Travelling up the dirt road stirs feelings almost as much as the frequent stops made along the way. I’d like to look back and count how many were gravel opposed to paved ones, which brought bumps.
I tripped over big rocks, even a copperhead once, but each helped build and avoid neuroses nearly simultaneously. Retrospect enlightened what got kicked up, perpetuated by inertia, and what circumvented superannuation.
One lifetime melds into another, that’s for certain, all within a given time span. I’ll be spiking even more boulders before I reach burnout, fade out, or maybe even feel like checking out.
100-word challenge: DIRT
After completing 36 sun salutes on Thursday night and 24 the night before to celebrate summer solstice, thanks to the three-minute plank-off queen Rosemary Cross, I got back in the saddle yesterday to stave off the calf muscle cramps I’ve woken up to lately. My body’s getting stronger, right?
I marvel at a passing neighbor and how she keeps such superhuman pace. By all appearances she seems better than the lukewarm response at my inquiry into her morning so far. She replies, “I’m moving along. What else can we do?” I hope to do half as well as her octogenarian self at that age.
Three little birds on a telephone wire spy on me from above, as if Bob Marley’s prediction comes to life, and I scold a previous me having tossed cans out the car window in a seeming previous life in hope Lake Ozark aluminum recyclers might benefit at my delinquency. Bemoaning that mistake in the last half of my life is weak penance for all the aluminum I now see strewn along the roadside.
Beyond all I notice on my bike “training” route, I still flinch at the thought of attempting 150 miles this autumn. My stretch up and down this trek remains arduous as well as my attitude toward it.
I see you smiling at me, woman at the crossroad stop sign … is that derision or is my face as red as it feels? Let’s both hope it’s only oxygen rushing to my brain, and first responders don’t find your mini-van’s tire tracks across my mangled remains in the ditch some future day. That’s why I’m on the county highway, not only tracking my so-called mileage progress but making sure my mangled carcass is found so my family can claim it at the morgue. Gallows humor does little to help lighten the current mood. And Bob Seger’s chorus resounding in my head reminds me running against the wind is likely prescient for our future team route.
The universe continues teaching its lessons. I now realize first-hand what the saying “kick it into high gear” really means though I’m not great at doing so. Staying visible in the curves is tantamount to keeping the legs in motion, though I’ve yet to actually “clip in,” still scared to make that pedal commitment.
Yet each time the fly-catcher stays empty is a successful ride indeed.
Merv moved south from a meager beginning outside Lake Huron. He’d grown crestfallen from eating nothing more than corn in Farmville, Iowa, after an upbringing of butter tarts.
She who rescued him named the stone figure after a pervert destined for prison. His legacy followed suit, a life, albeit a still one, in the Midwest much like incarceration?
Only the path through Chicago, a few drinks and a smoke along the way, quelled his sentence, a future with a pipe smoker and frog sidekick. He’d rather live with a spotted blue skink. It would be better company than elfin kind.
100-word challenge: lizard
Me and my black bike are still at it, though my own words have come back to haunt me. I told my friend Joedie to go travel as much as possible while it was possible. She has the terrible misfortune to have Multiple Sclerosis. I gave her my unsolicited advice several years ago to see as much of the world as possible, starting with a Las Vegas trip she considered taking. “Girl, go down that strip on your own two feet in case you ever end up in a damn wheelchair” (I’m paraphrasing from memory, here). She’s since taken a couple road vacations that I know of and seen both the mountains and the beach.
How could I push my opinion off on her like that without heeding my own urging and put my butt on a bike saddle instead of the recliner where it’s usually perched? Now I’ve committed to doing the MS150 Ozarks in September 2019. One hundred and 50 miles in the less-challenging yet still formidable rolling Ozarkian mountains. I now contend perhaps I should be committed.
“Training” is happening, if not at break-neck pace. I use the word in quotes, as I’ve never trained for a darn thing in my life. Past efforts amount to being an athletic supporter, aka high school cheerleader a bazillion years ago, and yogini at present. Yet I continue getting all geared-up for the current biking venture by buying triple-link pedals and gloves yesterday. My new Schwinn helmet came in the mail, too. Prince could have gotten me the old purple one, partying like it was 1999. It WAS 1999 when I got it.
And in case anyone asks or even mentally assumes it (you know what Buttermaker said about assuming, right?), this effort is not just a shopping opportunity. All my sporting exploits have consisted of movie-watching and admiring dudes in various tight pants at Kaufman and Arrowhead stadiums.
More of my soapbox harmony is also back in my throat. Kinda stuck there, as a matter of fact. In Kansas City the recycling community used the slogan, “If we all do a little, we’ll all do a lot.” I chirped that as a mantra or sorts. So now I witness a plethora of discarded trash along my so-called training and began to accept some personal responsibility to my community in this setting. Instead of simply singing “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” ala Woodsy the Owl in my head, I usually find a disgusting plastic bag discarded along my route and collect somebody else’s McDonalds or Taco Bell trash, even a housing insulation package and though of my grandpa and his favorite cartoon when I saw the Pink Panther on it blown away by recent storms.
