Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Flat Tire Paradise

Somewhat as a result of some self reflection, over the past few weeks, I changed the name of my blog. When I started this endeavor almost two years ago, my entire life was revolving around cameras, pictures, photography, and travel -- primarily in the desert Southwest. I am really unsure of the new name, since the old one was just simply descriptive, and the new one is ... well, slightly more philosophical.

Today, my life revolves around ... and around. If I have a camera these days, it's incidental, and more often than not, it's a cell phone and not a 4x5" film camera. Occasionally, I will throw my digital into my bike bag (and go to a bike race in Menlo Park on Saturday). It's a lot more likely I am carrying a spare tube. And some tubes of gu.

My blogging and reading the blogs of cyclists has led me to be back on a bike. Why I was drawn to the cycling blogs, or they drawn to me is a subject needing academic study by someone like Studs Terkel. But the truth is, reading about cycling put me back on a bike. On January 26 last year, I got back on a bike and rode 6 broken miles. I never should have quit in the first place. Those of you that inspired me, I should live longer because of it.

I live in a major metropolitan area -- a gorgeous city -- with a fairly poor transit system, and I rarely drive. My life is much more defined by a bike, my family, caring for my aging parents, and contemplating a haircut, than it is by 30,000 annual miles of desert driving, to get a camera into some crowded backcountry paradise. There's a strong community in my life today, and I haven't driven my own car this year. I live a much different life today, then I did two years ago in Mesa. When I cut my hair my friends said, "Was this ponytail longer than the last one?" and not, "Wow, I didn't recognize you."

When I look to what defines my life today, it's a gritty, joyous ride through wet manhole covers, potholes the size of a basketball, and an endless stream of broken green and brown bottles. Steep little hills that kick the crap outta Arizona. Horns honking, adrenaline pumping, lunchtime brawls into downtown for szechuan. Me dodging hazards and taxicabs to dine at one of 4000 restaurants, each with a Gypsy folk band. Or it's the meal I cook at home, the same one my mother cooked for me twice a month for the last so many years.

It's friendly cafes, family rock concerts, my father's workshop. Always -- I am a mule carrying groceries and a computer, dog biscuits in my pocket, raingear, shoes, a change of clothes, the encyclopedia brittanica, and a potted plant, and Shawn, don't forget to get the milk; It's me on a bike in a flat tire paradise, pushing these yellow bars into the mist.


Eclectchick said...

So nice . . .

shawnkielty said...

Thank you.

Jill said...

Great post.

I felt a lot of the same sentiments as you, so this one hit home. When I first started blogging, I didn't set out to be a bicycle blogger. I really didn't even ride all that much at the time. I was coming off a long hiatus from much cycling. I had lived for a year in Idaho, and had I became something of a gym rat during that time. I had a spin class/body pump schedule and everything. But when I moved to Alaska, I lost my gym membership and needed some way to keep my friends and family informed since I've never been a good e-mailer.

And somehow, "Up in Alaska," became what is is - a bike blog -and I became the cyclist I am. Strange.

I do like the new name. I've contemplated giving my blog a new bicycle-related name from time to time, but there's something about sticking to its roots that I like, too.

Jill said...

By the way, I like your new haircut, too.

Fritz said...

Wow. Nice.

lauren said...

that's a good post. i like your new title.

i'm in awe of you and how much you ride and don't use a car. it's a very noble thing.

i'm re-scheduling some daily routines so that i can commute by bike to san mateo once a week now. i'm looking forward to it.

shawnkielty said...

I appreciate all your great comments and I hope it holds. It's a philosophic flat, . . . thank god.

I think I am going to need to teach my son to drive so -- aside from a few parental responsibilities -- I am very green. And I ride a bike.

It reminds me of the time I had to teach him to stand and ... well, never mind.

jill -- You're admirable and you deserve all the noteriety you get. You're a cyclist and it's icy wet crazy strange. Don't change your name. "Up in Alaska" is synonomous with winter cycling.

Lauren -- It's a tough commute you have. This is a commute destination hell. But go for it. Bart to Millbrae and a ride in on that Bayside trail could do it. Be really nice on a calm sunny day. Have breakfast at Nini's. Two Scrambled, country sausage spicy, Bell peppers and onions in the hash browns, and a side of bisquits and gravy. And French toast. On the way home, stop for apple Martinis.

shawnkielty said...

I didn't really mention this -- but I think it's cool to commute even one day a week.

I thought it was so cool when I showed up at my son's concert, and he asked -- "Did you ride your bike?" -- because, he knows -- it's cool to ride a bike.

It's so cool to ride a bike.

The Old Bag said...

Great post of the metamorphosis...

Di said...

Yeah, I've experiences some tremendous changes with you over time, huh!?!?!--it seems fitting that you'd create a new title for the 'new you'!! Actually--it's ALL you--was always there--it's great to see you embracing each part of yourself this way!! I still have fond memories of long, sleepy nights in your truck out in the desert somewhere with little more than a map and camera--those were awesome times too!!!

Anyway---you've 'almost' inspired me to pump up the tires on my bike wasting away in the garage....hmmm...I'll think about it some more...haha!!

Great post!!!!!

Di said...

...that would be experienceD....time for bed!!!!