Wheels of life

Skill, in the best sense, is the enactment or the acknowledgement or signature of responsibility to other lives; it is the practical understanding of value.  –Wendell Berry, “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture”

Cycling up the Sandia Crest in Fall 2018 above Albuquerque

Eating and moving are everyday acts that connect us to the source of life.   In Wendell Berry’s book “Culture and Agriculture” the author discusses the relationship between our use of technology in agriculture, and the impact that has on our responsibilities and skills.  I am impressed with the parallel’s between Berry’s observations on agriculture and the dynamics of human movement in the transportation world.

In the sixth chapter, the use of energy, Berry notices that introducing machines in agriculture complicates our relationship with the life-giving soil.  In particular machines bring more power and consequence, but do not impose restraints or moral limits on the exercise of their power.  So humans have to bring responsibility commensurate with these mechanical powers that increase our impact and consequences on the soil. To complicate things, machines speed up our work, “but as speed increases, care declines…We know that there is a limit to the capacity of attention and that the faster we go the less we see” (Berry p. 93).  So being responsible for our machine-aided work becomes even harder, and necessitates greater moral restraint on the part of humans.

Cranes flying in at Bosque del Apache, November 2018

Skill is the connection between life and tools, or life and machines.  —Berry, p. 91

Driving skills are based upon our knowledge of the machines we are operating, the driving environment, and the potential consequences on our own life and the life surrounding us.  When I went to commercial driving school at age 21 to learn how to drive 18-wheelers, I had an instructor named Jim.  He made a moral argument.  Jim had driven trucks over a million miles.  Jim said that as truck drivers, we are the most powerful on the road and therefore must be the most responsible.  He had a certain moral authority that stuck with me.  Five days a week for three months, Jim and a team of instructors trained me and my classmates on the skills we needed to be the most responsible users of public roads.  We learned how to manage our speed and adjust it so it was appropriate for circumstances.  We inspected our vehicles before every trip to ensure proper maintenance, and practiced turning, backing up, and negotiating in traffic to protect all human life around us.  The skills we developed had nothing to do with always going slow, rather knowing when to go slow for safety, which effectively makes the whole transportation system work so much better, and enacts our fundamental values.  Driver training for me was not only about mastering my control of my vehicle, but about mastering myself.

In the traffic safety field, there is an overwhelming body of evidence that suggests we need to increase driving skills to have a safer transportation world.  The National Transportation Safety Board noted in a recent report that although “Speeding—exceeding a speed limit or driving too fast for conditions—is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States”, there is no national program to communicate the dangers of speeding like there is for other crash factors such as drinking and driving (NTSB SS1701).  Drivers need training to follow the basic speed law, which “requires drivers to operate at a speed that is reasonable and prudent, taking into account weather, road conditions, traffic, visibility, and other environmental conditions” (NTSB SS1701).  We can do a better job of educating and guiding the public on how to anticipate and take into account the dynamic conditions of the road, the most important being the presence of people.

A group ride in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico

A complimentary action we can take is encouraging citizens to engage in activities such as bicycling and walking.  Bicycling in particular is a kind of technology that deepens and enhances our engagement with our local communities and the greater world.  It is what Scott Slovic calls a “technology of contact”, one that enables us to “connect with the world and think more deeply about our relationship to the world” (p. 358 Literature).  I think in part cycling works so well to engage our senses because we are supplying our own biological energy.  Going so far on our own energy is one of the magical things about cycling, and makes it such a rewarding technology to use, not to mention, cycling is almost completely renewable.  Cycling reminds me of organic farming.  It allows biological energy to flow at a sustainable scale and it gives us exactly what we need to be well and productive.  It’s about quality more than quantity.  Cycling does justice to what it means to be human pursuing happiness.

In this age of technology, it is not a question of always abstaining, but a question of wise and respectful use.  It is a matter of education, public training, and living within our biological limits.  To me, this is a beautiful challenge, or what Rachel Carlson called “a shining opportunity”.  Carlson wrote: “Your generation must come to terms with the environment.  Your generation must face realities instead of taking refuge in ignorance and evasion of truth.  Yours is a grave and a sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity.  You go out into a world where mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery–not of nature, but of itself.  Therin lies our hope and our destiny.  ‘In today already walks tomorrow'”.

