Sunday, May 30, 2010

In which the author and a fellow bicyclist create a small scene....

This week I had the good fortune of being able to take a small vacation, which meant this past week I only biked to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Surprisingly, I have sorely missed the exercise over the last two days. To counterbalance, I did, however, begin the adventures of last Saturday with a bike ride, and as these adventures were delightful I hope to write more about them and will promise a few pictures as well.

The week began delightfully well. A dear, kind friend friend of mine, after reading about the plight of the helmet of Mambrino, lent me her own. Her action has left me verily astonished not only at its kindness but also-in terms of the helmet itself I am astonished by this technological age of progress that they have even improved helmets in the last few years of my short lifetime! It is a rather ingenious design, self-adjustable for size around the head (not just the chin straps), or better yet to accommodate changes in hair positioning. Frankly this new helmet is so comfortable, I feel in some danger of falling asleep on my cozy bubble wrap for my head.

Monday evening I was bicycling home, a little excited for the end of a good day,
(excitement = I ride faster). I was contemplating my blog--how I haven't crashed recently nor have I yet had a chance to detail all the crashes of the early days to forewarn my dear reader of the perils of taking up bicycling to work before one has found solid balance. (Let's just say my crashes were to such extent and frequency that one of my roommates recommended the week before I was supposed to be in a wedding, that I pay for 5 days of parking and gas (when my human powered bicycle would do just fine) just so I would not crash and maim myself for all the wedding pictures. This was all while I was really hoping another rather large bruise on my elbow, the remaining marks of a snowboard trip the previous weekend, would finally go away.)

Contemplating these thoughts...Suddenly another bicyclist pops out from behind a parked car to cross the street, feet in front of me. As soon as he saw me, uttered apologies, and for one second I think we both thought we might have been ok and missed eachothers' bikes. The last instant though, I hit his back wheel perpendicularly, the physics of which triggered a slow motion launch of my body over my handlebars onto the pavement below; simultaneously my fellow bicyclist was dumped into the middle of the street. After standing up a little dazed and shaking like a leaf and my brain worked to return from its slow motion collision state to gather information about my surroundings. The developing picture was quite the commotion. Two bicyclist sprawled in the street while surrounding bikes, cars, and pedestrians including the campus bus all stopped around us to avoid any further collision and assess that we were ok.

About this time I was surprised to feel someone brushing off my arm, and turning my head to look I half expected on of my grad student friends to be standing there by some chance having serendipitously observed the nearby scene. Instead I found a very concerned stranger vigorously trying to brush all the leaves and twigs off my fuzzy sweatshirt. Though I did not know her, she smiled at me and thus, in her kindness, in my heart she was a friend.

We both inspected our bikes for injury, apologized profusely. Thankfully little blue was fine, but his back wheel where I had hit was bent pretty well, which I felt pretty terrible about. Nevertheless, we both went on our ways. I shakily rode home. By the time I arrived at my doorstep, I was fully recovered; perhaps in slightly too good spirits, over the fact of having new fodder for my blog. I am really surprised that I did not get hurt worse than the bruises that appeared on my legs and on the heel of my hand throughout the week. After repeatedly playing the inner slow motion video of flying over my handlebars, I still cannot figure out how I landed. Above all I am thankful for all the hand and wrist bones (all my bones for that matter) of my pipetting hands to be intact...but the rest shall remain a mystery.

Yes, yes all a day in the life-

On mon bicyclette...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In which the author notes the activities at the park...

Tonight when I biked home, the park I pass was abuzz with activity. On one half of the field, Little Leaguers in their miniature crimson, baseball uniforms ran around, parents eagerly assisting, the air filled with happy clamor...On the far side of the park stood two net goals, establishing the parameters of a soccer game...ahh brings me the days of playing T-ball in pigtails and tripping boys in soccer games (always going for the ball of course--and the ref always took my side--maybe the pigtails helped =)

On mon bicyclette...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In which the author is delightfully suprised...

Thursday morning, I woke up from fitful sleep a earlier than usual and a little more concerned than usual about getting to my lab to treat my culture fly cells with their proper chemicals for an experiment I needed to run...Otherwise a completely normal Thursday (wishing that it could be Friday), and I made it though my morning routine and off on my bicycle without much ado.

Gliding along, I suddenly remembered! Thursday May 13th, Bike to Work Day! Excellent! I have been looking forward to this day for at least a month. There were e-mail postings about various stations on campus with stations to celebrate the day, but I passed by the train station on my route I was surprised to see people there--happy, waving canvas "Bike to Work" book bags. I smiled and waved, but kept going because I was already mostly passed and planned to stop at the station closest to my lab. My energy boosted even more since my realization of Bike to Work Day, and looking forward to what else I might see.

