Solo trip to the river today. Just me, the bike, the boat, the camera … and a few of the things I saw on the water.
For the record, the scupper hole trailer + Xtracycle is the perfect combination for me; infinitely easier than trying to lift a boat onto a roof rack, or into a vehicle. And truthfully, I could never fit the boat into/onto my tiny car anyway … so this is the ultimate freedom. I can head out to the river any time, easy to load, easy to haul, everything fits, I get to ride my bike and paddle. I am a happy camper. (Or paddler, as it were.)
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart …
“After The Storm” ~ Mumford & Sons
Some days there is not much to say, or show. There are days when it is work to find a picture, find words. And then there are days when the pictures are simply given. Like a gift. And today was one of those days.
Sometimes while riding, the sky and the landscape is so expansive, so prodigious, I cannot help feeling like some tiny speck, like a bit of dust, lost in the middle of it all. And I look up…
It’s overwhelming. I can never capture the sensation (words, photos or otherwise) – it’s a feeling of just, well … incredible smallness (?). It defies reproduction; photos cannot capture it. The limitless sky, the clouds, the horizon, the winding line of the road … and a very tiny speck of me (us) on our bikes.
At the end of the day, the gift was being there. Under the sky, against the horizon. With grace in our hearts. The smallest specks.
There is a long list of things that comes to mind when thinking of summer: popsicles, baseball games, watermelon, swimming pools, the beach, bicycles. Probably not Siberia – or riding a bicycle through Siberia – but it’s about all I can think about, read about, through these infernal days of heat and humidity.
The heat is sweltering here; a recent article claims we’re in the midst of the hottest six months in recorded history. Another reminder – along with the mess in the Gulf – from Mother Nature: ride and walk more, drive less? I’d like to think so, but also admit that it’s a difficult task in this kind of weather. And you have to be willing to arrive everywhere dripping with sweat and looking like hell; no room for a shred of vanity, that’s for sure. But hey, as Stephen Markley penned – “We didn’t need a world with a functioning climate anyway.”
Back to Siberia … Rob Lilwall’s book, Cycling Home From Siberia, is beautiful, remarkable, inspiring, and the perfect summer read in the midst of a heat wave. What began as a preposterous undertaking to begin with – his plan to spend one year cycling from a far-eastern city in Siberia, in winter, all the way home to England – turned into an epic 3-year/3-continent/30,000-mile cycling odyssey. It is filled with fascinating detail, humor, and yes – the expected drama and dire circumstances you might expect. But it is written in an amazingly unpretentious and even very spiritual voice. It is a beautiful story – on so many levels.
It’s a story that is filled with human (versus super-human) moments; his “humanness” and honesty draws you in, while the adventures keep you turning pages. And ok – the guy rode over 30,000 miles, so there is a fair amount of super-human in there as well, for you feats-of-incredibleness junkies. But with chapter titles ranging from “Over Mordor” (ch.1 – yes, in reference to Tolkien’s gloom-filled world), to “The budgerigar and the naked weatherman” (ch. 11) and ” ‘I’ve had enough of this stupid bike ride’ “ (ch. 36) … it is entertaining, often funny, sometimes sad, sometimes frightening, yet always so very real. A better description appears on the back cover:
A gripping story of endurance and adventure, this is also a spiritual journey, providing poignant insight into life on the road in some of the world’s toughest corners.
Get your hands on a copy and read it. Period. That’s all I’m going to say.
A final note to my kind friends and those of you who commented on my last post: your insight has been most valuable to me, and I greatly appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts – and even more for listening to me and reading. It has really helped me, and has made a difference.
#330daysofbiking update: today I have ridden 110 of the past 117 days …. 248 days remain. And so it goes. (As I wish for a blast of arctic air to blow over from Siberia).
Decided to ride this morning, rather than swim. Mason had initially planned on going with me, but ultimately he opted out after thinking about how many hours he would be spending out in the heat and sun – lifeguarding at the Y later in the day. Can’t say I blame him, it was a beautiful day, but another hot one.
So I set out on my own, a rather convoluted route, combining a couple of my favorite roads along the river, and a couple of new ones. Gave me a chance to think about some things that have been on my mind – especially the direction of this blog, what I’m doing with this whole project, where I want to go.
