Thursday, August 27, 2009

News from the Poetic World

It would be simpler, I suppose,
to live in a world purely prose.

When I was younger I believed that everything could be explained, should be explained, in a purely rational and logical manner. Kurt Gödel, Lao Tzu and a universe that places duct tape where it needs to be, convinced me that the world is more complex than that. So I live and love in a world where I've learned some facts through fiction, where the real news comes from poets instead of pressmen and I've learned that there are some things I must constantly relearn, some things I must unlearn and many things I'll never know.

William Carlos Williams
tells us that "it is difficult to get the news from poetry" and Christopher Morley noted that "the bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets." And it is on my bicycle that I find the time to think, to explore, to see the world at a pace that suits me. For I am still an impatient man, an unreasonable man, whose not quite willing to accept the purely pedestrian pace and range given me by bipedal locomotion. I take both a lesson from and issue with Priestley as I ride my graceful gadget to the wild places, the roads less traveled by that make all the difference.

Every trip brings something to my attention, or removes something from my attention that I've been paying too much mind to. And I never know what lies around the next turn in the trail, even on trails I've been down dozens of times and that, perhaps, is why I keep returning to some familiar places, to see the changes in the world and in me. But other days, like this day, I'm drawn to some place old to the world yet new to me, where I can be at least a bit lost as I follow my wheels where they seem to want to go.

Today, this morning actually, it's the old roads up the west side of Rattlesnake Ridge. There are no rattlesnakes on this side of the Cascades but the name is more evocative than "rattling seed-pod ridge" so that is what's stuck to this chunk of rugged terrain.

My map, as always, is not the terrain, but it is enough to draw me here, to this wonderful network of old logging roads and powerline cuts and winding gravel tracks that lead up to towers that blink day and night and relay voices up and over the solid stone. I pass by the gate that bars the cars, pause by the rusting remains of a once-powerful machine slowly being returned to the earth it once moved. The blackberries are thick here and heavy with fruit. My second breakfast is free for the taking.

I'd told Christine this would be a three-hour tour, but possibly three hours in the Gilligan-sense, so I might not be back until noon. I'd left at seven, it's close to ten when I turn around with many trails left unexplored.

It is down and fast and the way home, like the way up, involves one exit's worth of freeway riding. One exit is enough for today's lesson.

And that lesson is one I've known and forgotten and of which, apparently, I need to be reminded. For when you live in a poetic world, a world of duct tape miracles and soul-freeing beauty right in your backyard, you must remember that there are certain rules, rules not of logic but of poetic justice, which should not be ignored.

"The first rule of flat club is that nobody talks about flat club." Or something like that. If Tyler Durden was a cyclist, I'm sure that's what he would have said.

What I said, stupidly, I said yesterday on this blog. I said (wrote actually) "
I hesitate to write this, lest I rouse the wrath of the tire gods, but I've had zero issues with these tires. None. No flats."

"Thwack, thump, thwack, thump." My dad would call the sound coming from my back tire "a hell of racket." A rationalist would call it the screw I'd just run over. I call it the universe sending me yet another wake-up call. I know how the world works, but I forget sometimes. I just have no idea why it works this way. But it does.

The screw keeps the air in until I make it off the freeway. At Preston I stop, fix the flat and take pictures. As soon as I remove the screw, the air wooshes out. I think this is the kind of flat that True Goo would do a good job of sealing but my two brand new True Goo tubes are on my kitchen table back at home.

And now I'm home, reminded again that I live in a strange and wonderful world. I have a tube to patch, some hail Remas to mutter, some balance to restore.

I get flats all the time. Remember that, you read it here.

Keep 'em rolling,



Loganenator said...

You still have a couple more to go before you beat Russ Roca's record in Portland, OR. Four flats during their short stay and one of those while he was giving an eloquent talk on the joy of cycling. ;)


Bob said...

Are you planning on some scientific experimentation with the TrueGoo tubes involving an old tire and various objects? There was a bit of talk on the MTBR forum saying that the Goo doesn't always heal the wound and that once it gets on the tube a patch will not hold.

A bicycle sure is a great place to think and daydream. Sometimes I only vaguely remember the details of a long ride, I'm so lost in my thoughts. Then again, I was one of those guys in grade school who always got in trouble for staring out the windows.


Anonymous said...

There's no doubt about it, sharp pointy things suck.

Great post, Jack

dhd said...

Hail Rema! I'll have to remember that next time I get a flat...

Simon said...

I can relate, albeit, not as eloquently as you. Yesterday, on my ride home, I stopped to help a Dad and his young daughter fix a flat. They had left home without any means to do so and I had a spare. It took less than 10 minutes. He really wanted to compensate me for my time or at least for the tube. I refused saying that I was sure I would be paid back some time down the road. About a mile from home my bullet-proof-front-wheel-armidillo went all squirly. I had another spare but I was just close enough to home to make the walk easier than stopping there to fix it.

RonC said...

Your post inspired me to look up the etymology of the word 'hubris' on Wikipedia. Good stuff. Pretty gruesome some of it. Check it out.

DW said...

Thought you might like that one...bit more "tech heavy" than I'd imagine you'd be after, but it's got some pretty good inspiration and recommendations in it for getting more people out on two wheels for utility AND fun.

jimmythefly said...

I'd never read the duct-tape miracle post before, good stuff, that!

Any particular reason you're running goo tubes rather than just going tubeless w/sealant?

Michael R pdx said...

The best "I got a flat today, oh boy" story ever written.


You can't have my name said...

I told you...

The Flat Gods have spoken. With screws.

The Stouts said...

Thanks for that eloquent reminder of what cycling is all about! I think I'll be remembering to shift my thoughts tomorrow morning when I get in the saddle. It is all too easy to think to much about the unimportant stuff and too little about the priceless things.