Influence

My purpose in life is to Help Others Win.

If I’m not influencing someone in some positive way I get bored, and this is what has happened to my riding.  I’ve grown a bit bored.  I’m still riding, but not nearly as inspired.  In fact, I received an e-mail this week from one of you noting that my posts have dropped off and wondering if I was doing ok!  I’m muddling through but it hasn’t been easy.

“Leadership is Influence.”

– John Maxwell

This last week was interesting though.  I got the opportunity…well, FOUR opportunities actually, to help some friends win.  Four times I rode with a buddy whom, for one reason or another, had stopped riding, or needed someone to ride with them to keep them going.

  • Scott and I last rode together two years ago.  He introduced me to what has become one of my favorite routes.  Unfortunately, Scott’s holding down two jobs and has a wife and four kids – busy guy!
  • Steve and I have talked about riding together, but Steve doesn’t have a road bike and the schedules never seem to match up.
  • I learned that Ron was a rider because my daughter takes horseback riding lessons from his daughter.  I was spotted passing their house one day (on the route learned from Scott). Then I saw his bike, dust-covered and cob-webbed, hanging in his garage.  Ron’s wife invited me to contact him and “encourage” him to get started again (of course I did!).
  • Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 1.39.49 AMRiding with Dave was a complete act of providence.  He’s a client of our company and in the process of scheduling a testimonial video I mentioned riding and he invited me to bring my bike to the shoot.  What would you do?  Of COURSE I brought my bike and we had a great ride together (I then drove three hours home and rode with Ron)!

All of the guys had the same basic concerns… They weren’t ready for any great distance.  They would go to slow and “hold me up”.  They hadn’t ridden in so long, they would probably just frustrate me.

What a great joy to be able to ride with these guys!

In each case we took an easy pace and just enjoyed the time together.  Each trip was about 15 miles long, and completed in an hour (which was faster than most thought they would be riding).  We talked about what got us started on the bike and the value riding adds to life.  The added value for me was the opportunity to fulfill my purpose again.

“The people who influence you are the people who believe in you.”

– Henry Drummond

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Nerts…Gnats!

Every once in a while strange things happen.

My ride two nights ago was full of odd things; two trains, a chicken attack, and gnats by the millions!  One can’t ride anywhere in rural Indiana without crossing railroad tracks, but in the last three years I’ve never been stopped.  IMG_5044Friday night was a first… and a second; TWO trains!  No big deal really until my RiderID app (loudly) informed me that I had been immobile for 5 minutes.  I wonder what the people in the cars thought as I jumped and quickly removed my earbuds to escape the alarm.

I’ve read a lot about dog spray, and as recently as Tuesday I was riding with a buddy who carries it on his handlebars, but I’ve never needed to carry it for myself.  Oh yeah, I’ve had dogs come out after me, and got close to a shit-zhu once, but never have I been chased by a chicken!  Well, until Friday!  I don’t know what breed of chicken it was, but It’s vicious, with a sharp beak and an angry attitude!  Beware this bird my friends, and join me in developing and marketing Chicken spray to the cycling crowd.

Ok, now for the Gnats…

Hundreds… no, thousands… make that MILLIONS of gnats populated the air between miles 5 and 15 of the ride.  I was peppered the entire time, so much so that when I met up with my family after the ride my daughter Grace laughed and said, “Dad!  You’ve got gnats in your teeth!”  I know what you’re thinking… “Floss daily!”

Some interesting things I learned about Gnats…

  • I guess a fourth thing I learned about gnats is that they don't take very good pictures... trust me, they are there!

    I guess a fourth thing I learned about gnats is that they don’t take very good pictures… trust me, they are there!

    Gnats glow when flying in the setting sun.  Get a few hundred thousand of them together and the air literally sparkles.  This is REALLY cool when riding because they fly AT you appearing to be shooting stars.  (Honestly, it was really cool!)

  • Gnats do NOT taste like chicken, but according to all the survival gurus bugs are “a great source of protein.”  If that’s true then I’m sure I swallowed 3-4 grams of Protein.  Not my favorite in-ride snack.  Now I know why Clif bars don’t come in gnat flavors.
  • Gnats that fly up your nose induce nasal drip.  I’ll let you think this one through.  Trust me, it’s messy…very messy.

