I am a deeply-committed music geek (as if that’s not obvious enough, duh), and there are very few things in my life that don’t feature background tunes when they’re happening. There is one major exception to this rule, though, and that would be cycling. I am pretty serious about the act of getting on a bike and taking to the road, or the trail, or the hidden deep-woods zones, and I never, ever, ever, never, ever do anything when I am on a bike that impedes my already damaged hearing, since the ability to perceive incoming sounds is a key to safely negotiating the path on a two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicle. So I always shake my head disapprovingly when I pass cyclists with headphones on, and have been doing so for many years. That’s dangerous and wrong. This year, however, I have been dismayed to discover a new source of sonic distraction on the bike trail: people riding with actual speakers on their bikes, so not only are they distracted from the dangerous world around them, but anyone else anywhere near them is also subjected to the tinny din of their trebly iPod-quality speakers. A few weeks ago, I was walking a trail with some family members, and the bucolic nature of our hike was disrupted three times by cyclists roaring up on us with speakers cranked, which (they seemed to believe) also mitigated the need for them to verbally notify us of their passage, via the courteous “on your left” or “bikes back” declarations that I always offer to pedestrians on the trail. Instead, we got bad Bon Jovi delivered with maximum volume and distortion, pushing us off the trail, and making conversation impossible until the owners of those odious musical rigs were well past us on the trail. This strikes me as a terrible evolution in the field of communal, public cycling, and I am hoping that these recent events are short-lived anomalies, though in my heart, I suspect they aren’t. I guess once you get to the point where you can carry on private conversations in public with a Bluetooth device stuck in your ear, then your ability to render courtesies to the other human beings within your sonic sphere atropies quickly, on foot or on bike. This seems a pity to me.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked the first four miles or so (round trip) of the Great Western Trail, and posted some sepia prints of that adventure. Earlier this week, insprired by the sunshine, relatively low winds (12 mph) and relatively high temperature (38 degrees), I decided to don my cold weather cycling gear (or is it my Ninja Suit?!?) and ride the full 35 miles (round trip) of the Great Western to Martensdale and back. Click the photo below to see some shots of the ride (once it had warmed up enough for me to remove my gloves so I could work the camera), including perhaps the best billboard and water-tower I have ever seen. I will apologize up front about the quality of some of the photos; I used my DROID Pro instead of my camera, and when you use the zoom on the phone, things get grossly grainy, grossly fast. Next time, the real camera goes riding with me. Lesson learned.
Our household goods are scheduled for delivery tomorrow morning, so today was the last day for a while when I didn’t really have anything that I absolutely had to do. So how to spend it? Well, since the weather was nice, I took a walk on The Great Western Trail, spending two hours on an amazingly well maintained multi-purpose path, not seeing another human being during the entire walk. I snapped some shots with my phone as I walked, not realizing that I had fat-fingered it into the “sepia” effect setting. When I downloaded the snaps on my computer, though, that sepia tone actually seemed appropriate and evocative somehow. So here are a few of those sepia shots showing how I spent a very enjoyable part of my afternoon today . . . before I am consumed by setting up a household tomorrow!