Porn (not his real name), an eminent doctor of veterinary medicine (and a pretty good rugby winger), once said, “Animals do it and don’t think it wrong.”
When sleep escapes me in the night and fretting takes its place, I think about Porn’s words and wonder why every human activity holds the potential for thinking it was wrong, it wasn’t good enough — and finds a way to twist itself into feelings of guilt.
We all set ourselves up for guilt by setting standards. Some of them get codified: the Ten Commandments. Never tell a lie (not much leadership from the top on that one lately). Drive the speed limit and pay the tolls in Illinois (or they fine you $80). Do unto others . . .
We keep to ourselves other rules to live by, but they remain standards and expectations we think we should live up to as well as by. Write a blog post every day (not much leadership here on that one lately). Never a lender or a borrower be. Ride the Chilly Hilly.
There it is. The truth will out. All these words to admit I said I would ride the Chilly Hilly and got up this morning to a sky full of rain and snow and fell back into bed.
All day I have fretted over how I would live with this, how admit that I had not the mettle to pedal 33 miles through cold, wet air or brave the chili at the end of the ride.
Exercise is a wonderful thing. If you do it. Not so good if you said you would and then you don’t. That’s a perfect setup for guilt.
In the guilt department, you’d be better off being that 400-pound hacker who never had a notion to set himself in motion.
I applaud those who ventured out for the ride around Bainbridge Island today. And I promise to be faithful to all the other things I said I would do this year (STP, RAGBRAI, OATBRAN, cut back on carbs, RESIST and many other Madcap Schemes).
And I promise to perform penance suggested by a Catholic friend: A polar plunge next year on the day of the Chilly Hilly (all faiths welcome).
And now, before I get back to fretting over the really, really rotten things I have done and should be worried about, I come before you to confess – in words I never thought I would say:
So you walked into the party wearing your photographer vest and cargo pants because one can never have enough big pockets for phone, notebooks, pencils, pens, bandana, keys, wallet, coins, utility knife, nail clippers and — what’s this? — a camera. It’s practical. It’s comfortable. Lots of people dress like that in the Pacific Northwest even before Maria Semple wrote “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” (Why no question mark in the title?)
It’s gotten so it seems normal to some of us until we walk into the party and someone asks, “Did you just come off a safari?”
Well, no, but . . . you look around and see that not everyone dresses like Jungle Jim. He would be the lead character in films on the 5 o’clock movie that gave you reason to go back outside and try keeping the Hula Hoop going for 100 loops. The only thing worse would be a rerun of Peter Lorre in another Mr. Moto movie. Jungle Jim movies were a waste of film and Johnny Weissmuller, who happily showed up more often at 5 swinging from grape vines and calling wild animals to his aid.
Jungle Jim wear is a lot more practical though than Tarzan’s loin cloth. But if you aren’t in the jungle or on safari and you dress like it, are you exhibiting nerd behavior?
These are questions that give us a break from should our president wear a pants suit and delete emails or wear a red tie and force his way into women’s pants suits.
So let’s say you paddle down a river and you are dressed like Jungle Jim floating the Limpopo — life jacket, quick-dry shirt and pants (with BIG pockets and lots of them), neoprene booties and river sandals. Tent, freeze-dried food, sleeping bag, water bladders all secured behind your seat. Suddenly you are in the middle of floaters hardly dressed at all — bikini-clad women, men in bathing suits, all stretched across inner tubes, toting radios and towing floating coolers. The party seems to go on forever and you, Mr. Moto Nerd, are way overdressed.
Kinda like bike riding. Most American bicyclists dress the same whether they are riding 100 miles or going down the street to the post office. They show up in all kinds of places — the post office for instance — looking like they’re stopping by for a drug test or blood transfusion before the next leg of the tour. And, Mr. Skinny Pants Moto, you’ve got B.O.
Of course there are times when unusual dress is appropriate. The croquet court would be one where one should never neglect wearing whites (Captain of the Yacht, you are welcome here!).
Time behind the barbecue? A ridiculous apron is a must.
But these are special occasions where we all agree to be a little weird. If we all dress the same, then we can’t be nerds, right? Not necessarily, as Amazon workers prove daily in the streets of Seattle.
So perhaps this is a question that should be left for quieter times so that we can rejoin the ranks of fellow citizens either packing their bags for their trip to Canada Nov. 9 or stirring up a pot of tar and feathers for dressing up the losers.
It’s been a great year, with lots of fun activities with good friends, and I’ve enjoyed bringing you this silly review of those activities. America seems pretty great to me, and I know I am fortunate to be in a position where I can say that. Whatever we do on Nov. 8, I’m hoping it’s for the best for all of us, no matter how we are dressed, how we look, vote or pray. I also hope it is good for Earth, this place we call home and yet don’t pick up after ourselves. We need to do better.
Til then, anyone know where I can get a hat like Jungle Jim’s — with a big pocket in the back?
The owner-operator of the STP and Beyond bike ride announced today that the famous Seattle to Portland ride was now a subsidiary of the longer ride.
“We are happy to incorporate the STP in our longer, more textured ride,” the announcement from the STP and Beyond organization said.
It went on to give a detailed review of this year’s ride, noting that with the smaller number of riders, individual attention can be paid to each participant.
“You can get lost in the 10,000 riders in the STP,” the announcement said. “Not so in the STP and Beyond.”
