Friday, July 18, 2014

My Bicycle, the Long Haul Trucker

A few months ago... I bought this:

Long Haul Trucker

The first time I was ever exposed to the Surly Long Haul Trucker was through one of my best friends Aaron Green. He, with one of our other close friends rode one of these across the country in 2008. Upon their return, I was able to take a closer look at his bicycle. At that moment, it became the bicycle of my dreams.

The LHT is a no frills bike built for the purpose of moving anything you can mount on it. This bicycle is so beefy. The chromoly steel frame and fork make for a really comfortable ride. I've ridden into really bumpy asphalt, potholes, gravel, and the bike takes it without any problems. The rims and tires help a lot with that too. I feel at times that I can just ride over most anything without having to worry.

When I bought the bike, it came with Velo Orange Fenders, Surly Racks (front and rear), Silver Bar End Shifters, new cables, Shimano XT Brakes, and Cane Creek SCR-5 Brake Levers... basically, I bought it all set up awesomely. Obviously, the former owner of the bike is awesome. All it was missing was this:

Brooks B17 Saddle Long Haul Trucker

The Brooks B17 Saddle... After purchasing the bike, the first modification I made to it was to buy this saddle. A few days later, I dropped by the West End Bike shop and asked if they had any extra chains and inner tubes lying around. One of the guys said yes and helped me rig the chain to the bottom of the saddle.

The Review

The Good
The Long Haul Trucker is a truly solid bike. You can mount almost anything to it, the clearance for panniers is really great. Its the kind of bike you could ride across the United States, or just ride down the street to get groceries with. Its paint job is powder coated, doesn't chip, it takes some effort to even actually scratch the frame. Makes for a great touring and commuting bicycle.

The Not So Bad
There's really not that much to say about what this bicycle isn't lacking. The chainstay clearance and wheel base proportion does make turns a little on the wide side, however this doesn't mean that this bike isn't nimble, I've made some ridiculous turns on this. Its a bit on the heavy side... this bike does hold a lot of stuff... a lot. Speaking of heavy, I believe this bike is about 40lbs, maybe less. I have to carry this bicycle up and down three flights of stairs everytime I choose to ride it, and its totally worth it.

Overall
Surly makes great bicycles. Their brand speaks into every bicycle they produce. Surly owners tend to have a nod in passing to other Surly owners. I like to call this the "Surly Nod." Its akin to the nod a bearded man gives to another bearded man. On the road, this bicycle demands respect. Everyday, I get on this bike, it gets respect. I find myself looking for reasons to ride bike.

Every time I ride this bike, I'm thankful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Heading and the Wind

I imagine coming into the world. With light shining through my eyelids, eyes burning, perceiving light for the first time, not having words for what it is. Being helpless, yet, not knowing it; being in pain, yet, not knowing it; being loved, yet, not knowing it.

I imagine growing up, being guided through school. Gathering words to articulate feelings I haven't felt, learning new things about the larger world beyond me. Wanting to play and yet, be left alone. Being told what it is to have a successful life. Being pushed, molded -- casted.

I imagine finding out the cast wasn't made for my material, my being. How the path of high school, college, and a career didn't quite fit my heart. Feeling disconnected from those who had followed a path that I didn't take... then eventually reconciling differing lives. Feeling unbecoming.

The switch. I imagine graduating from high school, going into college, getting a good job, moving up the ladder, moving to another career, falling in love, getting married, moving out of an apartment, getting a condo, getting in debt, selling the condo, moving into a house, having a child, having a dog... having all these things because I followed a path. Yet, I didn't.

Aaron Delani in Portland

Things don't always happen the way I plan. I guess it doesn't help that I haven't planned anything in a long while. I recently moved to Portland Oregon. The thought of moving to Portland, living in Portland never really crossed my mind until one of my friends invited me to live up here.

So I made a move. Tried finding a job in a trying market, which at times left me feeling helpless and despaired. Being away from my family and friends was wearisome as well; and although I never wondered "why I am here?" always thinking to myself, "I am here, and this is what I'm going to do." I can't say that this journey hasn't had its difficulties... its all been burdensome... but I've never been happier.

Being on my own feels like being born into a world I was somewhat familiar with, and the light shone through my eyelids still burned; I could hear the world I was to be a part of in my mother's womb, then being born with all the deafening audacity of the world booming into my ears. Being born is dissonant freedom, as is independence. Independence for me meant to have a willingness to pursue living. To be unguided and humbly seek guidance, to think and do by will and choice. Pursuing a being outside of me, I prayed for a direction, prayed for a way to make things possible... prayed to discover what the hell I'm doing with my life. Prayed to live, only to discern I was only surviving... and that is only enough.

I guess this is what you call a transition.

The Heading, the Wind

My life at times feels as though its a book writing itself. At times, I feel as though a minor character in my own story. At times, I've become the voice, the narrator in my own life telling myself what has happened, then giving insight to this unlikely protagonist with the voice of Morgan Freeman.

I've seen myself I've become the person whom I've cheered for in movies, hoping I survive the tale. These parts of the story usually take place when I'm faced with uncertainty and odds against my will. I'm not a hero, not even in my own story... and yet, I cheer, hoping that I will make it through... then polarizing myself at times as the villain, the victim, or the erroneous judge.

I imagine myself as a vessel at times, for all my hopes, my dreams; floating on the ocean without a heading being and thrust by the wind. Everything about who I am is in this ship, lost in a vast and desolate ocean.

I imagine that there is a crew on this ship. My family, my friends, those most dear to me. They've become a part of me, they've reflected to me who I've become and sometimes who I was. They tell me to steer. They tell me to lookout ahead. They support me, they raise my sails. The vessel moves as I catch the wind.

Without them in love and loyalty, life in the vessel would be so bleak. There would be no room for love or companionship. There'd be no use for drink, or food, or art... there'd be no use in screaming "BEAUTY, BEAUTY, I CAN SEE IT IN FRONT OF ME; CAN YOU?!" Joy would be the whisper of the narrator in my mind saying, "beauty, beauty, it is." In many ways, everything I would need to survive is on this ship.

Twenty seven years on the water, finally, I'm realizing what courage and bravery means. I've casted my sail, not knowing where I would go. As my vessel moves, I scour the ship to find out what is missing for me to live. In the vessel I find empty boxes; and its terrifying to know something may be missing. Of all the words I've learned, bravery has felt like the one that often eludes me. Bravery to me is what it feels like to pursue the void despite the odds and courage is knowing how treacherous the journey can be, yet continuing to adventure to seek the missing. This is my heading, despite the wind.