Ok, so the things I learned aren’t exactly scientific, but go ahead, test it for yourself.  All you need to do is ride through rural Indiana in the evening hours.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to …

Enjoy the Ride.

(Thanks for reading my friends.  I appreciate you!  Please, share your favorite “bug encounter” story!)

Something Unexpected

On my Saturday ride I came across something totally unexpected…

(Evidently) the next generation of powered cycling has arrived – Hybrid Bicycles.  Have you seen these things?  They are absolutely ingenious, and in the right circumstances I am all for it!  I’ll explain that later, but first, let me tell you about the Giant Twist, Freedom I saw and the great man who rides it.

The mid-point of my Roanoke circuit is a gas station on US-24.  I don’t usually stop, but was a bit low on energy, so I pulled over for a Gatorade and rest.  While there an old-timer named Bud pulled in on a brand new Bicycle.  He gave me a warm smile and nod as he complimented my bike and entered the station.  I casually looked over his bike and upon his return asked about what I was seeing.

His bike is a 2013 Giant Twist Freedom; It’s a hybrid!

The Giant Twist Freedom.  Bud told me he had to get the Women's model because he can't get his leg over the bar anymore.  I told him he made a wise decision!

The Giant Twist Freedom. Bud told me he had to get the Women’s model because he can’t get his leg over the bar anymore. I told him he made a wise decision!

Bud explained that a hybrid bike has an electric motor with battery pack and speed control.  The motor doesn’t actually power the bike, it ASSISTS the rider.  He has two adult daughters that ride with him, and according to Bud, “They pass me easily on the flats, but on the hills I pass ’em then tell them to pick up the pace.”  I chuckled (remembering that immediately following this gas station are two of the more significant hills of this ride).

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The bike has two panniers on the back, one being storage and the other a removable, rechargeable battery.  This battery feeds an electric motor built into the FRONT wheel hub.  That seemed an ingenious design to me.  On the left handlebar was a basic control with an LED indicating battery power and allowing Bud to choose one of three electric assist levels.  I noticed a gear shifter on the right handlebar but only a single rear gear.  The 7 speed cassette and derailleur are on the crankset.  Again… interesting design.

Bud volunteered that the bike retailed for $1,600 when he first saw it.  He made it clear he wanted the bike, but couldn’t afford that price.  Over the course of 6 months he waited them out and bought the bike for a little over $1,000.  Ah yes… under that wrinkled tan and John Deere hat is a shrewd wheeler-dealer.

I’m something of a cycling purist.

I’m not a fan of the recumbent bike (It’s a recliner people…with wheels!), or the motorized bike for that matter.  Some of you are too young to remember the motorized bicycle, but the premise was to put a small gas motor on a (somewhat) standard bike frame.  You would pedal the bike as normal, but at some point you could engage the motor, start it by pedaling, then simply allow the gas motor to power the bike for you.  I was never a big fan.  It seems to me if you’re going to pedal the bike to start the motor why not skip the effort?  Save your money and buy the moped!  (Again, for the young an explanation; a moped was THE scooter of the 80s and 90s… um, the NINETEEN 80s and 90s.)  However, I felt differently about the Hybrid bike.  Probably because it assists the rider, it doesn’t take over.  To me that’s the important part.  Cycling is, in some way, about the relationship between rider and cycle.

The Bottom Line…

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The LED/Controller gives Bud a read on battery level and a choice of Sport, Normal, or Eco levels of assistance.

Here’s the bottom line for me; the hybrid technology allows my friend Bud, an 80-something year old farmer whose wife of undetermined years passed away of cancer four years ago, to do something he enjoys with people he loves.  Without the assistance he wouldn’t be able to ride with his daughters.  The tears in those wisened eyes told me this was the most important part of his current life (and as a father of two daughters…I can relate).  In the end, that the most important thing isn’t it?

I left a few moments after Bud, and on the far side of the hills just past the gas station I saw something that made me smile.  A man wearing a John Deere hat riding a brand new bicycle.  I quickly overtook him and passed Bud on his hybrid bike.  As I passed he gave me that familiar nod and smile.  I simply asked, “Great day for a ride, eh Bud,” and closed with…

“Enjoy the Ride my friend!”

