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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Double is the theme for today

This is a first. I am updating both of my blogs together on the same day. For those of you who don't know, I keep this blog in the cycling months and I try to keep my other blog which can be found here all year long. On that blog I try to showcase my other pass time: art. Admittedly, my other blog has been left to grow web-based cobwebs (Ha Ha! True cob -webs!). I have been so busy with Tour de Pink and YSC that I have not had the time to create. The time will come when the cycling dies down, though, and I will feel the creative muse again. I know it as surely as I know the sun will rise. It has become a kind of season to my life. One season is biking, the other season is art. But they are both connected by another I love: writing.

I am not a good writer in any technical sense. But I do like to try to find the words to express what I see, feel or think. And I am always on the search for meaning in life. I try to stay tuned in to those moments, precious and few, like perfect beach shells, that I discover along my way.

Unfortunately my words often come out like buckshot, spraying at a target, creating collateral damage. But I always hope that at least one small pellet, a nugget of bright minded clarity will hit its mark. Often I fear my victims suffer from overkill. Please accept my apologies in advance and in perpetuity.

I said the theme of this post would be "double", and it is. We have started out with my double-posting (a remarkable feat if ever there was one!) but I will move on to more important and meaningful things.

My friend Julie called me late yesterday and invited me on a ride. Julie is still new to riding and new to her bike. I asked how far she wanted to go, and she shocked me by responding: 20 miles. As far as I knew she'd only ever gone 15 or 16. I took this as a milestone trip and enthusiastically jumped at the chance. It was after 6:30 when we met in the church parking lot and started riding. Right away she was complaining about the wind, and worried about possible storms. Like I said she is a new rider, and has not fallen in love with it yet the way I have; the kind of relationship where it calls to you and has a power over you, like a drug. I hopped on my bike and said, perfunctorily, "Let's go!" Admittedly, I pushed her for the first half of the ride. There were some hills to climb along the way, and she likes to go slow, taking her time. Of course there's nothing wrong with that, but in order to ride the Tour de Pink, you have to ride and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. I know how badly she wants to do this, but she needs to build her confidence.

So, I am sure I annoyed her with my incessant talking, reminders to shift gears, orders to keep pedaling, even downhill...but she was a trooper, and went faster than I believe she'd ever gone before. I showed her how I like to pedal as hard as possible downhill to help me on the uphills: how reaching 35 mph was no big deal. She let herself go to a degree, and got up to 27 mph. I was very proud of her! About 2/3 of the way to the turnaround point the sky started to look threatening. She started to talk about turning around early. The drill sergeant in me came out. I said "No. You are going to ride 20 miles today! I don't care if you have to ride in circles to get there!" How's that for a friend?

We reached the 10 mile turnaround and I gave her a little course on taking turns and NOT unclipping from the pedals when you do it! Then we headed back. By then it had started to rain a little, and in a short while the drops were larger and somewhat painful when they hit. Julie had slowed down; she was getting tired. But she was hanging in and wanted to make it home! I went a little easier on her, but kept encouraging her and chatting.

The low point came when some jerk came up behind us and laid on his horn because he didn't like that we were riding in the middle of the lane (to avoid the horrendous, life threatening potholes) and didn't want to have to go around us. It took a lot of restraint to merely throw my hands up and make a face at him that said "What the f***?" rather than flip him off. Jerks like that always have the potential to ruin a good ride.

We plugged along, feeling a little grumbly when it became clear that we were in for something special... The sunset was blazing through the storm clouds in multiple areas, turning the clouds a golden pink, and brightening the tops of chosen trees. The mixture of deep shadow and golden light was spectacular to see. There is nothing like being on the bike to make you feel truly alive and grounded with the world. Then we saw it: a rainbow stretching across the golden trees. It arced overhead and was lit up in contrast to the gray storm clouds behind. It absolutely took my breath away. But the full payoff came when a short distance down the road the rainbow had delivered a friend: a twin rainbow that glowed brightly above the valley. It was a spectacularly beautiful scene that is usually only represented in great art. But nothing compares to living it, feeling the spray on your skin, smelling the fresh leaves soaked in summer rain, and using your own eyes to soak it all in.

We finished the ride with smiles on our faces. Julie had completed an over 20 mile ride: a significant goal in her cycling experience. I was there to share it, and all the beauty we had seen. Thank heaven for last minute phone calls and for striking out as a team. You never know what rewards lie in store. Sometimes you get twice as much reward for half the effort!

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