The Intangible. 

Slow days at work put me In a state of malaise and deep introspection, I sit feeling un/underutilized like a luxury sports girl used only to run errands…wasting. I wrestle between desiring full utilization and living a bohemian nonconformist life style, do I press to be a CEO and control the destiny of others or sell all I have buy a VW Westiva and drive cross country biking and skiing whatever my pleasure. Both options contain room for doubt and discontent. Deliverance at such times come in a slow long ride (SLR). I punched out early, bundles up and rolled out for a lumpy, windy, slow spring ride on an overcast 45degree day. 

  

Irons mountain remains my second favorite place in the world, the beauty of that place hunts and hugs me simultaneously. It is an ode to the solitude usually required for such beauty and the urban infrastructural cost (lack of). I love to drive up that mountain on my lunch break and watch the turkey vultures soar, jib and juke with the thermals as the rise out of the adjoining valley. The ride to the top was tasking to put it lightly, my legs were flat and instead of ruminating on my thoughts and figuring out the world’s problems, I was wrestling the mountain gradient, mentally struggling not to abort, point my front wheel downhill and do what ever thinking I had hoped for in front of a TV set. I suppose there are some climbs great for getting in a zone, where the body goes into autopilot, churns out the miles liberating the mind to think and there are others where all faculties (physical and mental) are summoned to maintain forward momentum. 

   

 

Lately I have been working on relocating to Nigeria, there is so much to look forward to, and so much to miss in that one decision. Endless sunny days to ride, a slower pace of life and community alien to western living where you actually know your neighbor beyond the once in month hello exchanged as you walk out to get the Sunday paper.  There is however the price paid in the forfeit of some level of comfort: Mosquitos with teeth, insecurity, lack of snow and winter sports, state parks, the vibrant Appalachian mountains in the Fall. This was what I was chewing over on this ambitious ride for someone with Spring leggs I have taken many a long rides intent on sifting through the fog, to convincingly articulate to myself the reason I am really trying to move there, many times I end with more questions than answers. 

  

Grinding up Warrior mountain, on the section with a steady 7% grade, it becomes clear, the answer is “the intangible” that which can not be quantified, can’t be articulated, qualities like providence, destiny, serendipity. The intangible if the anchor that keeps one commited to a resolve when all fails. The enigma however is that we seek to unravel the intangible, to clearly articulate and bring to the light the ethos of our motivation, but we fail every time. I guess we have to keep going on those Slow Long Rides. 

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Point of no return…

Too late to turn back now….


when skiing with friends much better than me, we always come to the point where the blue and black diamond trails no longer satisfy them, the logical next step in a double black or glade skiing. I am forced to decide to take the plunge and thread the needle; though the trees or ride in between and over the mine field of knee high moguls. Many times 15 yards down the steep I can abort, hike back up, ski across to a tamer trail, or gracelessly exit the glades (there have been cases where I took off my skis and hiked to the button to the amusement of onlookers. However, there is always the point of no return, that point where it is impossible to hike back to the top or pizza it to the bottom.Where you must muster all your courage and go for it.  It is at times like these that we come face to face with our inner strength. In these times we realize that no one else matters but us and what we think aboutourselves and our effort. At such times, due to the inability to guarantee success the most important thing is effort; doing the best we can to achieve our set goal. 

wipeout and we will laugh.


Many times, a difficult trails runs right under the lift line, so if you wipe out you end up being entertainment for everyone. This stops many people from attempting runs they would like to try, businesses they would like to open, vocations they would like to answer. You would be surprised by how many adults who do not know how to ride a bicycle but are afraid of what people would say or think when they see them practice. When you reach that point of no return, survival sits higher on your scale of preference as compared to avoiding embarrassment. 

Your Turn !!


Sitting on the ski lift at White Tail ski resort for some winderful springish skiing, I realize I am slowly inching towards that point of no return in my personal life. It feels exciting and scary, I can’t stay where I am but making the move somewhere else is daunting and scary. Soon it will be too late to turn back. I would love to nail this run but there’s also a good chance of a wipeout. 