Check out the Giant Hybrid line of Bicycles

Exploring Wonderful Things

Gracie peers into a hole in the forest wall, catching a glimpse of what lies inside.

Gracie peers into a hole in the forest wall, catching a glimpse of what lies inside.

My daughter Grace is Eleven years old and exploring cycling.  She has an interest that surpasses her friends’ desire to tootle about the neighborhood, and a father who would love nothing more than to ride the rest of his days with her by his side.  Tonight, as we rode the Towpath Trail through Southwest Allen County we saw this hole in the forest wall.  It was like a window into a world most people would never see… (pretty cool eh?)

Seeing Things Otherwise Missed

I told Grace that one of the great privileges of riding is that we see things we might otherwise miss.  We access places cars can’t go.  We cover more territory than walkers/runners.  It really is up to us to seize the opportunity to look around and take in everything around us, to use our senses and look, listen, smell, touch and taste all the richness of life.

Shortly after she said to me, “Look Dad!  Isn’t that beautiful!”

Eagle Marsh is part of the wetlands project in Southwest Allen County, Indiana.

Eagle Marsh is part of the wetlands project in Southwest Allen County, Indiana.

So, what do YOU enjoy about cycling?  I would really love to see a lot of response to this question and people sharing their joy, and (potentially) opening our eyes to new realizations and GREATER fulfillment and passion.  Please.  Share with me (and us) what you enjoy most about cycling and why you keep coming back to it.

As for me and my Gracie, I am blessed to say we both… together…

Enjoyed the Ride!

Rite of Passage, part 2

In preparing for the Tri-State Tour Century Ride I established three priorities:

  1. Don’t ride alone.  The potential for getting lost in Chicago was high and highly undesirable.
  2. Pace yourself.  100 miles is farther than I’ve ever ridden and I don’t want to waste myself early.
  3. Shut off the GPS and get lots of pictures.  There is no way the battery in my phone was going to last the entire day running GPS and Mapping My Ride.  So, forego the detailed analysis of the ride and get plenty of pictures.  The added bonus of pictures is that they force you to look around and (theoretically) enjoy the ride.

So, how did I do?  Let’s find out shall we?

Don’t Ride Alone.

Everybody getting geared up for the big ride.

Everybody getting geared up for the big ride.

I went into this ride absolutely clueless.  I had a vague notion of the path of travel from the 3+ years we had lived in Lake County, North of Chicago, but had no idea now many riders would be going, or who any of them might be.  I knew I didn’t want to get into a situation where I would be lost and alone somewhere in Chicago.  Maps and notes were provided with an emergency phone number, so the organizers were aware of my concerns.  I suppose more than anything I wanted to be sure to meet some new people.  You know me…I need people.

It turned out that 37 of us were registered for the ride.  Hmmm…an odd number. Guess who was the only “single” riding out with the group?  No problem.  I enjoy a good social challenge.  I quickly fell in with the middle of the pack and met Andrew, a police office with the Hammond department and we easily rode together the 18 miles to the first SAG stop in downtown Chicago.  We joined up with Aaron, Tom, Eric, and another gentleman as we rode the next 21 miles through the North side into the suburbs.  39 miles in and I was feeling great!  As a group we were keeping a good pace, chatting about anything and everything, learning one another’s story, and getting it done!  We were all really enjoying the ride.

Cannot believe I rode at least 6 miles on this tire.

Cannot believe I rode at least 6 miles on this tire.

About 6 miles out of SAG stop #2 we were stopped at a light and Andrew tells me to check out my rear tire.  It was all bubbled up and about to let go!  We all checked it out and found three locations were the the rubber and threads had been compromised.  I was out of the group.  They offered to stay with me until the mobile SAG could get there to replace the tire, but when we learned it was “going to be a while” before the rescuers came, I thanked them all for a great ride and sent them on their way.  We exchanged numbers to see if I might catch up to them, but that was my day for riding with this great group of guys.  The rest of my day was spent alone, watching closely for the road markers and orange streamers that marked the remaining 40 miles to Kenosha, WI.  Thank God for the paper maps and keynotes because on two occasions I was off course in totally unknown territory.  Both times I got back on track with minimal loss of time and energy.

