Diary of the Migration to Clipless

Day One :: Monday
Despite my first clipped-in spill occurring on Embarcadero in front of ferry bldg and about 30 tourists, the hardest part thus far is the FUCKING STRUGGLE TO CLIP BACK IN!! It takes more than a little bit of emotional and momentum energy to find the clip and get back up to speed.

Day Two :: Tuesday
As of the morning of my 2nd day with the new clipless pedals, I finally found what may be the trick to clipping back in. Instead of finessing it whilst the pedal is up, try mashing into the clip in the down position. A wiggle and a push and we’re in.

When coming up to a potential down foot scenario, if you’re in doubt, just clip out to avoid a spill.

These things take some time to get used to. More to the point: to get my body to break what is a 3 1/2 decade old habit: to lead to step off with my toes instead of my heel.

2nd fall this morning. At a deserted stoplight in industrial San Rafael.

As of the afternoon of my 2nd day, another lesson learned: make sure the cap screws under each shoe are more than just tight. I noticed one was loose whilst clipped in this morning. But when my fingers confirmed it wasn’t loose, I just chalked it up to normal play within the clip.

Well, on the blast to the ferry this afternoon, that same foot would not come out of the clip, no matter how far a jarred my heel. It just stayed clipped. Scary shit. This is my right foot, used almost 80% of the time to clip out and foot down.

Turns out I lost one of the 2 screws and the other was loose. Luckily I have basic tools. No wait, luckily I got the dual pedals cause I was able to get to the ferry on time. Where I could then sinch down the remaining 3 screws on both shoes.


Day Three :: Wednesday
Third day, third spill. This time early dusk. This time with visible damage to vehicle and rider.

As with each of the other spills, the part of my body to strike the tarmac first has been my right knee. This time the surface was highly uneven and my knee strikes and scrapes. As I stand here now in line for the ferry, I dare not lift up the legging.


Also on the right side are my trusty cap end blinkies. I suppose they were never stress tested for this. But a third jam and it just exploded in a spray of plastic, lens and AAA battery.


Moments when time compresses or expands or does whatever it does upon a convergence of the senses. In these moments the world and the now are so profound and so close as if never before. We are present here, as our mind is washed clean of the detritus of obligation. We feel a proximity with ourselves and the works of the world around us. We
recall our compression & distractions from previous days in the same routine.

It’s almost always accompanied by music. But for me, today, the convergence was of all five:

Touch, the bask of a late afternoon warm sunglow amidst a shelter from the cold embarcadero wind.

In concert with sound, courtesy of a smart playlist of impossibly emotional music I’d forgotten I owned.

Add in a bit of eye candy that comes with the people watching that 2x shore-leave cruise ships affords San Francisco

And finally, smell. Glorious nose, which begat taste.

The Boont Amber pint I enjoyed whilst I took all this in was prolly my second best beer I’ve ever had. Behind the Lagunitas Pale I had on the ferry when all this realization came due.

Tears in my eyes as I took long deep inhales from the bottle. Realizing that in this moment, I may never have had so accute a definition of olfactory information ever. Followed by a sip & stall of the ale over the back of my tounge, bubbly bong sipping, taking in the little fireworks display behind my closed wet eyes.

SPEW :: los angeles bike

created: Sometime mid to late 1995

Around late January of this year, I began to grow aware…again. To come aware of the fact that there is absolutley no truth to the saying that “The devil will find work for idle hands to do.” I was far from idle, mind you. But even prisinors’ are busy. Even the Govenor has some time on his hands. It’s just what you do with your free time that makes you the man that you are. Or the woman that you are.

My awareness led me to spend exactly what I had saved up from Lightworks on what I considered a completeltly, rationally, sane object. King Full Mt. Bike compliments of Gary Fisher & American Expresss. It was the top-tier of objects I’d coveted all my life.

And just when I think that this Bike will see just the boardwalk of Venice and never any single-track, I begin to notice the weather here in SoCal. Record highs and clear days drive me from venice up to Mid-City where I meet the groomsmen for a meal and a belly of tequilla compliments of El Coyote. What started as a gathering of specific clan, bled into riding further still to follow the rim of the level. I began to catch my breath as I played cue on full-size Canadian rules. I practiced my Swing-Dancing with Cricket to bootleg Frank from the George Burns Estate…no shit.

I have never been so on top of my game than ever before in my life. I realize this as I’m riding west-bound on Olympic crossing Robertson…approaching that little hill just before Century City before I get that phat decline ALL THE FUCKING WAY TO THE BOARDWALK ….14.3 miles of smiles. “You do not cry for me…I cry for you.”

