Royal 162

Royal 162
photo by Craig Linder

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rider on the storm: Rapture anxiety and redemption

"Fear not the movement of the heavens above or the earth below, for change is what we are, my child. Righteous are those who look up and sway with the wind, who look down and dance with the shifting soil, who swim with the movement of the tides, who seek the truth around them and discover that we are and have always been in paradise. The reflections of heaven on earth. Amen!"  Reverend Maynard James Keenan-Sour Grapes

This past weekend was a big deal. My oldest son had his seventh birthday, I finally recovered from my efforts at the Royal 162 and the ensuing head cold to get out and do some riding and supposedly, the righteous were to ascend to heaven leaving the rest of us sinners to toil on earth. Here is my recap-

First, I want to say that I love my two sons more than anything. I would endure great pain and suffering to assure their well being. On Saturday, that pain and suffering manifested itself as spending a good part of the day at the Mall of America. I don't like malls period. Much less the grand daddy of all malls, however it was Jackson's wish to visit Legoland and fine dine at the Rainforest Cafe to mark his glorious seven years on this planet. I happily obliged. While there, I began to wonder, is this it? The Rapture? Is this what purgatory is for Brian Hall? Seeing the joy in my kids eyes as they swam through Lego nirvana snapped me back to reality. Still no Rapture.

After kicking it at the mall, I needed to get outside. It had been storming on and off all day, but when I got home the sun was shining with some threatening looking clouds off in the distance. My trusty gravel bike is out of commission for the time being. It gave its all last Saturday in the rain and mud and is now in the stand getting a well deserved overhaul.
Ol' girl cleans up well but still in need of new cables/housings, grease and adjustments

I made some upgrades to my road bike this spring and got it good and light. The thing feels like a rocket and is really fun to ride. I got out for a little over an hour. The rolling thunderheads were fantastic and as the sun got lower in the sky it pierced through breaks in the clouds with beautiful colors. It was an amazing night and as I headed for home, I found myself out of the saddle on a steep climb. For a moment, just a moment, I couldn't tell if my newly built carbon bike was so light that I was floating up the grade or if I was in fact feeling the "lift" towards the heavens. As I crested the hill it became apparent that the sensation was merely gram reduction at play, not the Rapture that so many billboards had promised. Undeterred, I found my way home and enjoyed an incredible sunset over the St Croix river from my front porch with one of Belgium's finest monk produced beverages in hand.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and warm despite forecast for storms all day. My plan was to join the local group ride at the LBS down the street if it wasn't outright pouring. I rolled up at 8:02 and no one was there. Must have just missed them. I was loaded for 4-5 hours on the bike, so I set out on my own despite the dark clouds to the west. I worked my way down the St. Croix river valley until it spills into the mighty Mississip, then continued south along the river and it's dramatic bluffs. There were little bouts of rain, then the sun would break through, plus it was 70F, so it felt luxurious. I would have given just about anything to have had that sun pop out during Royal like it did this day.

Long hours on the bike alone tend to lead toward reflection. With all of the Rapture chatter, I thought of the quote above from one of my favorite artist. I don't believe in heaven or hell, but heaven on earth sums up nicely my little world. I live in my tiny Victorian man-castle with my two beloved sons, have a hot girlfriend, great friends, loving parents and a friendly ex-wife; I'm fit, healthy and pursue that which interests me. As I rode on, the storm raged, and I felt light and exhilarated. The storm tapered off and I glided across a section of brand new, smooth asphalt tucked under a canopy of trees bursting with new green leaves. Looking straight down on the wet road was like looking into a mirror, reflecting everything above, my own little reflection of heaven on earth.

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