Let’s go…

Wheel sucking…

Torture Chamber AKA Sufferlandia

There truly are few things as dreadful as sitting on your bicycle in a cold, damp basement riding spinners or rollers in the heart of winter.  The monotony and lack of visual stimulation is stifling, even with all the tools available both affordable (Sufferfest videos) and not (wahoo trainer). It is at such times that one must pull from an inner reserve, one must conjure up memories of epic climbing conquests, blazing fast group rides or races, perhaps even failures to stay motivated. 


My de facto motivational scene was my spring 3 day “riding camp” last April. A three day organized ride in the coastal flat lands around Oriental North Caroline. On the third day after turning cranks for 160miles (since there is no coasting in the flat lands), with tired legs, I got on a four man train comprising primarily of locals. Unaccustomed to such long straight roads, whenever I took my pull, I always planned to pull till we made a turn then get off ( back home a road is never straight for more than  400yards). It did not take me long to realize that the roads there went on into the horizon, straight as an arrow. 

Needless to say, all I could see for the last 15 miles was the wheel in front of me, as I struggled despairingly to hang on to it. The group did all they could to drop me as I became dead weight but I hung on with as much pinash as the parasite I had become could muster… I would not make the rest of that ride on my own, I knew it. 

source: plattyjo.com


There were many times my body begged me to ease off, let them go, it’s not worth it. I was so close to the end of the ride but yet so far. In my life I have been struggling with the same sentiments, sometimes we hold on so long waiting for a breakthrough that never seems to be coming. Like a tempo ride, your heart seems to redline right before you hit a slight downhill or your turn on the front is over and you get some reprieve. We get similar compulsions, an inclination to go it ourselves, abandon the struggle. The fact is we need that wheel to hang on to, we need that stronger rider to pull us to the finish line. 

In my times of turmoil and dejection the wheel is so love to hang on to is Isiah 40:30-31: even the youth grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. 

I love that….

Accepting he is stronger

I remember the very first time I rode a fellow rider off my wheel. It was the first time I experienced my progression in strength and endurance. suddenly the speed the speed we were clipping at was unsatisfactory, my legs begged to be unleashed, internally I was smacking the rev limiter and needed to move up a gear. The organized pace line, shedding a set of wheels every 10 miles thanks to a vicious head/side wind, the average speed was beginning to suffer. I surged from the back of the pack embracing the gust and pitted my slow-twitch muscle fibers against Mother Nature, the group all too happy to oblige me clamped onto my wheel like eels to a wet body. For a whole mile, I buried my head in the bar, graveled low and mashed my pedals – only to look back and see a gap had been opened and the group torn asunder. The prodigy has finally found his wings. Elated by the slaps on the shoulder I received from fellow riders post ride and recognition of a my fine display, I remember buoyed to do more work, to get better.

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Professionally, I realize I happen to be one floundering in the wind, opening up a gap. I find myself struggling to hold the wheel of the new young gun in the office. I try to reconcile the various variables that birth the disconcerting feeling, like the local stay getting dropped on a climb by an unknown; he is really better than me, he is younger and more in touch with technology, maybe he is smarter with a higher IQ. Alas, the truth is he is better because he cares more.
I don’t not care, but sadly Father Time drags with if the sag of drudgery with monotony. I am not weaker just bored, not slow or sore just need a recovery day.

Having said that, I have resolved to try to keep up, to accept he is better and eschew pride and embrace humility. I must sojourn for a higher calling, a higher peak, a bigger climb where experience is more weighted than youth and strength. Not price… Temperance.

Are you successful?

 

What is Success? Have you ever pondered such a seemingly simple question? Quite capricious is human nature that we set a moving target as our definition of success. We wrestle between having a full life, living our dream, and making a difference beyond ourselves. Lately I have been trying to come up with a definition of
success that works for me. Of course there is a myriad of cookie-cutter answers like spending quality time with family, experiencing life, having a successful professional career and the likes. Like Solomon, given the opportunity, what would you ask God “specifically” when you ask for success in life?