A Fall walk in the Manzano Mountains

Resources:

Wendell Berry wrote “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” in 1977 and still enacts his values on his small Kentucky farm

Scott Slovic’s Literature chapter appears in the “Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology

NTSB SS1701 is a landmark safety study.  Produced by the National Transportation Safety Board, the working title is “Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles

The Rachel Carlson quote is from her 1962 address to Scripps Institute.  She was influenced by Albert Schweitzer’s “reverence for life” philosophy.  The address is called “On Man and the Stream of Time and appears in the book”Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture

Grinduro 2018

This ride report by Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassador Kurt Sable

So what is Grinduro? A bike race? A century? Mountain bike? Gravel grinder? Road Bike? It is all of these things plus bacon and whiskey at the rest stops and Big Foot sightings along the way, and a load of fun on two wheels. Lots of focus on your ‘ride to party ratio’.

I just participated in one of the two Grinduros in the world in my rural hometown of Quincy, California on the last Saturday of September, (the other one is in Scotland in July). It was quite amusing to hear exclamations from other cyclists as horses and deer ran along the road while we were rolling out. Many of the 1,000 or so riders come from more populated areas and I felt proud that folks were amazed at the natural environs. Not to mention, I work as a hydrologist for the Plumas National Forest and we were riding in my “office” for most of the ride.

I wore my awesome CSP/Southwest Bike Initiative kit to represent during the event and got to chat with people while grinding up a 15-mile, 3,500 ft. climb at the start.

How could I chat? This is part of the brilliance of Grinduro. Like mountain bike enduros, only segments of the ride are timed; between timed sections I could just ride and take in the pure mountain air and views at whatever pace I wanted. In mountain bike enduros the timed segments are usually the downhills. What is unique about Grinduro is that the timed segments are incredibly varied: a 1.1-mile uphill gravel road climb, a 6-mile fast descent on a gravel and dirt road, a 6-mile rolling paved time trial, and, last but not least, a 3.5-mile single track decent. All of these timed segments are peppered along a 62-mile route of mixed surfaces (dirt trails, gravel roads, paved roads) with 7,700 of total climbing. The big climbs are on dirt and gravel and quite steep in places.

Instant and common topics of conversation include: What bike? Should you use a mountain bike, a road bike, or is this event a good excuse to get a new gravel bike? What tires? How much tire pressure? And after the ride, how much dirt is on and in one’s body, and how many flats did you get? And, did you get a flat during a timed section? We definitely could have used some rain before the event – there was a lot of loose dirt and dust.

There has been a ton of great media put out there about the event. These folks provide a flashy and witty take:

https://grinduro.com/

https://www.velonews.com/2018/09/gallery/up-next-grinduro_479403

Stepping back from Grinduro, I wanted to mention the role events like these have on small rural towns.

The event is organized by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS), a non-profit organization based in the Northern Sierra. They have been brilliant at partnering with the Forest Service, local counties, local schools, and the State Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Commission to authorize projects and get money to build and maintain sustainable trails. They are mostly a mountain bike group, but they embrace all trail users. They organize events, run trail shuttles, have a bike shop in another rural town, Downieville, CA, and organize many trail events that attract volunteers from the pool of local and out of town trail users.

They employee a trail crew, bike shop and other staff in our rural communities, and reportedly pay a good living wage.

https://sierratrails.org/

Quincy is primarily a timber town and still has an active lumber mill.  Like much of the rural west, the population has been declining and unemployment is relatively high. There are a lot of reasons for this, but since the trails and events have come to town, there has been increased activity in downtown. Newly opened businesses include a book store, an outdoor store/bike shop, a brewery, and a new café. You often see bikes on vehicles from out-of-town parked outside these businesses or in front of our awesome food co-op, Quincy Natural Foods.

The trails and biking are certainly providing a small but real boost to our local economy and it helps locals see another use of the surrounding forest that is not extractive.

I have seen local kids out riding on the trails starting to fall in love with biking and they want to be in Grinduro someday.

Some may say “be careful what you wish for” and that we will have an influx of wealthy folks driving up our real estate costs… but I say we are far from that for now. So come on up to Quincy and lets go for a ride, or be poised by your computer when the registration opens for Grinduro and come have some bacon during a very memorable fall ride in the Lost Sierra.

Team CSP-SBI kits available

Southwest Bike Initiative invites you to join our team of cycling ambassadors, Team CSP-SBI, on this bike to work month 2018!  Clothing is available through Wednesday May 22 on our online store.  Take a look and enjoy the ride!  Sizing chart is here: Sizing  And here is the direct link to the store:  https://custom.zootsports.com/CSP  Items ordered ship about end of June.  More information on Team CSP-SBI is below!

Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassadors, leading by doing

Team CSP-SBI creates a welcoming and truly inclusive cycling community.  We are open to everyone.  We bring people from all backgrounds, ages, genders, abilities, disciplines and interests together through cycling.  We celebrate cycling as a way of leading by doing.  Cycling is an action we can take that makes a positive difference in our lives and communities.  It is healthy, practical, affordable, sustainable, low impact, and worlds of fun. I hope you, your family and your friends will consider joining us in sharing the joy of cycling and spreading the word!

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More on Team CSP-SBI—

 

Southwest Bike Initiative (SBI), a sustainable transportation nonprofit in Albuquerque, NM, partners with Conservation Science Partners (CSP), an innovative conservation science nonprofit, to organize this global network of cyclists.  We use storytelling and social media such as Strava to share our cycling experiences and encourage others to discover more of the joys of cycling.  SBI provides educational tools and resources to help members build confidence and advocate for safer roads in our communities.  Most of all we take pleasure in cycling with friends! Team CSP-SBI grows the culture of cycling by expanding the community of practice.

Participation—

Your experience with Team CSP-SBI is what you make of it!  We have a dedicated race team in Albuquerque, NM but most of our members are non-competitive.  Cycling ambassadors can be on other clubs, too!  We strive to create unity through cycling and build a diverse network.  We participate in a wide range of cycling activities from daily commutes to community rides, events and competitions.  Our network increases learning and skill acquisition, and expands access to cycling by opening doors for people.  We help people get started and grow their cycling life.  Cycling is unlimited!

unnamed-285.jpgOur logo—

The American pronghorn is native to North America, and the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere.  Its top speed is about the same as that of a person on a road bike, around 55mph.  Pronghorn have a large heart, lungs and windpipe for sustained swift movement.  Pronghorn were more numerous than bison when the United States expanded West, with a population around 100 million.  Due to overhunting and habitat alterations such as fences, by the 1920’s there were only about 13,000 pronghorn left.  An ongoing conservation success story, their numbers are now approaching 1 million again.  They have large eyes, weigh 87 to 129 pounds, and walk just 30 minutes after birth.  Pronghorn are only found in North America, across the American West, in Baja and northern Mexico and in parts of the Great Plains.

About Team CSP-SBI technical cycling clothing—

Team CSP-SBI apparel are designed to optimize your cycling experience.  They are comfortable, stretchable, breathable, moisture wicking, they block sun and are soft and silky to the touch. The jerseys are a standard cycling jersey, with a full zip front for ease of wearing and for cooling down on hot days.  Three pockets in the back can carry food and anything else you want to bring on a ride.  The shorts have a pad to provide comfort and protection where the body rests on the bike seat.  The arm warmers and vest are great for cool morning starts, downhills, and protection in case of changes in weather.

Leadership–

Team CSP-SBI is led by Mark Aasmundstad, the founder and director of Southwest Bike Initiative.  Mark is a cycling instructor (LCI) with the League of American Bicyclists, and has trained as a commercial truck driver and geographer.  He’s focused on using planning, design and education for making transportation safer for everyone, growing sustainable communities and encouraging people to walk and bicycle more often.  Mark bicycles for every reason, and keeps discovering more reasons to ride.  We learn bicycling from others, and Team CSP-SBI is about building relationships and connecting people to opportunities to get into cycling and make it more rewarding.  Mark is an everyday cyclist, and a six-time State champion at the elite level, and a masters national hill climb champion.  When it comes to cycling he is a true amateur, one who participates for the love of it.

More about the kit—

Items ship in 4-6 weeks, so they arrive around the start of summertime!  Sizing chart is here: Squadra Size Chart. Sale of the kits cover the costs of production only. If you would like to contribute money to Southwest Bike Initiative to support our work, here’s the link:  DONATE
Donations are 100% tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!
#biketoworkday

Artful living in the East Mountains

This year I realized how much I rely on riding, for my socializing even.  Half the people I know are the people I wave at and say hi to on my bicycle.  I miss being out there.”  Brud Grossman, “The Art of Simplicity”, East Mountain Living magazine, Fall/Winter Edition 2017/2018

The mountain communities east of Albuquerque are beautiful for cycling.  The Fall/Winter Edition of East Mountain Living magazine has a nice story on resident Brud Grossman, who makes himself at home there pedaling his bicycle.  Brud is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and we always say hi to each other when we’re out cycling.  He took some time off the bike while recovering from injuries last year, but he’s back out cycling daily.  I just saw him last Saturday when we stopped and joined him for a  break on South 14.

