Friday, May 27, 2011


The ride didn’t go anywhere I’ve never been last night, nor was it “moderately all right, maybe average at best” in any significant way, but even so, there’s always something unprecedented when one is out on two wheels with one’s familiars on a Thursday night, this one being the last such evening in May, although you couldn’t obviously tell it from the weather.

For instance, although we’ve often stopped at the Hop In grocery for beer and skittles, I can’t remember ever getting there with a bomb down 24th Avenue, especially one fast enough for even pokey old me to break the speed limit by a good six miles an hour as duly noted by the radar sign halfway down the hill.

And I’m sure we’ve never been greeted, as we made the left into the grocery store parking lot, by some crazy homeless person shouting “Fuck You Niggers! You Fucking Faggots! Learn to Drive!” at the top of his leather lungs like a dog wildly barking at passing cars.

Moreover, even though there have been four or five times I’ve stood around drinking beer with fellow cyclists, keeping an eye out for nutria in the UW Nature Preserve on Lake Washington behind Husky stadium, I’ve never before enjoyed witnessing there a brief, but spirited, game of “Chicken on the Log” one that surprisingly, didn’t even result in the Angry Hippy rupturing himself as he lifted his rider up on his shoulders.

And, sure, we’ve ridden through the woods up the ravine to Cowen Park, but this is the first time it was still light enough to see where I was going, although I was still surprised by how magically the park appears at the top of the corkscrew.

Finally, who hasn’t before finished off and evening with a quick spin to the surrealistic playground that is the Baronoff bar? But I, for one, have never seen so many jello shots consumed and which such sheer abandon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I missed former Gold-medal-winning cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s tell-all on CBS’ Sixty Minutes last week (had to wash my hair) in which he ratted out his former United States Postal Service cycling team teammate, Lance Armstrong, for using performance-enhancing drugs in order to win at least a couple of the seven Tour de France titles he garnered.

Although it’s certain that Hamilton was lying about some things (How can I tell? His lips were moving!) it’s certain that Armstrong availed himself of one or more of the available doping strategies in pursuit of his Tour victories.

But did he cheat? That’s what I’m not so sure of.

By all reports, professional bike racers in the 1990s and early part of the 21st century took nearly as many drugs as Keith Richards and Lindsay Lohan combined. Everybody says “everybody was doing it,” and no doubt, they were.

So, if Lance took human growth hormone or engaged in autologous blood-doping, or even if he shot up speed, it’s hard for me to see how this would have given him an unfair advantage; rather, had he not, he’d have had an unfair disadvantage.

Not that I’m advocating drug use here (I save that for Thursday nights with my friends, and limit it to substances grown organically), but the point is, if Lance had artificial help when he crushed his competitors time after time, they did, too, so even if the overall results were synthetically enhanced, the relative results were spot on.

So what if everyone’s best was better than it should have been; Lance was still the best among them. Just because everyone’s riding with tailwind, doesn’t mean the winner cheated, does it?

And I’m not even a fan of Armstrong; I actually liked Hamilton best of all. But that was before I bought into his “Believe Tyler” campaign.

In the immortal words of George Bush, “Fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.”

Friday, May 20, 2011


If Family Radio President Harold Camping is right and doomsday comes this weekend, at least I’ll have had the longest and prettiest bike ride of the year before the shit hits the fan.

Last night, I pedaled from the north end of Lake Washington in Bothell to near its southern tip below Seward Park then west across town to Magnolia before heading back east to my home, a loop that, if you include my ride out to school in the afternoon almost certainly managed to be as many miles as years I’ve lived, a feat that grows more impressive and less likely with each passing day.

But it was so lovely that I hardly wanted to stop and didn’t really get to given that by the time I’d found the never-before-visited beach, thanks, in no small part to Andre’s light show, the ride was already gathering up discarded cans and departing.

So, I tagged along up the hill to a spot in the road where we waited so long for the Angry Hippy that, for a while, I thought people were asking “Where’s Ben?” metaphorically.

