Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wake Up Call

It is strange, isn't it, how we often can not see our most hideous flaws? Like an undiagnosed tumor growing deep inside us. We are at once giddy with life, and slowly dying.

Then something finally brings the disturbing wake-up call. We get the doctor's diagnosis, and the outlook is not good. The point of realization, when we finally see ourselves as we truly are, can come a number of ways. Perhaps, it is the kind but firm words of a loved one. Maybe a period of worship, Bible study, prayer, or meditation. Sometimes it might be circumstances of life that slap us across the face with suddeness and a dizzying jolt. It can happen a thousand ways, but my most recent was while reading a book by Leif Enger called Peace Like A River.

The book was highly recommended on another cyclist's blog. It is a story about family, unfortunate circumstances, and faith. During my recent business trip to Santa Fe, I found a bookstore and bought it. So far, it is as good as was described in the blog recommendation. Unexpectedly, reading it reminded me of one of my greatess flaws. Compared to me, the characters in the book are much more thoughtful of others and their actions demonstrate the importance they place on relationships.

You might be thinking, yes but you are reading a work of fiction. The characters are not real and they didn't actually do these things. I understand that. Yet, the actions described are not actions that are any less than what God expects of us. Real or not, an illustration has been provided that is both a conviction of personal sinfulness and an encouragement to do better. If you are open to close self-examination, you might want to take a look at this book.

To my God, family, and friends, I plead for your patience and your forgiveness.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pulling It Together

You know how it is.

You keep trying to get everything just right. You try to get all of the pieces together in one place to make a perfect whole.

Sometimes you can reach out and touch the bike, but there is work to do and no time for a ride. Sometimes the bike is near, there is plenty of time, but its dark and the lights don't work. Sometimes you have plenty of time, the bike is ready to roll, but the body is ailing.

{sigh}...and sometimes you travel to Santa Fe for business, the weather is great, and the bike lane leads you right to the mountains...but there is no bicycle.

So you just have to keep on trying to pull it all together...because every so often the pieces fall into place and then...its a great day for a ride.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Frightening Moments

You're not going to believe this.

Here's the situation. I'm in the house alone. Alone, that is except my wife's dogs. My bride went to visit my oldest daughter and my younger daughter was out of the house doing some volunteer work. Meantime, I'm trying to get some work done and pack for a business trip tomorrow. I'm focused. The house is quiet and I'm getting alot accomplished. Then I notice them watching me.

It wasn't Joey. He's the good dog. It wasn't the "just-visiting-pit-bull-mix". He was snoring. It was those young weinie dogs, Bill and Ted. They were watching me closely and, frankly, it was getting a little spooky. When my wife is here, they don't pay much attention to me. But now, their spooky little beady eyes followed my every step. When I'd turn to see what was going on, they'd look away and act like they were looking for something to do...maybe just a little bored. Kinda like this...

So I walked on by. Then just as I went around the corner, I was sure I heard a whisper...and I'm sure it was Ted. That little terror is usually the trouble-maker. So I grabbed the camera...and silently peeked around the corner...and caught the little fuzzball in the act!

"Okay, we agree then. If he doesn't feed us in the next 30 minutes", he says, "let's eat him!"

So they've been fed. I threw in a little something extra tonight...just to be safe.

And that's exactly the way it happened.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Few Lonely Miles

What a change from last weekend! In contrast to the clouds, cold, wind, and snow, this weekend offered a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was 70 degrees, the slightest of breezes, and a clear blue sky. A couple of hours came available and it was the perfect remedy for a long work week.

The photo is somewhere along FM 1384 northwest of Justin. It is a very lightly traveled roadway on Sunday afternoons. Cruising alone, there was nothing to do, but smell the springtime fragrances, admire the greenery, and let the spinning pedals clear my mind.

I suppose I could have snapped a few more photos, but this one pretty much sums it up. Besides, I was in the zone.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Call of the Road

I tried not to listen.

The forecast for Justin, Texas on April 7 uncharacteristically mentioned the word "snow". After the prior week or two of nice warm spring weather, cloudy, windy, cold, and snow did not sound inviting. Staying in the house and sipping coffee sounded inviting. Yet, the call was there...and it was hard to ignore.

