Posted by: standing_baba | March 30, 2011

Apocalypse Now: When Bike Updates Go Rogue

Departing Floripa: everyone wants a free ride

FOREWORD: Yesterday I tried to write a comprehensive update of my six day pedal from Florianopolis to Porto Alegre, then my six day stay in Porto Alegre itself. Twelve activity-filled days total. This bike update, in the end, so blended the ideas of a book I recently read into its pages that any attempt to describe the country towns, the pedal motion, the mountain downhills, and meals with firemen ended up as poorly written life philosophy…the kind that does not go over well on this site and short be forgotten altogether. But MB&S is all about transparency! We publish this stuff! In short, yesterday my brain took a backseat in one of the great Cadillacs of modern literature and went for a very long ride. It’s coasting down the highway now, windows down. Below I’ve fused photos, book quotes, and diary-like sections of this trip.

“DO YOU SEE THE STORY? DO YOU SEE ANYTHING? IT SEEMS TO ME I AM TRYING TO TELL YA A DREAM—MAKING A VAIN ATTEMPT, BECAUSE NO RELATION OF A DREAM CAN CONVEY THE DREAM-SENSATION….

– Joseph Conrad, from the “The Heart of Darkness,” the novel that inspired the movie “Apocalypse Now

…The hardest part of writing these updates that loosely weave this blog’s mish-mash into a story is to get a thought to the starting line before letting it run away from me, from its own original intention, from its humbleness that grows into the greed of a short story, a novel, a best-seller, a made-for-TV movie. My posts (and personal e-mails) are plagued with an unrealistic grandeur, some Napoleonic complex, that demands all emotions and details and smells and sounds to march onto the screen in fluid, coordinated goosesteps that will win the battle that will win the war and bring it all back wrapped neatly in meaning, confetti snowing over victory parades. Strangely, I always imagine this in Paris. Of course, this kind of writing rarely happens, at least not in any semblance of fluidity like rivers over bedrock or milk oozing effortlessly onto Corn Flakes….

Road near Itaimbezinho Canyon, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul

…If writing blog-worthy posts were as easy as the thinking them up on solitary straightaways or vaguely familiar boulevards (back to some cafe I saw earlier with a black-and-white wifi symbol in its glass front, for example), if the act of recording words was as spontaneous as giving directions in a first language or as instinctive as a love kiss, then this blog would be more like my mind’s movie that entertains me to no end, and less like the happenhazard slideshow of places visited that it has become….

…Just as they say the rich never rest and the successful are never satisfied, this blog disappointment comes at the peak of success. Yesterday this site received close to 500 hits, thanks to a Brazilian cyclist who posted a link to an online bike forum. A few comments sprouted there. One alerted the members of my presence (“His Flickr account is worth a look. There are even photos of the Porto Alegre Critical Mass and the dude eating churrasco[Brazilian BBQ].”); another set me thinking: “…Lots of adventures! I’m going to give it a good read through later, from the beginning….” From the beginning! Never had I considered this blog a story but that’s exactly what it is: the story of my life, a two-year flash in the pan….

Floripa Dreaming: Was that real? Was I here?

“NO, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE; IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONVEY THE LIFE-SENSATION OF ANY GIVEN EPOCH OF ONE’S EXISTENCE—THAT WHICH MAKES ITS TRUTH, ITS MEANING—ITS SUBTLE AND PENTRATING ESSENCE. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. WE LIVE, AS WE DREAM….

-Joesph Conrad, from The Heart of Darkness

…My past sometimes feels like a dream. When I think back on Trinidad and Venezuela and Colombia, all the countries I’ve pedaled to date and even everything I was before I became a ‘cyclist,’ I tense with regret knowing only a small percent of those days are documented in writing, and even these are grossly incomplete. As new experiences pile on, it seems old memories loosen like topsoil, then lighten to dust before lifting away with the wind. This process never ends or, to see it from a different perspective, ends in the worst possible way: arid, lifeless, with no signs of what was…There is no avoiding the forgetfulness; you can only document and spread your story like a seed to anyone willing to listen, hoping it metaphorically gives life in some way…In my case, to give life to my whole story I’d have to live less and write more, and there are only so many hours in the day….

…What it’s like to hello and goodbye in perpetual circles, to welcome the morning mystery as sun beams through a tent flap, to watch humidity exit my mouth and float above Andean grass rooftops, to fall in and out of love constantly floating at the surface of who those eyes are that stare back at you, to leave a strange locale and pedal to another under the grand umbrella metaphor of arriving a better person, more educated and worldly, more interesting and interested in others, to some final city, also a strange locale—all this can only show its true transparency, with real staying power as a compelling life story, if the delicate scale of living the adventure is tipped toward the heavy weight of recording and refining it, something I’ve found difficult to do with so much buzz about me….

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