Motivation Is An Enigmatic Bedfellow

By: Matthew Karre May 5

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It really is. The greatest motivator is success, of course. And success is manifested in so many different ways that its umbrella becomes too big to carry and eventually you just set it down on its side on the sidewalk and try to remember where you left it. Financial success is likely the greatest motivator, at least for reality television, most cinema, and commuting in a car 45 minutes each way to a job that you don’t like. But when even the possibility of financial success is removed, what’s the muse? Where’s the impetus? On the bike, with regards to racing, motivation comes from keeping the small candle burning far in the distance that illuminates the sign that reads: Pro. Pro equals success (not necessarily financial, he mentions, smugly). It comes from feeding desires, no matter how ridiculously lofty or attainable. It comes from snowboarding, blue herons, deciduous conifers, goats and other livestock, family (my sister, for example, who is a full foot shorter than I am but will likely make a bigger impact on the world than I will); the quest for gear justification, the quest for any justification, Ghostbusters, solitude, camaraderie, kittens, food and drink, health, fitness, obsession, counter culture and looking good (or saying you don’t care how you look).

It comes from everything else not mentioned but most importantly it doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it’s there. If it’s not there then what’s the point?

I saw motivation manifested today during a beautiful sunny ride. The scene was equally motivating for me and also more than a little inspiring. To explain the scene would sound dull and overdone. To leave the canvas blank for the viewer to paint is much more effective and useful. I also saw a few of my motivators on this ride: Amy, for anything and everything, always.

Weaver for being one of my favorite people on the planet, with or without a delicious lemon scone.

A photo by Jeff Curtes hanging at the ride-start coffee shop.

The sun and its effects. Jets from Top Gun. Portland. Rolled down arm warmers. Mt. Hood for its scenery and gamble for waist deep snow.

A 16% grade for its beginning, middle and demise.

A passing group ride of other friends (including Jeremy Dunn, even though he’s something of a soft talker and sometimes I can’t hear him very well. Not your fault, buddy.). The I5 bridge slowly enlarging in my view finder as the ride comes to a close.

On a long enough scale, everything will be listed.
And to put it all into perspective, I go, as always, to Ghostbusters:

Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) “Where do those stairs go?”
Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) “They go up.”


On The Road

By: Matthew Karre Apr 21

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Last week, Amy and I somewhat spontaneously decided to drive down to Santa Rosa, CA from Portland. We hit out after work on Sunday and landed in Ashland, OR at around 10pm. Ashland is roughly the halfway point and supposedly has nicer weather than Portland. When we were there it was rain/snow mix and generally shitty. My conclusion after being there for 8.5 hours is not positive but hardly substantiated. From there we drove down I5 or rather, THE 5, for a couple hours then took a more direct but slower way west to Santa Rosa. The route was without doubt the twistiest highway I’ve ever driven with 15mph curves aplenty. Good stuff.

We arrived in Santa Rosa at the hotel, checked in, dumped some stuff then went straight to Anadel State park to ride mountain bikes. Every bigger city should have such a place. Miles of single track shared peacefully by walkers, hikers and cyclists. Portland could learn a lot from that place.

The next few days we rode on the road, including the Kings Ridge Gran Fondo route on Tuesday. I believe in rides that have more feet of climbing than they do miles of distance and this one was superlative in every aspect. Overall, the ride is hard. King’s Ridge road quickly transported us from NorCal to Switzerland.

The roads were one lane, twisty and insanely pitched. We had cows for spectators (though they lacked bells, a major distinction in Switzerland), blue sky and sun for a ceiling, and panoramic views of mountains and ocean throughout. And very minimal traffic. Absolutely sensational.

On the 15 mile or so stretch of HWY1 we had a ripping tailwind; easily 25mph. The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli. (A bright shiny nickel to whomever identifies the show from whence I stole that line, and who said it.)

Waves crashed heavily on the trademark NorCal rocks, and the tall grass being pummeled by the wind reminded us that our amazing speeds were not (entirely) from super fitness, but from the firm yet sympathizing hand of Momma Nature. To our brief chagrin, we accidentally passed our left turn onto Coleman Valley road (it was not marked by any sign, anywhere). We didn’t realize it until 3 miles later. The ensuing 12 mph slog back into the wind was punishing after some 75 miles, and once we found the turn the climb began with a hostile gradient that quickly became savage. This climb switches back onto itself with no regard for pedestrian, human power, or automatic transmission.

