Saturday, October 31, 2015

Idea Man

I like to ride my bicycle; I like to ride my bike.

I have tried to remind myself of that the past year. I haven't been a road cyclist at all in 2015. Other than the failed Redbud Ride anyway... My cargo bike has been stabled all year too. I've got to get on the Training Partner to put my hydro brakes together. Maybe offer him some mad stacks. Minus the mad or the stacks...

Anyway, after the Grand Trail Revival in Des Moanes early this week I am fired up. I was so fired up for Trails this week that last night I ran up in the woods and chopped at the ground in a penitent flurry of trail building activity. My backyard trail has a long way to go, but I've neglected it too long. I need me a loop for quick fixes and nighttime rides. Oh yes, I'm a true nocturnal believer now!

2015 was a year for good ideas. There are a lot flying around now. I need to act on them. I need to convert more neophyte acolytes to the cause! One thing the MATAG Conference instilled in me is that we, in Kentucky, have not done enough to develop and build bike-ped infrastructure. In almost every other medium-sized city I've been in during my adult-sized life I have seen a web of multiuse paths and good sidewalks and bike lanes and bike shops and bike, bike, bike... Well, you get the point.

It's not that Lexington doesn't have some of that. But we're living in a Mark Twain end of the world scenario. Everyone else has a whole lot more. And small town/rural Kentucky is stuck in the 1980s from a transportation standpoint. It's all abut the car, except when its about the side-by-side ATV.

Time to dust off the ole Cannonball. Time to whip the Sporty Sport Bike back into Shape. Time to act on some of these Good Ideas and make things happen. And we're talking multiuse paths, new singletrack trails, and organized events, culture building, river restoration, canoe races, etc, etc.

Some exciting things are already going on. Since July myself and a few others have been working on expanding the meager MTB fare on Red River Climbers Coalition land in Lee County. It's going slow right now, but I think by spring we'll reach a tipping point. More Central KY mountain bikers are interested in the project, and I think once they see and get a taste for what's there that the miles will crank out like Play-Doh from a press.

There's an exciting development just outside of town. It would result in only a mile of singletrack, but it would be within riding distance of my house and be 100% legit. And that potential one mile loop would be in a venue perfect for biking and running events.

And the backyard trail...I've neglected it for too long. I could have a 1+ mile loop one which to get my quickies and even to do some trail run training. Why haven't I expended the energy to develop the tools right outside my kitchen window? For shame!

I can point to exactly the reasons my interest in writing and advocating for the bike has waned. I live in a place with no cycling culture. None. Nada. Zip. Something has happened to the fabric that held together the small handful of cyclists in the county. So we need to reweave a new patch and grow a culture from scratch. I know that can happen.

I'm not able to commute by bike anymore. I've seen it as too far to travel. 45 miles one way... And running to town from home for groceries and such involves ridiculous hill climbing. Not easy for the Bean or on the X with a load of weeklies. I know that's no excuse.

The Powell Bike-Ped plan is finished! I think after that process was over I might have taken an impromptu hiatus from serious cycling thought. But now that it's in place my community needs to be acting on it. I need to revisit the plan and decide what can be accomplished first. And second.

Two things have reinvigorated my neural pathways: MATAG and the Walk-Bike Clark County BPAC. I attended ( and was involved in planning) the recent Walk-Bike Summit there in Winchester. Since then I've been getting more and more interested in re-becoming that From the Pavement's Edge guy.

MATAG showed me that you can be passionate about trails and work officially as a trails person. You can be a bike-ped advocate and still put food on the table. Heck, you can even be a mountain bike advocate and put food on the table! And I started to wonder why we constantly have to remind ourselves about the benefits of play and of active transportation. Is it because we've murdered play in our society? We're so addicted to our labor saving devices that we just can't bring ourselves to accept that mixing a cake batter by hand might be better for our waistlines than using a mixer, or walking to the grocery store might be better for the planet than driving our car.

We have to reteach ourselves that play is a good and acceptable thing because we've allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated that the only good activities are those that are approved by the industrial complex of society. If we're not slaving for The Man then we're probably a criminal, a degenerate, or a disabled slug.

It's more subtle than that. Sort of. As long as you're not watching a Republican presidential debate. But I progress.

I'm not promising that I'll be a more vehement bike-ped advocate from this moment forward, but I will promise that I will strive to return to a place where I can be one. That I can do. And that is a small first step back to where I was three years ago.

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