Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I’ve been blogging before blogging was invented. 

Way back in the 20th century, I had a “paper blog,”—a photocopied fanzine made up of short essays and articles whose format and content was essentially identical to the type of writing one finds on personal weblogs.

And then, in the early days of the internet, I created a web page with links to what I creatively called “editorials,” which were the precursor to the 327 word essays made famous by this site.

327Words has been around, in its present format, (more or less) since August of 2004; some 1500 postings are to be found here, almost half a million words, nearly as long as War and Peace, and thicker, if bound, than Infinite Jest.

So it’s time, I think, to call it quits.

All good things have to come to an end, and so, for that matter, does this weblog. 

No more will I expect myself to make regular postings to this site; no longer will I feel guilty about failing to do so.

A new day has dawned, one on which freed from the responsibility of feeling I must write a piece for posterity, I now have a good 15 or 20 unscheduled minutes to do more important things like drink more coffee or take a power nap.

Readers—all six or eight of you out there—will no doubt be relieved as well, as a whole new space can be opened up on your list of browser bookmarks.

Oh, I’ll still compose Point83 ride reports and no doubt I’ll occasionally be compelled to write and post a screed about this or that, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be in search now of greener pastures for my personal reflections about this and/or that; I may even branch out into essays of 400 words or more.

And, of course, there’s always my new book: Yoga, Cycling, and Pot: Ninety-Nine 327-Word Essays On Bending, Biking, Baking, and More.

Friday, August 24, 2012


As we rode along Eliot Bay, Fancy Fred regaled me with tales of cycling legend Jobst Brandt, who, as the internet attests to, used to cycle through the European Alps every summer, routinely burning up his rims and tires as he braked on the long descents, thereby giving rise, of necessity, to the development of his expertise as a wheel-builder, which just goes to show that destruction is sometimes (if not always) a required precursor to creation; from the ashes, phoenix-like, will rise something new, or at least the conditions for innovation to flourish.

Still, it’s hard to imagine that much will come from the smoldering palettes being sprayed down by an amused-looking firefighter in Fremont as I returned from Ballard after having departed from the ride remnants some thirty minutes earlier, although perhaps there’s a story that might emerge under the right conditions and in the proper time.

In any case, the main thing I thought in thinking about Jobst’s adventures is that while they’d be amazing, I’m sure, a person might just as well satisfy their appetite for stunning scenery while biking by touring the Puget Sound in summer, or even more specifically, just by pedaling around Seattle on an August evening when the sky is smudged with scattered clouds and the setting sun imparts a tinge of pink to their heavenly edges.

Later, on the dock with beer can chinking where I rode numerous extended figure-eights to keep warm, the quarter moon appeared in all its half-moon shaped glory, an apt metaphor, I’d say, for how words inevitably fail to capture the way things really are when you’re there out in it.

A cover charge inevitably split the group up, but no texts were needed to regroup: you just rode in the last direction people were headed and stopped at the closest bar. 

So maybe it wasn’t a summer tour of the Alps , there was still beauty there and tales to be told.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I sort of regret not riding the bmx bike off the ramp into the lake, but I’m certain that I’d regret a broken neck had I done it and failed even more, so I’ll be content with the memory of having been there and observed those flying wheels and bodies, enjoying the vicarious thrill of momentary weightlessness before two-wheeled splashdown on a perfect summer night for doing so.

P.J. Diddy celebrated his 35th birthday by turning 15 all over again and taking the sort of chances that as a teenager don’t even seem like chances but at a certain age struck me, (at least after a couple beers and in the twilight on a bike with no brakes), as falling just outside the boundary of acceptable risk—an assessment which I realize marks me squarely as over-the-hill, but that’s okay, discretion, as they say, being the better part of valor in some cases.

Besides, it’s not as if the evening needed improving on from my standpoint anyway: shirtsleeve riding all night and a long swim during which I had a fish-eye view of the riders as they went air and then water born, some getting rad, others holding on for dear life, all, in any case, to be commended for their courage and/or mocked for their recklessness accordingly.

The birthday boy himself managed to see stars on at least two of his jumps, one of which inspired Wonder Woman to leap into the lake after him in case rescue efforts were necessary, but fortunately, some precautions had been taken; the lifejacket did its job and no one sank to the bottom like a stone.

See?  As we live longer, we do learn some things—like how to live longer, for instance. 

And if that means going at it more gently, it doesn’t mean we’re not still seeking thrills same as ever, it just means we’re finding them more easily: like right there in front of our eyes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Heartwarming story out of Seattle this week: young woman has her beloved one-of-a-kind fixed gear bicycle stolen by some random douchebag; friends spring into action on the internet and mine the culprit’s data to find out where he lives; one guy camps out at his house, has a “chat” with him and convinces said dirtbag to return the bike.  Girl gets her trusty steed back and all is well with the world again.

I love that story, especially the part where the friends make laminated spoke cards with the thief’s picture on them and the text “I steal bikes” for good measure.

But this happy tale has made me kinda sad as it’s reminded me of my own unsuccessful efforts to recover a beloved bike that I had stolen (my goodness!) six years ago now, my beautiful Rivendell Rambouillet that was snatched from my backyard bike shed in the dark of night by some evil crackhead, never to be seen again.

I often wonder where the bike is these days.  Is it sitting in a police evidence warehouse somewhere?  Does a hobo ride it on the sidewalks with its handlebars turned backwards?  Could it be in China?  Or Portland?  Or maybe just down the street covered by tarp in my neighbor’s backyard?

