I should stop here and tell you that there are a few hazards on my bike commute. Of course there are the cars, but I manage them as best I can. There are also a few spots where the pavement is bad. Also there are a few intersections where gravel and debris collect in certain spots. On my fast bike, these spots are dangerous because my fast, thin tires don’t do well with sand, dirt, or broken pavement. The few times I’ve been forced off the road or through the debris I have very nearly fallen. Which wouldn’t be the end of the world, but who wants a banged up bike and a few weeks spent with scabs on his elbows? Here’s the thing though, when I rode my mountain bike to work I felt much safer. The broken pavement was no big deal and I quickly found I could float through the debris at intersections without any trouble. My mountain bike ride to work was not as fast as usual but I could see the looming choice ahead. Would I go back to my fast tires or settle for slower, more stable fat ones?
Friday is the day I run errands so a trip to the bike shop would have to wait. For the rest of the week I rode my mountain bike to work. I grew increasingly unhappy about the upcoming choice about having to choose between speed or safety. I kept going over my choice, weighing the pros and the cons of each. Would I get back on the fast bike or would I stay on the safe bike? But then, in a moment of clarity, I realized a very important fact about this choice. It was fictional. It was completely of my own making. There was not a choice between fast and safe. I had made it up.
When I got to the bike shop I talked it over with shop’s sage like owner of 30 years. (This man knows a ton about bikes and maybe more about bread and the steel of Japanese swords) I showed him the tire and he deemed it defective. But then I explained my realization to him in this way. I guessed that are many types of tires to choose from; that my mountain bike had come with wide, knobby tires and my hybrid bike with thin, smooth tires but that there were probably many options in between. He replied that my guess was only a partial insight into the world of bicycle tire choices. Then he got out the book. There are in fact, myriad tire choices for my bicycle. A decision to go with a fast tire or a safe tire was a grand over simplification of what was available. We settled on a tire that is 10 mm wider than my original fast tire. It does have a smooth surface for speed over pavement but the sidewalls have knobs so that as the tire moves through debris the knobs stabilize the bike. It has a reflective component built into the side walls as well as a titanium interior that resists punctures to a greater degree than normal tires. The description in the book said they were sturdy tires made for long distance riding on a variety of surfaces- just what I needed.
The owner of my bike shop is peak oil aware; has been for quite a while. When asked about the short term implications he says, with a sarcastic smile, that it’ll be good for his business. In the long run he says we’ll probably end up riding steel bikes with hard tires at speeds much slower than I aspire to. This is my way of saying that I understand my new tires aren’t the answer to post peak oil bike riding. Titanium is not an especially common metal and my new tires are undoubtedly manufactured in an energy intensive manner in a factory probably outside of the
Very often we think in terms of having something or having to give it up. Or we thinking of have one thing or having another. In reality though these are self prescribed parameters. And the truth is they limit us but automatically excluding a whole range of other possibilities.
Take pineapples for instance. It’s a safe bet that no pineapple I have ever eaten was grown in the continental US. Most of them came from
I have a few different types of compost piles. One of them is an old upright metal basket for kitchen items that are very thick or woody and will take a long time to break down. They do break down, but the basket keeps them out of the piles that do break down quickly so I don’t add big stuff back into the soil the following year. One item that goes into this basket is pineapple tops. You know, the leaves and the inedible cap of the pineapple. A few weeks ago I noticed a curious site. Unlike the rest of the brown withered stuff in the basket, a pineapple top that had been in the basket for months was surprisingly green. Upon, further investigation I discover it was growing roots into the decomposed contents of the basket. A few days later I mentioned what was going to a friend and he said, “Oh yes, my grandmother used to grow pineapples.” My friend
After enjoying a delicious pineapple shipped more than 6000 miles from Hawaii Chad’s grandmother would remove the crown of leaves from the rest of pineapple and place it in a glass of water. She would replace the water if it got discolored but would otherwise wait until the crown put out roots. Then she would place it in a pot and water it frequently. In the spring, summer and fall she would place it on her porch. In the winter she would bring it inside and set it on a sunny windowsill. After about a year the pineapple would need to be replanted. After another year or maybe just a bit sooner, it would fruit and produce a pineapple for her. Here’s a question for you, which one do you think tasted better? No I’m not talking about the pesticides sprayed on commercially grown pineapples or the fact that they are picked and shipped before they’re rip so they can make such a long journey across the U.S. I’m talking about the return on investment, the satisfaction his Grandmother most have gotten out of growing her own pineapple. I doubt she did it because she knew how much pollution is produced flying pineapples from
Hopefully the planet will never warm to the point where we can live off of pineapples alone in
The point of retelling Chad’s story is not to undermine the idea of the Bullseye Diet; the idea of eating closer to home. But we humans thrive on challenge. I do not want the return to local, seasonal eating to be viewed as a negative. It will have its challenges as several generations of Americans who grew up without a connection to that which they eat have to begin again to connect with the systems that nourish us. In doing so we should strive to see this revision as a series of possibilities complete with the notion of pushing the boundaries of what is agriculturally possible in our areas. We do not, we must not see these choices in terms of simply doing with or doing without; of choosing one way or another. There is a range of post peak agricultural possibilities just as there is a range of bicycle tire options. Exploring our options will be one of the great thrills of living in an era of change.