On the Economy of Words and Pedal Strokes

Snack of Non-Champions

< = + (Less is More)

One of the local authors A Dude Abikes met at One Page Salon (see my last post) is Natalia Sylvester.  I’ve just checked her book Chasing the Sun out from the Austin public library and look forward to reading it sometime I’m not working or biking.  Not only was she brilliant of mind, beautiful of visage and generous with advice, she was kind.  Clearly she has not hit the stereotypical writer’s bottle just yet.  Here’s a blurb:

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns that the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’ll do anything to get her back. Or will he?

     Nice, right?  Tight, to the point, to the point.  Taking a look at Natalia’s blog, I was struck by how economical she was with her words, something I have yet to master.  But I know it’s the sign of a good writer.  This is a rest day from the bike, after yesterday’s 24.9 miles (total for the day on Strava) – I missed 25 by that much, although that did not include my new short commute).  So I thought I’d try to emulate that and just put pen to paper.

Riding, like writing, is another example where less is usually better.  The fewer pedal strokes you take, the more energy is conserved.  And the less energy wasted the better. A Dude is no athlete, not in perfect health, and is no spring chicken either, so he feels every mile.  So constantly shifting gears help ascend the hills and descend the dales. Downshifting by not even biking for a day or two, or just going on a short recovery ride, is akin to shutting the hell up and being a good listener.  To wit:  sometimes the best answer to a stupid question is no words at all, just a wry smile. ;~}

“Regardless of how much money you have, your race, where you live, what religion you follow, you are going through something. Or you already have or you will. As momma always said, “Everybody’s got something.”

-Robin Roberts, Everybody’s Got Something

I’m Not Special (So Very Special)*

A Dude Abikes is a guy who is constantly humbled by the bad asses screaming by him with tight calves, who look good in lycra, and otherwise won’t even have the courtesy to say “On your right” or smile and say hello.  But for your average convenience store clerk, guy at the HEB locking up their bike at the same time, a co-worker or other person I strike up a chat with, apparently I AM AWESOME!  “Four miles in the rain?  On a bike?  Wow, I couldn’t do that.”

The point of my riding, and my writing, is that so are you.  Everybody’s got something that’s an obstacle in their life, but they also have the ability to transcend, or at least step around or even lean into that challenge with their skills.  Take this guy I was biking along with as he rolled in his wheelchair.  He started telling me about his ailments.  No doubt he’s suffering, in pain, not able to walk anymore.  It tore me up and I teared up a bit too.  But he’s also a fighter, and said, “Just keep rollin’!”  That’s way more awesome than me biking 100 miles a week.  Speaking of Bill “Poss” also mentioned from OPS (check him out at www.billpossmusic.com), that reminds me of a song:

Well, I said goodnight to my newfound friend
I said, “I’m beginning to understand
A little bit of how it feels
To roll through life on a set of wheels.”
She says “Don’t feel sorry, don’t feel sad,
I take the good along with the bad
I was arrested once at a protest demo
And the police had to let me go.See, we were protesting the fact
That public buildings weren’t wheelchair accessible.
Turned out the jail was the same way.
Anyway, I look at it this way–
In fifty years you’ll be in worse shape than I am now.
See, we’re all the same, this human race.
Some of us are called disabled. And the rest–
Well, the rest of you are just temporarily able-bodied.

*reference to Radiohead’s song “Creep”

Life is Like a Tired Metaphor

Life is a journey, a series of roads and paths, twists and turns, ups and downs.  Where it goes, nobody knows.  Trite but no less true.  To different degrees based on sociopolitical and economic and other considerations, we each get to choose our direction.  How hard we pedal.  Or don’t.  How much we talk.  Or listen.  And we get to help each other on the way.  Despite the many aches, pains, injuries, illness, rashes and occasional bouts of road rage A Dude experiences, I’m still just happy as a porcine animal in its own excrement to be able to bike most days.  Many people cannot.

     A Dude Abikes is grateful to every driver who doesn’t run me over, every convenience store clerk who lets me use the bathroom and every bicyclist he sees – even the jerks with zero body fat, fully-defined gastrocnemius muscles, who go screaming by at impossible speeds and look good while doing it in their lycra, never even breaking a sweat.  But like Lance Armstrong taught us, nobody’s perfect.

     But to you, dear reader, I am grateful for traveling this word journey with me.  Even if it’s just a few of you out there lurking in the cybershadows:  thank you.  Even if I’m not that economical in my words as Natalia Sylvester, because this post still took a good long while to do, and is still pretty long and wordy.  As I journey on my bike times toward a crazy goal of 4,000 miles this year, and you ramble on toward whatever goals you have, happy trails til we meet again.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

I shall be telling this with a sigh    
Somewhere ages and ages hence:    
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—    
I took the one less traveled by,    
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost


Roxanne Kowalski:  So why did you say those things?
C.D. Bales:  Tell her you were afraid.
Chris McConnell:  Because I was afraid.
Roxanne Kowalski:  Of me?  Afraid of what
C.D. Bales:  Tell her you were afraid of words.
Chris McConnell:  What?
C.D. Bales:  Words.
Chris McConnell:  Because I was afraid of worms, Roxanne!  Worms!

-Steve Martin, Darryl Hannah and Rick Rossovich
in the 1987 film based on Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne

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