Ezekiel 25:17 -- "The Path of the righteous is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men"
My Friend John Says that I'm old, and this is why I cannot get over the "Best Times" (the course record) on my bicycle trainer. Not to feel outdone by younger stronger faster cyclists -- But, as far as that goes, it is absolutely true that no legitimate rider has finished that Passo Valparola Climb in 26 minutes. Especially if my best time is 42.51 minutes.
John 20:22 -- also says that I shouldn't be embarrassed if I can no longer clean an Ollie Kick-flip. (largely citing my advanced age) I've decided that instead of dismissing his blaspheme outright -- That it may be good advice to give up on some things which in principle are impractical or empirically un-useful.
I cannot ask my apostolic friend Paul for his (always expert) advice, because I'm pretty sure he has moved away, and never mentioned it to me. The true cost of Covid's spiky wrecking ball is to dismantle established relationships.
Today, (These Days), the subtle interstice between moving away, and crawling deeper into one's more comfortable cave-dwelling relations, is indistinguishable, save the moving expense. One has to ask oneself lots these days, and unfortunately the first question seems to be, "Who can you save?, and should you even try"?
I shaved 11 minutes off of my best time for Passo Pordoi summit in Italy, and 4 minutes from my best time climbing out of Nice up to Col d' Eze -- But this doesn't make any damn difference to anyone but me, as an antidote for gray January Blahs. What IS kind of important is one's sovereign right to imagining one's best self, still striving toward goals both real and imagined. One goal I had this year, (and the year is yet young) is to get back some friends long taken by Covid (Excuses). Friendships once punctuated with nuanced dialogs diminish from Sartre, Aristotle, and Vinyl Collections, to the discourse of Netflix, shitty Take-out food, or even Jell-O. Wherever your line was drawn, you are likely clinging to the myth that it's not worth contacting some of those you feel you have lost to "Covid" (Excuses). It's likely not your friend Paul's Fault that you are a dickhead, or was (at least) at some point behaving badly, c. 2020-2021. Laying about in your PJ's well past midday, and staying home both Friday and Saturday night... But those you've lost to Covid, wont return your calls because they have re-shaped their new efficient lifestyle, and there is no room in top pander to brats, and home-bodies.
So-what, if the weekend is no longer a real tangible distinguished part of your week? So-what if you don't go out to the bar to catch a band with a few friends... anymore? What IS most important is that you are right most of the time. You are of course always right and this seems to be where "we" (The collective post-pandemic "WE") have landed.
'Being right all the fucking time is legitimately exhausting, mostly because it forces one into isolation where friends matter less, and doing shit went down the toilet. All of that alone time at home bracketed by stale air, bad carryout, and loathing contemplation, built a tunnel so long that emergence from your igloo is a far away goal, not worth endeavoring. You probably never noticed your confines so much in say 2006, when you didn't spend more than sleeping-time at home. But its not as though you became neater and tidier for it.
Last week, you said to yourself after a walk by the lake, "Wow!, I should do this more often"... And then (sadly) -- you don't.
It's OK to no longer be able to pull of some sweet skating tricks from your youth, but it is not OK to say you can't pull off those sweaty nacho-cheese coated Pajamas and giving it a try.
My Friend John is also embarrassed by my "Track-Stand". He says that old dudes who cling to such youthful balancing acts to prove they are "less old" is an affront to those with the dignity to not try. This indignant boasting is a tough distinction to thread. I mean -- If I can be forgiven for not pulling off a clean Ollie-Kick-flip... but I've been at it for a few weeks on and off, blaming the trucks, or the wheel durometer, or some such... Then it cannot also be true what they are telling me, that I should give up the self effacing Track-Stand, for the benefit of those who can no longer pull them off gracefully at every stop-light.
...And I get the whole potential embarrassment of a broken hip, like this one old dude in my neighborhood who at fifty, hangs out at the school playground cursing each time his shove-it or manual lands with a clack!, and his maple ply skates away solo. Afterall, If one cannot land a good clean ollie, One has no business doing a track-stand right? Well...
It IS however, incumbent that one who attempts to do a track-stand at every fucking stop-light, should not be that shaky tree. Because dipping left, leaning right, and on a fixie no less..., with flat pedals is not "Pulling It Off" gracefully -- Wheel cocked sideways, with two full sleeve tattoos that began whilst working for a messenger service in the early 90's? Gracefully, or in the least graciously pulling this off is imperative. The ink may have dried, and the slogans improved, but the fixie track-stand on flat pedals, is bullshit. ...Because, why?
A clean track-stand is not done for an audience; Rather it is a holdover from a by-gone era of chrome toe-clips with leather straps which when pulled tightly wrapped the whole foot against a slot in the sole such that getting one's foot free required reaching down to pop the buckle whilst raising the foot to step out. Just as it has taken 30 years for the Snow board to begin to engineer a real clipless option, the legs remain attached for most of one's sport. A clean track-stand is not wandering about an intersection edging into traffic, because one drank too much the evening prior, and now is justifiably off kilter. Doing a track-stand involves no more or less than 1/4 bike length to maintain uprightness. A sense of pride of ownership, comes with staying put, but should not be attempted glibly as one may attempt an Ollie Kick-Flip. Because a skate trick is a 'trick,' and a Track-stand is just part of growing up.
Late this fall, I was hit whilst riding home from the typical 50 mile loop, to some shitty coffee shop with mandatory tipping, bad staff, and overpriced drinks served by smug shade-grown children. I was only 3'ish minutes from my garage coming upon an emerging green light when a bike shot through his stop-sign and there was no room to stop. I veered, and he veered, but I hit him just the same broad-side at about 21 miles per hour. He flew from his Hybrid, spilling into the street, before a busy intersection, backpack landing somewhere near his bike, while he slid the other direction. No Helmet.
The typical potent chemistry flashed through my brain, Bike OK?, Wheel OK? Bars Straight?, Tire Sealed? Holy Fucking Shit! Everything seems fine. What was particularly unusual was not the fact that No rage welled up in me as would have certainly frothed were this a "car's fault". What was uncanny, was that I was still standing on my pedals, in a track-stand, more or less lording over the lesser lucky rider, before casually unclipping and reaching down to help gather the unlucky person I'd struck.
I leaned his bike, and mine against two trees, and helped my fellow cyclist to rest on a porch step, while I gathered the items spilled from his backpack. No helmet, just a knit winter cap -- seemingly no concussion, just a bit off balance, and the quick onset of some stiff aches.
"Track-Stands", I'd thought... I was standing fully upright, and attached, with meaningful balance above the victim of circumstance whose bad choice to run the stop-sign, would make him later still for work today. I never unclipped. I was unharmed, and my bike was undamaged. I stood in this track-stand winding down my heartrate from a roll to a subtle back- beat. I was lucky -- He..., less so.
We all know that scene from Pulp Fiction when the cowering kid with the pistol springs from the bathroom as Vincent and Jules wax philosophically with his cheeseburger -- Bullets fly, as he unloads the clip into the wall behind his un-scathed adversaries.
"Unscathed", I thought... "A Miracle, perhaps?" "the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men doing track-stands.
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Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.