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Spring on the A. R. Parkway April 9, 2011

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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OK, so it was brisk. American River Parkway bike trail

Click on the photo to the right to get the full effect.  An amazing day, with nothing else about it to write about but simply that.

Well, there was the coyote that dashed across the trail in hot pursuit, ears alert, the calm herd of deer by the trail, the 20-30 wild turkeys including fanning toms, the river itself at dramatic springtime flow, and the dense and dramatic clouds that turned my ride from warm to frigid at will.

Add to that the freshly blown trail courtesy of county employees, and you have bicycling paradise.  Having bicycled a bit of SoCal “Class 1” bike trail this past week with its frequent interruptions, dirt wash-outs and traffic diversions (not to mention the awesome poodle count), I return to the parkway with renewed appreciation for was has to be one of the best bike trails anywhere.

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Two-wheeled Eco-flashback April 5, 2011

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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In 1971, I found myself crouched behind a clump of grasses with my Mamiya Secor 35 mm camera to photograph marine bird life that occupied the Upper Newport Bay in Southern California. upper newport bay

A freshman in college and enrolled in an ecology course taught by master teacher Mark Parrat, I found myself outraged that the Irvine Company had plans to dredge the back bay into a marina/condo development, describing the area as a “dead mud flat.”  In these  pre-social networking days, the hard lifting in ecological conflicts was done by the devoted who would attend planning commission hearings and nag state agencies until the right thing was (occasionally) done.  My camera was pointed at the not-terribly-dead egrets, gulls, sandpipers and great blue herons feeding on the also-not-dead fish fry after hatching in the back bay, still a major fishery for the west coast.

I returned there today to revisit my eco-radicalization after finding online a bike trail serving the perimeter of the bay and UC Irvine while in the area on business (with the bike, of course).  I thought of the grannies, biologists, students, academics, and other activists who opposed the Irvine company, driving the creation of the Upper Newport Bay Preserve in 1975.

upper newport bayI also thought of, and slightly longed for, the angry young man I had been, camera in hand, in awe of the unwillingness of some to see the life I photographed, many years ago.  Slightly less angry now, I remain grateful to those who made the preservation of UNB possible despite phenomenal odds.  The rest of Orange County, CA, stands as testament to the values held by the developers who have had their way with the land, except for Upper Newport Bay, a place now celebrated, and which would only exist in memory and on film but for those heroes in the early 70s.

Bike for Life! July 13, 2010

Posted by Bill in Events, Photography, Reflection.
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Welcome to GeezerWheels! If you’re reading this after a visit to the California State Fair, thanks for dropping in to give GeezerWheels a look.  This blog is nothing more than one guy’s reflections on getting on a bike and enjoying time in motion, along with the wonders the American River brings to the life hugging its banks and living in its waters.american river at william pond parkRecent posts here have been photography centered (except for the immediately previous post, thankfully) thanks to the fair, but earlier posts have been been mostly about conditioning and encounters with life on a bike.  Should you have thoughts to add consequent to your own quest to bring bike-pleasure into your life, please join in.

Don’t miss the other resources in the margins of this blog, such as links to great bikes and great bike shops.  Your gear can be as important as your mindset, and it will pay huge dividends to pay close attention to both.

Serendipitous moments June 22, 2010

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Any photo shoot of a public place can get complicated when people don’t want their pictures taken.  While photographers have the statutory right to collect images in public places, the pleasure of the shoot can be quickly undermined by bad blood and misunderstanding.  To avoid that outcome, I generally attempt to get permission of subjects before they wind up in a photo.

Such permission I sought from this family, who by their excellent choice of picnic sites, wound up in the middle of one of the better angles on the Fair Oaks trestle bridge. 

When I approached them with my usual apologies, not only were they very okay being in the shot, they voiced concern that I might be in need of some of their chipotle barbecue chicken, it being the dinner hour, after all.  I declined, but only because I was rapidly losing my low-angle sunlight and I had more photo stops to make on this stretch of the river.  With shots taken, I was left much enriched by their warmth and hospitality.  Not only did it make my day, I am reminded of their warmth each time I see this image.

