February 4 2012 Ride: Riparian Reflections

Yesterday dawned so beautifully warm and sun-drenched, I actually put on a t-shirt. Then I remembered that I lived here, and put on a jacket, too. Still, it was invigorating for a moment to think that the sunlight might mean that our long, sloshy winter was over.

I’d like the long, sloshy winter to be over both literally, and figuratively. For nearly six months, I’ve been struggling with problems at work of the sort that keep reappearing, just as I think I’ve shaken them. The best part is that they aren’t even really my problems. What I really want, at this point, is just for the sun to come out and stay out, thanks very much.

Since my car was fixed and my rack was replaced, I was ready to roll. I thought of all my local rides, places that might be sunniest and prettiest and easiest. The answer was obvious: the Sammamish River Trail. So off I went to Marymoor Park.

Look at that shiny new bumper!

Anyway, the ride felt great. Really, really great. All my fussiness and tension seemed to melt away when I got on my bicycle. For the first time in a long while, I knew I was thinking clearly. And despite the new-camera-ness of the universe, I didn’t want to stop.

But then, of course, I did anyway. I have photographic obligations now, you know.

The river wound its way beside me in a glorious ribbon of blue, as if the ground had just opened up and let the sky through from beneath the earth.

Parts of the trail were crowded with people, forcing me to ring my bell as least a dozen times in 100 feet, but then I’d get to the stretches in between the parking areas, and the trail would open up again.

I was peddling hard and fast, working my snow-addled legs and pushing my lungs. For weeks I’ve been stuck in the house. For months I’ve been dealing with problems at work that aren’t of my own creation. It was time to kick out the jams!

Unlike my last Samammish River ride, I didn’t see any wildlife. The trail was too crowded, and the sun was still too high in the sky.

The new camera, which is proving to be just as fantastic as I expected, allowed for sun-soaked photos of both bike and scenery.

Of course, it wasn’t until I got it home that I realized I’d had the ISO set at 800 the entire time, which meant I had to do a lot of noise-reduction in Photoshop. But otherwise, I think the photos speak for themselves! Or they better, as my “Photo Voice” is really ridiculously high-pitched and embarrassing, much like the voice I use to talk to my cat. “Ew are a wittle photo, aren’t ew? OOOOOOO, you’re soooo adorable! How did you get so adorable?”

For more thoughts on my new camera, you can head on over to Snapbugblog and check out my photos and initial impressions.

I spent most of the ride mulling over big concepts: life, work, and where I want to be in my future. Recently, I’ve decided that I’d like to do some sort of ridebloggian book. I don’t really know how to start going about that, though, so it’s more of a niggling idea in the bag of my mind (“bag of my mind” is a typo, but it’s so apt that I left it!). I envision a “Tales from the Trails” sort of format, with rides around the Northwest that I haven’t taken before (and they are many) and gorgeous photographs. The problem is, I’m not sure if I should just go do the rides and then pitch the completed book, or pitch something using the work I’ve already done here. Considering that I have a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and have worked as a professional writer, screenwriter and writing teacher, I feel very stupid about this.

This conundrum occupied my mind for a while, as well as mulling over magazines that might be a good fit for my writing. I haven’t found any yet, but I’m no expert in magazines. Locally, I looked at Sunset and at Seattle Magazine and Seattle Met, but they’re all short-feature based. None of them seem like they would publish what rideblog essentially involves: a story. Yet the publishers of short fiction aren’t really appropriate either. Rideblog isn’t exactly a memoir, and it’s not really travel writing, either.

The web, of course, is the perfect place to publish what I write, and I’m eternally grateful that this format exists. Well do I remember the world before the internet: that was the place I graduated into, where giant publishing companies and uber-powerful agencies controlled most of the print media on Earth. Today, small companies proliferate. Self-published titles actually sell, and sometimes a self-published writer even makes it big. Like the music industry, the publishing industry is a dinosaur that seems too big, and too entrenched, to react to the epic changes occurring in the way we consume media. I’d like to throw my lot in with those toothy, nimble, big-brained little mammals, if I might. But first I have to find them!

By the time I’d reached the nine mile mark, it was obvious I needed to turn around and return home, or I wouldn’t be able to pick up my son in time. There was just one problem.

I’d been riding like the wind, racking up miles with effortless rapidity. I thought this was because my body was burning to ride, and my mind was clear and focused.

Nope: there was a tail wind. Ain’t that just the way?

It took me twice as long to ride home as I expected, facing a headwind so stiff that roadies struggled to pass me (sometimes calling out “Quite a wind, eh?” as they churned slowly by). By the time I arrived back at the parking lot, I was exhausted and sweaty, and the glorious sunshine was in full retreat.