My very dear cycling friend (who I will refer to as @blueallez, as he is known on twitter) had sent me this cartoon from XKCD … which rang so true (and made me laugh).
The truth is, I have been having a debate with myself over the past few weeks. While I am loving the riding of #330daysofbiking, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable, personally, with the posts.
The advent of the blogopshere has been a blessing and a curse. There is definitely a great value in many blogs, especially the ones that have a clearly defined objective – from promoting/reviewing products, to presenting opinion or topic news, or valuable advocacy of a cause or mission.
But at the same time, I find far too many of them to be dull, uninteresting, and often self-aggrandizing personal diaries – a fair number of “posers” and attention-seekers, in my opinion, saying a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it’s a necessary niche (I’m sure for places like WordPress, anyway), but it’s one I have never wanted to fit into … and increasingly, I am feeling more and more uncomfortable, fearing I am sliding into that category.
The fact is, #330daysofbiking is a purely personal goal; I have no goals to make or raise money – for myself or a “cause”, I have no interest in sponsorship or anything similar. I don’t need the validation – from readership numbers or other measure. Just because I am trying to ride every day doesn’t mean I need to publicly broadcast my “vacation photos” and the mundane details with the cyberworld. I have debated whether or not this qualifies as legitimate (or measurable) advocacy, and have decided it doesn’t.
Mostly, I just want to do – much more than telling (showing, writing) about doing.
I simply want to ride my bike, take some pictures – and the details really don’t matter in the scheme of things. Except to me. And that’s where they should ultimately stay.
So, I’m not sure where I will go from here. It is something I need to figure out for myself. For the record, I will keep the blog. And #330daysofbiking will continue – for me. But I’m uncertain as to the direction of my posting. I’d like it to have more of a purpose and less trivial drivel – there is already an overabundance of that in the blogosphere. When I feel like I have something legitimate to say, an opinion or idea to express, I will be posting. Otherwise – well, I’d rather “leave no trace” than leave a cybertrail of simply “stupid”.
For today, then – the leftover “vacation photos” from the day. 😉
I know … good grief; another barn. If there were other scenery around, trust me – I would spare you.
Today’s ride: into town to meet my friend Shelly and her daughter for lunch. Good to catch up. The conversation was better than the lunch. Oh well. Managed to dodge the thunderstorm that rolled through later in the afternoon. Thankful for small favors.
Anguish and agony in the Pyrenees today, and the cycling twitteratti is on fire with #chaingate. With thousands of other bloggers and cycling news sites weighing in on the controversy, I’ll refrain from entering the debate … except to say that any cyclist who does not respect the maillot jaune should not be allowed to wear it. And in my mind, this applies to everything from sportsmanship to doping.
Although I do manage to get caught up in the sport and competition of the Tour, I have to admit that I am probably more drawn to watching it for the shear beauty of the cycling. It’s an incredible sight – the stream of colorful cyclists, the human power, the bicycles, set against a breathtaking backdrop of mountains, fields of sunflowers and lavender, and charming French villages. The movement of the peloton as it flows around the curves of the road, or parting and rejoining at a roundabout, all in unison. It is stunning. It always reminds me of a flock of birds taking flight from a field, or a school of fish cutting through the water – moving more as “one”, than as “many”.
So today I got caught up in the drama in the mountains, glued to the television for longer than I care to admit, but did get out for a ride – with much less drama than the one I had watched. No massive climbs for me – and no slipped chain. But it was on my mind.
(And tomorrow should be epic! 🙂
Clouds and rumbles of thunder today. Watched the brutal climbing of todays stage of the Tour, which was enough to make my legs ache just sitting there. Other lazy Sunday stuff … but got out for a nice road ride in the afternoon with Mark and Mason.
Mark heads out of town again, and both Mason and Dillon are scheduled to work a lot this week, so it will be more solo riding for me. At least I can keep up with myself.
It will probably be a lot of landscap-y things in the next few days, so thought I’d get some real biking pics in from today’s ride …
It has been a rather crazy couple of days — at least more eventful than 1879, in any case.
I know this is a biking blog, and I really do try to keep these posts about biking stuff … so forgive me if I lose the thread a bit with this one. There are bikes involved, I promise, but this is going to end up being a picture story. Bike stuff and non-bike stuff, I will forewarn you. (Hey – I am not making anyone read this, so I don’t want to hear any complaining… 😉 ).