I’m drunk.. I jut got home from said bike ride. I love you. I’m going to bed.

love knows not your coincidence

i take it as one of the finest things on my current life to be able to spend as much time as i do with the woman who defines me as a man.

i get her basically every moment, waking or slept, that i am not at my desk at work. our commute together in the mornings & evenings are precious times because they are, in my world, an extra hour. said another way, i get to drive across that incredible bridge in the mornings sitting next to the wife.

sometimes, we listen to KUSF or KALX as we must do to get away from bob edwards and his baritone bad news about FALLUJAH. now, there simply is no median genre on these college stations. so you what you hear is what you get. you can go from an accordian-playing coven to raw barfeating berkeley punk and back again all in the span of 4 miles. either way, i seem to always take note of the songs whilst driving across that great span. its all about the bridge, you see. must be that view and those cloud formations.

however, one morning last week, perhaps friday, on comes this most painfully beautiful song, with a voice like a haunted version of kate bush with a finish of karen peris (innocence mission). now, it has been one of my life-long goals to play music that makes anna soar and happy and most of all, offer comments of praise upon the songs that i have gathered and rewarmed for her.

“how pretty is THIS?” not surprisingly, i was thinking my version of the same phrase. before i knew any better, the song had ended and they were on to a particularly abrasive punk ballad “cigarettes & alcohol.” i made a mental note to locate the song from the playlists KALX or KUSF must surely post on their sites in the coming days. note the time of day, 8.13am. note the song that came after it, cigarettes & alcohol.

i would spend the next 3 or 4 days combing those 2 site looking for something resembling a playlist. as most student-run radio stations go, there was a lot left to be desired. there were playlists, but not in so far as what was played at a particular time of in the past. just a lot of the DJ’s personal pages. no shortage of listings for the cigarettes & alcohol track. but nothing that would come close in-name to the pretty song anna liked enough to comment on.

so this morning, we are ON that same bridge coming in, and we are listening to KUSF or KALX and its an ugly song by the barfeaters or the angry amputees or something and i’m thinking to myself, then i’m speaking out loud.

…and i’m paraphrasing here…

sean “so hey, i looked all over for the playlist from the other morning for that song and i couldnt find it.”
anna “well when i was pulling into the garage, the dj came on and listed all the previous songs.”
sean “aw! check out the farallons!”
anna “um, so yea, i listened for ‘cigarettes & alcohol’ but she was like 13 & kept fucking talking about the other fucking songs.”
sean “i ought to try on the search on the lyrics”
anna “yea, “right on” or “light on” or something like that”
sean “yea…”

and just then, one of the most all-inclusive case of the goosebumps was to wash over my body up my spine as we passed thru toll plaza. because right then, right at that very moment, the fucking song comes on, and there she is again with that haunting voice, harping on about “right on” or “light on” and “even when you touch my face, you know your place.”

the most precious moments in life are not coincedental. what makes them precious is when those coincidences occur in the midst of a bridge: a common thing linking the coincidence together. for if the song came on during a nissan or dockers commercial or some shit, there would simply be a comment. but it didnt, did it? it came on for the bridge. it’s all about the bridge, remember?

and we proceed to have the most pleasant 5-minute drive down into the great city of san francisco in wondering amazement at the perfect timing of it all.

oh, it was “The Book of Right-On” by JOANNA NEWSOM (‘alt-harpist’)


i heard it on student radio here in new zealand.
i’m trying to find the lyrics but am not finding them online. i can’t figure out what she is saying, can you?

Posted by: nadia at May 13, 2004 07:25 AM
what a lovely little story. situations i’m all too familiar with. fumbling at a stop light to find a pen and try to scribble some phrases from a song so i can search for it later. hence- tons of sticky notes all around my computer at work with names like ‘pepe deluxe’ ‘buttless chaps’ ‘n.e.r.d’.

monte and i will go see this haunting chick in tucson this sunday.

(beautiful when a song overheard on a bridge can inspire a night out many miles away.)

Posted by: Lisette Sacks at April 16, 2004 12:05 PM

(Originally Posted: 2004_0416)

built like a fireplug on battery

another funny thing happened to me on the way into work this morning…

i’ve caught the ubiquitous #4 from trusty Spencer in Marin. as sometimes happens with golden gate transit busses, our driver is one of those who seems to not yet have the hang of the intricate relationship of air-brakes & a 40-ton passenger coach. You know the kind of ride, herky-jerky, not a single stationary torsoe on the bus, making the walk to the door while in motion really comical. But i’m engrossed in my Kingsolver, the way only Kingsolver can engross, so i tended not to notice it too much.

As always, i chime-in with a stop request as soon as the beast lumbers away from the bus-top at Levis Plaza. For the toothed driver, their next stop then should be at the north corner of Green & Battery. But not our hero Achey Brakey. He proceeds to blast past the next stop, prompting me to break the silence with some theatrical bass: “Yo! Green! Stop at Green!”

Immediately he pulls over on the south side of Green & brings the beast to a very rough stop. For anyone familiar with this intersection, you will recall turn of the century railroad tracks along Green, providing a rough roadway for the Battery Speedway. So he’s right on the corner, and after such a bouncy stop, i sally off without so much as a thank you or good morning.

