Thursday, July 2, 2015

Two Fer: Updates on Utility Cycling and Life

I had intended to post this tomorrow (this week has been 75% scheduled posts that I wrote last week) but since most people who read this will be on vacation tomorrow...all three of you...I decided to bump it up a day.  Enjoy!

The weather turned warm.  Drunk Uncle called and asked if we were going to help with The Garden this year.  We said yes.  I took Bean and we rode down to pick up a bucket of potatoes to cut up for the next day’s planting.  On the way home the Cannonball X (CBX) spurted brake fluid out of the lever.
It didn’t take long for all of said fluid to have spurted free onto the ground.  Big heavy sighs ensued.  I don’t know jack about hydraulic brakes.  Well, I know a little, but I have no experience servicing them.  Oh, Da-ave!
So there it has sat for the rest of the summer, probably rusting up again in the damp of the Bike Cave.  So many grocery runs, so many park runs, town runs, dog runs…could have been pedaled out except for want of a working front brake the bike was lost.
The Training Partner has committed to fixing the recalcitrant component.  I just need to get it to him.  I know, what about the Ute?  We could have been shuttling garbage around with the Ute.  I don’t know, I got nothin’.
As I sit in my cubicle (er, home office) writing this there is an outfit of clothes hanging just out of my periphery.  I had fully intended to begin bike commuting one or two days a week.  Then wicked heat and nasty storms rolled in.  While I have the daylight, and ultimately the weather for it, I have just not been able to commit to the notion of doing it once.  Its forty-five miles one way.  That’s just not a reasonable bike commute on car-centric roads when it only costs about $6.00 a day to drive.  Convenience and distance have conspired to thwart my bike commuting dreams.
Part of the underlying problem is that Boone and Bean are too big to haul around now.  And Boone typically rebels against the threat of physical exertion of any intensity.  While Bean has a lot of short lived enthusiasm and interest in riding her bike all over creation, in practice taking her places by bicycle power has become difficult.  I need to make myself get over it and just commit to going places on the bikes.  It won’t be long before our little Bean will be outpacing us.  It’s a matter of time until she gets on a comparable bike and burns us off without breaking a sweat.
In my defense, I have been working very hard to change the culture, thinking and environment around utility cycling and recreational cycling in my home county.  While I’ve not been on the bike as much, I have been doing my part to make sure many more people in the future will be able to.  And my advocacy runs deep. 
Whereas in Colorado (uber-bike friendly state) I was unable to even move into a transportation position, much less a bike-ped oriented career, here in Kentucky I am working toward creating a bike-ped position to move into.  And I’m making strides.  And I’m actively doing the work now and not waiting for my dreams to sprout out of the seeds I’ve planted.  I’m getting $#!+ done.  And that’s enough for now.
We’ve (Mandy and I) talked about a few different paths for the future.  I’ll likely get into this more in my next post, but there are a few possibilities.
Initially we had planned on living in Lex Vegas when we left Colorado.  That’s not panned out.  It’s still a remote possibility, though I get nauseous when I think about living in the suburbs.
Then we have “The Ten Year Plan.”  Basically it is this: we sit tight for ten years, fix up the Money Pit, bide our time until the Kids have flown the coop (or been kicked out of the nest), and then invest in some land, a Tiny House, and a backyard garden.  This appeals on so many levels, but its contingent upon me being able to move away from my current job into a self-employed status.  It’s less certain, and right now harder to plan for.  Or maybe not. 
Recently we’ve talked a little about a modified ten year plan where we fix up the MP and move somewhat closer to my office.  This would make us a little more metropolitan, allow me a better shot of bike commuting, and keep us close to the psychological shelter of the familiar for me.  There are cons.  I’m not going into any such cons in this post.
I won’t say we’re invested in the community (Powell County) now, but in a sense we are.  We could pick up and leave, but I have some things I want to see through to their logical ends.  I have some projects.
It would be good for the kids to have some stability now too.  We’ve moved them around, bombarded them with perspective, and I think we owe them a little.  Boone is going to be 13 on his next birthday.  College is just around the corner. 
Having a reprieve from the stream of chaos we’ve been paddling the past few years would be good for all our souls.  If we can regroup and rebuild in the MP while Mandy and I both work then in the not-too-distant-future we’ll be able to afford a more simply lifestyle and be more resilient to boot.
Mandy is going to be teaching special education again.  I think this is going to be good for her.  She is well-suited for it.  She is good at it and does it for the right reasons.  She can make a difference.  Well, I intended for this to be a Utility Cycling Update with one more installment as a Life Update, but it looks like I’ve transitioned right into my next post without realizing it.
Could that be a sign?  Utility cycling is integral in our lives even when we’re not doing it as much as we’d like.  It affects our decisions.  Even if we don’t move toward more opportunities to choose the bike over the car the possibility drives the conversation and decision making. 
I wish I could have been chronicling the wild ride that has been the past two months.  Getting the bike-ped plan off the ground and adopted boosted my self-confidence more than I can express.  I feel confirmed 100% in my career choice.  I feel competent and effective.  I have rarely felt that way before.  In fact, the only time I can remember feeling that way was at the peak of our guided rock climbing stint.  And the fact that I haven’t been fantasizing about quitting my office job and going back to being a climbing bum is evidence to that.
Mandy once said that whatever I set my mind to I would get.  She said it in defeat in a tense conversation about my obsessive schemes.  But I think we both realized that I can use my powers for good.  I’ve been trying to do that, and replace my inwardly directed schemes and obsessions into public benefit and—hopefully—familial benefit.
This idea of selling my rural Eastern Kentucky community on the benefits of increased walking and biking opportunities might have been a tiny seed in my mind five or more years ago.  Even though it kept refusing to sprout I kept watering.  Kept waiting.  Kept watering.  Finally the fruit has started to grow.  And it looks like it could be a bumper crop. 
I need to see this through.  I’m not saying I’m not moving on until 30 miles of multiuse trails are built and there are bike lanes on Cat Creek, but I need to see results.  I think I will.
This gives me hope for my writing though.  If I can plow ahead and make good progress toward any and all of my dreams and goals then why not become a writer?  There is no reason.
The caveat to that is that right now I don’t know where I’ll find the time.  I’ll focus on what I can for now.  I’ll try to make the best of my career and to further my plans for world domination from the seat of a bicycle.  And when I finally reach that career nirvana where there’s nowhere else to go maybe I’ll take my writing seriously again. 
I’m almost too far down the road at this point to worry about this all being a fluke.  And I’m glad of that.  I need to leave that misleading road sign far behind.
Something else that bears mentioning: in less than a month Mandy and I will have our fifteenth wedding anniversary.  Way back at the dawn of time someone told us that the first fifteen were the hardest.  It was kind of in jest but maybe somewhat serious. Despite the crumbling of the relationship that brought us that potential "truth" we have always looked at the Big Fifteen as a milestone. 
In some ways I think that we've been through the worst of it anyway.  Maybe there will be unforeseen trials to come that will test our relationship.  But it's been these first fifteen that have prepared us for whatever lays ahead.  You only build endurance by...enduring.  Whatever trials may come we've laid the emotional and spiritual infrastructure to face it with resilience. 

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