On the other side of the balance was the shot I took of a fifty-ish white guy on his road bike as he approached on the bike path.  As he passed, he muttered in as hostile a tone he could muster at 15 mph, “You don’t have my permission!”  That’s cool, and it’s only remarkable because he stands alone in my memory of hundreds of shots taken for this project.   In every other circumstance I was either waved to, smiled at, nodded to, or ignored.  Mostly ignored.  Frankly, he needn’t have worried, as I didn’t use any shots of obviously unhappy people.  They don’t make for good photos for promoting bicycling, so while I didn’t need his permission to publish the shot of him, he did not receive my permission to pollute this blog or the State Fair photo exhibit with his unhappy mug.  Ugly doesn’t sell.  I may dig it out when I do a piece on “grumpy old men on bikes,” but until I do, his dour visage is safe from publication.

Too little time – June 12, 2010

Posted by Bill in Equipment, Photography.
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My intention has been to regularly post the photography generated by the request from the kind people at the California State Fair for the benefit of the Pedaling to Adventure bicycle exhibit, and my blogging time has been overridden (pun intended) by the balance of life.  My apologies to friends who have been looking for promised posts.

Quite apart from this photo assignment has been the infrastructure of my ride, the ways and means by which it can happen.  Without the ride, there is no blog.  As mentioned before, my wife has joined me in this interest such that our life includes the bicycle, in in a form that gives me enormous pleasure.  She is the true foundation & rebar of my bicycle infrastructure.

Earlier posts have detailed the process of the ’08 Madone 6.9 coming into existence, with its debut last February.  bicycle madone 6.9I built this thing up from parts acquired through a number of sources – see those posts – but the combining of parts alone, without the finesse of experience, does not let one of these lovely bikes sing.  I have thrown together kids’ bikes from scrounged parts, and they worked fine.  What I did not understand was that the tolerances of adjustments in bikes designed to go fast with little mass were well beyond the instincts of a newbie.  A half degree on the angle of a derailleur hanger is critical.  Whodathunk?

So meet Brendan:

Brendan, at City Bikes Citrus Heights

Brendan not only did the final tune and handle bar wrap for my Madone, when the bike turned up with an annoying tick coming from the rear wheel, he cheerfully rechecked the tune, finding (and repairing) a very slightly out-of-true hanger.  This photo collection for the state fair could not be complete without due credit.  I already have a link to City Bicycles on this blog, as they have brought me great pleasure and security that someone in this town knows what they’re doing with bikes, and does it cheerfully and with passion in what has to be a very competitive business.  If you know City Bicycles, don’t feel you need to schlep into downtown Sac to get the job done.  Go see Brendan in Citrus Heights, on Greenback just west of Sunrise.

Sunset at Sunrise May 7, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography.
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Whether you’re an Eppie’s Great Race’er or a bicyclist craving a break, the old footbridge next to the Sunrise bridge has been an attraction for a very long time.fisherman at sunrise footbridgeWhether you’re under it or just passing over, the community has preserved this icon of the parkway for all of us.two bicycists riding from the bridgeWhile nearly all of these photos were taken from the American River Parkway bike trail, I’ll admit I had to hike a few feet away from it for this shot… the day was late, the angle of the light superb, and the water caught the light as only sunset riffles can…old fair oaks bridge over the american river

William Pond Park April 29, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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Photography and bicycling.  Applying one’s art to one’s love can be tricky and frustrating, I find, because the expectations rise so very high that one address the other with quality.  While I’m usually pretty satisfied with my adequate photography, I don’t find automatic satisfaction here.  The process has been very satisfying, but my assessment of the product finds it lacking.

William Pond Park is a centrally-located and attractive watering hole/rest stop/gathering place used by most regulars on the bike trail.

This couple obliged with a repeat of a performance they had enacted spontaneously just moments before:

couple at william pond park

This WAW recumbent is a work of art in itself… combat-ready: [do you ride it? drive it? fly it?]

