The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~ Christopher Morley
When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day’s sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay’s call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else’s heart. ~ Diane Ackerman
Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~ Albert Einstein
After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow. ~ H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance
The pleasure of the moment. In retrospect, a sense of warmth. The night turning to morning …
I was very excited about waking up at 6:30 a.m. to watch stage 9 of the Tour de France. The stage is a 168.5 km trek through the Pyrenees in Southern France. For me the mountain stages are the most exhilarating of all the various stages. The trek from Saint Girons to Bagneres de Bigorre includes four category one climbs, each over 5000 feet and a category 2 climb. A test of man and machine. I believe that climbing is my best skill as a rider, and I certainly can relate to the difficulty inherent to climbing. Whether it is mountain biking or road biking, I love the challenge. Climbing is very meditative; slow and methodical. One has to really focus inward. On the breath, and on the movement of the body. Everything is recorded over and over again. Sometimes with much pain. Physically and mentally is can be quite exhausting, but in the end very rewarding. There is a certain ‘Peacetime’ when the silence of nature, movement and breath come together. An inner bliss without end.
This is a morning workout and practice run on a lake under construction in my home town of Gray Court, SC. This was my first exploration of this terrain. Keeping it simple. A mix of soft and hard ground. Lots of rocks, making for a lot vibration moving through the body (I actually injured my left forearm from a violent vibration sustained while descending one of the slopes). It has taken a few months for it to heal. But I love the locale it looks and feels other-worldly. And being that it is less than 5 minutes away from my home, it provides a nice work out in preparation for the mountain trails. Music by glitch master Alva Noto. The video itself has little processing and no editing.
A very good read for the needed support of women’ cycling and its growth.
Guest Piece, Written by: Jason
“Women’s sports are so boring!” I have heard this many times throughout my life, mostly stated by men. This is simply idiotic. But, before I begin to explain why, let me first explain what inspired me to write this post.
Lance Armstrong and the Whole Doping Thing
As everyone knows, there has been a lot of question about the future of professional cycling due in large part to the recent Lance Armstrong affair. After the initial USADA report was released, a slew of other problems have presented themselves to the men’s pro ranks. Rabobank, a longtime sponsor of cycling, has decided to withdraw their support of all cycling beginning with the coming season. Some of Rabobank’s pro cyclocross and amateur sponsorship will remain in place, but men’s and women’s pro road and mountain bike teams will cease to exist in the coming seasons. If that…
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One of the more exciting elements of mountain biking is going around in circles. Yes, the loop. Four miles. Eight miles. Sixteen miles. Ascending then descending. Round and round. Flashing by beautiful vistas; man-made lakes, mountain summits, and ridges. All swirling by your mind’s eye, without pause to the rewind. Let’s play on a Fall day … the loop de loop.
turn back the time
and remember when
– or how
you found the meaning
of things … misunderstood
forward in time
in the day’s (f)all
in Autumn’s call
the rewind …
of place … memory
and state of mind
After an hour of exploring the various ups and downs of the terrain, Nancy feels the need for a pause in play. Taking a moment to catch her breath and letting the beauty of the day sink it. Autumn has a way of bringing moments to a standstill. Allowing us to embrace a much-needed connection with ourselves. Its transformational essence can stimulate our senses and bring joy to our lives. Let’s pause in play and fall in love with the day.
Well here I am around noon today. My Trek bike and I are stationary on the ridge of a man-made lake which is under construction. Preparing for the first descent. It is a beautiful Fall day indeed. Mild temperatures and blue sunny skies. Mesmerizing and zen-like. Music on my Ipod; trance-like and meditative. Time to play. Lets start.
Today in my little town, I am going to have a some fun. I am about to head out to the Gray Court Park. Gray Court, South Carolina is a small one-light historic town established in 1899. It has taken over a century to build a major park. Construction has begun on a man-made lake. A perfect place while under construction for some free-style mountain biking training. The slopes of the lake are varied; some are steep, tightly packed, others rocky and treacherous. What a find. And it is located just a few minutes from my house. This will provide many hours of practice during the Fall and Winter for myself and my riding partner. I will snap some photos and video footage to post later.