Cycling the roads in the East Mountain communities is fun.  If there’s one thing better than experiencing places by cycling, it is sharing the pleasure with lovely people.  As we leaned on the guardrail alongside the road on South 14, we talked about the small backroads we’ve explored that lead to neighborhoods with unexpected charm, stunning vistas, enchanting swaths of forest.  Brud uses cycling as proof of life.  Every year he makes it a goal to cycle up the Sandia Crest to the top at over 10,000 feet above sea level.  It reminds me of the David Budbill quote from the Sun Magazine.  “What I’ve put in the place of religion is the way I live my life now.”  Cycling has become part of Brud’s identity.  He is also a woodcarver, but at some point years ago his cycling practice became his main thing.

I look up to Brud.  Here’s a man who is following his own heart, and living his dream.   Living is a language for him, and the joy that comes from living he shares kindly.  The pleasure expressed through simple acts of living is a thing of beauty, and inspiring.

If you see Brud cycling, take time to say hello.  He’s as much a part of the East Mountain landscape as all the natural features.  I always learn something.  He’s seen so much through his cycling, and his words are loaded with life.  Thank you Brud. Keep on pedaling!

Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.  –R.W. Emerson, “The American Scholar”

References:

View the magazine here:  https://www.eastmountaindirectory.com/LIVINGMAGAZINE/

Link to PDF of current issue:  https://indd.adobe.com/view/586fc0ac-3f67-4078-a478-5708f6ec0b7c

Related Facebook site:  https://www.facebook.com/EastMountainDirectory

Team CSP-SBI’s Tom Sisk receives science award

Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassador Tom Sisk was honored by the Defenders of Wildlife with a science award this Fall.  Tom joined a prestigious group including Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston from Yellowstone National Park, for making “lasting and extraordinary contributions to wildlife and habitat conservation.” Tom is a pioneer in ecology, environmental management, education, outreach and leadership training.  In his remarks from the award ceremony, Tom noted healthy ecosystems depend on all people having “opportunities to experience, learn about, and value nature.”

Dr. Tom Sisk, on left, receiving the Spirit of Defenders Science Award, from the Defenders of Wildlife

One of the highlights of my year was experiencing the great outdoors with Tom and more Team CSP-SBI ambassadors at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic this past May.  Cycling connects us with wild places and the spirit of life within ourselves. Cycling gives us opportunity to get oriented, and gain first-hand knowledge of the places where we ride.  We learn about them in detail through our senses, while connecting with the communities that conserve them.  Riding a bike with teammates and thousands of friendly people in a place as grand as the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado was incredibly energizing.  Cycling’s light footprint and positive health impact makes it a great match for safeguarding lands and habitat.  Plus sharing a bicycle ride is a great way to bring communities together and forge memories that bond people of all ages and backgrounds for a lifetime.  Cycling opens the way for community engagement, action-oriented learning, and thriving communities.  So fun!  Congratulations to Dr. Tom Sisk for the Spirit of Defenders Science Award, and wishing him lots more productive work and cycling.

Tom Sisk cycling at the Iron Horse with Wendy Palen, May 2017.  The bike heritage in Durango is special.

References / Credits:
Award photo and opening quote from the Defenders of Wildlife Blog

You can learn more on Dr. Sisk’s work at:
Landscape Conservation Initiaitive where he is director
Conservation Science Partners where is a founding board member

Learn more about Team CSP-SBI at the Iron Horse on SBI’s Blog

Everybody up! Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 2017

The community here gets behind any cycling event 100%. –Howard Grotts, 2017 IHBC King of the Mountain

Cycling up Coal Bank pass, the sound of water flowing in the high mountain streams along the road, I felt completely in the moment.  The road was open solely for the Iron Horse participants.  I concentrated on my breathing and my mind was quiet.  As I rode the bike I was aware of my surroundings.  Wet evergreen needles glistening in alpine sun.  The endless white of the San Juan mountains touching the blue sky.  With every breath I inhaled the fragrance of sweet forest.   Rivulets of water streamed down the stone-faced mountainsides, reminding me of the soothing ambiance of the Florida River rolling over the polished rocks by the cabin where we had slept.  It was a seamless experience.  The rhythm of heart and legs pumping.  Breathing deeply in the silence.  Here I am.  This is the reason we cycle.  To dream big and immerse ourselves in the cycling experience, becoming a part of something greater and timeless.

