Why Do I Write?

IMG_20160621_124225928

Mary at ChasingMailboxes got me thinking with her post the other day.. I first wrote about cycling in some organized manner when I did a trip to New Orleans 5 years ago and wrote about it on crazyguyonabike.com  (here). I enjoyed writing about it and I had a purpose at that time; to keep friends and family current on my progress. I also knew that I enjoyed writing.

A couple years later, I started a blog on Tumblr and then one here nearly 2 years ago. Each of those formats have character traits I like, although they are totally different from each other. Overall, I like this format better with it’s ability to kibitz back and forth in the comment section.

Now I’m questioning why I do this at all? What is my purpose. I have no mind shattering trip I’m doing. I have no outstanding skill at writing, even though I’d like to. Heck, I’ve even thought it would be cool to be published one day. I look at my writing and know that’s just not going to happen.

I love reading about others’ adventures. Some of you are very good writers and really captivate us in your style so that we vicariously experience what you’re seeing, feeling, tasting etc. In small ways, we get to know each other on here, but we never know the total package. I think that comes only in real life rather than a computer screen or piece of paper. I suppose this is a form of voyeurism. We get glimpses into others’ lives with similar interests.

What am I saying in this?  Heck if I know…. Therein lies the problem. If I have no purpose in my writing then there’s really no reason to continue. I’m hoping I’ll find inspiration again. I know I’ll keep riding. It’s just who I am. I ride. I drive a bus. I spend time in between those things, mowing the lawn, fixing stuff around the house, yard and shop and I spend a little time with my wife and friends.

Riding Chicago

IMG_20160814_111337472

I’m on a bus gig in Chicago and then into farm stuff in Illinois and Iowa with a group from Argentina. Great group even with the language wall. (We have a guide/interpreter.) For the weekend, they’ve been doing Chicago tourist stuff.

Cities have heartbeats I think. Chicago has multiple manifestations of that. The suburbs are much like any small town with a slower beat. That beat may speak several languages, but the feel is similar.IMG_20160814_164528052

Downtown, on the other hand, seems to need constant defib! On the weekend, the pedestrians are mostly tourists.

The North Shore Trail has much of that, but tons of runners and cyclists “training.”

IMG_20160814_172914929 It’s a dumb place to train with the weekend crowds, but is still part of the circulatory system of the city.

It’s actually safer to cycle the downtown streets than it is to drive there. I’m most definitely NOT saying you can be lackadaisical; you have to constantly be on your game. Even the Chicago Transit Authority bus drivers are crazy. It’s fun down there!

I rode to the downtown from my motel both Saturday and Sunday. The group didn’t put me in their Hyatt Regency, mostly because it was downtown and nowhere to park my barn. That meant my riding for those 2 days was nearly 60 miles. Most of their tourist agenda was within walking distance of their motel. I LOVE cycling Chicago! It’s really cool. It gets pretty lonely, though, even with millions of people around me. Riding helps.

Today we head into more familiar turf for me since the rest of the week is all farm related. My group are all farmers. Hopefully, I can be included in more of their activities.

Back to an Old Route

What hairs I have left were in need of shortening and my barber had an opening for 9 AM. I decided to do my old routine of riding a 30 mile route in instead of the direct 12.

I left at 6 and it was nice not to need the headlight, even though I enjoy that. I did get a bit freaked out when a great horned owl swooped down so close to me that I could feel the wind from his wings!

IMG_20160810_063625401_HDR

I enjoyed the sunrise in my mirror at mile 8 just as I was heading into my beloved hills. It was a perfect morning with a very light breeze, sub 80 degree temperature and light traffic. I could do those rides all the time.

I’ve been feeling a lack of purpose in my writing so this may be it for a while. It WAS a good start to the day though.

Why So Hard?

I’m on this bus gig in Memphis again and since I actually got to spend some time at home this week, I took the chance to ride again.

I rode with Beast to the bus shop on Thursday. For some reason it was a tough tide. The only reason I can come up with is that I didn’t sleep well the night before.

Anyway, I took off about 8:30 into a day heading for heat. I pushed a bit since I had something to return to a store that I thought closed at 5. (It actually stayed open to 7 of course.)

IMG_20160804_100403525

In 20 years of riding, I’ve found a lot of stuff along the roads from good wrenches to cash ($1.28 so far!) to a 5 D cell mag light. This was the 1st time I’ve ever seen a bunch of books. There were about 12 romance novels of the Nora Roberts/Danielle Steele variety. They appeared new. I’d love to know the why and where they came from. I was hoping for something to take on the bus for when I’m sitting in the motel. This wasn’t it.

