This morning for instance, looking out my window at the brilliance of the morning sun, I’m planning another ride along the lakefront. It’s gonna be cold. I just know it from previous experience as this time of year.

But wait, remember that 80 degree day last year at this time? It could happen again!

What is it the Shrub said about fooling me once and ……. won’t get fooled again?

Bundle up and suckit, sucker! If the wind is off the lake expect wind chills in the 10’s/20’s when you’re riding into the wind.

Projections suck.

Saturday is May’s installment of the Fucking Bike Club’s Full Moon Fiasco in celebration of the Full Flower Moon. The weather forecast is for dry mid-60’s during the day and a dry mid-50’s low which would mean your casual rider won’t need to bundle up in claustrophobic layers for the first time in months.

A Saturday ride means most attendees won’t have to work the next day.

I plan to attend and I’ll most likely ride the erstwhile Kona and will pack a flask of Malort – The Official Drink of the FBC. I’m not feeling like toting a cooler of suds this time around, feeling now like I might want to travel light.

Temperate weather.

Bicycles.

Saturday.

Booze.

Your overly pious and timid observer might assume that these elements cast together lend themselves to a fetid atmosphere of moral turpitude, an orgy to be avoided at all costs.

Your more enlightened and tolerant casual observer, such as myself, might find that these elements intersect in a Venn diagramed shit-show of fun.

Then again, it might just be a big tease.

Make that Bridge your Bitch

Is there a difference between the brain and the mind? A cursory web search yields countless words written on this topic by individuals far more learned than myself but for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll say yes, there’s a huge difference.

The brain is a big lump of organic tissue residing in your cranium and sometimes it makes your life hell when you’ve mistreated it, like after hammering into submission with too many shots of Malort. Your mind is that intangible thing filled with thoughts, memories and ideas that makes you, you.

We learn from countless self-help websites that the human mind showers it’s host with an average of 5 to 80-bazillion negative thoughts a day. I swear, the Mind acts like a belligerent tantrum-riddled toddler that it’s landlord, the Brain, cannot control.

How many times have you wanted to scream, “Yo, Brain, get a grip on Mind, I don’t need it’s bullshit today, after all I do for ya’ll why the constant horse shit thoughts? Ya want me to evict the both of you?”

There are countless great quotes and proverbs about the awesome properties of the mind, how it creates your reality and what not. Phobias are fears created by your mind. Another minor web search yielded no answer to how many phobias exist so I assume there are too many to count, that anything your mind can think of may be listed as a phobia.

I have acrophobia, whether it’s a mild or severe case I don’t know but I’m amazed at how real my mind creates that irrational fear.

I can walk across a narrow beam that can be anywhere from 12 to 72 inches off the ground with no problem. Why would my mind fill me with dread if that beam is higher? The beam hasn’t changed, just its position in space. At lower heights, my body knows how to walk across with every bit of confidence and competence. At loftier heights, all of a sudden my body is incompetent, incapable of accomplishing such a task without first collapsing in a quivering, questioning shitbag of goo.

At one point in time I painted houses for an occupation. Being on a ladder up in the air painting an overhang is not my idea of fun but I was able to do it. I also worked as a theatrical lighting electrician and most lights are hung in the air over a stage and to work on them one needs to be in the air on a ladder or some elevating contraption. Again, not my idea of fun but I was able to do it, to talk my cantankerous mind down from it’s panicky ledge and get on with the task at hand.

“The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste” is a record released by the band Ministry in 1989. I can’t imagine the flavor of a human brain but I do know cow and pork brains are delicious.

I remember the first panic attack. I was driving east on a tollway toward a huge sky high bridge that rises and falls severely, or as severely as a tollway can be. I’d been over this bridge a bunch of times in the past with no problem and I had never experienced any issue with driving over any bridge up until this point in my life.

My uneventful drive immediately turned into a hyperventilating exercise in torture as I waited for my car to go all Christine on me and drive off the bridge. My vision blurred, my legs shook, my hands trembled and the 45 seconds or so it takes to cross the bridge at freeway speeds now turned into an eternity.

Inserting an over-used expression:

What

The

FUCK?!?

How in the hell did my own mind turn me into a hazard on the roadway? I pulled off at the next exit to confirm that I didn’t need to wash my pants, to calm down and take mental inventory of the next big bridge on my intended route.

