Consume Less

How can I save money?
What can I do about global warming?
How can I lose weight?
How can I work less often?
What can I do about sweatshops?
How can I spend more time with friends and family?
How can I focus on my spiritual health?
How can I get rid of my credit card debt?
How can I make moving easier?
How can I make more room in my house?
Where can I find more time to train?
How can I become a better cyclist?
How can I boycott big oil companies?
How can I show my disdain for global capitalism?

I try really hard on my blog to not sound preachy. That is harder than it sounds when you are a bike-riding vegan. Whenever transportation or eating, two huge topics with plenty of off-shoots, come up, anything a vegan or a bike rider says can easily be construed as trying to convince others to be more like us. I know this because plenty of vegans and commuters are rather annoying. But I do share their energy and conviction. So what to do? I strive to lead by example. Can you be a vegan athlete? Can you live in LA without a car? Well, I am doing what I can.

I cannot stop thinking about consumption (discussed previously). I worry that the simpler an argument becomes, the closer it is to being a wing-nut theory. I hate to throw anything away. When something I own breaks and I have to replace it, I fret over it for days. Even weeks. But the more I think about it, the more consumption relates to so many things we (well, many of us) care about. Global warming is an obvious example. Just buy less stuff. Cycling is less obvious. But nothing will make you a better cyclist than just riding more. Yes, you do have to have a functional bike and occasionally replace tires and tubes. For most of us though 11-speed cassettes are not going to improve our cycling.

I (right now anyway) have no interest in living off of the land in Humbolt County or Hawaii or somewhere so is it hypocritical that I own anything? I saw Derrick Jensen speak last year and he said ‘We are mammals, we consume. Zero consumption is not the goal.’
I agree. Just consume less. What do you think?

The Great Divide (race)

In Fall of 2006 my good friend Steevo and I set off to ride the Great Divide, a 2500-mile, 85% off-road mountain bike route along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. Steevo’s photos from his blog are here and here. I only managed to get one post up here.

The key word is ‘ride’. We tried to do it in 29 days and fell a couple hundred miles short of official completion. But anything you can ride you can race. The Great Divide Race started in 2004. It follows the maps from Adventure Cycling exactly. There is no support, no entry fee and no prizes. Pretty cool. (before the official race John Stamstad, who I have written about previously blazed the course in 19 days on his own).
But the route was extended north into Canada so….see where this is going? Long story short, one of the previous years’ winners, Matt Lee, suggested that the race also be extended. The GDR race organizer (apparently) did not think this was a good idea. So Matt started his own race: Tour Divide. And they are both happening at the same time right now. If useful website is a gauge to measure a race, then Tour Divide wins hands down. They have real-time GPS on every racer. I’ll be keeping up on this and thinking about what it must be like to ride over a hundred miles a day, off-road, with no support for over two weeks.

Punch fear in the face

Two great articles came out this week addressing fear and cycling.:
De-car-ing: The idea of cars as safety devices is a post in the LA Times ‘environmental’ blog, Emerald City. She answers the questions: Why do we feel so safe in our cars? Is cycling in the street dangerous? It’s written well and will help with those inevitable conversations with co-workers.
The second is from the legendary Bike Snob NYC, Get Over It: Surmounting the Obstacles to Cycling. If you’ve never read Bike Snob NYC let me be the first to say: Welcome to the internet. A lot of people have a lot to say. But most people who you would like to hear a lot from, say very little. Then there is Bike Snob NYC. He’s like the smartest person you know combined with the funniest person you know and, this is the best part, bothers to share both qualities with everyone else. Usually there is an indirect relationship with the amount of useless information you know about bicycles and sense of humor but thankfully there are exceptions.

Lastly, here are my two favorite quotes that mention getting punched in the face:
‘Never buy a bike from someone you can’t punch in the face.’ -A disgruntled eBay auction winner
‘Everyone has a plan till you get punched in the face.’ -Mike Tyson

Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?

Who says you have to eat meat to be a successful athlete?

Wow. ESPN. AND it is a good article complete with a suggested reading list. Have we reached a new level? I want to personally thank the vegan who sat next to Tony Gonzalez on that flight and talked to him about his diet. And Prince Fielder’s wife for reading Skinny Bitch. What I like about this articles is that it captures the ‘lifestyle’ idea that many of us embrace, without ‘wearing it on our arm’ as Mac Danzig says. Also profiled are Scott Jurek the ultra-runner and Pat Neshek, a pitcher in the Majors.

Faith in Vagueness

My friend Lisa Auerbach who writes the Little Blog of Revolutionary Knitting has an art show up called The Tract House. Ever see those little religious pamphlets that god-types like to leave on buses, in restaurants, in restrooms and other places for the curious to pick up and page through? Lisa, being the smart and smart-ass person she is thought, why should the religious-right have a stranglehold on tiny pamphlets as a means of spreading ideology? She contacted some equally smart and smart-ass friends to write them for her, with no limitations. I wrote one that does not translate well in pdf or any other electronic means of communication (cause it’s all about little pamphlets!), but Morgan wrote a kick-ass one called Faith in Vagueness. Enjoy.

Have faith in vagueness. Live with life held in only the broadest of strokes, to be
filled in as it comes into focus. Leaving space for co-incidences will naturally lead
to co-incidences; every falling leaf must fall somewhere, every space left for chance
will meet with chance. Vagueness is beauty. The vaguest of outlines happily leads
to a missed bus, an accidental walk home
late at night; an impressionistic plan will
be achieved, albeit through necessarily
meandering means.

Distrust of vagueness easily falls into
facile stagnation. Where is the beauty in a
planned adventure? In a deliberate conversation?
Many things never happen because
practicality gets in the way. But they may
just work out, if you launch yourself into them with optimism and faith that your
vagueness will solidify in the process.
With this in mind, co-incidences are no longer surprising, but expected. With so
many unconnected possibilities, it is inevitable that some will be fulfilled. The more
you have trust in chance, the more you are able to trust chance. Indeed, the more
you have trust in chance, the more attuned you will be to co-incidences you would
otherwise have been blind to.

So: of course the guy sat next to you on the bus that you struck up conversation
with is best friends with a friend of yours, living 5000 miles away. Of course one of
your best friends runs into another friend in a distant city on a train platform. Of
course some friends you haven’t seen in months walk into the restaurant you’re
eating at, miles from where you live. Of course.

-Morgan Beeby