Friday, July 31, 2009

A simple Saturday spin

A few minutes ago I was sitting in my red chair enjoying a ham and cheese sandwich when a big pink bunny head balloon went rocketing past in a beeline to heaven. No doubt below some child had just burst into tears but the bunny balloon did not care, it was free from its Earthly bonds. It went up and up in a completely straight line until it hit a patch of different air where it moved side to side for a few moments before catching another express elevator and continuing upward passing behind the edge of my window and out of sight. I guess I should start to expect more floating objects, given yesterday’s blimp and this one today.

My morning was spent out riding my bike, alone, from my place up and across the base of the foothills and then back up through Big Black Mountain Park. It was much the same as last Saturday - people selling food in the morning market, women scrubbing clothes in the stream, men washing cars along the road, a few walkers heading up to the temple - today didn’t bring any exciting adventures aside from passing a couple of work pals heading up the hill on their mountain bikes. For me it was a chance to just get out and spend some time only with the thoughts in my head for a change. And it was nice.

The morning was pretty hot and the air was thick with humidity. And I suppose it was pretty unclean today judging from the metallic flavor I could not get out of my mouth, regardless of how much water I drank. Between the diesel exhaust on the streets and the brittle smell of fertilizer that pervades on the country lanes between the orchards, I can only imagine what kind of chemistry is going on at the back of my throat.

This road always presents a few things worth commenting on such as the deafening buzz of the locusts as I rode through a treed stretch. I considered stopping to make a “video of nothing” just to capture the sound but it didn’t see worth the time. Riding through the villages on the far side of the mountain I passed an ancient man sitting on a tiny stool by the side of the road smoking a cigarette and petting his tiny white goat. In each of these small hamlets women sat under umbrellas, wearing white kerchiefs and selling peaches, apples and pears. A few roadside restaurants were opening up, gaily decorated with colorful flags and red lanterns, Chinese pop music playing softly over outdoor speakers. It was still early morning so there were no patrons, just empty tables under shady awnings. I stopped along here to take some pictures of a dog breeder specializing in of all things, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland’s and a Chinese version of the Bernese Mountain Dog. All inappropriate breeds for this climate, the studs were housed in sad little cages along the edge of the property. One of the workers and some fancy guy who had arrived in a big body BMW sat talking in the shade. I snapped a few shots surreptitiously assuming that they might not like me photographing the sad state of their establishment. Heading on I took a few pictures of the typical Chinese farm house in this region – gray brick or field stone, windows with many lights, the frames painted white. Red tile roofs with smoke coming out of the chimney no doubt from cooking fires given that we’re in the heat of summer. At the end of the road I stopped for a moment to capture a few pictures of the reservoir.




















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This road is a bit of a killer from a grade perspective. From the city side out to the reservoir it’s a challenge but not too steep. But the return trip is as steep a road as I have ever ridden and I’ll admit to walking about ½ mile when my heart rate monitor let me know that my pulse was about 20 beats higher than it should be for someone of my advanced age. While I hate to give in, there was no shame – the Chinese were walking their bikes too.

I stopped at one of the many false crests to take a picture of a temple gate. Music was playing behind it, complimenting the locust. But there was no other sound. I got back on the bike here and completed the hill, heading over the top and enjoying the fast coast down the far side to home.



One last picture just for fun – a typical road hazard on the local streets. When it rains hard, they come along and they take the grates out so that they don’t get clogged with garbage. Someone else then comes along and steals the grates to sell them as recycled metal. The result is a hole down to the middle of the Earth, just the right shape and with enough of an appetite for bicycle wheels to present the worst kind of problem for those not paying attention.

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