Another reason this day may have been harder than usual is that I didn’t break very often. Even my ankle that was broken last fall was hurting. Normally cycling helps it. No idea on that.

I got my money back at rush hour time so getting out of that area to get to the shop was challenging. I survived and cooked my supper in our air conditioned driver’s room! My original plan was to sleep in my bus. I decided to drive the relay car for a bit and use my refund for a cheap motel. I found it!

Now I sit in a Memphis motel till I load luggage at 6:30 this evening. We (there are 2 of us with buses here) leave about 10:30 PM to take the Omaha Stormchasers home tonight. I’ll get back to the shop about 11 tomorrow morning.

I leave again Thursday for Mackinac Island again. More bike time there.

What a life I lead now!

Counter Intuition

There’s a guideline/rule in motorcycling that to safely maneuver a corner you look through it; you look where you want to go. Believe me, it works. It goes against what our natural inclinations dictate to our brains. We want to look down right in front of the wheel.

The same holds true on the bicycle. A few years ago, my wife and I crashed on a bike trail resulting in 5 stitches on her chin and a broken clavicle for me. She went off the pavement onto the gravel at a 4″ drop. She immediately tried to turn back onto the pavement. Her natural intuition kicked in. First, as she got close to the edge, she should have looked where she wanted to be. I guarantee you, she looked right at that pavement edge, thereby going there! After she was in the gravel, intuition kicked in again making her crash. She should have ridden it out till she could safely stop, but that was COUNTER intuitive.

Counter intuition has to be trained in yourself until it’s no longer counter. How do you do that? One way is to roll play in your mind. I used to do that all the time on the motorcycle. It saved my life a few times because my mind was trained to respond instead of react. Reactions can kill whereas responses are reasoned out. A response may appear as a reaction, and there is a fine line difference, but reactions are sort of emotional instead of thought out. In this context, I guess you could say that these responses are reasoned reactions because they have to be that fast at times.

……I’m belaboring the point……

I’m sure all of you can think of all sorts of your own examples if you’ve been riding any length of time.

Be safe out there!

Fifth and Sixth Warmshowers Guests in One Night!

What is there about S. Koreans that so many want to come to the US to pedal across our nation??  We got asked yesterday morning to host a 26 year old S. Korean and we couldn’t last night. I suggested two other hosts in the area and told him about a campground in Atlantic as well. He contacted us later and his host in Omaha kept him another day and showed him around the city. He’s coming tonight!

Then shortly later we got an email from a pair of young Koreans wanting to stay with us. Cool!  They’ll have to camp in our yard, but we’ll sure fill them with food! Of course a shower is ALWAYS included. We’ve never hosted 3 at a time. Last week we had a married couple heading to RAGBRAI that stayed with Penny and Hannah while I was cavorting around by bus. They were the 2nd guests I missed this year. The other was also Korean!

Good times!

For the Love of It All

I went to college (too long ago) to study instrumental music. I found out that studying music with that intensity took the joy of it away from me. I’ve seen some of that in cycling over the years too. We each have our own reason for riding, but riding should ALWAYS be fun or at least have that joy within it.

I read this article yesterday about a professional rider dealing with that issue. Professional riding, with all it’s pressure to always perform in certain ways, was taking the childlike joy of riding away from him. His brother just quit all of it for the same reason. http://www.bicycling.com/culture/people/lachlan-morton-defies-the-world

Each of us will have a joy of this sport/activity that’s as different as our noses from each other. Bgddyjim loves the speed and competition. John is sort of like me in loving the trip.  Mary loves the distance stuff with her best friend. Bri is discovering all sorts of stuff in her love of this adventure of life! we could go on all day.

I used to be married to my bike computer. No more. I still love keeping track of my miles and get joy/satisfaction from that, but the speed no longer interests me. If I’m having what I think is a particularly fast ride, I’ll check on it, but usually I don’t even know what my average is at the end of the day. The journey is the thing, not the destination. That destination can be anything; a place, a site, a place in the race, a speed or a particular cupcake! I love the process of getting there, wherever that is. Lately, I’ve been really craving doing that with a partner. My career gets lonely a lot. I’m in a strange place with it’s own type of adventures, the group I’m transporting is doing their thing and no one is interested in cycling anyway and it’s hard to connect with area cyclists.

Joy can be elusive at times I guess. It’s still there though.

I Survived!

My bus tripping has been hectic lately. Last Thursday I left for Memphis, which I wrote about. On my way home I got assigned FOR THE NEXT DAY, a trip to Ft. Worth taking some high school wrestlers from Iowa and Nebraska. My bike was already ready in the relay car. (I can drive commercially for 10 hours per day so I had to meet the bus a ways down the road since the trip from Omaha was over 10 hours.)