As i walk the 10 feet of Battery to round the corner to go up Green, the world starts to do That Slow Motion thing. The bus has to make an extraordinarily sharp left turn to clear the parked cars and get back into the flow of Battery. But the ass of the bus is swinging far wider then i think the driver could ever have intended. And good god that corner fire hydrant is remarkably close to the edge of the sidewalk…


it was so effortless. upon contact with the hydrant, so symbollic in its strength, surely the thin metal panels on the bus would give & crumple. But then, this *is* a fire hydrant, and that *is* a bus. How un-cinematic would it be for hydrant to stay-put and for the bus to crumple? it was effortless. it was as if the hydrant wasnt even bolted down. the ass of the bus seemed merely to push the plug over.

and for a split second, it seemed as if the plug might have been a dudd. For as it was tipping over, only a dark brown mass of liquid started to bubble out. yet within a split-second later, with no less then 6 feet between myself & the hydrant, a column of whitewater 5 feet wide & an easy 20 feet high appeared roaring before me. this was surely surreal, for it’s all going so slow, with my reactions clearly on autopilot as i dance away from the widening column and out of the way of the massive pool of water quickly forming below it.

I could not believe how easily the plug tipped over. And apparently, neither could the driver. For there he was continuing his route down Battery. Again, here comes the autopilot as i pipe-off one loud & sharp whistle in the direction of the #4. The tattooes mullet of a driver that idles off the bus and towards the column of water & his former passenger is a mixture of dumb of humour. He’s smiling & mouthing “wow” and asks with a smirk, “DID I DO THAT?”

Yea, you did that.

The weirdest part of all of this was how insanely fast DWP was on-scene with a truck. Literally 2 minutes after the TINK there were flashing orange lights & flashy orange jumpsuits.

(Originally Posted: 2003_0909)

my morning with simon

a funny thing happened to me on the way into work this morning…

i’ve just parked me car at the specncer parking lot & was making my way down the foggy damp hill to the southbound buspad as i have done countless times before. upon entering the tunnel under 101, i hear the familiar sound of a porsche downshifting fromwhatever into 2nd as it too enters the tunnel approaching southbound 101. ask kevin, we’ve discussed this: there is something signature in the way a porsche sounds, a higher-pitch, an almost straining under the weight of a powerful engine. this time however, the rev’s keep dying down as the car enters the tunnel behind me & all of a sudden ends up pulling over right next to me as i’m walking.

“Financial District?” comes the thick british accent from the drivers seat. Its funny, but in that split second before i trull ybegin to process this question, i’m thinking that this bloke isnt going to be avoiding toll with just 2 passengers. but then, i forget that as he unlocks the door & i hop in. and then it all happens so quick. oh dear jebuz it was all so quick.

I’m reaching for the seatbelt, but am having trouble contorting my new weight to reach it with me right hand. However, it makes no difference anyway because our driver has already thrown the wee carerra around the curving on-ramp at-speed. As you may or may not know, seatbelt retentioners lock when their vehicle is so much as a few degress off of center. tug as i might, i cant get he belt to give as my new friends buggy really stretches her legs now that we’re on 101 proper. by the time the car finally rights itself & i am offered the belt, we are clearly breaking federal & state vehicular speed laws. it was pure luck that the volume of traffic from spencer all the way down to the GGB entrance was populated with other cars poking along at 70. For without them, there would be nothing to bob & weave around as the car, still, continues to gain speed, and as our hero effortlessly leans on the gearbox up to 5th. perhaps egged-on, for i swear i heard my voice say: ‘FUCK YEA’ & ‘GO FASTER’, no doubt controlled by the evil spirits deep within me.

the sound of a porsche as heard from the sidewalk is something unique. however, the sound of being right in the cab, right in-front of the engine pushing you is quite another. there is no economy of gears with these cars. there is only the methods of driving & roads there-upon that will allow you to keep things hovering just south of redline.

as all of southbound 101 must, we pass the smokey on the right shoulder, and had to retard the speed down to hominid levels. in the above span of road, he’s introduced himself as ‘simon’ from the UK, that he’s in commercial real-estate, and that he hopes the driving hasnt ‘startled’ me. with OASIS blaring on the CD, and the forced-calm of GGB traffic, we proceed to have a pleasant conversation. until the toll plaza that is. for once again, our hero simon bitchslaps the gears up thru their revs. 2-seconds in first followed by 2-seconds in second only to plane-out in third at 70 or 80MPH with the engine literally screaming behind us. I can literally feel the weight of my groin creeping up into my stomache, much in the way a rollercoaster. The road stretching from 19th ave split to the Exploratorium curve took no less then 10 seconds with the amber-coloured guage pointing between 85 & 90. Think about that. All the while we’re having this perfunctory conversation about credit card interest rates or the bleak future of web-testing.

And thats the way the rest of the drive played. Stabbing it at green-lights, continuous accelerations in 2nd & 3rd, & hard gear-assisted breaking all other times. Driving as if auditioning for a remake to BULLIT. And NOT ONCE does the converation ever refer to the driving, or the horse, or the speed with which we’ve just made it from Spencer in Sausalito to the corner of Sansome & Broadway during morning rush-hour. Roughly 12 minutes.

By far the funnest drive into work i’ve had in a long time. Had to share…

Carry on…

(Originally Posted: 2003_0903)