Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ostrich Wings

My heart is full, nigh unto bursting. 

I know not why, and I’m afraid to ask.

I want to run, but know not where. I want to fly, but cannot leave the ground.

My heart is heavy. I do know why. 

It tells me. I need not ask. 

The sun shines. The wind blows, like a gentle whisper, to woo me away from my desk. The road calls my name in that old familiar voice. I’ve gotten a taste. I want to hit it so hard I’ll never be the same. 

I would take to the wind like a dove, were not my feet trapped in the mud. I would leap off the cliff and glide and soar in the thermals, if I knew I wouldn’t fall to the ground.

Looping, dipping, diving, climbing. Gliding, sailing, seeing, pursuing. 

Yet, what can I say. It’s wonderful! It’s amazing! Better than I imagined! I feel lucky. Privileged.

Who cares that I’m no eagle, no sailing albatross. What’s wrong with today? What’s wrong with this moment?

I am rich. I have need of little. I have more than most.

It’s a beautiful day for a walk.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm Back!

The time has come.

It's time for me to stop sitting on an idle, dormant blog, with the most carefully chosen title and URL in history. 


My history that is.

Unlike BBC's Sherlock, I'm finally realizing I simply cannot expect great results from doing something only in small bursts every few years. 

Yes, you guessed it, I'm going start writing!

Finding myself substantially more effortless in writing then in times past, with my skills occasionally even being demanded of me, and having closed myself off from the natural outlet of Facebook — which, my, oh, my, couldn't I ever keep that one going — and since my correspondences with others seem to be only growing in length, like to overwhelm those poor souls, and scar them for life, and wanting to really truly be able to consider myself a writer, in at least a self-image capacity, if not professionally, it seems the natural choice for me to start throwing myself at a publicly accessible, non-invasive, and very much my own space blog. (Where I can write long sentences like that, and not have some pesky managing editor inform me that no one could possibly follow them, that they would die if asphyxiation if they tried... Yeah, whatever.)

It's a good theory at least. Will I have the determination to stick to such a noble effort? Will I find myself capable of throwing down thoughts in which others find great value? Or, even just... value. That would be something.

Come! Travel the future with me! Let's go and find the answer to this most gripping question!

Or, perhaps, explore the boringly-over-and-never-returning-yet-important-as-it-tells-us-how-we-got-where-we-are-and-sometime-helps-us-understand-the-future past, should you have the terrible misfortune of being in that great crowd who arrived at this post long after it was written.

If you consider it a misfortune at all, that is. Perhaps, oh you great time traveler, having traversed multiple decades of time, while, marvel of marvels, still being able to "hear" from the past, through this great invention we call writing... Perhaps you are quite glad you did not have to wade through the tedious, meaningless self-motivational (for the author) sentences that drag on and on like a Deep South summer, or a California drought, until, through the increased experience that comes from continued time travel, you were able to finally develop the patience to stomach them. But still would rather never see their like again. 

My hat is off to you. Or maybe it was off because I was inside. At any rate, my hat is off, and I would like to extend my gratitude (or at least a metaphorical hand) for the fact that you took the time to read this. Whether you be from the present, or from the future, please, drop me a line! I'd love to hear your feedback! And if you're from the future, let me know if I managed to make it a success. This suspense is killing me! (Oh, and if you're from the future, let me know if they've learned how to make cell phones that only need to be charged once a week again. I kind of miss the Nokia days....)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bicycle Tour Statistics

Sorry readers, for suddenly going dark around the middle of November, without so much as a "be back later", or even, to be honest, a true reason for failing to update, except of course not doing so. I got behind, and just never caught up.

Anyway, so here's a post made up of every statistic of my trip I could think of. Hope it's not too overwhelming, and maybe some data junky like myself will find it interesting. (Stats relating to most frequently asked questions are underlined.)

General Statistics:
Time away: 195 days
Riding days: 96
Riding weeks: 22 
          (at least 2 days traveling by bike)
Nights camping: 50
Nights on bed/couch: 123
Nights in hotels: 8 (all free to me)
Total stays of 3 days or more: 11
Longest time in one location: 20 days - Hartland, Virginia 
          Runner up: 9 days - Griffins, Florida
Most nights in one state: 24 - Virginia
          Runner up: 23 - Florida
Most riding days in a state: 13 - New York
          Runner up: 9 - Montana
Total one night states: 4
          (Iowa, Indiana, Rhode Island, Alabama)
States entered (by bike) more than once: 2
          (Pennsylvania, twice; New York, three times)
Most days with same people (non-consecutive): 24 days - Hartland people
          Runner up: 23 days - Garrett's
Total mileage ridden: 4000
Total mileage covered: ~ 6000 out, 3000 back
Longest stretch not ridden, headed out: 700 miles, northern Virginia to Georgia.
Most distance covered in 24 hours: 1600 miles
Number of states visited: 30
Number of states visited without riding: 4
Longest time without a shower: 8 days
Longest riding streak without camping: 13 days
Longest non-stop conversation: 8 hours
Most calories eaten in one day: 5000
Average caloric intake: 3000-3500
Most food carried at a time: over a weeks worth
Most water drank in single day: 2 gallons
Most water carried: 1.5 gallons 
Weight of bike loaded: 120 pounds
Number of times I folded my bike: well over a dozen 

