Sunday, January 31, 2016

Preparing to Ride - June 29th, 2009

God HAS given us an assignment,  Survive with Honor. Love one another. Create something meaningful.  I don’t think she’s playing, she’s watching...  I don’t like the salvation requirement(believe Jesus Christ is the only divine human) but I do wonder if that or a similar belief is practically necessary to keep people from caring too much about this life.  If everybody got really committed to the game here on earth, the rules could get laxer and the play, meaner.  Nasty, brutish, and short would be more than a philosophic tagline.

My sister Katherine in Larkspur had a beautiful warm up ride around Tiburon and Belvedere to Paradise City and back planned for this AM.  My biking brother in law Tom had to work, which was good, because they need to get this little corner of paradise paid for before California falls apart(financially and or geologically).  He’s also a beast and since I would be hammering for the next 13 days I was looking forward to the touring mode in perfect conditions.  So we got all ready to ride 30-40 miles around Marin County, I gave Hardy the Gitane and Daniel the Six-thirteen while I took the T1 and the pack for all the extras.  We got all ready to go and Daniel couldn’t clip in.  He had never ridden a bike with clip-ins!  Daniel is a cross country runner, spare of frame and aerobically fit but he had last ridden a bike when he was 8 or 12.  Big problem with a lot of traffic on Marin County roads.  He also had never used shifters, either downtube or brake lever.  The concept of shifting was also a little weak.  Now he is a college student and can learn quickly but Christ! we were about to ride across half the country on highways.  I didn’t promise his daddy that I would bring him back alive but I felt a certain responsibility as the +21 yo.   I asked Hardy to give him a bike lesson around the neighborhood, and then branch out to some busy streets.  Tomorrow we were riding across the Golden Gate and through San Francisco and I thought a bit of biking finesse was warranted before getting plastered by a bus.
       My sister took me to the Verizon store to get my cell phone charger.  We then did a stunning loop down to Corte Madera and out around Belvedere to Tiburon where there are obviously a lot of people who are NOT financially challenged and have it made except when the fog messes up their views.  Not today.  Cool, low humidity, plenty of water all around and all I could think of was how yesterday I was looking at my steaming car on the side of the road in the middle of Death Valley.  Life’s changeable. 

We spent a little time testing out the bikes and trying to ensure we had all we needed to leave the next day.  I had planned to use my usual two water bottles with hand-offs periodically from the Sag Wagon but I got scared and bought a Camelback.  The thought of Death Valley, a broken down car, and 1 water bottle made me nervous.  I have subsequently wondered what it would have taken for the three of us to ride our bikes out of Death Valley and whether pushing on or going back would have been more prudent.  We were some 10 miles from Furnace Creek or only 10-12 miles into the Park.  It was at least 30 miles back to Beatty, Nevada and it didn’t look like much.  Forward to Lone Pine was at least 90 miles.  I’m a forward going kind of person and my recollections of Lone Pine at the base of Mt. Whitney were more verdant.  So if I couldn’t get the car started and needed a 90 mile tow, what would we have done?  We had plenty of water in the car but how much water would we need to carry to ride 90+miles in 121 degree heat?  I am glad I did not have to solve that problem.....
Another problem is where to find honor and nobility in a world that values cleverness more than virtue?  Too many successful people are too clever by half. To succeed means to one up. To pursue virtue when many others are having a good time or trying to fool you is to be haughty or naive. Gaming the system or relying on the letter of the law tends to undercut the social consensus.  Image, despite Agassi’s claim, is not everything.  If everything is about winning, then the group with the lousy hand could (should?)play a different game with a higher probability of winning.  Call it-- Kill the parasites.
      There is obviously a Real World, we create an Apparent World superimposed on it, and the Virtual World has recently become home for many of us.  I am after all on my computer to send you this missive.  If everybody is busy constructing their own virtual world to live in, how important is the social world we all inhabit as citizens? Where is the Energy in the social world?  Do we really think of ourselves as citizens  with responsibilities anymore?  Who goes to City Council meetings or belongs to a political party?    I believe the phrase is “bowling alone”.  The internet and technology have sucked the life out of historical institutions and delivered greater POTENTIAL but like the TV, the promise is not equal to the reality it creates.  Morphing from a word based to an image based world has changed the kind of society we are.  We tweet (tweak?) in separate rooms not talk and build on the social commons.  In fact I don’t know where that is.....

TEN VIRTUES or why do we keep talking about the ten commandments?
1.  Love                                       6.  Justice (Nobility)
2.  Honesty                                 7.  Temperance (Balance)
3.  Courage                                 8. Spontaneity (Openness)
4.  Generosity                       9.  Passion or Ardor (Desire)
5.  Hardworking (Persistence)      10.  Gratitude

We cannot be Good without God but we can be all of the above things w/o God.  If we were all of the above things—if we had all those virtues—how close to “good” would we be?  I would argue very, very close.  I think the faithful and the secular can agree that the above qualities (virtues) are desirable and would hope to find them in everyone.  We would not agree about the Nature of Reality but we could agree the above 10 virtues belong in the heart of every human being.
We bought some more tubes and a handlebar bell.  A ludicrous purchase for the ride across Nevada.  We could see 40 miles from the top of Carroll Summit and not one car anywhere!  We rode 64 miles without seeing a car.  Not one car passed us either direction for 4 hours of riding.  We didn’t need the bell.

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