Finishing second. Thanks Mai @ http://sansai.photoshelter.com for the amazing photos in this blog entry (all but the Molas pass photo)

I enjoyed the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic more than ever this year.  There are a number of events over the weekend inlcuding kids races, mountain biking, a cruiser parade, BMX, and more.  I focused on Saturday’s road race from Durango to Silverton.  It’s an incredible course traveling up the Animas River Valley and over two high mountain passes before making a fast, sweeping descent into Silverton.  It’s one of the most beautiful courses in the country.

The community not only gets behind the events, they actually get in the events!  There are thousands of riders cycling from Durango to Silverton.  You can race or ride at your own pace.  Either way, everyone challenges themselves and shares the cycling experience.  The citizens cheering along the course are equally extraordinary, and it takes so many volunteers and staff to make the events happen.  No matter if you are riding, racing, cheering, working, or waiting for your family member to finish in Silverton, all participants infuse the festivities with special value.  And the event promoters are careful to make the community integral in every aspect of the weekend’s adventures.

Mai was waiting in Silverton and that was extra uplifting

My race went off at 7:30am Saturday.  The field was stacked with impressive talent.  My basic plan was to ride with the main pack for the first 20 or so flat miles through the river valley, and wait for when the climbing began in earnest to spend my energy.  But I saw Sepp Kuss, a professioal cyclist from Durango, was there, as well as Howard Grotts, a superb climber.  My teammate Drew saw them as well and advised me that if I could get in a break early and save some legs for the climbs, that it wouldn’t be a bad strategy.  As the race rolled out of town, I found myself moving up in the pack.  And then I saw an opening at the front and just kept going.  I was riding solo off the front.

Drew in Silverton. A teammate in the race, especially one as great as Drew, is a huge help & morale boost

I rested my forearms on the tops of my bars and time trialed to the base of the first climb.  On Coal Bank Pass the race official’s vehicle pulled up next to me and told me I had a six mintue gap.  It was beautiful riding higher and higher into the mountains but it was getting more difficult and I knew they would be charging hard across that gap.  I told myself that if I make over Coal Bank Pass still solo that I had a chance to hang on for the win.  I did go over Coal Bank solo and started the Molas Pass alone as well, but when I glanced across the valley I saw the orange kit of the Rally Cycling rider Sepp Kuss about a minute behind.  I was suprised how quickly he caught me and how effortlessly he spooled by, like climbing on air.  I kept my own pace and started looking over my shoulder, but didn’t see anyone else.  I crested Molas Pass ok, stayed safe on the descent, and pedalled hard up through the tunnel of cheering fans.  You can’t help but get shivers, and feel so happy to have made it, knowing you did your best effort on the ride.  It was awesome.  The first person I saw was Matt Caruso of Caruso Cycleworks, my mechanic, and then I found Mai.  It was a fun celebration.  As the racers came in we all congratulated one another, happy for each other and the challenge, laughing as we recapped our experiences.  The spirit of cycling in Durango is positive, energitic, rewarding, super fun.

 

Wendy Palen from Team CSP-SBI finished strong with teammate Tom Sisk

 

Tom Sisk, the leader of the Landscape Conservation Initiative, put in a great ride

The celebration continued for hours as riders rolled across the finish line.  One of the best parts of the weekend was the arrival of my teammates in Silverton.  Team CSP-SBI had three riders in the citizens ride.  Wonderful how cycling brings us all together.  Shared joy filled the atmosphere.  The grace and beauty of all the people on bikes in epic landscapes.

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic reunites us with old friends and family and helps us make new ones.  It is such a family friendly event.  So many interesting people, it just absolutely flattens all boundaries to coming together as one community.  The whole world seems bicycle-oriented, and the incredible mountains, snow, and sky make the setting especially delightful.

I don’t know these people, but they look like they are having a good time

 

Mindy Caruso from Albuquerque won the Womens Pro race with a stupendous ride. Way to go!

