The world goes to s%$#. At least it feels that way. What to do? Vent on Twitter for days, hours, weeks or months at a time? Nah. Nobody cares. Repubs trade our democracy for short term financial gain. Write my senator? Nah. Donny Dipshit stokes the fires of violence and hatred. Express my outrage on Facebook? Nah. I still feel regardless of how bad things seem one of the best ways to get a point across is humor. Anger doesn’t work. Finger-pointing doesn’t’ work. Humiliation doesn’t work. We should know this by now.
I choose to ride. Now, you might be thinking “Hey Milnor, that’s a cop-out.” I don’t see it that way. Because when I ride…I think. And I mean I REALLY think. I might be on a bike. I might be pedaling. I might be suffering. But I’m also deep in thought about all things world, all things reality, all things change. I use my gravel time for strategy. Whatever it is you do, do it to the absolute best of your ability. That’s how you get involved because everything is connected.
This morning I spent two hours on the phone helping organizations find ways to engage with Blurb. I do that well. At least I think so. I’ve been doing it for ten years straight. This is productive. This helps the bookmaking world. It’s not about me, it’s about them, and if I can connect a few dots then I’ve accomplished my goal. The world is a better, smarter, more efficient bookmaking place.
There is a huge difference between gravel and mud. Groomed gravel. Grooved gravel. Large chip, small chip, razor-sharp chip, gumbo, sauce, slickness or goo. On a good ride, you might see all of these flavors. Today’s ride sure saw a few.
I had a wing woman on today’s ride. Enthusiastic, dramatic and emotional would be how I would describe her riding style. A slight slip of the rear tire becomes a near “wipe-out” complete with a full recap of the details and how she saved it. Gasping at hilltops proclaiming how awesome everything is. Sucking down water like a champ and losing her mind over a field of wildflowers. There is a lot to learn here. I use her to unravel the depths of my concentration. She brings me back to normalcy. She brings me back to joy. She makes me laugh at the entire idea of serious cycling.
Bikes in the truck. Southeast for exactly fifteen miles. Park, unload, saddle up and hit an immediate granny gear climb that spikes the heart rate to maximum levels. We pass the odd beater Subaru covered in mud, driven by those who want no part of the city but do need their ice cream. Ranch trucks pulling livestock trailers. The rancher wave. A hand flicks a few fingers but never leaves the wheel.
“It’s a small world.” An expression I’ve never liked, and when I hear it I always add “Unless you are on foot.” Now I would include “Unless you are on a bike.” These rural spaces remind us of what we have. Fences, ownership, private property and restrictions. But these places also remind us of what we don’t have. We don’t have much time to stop the freefall. We don’t have much time to relearn right and wrong. We don’t have much time to understand we get no do-over. And we don’t have much rural as the vast majority of us have become city dwellers. Our kids shrink from these landscapes due to the lack of signal. And perhaps that is the moral of this little story. Lack of signal. Us. We. What we have become.
Our signals are surely crossed. We’ve stopped talking to each other and have begun talking to the ether of the online world, a world we know now with certainty is rigged to turn us against one another. We turn to mortal enemies as the powers that be turn a profit.
This rural world feels powerful to me. Carefree even. Like it knows something we don’t. The birdsong will outlive us all. And that’s probably a good thing.