Wednesday, March 23, 2005

An excellent day's bicycling

Rain today, giving opportunity for a haircut; haircut weeks overdue. The opportunity arrives because I can drive to work and stop off for the cut on the way home. It was in the mid-70's that I first started using Pierre as my barber and have stuck faithfully since. Since he's even older than I am, the time will come when I have to find another. This already happened with my GP, my "primary care physician" at our HMO, who retired a bit more than a year ago; he advised me to choose someone relatively young for my new doc. I'm also growing older alongside my dentist and she is quite likely to retire before I stop needing her services. These transitions may be inevitable, but they are not a pleasure for me.

Yesterday was another story: frigid inbound ride, but pleasant since it's now light enough for me to ride the middle third of the trip through the park, rather than along its border. My arrival at LC gave me a view that I anticipate the whole year: sun rising majestically before me as I turn onto Independence Ave in front of the building where I work. Independence being exactly East-West in orientation and pointing exactly at the mid-point between the sun's most Northern and most Southern yearly extremes, it's an event like the glorious solstice and equinox lightings at the prehistoric calendrical monuments of Europe.

The wind finally turned, improving my spirits on yesterday's outbound ride. After weeks of daily headwinds, I was blessed with still air and some gentle southerly breezes. Though I'd told myself to take it easy, I found that I couldn't slow down after catching two traffic lights green that are usually red for me, and, though slowed by winter gear and in indifferent winter physical condition, I also found that I made it home without once having to put my foot down on pavement -- a small moment of triumph, but one worth trying to remember.

I recently scanned and converted to online form parts of an old cycling manual, called simply CYCLING and published in 1972 by the Italian Central Sports School and the European professional racing commission of the time. Since it's sort of germane to my topic and is right at hand, here's first part of the chapter on bike frames, in the stilted academic prose of corporate authorship with, apparently, literal translation. I quote it for its intrinsic interest, but mostly because yesterday afternoon I experienced a nice sense of harmony with my bicycle.

Chapter 5 Modalities for constructing a frame to measure

The mechanical machine (bicycle) and the human machine (athlete) must be as far as possible harmonized, that is to say they should form a single unit in order for the cyclist to obtain maximum performance. Therefore, bearing in mind that the morphology of the athlete varies from one person to another while at the same time generally remaining within given limits, it is indispensable to plan and carry out a bicycle which is perfectly suited to the physique of the athlete.

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