Meanwhile back in Buffalo New York USA.
I am clearly less inclined to scribble anything clever down whilst being back-to-the-grind as compared to whilst riding my bicycle daily 8-10 hours and sleeping outside. Then I recall that comparisons are futile.
…I can’t so much scribble shit using just my thumbs anyway.
I’m pandemically living in what feels like slow motion and coming back into orbit about how phone addicted we all – myself included – utterly are. I sometimes look for my phone, while forgetting that I am holding my phone in my left hand! “The Greatest Left Hand Boost.” Like I’m stealing something from myself… hoping its whatever is left of some corporate part of me. Of all of us.
Out on the road my mobile device — or as the ghost of Steve Jobs calls it, my mobile device — doesn’t receive consistent engagement on the part of moi. We’re riding bikes here. Duh. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit. Really, IT serves only three basic purposes. Let me tell you something!! The phone addiction is so much much easier to ignore on a long bicycle tour. It simply doesn’t exist and there are no negative withdrawal symptoms whatsoever.
Butt. For. (huh)
First — and most importantly — my technological tether allows me to play and listen to and enjoy harmonies, melodies, grooves and rhythms. It’s a musical instrument of sorts, in so much that my ability to – as the kids now call it – “curate” music is to be considered musical skill. Everything else my phone could or would do is secondary. A good tune or ten really pushes me through the tough miles as much as it provides a little comfort during evening camps. Straight up, I don’t think it’s possible to do the amount of required riding and resting without music. Shoutout to all of the artists on my covid canal tour playlist. Notable mentions Run The Jewels 4, Gil Scott-Heron, The Sonics, Santigold.
And also the beautifully talented Norah Jones. Specifically a few songs off the “Little Broken Hearts” album. Danger Mouse slayed the production on that record and the whole thing was unlike what either of them had done before. I wonder about whether they’ll ever do another album together.
¡Numero dos, amigos!
Increasingly, bicycling a route that facilitates a minimum number of turns is growing on me. Less turns means less backtracking a missed turn, which can be a ride-ender in shit circumstances. Less of other shit too. It’s a good goal to strive for with nothing ever being perfectable.
While the Natchez Trace and C&O/GAP are spectacular examples of turn-free two-wheel-living, its not the norm out there. So. If I’m not floating past mile markers somewhere between 7 and 17 miles per hour, my mobile device generally serves in a secondary role as a relatively reliable navigational tool. Whew. It’s what us map nerds call maps. I like maps. Not to be confused with naps. Which I also really like. (Where my nap nerds at?) I digress…
When there will be turns, Google Maps’s “bicycle” layer generally works wonders for me. Within the US and A. I find plenty of hard green or dotted green lines without plugging in directions, and that’s been the best way to connect whatever else I’m following. Poppin’ directions in gives me altitude climbs and descents as well. It’s just like poppin’ a cap in that ass, except that it’s not… because that’s something completely different. A paper map is certainly fantastic, but unless I’m strictly following an ACA route, most maps aren’t intended for cycling and don’t provide me the detail or services I need.
Three is the magic number. And if you don’t know, now you know. Three Little Birds. Three Stooges. Threesomes. Third times a charm. Three flavors of Neapolitan ice cream. All great. Third and final on-tour mobile device usage is to scribble (whoa, with my thumbs!? 🤯 ). You know. Writing. More writing. And more writing. I like writing too. Like it’s a job. Shit… would this be “job” number six or seven? I don’t know if I’m ready for another yet, at least not until I get this cloning myself thing down.
It took a month to write this. I write on my phone. Some form of thumb jotting. If you’re still reading this, then you no doubt notice that I tend to thumb jot more often while out on tour. When my only responsibility is to pedal and replenish calories. The place and time that my phone addiction only manifests in three ways. Instead of five thousand ways. No maybe that’s not true. I only seem to write at all when on tour. So it’s not more. Wait, any amount is indeed more than zero. People tell me it’s good. I know they’re lying. It doesn’t really matter. Riding is more important than writing. I certainly love it more than most anything. Maybe this can be the start or more writing whilst not riding. Maybe not. Maybe I should smash my mobile device against the wall and head out back out on bike with a harmonica, a notepad and a Rand McNally road atlas.
PS. Yeah I know my phone is a camera. So photos too. But four is not the magic number, and I’ve heard that a photo equals a thousand words anyway