Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The freeway seemed extra packed today. Part of it was that I left home at 6:30 AM instead of 6. That put me into the big city right at the 7:30 mark. The rest is probably tourist traffic. I'm really trying to soothe the Savage Beast that springs forth in these situations. Can't you feel yourself getting tensed up and frustrated when hemmed in by heavy traffic? If the Beast isn't brought under control I just know I'll do something I'll regret. Ok, let me put it another way. I'll probably do something that seems justified in my agitated state. All the while knowing deep down that in actuality it was stupid.

Part of my motivation was also knowing that there are only two days this week to do the long ride. Circumstances force two days of being in a box. ( the blogger hangs his head in shame )
Remember, though, that Monday was a commute to teach. That counts as riding the bike, just not to the regular office. If only my regular office were the race track. Rides are too precious to waste being aggrevated. They say that music soothes the Savage Beast. I turned off the portable radio and made my own music. Borrowing Gary's trick, I tried listening in my mind to a CD called "Weekend Getaways". This is some of the most relaxing music I know. Not being the most musical person in the world, I kept getting the thing wrong. That ended up frustrating me more. I'm doomed to make music on two wheels, which isn't all bad. Just don't ever ask me to sing for you!!

Switching gears, I tried to picture myself as Steve on the Vespa. There's a man who knows serenity, I thought. How would Steve's mind be as he rides serenely along looking for opportunities to make his meditative pictures? By golly, I feel myself relaxing. This feels nice. Also very foreign. Is this habitual madman actually feeling genial?

Managing to achieve a oneness with the traffic flow, Sophie and I were one stress-free pair. Oh, there was a little flurry in the karmic flow now and then. Always trying to leave a safe following distance ends up being like putting out the welcome mat. Cars would pull into the empty spot in front of me. Not so bad, actually. Three steps forward and one step back still netted me progress in the right direction. I was a little more put out when a moving truck pulled in front of me. Those puppies are really hard to see around, you know. Still, we were still hanging in with the calm attitude.

Cruising along, enjoying the ride, gently waving at people in cars to freak them out. Yes, life was good. My nose started twitching. Was that burning rubber I was smelling? You know how it is as a rider. First thing you do is look to see what part of you or your gear is sitting on a hot pipe. Nope, it's not me. Maybe it's that moving truck. Yes, it's definitely that moving truck. Yikes, the thing's smoking on the right rear! Back off, back off, Kaboom!!!!

The inside tire of the dual set literally blew up. The bad news was that it was the inside tire. No scattering to the outside for this shredded tire carcass. Everything came straight back out from under the rear of the truck. It was like someone was pitching ragged black rubber bits at me underhanded. Most of what went up into the air was little pieces. Suddenly the road ahead of me became very interesting to navigate. How can a tire have so many pieces? It looks like if you put all these pieces together the tire would be twice normal size. By now I had some space between us and was able to pretty much avoid the worst of it. Thank goodness for the smelly warning. But wait, the ride isn't over yet!

We were coming up to where I-205 takes off to the right. The truck and I are in the right lane. As you can imagine, the truck is slowing down fairly rapidly so I figure the driver has noticed the misfortune to his tire. Drivers behind me are slowing down as I have been tap dancing on the rear brake pedal to wake everyone up. With all the tire smoke and flying debris one would assume that EVERYONE is aware of what's going on. You would be stone wrong, Brother.

One driver in the lane to my left seems to be a lifelong member of the "No matter what, I will remain totally braindead" Club. This idiot is looking to take I-205 and actually dives between me and the truck. And he did it all without a cell phone crammed into his head! Remember, the truck is braking fairly hard, as am I. The fool in the car is seconds away from smashing into the back of the truck when he slams on the brakes. I swear the front of the car dives so far that the bumper touches the freeway. Feeling the pinch, I manage to hit the throttle and roll into the space recently vacated. I never saw a crash in my mirror so it seems everyone survived. Not to say that some cleaning of car seats wasn't going to be on the agenda soon.

I say you all can have this Zen stuff! I am going to stay tense and agitated. The only way I've ever known. This relaxing thing can be so stressful!!!

Miles and smiles,


Gary said...

I'm with you, bro. Zen is for the open road, with no other traffic to threaten you. In the freeway rush-hour arena, you'd better have your war-face on. Nice job keeping the rubber side down, but then, I'd expect no less from you, Dan.

Ride well,

Steve Williams said...

Sounds as if you were perfectly aware of what was happening and that the relaxed place did not interfere with recognition. For me the difference is never in readiness, but in what state I wish to be in. I make better decisions faster when I am calm. When I am tense and angry I continue to make bad ones.

I do find it a bit humorous seeing myself described as a serene person. I try to get there but it certainly isn't my default mode...

Glad you rode through this chaos and remained whole!


irondad said...

I agree with both of you on being relaxed and yet having the war-face on. I know, sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? It reverts to the "controlled aggression" versus "felony stupid" thing for me.

Further comment:

I think it's important to be physically relaxed on the bike to be most effective. The bike doesn't like tensed up arms and legs. That can cause weird inputs and makes it harder for the rider to have smooth control. The mind and body are better able to respond when relaxed. Think about it. When you're tense the breathing slows down and becomes very shallow.

In firearms training you hold your breath for just a little bit while aiming and squeezing. Hold it too long and everything goes to heck. Physically we need to be able to breathe often and deeply.

Mentally I am hyper vigilant which seems to contrast to the bodily state I'm looking for. If you think about it, the more vigilant one is in scanning and identifying hazardous situations, the more relaxing it can be. The farther ahead of yourself you spot trouble, the slower it seems to come at you. Kind of like a camera that records action at a fast pace then plays it more slowly.

Zen, though, IS better left for a place with few, if any, threats.