The leaves will soon be changing
Falling on unyielding trails
The air crisp and chilled
Sweeping through barren trees
And the lightly falling snow
Fall on the mountain –
Our bikes in fluid motion
A solitary moment can be found almost anywhere. Mountain biking, gives me the opportunity to be one with nature, explore my inner solitude and focus my imposing will against the difficult terrain. Here is a shot from this weekend as my partner and I rode the trails at FANTS Grove at the forestry of Clemson University in South Carolina.
This is such a cool video. A quarter of the way through it Farmer Jack decides to give the bike a try with some rather good results. 🙂
2011 and now 2012 promises to bring to the forefront—images and ideas for the contemplative and visionary mind.
Here is just a sample of recent work.
Music by Tomasz Bednarczyk
Crossing the bridge of discovery we find ourselves….
Some thoughts on ambition and the nature of Self….
How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it. – Robert Brault
Ambition is not what man does… but what man would do. – Robert Browning
It is in our nature to discover things and in our will to reach them. – Walter Smith
Searching for that time, seeing it just beyond the window….
Do you ever feel like time is slipping by, and the things you love are being left behind? And do you find you must choose between one thing and the other because of the lack of time?
Well over the past year I have found that I must negotiate my time wisely if I am to achieve some of my goals as an artist and pursue my love of outdoor adventure. During this fall period when the weather is so nice, I long for those exciting treks up and around the mountains of South and North Carolina. Yes, the mountains are calling, but then too is the late nights in my studio—in front of my computer, creating art, developing ideas, and writing.
What is one to do? My work schedule provides me with very little time for my personal activities. If I stay up late until 3 or 4 a.m., I do not have the energy for early rising and working out. The choices we make because of limited time, energy, and work schedules all play an important part in how we approach the things we love. A solution that I have found is to break up these different interests into separate yearly periods. With one activity being the most dominate. The past year my personal emphasis has been on my art, website and art blog with a minor contribution to outdoor activities. Instead of the daily schedule of work-outs (that I was consistent with 2 years ago), I opted for the big one day adventures such as all day biking, caving, zip-lining, and long hikes. As I approach 2012 and the New Year, I hope to perhaps find a strong 50/50 mix that includes gym workouts, outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, kayaking and perhaps even sky diving, while simultaneously furthering my artistic endeavors.
Do you find it difficult to juggle the things you love? How do you negotiate your time? Have your thought about 2012 and how to get the most out the New Year?
What do you think?
Mountain biking and Fall weather go hand in hand. My Trek taking a break.
A photo challenge that includes mountains would not be a challenge without a difficult mountain bike to the summit. In this photograph I have just reached the top of the Right Loop at Tsali Recreational Area in North Carolina. The elevation at this point is around 5000 feet.
The popular Tsali Recreation Area has long been a top destination for mountain biking in Western North Carolina, and even the entire eastern US. Containing nearly 40 miles of trails in a system with four excellent loops, it has been rated as one of the top 10 places to ride in the USA. The area is located on a hilly peninsula reaching into beautiful Fontana Lake, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The four long main trails at Tsali wind along the lake shore and onto the wooded, steep interior ridges. There are several connector trails, gravel roads and extension trails that give a few more options for rides besides the main loops. Three designated overlooks along the trails provide sweeping views of Fontana Lake with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side. The trails are fast, hardpacked singletrack, and they’re extremely well designed and well used.
It is Race Day
Take what life gives us
Let us meet under the great pavilion
Where the sounds of aspirations
Are heard in the ballet of bikes
It is race day
Clutching our forged carbon loves
Sinewy muscles tense with sweat
We dream the dance
The dance of the mountain
It is race day
There is life in every breath
Let us meet silently at the starting gate
The noise of wind and sky to shatter our thoughts
While colors merge
A kaleidoscope forms
A kinetic fleeing pursuing blur
Rotating wheels and quick descents
Gorges rivers trees and falls
Pick yourself back up
Your pain body calls
And look up into the crying sky
To a transformative end
Finding yourself deep inside
It is race day
Transcending our weekday life
We are here to meet in joyous celebration
The sound of Kopeland
The sound of music
Victory for one
Pleasure for all
While arms and smiles embrace
Here at Tsali North Carolina
Its sure to be
A great race
It was a golden morning and a beautiful start to the day. It was a Monday and there was a
chill in the air as the cold wind made its way down the mountain and across the
lake. I’ve always been mesmerized by beautiful seascapes and landscapes—where
water, mountain and sky meet. Drawn to their spiritual vastness, I sometimes
find (if it’s a good day) revelation and beauty, hidden…deep inside the
soul. When transfixed by such a mysterious place—we question its magnitude.
