Monday, April 26, 2010
I've just finished Kerouac's 'On The Road', it's often compared to Mark Twain's 'Tom Sawyer'. Near as I can tell, it's a modern Zen Buddhist version of it.
I literally can't recall how many times I read and re-read 'Tom Sawyer'. Mostly I was interested in understanding how someone else would articulate freedom, through the eyes of Tom, Jim or Huck it all meant something a little different. The same goes for Sal and Dean in Kerouac's story.
Recently I stumbled on to a photo I've been looking for almost twenty years. It's a picture of a swimming hole I spent countless summer days at. It wasn't just any swimming hole, it wasn't close to my house so I had to ride to it and ride back; the reward for getting there was, well, freedom.
No parents, no adults, just a handful of other kids who went there for the same reasons I did: An immense high dive and rope swing that dropped kids into pleasantly warm, calm water with a sandy beach on the other side of swimming hole worth swimming across to once you'd flung yourself halfway across via swing or jumped from the high dive.
In all the intervening years since I've left that town I've never forgotten what it was like to have boundless summer days and bottomless energy for adventures in the creeks and rivers that fed the swimming hole. I can't forget because when I ride my bike up and down the quiet former logging roads now, smell the sap from the trees and feel as if I've done an epic day on the bike I'm reminded of what it was like to have worked just to get to the old swimming hole.
Or, when I smell the wild apples or plums or more often, road side blackberries from the saddle of my bike I go right back to age eleven all over again. And sometimes when I smell the dust, leaves, needles and mud on the trails I run on too.
That feeling of freedom as it turns out also happens to embue folks with strength and inspiration to seek more of it. Whatever you might find in your daily life that makes you feel free, healthy happy and strong is certainly worth chasing, however small or large.
If you find that you're not on a path that provides that then it's worth finding the strength to choose another route.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Somehow in all the time I've been riding I've finally fallen for a ride partner.
It's the country side I ride through. :)
Ok, that's hokey but I sort of wondered aloud a couple of weeks ago, in the company of other cyclists, if it was possible to fall in love with a landscape?
One person answered in the affirmative and I knew I wasn't totally crazy. I thought that maybe Thoreau and John Muir's effusive work was, well, potentially eccentric or maybe that I am eccentric because some ride partners have in the past looked at me sideways when I've broached the subject.
Case in point: A few weeks ago someone made a comment about the large oak trees in the Willamette valley and I excitedly explained that many were probably Witness Trees. All well and good until I went on (nearly) ad naseum about the trees a few minutes later.
Ooops. I think, because I got some blow back in the form of: Ok, that's enough Joe.
Of course then I began to wonder if there was something wrong with folks who "don't get it".. I mean after all, there is plenty of time to focus on data popping out of the power meters but when you round a corner and descend into a valley from a different vantage point and it's bathed in sunlight just so how can you not at least mentally pause to capture that image and make a point to chit-chat about it later?
Over the last month I've been lucky to have a great group of ride partners who are mapping new chunks of the country I've been riding since '05 and so I've been treated to some great, all new to me riding, different vantages, riding swaths of the hill sides I've always been curious about, or tiny communities that time forgot tucked away on roads that are far off the beaten path.
I need this in my training, it is effectively the "reset button" in that it refreshes me from a tough week of training, work, life, what-have-you and I'm ready to go again.
It took me awhile (seasons and seasons) to notice what I was riding through and I wish it hadn't because chances are I missed alot.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Well the weather has turned very spring-like and not in a good way. Far too much rain for my taste which has meant alot more bike rides on the trainer but as a result easier weeks without those extra hours.
I'm joining a group mid-week for a swim which has been a nice change of pace and I'm getting some help on some elements of my stroke, (recovery and entry) that I've ignored for awhile. Everything under the water is propulsion so of course I've only paid attention to that for a couple of seasons, my reasoning went, get the mechanics under the water right and repeat, over and over.
I'm still convinced that for me I need to swim more volume then the typical triathlete, but while I'm taking time to refine the recovery phase I'm slowing down, not looking at a clock all time and trying to get 3-4 things sorted.
Oh, maybe another quick piece around Freestyle stroke myths. There are at least three that are repeated over and over by coaches who are simply repeating 25 year-old swim dogma. I'm excited to get this one done.
In other news: For the second time in as many weeks folks have made remarks to the effect of "you're looking fit/thin"- while at the track... When have I not been thin or fit? C'mon. Even if I'm not racing or training "fast" (whatever that really means) I've always been thin and fit in nearly every sense.
I don't weigh myself, but I'm sure that I'm fine on the weight front, so who knows why I'm getting that feedback.
Professional stuff: It's been quiet and I'm beyond bored. I have a quick little piece I'm working on, something like "Demystifying Compensation Analysis" since this is another functional area that hiring managers frequently deal with and folks in HR look upon as another "black box", "Heaven only knows what those crazy Comp Analysts do ! " ..
So, yup looking in Boise & Sacto. Of course the west coast, Portland is still muddling through and to be candid there isn't enough project work out there for an "independent" out there to make a go of things as the firms get first dibs, then the remainder gets farmed out.