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Saturday, October 14, 2000

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Biking and beauty

I started out to look for something to wear for halloween and for Lisa's birthday and ended up biking about twenty five miles. My first destination was 4th Avenue but I decided to make a detour down the Santa Cruz riverpark to see if there was any sign of the much vaunted Rio Nuevo. I noticed as I started down the park a sign for the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. How nice. I've now seen the end in San Francisco and a bit of it, further to the south, in Tubac.

I didn't see any sign of the Rio Nuevo project but followed the park on down to 22nd Street and then found that it's a bit difficult to cross over. I had to go under 22nd, across the bridge and back under 22nd on the other side as the north side of 22nd is a pedestrian and bicyclist nightmare.

I got off at Congress and rode through downtown to the 4th Street underpass. It was nice riding as there isn't much traffic in the downtown on an early Saturday morning. 4th Avenue was doing a brisk business in halloween costumes but I couldn't find anything that I needed. Well, I found some possibles but nothing that really seemed right. I did buy a book at Antigones, but that's the problem with using the bathroom in a place that has interesting books.

I rode through the university, unfortunately riding into the middle of family weekend, and over to Himmel Park to eat the sandwich I'd picked up and start reading the book. The weather was so nice, high 70s, that the park was busy. There was an SCA group set up with tents and awnings and intent on pretending to kill each other with sword fights. I watched for a bit but, unless you are part of the group, the lulls between fights aren't all that interesting and they didn't have any sales booths to browse, just a little medieval family group trying to see who's best at killing or, rather, who looks like they're the best at killing.

I ended up at Barnes and Noble at Broadway and Rosemont. I found one thing I was looking for and then headed back home. I did stop at a couple apartments but I didn't care much for the ones I looked at. I kept heading north and then took a jog east to Craycroft and up the the Rillito riverpark. I stopped at Fort Lowell park to fill up on water. This park was also busy, but it usually is. It's been a while since I've been through the museum here and need to go again.

I hadn't ridden this section since they put in the new bridges so I was looking forward to seeing how it went. The Craycroft to Swan section is pretty much the same though they have put a bridge in under the auto bridge which helps. At Swan, right outside the nursing home my mother was at, they have a very nice rest stop with water and bathrooms.

Between Swan and Dodge this section gets practically down to the level of the wash in several places and wouldn't be passable when it rains. At Dodge it pretty much ends. You can go around in the wash but you would have to walk your bike through scrub and loose sand which wouldn't be ridable unless you were very strong and maybe not even then. It's quite a ways before you get to a way back up on the path. I took the other way which involves lifting your bike through a fence. I had to unload a little before I could hold the bike sideways to get it through.

This was the first time I'd ridden the section from Dodge to Campbell on the north side as before it was too hard to get a bike, or even just climb up and down, the many washes. With the bridges it's nice even though the surface is just rough concrete or dirt most of the way as this is a very unfinished section. It goes right next to quite a few horse farms and I don't expect they are too happy to have people going by all the time now. They pretty much had this section to themselves and their horses as they could get down into the wash to ride them. Once it's finished the traffic will pick up considerably.

At Campbell I was back in familiar territory and close to home. I stopped at the supermarket on the way and picked up a few things so I could just go home and relax. The day was still nice and even though the sun came in and out and I was exercising heavily, I never got too hot. I could feel the ride in my legs as I had done a bit of up and down and the unfinished sections of the riverpark are harder to ride.

It was a little after four when I got back and I cooked a nice supper of spaghetti and garlic bread as I was hungry after all that exercise. I didn't have that exhausted, headachy feeling that I often have and it may be because I was drinking mainly the sport drink which kept me better hydrated. I know that what I drank didn't go right through me like it often does.

The book I picked up and finished was "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" by Gregory Maguire. This was a retelling of the Cinderella story from the point of view of one of the stepsisters. It was very interesting. None of the charcters were without fault, not even Cinderella, and it was a sobering view of how beauty and ugliness are looked at and how they affect people. I know I often felt like I wasn't worth much because I wasn't beautiful. I was pretty, sometimes and if I took care of myself, but not what I considered as special. This is a very good book with a bit of a twist that is set in Haarlem in the Netherlands during the seventeenth century. It's a book that you'll think about for days afterwards.

Even now when we talk about diversity, what is considered beautiful is not something that we have much diversity in. I've realized that if I really look at someone who is considered beautiful like movie stars and models, most of them aren't classically beautiful but they make themselves beautiful and make us think they are beautiful. That takes an incredible amount of work and time.

I look around at your average person in the mall or at work or most places and most people aren't what we would consider beautiful but they have people who love them and they have a beauty of their own which wouldn't show well in a fashion show or on the screen. It's so sad that girls, and guys, to some extent, are so fixated on being like the beauty that we see in movies or in fashion shows since that's a beauty that doesn't really last. I'd still like to have it but I know that even if I had all the right bones, etc., I would be too lazy to put in the effort it takes to appear beautiful to strangers.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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