I did 44 miles around Ft. Worth on Friday and lived to do this post. I headed to a bike shop only 5 miles away to test the road attitude. Not bad so, since the 1st shop wasn’t all that friendly, I headed to another shop 20 miles into the city and enjoyed a bike trail for a few of those miles.

ft worth 2
Along the Trinity Loop Trail

This shop was enjoyable called Colonel’s Bikes. The owner manager is a lover of ALL things bikes. Zero snobbishness on his nor his staff’s part. They were the 1st shop in “the South” that had heard of RAGBRAI. I found a part I needed for my wife’s bike too.

ft worth 1
A Fat Tire Quad!

My phone GPS took me on an unusual loop for some reason, but I “discovered” the Stockyards Plaza because of it. It’s full of funky “cowboy” shops and bars catering to would be cowboys and tourists. Even the guys riding horses were dressed more like dudes than working cowboys. It was still cool though. I ended the day with 44 miles. I had one jerk throw a beer can at me and it was just dumb. We were on a country road with quite a bit of traffic, but I had a 3 to 4′ shoulder so I was slowing no one down. I yelled a rather impolite epithet at him and he actually did a u-turn to come back for me. The traffic was thick in our direction and he could could do the 2nd turn to come up behind me. It was rather funny that there was a traffic jam at that moment and I rode that should for nearly a half mile passing all the cars till we all got the intersection where I was turning off. Jerk. (yeah, that’s not the name I used for him!)  That was the only negative car experience I had while riding my bike though. Texas drivers are just plain crazy on the 4 lanes and interstates. Very aggressive.

There is a lady I met 3 years ago on the Hotter-N-Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, TX that lives in Ft. Worth so I had contacted her via Facebook. We agreed to meet Saturday morning for brunch. I was hoping her husband and 14 and 13 year old sons would be along too. I’ve met her husband, but not her sons. They were all in New Mexico at a boy scout camp. She invited me to a play she was attending that afternoon with a 91 year old friend, but it would get over too late. We had a wonderful chat. Debbie remembers striking up a conversation with me at the start of the HHH because I had an Iowa cycling jersey on and she’d gone to college at Drake University in Des Moines. It was her first ever century ride and she did great. Both of us, even with the heat of Texas in late July, would have liked to have ridden. She was going to take me on the Trinity Loop so she was glad I’d discovered it. She doesn’t ride a lot now because she can’t get her boys interested.

Yesterday I had the day off again waiting for the wrestling tournament to get over. I rode about 12 miles round trip to a movie. I rode slowly so as not to get too wet from the sweating because I no longer had a motel room.

I’m hoping for a couple days off now. I got home this morning at 6 AM after driving the bus all night and then the car home from the relay spot. I had to stop for a nap in the car!

100+ Miles Around Memphis

We’ve been complaining in Iowa about our humidity

Nevermind!!

I’m in Memphis for a few days with no busing responsibilities and the air moisture here can be picked up with a spoon and put in a bowl. I dropped my group off at 3:30 am Friday morning and wasn’t able to get to bed till 5 with unloading stuff. I got a few hours of sleep, went to breakfast and then rode to a bike shop.

IMG_20160722_141200
This is the Bass Pro Shop

 That night was playing tourist on Beale Street and having some Memphis style barbeque. That meant Saturday was ride time.

The small bike shop I visited suggested heading north of town along the Mississippi River Trail to a state park/forest.

IMG_20160723_101408018
Love these signs!

It was pretty country and not real hilly since it’s all river bottom. I had one hill near the park that was a challenge with my single speed, but no walking.

IMG_20160723_223428

The park visitors center had 3 hummingbird feeders and probably 30 of the things flying around.

Then there’s the difference in plant life here.

It was a nice 60 plus miles.

Memphis, at one time, had the distinction of being labeled the least friendly bicycle city in the U. S. Now they have trails, bike lanes and sharrows everyplace. Not a bad place to ride, but a lot of sketchy neighborhoods.

I followed many of those to a different state park today.

When I got back, there was a small vender along the river park selling snow cones. Perfect end to my 30 miles.

Our buses leave about 10 tomorrow night for New Orleans. I get my motel for the night and drive an empty bus home over 2 days. We’ll see what other adventures await.

 

 

Warmshowers Again

FB_IMG_1468983912161

In many ways, why we ride cannot be explained to those that don’t. To ride across a continent REALLY can’t be justified in most people’s minds!

 

So far this summer we’ve hosted 3 cyclists doing just that.

FB_IMG_1469140487630
Julian from Philly
FB_IMG_1469140502916
Danny from S. Korea
FB_IMG_1469140510575
George from Salt Lake City

Each of them were riding ocean to ocean.

Very enriching.