No bad days on the bike

Fence in the foreground, with a missile and bomber in the background and trees on the right hand side of the picture.

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jan. 17, 1961

I was on the service road out behind the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History when I got a text this morning about the Supreme Court decision.

I pulled up Scotusblog on my phone, read the headline.

“Oh shit,” I texted back.

And then I put the phone away and went back to pedaling my bicycle.

Grumpy John

I woke up grumpy this morning.

Maybe it was the wind, or the forest fires. Maybe it was the flow in the Rio Grande, collapsing, the fierce uncertainty of adapting to climate change.

Maybe it was the sinus headache that lurked all night at the edge of my dreams.

I rode to the end of the block and turned left instead of right. It’s an old trick I’ve been playing on myself for years when I need to clear my head – ride the unexpected. Instead of downhill toward the Rio Grande, I turned uphill, toward the foothills, only thinking a few blocks ahead, seeking out interesting.

It took a while for the drugs to kick in. (Not literal drugs, it’s metaphor.) I stayed grumpy at the broken crosswalk button at Mountain and Pennsylvania, the sprinklers watering the road and sending a stream down the gutter at Los Altos Golf Course, the locked gate between the golf course and the bike path. I hadn’t really wanted to go that way anyway. I was just trying to piss myself off.

“Fuck locked gates,” Grumpy John muttered to himself.

And then I looked at the map on my phone and realized that I’d never ridden the block of Garcia St. down from the golf course.

Bombs Away

Tan building with "Bombs Away" and a picture of a bomb stenciled on the sides.

Home of “Black Ops Lager”

A bike ride enforces a narrative structure – a beginning, middle, and end.

Across Central Avenue (old Route 66), I spotted a pub called “Bombs Away,” which has always amused me. It’s in what I now know, based on post-ride research, to be called “Albuquerque’s up-and-coming Skyline Heights district.”

I have never heard this neighborhood, which I’ve ridden through (checks GPS ride records) 43 times, called either “Skyline Heights” or “up-and-coming”. It’s one of the light industrial districts that ring the northeast edge of Kirtland Air Force Base. I love reading the signs in these neighborhoods, imagining the dreams housed in the noble little businesses inside. It’s where you’ll find Sam’s Paint and Body, and Roof Korean Custom Gunsmithing. (“Save who needs to be saved. Kill who needs to be killed.”)

Beyond “Skyline Heights,” the road opened out past the nuclear museum to the neighborhood Dwight Eisenhower was warning about more than six decades ago. The names puzzle, with the ring of consultants and focus groups and then more consultants to design the logos (“BlueHalo,” “Cyber Engineering Laboratory,” “RocketLab”). Where the buildings in “Skyline Heights” are rundown and honest, the military-industrial complex business park beyond is too manicured for its own good, like it’s trying to put something over on us.

The narrative structure now defined, I turned back to follow a favorite route back down toward home, through the atomic museum parking lot, past their replica of the shot tower beneath which hangs a replica of Fat Man, the first nuclear explosive, zigging and zagging through the neighborhoods bordering the Air Force base, past a muffler shop and “Tint Pros” and the incongruous doggie day care, because the military industrial complex includes doggies. (“Pet who needs to be petted.”)

Urban Riding

There’s always a turn toward home in the narrative structure of a ride, where the decision options narrow.

Urban riding requires a special focus – when to hop up on a sidewalk or take the lane, dodging (cheerfully, they have nowhere else to be) the tent camp spilling out of the park, slipping past the line at the Starbucks drive through, negotiating turn lanes filled with the urgency of people late for work. I love this part because of the focus demanded. It leaves no space for the Supreme Court. A meditative flow.

And then the narrative arc bends toward the increasingly familiar streets of my neighborhood, and home.

Grumpy John banished.

Works every time.


One Comment

  1. I didn’t wake up grumpy. but now I am…

    From the dissenting opinion:
    “Where does that leave the States? After 10 years and tens of millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees, their agreement disappears with only the promise of more litigation to follow. All because the government won’t accept a settlement providing it with everything it once sought, and now seeks to promote the use of an alternative 1938 baseline that no party seeks”
    “But in light of the veto power the Court seemingly awards the government over the settlement of an original action, what State in its right mind wouldn’t object to the government’s intervention in future water rights cases? If, as happened here, even heavily caveated permission to intervene may end up federalizing an interstate dispute, what State (or Court) would ever want to risk letting the nose make it under the tent? In that way, too, I fear the majority’s shortsighted decision will only make it harder to secure the kind of cooperation between federal and state authorities reclamation law envisions and many river systems require.”

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