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My training rides of the last couple months have mostly been on the Galveston Seawall, but now that it’s getting into the higher temps outside – upper ’80s & low 90s – I’m gravitating toward routes that offer the possibility of shade, something the seawall is horribly short on.  Which is sad, because I do love the views of the ocean, the people-watching and the respite from heat delivered by the delicious breezes.

Last week I was in desperate need of both refreshment and some time out of the glaring sunshine, so I did something I’ve never done before: I crossed the dreaded (by pedestrians & cyclists) FM 3005, otherwise known as Seawall Boulevard.  I took 6th St./University Blvd. down through the historic neighborhoods, the medical center, and on to Harborside. I wove in and out of the more tree-shaded streets looking at the gorgeous Victorian homes.  Many are restored to their former glory, but many more are in need of love and a great deal of TLC.  So much of Galveston’s – of Texas’ history – is evidenced in these neighborhoods.

My father used to take me to this family-owned creamery – the first in Texas.  I especially loved the seasonal flavors of peppermint and egg nog.  Though the original factory and shop are defunct, you can still delight in some Purity Ice Cream goodness at La Kings Confectionery on the Strand.  They also have fresh salt-water taffy and handmade chocolates.  Don’t even get me started on how fabulous everything is; let’s just say it’s a darn good thing the Strand is not in my neighborhood!

Even the houses in a severe state of disrepair – from the simple passing of time or from the devastation of Hurricane Ike – were breathtaking.  I decided the gingerbread detailing that is the hallmark of Victorians is a kind of architectural poetry.  I got drunk with the intricacies of line, the passion and abandon, the meticulous flourish, the devotion of time and energy it took to carve each curve and swirl of wood.

I was in such a reverie that I travelled along a one-way street going the Wrong Way for at least a couple miles taking in the art of those blocks of houses before I realized my error.  Luckily there weren’t many people out and about to notice my illegal trike-piloting ways!

After refueling with some yogurt and a machiatto at the Starbucks downtown, and refilling my water jug (I really need to invest in one of those Camel Back things; two water-bottle holders just aren’t cutting it anymore), I trucked over to the harborside docks and warehouses.  I must say, navigating over railroad tracks is one of my least favorite things to do on a trike.

The LBS changed out my tires for their recommended choice right before the New York City Marathon last November and these suckers make for hard-on-the-joints, painful riding.  I plan to switch to Big Apples in the near future and see if that helps smooth and soften things for my journeys.  I think all the LBS guys heard was “marathon” and completely dismissed the parts of information I gave them about needing as much cushion and comfort as possible.  I mean, why would I go out of my way and spend the extra money to buy a trike with suspension if I didn’t really want it, and, in my case, desperately require it for my steroid-therapy-ravaged hip joints?

:::sigh:::

It turns out, believe it or not, that finding the right fit between local bike shop and cyclist is almost as complicated, crucial, and hard to come by, as finding the right doctor or car mechanic, thesis advisor or editor, coach or counselor.

They *really* need to know their business; they need to be excellent communicators, which means paying attention, acutely observing, asking the right questions, having stellar listening skills, being able to present various options with clear explanations about pros & cons – which will often include translating technical language into simpler terms; they need to respect that, in the end, the clients wishes/needs/decisions are paramount, and work toward that end – even when, on rare occasions, the clients choices go against the recommendation given.  Because if I someone doesn’t respect my desires & decisions, then we don’t have the trust necessary to have a relationship.  It’s as simple as that, really.

What I guess I’m trying to articulate beyond that, is I had no idea in the beginning of my trike-life that I’d be in an actual relationship with the folks at the local bike shop.  But that’s exactly how it is, for both the good and the not-so-good of it.  Who knew?

In the afternoons and evenings you can dine or shop on the piers along Harborside, but in the mornings not much is going on other than loading/unloading, hosing down the docks and walkways, and the seagulls performing air ballet.

The brick-lined (think: uneven, some loose, all extremely bum-P-y) streets of the strand were no day at the park in regard to my backside, either.  It really sucks having the joints of somebody twice my age.

But, when all is said and done, the pain part of my rides is more than worth the discomfort.  I’m just grateful to have a way to ride at all.  And I never, ever, mean to take that for granted.

Some of the most common things overwhelm me with awe, with appreciation.  Take the reflections of early morning sunlight on this water.

A pier in the harbor & warehouse district of Galveston is hardly the height of pretty, and yet there’s so much everyday beauty to be found.  How lucky am I, that I have this wonder of a contraption that allows me to be an explorer & adventurer?

Because of this trike, I get to be a kind of low-riding, 3-wheeled Christopher Columbus of the already-discovered.

PLEASE SUPPORT MY EFFORTS IN THE 2011 NEW YORK CITY MARATHON WITH TEAM LEARY FIREFIGHTERS FOUNDATION

I only have till November 21st to reach my fundraising goal and I really, really need your help!



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