My Pit Crew at work (Rob Layton)

My Pit Crew at work (Rob Layton)

At this point I  want to thank Rob Layton, Director of Bicycle Illinois and the Tri-state Tour.  Not only did he provide turn-by-turn notes and maps of 100 miles through three states and across urban streets, bike trails, and rural roads, but he checked every inch up to the day before the ride and provided amazing support.  Every SAG had plenty of food, bathrooms and supportive volunteers.  When I called the emergency number and gave my location Rob knew exactly where I was and came right away.  He even replaced the tire for me, allowing me some recovery time.  Rob was DEFINITELY faster in changing the tire then I would have been. Thanks Rob.  Awesome job and fantastic ride!

Pace Yourself

I was doing really well until the tire change. The morning weather was spectacular – about 65 degrees when we set off.  We had started pretty easily through the potholes and traffic lights of Hammond and the South side.  The Lake Shore pedestrian trail was a mess with traffic that kept our pace under 15 mph most of the time.  City riding on the North side was less congested, but traffic lights kept us from getting too crazy.  All this was good in the fact that it kept energy consumption to a minimum.  As I said, the first 45 miles were really pretty easy.  I’m not sure I had even broken a sweat!

However, after my 40 minutes on the side of the road I knew the sweepers couldn’t be far behind me and I didn’t want to ride into the finish with them as my companions.  More than that, I wanted to catch up to my boys and see if we couldn’t finish this thing together.  So I set off at a pretty good clip.  I have no idea what my speeds were (I was saving phone battery, so no MapMyRide on this day), but I was on a bike trail so I kicked it up a few notches and was soon in my steady breathing pattern for a good 18 mph or so (which is a pretty good cruising speed for me).  I short-stopped SAG #3 and  cruised into SAG #4 feeling a bit tired, but no aches or pains and my hydration was good.

In the end I missed the boys in Kenosha, WI, by less than 10 minutes and that felt great!  I had made up about 30 minutes over the course of about 40 miles.  The guys weren’t exactly crushing it, but it was good to know that my efforts had caught me up.  At least the sweepers were never seen and I do know that several people were pulling in behind me as I was leaving each SAG.

Of course, there are only 85 miles between Hammond, IN, and Kenosha, WI.  My Century ride was not yet accomplished.  The Century demanded an additional loop through town to hit the mark.  As I pulled in to SAG #5 to the applause of my wife (Thank you Mary) and an unknown lady she had met while waiting for me, I saw that Eric the Young was still there!  As was one of my guys.  All congratulated me on (almost) catching them!  But my ride wasn’t over and I loudly asked, “Who wants to finish the Century?”  Eric the Young promptly stepped up to the challenge as well as two new friends, Lyndsey and Dierdre.

Meeting people is always a highlight of any Event Ride.  Here I am with Lyndsy, Dierdra, and Eric "The Young" on the Lakefront in Kenosha, WI.  At this point we are about 3 miles short of the first Century Ride for each of us.

Meeting people is always a highlight of any Event Ride. Here I am with Lyndsy, Dierdra, and Eric “The Young” on the Lakefront in Kenosha, WI. At this point we are about 3 miles short of the first Century Ride for each of us.

The pace was easy as we made our priority finishing this Century Ride.  It was a first for all of us and from the first pedal strokes we all knew…we were in this thing together. What a great privilege to finish the day with these new friends.  We made our way north from the High School, then West to the stoney shore of Lake Michigan.  We stopped to look around and get a few pictures, then made our way south through town, admiring the lake shore homes and scenery of rural Wisconsin.  In the end we celebrated our Rite of Passage together!  It was awesome to know that although I may never meet these great people again, we will always share this one moment.  What an awesome…awesome thing!

Shut off the GPS and Get Lots of Pictures

Well… I DID shut off the GPS, and amazingly my phone battery lasted all day! Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of pictures.  The ride didn’t really allow for it.  The roads South of Chicago were madly in need of repair.  They were terribly and to let go of the handlebars for even a moment was sheer craziness.  Downtown was far too busy for pictures, and by the time we got to Lake County I was hustling to catch up.

