Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

What Horace Knew

It was a nearly perfect day for a ride. The day dawned cool -almost chilly- and a thin fog lay in the low places and over the nearby lake. The organisers had laid out a very good route that wound over lightly traveled  rural roads, and set up well-provisioned rest stops. As the sun climbed, the temperature and wind remained moderate.

Yes, it was a nearly picture-perfect day.

Along about 90 or 100 km into the course, the countryside became more rolling. i'd fallen in with a small group behind a couple on a tandem. We rode along together until we came upon a slightly steeper rise. Determined not to get dropped i pushed along with them, only to fall behind on the way down- i'd overdone the effort, so i backed down to my usual slow pace and watched the others ride away whilst i caught my breath.

A few minutes later atop a hill in the middle of a crossroads i saw a knot of dismounted riders and a couple of stopped cars. Thinking it to be a crash, i felt a chill as i approached. It was worse than a crash.

A cyclist lay on the pavement surrounded by the others. One driver was on his cellphone, another was kneeling beside the fallen rider pushing on his chest while someone else was giving mouth to mouth on every third count.

Some of us stopped a respectable distance beyond the scene, not quite knowing what else there was to do. One man said that it didn't look good, as the rider was already pretty blue.  There was nothing any of us could do really, so one by one, we moved away in silence. A few minutes down the road, a county police cruiser blasted by, shortly followed an ambulance and a couple other police and fire vehicles.

i haven't learnt of the outcome for that rider. He looked to be a few years younger than myself, maybe mid-40's. There was no word to be found the next day from any local area news nor on the cycling sites i follow. i can only hope he was revived, but i don't think it likely.

As i continued down the  road, i meditated on that phrase in Latin that is the sub heading for thisblog:

"Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis."

 Remember how short life is.


Carpe viam, mihi crede, comes, terrestria quando

mortalīs animas vivunt sortita neque ulla est

aut magno aut parvo leti fuga: quo, bone, circa

dum licet, in rebus iucundis vive beatus

vive memor, quam sis aevi brevis.
("Seize the way, trust me, pal, since things on earth
have been allotted mortal souls and there is no
escape from death for either the great
or the small: therefore, good fellow,
 while one may, live happy in pleasant circumstances,
 live mindful of how short-lived you are.” )
-  Horace,Sermones 2.6: The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

Saturday, 10 September 2016


All hail the digesters!

Epic shelf, spotted on Oak Knoll rd.

"Indian pipes," Mt. Pisgah Hemlock trail, near Ontario, WI.

Along the Hemlock trail.

(Not to scale.)
Lonely poisonous mushroom...

Tree 'shrooms, Wildcat Mt. State Park, near Ontario, WI.

(Also not to scale...)

 i'm not a student of mushrooms or fungi in particular, but i'm fascinated by their ephemeral nature,- popping up suddenly just when their time is right and disappearing a day or two or even hours after they appear. Pushing out of the duff or growing out of a tree's bark.
My dad would never ever eat a mushroom. "They have no food value," was one of his stock sayings. i have no idea which if any of these are edible- and remember that edible does not automatically imply palatable - and even veteran mushroom hunters dispute among themselves what mushrooms are edible or non-poisonous. i'll continue to only trust commercially raised mushrooms and at that with a cautious and skeptical eye.

And this from the late John Cage:
"Dorothy Norman   invited me to dinner in New York.
 There was a lady there from Philadelphia   who was
an authority on Buddhist art.  When she found out
I was interested in mushrooms,  she said, “Have
you an explanation of the symbolism involved  in the
death of the Buddha by his eating a mushroom?” 

 I explained that I’d never been interested in
symbolism;  that I preferred just taking things as
themselves, not as standing for other things.
But then a few days later while rambling in the
woods  I got to thinking. I recalled the Indian
concept of the relation of life and the seasons.
 Spring is Creation. 
 Summer is Preservation.
 Fall is Destruction.   
 Winter is Quiescence.   

      Mushrooms grow most vigorously in
the fall, the period of destruction, and the
function of many of them is to bring about the final
decay of rotting material. In fact,  as I
read somewhere, the world would be an impassible
heap of old rubbish were it not for mushrooms and
their capacity to get rid of it.

     So I wrote to the lady in Philadelphia. 

          I said,

“The function of mushrooms is to rid the world of old 

           The Buddha died  a  natural  death.”"

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Journeyman's Test

It was the second day of the Lake Pepin 3 Speed Tour. i was about half an hour down Route 61 on the way to Lake City and the brew-up. Somewhere near Camp Lacupolis, i heard and then felt a crunch from my rear wheel. The pedals seized up and i dismounted before any further damage was done. My Sturmey Archer AW hub, production date 3/71, had gone duff.

Jon, the "Shirt-Tail-Organiser" of the tour, rode on to the next overlook and was able to find someone to come  rescue me. A very kind lady, who was following her Harley rider husband in her pickup, volunteered for the mission and ferried me Lake City. A further ride in the Lorry back to Red Wing got me back to my car. i was (and am!) very grateful for the kindness of strangers and Minnesota Nice, although it was disappointing to miss riding the back roads and taking in the beautiful scenery on the way back to Red Wing.

So my trusty Raleigh steed sat idle for the rest of the summer. i pulled the guts from the hub and found that one of the planet gears had chipped. Fortunately, the damage was confined to the one gear. i proceeded to acquire the necessary replacement gear and a few other spare bits. The inner works then sat collecting dust on the workbench from May to late August.

"For the want of a nail..."

i studied RJ The Bike Guy's You Tube video of rebuilding AW hubs. i'm also indebted to Mark Stonich of Bikesmith Design as well as the late great Sheldon Brown for S/A information.

Finally i got around to finishing the task, replacing the planet gears, as well as the axle/sun gear assembly, clutch, and low gear pawls. The old sun gear showed some minor damage, and the clutch and pawls were worn, and although they were serviceable, i felt that their replacement was probably a good idea.

Bits and spares.

While i was at it, i took the time to overhaul a unit from a '68 vintage hub with a trashed shell that i'd gotten for spares some years back.

i like to think of this project as my "journeyman's test" to qualify as a genuine bike mechanic. Back when i was a shop rat, i dodged 3-speed repairs as i was intimidated by the clockwork innards of the Sturmey Archer hub. Now i feel confident that i can keep our fleet of three speeds on the road for years to come.

 Blessing of the Bikes, 3-speed Tour, 2012.

Jocasta, back on the road.