Friday, November 4, 2011

Occupy Goochland

Two days in our nation’s Capital this week, 2 roundtrips up and back on the northeast express train #171 from Foofville to Union Station, much exposure to the brushfire political climate happening out front of just about any federal building where one might squat and holler, a half dozen greedy meetings for work, and I’ve got one thing on my mind: Bikes. 

The whole Occupy thing rings to me a little bit like the debate for steel vs carbon road bikes.  But of course it's older than that, as old as Plastic vs Soul, or Technology vs Tradition, or even Love vs Money.  And no matter where you stand on the occupy issue, at the very least, it’s a rift in our nation’s collective soul that you can’t pretend isn’t there - especially not when you’re in an environment like the D.C. where suited businessmen rub pleated elbows on the street with the angry, the homeless, and the remarkably stoned.  Here in the city, where we all have to walk down the same sidewalks, our econo-political split is more noticeable than it would be in say, my native Earallysville, where my own illicit wealth/destitution is hidden by the trees a bit from my neighbors on the opposite end of the spectrum, whatever end that might be, and we don’t attend the same parties.  So of course it’s D.C. where the action is, and the wall between us and them, whichever your us and their them might be, is so readily out in the open to spit on.  Neat. 

This is a bike blog, not a political one, and chances are, unless you’ve become lost in the time-space contimuum of the interwebs like Tron, you’ve arrived at this page because you like bikes not politics, so while I’m at the wheel never the twain shall meet.  Regardless, when you step out of Union station, look out across the street and see the White House – there’s a feeling of your very small role in the very grand cog of all of this, whatever is going on here - and it makes you a tad uneasy.  It’s a big country, and though this gigantic infrastructure around you is attempting to align all parties on the same track, it can not and will not, succeed.  Don’t despair, look right:

The answer, or at least a potential answer, is a few miles on wheels with a guy from the other side.  Just the two of you, being civil in your disobedience, running a few red lights and power sliding a few turns around the National Archives together, having a laugh and a little dose of sunshine and perspective on this very fine Thursday.  Political unrest aside, everyone likes to pick up a sweaty, rental helmet of dubious structural integrity from time to time, and we all agree we have a right to just cruise.  Empathy can be created: you just have to have a little fun with the guy. 

Washington D.C. on a 65 degree day in the fall is a BikeTown.  Cruisers, clunkers, carbon road bikes, you name it; it would appear the metro has been closed for the day.  It’s a damn fine afternoon to byekyle strap your wool pleated suit pants OR your bellbottoms tightly to your calf and ruckus around a bit, even if you get cut off a time or two in the tight turns by someone whom you don’t understand.  You don’t HAVE to understand them. 
I know this sounds hokey.  Maybe not THE answer to political unrest, but it's an answer nonetheless.  Tell me you haven’t had problems in your own life, said fuck it, gone for a ride, and come back to reality to find things far better than you left them.  Nothing has changed.  But everything has changed.  Magic.  Carry forth, I hope, in this spirit good people, and Occupy Goochland this weekend.  Can Shawn roll down there mostly untrained and win Solo? One might say no, that is unlikely (one might also try to recall the last time Shawn tried to win something.)  But with the right kind of spirit, miracles can happen.

One final note about our local train system:  aside from a damn efficient way to get to and from D.C., save gas, not pay for parking, and not wish to gouge out your own eyeballs sitting in traffic on I-66, you can also catch the Cardinal line out of Foofville at about 2 PM any Friday you might choose, and it’ll drop off at Clifton Forge before 5.  There’s a good midsummer route to be had here, Douthat to Braleys or so, hang a right and head East, crank the lights up, a little night ride parkway magic under the stars, then a big rumble down Simmons Gap and in for venison and eggs at my place at dawn.  100 Miles?  More? The details are all possibilities there for the taking, but the real attraction here is that not many point to point shuttles that I’ve been on have involved a locomotive.  Unless you consider C-Ham a locomotive.  Which you probably do. 

Anyway, this one's got a train.  Any takers?

Up, up, up.

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