Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh S--t!



The EarthQuaker whips past the animal barn, late to staff meeting. Love that Raleigh Superbe.
We are not called to renounce the material world, but to discipline ourselves to enlightened materialism. Stewarding those possessions we have is part of this discipline. Here is the Raleigh, its first time back to the site where I found it, obviously offered up to someone who would restore and love it. I've regeared it, lubed and adjusted all bearings, new chain, new saddle, upside downed the handlebars and taped, great new brake pads, and Carradice saddle bag. She runs like a dream. I didn't get the saddle clamp quite tight enough, however, which is why the saddle is tilted up a little too much--perfectly comfortable, though. Some cyclists don't ride Brooks saddles--what must they be thinking?

Who needs the Department of Motor Vehicles? Anarchists don't let anarchists drive cars...
(A more normal seat angle, before the ride home...)


Well, something magical happened today, almost accidentally. I didn’t really plan it, but I smelled it on the wind…
I was trying to figure out what was causing the shudder in the school’s hammered Chevy Astro van this morning. There was also a complaint of a fuel starvation kind of problem, but I couldn’t recreate that one. The shudder is very pronounced—no doubts about that one. I tried rotating wheels around, in case that would provide a clue, but eventually decided that I would just take the thing to the Chevy dealer, who has a lift, and knows the quirks of this all-wheel-drive vehicle. This van really embodies many of the things I dislike the most about motor vehicles.
Of course, if I’m going to leave the van in town, I need a way to get back to Sierra Friends Center, right? So, I loaded up my Raleigh Superbe. While I was in Berkeley I got a used Brooks B15 saddle (the one that is slightly wider than a B17, and no longer available) from the library bike collective on Channing Way. It was totally sunburnt and dried out, but I upturned it and wrapped it in aluminum foil two nights ago, and poured about half a can of Huberd’s Shoe Oil onto the under side. This morning I wiped it down, put it on the Raleigh, covered it with a rag, and rode to the end of Jones Bar Road and back. It’s hard, like a new Brooks, but I think that it’ll break in just fine.
Trying to put all errands together, I dropped off some library materials, left the van with the garage, and went to the DMV to register our Ford truck for the road, and get my driver’s license straightened out. I got a fix-it ticket for not having my current address on my license in November. Considering that the CHP stopped me on my motorbike for going 97 mph, this seemed like a pretty mild outcome. When the officer told me that he had clocked me going 97, I spontaneously ejaculated, “HAH!!” I think that he was unused to that response, because he did eventually figure out that he had the wrong guy. No, really—I wasn’t going anywhere near that fast.
Well, I sat in line for some time at the DMV, under the fluorescent lights. I thought about Scott Savage and John Woolman. I thought about Alan Stahler, the slight, bookish scientist who lived in this house before me, and was car free, riding an old Raleigh ten speed bike to town almost daily. I was called to the window. I registered the Ford for the Center, and I cancelled my driver’s license. Actually, I let the license lapse, since it expired last month (Ooops!) and applied for an ID card. I no longer hold a valid DL. I am car free!!!!
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, I’M FREE AT LAST!!!!
It is an incredible relief to be car free. Initially, it will be a hell of an adjustment, but ultimately I am going to really enjoy living in the Light of sustainable transportation choices. I imagine that there will be some tough conversations with folks who just don’t relate.
I pedaled all the way home on the old “all steel bicycle.” I didn’t walk it once. It was a glorious, crisp day for a ride. The new Mathauser brake pads stop really well—I scared myself a couple of times, expecting the old lousy brake performance. I never thought once about the B15 saddle, so it must have been fine.
I feel somehow that this blog should be more dramatic, funnier, more full of spiritual conviction. The truth is, however, that I just feel relieved.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Robin M. said...

Carl,

Do you call this doing the full Savage? No, I guess that would require that you renounce living with electric lights, etc.

I wasn't sure - did you intend to give up your license before you went to the DMV or were you inspired while sitting there?

God bless you on this path - I suppose you'll need all the help you can get.

