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Archive for March, 2013

“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.”
Heinz Stucke, on the road touring since 1962

When I read this quote by the most amazing cycle-traveller in the world, I was immediately transported back to 1965, when, lying in my bed at night I would listen to the radio til I fell asleep. Petula Clark’s Round Every Corner infused me with a sense of adventure, restlessness, and hope. Being only 14 however, I could not figure out just what to do with that inspiration.

These many years later I realize that I have actually lived much of my life inspired by the desire to see what’s around those corners. I interrupted college  to fly off to Lake Tahoe with a highschool friend; I’d never been more than 150 miles from my hometown before then. I bought my first car and drove across the U.S.–twice! I moved to Alaska–my god, ALASKA!–which my parents are still trying to fathom.

My husband didn’t have to try very hard to get me to subscribe to his philosophy of “Let’s Leave Tonight”, a wholehearted embracing of the spontaneous. We’ve never been big into planning, which has its own pitfalls. But we’ve managed to have some mighty good times  by doing the unexpected, the unplanned. Our favorite Mexican vacation is to fly into our destination without a hotel reservation, then explore the Zona Touristico for a little family owned, Spanish-only posada to settle into. Our best road trips, by bike or car, involve the unexpected connections we’ve made by exploring around those corners, being open to the cosmic Possible.

Heinz and Petula have it dead right. “What’s the use in cryin? Happiness is lyin’ ’round every corner!” Let’s leave tonight.

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!

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Carol, who called me Saturday from the local bike shop, Backcountry Bike  and Ski did so to ask me my considered opinion about mountain bikes. Her grandson was in the market for a new bike.  Backcountry was having a 20% off sale on last year’s models and Carol inquired about what I would recommend.

Now, I am not the one to ask, and I told her so. “I trust the staff there at the shop completely” I told her. “Follow their advice. If they don’t have what he needs, they’ll tell him so.” As soon as I hung up, I uncovered the super-secret cash stash I had squirreled away and hot-footed it down to the  shop.

Last summer I had participated in the first women’s mountain biking clinic offered by Erin, the shop’s only female employee. Even though I had injured myself the first time out, the fire was lit, and I yearned for my very own bike that fit only me. I’d been using Tom’s second bike, and while it had been fine for gravel roads, it proved to be too unwieldy for me on steep uphills and single-track.

Sharry's pal, Pali

Sharry’s pal, Pali

Last fall, after my knee healed for the most part, I’d ridden the Jim Creek trail with Sharry and her new bike, Pali. That muddy ATV track proved to me that I needed more instruction, and a steed that was proportioned for someone only 5’1″. I’d been mulling and mumbling and gnawing on the subject for months. Carol’s call was the catalyst I needed to finally take action.

And voila! With Erin’s invaluable help and Tom’s complete support (“It’s your money–spend whatever you need to feel comfortable!”) I am now paired with something that fits like it was made for me. Now, if the snow would only melt faster…

MY new pal!

MY new pal!

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“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

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Robert Frost was one of my favorite poets in high school, which is about the only time I’ve read much poetry. I know–he’s a bit sentimental, a little old-fashioned, very mainstream and structured. Still, I loved him when I was 16 because I was those things myself; though I certainly saw myself, then, as more the “road less traveled” type.

The only other poetry I have read recently has been those things posted by my friend and writer extraordinaire Colleen Friesen. She clearly reads a lot, and reads poetry, among many other types of writing. (I won’t say “literature”, because her tastes seem  more eclectic than what commonly falls into that rather narrow category.)

I’ve resolved to do a bit more writing myself, but find myself a little less than disciplined. I am a mentally avid cyclist who finds herself marooned for six months in the land of ice and snow. Every two weeks Bike Bits, the online newsletter of the Adventure Cycling Association, arrives in my mailbox and taunts me with tales of round-the-world travelers, fund-raising rides, interesting artwork composed of bike parts–you get the picture. Prefacing each issue is a quote, usually bike- or travel-related, that kind of sets the tone for the issue. I’ve determined to take that as my structure, my inspiration, my timetable. Every two weeks at a minimum I will try to post to this blog.

So, I limbered up the old Google and read the poem entirely through, for the first time in way too many years. Frost’s point, so poignant, about wanting to travel both roads through the yellow wood, brought to mind all those choices I’ve made that have closed off other paths. Though I am content, for the most part, with the roads I’ve taken, still there is that sigh of wistfulness for avenues that might have been. And many times I have said to myself “I can come back to that–I’ll do that another day”, but opportunity doesn’t arise anew, I never quite come upon that not-chosen path again. “…way leads on to way…”, and I’m left with memories of the long and satisfying journey, blemished only by a hazy yearning for more.

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