I DO have to tell you about one picture I missed, but will never forget.  When rounding a bend on the southern end of the Lake Shore path (right about the area of The Loop) we ran into and through the Chicago “Biggest Loser” 15k walk/run.  There were THOUSANDS of bright orange t-shirts, filled with people who were/were NOT happy to be there, and were/were NOT happy that four guys on bicycles were riding into their sea of humanity.  It was CRAZY, and there was NO WAY I was gonna get ANY pictures of this moment!  HA!

What few pictures I did get I will share with you though…

Pre-ride meeting where I realized I was the only single rider.

Pre-ride meeting where I realized I was the only single rider.

St. Michael's Catholic Church, where Andrew and his family attend.

St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Andrew and his family attend.

First Glimpse of Downtown Chicago, "My Kinda Town!

First Glimpse of Downtown Chicago, “My Kinda Town!

SAG #1 in Downtown on the Marina.

SAG #1 in Downtown on the Marina.

All were in awe at the simplicity and ingenuity embodied in the Peanut Butter Gun...

All were in awe at the simplicity and ingenuity embodied in the Peanut Butter Gun…

The Marina.  People seemed a bit curious about us.

The Marina. People seemed a bit curious about us.

Beautiful paved trails in Lake County, IL

Beautiful paved trails in Lake County, IL.

Feeling good at Sag #2!

Feeling good at Sag #2!

The path into Wisconsin...FINALLY!

The path into Wisconsin…FINALLY!

I asked if anyone wanted to finish the Century and heard, "We do!" This is where I first met Lyndsey (front) and Dierdre (back)!

I asked if anyone wanted to finish the Century and heard, “We do!” This is where I first met Lyndsey (front) and Dierdre (back)!

Here we are, hitting the 100 mile marker!

Here we are, hitting the 100 mile marker!

It was truly a great day in so many ways and affirms my commitment to cycling, not just as a means toward fitness, but as a social device.  It really is a great way to meet new and fascinating people.  People you may never see again, but with whom you share something special; a moment, a passion, a way of life.  I love this, and I will forever…

Enjoy the Ride!

The Greatest Gift

Two years ago my life was changed in a major way.

WHA?!?!? What's Steve doing here?

I was given the opportunity to borrow a road bike by my neighbor Steve MacDonald. (Read all about it in my post, My Ride)  I’m not sure how to adequately describe all that is encapsulated in the 1,800 miles I’ve put on it since.

That bike has birthed a passion in me; it is alternately a place of solace, peace and rest, as well as a place of pain, fatigue and whatever it is that does not kill me but only makes me stronger.  I’ve grown a lot on that bike and I’ve come to love it.

The bike has never been mine.

When Steve first loaned it to me I told him I didn’t have the money to buy it.  His reply, “I’m not selling it.  I just want you to ride it.”  And I have!  Just this past weekend I literally rode the second set of tires off the bike.  Steve’s only asked to ride it once and when I ask him if I can pay for the bike he simply replies, “It’s not for sale.”

This past Spring he let me get the bike fitted to me.  (Yep, I posted about that too, read A Bicycle Fit for Me!)  That has changed and energized my riding.  Now, even more of the component parts of the bike belong to me.  But Steve was excited to see it.

Guess what… the bike BECAME mine today!

My Bike!

Tonight Steve walked down his driveway to ask how my first Century Ride had gone over the weekend.  I told him it went very well, and the bike handled it all beautifully.  I shared a couple highlights and then Steve looked at me and utterly blew my mind!  “I’ve been thinking about it and I think you should have the bike.”  That’s what he said!  I was stunned and didn’t know how to respond.  I said, I couldn’t do that, he had money in the bike and Steve simply said, “I can see that you love the bike. I think you should have it.  You can’t out give God.”  For my part I told Steve that I had heard that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but I didn’t know He owns the bicycles as well.

I have been greatly blessed!

I still can’t really believe that the bike is mine.  Steve is looking for a new bike and more than anything I really would like to ride with him.  Of course, he’ll have some new carbon fiber bike and I’ll have my trusty 2009, Aluminum, Trek Alpha with the carbon forks… and I’ll be loving every minute of it!  Why?  Because it is mine!

Completing the Century in Kenosha, WIIn the next few days I will be posting my blog about my first Century Ride, the Tri-State Tour (see my Bucket List page for a brief overview).  Until next time I’ll be out on MY new bike…

Enjoying the ride!

