Reading Season: Books and Blogs

Winter is a time for rest. I learned this as a distance runner in New England many years ago. Over time your body will thank you for not going out on a 20 degree day and trying to grind junk miles through gusting winds.

And baseball season is 85 days away.

So I read.

Mrs. Rootchopper gave me two books for Christmas: Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project and Jeff Passan’s The Arm. I’ve read all but one of Lewis’s books. (Lewis is one of my go-to authors. Others are Nick Hornby, David McCullough, David Lodge, Tracy Kidder, John McPhee, Tom Wolfe, and Jon Krakauer.) This one is about the bromance between two academic psychologists who flipped economics on its ear by noticing that people do not behave rationally, and they are irrational in predictable ways. I finished this book on Friday while riding Big Nellie in the basement. (I read faster when my legs are moving. I swear.)

Passan’s book is an investigation into the epidemic of torn ulnar collateral ligaments among baseball pitchers. These pitcher have what is known as Tommy John surgery. Long- time baseball fans will remember that the orthopedic kiss of death for pitchers used to be a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. Not anymore. So Passan’s book looks at the inane history of baseball and sports medicine. (For a while, it was thought that sore arms were caused by infections from the mouth. So injured pitchers had some teeth pulled. I am not making this up.)

I am also reading blogs. I have a long list on the right that is in no particular order. My favorite blogs these days include:

BlissfulBritt: I have become addicted to this one about a twenty something perpetual college student and erstwhile barista in Seattle. Britt’s bliss is often illusive but the quality of her writing and photography is ever present. And I’d kill to go on a hike with her.

My Year with Kerouac: Michelle is another twenty something blogger who coordinates events for our local bike advocacy organization. She loves the beats and tats and cats. And writes wonderfully. Somewhat like Britt, she’s in search of something more profound in her life than the daily grind. (Ooh, a pun.) She’s a banquet.

Wakeupshakeup: Katie is between successes as they say. She quit her job after feeling worn down and disrespected. What next? For now it’s odd jobs and writing gigs and interviewing “responsible adults” for insights into how to get on board the train to happy success or successful happiness.

Revrunner: I have no idea who this blogger is but (I think it’s a woman) she takes great photos mostly of the DC area (the DMV) and occasionally other places. She has a great eye for making the mundane look intriguing.

Smilecalm: Whenever I feel the need to get my woo woo on, I read Smilecalm. Half the time I don’t have a clue what it’s about. Other times it strikes a chord in me. The photos are wonderful.

And since I live in DC and ride a bike, there are three go-to bloggers I read regularly.

Chasing Mailboxes: Mary’s writing and photography captures her inner being, the one every distance runner and cyclists has a running mental conversation with. Her inner child often makes an appearance between the lines or in a picture (especially when she jumps for joy). She sometimes writes about long distance running and it evokes strong memories in me of my running days some 30 years and one knee pop ago. Mary, as the superhero Coffeeneur, runs two annual friendly competitions: the Coffeeneuring Challenge and the Errandonnee. Originally intended as a DC thing, they quickly went global. Try them. But you must follow the rules!

Tales from the Sharrows: Brian is a notorious rule-phobe who started this blog as a blow-by-blow account of his bike commutes across DC. How he remembered the details of his rides is beyond me. In recent years, he’s written more broadly but always with quirky wit. He also writes a bicycle advice column for the local free weekly newspaper. It’s called Gear Prudence. Feel free to submit a question.

The Washcycle: From time-to-time this blog has gone dormant, but it has started kicking its heels up again. Washcycle posts are in depth reports of interest to the DC cycling advocacy community. Lord, that sounds dull. It’s not. I don’t know where he gets his material from but there are maps and annotated photos and links galore to help you get your inner bike advocacy wonk on.

Finally, I read  Adventure Cyclist and National Geographic from cover to cover. I highly recommend National Geographic’s latest issue on Gender. It’s especially interesting if you are or have been or plan to be a parent.

Okay, time for me to head into the basement for some active reading on Big Nellie.

Feel free to recommend blogs or books to me in the comments section. I am always looking for new ground for my eyes to cover.

And the Nominee Is

Fellow bike commuter and blogger Bri nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. This is a nice thought and I appreciate it. The award does have all the earmarks of a chain letter though. It asks participants to post seven facts about him/herself. And link to 15 other blogs you like.

I’m not going to perpetuate the chain but for those of you who don’t already know, here are seven facts about me:

  • I used to run marathons. I’d give my left knee to run again but alas it’s already trashed.
  • I have met, by my count, 65 people because of the 50 States ride. This astounds me because up until the 2006 ride I did nearly all my riding alone.
  • I spent two summers driving a cab in Boston. It has taken me nearly 40 years to unlearn all the bad habits I acquired.
  • I hate traveling but have managed to rack up several foreign countries including Denmark, Portugal (twice), England, India, Canada, and West Virginia (at least 100 times)
  • I used to contribute material to Crazyguyonabike.com . This is an excellent website dedicated to bicycle touring.
  • I once smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and quit cold turkey.
  • I once lost 70 pounds in a year.
  • I am the son of an ophthalmologist. Ironically, I have worn glasses since 3rd grade and have had 6 eye operations in the last 15 years. If I were born 100 years ago, I’d have been eaten by wolves before I turned 40.

If you want to know my favorite blogs you can look at the list on the right. Here are the ones that I really look forward to:

The Impermanent Resident – The adventures of my friend Florencia who dropped out of  conventional life to travel the world, explore her spirituality, and live by her wits.

Chasing Mailboxes – The biking, running, and fitness blog of Mary whose incessant picture taking indirectly resulted in me meeting about 50 of the 65 people above.

Tales from the Sharrows – Brian’s blog contains often surreal tales of his travels back and forth between work and home in DC.

Ultrarunnergirl – Kirstin’s blog is mostly about running incredibly long distances and the nutrition, medical, and mental requirements to get from here to there on two feet.

Bike Like Crazy – Bri’s blog is all about bike commuting through the winter in the frozen north of upstate New York. I simply don’t know how she does it.

My Year with Kerouac – Michelle tries to kill me with her WABA events. To make up for it, she writes in the style of the master.

We’ll Eat You Up We Love You So – The addictive tales of Shannon, a bicyclist new to the parenting game in suburban Rockville MD.

Pennine Pedalling – Georgie bikes in scenic rural England. Georgie is currently very pregnant.

PortaJohn – John invented the Hoppy 100 ride. I have done many rides with him. Most of them involve consumption of craft beer. He moved to Baltimore a few weeks ago but I’ll keep tabs on him through his blog posts.

Bike and Brain – I have always said that running and cycling are not about the body. They are about the mind. Matthew’s blog explores that train of thought.

Bikeyface – Becca bike commutes in Boston. Her humorous cartoons about riding in the city are always entertaining.

RamblingRider – Lisa and I have done many rides together since meeting three years ago. She doesn’t post often enough but I always look forward to her tales.

A Girl and Her Bike – Kate rides Molly and Kermit on the streets of DC. She used to ride for work, as a DC police officer. She’s still a LEO but no longer on two wheels for work.

Longer Baca – The off and on blog of Alex, who moved to San Francisco for career and boy, but misses DC something awful. We miss her too.

The Daily Randonneur – Ed and Mary (yes, that one) ride bikes incredibly far.