Breath-taking vistas and Brute-force climbs

In Onward on August 25, 2008 at 6:50 am

I spent an unusual amount of time reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters this weekend.  The plot has really picked up.  L’Engle left several characters and interactions mysterious at earlier points in the book.  As some of those mysteries begin to unfold, I find myself more drawn into the plot.  That feature about great literature struck me this weekend.  Stories that require some degree of perseverence on my part (as the reader) are usually more rewarding and memorable.  Should I be surprised?  No wonder I struggled through the first 50 pages of Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury; a book I am determined I must read.

In most great stories there are dry spells, disorienting observations on the part of the narrator and overly-elaborate imagery.  These attributes are more like colors on a palette, rather than bricks of a wall.  They are not necessary for the foundation of a work, but they can illuminate the reader.  I suppose this attention to nuance is what makes the masters.

Once again, I was drawn into the nuance of the road bike this weekend.  I took my second trip with Ray’s group of riders.  Actually, these guys have been riding together on Saturday mornings for over 20 years!  They are a great group based in Irvine/Turtle Rock area.  The guys consist of a marketing director, software consultant, insurance agent and a real estate lawyer to name a few.  Despite their vocational differences, they are united each week by their love of riding.  Two of them have worn ‘double century’ jerseys, which suggest that they have competed in races that are over 200 miles long!  Before, I only saw space aliens in funny jerseys.  Now, I am noticing great athletic accomplishments and seasoned veterans.

We rode over fifty miles on Saturday morning, exchanging the normal route for an extended version.  We swung round to Santiago Canyon for an absolutely astonishing view of the mountains.  They rose into mist.  I could not see the tops.  It did not matter; they were impressive.  These were the same mountains Dugard looked up at from his corporate-marketing position.  He too marveled at the rugged, natural beauty that towers so close to the frantic urgency of our lives in the city.

We pedaled past Cook’s Corner, the ‘other biker’ hang out.  I decided to be clever and weave in and out of the orange pylon cones on the street outside.  My pedal-mounted shoe knocked one of them over.  I visualized three angry bikers peeling out of the parking lot to chase me down and beat me up.  They did not come.  I took the lead through the next few canyon passes.  My legs pushed and pushed; relentlessly up the hills.  I was picturing Lance in the mountain stages at the Tour de France.  My legs could not stop.  One of my teammates kept pace, encouraging me for my strength.  I could have kept going.

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