Near the top a few cows grazed on the greenest of grass. Their views, surely unbeknownst to them, were of untouched, undeveloped coastal property the likes of which SoCal would have destroyed decades ago. I’d gladly pay more for the meat or dairy from cows with that kind of happiness. From the top, it’s a nice roll generally downhill into Occidental (one of the better named towns, in my opinion) and then the trip back to Santa Rosa.

Later in the week we camped at a campground a mile and a half up in the hills with huge views of the wineries and rolling topography of Sonoma county.

Below is a pictorial description of the splendors. Enjoy:


Of Laundry Chutes and Robots

By: Matthew Karre Apr 2

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When faced with the question “Do you have laundry chute,” how does one respond? The answer is simple enough, you either do or you don’t. You’d know if you did because you’d have a chute in your house, probably accessed by a small door in the wall, that leads straight down to the laundry room in the basement. They work best when the laundry room is in the basement rather than the main floor or in the attic. With the chute you’d be able to drop clothing—be it a single pair of bib shorts or the whole kit, because every goddamn ride is so soaked and disgusting from road grit that you can’t even re-wear leg warmers (eat shit SoCal. Eat shit.)—with great ease and little care directly to where they need to be for their next adventure in life: laundering. The clothing have experienced this adventure on numerous occasions because you ride a lot and every ride is rain soaked and disgusting with road grit such that you can’t even re-wear leg warmers (still applies SoCal). The chute removes the labor of lugging a heavy hamper full of rain soaked and disgusting clothing to the laundry room. The chute almost removes the necessity of hampers entirely, if it weren’t for that nuisance called gravity (which also plays a major role in the rain soaked aspect). The laundry chute is a one way slide. If you had a robot or maybe even two robots, I bet they could contrive a way to get the clothing back up to the bedroom or closet or wherever. Without robots I don’t think it’s possible and so we’ll need to have hampers to continue this essential domestic duty.

In some ways the laundry chute is a bit lazy. Perhaps the chute itself isn’t lazy, far be it from me to anthropomorphize such a thing, but rather it makes the user lazy. The user must place the clothing into the chute and allow it to drop into a heap down below, which keeps the heap out of sight for a spell, which is nice. It adds a bit of class to your profile, making you look like you clean your place when you actually just hide the mess, because a heap in the bedroom or a heap in the basement is still a heap. It soon must be placed in the washing machine, the machine turned on and the detergent added. The user has to go down to the laundry room anyway to perform said task so why not just carry the heap in the hamper and do it all at once? Once again, if a robot was down there to accept the laundry, apply its programing and wash the laundry—hopefully without putting the new red socks in with the white jersey and arm warmers—dry the non-delicates and return the heap back up the chute into the bedroom, then the chute would be an efficiency rather than a lazy maker.

I—we—do not have laundry chute at our house. And while our laundry room resides in the basement, we (and by ‘we’ I mean rarely me. Not a judgement or pontification, purely a statement of fact) must arduously transport the soiled linens in a low tech hamper down the stairs by hand. I do, however, have robots. Two of them, in fact, both on my bike. They do what I tell them and they respond to a simple language of gentle touch. One robot makes official robot noises audible even among the blowing of the wind and pouring of the goddamn incessant rain. This robot is self adjusting so that when I’m giving all the attention to the other robot, it corrects itself ever so slightly with the satisfactory enunciation of effort. And while the other robot makes minimal robot noise, we’ll call them baby robot noises, it sees action more frequently than the other robot. It does not self adjust though. It doesn’t need to. These robots use SEIS technology. Electronic Intelligent Shifting. Made by Shimano. Intelligently electronic they are, and shifting they do. I love those robots (I love even more that they are connected to the world’s nicest carbon road frame. No hyperbole implied or required.) They get to be with me when the laundry gets dirty, though they do precious little to make it clean again.

So, when posed with the question: “do you have laundry chute?” Don’t criticize the question by wondering ‘why is there no article, definite or indefinite? Do you mean ‘A laundry chute?”’ It’s not a typo or a stereotype. Realize that the person who posed the question is but three years old and goes by the name Henry. He lives in Minnesota and probably has laundry chute in his house. But no robots. Just down tube shifters.


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