A Recipe for Soul Food

Some things are just good for the soul…

ImageLike the BBQ ribs I cooked on the grill Sunday night.  Oh boy, falling off the bone.  The corn on the cobb, pasta salad, and s’mores just topped it all off!  All food, in my humble opinion, should please the palate and fill the stomach.  Sometimes good food and great company becomes an experience that truly enriches you.  That’s why they call it “Soul Food.”

Ah, but this isn’t a blog about food is it?  It’s about cycling, and tonight I had a ride that was food for my soul.  Want the recipe?  Ok, here you go.

A recipe for a ride that feeds your soul.

Start with 1 Respected Friend

IMG_4868

Eric Smith is a great combination of wisdom, humility and laughter. I always walk away from time with Eric encouraged and enriched.

It helps that he has a great house in the country and, rumor has it, a pool that is open for swimming to those with VIP passes… or cute children.  Thank God for cute children eh?

Add 1 Unridden path

IMG_4862

To be perfectly honest I’ve grown a little bored with my cycling in recent days.  So I’ve stepped off my well-beaten paths into some new territory North and West.  Unfortunately that means crossing a four lane highway.  Fortunately Eric lives on the other side of the tracks (literally, he really does), so he can be my guide.

Tonights track took us north, into unexplored territory for me.  Now my curiosity is piqued.  I want to ride all the way to Michigan!  We’ll see if I can do it.  I know this, it will be a beautiful ride. That, and I better invest in some dog spray.  There are some MAMMOTH dogs out there!

Gently fold in 15 Easy Miles

Road conditions weren't always the best (can't believe I was wishing for chip & seal at times), but the hills were rolling, traffic was light, and the view was spectacular!

The road conditions weren’t always the best (can’t believe I was wishing for chip & seal at times), but the hills were rolling, traffic was light, and the view was spectacular!

The rains have everything very green and suddenly we live in a world of 75F (23C) days and 50F (10C) nights!  I’m not sure I broke a sweat today.  That makes laundry a little easier.  (You… probably didn’t want to know that did you?)

Add 2 Fascinated Burros

IMG_4866These guys were hilarious!  Our ride was a basic Out-and-Back endeavor so we passed them twice. On the way out they watched us pass, curiosity on their faces.  On the way back I stopped to get their picture because they turned to face us in obvious fascination.  When they saw us stop they began to posture, snort, run around and stop to make sure we were looking at their machismo.  I must say it was comical if not impressive.

I never did get their names.  Please…post possible (and acceptable) names in the response section below! (This should be good)

Mix well…

Put all these together in a bowl of rolling farm land, 10′ tall corn and 4′ tall beans, sprawling horse farms, fishing ponds and… GOATS and you’ve got a ride that nourishes the soul.

IMG_4859

Ah yes, don’t forget the icing on the cake…

IMG_4869A dog that happily welcomes you back with his pull toy in his mouth, a wagging tail, and the light of pure joy in his eyes.  Yes my friends, it was a great ride, thoroughly enjoyed.  And Eric’s parting statement to me was, “Call me anytime.”  Oh yeah, no problem there, I’ll always call, so long as I can…

Enjoy the Ride.

The Man in the Mirror…

A friend of mine once told me,

“Cycle long enough and you will; repair a flat tire, crash, and/or have a meeting with a car.”

It is almost a rite of passage.  Hang with cyclists and the conversation will eventually include one of these three.

Today was my day!

With the “Check Engine” light on and the weather a humid 75F at 7am it seemed a perfect day to don the backpack and commute to the office on ole Red (read A New Adventure to get the details on my commute).  broken-mirrorIt was all going so well until…

  • I heard a loud BANG!
  • I saw shards of glass, plastic, and a small rectangular frame explode past me
  • I felt a thud, like a baseball bat, hit my bum and left knee.
  • I said… well, I’m not sure I’ll post exactly what I said.  It wasn’t exactly “kind.”