WAW recumbent cycle

The parkway bike trail; a good place for friends…

two women on road bikes

and yourself; you and two wheels…

cyclist on the bike trail

Wildlife on the bike trail April 21, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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Biking on the American River Parkway is about more than escaping text-messaging drivers.  Sacramento living can truly suck if you are limited to the 80/50 corridors, forever at the mercy of white pickup trucks and lowered Honda Civics pretending to be boom boxes on wheels.  There is a thirty mile-long retreat waiting for you…

Two more images for you.  The first of a critter I complained earlier would not hold still:

jack rabbit in the grass

"I am invisible!"

Next is an image that, for the life of me, I just do not understand why I like so much.  Is it the explosion of flowers to the crown?  Is it the dashing red pigment?  Something about it just reeks of vitality, so maybe that’s the GeezerWheel connection.  At any rate, if you hurry down to the Parkway prior to our lovely 110 degree weather, you’ll be treated to sights like this one at the foot of the Howe Avenue bridge.

grass plants

Sunrise on the Parkway April 12, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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These days, to get across the river to ride toward Folsom, one needs to navigate the Worm Hole Time Tunnel that is the Sunrise Bridge pedestrian walkway.  It gets a little creepy when some fool stops mid-span to take pictures.sunrise bridge pedestrial walkway

However, the rewards of making your way to the Lake Natoma side are yours for the peddling. Birds on the lake, it should be said, favor the north side nearest the bike trail and furthest from lake-level development on the south shore. Egrets and great blue heron nest in trees on the north side, and sights like these water-landing Canada geese are common:lake natoma canada geese coming in for a landing

Beyond the iPhone April 10, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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Photography for a cyclist on the American River Parkway bike trail is something of a love/hate experience.  I’ve shot a fair percentage of those places I’ve called home over my life, and a much smaller percentage of those I haven’t.  This blog, however, hasn’t been about photography.  It’s been about riding, speed, conditioning, feelings about getting older, blah-de-blah.  The pics have been there to keep your eyeballs and imaginations entertained.

It seems, though, that images on this blog have attracted the attention of the California State Fair, so I am motivated to shift the focus of this blog, for the coming months at any rate, to the visual end of things.  I’ve been asked to contribute images of the views we cyclists take for granted as we travel the parkway for a cycling exhibition at the fair this July in Sacramento, so this is what you’ll be seeing here for a while.  It’s hard work, I find.  Putting miles under me with an occasional “oh wow!” at the scenery, whipping out the iPhone for a snap underway is not the same as photographing it.  I’ve been retracing those miles, now stopping for a setup and shoot.  Here’s one of my first scores:

couple enjoying the river off the bike trailThis couple was gracious enough to let me record their blissful respite.  They’ve been all over, traveling on two wheels to see those places in the world they need to see.

Encounters with great people like this are just part of what makes the parkway a special place for cyclists.  If you’re too busy getting ready for a race or you’ve got time-cramped weight loss goals to reach to occasionally enjoy the other people on two wheels, don’t worry; there’s time.  Or is there?

Camera work on the parkway is real work.  At least it feels like work because my modus transportatus, my pleasure place, is interrupted by frequent photo setups.  Having the question in my mind “Feel the stroke, pace the breath, hydrate, relax” replaced by “What views would be important to share here?” as I ride is a fantastically different experience.  However, like all good work, the rewards are unexpected and surprisingly real.

The parkway holds wildly diverse rewards, and I use the word “wildly” with purpose.  I discovered that jack rabbits and turkeys are none too fond of cyclists stopping, taking off a backpack, opening that backpack, removing a camera, and setting up for a shot.  Sad, as they are frequent companions, along with the occasional coyote and rattlesnake.  This dude, however, was more than willing to hang out within telephoto range as he went through his mating display:great blue heron mating display

This great blue heron joins the river otters, salmon, egrets, endless birds, deer, and (if I don’t mention them they’ll get me sure) the kamikaze squirrels that frequent the bike trail.

The above-mentioned turkey that wouldn’t hang around for my dismount & setup was, in fact, almost hit by a cyclist who had the good sense to slow to a crawl as the hen watched him approach from her vantage point, just off the pavement.  She, of course, opted to cross directly into a collision course.  His laugh scared her into the grass; a welcome outcome considering the alternative.

If you love the parkway as I do, watch this space.  I’ll be adding shots over the coming weeks, with versions of them hopefully to be selected for display at the fair.