Oct 9, 2009

Dispatch from the Smog

I'm in the valley. I'm really close to the Sierra, but cannot see it. The horizon is smog in all directions. It's gross. I've almost given up on going to Sequoia, as the air quality really makes cycling more difficult here. It's flat as a pancake in Visalia but my throat and lungs are not stoked. It's also easier to give up on going to the mountains when you can't see them. Maybe they're not there.

I presented my paper yesterday, and was a little off my game. Oh well. I've actually never been that nervous before a presentation. I'm usually quite comfortable with public speaking. Again, oh well. Frankly, I don't think folks are super interested in my research if their attraction to my fabulously beautiful poster is any indication. Most of the symposium is based in biology, which I find really instructive as my work really isn't biology. And nearly everyone is working on big big sites, projects, parks, etc. So my urban research is a bit niche. All the more reason to share though, I think. The student chapter of Cal IPC is pretty rad, too. Definitely the most useful bits for me have come from their end.

Still, I got some nice feedback and have learned new things. Unfortunately I missed the climate change session this morning. Oh, Murphy's Law. I hit something on the bike path last night, which meant that I had a flat when I woke up. I loaned out my hand pump recently and the person who borrowed it happened to break it. So try as I might, I could not get enough air in to my tire. So I had to walk my bike 8 mile from the KAO camp to a bike shop in Visalia. Amazingly no fewer than NINE cyclists passed me on the path, none of whom offered assistance. One who I encountered at a light, actually would not let me use the pump that was clearly attached to his frame. Needless to say, I do not love Visalia.

However, as I walked through town, a friendly cyclist saw me and stopped. I was only a couple of blocks from a shop at this point so I walked on with his directions. Although the mechanic was not in at Wilson's Cyclery, I liked the place. I had to go to Sierra Bicycle Werks eventually. I needed a mechanic because the wheel was clearly damaged when I hit this weird protrusion on the bike path. I would have seen a mechanic today whether I could have pumped the tire or not, basically. The service was fast, friendly enough, and affordable. I'd recommend either spot if you need bike help in Visalia.

On that note, while I do not like Visalia, I do like the KOA. The owners are very nice folks! So if you're passing through, it's friendly, safe, and clean. Except the air, but you can't blame Linda and her husband for that.

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