9:27 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Well, Robin, I hate to perpetuate the Quaker apochrypha about George Fox telling William Penn, "Wear thy sword as long as thee canst," because it would have been terribly out of character for Fox to say any such thing, BUT... I have worn the sword of motor vehicles uneasily for many, many years. Kind of like when I quit smoking, it was just time to lay it down. Of course, today it is raining really hard, and I have a doctor's appointment at one o'clock. No good deed shall go unpunished, I suppose...

8:18 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Young Man:
Beware the tempting snares of cyclo-lust! Actually I'm kind of jealous of your Raleigh Superbe as my "nice" bike was stolen a few months ago and I'm making do with a servicable but rickety folding bike which is not perhaps the best vehicle for icey winter roads.

So forgive me for being all worldly, vain and fashion-conscious, but since reading of your new-found interest in bicycles I've been wondering: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A HAT?. I remember some blog conversation way back when where you were making gentle fun of my (admittedly aweful) Tilley Hat. I defended myself by saying it was the semi-official plain hat of my yearly meeting (alas!) but also that it was super-practical for bicycling: the crushability, the straps. What is the bike-friendly plain guy to wear these days?
Your friend,
Martin
The vain Quaker Ranter

7:17 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Rebecca Sullivan said...

Way to go Carl

i was never sure when you really were going to get rid of your liscence but you have done it. what about the truck and taking students places on your night. guess that won't happen.

hope the ridesin the rain go well.

rebecca

11:24 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Rebecca Sullivan said...

way to go Carl.

never new when you would really get rid of that liscence. what about your truck and picking up that vegie oil? guess this gets you off the hook for taking people into town on your night.

hope the rides in the rain go well. i now you can do it and that it is possible even if far. no problem for you.

rebecca

11:26 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being car free! I suspect that the transition will not be difficult. You work where you live, your time is your own (e.g., no kids or other family to shuttle around, although it sounds like you’ll have a few disappointed students) and you are fit enough to peddle anywhere. It may get trickier as your career or home life changes, but not necessarily impossible to shed the car forever. If anyone can do it, you can.

6:32 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being car free! I suspect that the transition will not be difficult. You work where you live, your time is your own (e.g., no kids or other family to shuttle around, although it sounds like you’ll have a few disappointed students) and you are fit enough to peddle anywhere. It may get trickier as your career or home life changes, but not necessarily impossible to shed the car forever. If anyone can do it, you can!

6:33 AM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Martin-
What I really wear on the bike is Bell's new Metro Citi helmet. It is a Plain Helmet--not a bundh of graphics, not super vented, no spoiler at the back. Instead, it has a rubberized coating on the foam at the bottom to stand up to life as a commuter helmet, a tab in the back where you can clip a blinkie, and a visor. It is available in Plain black, but I recommend the yellow, because it is much more visible. The real question is what do you do for a hat once you have arrived, right?

Well, there's your Tilley--a very intelligent hat. Akubra makes a much more attractive fur felt hat called the Traveller which packs flat--but don't fold. (www.davidmorgan.com). Another option is that some Plain folks have worn a simple kind of billed hat, though I think that only boys and unmarried men wore them. www.hatpeople.com have a Sports hat that would fit this bill--wool, very packable, adjustable drawstring hidden in the hat band, hand made by a collective of excellent people in OR. I have a simple black wool hat by them that I take with me when a brimmed hat is not practical.

If you are riding to and from work, for instance, I suppose that you could have a hat in either place--I'm not sure that is simple, though, expecially as expensive as the Tilleys have gotten!

Anyway, I am sure that God doesn't care what we wear. It is all a question of what helps thee to be faithful?

9:19 PM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

To A Nonny Mouse:
Just so you know, the day after I relinquished my license, I had another occasion to go to town. I took my Surly Long Haul Trucker and pulled the B.O.B. trailer--no fooling about with ancient heavy three speeds! I was rained on, hailed on, and snowed on all in one ride. The carfreeness can be challenging. Actually, it was fun and sort of ironic. Brutal weather is a good antidote to self-righteousness.
-Carl

9:24 PM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Kiri said...

