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Posts tagged ‘swimming’

summer rhythm & mental clarity

My summer days tend to follow a different rhythm.  Morning swims.  Evening rides.  Abbreviated daytime trips to avoid the air that feels like being stuck in a convection oven, or avoiding the heat-induced thunderstorms.

Daytime hours have been filled with books, reading, and the other (often ignored) exercises in creativity.  While I miss long daytime rides, the wandering and exploring, I feel good about the time I’ve spent on these other things, the expanded productivity … all while waiting for cooler, dryer weather to return, and resuming my more rambling ways.

And – as evidenced by my lack of posts lately – I have enjoyed taking some time to unplug and disconnect.  I’ve been reading a fascinating book, Fast Media, Media Fast,  by Dr. Thomas Cooper, professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College in Boston.  It’s about making a conscious choice to disengage – to fast – from the barrage of always-on mass-media, the distractions of the e-world, and the devices that we are increasingly becoming dependent and even addicted to.

I appreciate that he does not take an “anti-” or negative approach; he does not want eliminate media any more than someone fasting from food wants to eliminate food.  Rather,  he wants to use the break – the diet or full-blown fast – to re-evaluate and examine how we approach and use media.  The goal behind the experience is to examine our thinking and opinion-forming process without the influence of 24-7 breaking news and 1,000 channels of cable television;  to take stock of our lives outside of e-mail, text messaging, twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube and blogging – and to physically experiencing the world directly rather than thru secondhand sources and without an electronic screen in front of us.   Which for me, would eliminate the use of  not only my television, radio, and iDevices but also my camera.  My bike stays.

While I have not yet started a full-blown fast, I have gone on some degree of a media diet, and plan to attempt a full, fasting, disconnection – if only for a week or two – within the next month.   I just want the experience, even briefly or temporarily.

I want to hear myself think again.  I want to re-evaluate the “ratio, quality, enjoyment and originality of what I ingest (as a consumer) versus what I express (as a creator)”.  I want to lose some “unneccessary mental weight”.  And I guess I want the challenge of finding “a Walden in my own mind.”  I want my daily off-bike routine to have more moments like those I experience while on my bike –  the direct experience, the mental clarity, the sensory balance, the perspective.

Wish me luck…

swim, ride, sunflowers … (and a turtle)

riding Mason's bike (thanks, M!)

I am ready for summer to be over with.  The heat has been unbearable.  Dangerous enough for repeated “heat warnings” from the weather service.  It feels kind of ironic that it’s actually more difficult for me to be cycling in the summer than the entire rest of the year.  Lately, it’s been early morning rides – lasting only as long as the morning cool and shadows last.

And lots and lots of time spent underwater.  😉

underwater-cam

Earlier in the week I had a derailleur cable mishap, so I ended up riding Mason’s bike for a few days until I could have mine repaired.  It was kind of a nice change – I didn’t realize how super-light and responsive his bike was compared to my own.  At least it briefly made me feel fast, even though I probably wasn’t … I am truly more like the couple of box turtles that I “rescued” from the road this week.  😉

I can't help stopping and moving them off the road

There is a wonderful field of sunflowers in the neighboring county that I wanted to ride out to and photograph.  How could I not be thinking of images of the Tour and the famous sunflower-and-bicycle shots?  It’s about a 40-mile, two+ hour ride, and I’d been putting it off because of the heat – having no desire to be out that long in triple digit temperatures.  Unfortunately, I waited about a week too long; the heat is still intense, and the sunflower heads are heavy with seeds and drooping.

Dillon and I finally ventured out there, leaving early this morning.  By the time we got to the fields, I attempted a few lame-o shots … but heat index was climbing, we were both dripping in sweat, I couldn’t find the right vantage point, and neither of us felt like spending any more time in the hot sun, which was getting higher and hotter by the minute.  Oh, timing.  Maybe next year?

sunflower fields - Hamilton Co.

It's too hot out here to be messing with more photos, ok?

Next week will bring a change of scenery, a change of bikes … and some different water.  No sunflowers, and probably no turtles.  It will be a surprise.  Meanwhile, stay cool and be safe.

dog days

seeking shade

Despite the fact that I keep listening to Florence + The Machine sing “…the dog days are over, the dog days are done”, the reality of venturing out into the great outdoors is more like stepping into the blowing heat of a convection oven.  Near-record high temperatures combined with high humidity have prompted the posting of “heat warnings” throughout the region.  As daily heat indexes climb toward 110’F, there are only brief windows of opportunity to be out riding – early morning or evening.  Ugghhh.

lately, I prefer to be submerged 😉

If I could manage to swim faster, I’d probably be getting more mileage in the pool than by bicycle.  😉

The rhythm of July hums along … early morning swimming, early morning or dusk/evening rides, and retreating into air conditioning during the heat of the day to our annual “dog days” television-watching addiction: the Tour de France.

While I confess that I’m not a devoted follower of professional bicycle racing, there is so much about the Tour that simply fascinates me.  I’m probably drawn to the visual beauty more than anything else – the undulating movement of the peloton, synchronized like a school of fish.  The winding narrow roads through French villages.  The mountains, the sunflowers, the fields of lavender … and the mind-boggling speed, endurance and athleticism of the riders (which I can only hope is not drug-enhanced), as well as the fascinating tactics of the racing.   And yes – the drama of the crashes – of which there have sadly been too many of this year.   It’s impossible to watch without wanting to hop on your bicycle and ride (although not as far, or as fast … for me, anyway).

the Tour de Bradley County

Dillon has been riding with me recently – and he is ten times the cyclist that I will ever be.  He is built (and rides) like a “climber” – that stick-insect-like build; all legs, virtually no body fat, light and fast.  Up and out of the saddle, scaling hills almost effortlessly.  Quite unlike his mother.  Sigh.

