Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Cyclist for Life

It starts with a bike like this. Usually discovered by the child under the Christmas tree or as a birthday present. However the child gets the bike, it's a gift that can last a life time. Robert Marchand, a 100 year old Frenchman chose to celebrate his birthday by riding 100 Kilometers. Now that's something I'd like to achieve.

Some cyclist grow up to achieve greatness in races such as the Three Week long Tour De France, which consists of 28 separate races, up mountains, time trials team time trials and very long races of over 150 miles. The race travels mostly all over France with occasional stages in Switzerland and Belgium. The 2013 Tour De France begins on June 29, 2013. Watch the race on NBC or Universal Sports. I guarantee you'll be enthralled and you might even learn some French! 

Not everyone wants to race their bikes. Some People use their imagination. From ultra modern bikes, designed to break the speed records to a father building a bike to ferry his kids around, people for decades have designed their bikes to suit their dreams. 

Will this be the first bike pedaled to 100 miles per hour?

 Father and Son in Thailand, out for a spin.

I couldn't go on about bikes without showing my own. It's a Specialized Allez Comp with a made in Italy Columbus aluminum frame, carbon fiber forks and seat post and Shimano components. It rides like a dream!! BELLO!!!



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Literary Inspirations

I was born with happy feet. According to my parents, I started running immediately after learning to stand on my own two feet.  When I was two, I either fell or jumped from the balcony of their apartment, depending on who you ask. Everybody agrees that my baby sitter from Czechoslovakia caught me and that when she did, I was laughing with joy.

My first literary inspiration was Dougal Haston, the renowned Scottish climber who wrote numerous odes to "RISK" and living a live that embraced real challenges.  I believe that most people avoid risk and with good reason, wanting to live a long life. But for the rest of us, we seek out risk or perhaps "adventure" for our entire lives. In his movie about racing called LeMans, Steve McQueen stated that the the time between races was "just waiting." Adventure seekers knew exactly what he meant.

Douglas Haston was my first real hero that wasn't a relative. My father and my Uncle Jack were my first heroes.  How un-American of me! My hero should have been Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. But, they weren't. I discovered his autobiography "In High Places" on a rainy day in my local library.  When my mother told me her family (Grand Parents) immigrated From Glasgow Scotland, I was an instant Scot!  Reading Haston's books led me to read about Don Whillans, Joe Brown and the other great climbers from the UK in the 1950's and 1960's.  "Climbing" San Bruno mountain, wandering around the Marin Headlands were how I satisfied my cravings.  What sealed the deal was going to Yosemite for a week in 1972, my Junior year of High School.

Which then leads us to Hemingway.  My first encounter with Ernie was reading in high school, the great story called The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.  I took from my first reading of this story, courage, what it means to have it, what it means to lose it and what it means to regain it. My second reading of the story led me to consider shrews and cuckolded men and convinced me I would never find myself under that kind of imprisonment.  I followed this with The Big Two Hearted River, The Boxer and the Killers.  Every high school boy should read these stories, preferably while on a camping trip.

Much later in life, after becoming a father and doing some more worldly traveling, I came across In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. A more erudite and creative travel writer I have never met. He of course would cringe if someone called him a "Travel Writer" That said, he was an inspiration for millions of people to travel to Africa, Asia and of course Patagonia. One of the first famous casualties to AIDS, Chatwin remains on the best seller list for travel books to this day and deservedly so.

There are other books that influenced me which I haven't discussed here. These would include The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, Solo Faces by James Salter and pretty much anything by Thomas McGuane and Jim Harrison. So, when I'm not wearing these............................................

............I pick up a book and do some armchair traveling. You should too.

Tennyson-"To strive, to seek and not to yield."


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Not sold at IKEA

Wandering around San Francisco.  I took the train to the 16th street station, dodged the panhandlers and drug addicts and strolled down Mission Street. Hung a right on 18th street, walked through Dolores Park-filled with students from Mission High hanging out, more bums sleeping it off and couples sitting on the grass enjoying each others company. Up and over the hill to 19th street and I came across this house.
This house wasn't made in a factory, it was made by a group of skilled people commonly referred to as "labor" by ignorant MBA types.  So, when you're out on a stroll, keep your head up and your eyes open and you might see some living art such as this house. 

Calaveras Big Trees Car Camping

She's stronger than she looks
How many people who backpack and do day hikes started their outdoor life going on car camping trips with the family?  Most of us would be my guess.  Oh yes, it's easy nowadays to look down from our Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet noses at those people in their RV's and motorhomes who move their homes, kitchen sink and all to the State and National Parks, polluting the air and clogging the roads.  Still-there is something to be said for bringing in the Coleman Stove, the ice chest and a couple of folding chairs and setting up a base camp for a day hikes. With that in mind, last summer, the lovely one and I did just that.
Just Chillin

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Starting Line

Sudden changes can be a cause for reflection. While one is dusting oneself after being knocked down by life, new thoughts float through the head.  The "knocking down" so to speak was a problem at my job. A job that I thought was pretty safe. Then I learned what most Buddhists figure out early on, that nothing is permanent. I could have been afraid of the future. But, instead, it freed me to reflect on how I was living life and to study how I've lived it so far, including what I was doing that led to where I am now.

Behind me is the Grim Reaper who I met at an Oakland Raiders Game.  The Reaper is behind us all, sometimes seen, most times kept out of sight of our consciousness for as long as possible. If the Reaper represents the end, then, the starting line represents the beginning. As a long time runner, I am on good terms with starting lines. A starting line represents a new race. Another chance for victory or even better, to discover one's limits of potential. 

So where that leads for me is the start of my journey of self exploration while exploring the outdoors. If nobody but me reads these lines, then so be it. But, if others read this, I hope you find some amusement as well as some insight along the way. Please make any contribution you like, whether you want to write, post a photo or a video.  Let's get moving!