Coming up the the big traffic light, there were quite a few bicyclist, especially for being earlier than than the usual bike "rush-hour." I gleefully biked across the road with my fellow bicycles, and shortly after crossing onto campus, we all converged on a booth with more happy people cheering us on. Some of the bikers stopped, but I kept going until I reached the station by my work. From those happy volunteers, I proudly recorded my 7 miles of round trip mileage and received my book bag--a symbol of my first ever Bike to Work Day.

Later one of my friends who takes the same bike route as I, mentioned she stopped at the train station and was very ceremoniously wreathed with bag around her neck, which kind of made me wish I'd stopped there too. We talked about how cool it is to be cheered on in your morning about something we already do, that is a good choice we have made but has become just a part of life.

It is good to be reminded and encouraged in these things. I once read a quote by George MacDonald (I couldn't find it on-line) the essence of which was talking about all the little things we do each day the little choices that we don't think about as being good bad or indifferent. George MacDonald's example is eating breakfast or tea or something very routine and benign. We do not see this as necessarily overtly good thing, but in the end his point is there are many worst things to do!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In which the author ponders whether the helmet of mambrino may do more harm than good

Today was one of those day I got off work in simply an irritable mood due to the fact that my experiments did not go as planned. Which in general means they take hours longer, as I attempt to self-correct. So the day ended much later than hoped and not quite as well as hoped...and I still had my commute home which normally I really enjoy but today it was all lost on my in my desperate desire to have been home a whole 2 hours earlier.

I strapped my helmet, embarked on my bicycle, and immediately had to maneuver carefully to avoid running into people, having lost depth perception, my vision in one eye blocked completely and the other almost completely....ah that other irritating issue (which I was willing to ignore on my morning commute due to my better mood at the time)...that of my helmet.

They say, "always wear a helmet, you never know when it will save your life." Which I completely agreed with until recently, in which I am nearly persuaded that it is my helmet that will get me killed in the first place.

My early and rather disastrous bicycle commute days before I switched routes, (which I shall go into further on a later date), was disastrous (on a weekly sometimes daily basis), but it was my knees and shins and even ankles that suffered and never my head. Indeed, at least one of these incidents was caused the very first day after I obtained my helmet and discovered its preferred resting position in front of my eyes, before I had gained enough of a balance to adjust it every 2 minutes.

One of my engineering friends, determined to help me, vigorously adjusted the straps this way and that way...until here!...the final product! In the engineering (and biology research) mindset of constantly weighing cost with was a better product in that I had a clear field of vision, with the side effect of feeling rather strangled on my commute and arriving with a raspberry mark on my forehead; which of course my lab mates loved to point out every morning, and others who noticed though that I had crashed or something leaving this (momentarily) indelible mark on my head.

Earlier this year, on the colder winter days, (taking my life into my hands) I used the cold as an excuse for the necessity of wear a beanie instead of my helmet, which were quite nice days of un-distracted commute...

Then there is the issue of having long hair, which greatly affects day-by-day helmet positioning depending upon how and where all this hair is arranged upon the head. This is, in fact, what caused me to reconfigure the helmet from this superior positioning in hopes of finding a new position better suited for my hair that day, and alas as I lack engineering skills (or more acutely--time that particular morning) I am left with the current state of affairs. No raspberry forehead, no gasping for air the whole way to work and back, but no great field of vision either.

On mon bicyclette...

Monday, May 3, 2010

In which the author has a pleasant ride home...

My commute this morning was uneventful. The flowers were beautiful as usual... The whole way I was hoping to run in to someone I know, which happens from time to time, but never when you expect it, which is the great tragedy of it. The moment you realize that person standing at the bus stop is someone you know and wave, after the instant of recognition they are gone... and the odd mornings when these encounters do occur, though brief, they rank among the highlights of my day.

I worked late, which ended up making for a beautiful ride home. It was that peaceful time when everything tinges pink right before dusk sets in. The air was warm and soft. Only a few cars drove by. As I entered our neighborhood, it had evidence of a place where the hustle and bustle of the frantic working world quieted down and was forgotten for a few moments. People here and there were outside enjoying the post-dinner hour sunshine--doing human things. two friends watched birds or squirrels dancing in the trees (I couldn't see). A young couple holding hands chatted along down the sidewalk. A dad jogged to keep up behind his son on a tricycle and a little ways down the road an older couple were walking together holding hands. A family of three meandered along the road, the little girl gleefully skipping in front of her parents, and as I rounded the corner to my street another fellow worker, who had likewise shared my late shift, was walked wearily briefcase in hand to his doorstep.

I opened my front door and the house was warm from the early summer sunshine, smelling like strawberries...

On mon bicyclette...