Almost all the warm clothes were at the camp bunkhouse and preparations for riding in cold weather were lacking. So I tried not to listen, but time and opportunity were there. There were other clothes on hand that would suffice for a short ride. A big, puffy down jacket, a cap with ear flaps, and a pair of wool socks for gloves. Not optimum for riding, but okay for a short ride.

The route went by a local coffee shop. Apparently, there is some controversy here. The City of Justin seems unwilling to renew some kind of permit and the business seems destined to disappear. This in spite of fairly wide-spread local public support for the business. I don't know the details of the permitting and political issues here, but to me it would be nice if this business could stay around.

The route went north on FM 156 until the shoulder disappeared. Then for a few hundred yards, it seemed better to ride through a construction area instead of a narrow 2-lane highway with no shoulder. This is one of those real-life applications of my fatter-than-racer-type tires.

Once past this rough road area, lightly traveled areas were abundant. One short stretch has numerous trees on each side of the road and pleasant rolling hills. Here is a photo of a short climb out of a valley with small creek crossing. With the north wind blowing from behind, it was pretty easy to spin up this time.

On the way back home, I passed by the Justin Barber Shop. It looked like the line was fairly short, so I went in to get that task done. During the entire ride, there were occasional snow flakes drifting around. However, when I sat down in the chair for my haircut, I had a nice view out the window and saw the snow coming down more seriously. Large abundant flakes for several minutes. It was an amazing sight to this Texan in April.

Even with the colder-than-normal temperatures and the make-shift cycling attire, it was a great day for a bike ride.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Another Dachshund Post

It was a long day at engineering camp and the other side of my brain (not to mention my body) needed a little exercise. So after working late, eating dinner, and changing clothes, there was a short, but productive Haiku Festival held at the bunk house.

Once mentally refreshed, I grabbed the bike for a short night time commute to my office computer (great night for a bike ride).

Hoping to amuse Janet, there was a barrage of email messages with Festival results. Here's the one I would have guessed she'd like you to see...

Long in the middle
and just as tall either way;
laying or standing

Or maybe this one...

A pile of dachshunds
three breathing donuts sleeping
it was a long walk

Instead of the bike photo above, I guess I really should have inserted a dachshund photo, but I didn't have one handy. Wait a minute...here's one!

There...doesn't that look like a whole mess of trouble?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Tale of Two Bike Rides

There were two rides on Sunday. They were very different in many ways, but they were both great. The first ride was short, slow, solo, and quiet. It was primarily a trip to church on Sunday morning. Because the streets were wet and I do not currently have fenders installed, the going was very slow to minimize the throwing of water from the wheels to my nice clothes. Not many people were out and about, but the birds recognized a glorious spring day and were already singing for joy. At the park, I paused and pulled out my thermos of hot coffee. At a picnic table near a soccer field, I sipped the coffee and watched the birds and squirrels. It was amusing to see the people walking or jogging with friends or their dogs. Several were wearing headphones. I would be surprised if what they heard was as nice as the natural sounds in the park early in the morning. There was no camera to document the first ride, but it was great preparation for the worship of God that followed. Even with the coffee break, the first ride only lasted about 40 minutes.

The second ride was longer, faster, included company, and occurred in the busy afternoon. After lunch, my longtime cycling buddy, Scott, joined me for a ride. The ride to Scott’s house is not far, but I left an hour before our scheduled meeting time and took the long way. The long way included going through the same park I visited in the early morning. This time it was filled with people and soccer games and picnics in the spring sunshine.

When I arrived a little early, he wasn’t quite ready to go, but his daughter was there to greet me.

We rode together for the first time in several months and it was great to be back on bikes as a twosome again. It was warm, sunny, and we saw many other people out on bikes during our ride.

We didn’t ride fast as compared to our serious training rides of prior years, but with cycling clothes, less luggage, and no wet street worries, it was notably faster than the morning meander to church. There was enough speed and time in the saddle so that after arriving back at camp 3 hours later, my legs were ready for a rest.

I am learning how to treasure any kind of bike ride…and that’s a good thing.