If we all do a tiny bit, we can all do a collective lot. It starts with one. While I’m blasting my quads and thinking of Flo from the Progressive commercial doing the same, I laugh while trekking down the terrain and hope not to face-plant. Neighbors might wonder about that crazy biking woman and grab their phones in case I need an ambulance. Continue reading →
“I thought you died, stupid cur,” Marie muttered as she walked Woody past the house next door. She hated and cursed it since the bulldog mix attacked her Lab. He’d simply tried to make friends, invisible fence or not. Its instinct taught Woody canine manners and territory.
Just like his owner.
Another neighbor said Tom wasn’t such a bad guy. Marie couldn’t deny what Robert Frost claimed about fences and neighbors.
“I’d sure hate to beat you both with a plastic bag of shit …” She flashed them the side-eye and brought Woody to heel.
Even though sunrises generally took place in my long-ago Girl Scoutian past, my friend Kezia thinks she’s going to turn me into a morning person. That woman coaxed me into believing the far-fledged notion I could potentially drive 150 miles at my pedal power propulsion. I asked her, “WTH, are you kidding me?”
She was not kidding. She could sell ice chips to a polar bear.
The road teaches you a few things. Not so much in a Jack Kerouac sort of way, but early-morning bike rides impose both mental and physical training. My past involves lots of the former but none of the latter. Let me just say if I ever wanted to go on a run, it was down the driveway to get the mail.
Step one meant attending an informational meeting. Kezia had me at “Best of Luck Beer Hall” FB invitation. How prescient that name may become. It’s like the universe cursing me and laughing under its breath all the while. “Ha, ha, ha, you mere mortal. Dare you contemplate this ride!”
I’ve tentatively accepted the challenge. Can I cobble — better yet, maybe cudgel — something out of that chaos?
Things I’ve learned over the last two (morning) six-mile bike trips:
Girl, you don’t know what training means. Better “brace up,” just like Momma said!
Shut your fly-catcher. Open-mouth breathing can do some damage.
In through your nose, out through your mouth. Just like in yoga, breathe like you heard a dad tell his kid at the recent Almost5K you walked. (That’s right, “Almost5K,” and “walked.” No shame in my game.)
When taking pix along the route, trust your gut in assuming it’s probably not a good idea to snap a quick shot at a house with “NO TRESPASSING” and “PRIVATE PROPERTY” signs out front. That lonely beater car out back almost covered in weeds didn’t get there by accident, and the purple plastic tape around poles doesn’t only mean no hunting.
Instagram isn’t everything. Don’t flood your feed with multiples you find cool. Not everyone thinks an ironic Axe Spray container in the ditch is as funny as you do.
You are not that funny … just funny looking on a bicycle at 6:30 am raising a leg over the crossbar to walk a country road incline while laughing at yourself.
Mother Nature gives you a church in every second of silence that only birdsong breaks.
Lucky seven. I’m gonna need that luck. Or something. Maybe my head examined.
My 22nd birthday blurs into distant memory’s oblivion. Ancient history, it seems. Why did I ever trust that drunken punk enough to fly down a county highway on the back of his crotch rocket? Woe to imagine our parents’ horror at having to identify the remains in morgue boxes had one gravel slide caught narrow tires just right.
Naive bravado haunts me, though. The innocent ignorance of not caring about a possible tomorrow, just the next beer tab to be popped. A boy to kiss. No future prospects considered. Yet another night of fun.
“Great, here we go again,” Anna lamented, kicking at the dirt with her sneaker toe. She unfailingly let Louise get under her skin, with disappointment seeming to seep from her. “Why do I allow that jackdaw to get a rise out of me?”
The woman glanced to her right, where Ken and Francie both cast her a sidelong glance. “Holy shit, did I say that out loud? Sometimes I don’t realize when I talk to myself,” Anna chuckled, embarrassed, as her cheeks became crimson.
“No worries,” said Francie, shrugging. “We just wondered if we might see that old crow somewhere.”
“Owww, dammit!” Glenda howled, hopping on one foot and landing to limp on the other. “I’m gonna feel that later.”
Kicking that cedar stump was one way to take out frustration felt for Don. “It ain’t hurtin’ him none, though,” she told it. Controlling his behavior came as easily as conquering invasive plant infestation. Chopping at it soothed her feelings little though.
“I may never forget what he said, but I better get over it or cut him out of my life. Just like this non-deciduous crap I’m fighting here.
Except the Kudzu of her heart she fought even harder.
I saw my mom outside today, although she died last year. Kind of supernatural how she draws me outdoors. Almost serendipitous.
A doctor said I’m okay, just grieving. Actually recommended
this therapy. I’m going back again to make sure.
These moments of self-professed genius are her doing. Practically a doctor herself, just without the initials. Said so herself, passed on that confidence. Had to find it somewhere. Mother was my biggest cheerleader, champion actually.
Now I hear her calling me through nature, a cardinal’s trill, dirt under my nails. I’m glad springtime is here. And kindly brought Mom with her.