I guess it’s a “parent thing”, but I enjoy just watching him ride ahead of me … and I’m glad he always waits for me to catch up.

Dillon 🙂

rain commute out-takes

 

rain

When you’re going to end up jumping into a pool anyway, does it really matter?

One of the big gaping holes in my blog, I think, is … well, the rest of it.  The not-so-pretty stuff, the traffic, the rides around town that don’t take place on the pleasantness of the greenway, but rather, tailing exhaust pipes and edging away from distracted minivan moms texting on cell phones.

 

view of traffic from the handlebars, in the rain {-P

I rarely take pictures while on the commuting rides, largely because it’s tricky business, not-so-safe, and I typically don’t carry my DSLR along.  It’s not the kind of shooting where I can take time to stop, compose the shot.  When I manage to capture anything, it’s typically blind shots from the hip with my point-and-shoot.  And on days like today, rain on the lens and blindly shooting … well, not a pretty picture.

 

blind shot from the hip

like I said ... my arm (and a truck)

I had a couple errands to run, and since it was a better day to be swimming than cycling, I wanted to head to the pool.  The weather was pretty high on the crappy scale – upper 30’s, rainy, gloomy – and probably a blessing in disguise.  I ended up having the pool largely to myself.

 

going from wet to wetter at the Y

pool to myself

Had a great swim, got out and dried off …. just to go back out in the rain. {-P

So, although I may try to tip the scales and balance the biking photos with some real-life-on-a-bike shots, don’t hold your breath.  I think I am obviously more suited to old barns and quiet rural roads.  😉

 

blindly shooting wet legs heading home

 

#330daysofbiking Day 99: experiment

Trying a bit of an experiment with this post, trying to see if I can do the entire thing by IPhone – from the photos to the photo editing to the writing and publishing of the post using the WordPress app. We’ll see … (and if this is full of typos and other errors, you’ll know why).

Today’s ride was a mid-day commute to the pool for a swim, and a few errands on the ride home. Not my favorite time to swim; I much prefer the early morning lap-swimming-only time, but some days it just doesn’t work out that way. Mid-day tends to be full of kids cutting through the lap lanes, not looking where they’re jumping in (occasionally on my head), and today some 8-year old spotted my pull buoy at the end of the lane and was about to walk off with it (I saw him and promptly put an end to that idea).

It’s back to horridly hot and humid, and the best place to be is in the water … and next time, earlier rather than later. Same for the riding, I’m afraid.

#330daysofbiking Day 80: strokes

Swim strokes.  Pedal strokes.   The Strokes (as in the band).  Heh.

Started the day out with swimming strokes.  Early morning at the pool, the first swim this week … but good to be back in the water.

Ended with pedal strokes.  And a considerable amount of goofing off on the Xtracycle … the bike that always brings out the kid in me.  We have a lot of “Old” roads around here; Old Freewill Road, Old This Road, Old That Road.  Basically little sections of road that had once been a main road, but have since been bypassed by a newer, bigger, improved versions.  More often than not, there is virtually no one using the Old roads, except for the few locals who live along them.  And me.  I like to ride them, just because they are less travelled, rarely any cars.

So tonight, out on my ride on one of the Old roads, The Strokes’ song, The Modern Age was playing in my head … and there was not a car in any direction.  And I was on the Xtracycle.  So I find myself riding my bike like a kid, up on the pedals, swerving back and forth like on a pretend slalom course, singing out loud at the top of my lungs:

Up on a hill, here’s where we begin. this little story … Oh in the sunshine having fun, it’s in my blood, I just can’t help it … Let me go go go go go go go….!

Thankfully, I think only the cows heard me.

pedal strokes ... somewhere near the site of the slalom-and-sing episode (be thankful I don't take video)

swim strokes (no singing)


#330daysofbiking Days 75 & 76: water to water


in the pool, first light (Dillon)

Sometimes, my posting is like way I ride hills … lagging behind.

Yesterday I began the day with an early morning swim with Dillon.  Came home to pick up the rest of the crew, and the boys and I headed to Chattanooga.  Mason and the Governor’s School group were coming into the city on a trip to visit the UTC SimCenter (because that’s their idea of good times and excitement, lol)  – and we decided to meet him for lunch and a quick visit.  It was brief, but I think he was happy to see all of us … and likewise.

Enjoyed some good conversation about the Tour de Suisse, some geeky physics jokes (which were basically over my head), and a review of this years’ crop of Governor’s School kids – impressive as always.  And when I mentioned to Mason that I missed riding with him, he responded in his typical manner, “Yeah, I miss riding with someone who’s a lot slower than me …”  I, of course, hit him for that one.

Chattanooga: bicycles, Matt, Dillon

Came home and got out for a ride … into town for a haircut.  That was the extent of it.  😛 No camera, no pictures; just taking care of business. By bike.

Today it rained for a while, but fortunately the weather cooled off a bit.  When it started to clear in late afternoon, Mark and I decided to head to the river for a paddle.  I wanted to ride, so Mark hauled the boats and let me go by bicycle.

Spent a couple hours out on the water, exploring a few new stretches of shoreline.  Rumbles of thunder in the distance, but beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures.  Fish were jumping everywhere, herons overhead.  Spotted a beautiful Kingfisher, but couldn’t catch him by camera.  Paddled back to the landing in the golden twilight.  Rode home as the sky was turning pink.  Perfect.

paddling