It is inspiring.  I think the most incredible thing is experiencing the joy of others, and seeing their accomplishments.  Mindy Caruso from Albuquerque won the womens race in remarkable fashion.  I was so happy for Sepp Kuss, winning his hometown-race.  Howard Grotts, another hometown hero, would win the mountain bike race the next day and win the inaugural King of the Mountain competition.  Ned Overend was there representing the best in the cycling tradition.  At 61, his experience and strength is awesome.  Iron Horse turned me on to so many inspirational stories.  You learn more about the triumph of the human spirit.  On our podium Sepp called out “everybody up” for us to gather around him.  He wanted us all on the top step with him.  I feel lucky to be a part.

Sepp is a generous champion

 

the womens podium, go Mindy from Albuquerque!

 

the mens

 

Teammates celebrating together in Silverton

 

Team CSP-SBI on Molas pass showing the spirit of the Iron Horse

The story of the mens and womens pro races, w/ video, in the Durango Herald:
https://durangoherald.com/articles/161665
The kids race attracted over three hundred youth!
https://durangoherald.com/articles/161825-iron-horse-kids-race-participation-x2018-sky-rocketing-x2019
The BMX event was an exhilirating success:
https://durangoherald.com/articles/161850-bmx-proves-it-belongs-at-iron-horse-bicycle-classic
There are more stories at the Durango Herald, and also other media such as Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/IHBCDurango/

Thank you to my teammates, friends and family, Southwest Bike Initiative’s fiscal sponsor SINC, and our team sponsors.

Cycling from Home

For the Lakota, mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, valleys, and woods were all finished beauty.  –Luther Standing Bear, “Land of the Spotted Eagle”

I’m amazed at the beautiful places I can reach cycling from home.  Albuquerque is big enough that it has everything we need, but it is compact enough that you can stretch your legs and reach open space.  From almost any place in the city you can see the mountains, mesas, forests, fields and wetlands that surround us.  We are enveloped in beauty.  All underneath an oceanic sky.  When I hop onto my bicycle I can pedal to everywhere I can see and many hidden places too.  Cycling lends itself to seeking a harmony with landscapes.  Cycling can make you feel like the wind itself.  Your breath and blood and legs flowing round, propelling you forward in a gliding motion.  This blog post includes photos from bicycling journeys I’ve started and ended from our home in Albuquerque.

bending-road-air-suspended-needles

following-where-the-road-leads

Cyclists seek out roads and trails that are not too much of an imposition on the places we travel.  Roads that fit into nature and are a way into the great mystery, where we receive a softening influence.  I like cycling up roads that climb.  It slows my speed down and my perceptions open to the world around me.  I see birds soaring, leaves drifting down, sunlight splashing through the trees’ bare branches making crosshatched shadows on the ground.  With my mind open and the air quiet and still, life reverberates unbounded.  The particulars of the day come forward and kindle a sense of mystery and contemplation of the great whole.

la-luz-today

landscape-1

Ecologists, biologists and others predict the effect of our actions on the living world, including ourselves.  Cycling for me provides a poetry of motion and personal experience that compliments rational understanding.  Cycling outside deepens the connections I feel for the natural world.  I sally forth with humility, and finding affinity, I recover more of myself.  There is no way I can dominate the landscape, but I can flow with it and feel its hospitality.  Fear and uneasiness falls away.  We are nature’s head and heart combined.

standing-beauty

high

Cycling has worked well for me as a way to accommodate myself to the environment, and integrate information into my consciousness with direct experience.  It is one thing to read the weather forecast, and completely another to feel it on your skin.  One thing to read a description of a mountain range, or even look at it on Google Earth or a map, and all together different to explore the mountain and discover what’s there for yourself.  It’s never too late to start cycling from home and experiencing the living library surrounding us, the human community and natural landscapes intertwined in a beautiful dance, discovering childlike wonder again, sensing joy anew.  If we listen to our curiosity and courage bubbling up like laughter, we can experience synchronicity in discovery.  When I return home I find myself appreciating things more.  There is a beauty we can feel and be a part of.

two-track

crest-curve

curving-trees

Cycling is not the only way to open our perceptions and be in touch with the greater world, but it is one path.  In this era of transitioning to a more sustainable society, it’s challenging to participate in mainstream activities and not be contributing to the problems of our times.  We fly to conferences and meetings, and even my cycling requires car driving from time to time to go to events and races.  My philosophy is to make it worthwhile and be aware of what I’m doing, while trying to pay attention to the little things we can do to make a difference.  Cycling from home makes me feel a wonderful congruity with the world.  I go with a beginner’s mind out into the unknown, which brings me closer, one step closer, to being happy living right here at home.

riding-dirt-roads