Along with rationalizing behavior and addictions, the mind will also employ some tricks to take it’s attention off of some phobias. (What I’m implying here is the mind may be real stupid at times.)  Dealing with this bridge phobia, as I mentioned above, that on the  ascent into skyward hell I’ve learned to not look too far ahead at the bridge, to make it very cold in my car, to open some windows for some obnoxious noise and I’d find something really stupid on the radio to listen to.

I would drive miles out of my way to avoid certain bridges and I would joke about this phobia at my own lame expense, using the tragedy of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse as justification.

I don’t really have any issue with the river bridges I need to cross on frequent travels. Well, that’s not true, the damn I-55 bridge into St. Louis is in a constant state of dilapidation with constant heavy traffic and I know it’ll collapse into Big Muddy right when I’m at it’s apex.

In 2006 I sent myself to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area for some elective eduction. I’d never been to Florida so I booked a room at an Atlantic Ocean beach front hotel and rented a Ford Mustang convertible for the week as my schooling was in a suburb about 30 miles from my hotel. Might as well make the week fun, right?

Upon landing and retrieving my rental convertible I immediately put the top down and was enjoying the Florida sun and following the directions to my hotel and HOLY FUCKING SHIT I GOTTA DRIVE OVER THAT!

There is a causeway for cruise ships that separates the beaches from the mainland and because cruise ships are so damn big that means the causeway bridges rise spectacularly fast up to thousands of feet in the air, supported by toothpicks of steel that I know will immediately crumple when the weight of my car rolls over (never mind the amount of other car/truck/motorcycle traffic; I am special and my car will collapse this and every bridge).

Imagine this scene. An otherwise marginally competent looking individual in a convertible makes an emergency turn into a Starbucks and emerges from this car a sweating shaking mass and this is before driving over this causeway bridge looming thousands of feet high ahead.

I rarely drink Starbucks swill but how wonderful that cup of coffee was as I sat there, scouring maps to find a non-bridgey route to my hotel which wasn’t even a mile from where I currently was, not even 5 minutes away.

Irrational? Completely.

I did find a route that I drove later in the week for sight seeing purposes but it was about 20 miles out of my way.

With routine comes familiarity.

I had to drive over that causeway bridge several times a day for a week and because I was in southern Florida, where I’d never been, with a convertible, I always drove with the top down which created an extra element of disaster. I’d recognize the mild hyperventilating, the sweaty malaise accumulating like a cancer on my back, the buzzing in my brain as my demonized car would make the bridge ascent and I’d know it would be over soon, replaced by normalcy on the bridge descent.

The causeway bridge to my schooling was not the only hazard my mind created for me; at one point on the freeway there’s a loooooong, curving, sweeping, very high transition to the next freeway that was also painful and necessary to endure.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe…..

Not long ago I had a job and the best and most direct line of travel included the bridge that initially spawned this insipid fear of bridges. For weeks I wasted energy on thinking about that bridge, how I’d get over it, how I’d go around it, maybe I could cancel this job. For weeks I plotted alternative routes and the morning of the job I took an alternative route that cost me an extra 45 minutes due to a crap-ton of snow that had been dumped on us a day earlier. Even without the snow it would have cost a substantial amount of time wasted due to my irrational fear of a bridge.

It was an awful drive.

At quitting time, I had a choice; I could take the same stupid long route home and waste an incredible amount of time and fuel or I could just face this fear and drive over the damn bridge.

There was painfully cold beer in my refrigerator that wanted an after-work date with me so I pointed my car at that stupid bridge. More elements in my favor; it was dark and it was a bit rainy. I found a motorhome to tuck behind and concentrated on the back of it and while it wasn’t exactly quick, I made it over that damn bridge.

Nothing happened.

My car didn’t take me over the edge, the bridge didn’t disintegrate, all was fine. I crossed that bridge several more times for this job with no disasters, no collapses, no panic attacks.

I still feel some qualms of anxiety when I know there’s a bridge to cross but for the most part, I cross them with no self-imposed problems.

Learning to cross over and out of one’s comfort zone, we are told, is what helps us grow. Okay, that’s probably true but all I know is the fear one’s mind creates is almost insurmountable.

The keyword in that sentence is “almost.” There are other bridges in my daily life that I’m still learning how to cross.

If you have a bridge to cross, open a can of whup-ass on your mind and make that bridge your bitch.