Fact checkers, despite overwork from the GOP convention, were quick to pounce on that statement, noting that riders on the first day of the ride became lost and had to carry their bikes across railroad tracks.
“Typical media, ignoring all the good things that happened and concentrating on a minor incident,” said one unidentified ride official. “If we had not sought out the Interurban Trail — not used on the STP — you would have accused us of plagiarizing the STP route. So screw you, media, we’ll say whatever serves our purpose. That seems to work for others.”
Despite getting lost in the Renton area, riders did make it to Emerald Downs in time for the first race, dinner with other participants and a night at an Auburn motel.
Day Two featured a 117-mile ride to Castle Rock in cooperation with the STP subsidiary organization. Accommodations at the fabulous 7 West Motel and dinner and breakfast at Peper’s 49er Restaurant. Who could ask for anything more?
On Day Three, riders finished the STP portion of the ride and were joined by an experienced SAG team (thank you, Wendy, Nancy and Kathy). At dinner that night at Nostrana, riders were regaled by Will, telling tales of downsizing, home sales and “positional reciprocating carnality,” an interesting concept that took little explanation.
Day Four saw more riders joining the group as it left Portland and headed up the road to Mount Hood. The first three days covered 231 miles and this was a shorter ride at 53. It took the riders to the Resort at the Mountain in Welches, OR.
The STP and Beyond, of course, is known for more than bike riding. Riders are expected to engage in other activities as well. Fancy meals and drink, get-acquainted hot tub sessions and ruthless croquet games.
The men folk this year had their sore butts handed to them by the croquet team of Nancy and Kathy, who used teamwork and stra-tee-ger-ree to win every game.
Media reports have pointed out what they choose to call another snafu on the bigger ride — something that never would have happened if riders had just stuck to the STP. Riders were promised cobbler as their dessert after dinner at Altitudes. That did not happen.
“This was totally out of our control,” the spokesperson said. “We are investigating why the cafe staff stashed the cobbler in the cooler and closed early. But again, this is nothing compared to what we bring to the bicycle riders of America. Besides, there’s no fruit cobbler on the STP.”
But one rider was especially upset about the cobbler cop-out.
“I remember the cobbler from 12 years ago on a ride through here,” she said. “I guess I’ll just have to come back in another 12 years.”
It was pointed out that she would be 81 years old then.
“So?” was her only response.
Last day of the ride had the bikers climbing up to Government Camp for a hearty breakfast before continuing on Highway 35 to Hood River.
It was there, on the deck of the Three Rivers Restaurant, that Jerry, a strong rider in tune with the flow of things, asked the group: “Is there any reason — outside of those that have to do with testosterone — why this ride should not end right here?”
With 58 miles ridden that day, a fine lunch in front of us, good friends around us and a head wind blowing up the Columbia Gorge, no one could find a reason to keep riding. The bikes were packed into the truck and van, and off we went to the Skamania Lodge for hot tubs, moonlight and a good night’s sleep.
The next day, two riders went on to Multnomah Falls, but the rest of us packed up for the trip back to Seattle, happy in our accomplishment, five pounds heavier (speaking only for myself) and looking forward to next year’s STP and the Beyond.
When I put out my list of Mad Schemes to accomplish in 2016, I had not planned on so many of my potential Schemers to be as nutty about work as I have been. I seemed to have been dropped into a pool of people who say they are retired except for when they are working.
“I’m retiring but I’ll still be working two days a week.”
“I’m retired but I’ll still be on call.”
“I’m retired but I signed up to substitute.”
“I’m retired except for the seven weeks I have worked this year and whenever the paper calls on me to cover a horse race or do a book review.”
That last one is my hypocritical statement about my retirement. The last part of that confused view is usually followed by my excited statement of how after 50 plus years of work life I have found the perfect job for me: Getting paid to read books.
And like all my friends who have one foot in retirement and one foot still stuck in work, I mouth the same trite excuses:
“It’s not so bad if you love what you’re doing.”
“Besides, the money’s good.”
“I’d be bored if I just sat around the house.”
I’ve never said that last one. That’s what the Mad Schemes are for, to make sure that you’re not just sitting around the house. Which I was not doing on April 3, the day of the Emerald City Bike Ride.
Sponsored by the Cascade Bike Club, the ride took thousands of pedal pushers onto the deck of the new Highway 520 bridge before it opened to motorized traffic. The ride continued onto the Interstate 5 express lanes to a food stop at the Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s International District. Then the ride introduced me to the I-90 Bike Trail. How did I miss that one?
Then back to the start at the University of Washington. About 20 miles with Jerry and Wendy, which was very enjoyable.
On Saturday, April 16, I was with Dr. Tim to do the Tulip Pedal out of La Conner, WA. But we stayed at his lake cabin the night before, and in the morning the sun had turned the lake into a big, beautiful jewel shining through the kitchen windows and Tim’s waffles were delicious with maple syrup. So the start was late and the end had to come soon to accommodate Tim’s 2 p.m. tee time. We dropped from the 40-some mile to the family ride and neither odometer came up with the mileage for that wienie ride. We probably didn’t even ride off the butter smeared on the morning waffles.
A great day, but also an early sign that my training for the Seattle to Portland ride was not on a path to make my sister proud. And she will be here soon for the STP and I’ll be lucky to stay in the same county with her. More on that later.