Day 101 – Began the day with some bike commuting; a swim, some errands, and a stop at the bookstore for a new NYT crossword book (my brain needs more exercise than my arms and legs, trust me) and a glass of pomegranate green tea. Ahhh…
In the evening, we headed to Chattanooga ….
The Mosaic was a pretty cool place – music, original art, and … a bike.
Day 102. Headed to nearby Dayton, TN, home of one of the most infamous publicity stunts/evolution-creation circuses of the 20th century – the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. (I write this, hanging my head in, well … embarrassment). Also the site of the above sidewalk timeline (lol), evidence that plenty of goofy stuff apparently has happened – and not happened – in Dayton.
Each year on the anniversary of the trial, Bryan College and people of Dayton put on a big re-enactment of the whole show-down – which just happened to be taking place this weekend. Gah! Our only reason for going to Dayton today was for a stop at their local music shop – Grant was looking to buy a new bass guitar, and had found one here. The music store sits directly across the street from the courthouse where the whole Monkey Trial anniversary party was happening. It was, er, … interesting.
Grant got his guitar and we headed back home – The Band had another show tonight in Cleveland, and Mark and I were heading over to one of the local vineyards for some blueberry gathering. It’s been a bumper crop this year; I’ve never seen the bushes so full. We picked about 13 pounds of delicious berries; just perfect for my favorite No-Bake Blueberry Pie (archives).
Came home (again), tired, but Mark and I decided to head out on the bikes for a dinner date … pizza and salad at our favorite little local spot. Nice way to end the day, riding home just as darkness settled – lights and plenty of Blinkies.
(For now, anyway… 😉 )
Let’s just say … I’ve been warned. 😉
One hundred days of riding since April 1st … and feeling like 100’F out there (even though I think we officially topped out in the 90’s once again). Is this what are known as dog days? I have to think so.
Everybody was off doing the things they do – band stuff, summer jobs, business travel. It was me, myself, and I once again. I started the day on the Greenway early this morning, thinking it would be a change to take a run (which I like to do – occasionally). But as I started off, I could tell it was already too hot for me; so I ended up walking. I ran into two bike police-men, and maybe they actually were more fit than they looked, but they appeared to be kind of dragging in the heat. Great to see them on bikes, but made me a little nervous, actually. (Envisioning seeing one of them passing out from heat exhaustion/over-exertion :-0 ).
Watched the Tour during the heat of mid-day, and ended up riding later in the afternoon. Brought the Lensbaby along, because I like how it gives that kind of “melting-in-the-heat” feeling.
I’m not sure whether to consider this 100 day marker a milestone or not? Not quite one-third of the way there, but kind of an interesting feeling to know that I’ve managed to get this far – riding 100 of the past 106 days. Also pretty thrilled that my legs haven’t fallen off (yet)!
I actually think before the whole #30daysofbiking (and subsequent #330daysofbiking) began, I was riding nearly every day anyway – just never kept track, and probably avoided some of the bad weather/rainy days, I will admit. But now, after being out in heat, rain, thunderstorms, darkness – I guess I feel a bit more capable, and confident. Mentally, I like that I have seemed to eliminate the excuse-making element; I’m going out, no matter what.
So … Day 100 pictures with that melted-popsicle feeling that the Lensbaby is so good at – just the usual: cows, barns, fencelines. You know by now. After 100 days, some things just don’t change, do they? 😉
Trying a bit of an experiment with this post, trying to see if I can do the entire thing by IPhone – from the photos to the photo editing to the writing and publishing of the post using the WordPress app. We’ll see … (and if this is full of typos and other errors, you’ll know why).
Today’s ride was a mid-day commute to the pool for a swim, and a few errands on the ride home. Not my favorite time to swim; I much prefer the early morning lap-swimming-only time, but some days it just doesn’t work out that way. Mid-day tends to be full of kids cutting through the lap lanes, not looking where they’re jumping in (occasionally on my head), and today some 8-year old spotted my pull buoy at the end of the lane and was about to walk off with it (I saw him and promptly put an end to that idea).
It’s back to horridly hot and humid, and the best place to be is in the water … and next time, earlier rather than later. Same for the riding, I’m afraid.