Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Republic of Anaerobia
Twenty Days, Twenty Jerseys, Continued

On a long ride into the mountains some years ago, I met a man who wore the team jersey from the mythical Republic of Anaerobia, the state motto of which is "Veni, Vedi, Vomiti." What a great jersey for a tough ride!

As the website where the jersey can be purchased puts its: "Adherents to the Anaerobian Way are scattered far and wide ... it exists as a state of mind that only the devoted care to endure, for it requires breathtaking effort. Basically, the Republic is a place where suffering begets a transient but unmistakable ecstasy."

The jersey is colored blood-red, and decorated, of course, with red blood cells. There is a matching water bottle and cap, and recently matching bibs went on sale. I knew I would enjoy having that jersey when I saw it, but I never bothered to track down who sold it.

That changed not long after my heart attack, in late 2008. Much of my life changed then. One change I didn't want to make was to stop riding my bicycle. I'm not sure what I would have done had I lost that ability. One day, of course, I will have to stop being a cyclist, just as I will have to give up driving my car, or conducting my photography tours. Changes, profound ones, must be faced, one day or another, by all of us.

After my heart attack, I was back on my bike after five days. Soon I determined to be as strong or stronger a cyclist than I had been before the heart attack and frankly, time is growing shorter. The thought that it was time to purchase the Republic of Anaerobia jersey popped into my head. I wore it on my first hard ride, a few weeks later.

My January 5th ride was no near-death experience. Instead, I enjoyed a lively ride made mostly in the flatlands of Beverly Hills, cycling through residential neighborhoods and along a few busy streets. In downtown Beverly Hills I photographed an open-roofed vehicle which was taking a full contingent of tourists along ritzy Rodeo Drive. I'm sure those tourists were having fun, but I think I was having more fun on my bike.

I reached the eastern edge of Century City, once the backlot of 20th Century Fox studios.

A few blocks from home, I passed by the Flynt Publications building, which sits near the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega Blvds. Larry Flynt, of course, publishes Hustler Magazine and has been embroiled in many legal cases involving freedom of speech.

The bike I was on wasn't equipped with lights; I reached home just as darkness overtook me. My blood still coursed through my veins, my arteries, my heart. I knew I'd probably have another great ride the next day, but frankly, time for great bike rides is growing shorter. Knowing that, I think, makes for some great rides. Maybe I need to order those matching Republic of Anaerobia bibs now.

Note: Click on images for larger versions.

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