I concluded that; besides desiring to be a great role model for my children and the best possible Godly husband to my wife, I cannot with any specificity articulate what I want in the form of a successful life. This comes from a lack of faith, resulting in vague prayers. God does not answer vague prayers because we can’t tell if they are answered or not, then he doesn’t get any glory. Because some desires (to be a bike shop owner, adventure journalist/photographer, outdoor adventure manager) seem and sound unsustainable and outlandish we have difficulties believing it is achievable and instead ask God for a better job rather than the specific desire he has created in us and is aware we have.

I watched the documentary Living on a dollar a day, it brought about the question: how do you live without guilt when by providence you are born into a family, place, and time where you have options. How to you decide to downsize and live as if you are on burrowed time when the most joy you have comes from activities that are a luxury in many other places? How is it that security brings about less joy than uncertainty? If you have follow this blog, you know I have more questions than answers.

I do have one answer though for all these question: Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the lord with all your heart, lean not on your understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.

 

 

The Cost of Awe

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Most people come to a point in their lives when they ask the universal question “What am I here for, What does my life mean, Is there more to life than this”? In a way these seem easy and expected akin to those teenagers ask about their bodies during puberty. They also seem easy because for most of us this stage of curiosity does not last. It is quickly stashed away by the buzz and routine of life, melancholic moments overshadowed by activities, laughter, routine,  they down into the background awaiting rekindling when life slowly drifts to sleep.
The harder and I dare say more important question is “Why do we do the things we do”, why do we stay in routines that have long lost their meaning, why chase a dead-end job or even worse ascend the corporate ladder that provides material wealth inversely proportional to the wealth of the heart? Cliché you say? How about why do you go out and run that 5miles even though today its stinking hot and you really did not feel like it, why still go to the gym when all your mind, muscles and adipose fat in unison yearn for a retreat on the couch glued to the tube? Why do you pedal up that climb doing intervals on your bike….

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Even the things we think are fun and we do for recreation often times turn into routine void of our first love and enthusiasm but we keep on doing it without thinking about… so apt to autopilot “it”…I think many a times we subconsciously deny ourselves the options of asking why, we feel the question  more than we think it but we fear to expose it to our consciousness… we fear to explore it for what answers might be buoyed to the surface.

Every once in a while we experience Awe for cheap… Get lost and end up on a beautiful scenic mountain road, hook a Rainbow Trout on the line, the first time we descend a 1000ft climb with a tailwind and no traffic, the first time we nab a PB on a 10K…. Obviously there is the price we pay in effort, resources, training, practice and the likes but that cost when compared to the result the first time is unequivocal, the awe factor far outweighs the cost. We are designed to be leaky vessels, God fills us up and we immediately start leaking, we have to continually return to be refilled, it might in some cases get easier to refill but we might start desiring a taste for something else. This is as true in our spiritual lives as our physical. That Job we were overjoyed to have starts becoming unfulfilling, yes we enjoy running a 10k but dang motivation is now at a premium, yes the view at the top of this climb is great but I do not feel like climbing….

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For us to really experience Awe, we constantly have to reevaluate routines and be brave the question why…why should I do this again… is it time  to initiate change? We have to be willing to put the effort in to earn the experience. We have to be willing to climb a different hill if the view is no longer enthralling, fish a different stream if the fish are no longer biting. We have to be willing to tarry and wait for God to reveal himself if we feel he has gone silent. As important as it is to ask the questions it is even more important to accept the answers, Oswald Chambers put it this way “we all have those times when there are no flashes of light and no apparent thrill of life, where  we  experience  nothing  but  the  daily  routine… The routine  of life  is actually God’s  way of  saving  us  between  our  times  of  great inspiration  which come  from  him.”