But then, it was a comforting train of cyclists all the way north on the Rainier, making the often harrowing ride into the reasonable bike route it oughta be.

tehJobies was persistent enough to convince a portion of the assembled that Magnolia was just around the corner from Chinatown and although it involved surviving a flock of seagulls so large and loud it almost seemed a sign of the impending apocalypse, I was glad since it meant that not only would I get to keep riding but I’d also have the long way home to look forward to.

The waning almost-full moon was a menacing god head as I came over the hill after midnight; if the end is nigh, so be it; I’m sure I won’t be raptured on Saturday, but so what?

A night like this I’m already in heaven.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I was trying to articulate one of the conceptions of happiness that the philosopher Robert Nozick describes, “those particular moments you thought and felt, blissfully, that there was nothing else you wanted, your life was good,” when Christine marched in, gazing at the setting sun off Alki (which moments before had treated viewers to the never-before-seen sight of two identical flattened disks of burning magenta, one on the horizon and one, just below, on the water) and with arms upraised, announced “This is fantastic!” thereby nailing Nozick’s point way better than I could ever have.

And even though she stepped in some dogshit as she did so, nothing, really, could undermine such complete two-wheeled joy last night, not even the crazy lady in a minivan who accused Lee of assault for brushing her car when she angrily tried to drive through us while we gently—and legally—took up the whole goddamn rode for an entire quarter mile to get through the construction zone before crossing—in the bike lane—the low-level West Seattle Bridge.

Not even the dude in the pickup who got all bent out of shape because he apparently had to take his foot of the gas for two seconds to let a bike pass in front of him, but who clearly wasn’t mad enough to cross the street to take on three dozen cyclists, one of whom claimed to have a family that would kill him should he get tough.

Not even the cop who pulled up and seemed all ready to get serious with us for being slow to extinguish our little beach fire and because, apparently, he’d gotten a report that a gang of bikers was on the high-level bridge, riding through traffic and beating on cars.

But I think he must have been feeling it, too, though, that sense of completeness, because all it took was one respectful question, and whatever desire he had to make a fuss disappeared completely.

Friday, May 06, 2011


It’s a reliable indicator that a party has achieved escape velocity when girls start dancing on the table, so on that score, last night’s ride qualifies as an unqualified success in the festivities department.

But I thought it was already spectacular much earlier—even as we poured forth from Westlake Center under a blue-smudged sky to the throbbing beat of tehJobies bicycle-mounted discotheque, playing at least one of the songs that’s emerged as a group anthem, Lil Wayne’s poignant apostrophe to his friends and acquaintances, “Get Low,” which inspired numerous wobbles and wiggles in time to the beat as riders cruised down Second Avenue.

And Seattle itself was so stunning in its juxtaposition of natural beauty and industrial wasteland that a person couldn’t stop smiling down strangely deserted major thoroughfares to a secluded park by your favorite Superfund site river, a spot which I wouldn’t be surprised to learn was once a meeting place for indigenous peoples in the area when they were looking for a location to hold an evening’s revelries.

Revelry was evident to no small degree as dozens of south-of-the-border-themed mixed drinks were mixed and consumed in near assembly-line fashion to commemorate the holiday that doesn’t actually celebrate Mexican Independence, a detail no one, least of all those responsible for the music seemed to mind a bit. The upshot of which, in addition to the aforementioned table-dancing, was also a good deal of wrasslin’ around on the ground, gooseshit be damned, which apparently resulted in, if not a broken nose, at least one which could only be staunched with a tampon, an application that surprisingly, Proctor and Gamble’s corporate marketing department has yet to expand into.

Eventually, the two-wheeled party rolled farther south to a well-loved bar near a much-missed bridge; at this point, I headed home, but not before one last adventure accidentally crossing the alternate span on the metal car deck, like the night itself, a little scary, but above all stunning.