I am constantly reminded that I am not in control of the weather. Earlier in the week the temperature was well into the mid 60’s. This morning it snowed. It seems that as soon as I get into a routine with riding and training for RAGBRAI, the weather has an identity crisis. I looked out the window this crisp, spring morning, and tried to think of a way to make an analogy out of this atmospheric change, and I came up with this. Weather is like a battle and we are the deer. Allow me to clarify. Think of the warm and cold weather like two opposing factions of a mighty battle, the warm holds it’s ground in the south while the cold finds refuge in the north, and Iowa is the no-man’s land. Each storm is a battle between these mighty foes, at times the warm holds the “front” line, while at other times the cold gains the high ground. The battles that result from these engagements can become quite fierce, with the blinding flash of the cannon that can be seen for miles and the resulting window-rattling boom that rolls over the prairie like a tsunami. Their bullets flood our rivers and sometimes dent our cars, and the smoke from their guns fills our skies to the point that the sun ceases to shine. We are at the mercy of the these two mighty forces and there is nothing we can do when the battle ensues but take cover. But when the battle is over, we dare to venture forth from our shelter to graze and find sustenance while we can, and we become oblivious when the battle does not rage. But when we hear the boom and see the flash, to cover we go, like little deer hiding in the woods. So all we can do is hope that the major engagements don’t come our way, but in the meantime; the battle continues.
Small Town Humor. April 8, 2011
It’s the small towns that often have the best stories, and my small, Iowa community is no exception. All that I am about to relate to you took place around the turn of the century, when today’s sleepy little town was a thriving, booming rail-road town. During this time, the local physician was a man by the name of Dr. O’Keeffe, an ex-military man who during the summer always dressed in a white suit and Panama hat, a very disciplined and tidy man. Well Dr. O’Keeffe would always get into jokes and pranks with the local undertaker, a man by the name of Bert, who just loved to antagonize the poor doctor. Now Dr. O’Keeffe had a beautiful Buick that he just loved, and the boys would sometimes go and put axle grease on the door handle, which just drove Doc crazy, to get dirty grease all over his hands. Well one day, Bert and the boys went one step further. They went and put grease all over the seat of that pristine Buick, and when Dr. O’Keeffe jumped in his car, he got grease all over his white suit.
Oh, Dr. O’Keeffe was so upset. He knew that Bert was the one behind this, so he hatched a little plan. Now Bert also had a furniture store besides the undertaking business, and was such a heavy drinker that sometimes he would pass-out from being so drunk. So the next time Bert passed-out, Dr. O’Keeffe put his plan into action. He quietly stripped all of Bert’s clothes off while he was asleep, and tied a big red ribbon around Bert’s middle, so as to cover the important bits. Then he put Bert in one of his own caskets, with the lid wide open, and rolled him out into the front window of his furniture store. So the next day, when all the ladies and townsfolk were going about their business, there lay poor Bert, naked, asleep in his own casket, for all the world to see.
A reflection on Iowa April 7, 2011
I would like to start a little discussion here, by posing a question. What is your favorite thing about Iowa?
Even if you don’t live here or think that Iowa is where all the potatoes come from, your thoughts are welcome on what makes your state a great one.
Wind. It’s a love/hate relationship. April 6, 2011
During my hours in the saddle over the past few weeks, riding through cold and heat, rain and shine, one thing has remained a constant; wind. The factor of the wind is a complex one. At times it is utterly demoralizing, such as when you push for all your worth to get to the top of the hill, with the dream of coasting down the other side, only to realize that the wind is so strong that you have to peddle almost as hard just to go down-hill. Yet at other times the wind can be your best friend. After miles of battling with this bitter foe, you’re able to turn around for the return trip, and the wind suddenly becomes your best friend, pushing you along the road like a parent pushes a child on the swing. Through all my battles with this eternal force, I have begun to learn to view the wind from a different perspective. I, like most people, used to view the wind as something that would either make-or-break the ride, but now I have tried to change my view. Wind, when it would seem to pit it’s will against my, can be viewed as an extra component to make me stronger. The wind definitely makes the ride harder, but that in turn makes me more able to fight it. So in reality, the harder the wind blows, the stronger I become. The wind is really helping me train, its like a coach who’s in the chase car next to me, pushing me to go harder. I think this idea can also be applied to life in general. When we are pushed down by difficulties, we are tempted to just give up, when in fact we should push harder. To adopt the old adage, “what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger”. I also find comfort and motivation in a quote from Lance Armstrong, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” So I encourage you to go forth and fight the good fight. I also encourage you to comment or share on a moment in your live that you have gone the distance and persevered, against the wind.
I’m the next Tour de France Champion, in my head anyway. March 11, 2011
It seems like spring has finally arrived, and for good this time. So without hesitation I jumped on my bike as soon as I could, and headed out into the wind-swept farmland. I’ve tried to explain, in-depth and to my best ability, in previous posts the feeling of riding my bike after too much time away from the saddle. I will spare you the lengthy explanation of the flood of emotions that are coursing through my system after a ride, and try to write from a more philosophical point-of-view. Today it was rather windy out on the road, and I had set myself a goal to cover a route that took me straight into the wind and up a sizable hill (for Iowa anyway). Even though there were plenty of opportunities for me to turn around before the hill, and enjoy the nice tail-wind that awaited, I pushed on toward the top. In my mind I weighed the options of enjoying the tail-wind and turning around right away, which would be easier, but result in less satisfaction; or pushing on up the hill to achieve my goal and be rewarded with an even nicer tail-wind + down-hill. I did reach the top of the hill and was glad that I stuck it out to receive a larger reward. I think this scenario may be easily applied to life in general. Sometimes, in life, we think that if we just give up now then everything will be better, and it might be, for the short-term. If you hate your job you might want to quit and file unemployment, you’ll probably get paid more from the government (or tax payers), but what if you can’t find another job. If you quit while you’re down, it’s even harder to get back up than if you hadn’t quit in the first place. Sticking with it is usually harder at first, but has the biggest payoff. If you keep working hard at the job you hate, someday you might end up running the company, and making enough money to send your kids through college or take that trip to Europe you always wanted. Charging up the hill is never easy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from cycling, it’s that mental tenacity is 99 percent of getting across the finish line. If you think you can get there, then you will. When I was standing on the pedals, pushing up that hill, my body was telling me no, but in my mind, I was the next Tour de France Champion.
BTW: The tail-wind was absolutely fantastic!