I hope it’s getting used in any case; the Rambouillet was a bike that loved to run and it would be a shame if it’s just collecting rust and dust somewhere.

I wonder if today’s technology would have enabled me to retrieve it; I know that the thief returned to the scene of his crime that day afterwards to snatch back a bike he’d left and which I tried in vain to booby-trap by lacking to a palette.

The cops were no particular help, so it’s too bad I didn’t have a gang of technologically-astute supporters behind me; I may not have gotten the Rambouillet back, but I’d probably have a happier story to tell.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


I took a different route from the start of the 16th Annual Dead Baby Bikes Downhill than most of the field; consequently, for the first couple miles, I was mostly on my own, and started to feel like I’d missed most of the fun. 

But eventually, I met back up with the crowd on 4th Avenue and got to experience the thrill of streaming through Seattle’s streets with about a thousand other cyclists, some on tallbikes and other Frankencycles and plenty, it seemed like, out for maybe their first time all year on a two-wheeler, perhaps one dug out of the basement or borrowed from a neighbor.

Like last year, I pulled the trailer with a cooler of beer on it and while I didn’t have as many opportunities mid-race to pass out cold ones as in 2011, I did enjoy the numerous times that spectators yelled happily as I passed, “There’s the guy with the beer!” and maybe my favorite moment of all was when I traded a frosty Rainier to some fellow on the outdoor patio of a restaurant for a couple pieces of pizza.

The weather was just about perfect for a rolling clusterfuck and the warm sunny evening drew many more riders in addition to those who participated in the main event to Georgetown for the “Greatest Party Known to Humankind.”

I stuck around for a couple hours, taking in, among other things, the kiddie bike toss and running into loads of people I haven’t seen since last year’s Downhill, but as the evening wore on and the crowd morphed from bike geeks into douche bags, I made my way home with only a minor hiccup along the way: when I stopped to empty the ice from the cooler before climbing Jackson, I wrapped the unattached bungie around the wheel upon restarting.

Fortunately a guy on his way to the party loaned me a knife; a glimpse of another was all I needed.

Friday, August 03, 2012


At the end of the evening (for me), I was standing at the bar watching, from the corner of my eye, the oddly-compelling Olympic track cycling team time trial and reflecting on the noble human aspiration to work together in order to create something beyond the abilities of a single person while continually striving for ever-higher levels of performance, but, of course, it wasn’t the onscreen cyclists who had inspired my ruminations, but rather, the activities and actors associated with yet another of tehJobies’ (annual) pre-Dead Baby Downhill Drunken Slip-n-Slide Dance Party extravaganzas.

The idea of “outdoing oneself” is fascinating because it suggests that we have at least two selves, one of whom surpasses another; I might conjecture, however, that in this latest incarnation of the Thursday night ride that precedes the self-styled “Greatest Party Known to Humankind” that the neon mastermind behind things must have had many more than just a pair of identities in order to pull it all together and, even more impressively, convince others to play along.

Tom Sawyer, after all, only had to persuade a couple kids to paint a fence; tehJobies, by contrast, induced several score of (putative) adults to consume cocktails made with grain alcohol, strip down to their skivvies or bathing suits, adorn themselves with glowing plastic, and then proceed to not only hurl themselves downhill over a wet plastic tarp in the dark, but even more impressively, to climb into a kiddie pool filled with a gelatinous goo and wrestle one another to the cheers and catcalls of a rabid crowd.

I myself refrained from most of the shenanigans, believing that, when the cops showed up, it would be easier to explain things if I weren’t topless in a bathing suit, enjoying instead the efffervescent “Pink Elephants on Parade” visuals made possible by bikes and people wearing glowsticks; wonder of wonders, though, the authorities never did appear.

Perhaps next year, though, when selves are inevitably outdone once more.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Here’s the difference between 3:30AM and 9:30AM:

At that early hour, as you lay in bed staring at the ceiling, you can’t imagine how it will be humanly possible to get everything you need to get done in time for it to be done in time.

After you’d had your morning coffee, though, there’s really nothing to emptying the recycling bin and folding the clothes atop the washing machine; you’re finished up with plenty of room leftover for another cup of joe before your mid-morning nap, no problem.

All that worrying?  For naught.

And yet it seems so critical in the wee hours.

After more than half a century of such pre-dawn perturbations, I’ve found that, for me, the most effective way to put them to rest is to rise from bed, do some stomach exercises, read a bit, and once drowsy, climb back under the covers.  Often, however, I lie awake for some time before doing so, even though I’m aware that the intermission will be more effective in helping me return to sleep than simply staying where I am while my brain tries to kill me.

But that’s another difference between the and now: from the vantage point of daytime, it’s obvious that a 15 minute interlude from bed is worth it if it allows one to fall back asleep with relative alacrity.  In the middle of the night, by contrast, you can easily convince yourself that even if it takes hours to return to dreamland, that’s better than rising from the mattress.

No doubt there is some sort of evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon: our hunter-gatherer ancestors who were better at nighttime vigilance were more likely to pass down their DNA than those who slept soundly while mastodons and saber-toothed tigers prowled nearby.  I blame the cavemen, therefore, for any insomnia I might experience.

 Given that, it hardly seems worth worrying about.

Not now, anyway; it’s twelve o’ clock noon and all is well.