29 August 2010

OK, This Would Be Why We Love Madison

What a day. What a glorious, gorgeous day. What a day to live in Madison. What a day to live.

Beauty The First: Ride the Drive. Madison closed off a six-mile course to cars for a day, right downtown. We're talking the major 3- to 6-lane thoroughfares, here; sorry cars, just for this one day you've got to find another way. (Click to enlarge photos.)

We certainly found a way -- tens of thousands of us, riding free and easy under the blue skies and brilliant sun, lakes sparkling, cruising down the middle of the big streets with no fear of being splattered into a grease spot. It was...stunning. Everywhere you looked, there were dozens and hundreds and thousands of bicycles, and maybe I'm biased but it seemed like every last rider was grinning.

I was delighted to see people I knew -- actually that wasn't very challenging, since I was doing things like balancing atop a median-fence post to get pictures. Hi Ron! Hey Finn! (You might think the Earth Flag was a special effort for today, but in fact the man commutes with it. Year round.)

Then I crammed a quick lunch and got the sailboards on George's car -- Janet and the kids are out of town, so I had all the time I wanted to play. George, Jonas, and I went to Olbrich Park and sailed and sailed and sailed.

It was Jonas's first day, so of course he had that whole Learning Curve thing to climb. He did super-well, though, and did in fact sail. I'm always jealous of people like that -- I always feel they ought to suffer like I had to suffer!

I guess I've gotta work on what I laughingly refer to as my upper-body "strength"; I got some utterly super ripping reaches in, but after a few of those I could hardly hold onto the boom anymore. In fact on one ride I was sheeted in, pulling a close reach with all 210 pounds counterbalancing the sail and just absolutely flying.

And I noticed that my right hand...was slipping. I commanded it to hang on. It was not listening.

"Hang...on? You know, I was thinking I'll open a little."
"NO!! Hand, listen to me! Opening is BAD! Really bad! We are like totally sailing big time here, this is Peak Life Experi--"
"I'm thinking...yeah, opening. A little more."

So I had to just watch helplessly as my fingers slow-w-w-ly lost their grip, whereupon I flang headfirst, backwards, into the lake. Which, as previously noted, was shooting backwards under me at One Helluva Clip, so when I plunged, it was fairly spectacular. I mean, asses, elbows, ankles, sails, it all went into the blender at 3500 RPM. Sure wish Jonas or George had gotten video of that, but hey, they were sailing. Busy. I understand.

My treacherous hand and I got back to shore. I gave the rig to George, and watched him rip it up like a master. So, I'm thinking "Yeah, I can totally do this if it weren't for my freaking stupid hand. I know! I'll put a harness on! Then I could just hook in, use the lines, and go 'Thbbpbpbpb' at Mr. Hand Of Betrayal."

Rrrright. That worked...just about as well as you'd expect. Oh well, more low comedy for the people on shore. Reminded me of thrashing about off the Tenney Park breakwater, always thronged with onlookers. Last time I was there, desperately trying to raise sail before I went on the rocks, I took a moment to wave and call out to the people laughing at me.

"Hey, you've been a great audience, folks. I'm here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitresses."

Jonas gets ready to try again, while George winds up a great run with...well, you notice one of his feet's in the air?

George applauds as Jonas successfully raises sail and heads for Monona:

George giving Jonas a hand keeping the board oriented:

Jonas is up; George takes a wee break.

Now I'm sitting in the pub four doors down from my house, drinking craft beer and generally reveling in the awesomeness that is my life at this particular instant in time. Ointment contains one fly: Janet and kids are visiting Grandma, so I'm a bachelor for a couple days.

Wait...I said that it's like a bad thing. Hey, another beer here?!


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