In the distance, the white tents set up for the horse-based circus show Cavalia were lit against the pink of the setting sun and the edges of the distant mountains. I paused to snap their picture.

Ahead, the future is always unexpectedly beautiful, a perpetual sunset. The only view we know for certain is the one in our rear view mirror.

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11 Responses to February 4 2012 Ride: Riparian Reflections

  1. monk says:

    Hey, I hope your book idea comes to fruition. As a nook owner, I’d like mine in epub format, please. ;) You’re absolutely right about the music and publishing industries. I’m so thankful for digital music and my home recording studio.

  2. Auchen says:

    ” The only view we know for certain is the one in our rear view mirror.”

    I like that.

  3. Jim Duncan says:

    Wow, your photos really pop with the new camera. Yes, digital self-publishing would be interesting to explore. Recent article I read discussed how new authors will price a digital book on Amazon for .99 and go from there. ‘Course Amazon isn’t exactly boutique marketing but the experience might be worthwhile. Glad you’re having fun with the camera. I’ve got my new smartphone and doing the same with its camera. Jim

  4. anniebikes says:

    Aha, onward you ride…some of life’s big questions are mulled over in the course of a bike ride. Some people think we ride for exercise while most of us regulars know it’s also for mental clarity. Good luck with your future writing and publishing. I can put you in touch with someone who used Create Space through Amazon for self-publishing if you need an opinion from someone who’s traveled that route.

  5. disabledcyclist says:

    I loved this entire post,my friend,and the pics were-as always-of the highest quality,looks like the new digs (camera,in this case) are working out just fine :)

    I know not very much about publishing or the writing of books-I think you have a grand idea there though having read back through your entire blog archive…I’d buy it :) I DO know of some periodicals that may suit what you speak of,most notably the reader’s forum that is Bicycle Times magazine ( bicycletimesmag.com ,their sister publication is Dirt Rag at dirtragmag.com FWIW-I’m a lifetime subscriber to each,BTW),and personally I think they would love some contributions from you (paid contributions,I might add ;) ),as well as Urban Velo ( urbanvelo.org ). BT really is a “reader’s forum”,and a good portion of it’s content each issue (6 per year at present) is from readers and riders from around the world. With your talent for photography plus your skill and background writing,it’s MHO they would be very interested in your work. I know you can email submissions to the editor (Karen Brookes,a truely awesome person and an e-friend\occasional phone friend of mine for several years now)…I know if they’ve published MY drivel more than twice (2 submissions several years back,plus several “letter to the editor” ‘s ),they will love yours :)

    Should you publish something or be published,be sure to let us know (an email would be appreciated if possible too,in case I missed the post here),I’d buy a copy :)

    The DC

  6. rideblog says:

    Monk, I’ll make sure I epub :). I keep vacillating on a Kindle, but then I think the camera has solved that question for a while!

    Auchen, good to hear from you! I can be very profound, but only when sparked by my own photo.

    Jim, wait till you see the new Snapbugblog photos (of course, I’d have to post them first). That camera gets more amazing by the day. I just told The Patient Guy that I was stunned by my own photography!

    All, I have thought about self-publishing, but since I haven’t even tried regular publishing, I feel like I ought to give that a spin, first.

    Annie, this is why I shouldn’t go a month between bike rides, since I’m not kidding when I say I don’t think I’m actually thinking the rest of the time.

    Finally, DC, thanks for the ideas! I’ll go check those out and see what I think.

    Whew, you guys gotta stop all commenting at once!

  7. Jim Duncan says:

    P.S. Look forward to snap bug and I hear you about traditional route. Still Interesting & timely piece on digital publishing in today’s WSJ, here at:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204662204577201113248368598.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop titled ” A Mystery Highlights a Fast Shift to Digital.” Some good links, too.

  8. LuckyChow99 says:

    LOL, your “tailwind accounting” reminded me of the same situation I experienced this past summer while riding my Pashley Roadster. I was tooling along on the Silver Comet Trail, all the while thinking “this bike really rocks today. So glad I came out! Gosh, those Brits can really build a great bike. Who’d think that this 52 pounder could glide along so effortlessly!” Then I turned around to come back. It didn’t take me long to issue a retraction!

  9. rideblog says:

    Lucky, that’s exactly what I was thinking :). I felt so foolish when I realized what had happened.

  10. gl. says:

    “I’d been riding like the wind, racking up miles with effortless rapidity. I thought this was because my body was burning to ride, and my mind was clear and focused. Nope: there was a tail wind.”

    oh, god. i know this moment so well.

  11. rideblog says:

    It’s ugly, isn’t it gl?

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