In-turn, we can at times find our very own inadequacies. We come to know our fears and our doubts. Usually
if I attempt to elevate myself, with pride—by thinking: I can do this…or I can do that—whatever the
thoughts may be, I then know I am no longer centered.
It is a golden morning and a beautiful start to the day. It is early April 2011 and spring is
on its way. There is anticipation and a longing for the discovery of beauty and
the Self in recollection. I am still mesmerized by beautiful seascapes and
landscapes—where water, mountain and sky meet. There is a planetary energy, a
Consciousness that lifts my Spirit. Transfixed I find it is a mysterious thing—the
photograph of a place in time. I remember the beauty of the moment and my
present fears and doubts are washed away. I will elevate myself today, with joy—by
thinking: I can do this…and I can do that—whatever the dreams may be.
It is April and it is spring and all the growth of my soul and Spirit is before me.
If you have a photograph of a place in time that transcends your life experience, embrace it and share it with others.
I woke up today, far away, in The Backyard of Meditation…
Thinking and Imagining…
Major effects for The Backyard in Meditation 04: Multiple layers, Displacement Map @ 48 % blur, Displacement Properties @ 2D offsets, intensity 24.00, and edge mode: wrap. Artistic Effect: Chrome @ 4 % flaw, and 50 % brightness.
One of the best places to road bike is along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The BRP stretches for hundreds of miles (approximately 470) through North Carolina and Virginia. It is one of the most beautiful scenic rides in the country. The parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain. From Shenandoah National Park the parkway follows the Blue Ridge, eastern rampart of the Appalachians. It then skirts the southern end of the massive Black Mountains, named for the dark green spruce and fir that cover them. Then it weaves through the Craggies, the Pisgahs, the Balsams to end up in the Great Smokies. I had the pleasure of staying at the famous Pisgah Inn located on the southern end of the parkway, at Mount Pisgah about 30 miles from Asheville, NC. You can marvel at the forest-clad mountain peaks, mist filled coves, and the slopes of fragrant balsams, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and flame azalea. It was a great week of biking, hiking (Graveyard fields to the Upper Falls), art galleries (Blue Spiral and galleries in the River Arts District), independent films (La Vie En Rose, the story of French singer Edith Piaf) and fine dining (organic, Thai and Indian). But I must say that for a spectacular view, and good food, the restaurant at the Pisgah Inn with its panoramic view overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains is unsurpassed. And finally, a perfect end to an evening is sitting on your private back porch watching the sun set beyond the mountains.
I am very fortunate that were I live, I can immediately access miles of rural back roads to immerse myself on my road bike. I spoke earlier about the sense of transformation that is achieved while biking. Here on these winding roads and gently sloping hills, I pass by farm lands, historic areas, woods and beautiful estates. What enhances a great ride is the right music. There is a distinct difference in the selection of music for road and mountain. On the road there is a need to be able to hear your surroundings for safety measures. Hence, my selection is always, soft, slow dancing ambient. My favorite band for a ride is the neo-classical ambient band from Austin Texas, Stars of the Lid. In fact, this has been the most prolific band for me in the past two years. This is aural mastery of the highest order. In contrast, when mountain biking, there really is no need to be conscious of your surroundings. Now your music can flow anyway you like. For the mountain, I prefer long flowing electronic sounds from bands like AES Dana, Bombay Dub Orchestra and Near the Parenthesis, or French Pop artists like Etienne Daho, France Gall, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Alizee to name a few. It is here on the mountain when you need that extra aural drive to push your rhythm to its fullest—to make that climb.
And to achieve a great ride you’ve got to know and trust your bike. I ride a Trek 4300 on the mountain and a Giant OCR on the road. Both bikes have served me well and have maintained their riding integrity in spite of the miles and punishment I have put them through.