Of course, the driver who had just hit me with his/her passenger side mirror would never know what I said because they never stopped, never even tapped the brakes, he/she continued on driving at around 40 miles per hour.  The mirror was totally gone, with nothing but the wires hanging out the side of the car.  I stopped on the side of the road to regather my wits and see if all of my body parts were still present and accounted for!  When I turned to look behind me the road was strewn with debris from the impact, it was amazing I was not thrown from my bike into traffic or one of the trees lining this portion of the road.

The brain always wonders, “What if…”

  • What if I had been 2-3 inches further out into the road?  (I was honestly within 3 inches of the edge of the pavement)  I would have met his fender not his mirror.
  • What if he had been driving a truck or large SUV?  That mirror would have been head height.
  • What if it had tossed me into the tall grass that lines the ditch along the road side? I could have been laying there for some time.
  • What if I had broken a bone or been cut badly? I’m not sure I could have gotten my backpack off and accessed my phone.

What if…what if…what if.

The realities are fascinating to think about.

I was hit hard enough to destroy the mirror on the side of the car, nothing of the mirror or its base remained on the car (from what I could see).  Yet, I was not thrown from the bike.  No bones were broken, I was able to continue the ride the remaining 6-7 miles.  After a 10 day of sitting and walking at work, I was able to ride the 13 miles home in the evening.  I was not killed, as so many are (My uncle in Georgia reported that they have a case similar to mine right now.  They have the broken mirror but no driver.  The cyclist did not survive the crash).

Someone was watching over me…

When I was a kid my parents taught me that God watches over me.  I teach my kids that God watches over them.  Today I was reminded that yes… God watches over me.  For that I say, “Thank you.”  I am reminded again today that all of life can change in the blink of an eye.  No matter how careful I am or safely I ride, ultimately it isn’t up to me.  I am thankful… ever so thankful… that I and my family, my friends both near and far are being watched over.

Something to think about as you are enjoying your ride.

Corn!

Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t mis-named my blog.

I chose the URL “musingsofanamateurcyclist” for many reasons:

  1. I tend to think a lot when I ride.  I’m a muser, my thoughts stir me up and change me in some way.
  2. I’m NOT a professional.  I am most definitely an amateur and if you’ve seen me, know me, or have ridden with me, you understand that any professional riding is saved for a different lifetime.
  3. I am a cyclist.  Though honestly, a NEW cyclist, I have a growing passion for it.

I had an epiphany on my ride last night.

Seven foot high on the Eleventh of July! (yeah, ok, now you know... I'm short!)

Seven foot high on the Eleventh of July! (yeah, ok, now you know… I’m short!)

Perhaps I should change the URL to “musingsofaRURALcyclist.”  I do a LOT of riding in rural Indiana (and it isn’t hard to find the rural parts of Indiana, let me tell you).  Last night was no exception, I rode my 35 mile out-and-back to Ossian.  It’s a great ride and I was struck by the enormity and majesty of the corn this year!  It’s been a perfect mix of wet/hot for corn and the crop is stellar!  They have a saying when prognosticating about the corn crop, “Knee high by the Fourth of July,” means it’s gonna be a good year.  Well, what about 7 feet high by the Eleventh of July?  What does THAT mean?

I means a lot of things and I was about to learn a few on this ride.

I took full advantage of the setting sun…

I know the sun hits the Western horizon right about 9:30 pm and figured with a 7pm start I had plenty of time.  I knew I would be stopping several times for pictures and at my parents’ house to say “hey” and catch up a bit, but 2 1/2 hours is plenty of time. More than anything my late start is indicative of something I’m learning; riding gets better as the shadows get longer.  The air cools, the colors change, and the world goes quiet. (Perfect…minus the swallowed bugs.  I’m sure they hated the experience no less than I did.)

IMG_4714As I rode with the corn towering over me it seemed to grow taller in the waining light.  Toward the end I rode in deep shadow as the sun was cast over me.  It was amazing to see, to sense, to be a part of.  So cool.  I’ll definitely head out again into a warm summer evening with the sun falling behind the corn, just to experience it all over again.

Nope, I’m not a professional rider.  I won’t break any records for speed or win any races, but i will definitely…

Enjoy the Ride!

Morphin…

Sometimes I feel like I’m caught in the spin cycle; going around and around and around.

