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I Got Stuck Behind a Javelina!

Apr 8, 2024
Reading time 4 min.

A lot of my time in Tucson is viewed from the perspective I get riding my bike. One of the reasons I spend the winter in Tucson is the accessibility of riding. The city of Tucson has made a considerable investment in cycling infrastructure. It has built what is locally referred to as "the loop." The loop is 130 miles of paved and maintained bike lanes. There are periodic bathroom stops that are regularly cleaned. The loop follows several dry riverbeds that run the entire length of Tucson. It is below street level and offers a way to circumnavigate the entire city with many entrances and exits. Not only can you ride the loop, but every major road in the city has a bike lane. If you add the riding available in the foothills, mountains and the Sonoran Desert, bike riding in and around Tucson is extraordinary. For me, riding has provided numerous, unexpected, and remarkable encounters with people, nature and myself.

I was mid-way through a 45-mile ride. By mid-morning, the temperature was already in the low eighties. Feeling the need for both water and shade, I stopped in an area with several mesquite trees shading the loop. There was a man sitting on a retaining wall sharing the same shade. He looked bedraggled. His beard was unkempt. He had several teeth missing. His clothes looked like they needed caring for. In one hand he held a box of cereal, pouring the contents directly into his mouth. He was clearly relaxing while he enjoyed breakfast. In his hand he was holding open a book he was reading. The book looked tattered. The cover was torn and the pages yellow from age. At that moment, something seemed incongruous. A seemly homeless man sitting reading a book is not something I usually see. I felt compelled to ask him what he was reading. He stopped eating, looked at me, and replied that he was reading a copy of the Vedas. It's a book I am very familiar with. The Vedas are a sacred ancient Hindu text. Originally written in Sanskrit, they are one of the oldest Hindu scriptures. Out of all the possible books he could be reading, I did not expect that reply. As I was getting ready to start riding again, the man added that "he was interested in understanding the meaning of life." I was perplexed by his comment. It was not what I expected. He offered a simple, profound statement. One that deeply resonates with me and helps define much of my exploration of my own life. That very brief encounter was a powerful lesson for me not to judge another person's life. It was a truly compelling teaching moment for me. It is impossible to know what brings any of us to moments of Self Realization.

I recently came across a saying by Lao Tsu. It said that "Remain unmoving until the right action arises on its own." I love this saying. It has implications for many parts of my life, including cycling since it is primarily about movement. For me, cycling is about many things. It is a great source of exercise. It gets me outside. It is an activity that engenders community. It forced me to focus on the present moment. It is also something that challenges me. I need to be challenged. For me, the opposite of that is complacency. Something I can easily fall into. There is a ride I like to do. It goes up Tanke Verde, one of the main roads where I live in Tucson. As it moves out of the city, it winds its way into the desert. Tanke Verde goes from being extremely busy to having no traffic. It becomes remote. There are road signs that say, "beware of free ranging cattle".

The ride is 35 miles round trip. The road ends with an extreme climb at an eight percent grade for three quarters of a mile. I never felt compelled to attempt that climb. I always felt it was too much for me, and I didn't have the strength to make it up. It challenged me. I often felt defeated by that hill. One of the friends I regularly ride with is an extremely strong rider. We got to the hill, which he can easily climb. We paused at the bottom, he turned to me and said, "There are no more excuses and get your sorry ass up that hill." I won't share the rest of the imprecations he called me. Letting go of all the noise in my head, I did the climb. To the end. It was a powerful, validating moment. I was left asking myself, what else do I talk myself out of? How do I stop myself from being fully present and holding back from leaning into my life?

I spend four months every year in Tucson. A lot of that time is about cycling. This winter I rode 2400 miles. As I mentioned, riding is many things for me. It helps me connect to a deeper sense of my being as I interact with life while riding. I would like to share some of what I reflect on while riding.

Who influences my life?

Who serves to reflect my life back to me?

What does it mean to be a free being?

How do I continually live a life of integrity?

How do I move through my life from a space of love and relationship and not succumb to meanness and pettiness that is so prevalent today?

How do I overcome the habits that I have fallen into that stop me from living my life as fully as possible? Who will challenge me to do that?

I like this saying. "I need to dig deep in my daily practices until I hit water". I need to always be mindful of the life I have and to engage it wisely.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.

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