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 …