It's hard to go car free when (clear throat) SOMEONE is holding my bicycle hostage!

11:03 AM, January 21, 2006  
Anonymous Peggy Senger Parsons said...

Wasn't going 97 - uh huh,

10:57 AM, January 22, 2006  
Anonymous Peggy Senger Parsons said...

weren't going 97 - uh huh
Peggy Senger Parsons

4:43 AM, January 23, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Well, Peggy Parsons, I was thrilled to read your comment. It means that Conservative Friends, Liberal Friends, and Evangelical Friends are all hanging out together a little bit in cyber-space. WWJWS (What Would John Woolman Say?)

In the intereste of coming clean, I happen to know that some thousands of miles ago that little Yamaha pretty much topped out at 104 mph. Chasing a Hells Angel on a big BMW over Tehachapi Pass, I have seen speeds closer to 120 mph on the downhills, but that was years ago. The bike is probably still just as fast, but I have gotten a lot slower...

I hope Freedom Friends Church is going strong!

8:13 AM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous peggy senger parsons said...

Carl, you don't have to post this unless you want to...
Freedom Friends is thriving at 22 month old. We will probably make a move into bigger space this year. Most of the Friends there are new to Quakerism.
I am writing this from a hotel room overlooking Tampa Bay - it is 80 degrees. I ran away from the NW to do some continuing ed with my favorite Yoda-dude. The sun is shining - the sand is white, the water is blue, and I did rent the convertible. It does not suck to be me today.

I enjoy being able to check in on you and others through the cyber world.
Watch those toes!

peggy

7:38 AM, January 24, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

Peggy,
I will publish this note, because I want folks to know about Freedom Friends. FF is an evangelical Friends Church that is committed to radical inclusivity. It seems that some of these folks read the Bible (they are very Bible-centered compared to Liberal Friends), and apparently there's this guy Jesus in the latter part of the book who was all about not judging other people and loving one another even as he has loved us. Pretty cool. So, it seemed to these Friends that discrimination against others because of race, color, socioeconomic status, physical limitations, or sexual orientation was not in keeping with how they wanted to be disciples of Christ. This was a bold and radical stand. There are some very interesting things going on among all the branches of Friends. I will soon blog about some events in Friends United Meeting...

Peggy--That Bible book you all are so into says a lot about sabbath too. Enjoy your rest!
-Carl

7:54 AM, January 24, 2006  
Anonymous Mica said...

Hum. Funny but when I think of you, I never think of you driving a car...it is always a bike (or motorcycle) that brings you to mind. So, this discarding of the driver's license seems like the natural, healthy choice. In many ways I envy it. With three kids in suburbia, I'd have to change a lot to make a no car lifestyle work. But, I aspire to it and can easily imagine it.

5:03 PM, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Jyoti said...

yo bro, greetings from Brighton England, I am a white dude; working class white trash, just discovered your most excellent blog.

Love your stuff... I am following the teachings of the Buddha for many years now, and am now at the intersection where the Buddha and Jesus meet... was at the Ecumenical Community of Taizé in France last year 2 weeks before Bro Roger was slain. (http://www.taize.fr/)

Was in the high Arizona desert last year at the Garchen Buddhist Institute - www.garchen.net - loved it! Am just reading EDWARD ABBEY'S 'Desert Solitaire'

Anyway will write again just saying hallo... is there anybody there...

Your blog is a great read and you are engaging with issues that I am confronting in my life too.

Thank you...

Love is the first motion... is that study of feces, when the shit hits the fan XD sorry sad english scatological humour


ps
Just getting my bike fixed for the summer... so you dig the Brookes saddles?

6:53 AM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger Carl Magruder said...

I, like many others, was shocked to hear about Brother Roger's murder. It is a powerful reminder, I suppose, of the impermanence of life. I suppose you carry some of the gifts of that place in your travels to Arizona and elsewhere.

I do recommend the fine product of England that is the Brooks saddle. A bicycle is an excellent conveyance for a spiritual traveller.

Blessings on your journey!

-Carl

4:46 AM, March 02, 2006  

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