A couple weeks ago I lamented our Summer weather pattern in Indiana (see my post entitled, and in Today’s Weather…), and yes, it continues.  I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm of riding 3-4 times a week.  However… the storms are in a pattern of hitting us just about every night.  Now, before this degenerates into (more) moaning about the weather let me move forward.  Today, the storms went NORTH and I hurried home to change my clothes and hit the road!

With visions of 30-40 miles, or hill climbing, in my head I walked in the door only to remember that tonight was the scheduled community ride on the bike paths through our area!  Daddy had a decision to make…quickly; a) offer an alternative to the eldest daughter and fulfill my desire, or b) follow through on what I had promised and take the opportunity to invest in my eldest.  Not much of a choice really, I offered Gracie ice cream tomorrow night so I could go on my ride tonight!

NO…I didn’t!  I’m not a moron! I took my second, and ONLY, option!  Besides, I wouldn’t actually WRITE about taking option A if I had.  C’mon!  Give a guy SOME credit!

Yep, the plans changed.

That solitary 35 miles turned into an 8.5 mile ride with two lovely ladies.  Originally it was supposed to be just me and Grace.  She’s my 11 year old with a budding interest in riding with her dad.  I’m trying to do all i can to nurture that interest short of buying the $780 Cyclocross bike (recently reduced to $550) she so strongly desires.  That’s part of why these little rides are so important…they are an investment!  She asked if her soul-sister Katie might join us to which I answered, “of course!”  Thirty minutes later there are three bikes in the drive, tires fully inflated, helmets strapped on and we are off to the trails!

We had a lovely ride.  The girls followed my directions in learning how to ride with traffic on the trails.  We explored places they had never been before and they climbed their first out-of-the-neighborhood hill.  I was very proud of them and encouraged them on!

Mid-way water fountains are the Bomb!  (Do the kids today still use that phrase?)

Mid-way water fountains are the Bomb! (Do the kids today still use that phrase?)

The girls recognized our locations after a while, choruses of “I know where we are,” rang out from time to time.  What I cherished the most were those moments they saw things one can only discover from a bike.  The trees, creeks, critters, etc. one cannot see from the comfort of the car.  I think my smile gave me away.

The plan for a bike ride morphed into a Daddy-Daughter(s) date.

Seriously!  Does ANYONE belt out One Direction tunes better than a pair of 11 year old girls?  "That's what makes you Beautiful!"

Seriously! Does ANYONE belt out One Direction tunes better than a pair of 11 year old girls? “That’s what makes you Beautiful!”

Is there any better way to cap off a strenuous ride then dinner at Moe’s Southwest Grill?  I think NOT!  I found myself playing chauffer to two giddy girls belting out One Direction’s “That’s What Makes You Beautiful.”  With the top down on the ‘vert I did gather some amused gazes, and I WAS quick to point out the girls hidden in the back seat to explain my choice of music at such high volume.  They sang and I laughed… and mused at the charm of this moment as a dad.  In a dad kind of way this was awesome!

The plan for a Daddy-Daughter(s) date morphed into a sleep over.

I love Katie.  She isn’t my kid, but she is my kid’s soul-sister, of that there is no doubt.  She is respectful, she is obedient, and she knows we love her.  I sincerely hope these two little nut-jobs spend the rest of their lives together in some way.  They are good for each other.

Yeah... this was all staged.

Yeah… this was all staged.

Even now they are in Gracie’s bed doing whatever it is that 11-year old girls do that makes them giggle then go silent when dad knocks on the door.  I want to encourage that sisterhood at every turn.  Truly, what IS the most important thing in life if not those relationships that nurture us (and allow us to nurture them) for a lifetime?

Life is just like a good ride.

You never know what’s gonna happen until to you just get on and get going.  If you do that you will see things you may have never seen otherwise and might never see again.  It’s a chance to invest in yourself and others.  And the life long relationships you are blessed with along the way make every hill, head wind, tumble and tough day worth it in the end.

Today was a good day to be a dad.

I’m so glad I tossed the plans and took the ride.  I hope you have a ride like I did…SOON!  Please, tell me (us) all about it!  Until then…

Enjoy the ride!

FYI... this is the look you get when you say something silly like, "Let's go another 6 miles!"

FYI… this is the look you get when you say something silly like, “Let’s go another 6 miles!”