Personal Biking Records:
Fastest speed attained: 43 miles per hour
Fastest on gravel: 34 miles per hour
Slowest hill descent: <10 miles per hour
Average speed: ~9.5 miles per hour
Longest riding day: 77 miles
Shortest riding day: 6 miles
Average riding day: 42 miles

Financial Statistics:
Total expenditure: $1300  (+ $300 for GYC*)
Total money received: ~$500
Most money carried at one time: $500
Cash left at end of trip: $140
Least expensive traveling week: $21
Most expensive week: $136 - sprained wrist ($80 of that)
Most expensive day (non-emergency/equipment): $46 - Niagara Falls
Money spent en route on repairs/equipment replacement: ~$300

Flat tires: 4
Preventable flat tires: 2 (failed patch)
Tires worn out: 2
Lost/destroyed bike helmets: 2
Lost/broken bungee straps: 6
Repairs done to panniers: 5
Number of bike shops visited: 9**
Times bike tipped over: dozens
Bike crashes: 2 (one significant)

Most rain dealt with in one night: 2 inches
Longest steady headwind: 3.5 weeks
          (Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota)
Highest altitude reached: 6000 feet
Most challenging hill: Butte, Montana - 1200 feet, 2 miles
Number of people trying to do me harm: 0
Most roadkill deer seen in a day: 7 - Montana

Comments on the above:
If you come across this post while researching a trip of your own, let me know if you have any other questions, or if this has somehow proven useful to you. 

The total cost of maintenance/repairs/equipment replacement may seem especially high. This is due to first, starting out with an apparently well used bike, second, not quite knowing how to service it myself, and third, negligence on my part, resulting in otherwise unneeded spending (lost tail light, lost bungee cords, lost/broken helmet). Also, something not shown by this data, 2/3 of this spending happened in the last 1/3 of the trip, and the last 25% of my riding. If I were just going to the coast, I would have been able to cut my number of shop visits from 9 to 3. 

I almost never rode my bike more than 5 days during a week, and managed to nearly always find somewhere to stay for the weekend, which undoubtably had the effect of lowering both my traveling distance and expense.

* - GYC - Generation of Youth for Christ conference in Orlando, Florida. The official end of my trip.

** - In order: (heading east) Tune up, chain/sprocket replacement, host/quick adjust, new chain, (heading south) new tires/breaks, Montague tuneup, chain lube, axle maintenance/new helmet, replacement tail light.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toxic Relationships

Loyalty is a wonderful thing. There's nothing so grand as a special friend who will stick with you no matter what deep, dark secrets you might reveal, no matter how much of a difference there is in social status, and no matter what you do:  someone who you can always go back to. 

But sometimes loyalty can become an issue. Sometimes being loyal comes at high costs. Sometimes loyalty is ones greatest weakness.

For my part, I seem predisposed to toxic relationships - lopsided relationships where one side of the equation seems to inflict all the pain and suffering, while the other takes it with a grin, sometimes separating for a while, but always coming back, no matter. Yet my loyalty is so strong, I cannot bear the thought of breaking it off, or replacing it with something else. "No, but THIS is the one! I just know it! Should we not follow our hearts?"

Ah, but the heart is deceitful. It seems I become addicted to the relationship, because of some arbitrary attraction, some uniqueness, the mere fact that others would not do the same, in spite of the fact that it is clearly bad for me, and not helping to the other either.

I put love and money into these relationships, and still, pain is the primary result. Do I truly enjoy receiving pain from those I love?

I'm afraid I may have made a mistake in choosing my mandolin. I was head over heals for it before even trying it out. Before trying any others, to know what to look out for.. 

Now that I have had it for so long, these issues are becoming more and more evident. Yet, we've been through so much together. We've gone through 30 states together. I've met people and made friends because of my mandolin. How could I ever replace it, and get something else? How could I betray my companion for so long?

Issues. So many issues. The pick guard is curled up. The body is scarred from misuse, the neck is bent, the body bowed, the action high, the tuners inconsistent, the metal rusted.. The strings take 3x the pressure to play that they should. 

Ah, but we'll make it work, I say. We'll work it out. I'm sure of it. We've got too. I've invested too much time in this relationship. I can't give it up now..

I can change the strings. Certainly I can figure out a way to lower the action. Sure, it will only fix the symptoms - the body will continue to cave in, the finish will continue to scar, the rust will not go away - but what other choices do I have? 

No, I can't give this up now. We're just getting close. I'm just starting to be able to make this work. 

So what if it's an off balance equation? So what if playing my mandolin still causes twice the pain it should, for half the enjoyment? It's my mandolin! After all, a toxic relationship is better than none.