Friday, July 29, 2011

It's All About the Bike

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a friend and a review from a trusted magazine. If you are remotely interested in bicycles, it is a must read. It packs the history of cycling and a good amount of technical information into a shortish and fun to read package.
Penn uses his quest to get a custom built bicycle as the backdrop for unravelling the story of the bicycle and its special place in the world. For the history buff it is an interesting lens through which to see the changes that have taken place over the last 150 years. As Penn points out, the bicycle was a leading edge of many of the changes in the early 20th century. It made the populace more mobile, it helped liberate women, it provided a healthy past time, and was a huge employer.
For the bicycle buff the book is an even vaster treasure trove. It has some technical details. It tells the stories behind some of the biggest innovations in bicycling. It validates the special place a bicycle holds in your heart.
For the rest of the world, it is just full of great stories and good writing. Hopefully, it is also full of inspiration to hop on a bicycle!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

It's Raining Men

The weekend schedule looked perfect for a Saturday paddle and terrible for a Sunday paddle. Unfortunately, the club paddle was scheduled for Sunday. There is no reason the club cannot support two paddles in a weekend; plenty of people paddle both days on the weekend. So I posted a Saturday paddle.
When Friday rolled around, it became obvious that my grand plan was poorly conceived. The reason Saturday looked so good for paddling was that H was going to a party in RI for one of her friends. My plan had the party starting at like noon so that she wouldn't have to hang around too much before heading over and wouldn't mind leaving around four to fetch me. Reality had the party starting around 2pm. My plan had me not needing to attend the party. Reality had me listed as a required guest. There was also all the logistics involved with packing up bug for a full day away from home.
I considered not showing up for the paddle. H considered coming down for the day. Then we hit upon the middle path: Two cars! I would go down in the morning and paddle. H and bug would go to the party after the morning nap. When I got off the water, I would go to the party. Everybody wins!
The paddle was well attended. I expected that only TM, PB, and KP would show. However, CMO and JS also showed. At the put in everyone looked to me for a plan since I had posted the trip.... How easily everyone forgets that I am not a planner or a details person. My plan was simply to paddle for a while and be back to the put in by 2:30 or 3.
I struggled to come up with a more detailed plan and I decided on a reverse outer west passage. We would south paddle along the Narragansett coast to Whale Rock, or there about, cross over to Jamestown, and paddle north along the Jamestown coast. The conditions were forecasted to be benign: calm sea state and minimal winds. All in all, I figured it would be relaxing way to get some distance under the blades. Then I saw PB pack his helmet...
The paddle was exactly what I'd hoped for: long and relaxing. The conditions offered little in the way of challenge or chances to find trouble. We all paddled and chatted and watched as men fell from the sky and disappeared into the sea.
At regular intervals a large military plane would glide down the coast and circle just past Pier 5. Then it would drop four people into the sky. The people drifted down into the water and disappeared.
The crossing to Jamestown was interesting from a group management perspective. PB and KP, who had just returned from a cycling trip in Europe, were getting tired and decided to cross before Whale Rock. They are both smart paddlers and paddle together a lot, so I was comfortable with their decision. Besides they would remain within sight of the main group the whole time anyways.
Once the main group started crossing JS spotted a bunch of birds in the distance and wanted to check if the fishing would be good. So he also peeled off from the main body of the group. I was less comfortable with this decision since JS was heading into open water alone, but he is an experienced paddler and capable of making decisions for himself. Besides, his decision out him at risk without compromising the safety of the rest of the group. We were a strong triad seasoned salt dogs.
Part of me felt that allowing the group to split was an unwise decision. I could have been more forceful about keeping us all in a single pod. The other part of me felt that it wasn't my place to tell people on a show and go paddle what to do. Everyone on the trip was experienced and intelligent. They knew the pros and cons of their actions. If at any time, I felt that anyone's decision put the others at risk, I would have said something. Since that was not the case se la vie.
After lunch, we all paddled home along the Jamestown shore. There was some rock play and a lot of clear blue water paddling: perfect.
When we got back to the put in, I had to run to make the party. I didn't get to go to Java Madness, but I did get to go hang out with my best girls! Everyone really did win!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

mark tozer's blog: Leaders...Born Of Nature or Practice?

mark tozer's blog: Leaders...Born Of Nature or Practice?: "Leaders, born or made? Scholar Richard Arvey found that among twins, leadership is 30 percent genetic/born and 70 percent learned/enviro..."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mental Health Day

Being the parent of a one year old is awesome, but stressful. H and I don't get many chances to paddle and even fewer chances to paddle together. So, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and bug's day at daycare. H organized a hooky day paddle with some of our favorite playmates!
This paddle was H's first day on the water since Bug's arrival, so we decided to take it slow. The day was calm and forecasted to stay that way, so we decided to do a mini outer west passage route. We figured it would be flat and relaxing.
The crossing from Bay Campus to Dutch Island was a nice warm up. The paddle along Jamestown past Ft. Getty was continued the relaxed conditions.
Just past Ft. Getty, the conditions got a little lively. We're talking anthills, but it was more than we expected. It was actually kind of nice to have some bumps. I find paddling on glass boring and tiring. This was perfect for paddling and chatting.
About halfway down the Jamestown coast we turned and crossed the Bay. Our lunch spot was the standard outer west passage lunch area. The highlight of the crossing was watching a helicopter land at one of the mansions south of Bonnet Shores and pick up a passenger.
Our lunch spot was occupied by one of the beach's owners. Being anarchistic socialist kayakers we landed anyways. Beaches cannot be owned (at least not below the high tide line). Always the diplomat, H did "ask" the lady if it was OK for us to use a remote corner of the space for lunch. We behaved ourselves.
After lunch, we headed home along the bluffs. A few of us decided to brave the rocky shore despite our lack of helmets. The biggest wave was barely tape height; what could possibly go wrong?
A rouge wave pushed BH into the rocks. He rode it like a champ, but in the end he wound up out of the kayak and standing knee deep in the water. RS and I decided we were not going to rush in and try to pull BH and his kayak off the rocks. We didn't have helmets, the wave patterns were unpredictable, and BH seemed to have his wits about him. We yelled for him to push his kayak out. Before he could comply TM dashed in to the rocks and did the rescue.
When we talked later, he said he thought that BH looked like he was a little shaky and he was confident that he could pull off the rescue without any risk to himself. Things worked out for the best and BH was put back into his kayak without further incident.
For the remainder of the paddle, we stayed well off shore. The rest of the trip was a relaxing finale to a relaxing paddle.
H and I had plenty of time to get cleaned up, drive home, and retrieve bug. She had a fun day with her buds and we had a good day with ours.