Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

July 11, 2018

Milepost 1445


via IFTTT:
The faces of Randonneuring. Terry B. and me, from the June 29th 207km ride. Approaching 95F in the shade, 35 miles to go, at Luther's, Leroy, KS. July ride is only gonna be worse. #rideyourbike #RUSA #milepost1445 #AudaxKC
https://ift.tt/2KZKZh9

July 6, 2018

Milepost 1445


via IFTTT:
Terry takes on US-75 during the Aliceville Twister 207km permanent, 6/29/18. Getting closer to the Flint Hills! #AudaxKC #rideyourbike #randonneuring #milepost1445
https://ift.tt/2KSDKHK

July 4, 2018

Milepost 1445


via IFTTT Abandoned tracks north of Aliceville, KS. Future rail trail, possibly. Strong headwinds again on this early section, but lots to look at. From 6/29/18's 207km ride. #rideyourbike #railtrail https://ift.tt/2IT7P4Z

The Cole Camp 410km brevet - 5/5/2018 recap and notes

Better late than never? 
Over the next couple weeks I'm cleaning out the hopper and getting some notable rides posted, finally.  Enjoy! 


It's become more and more difficult to find the time and energy to write with my current workload and priorities, so I've not posted much of anything in recent months.  Still, I've been trying to keep the riding going and have made some good strides toward consistency and personal health.  A bit of this post will relate some of those discoveries, and pass on some photos from the 5/5/18 Cole Camp 410km ride that I just decided to "do."  

I say it that way because, regardless of consistency I hadn't been able to ride a 200km for months.  So, I was embarking on a 410km (250+ mile) journey without much base.  I'd done the 70 miles gravel brevet back in March, and a 90-miler in April, but little else aside from commutes - which, because of my mental hang-up about cold weather which seems to rear its ugly head every February, had been spotty at best.  Still … if you don't start, you never will.  What could go wrong?


Let's jump backwards a few months, first. 


2017 was a really good year for cycling.  
A lot of great rides happened which deserve write-ups, each in their own right, but the same constraints of time-passed, commitments, and mental energy . . . some of it is just "gone," at least for the purposes of these pages.

The Fall Dart from last October was amazing.  I don't think a single ride I've done has inspired so much change, discussion, and wonderment.  People who had participated in that ride came home and built all new bicycles just to be more prepared for the next edition.  Really.  There's gravel.  There's hills.  ...and then there is gravel and hills in the Ozark region of Missouri.  I was prepared to be amazed, but I had no idea how challenging and satisfying a single 200km event could be.  And it was a DNF for our team.  I don't think anyone really cared about that.  Honestly, it would have been my 12th and final ride needed for my 5th R-12, and even when it was inevitable that the ride wouldn't "count," I never felt an ounce of regret or disappointment.  It was simply epic, and it's doubtful I'll ever forget it.  People broke saddle rails, racks, there were more flat tires than I care to mention, spirits were broken and repaired, the views were amazing, and the smiles were huge.

Less than a week later I jumped back on to the bike, back home on familiar, paved roads, and grabbed the last R-12 installment that I needed to get my 5th complete R-12 run.  It wasn't a hassle.  That Fall Dart was tremendously rewarding.

The planning stages for another Fall Dart in 2018 have begun.  You should think about joining RUSA.  


...But, after that ride I was pretty much "done" with riding longer distances.  I was tired.
Adding to this, I hadn't really been treating myself very well, food-wise, which I realize is a long-recurring theme over the last decade or so.  This time, while I was managing to remain consistent on the bike, I was developing a bit of the mid-40's male mid-section, and my health markers were not where they should have been, or at least not representative of the level of activity I'd been performing.  After some personal inventory, it was time to clean up my diet.  I won't talk about the past.  I won't talk about numbers.  If we end up riding together, and you ask, I'll talk about it -- but not here.  Short story, I've managed to get back on track, and I'm eating like a grown-up cyclist again.  The riding, to say the least, has been pretty good since then, and I've been re-energized for long-distance endeavors again.

Still, jumping into a 400km ride without so much as a 200k to stand on for six months seemed a little risky.

It's a lot of distance . . . so, most of this will be condensed into photo captions.
Honestly, if nothing else.... yes, I will keep this blog going … but, lately, Instagram and Twitter have been really helpful in relating activity in a timely manner.  It's hard to be a blogger in this day and age.  The times are always a-changin'...as is people's spans of attention.  

Seriously, look for @rusadude on Instagram.  Thanks!



Adam, at left, on the maiden voyage of his new steed, and a smattering of other very talented riders are cutting up the early miles of the ride, back in the fields southeast of Grain Valley, MO.  I hadn't been on these roads since riding the Knob Noster 200km permanent, and it was kinda nice how some of the bigger hills felt "smaller."  It was also February and quite cold last time I'd been out here, and the finally-warm temps felt good.  A lot of these riders had endured a winter that simply wouldn't let go.  Only weeks prior, at the 300km event, the expected seasonal temps never arrived and it snowed.  The spring had been cold, windy, cloudy, and wet.  Finally, the sun had come out on the rando crew.



The father-son DelNero duo and Adam heading east on Missouri Route VV, freshly paved and largely traffic-free.  Feeling fresh and alive under the early morning sunshine, it was a great day with calm winds.



But, as we all know by now, reading this in early July, the sun is different this year.  I can't quite explain it.  It started to get warmer, and warmer. . . and warmer.   With a forecast high only expected in the low 80's, it rose almost 15 degrees above that and began to take its toll on some of the riders.  Here, heading east we get a rare treat and flyover from a bit of American super-powered-ness.  Yessss…. so cool.

In Sedalia, MO. at the jumpin' McDonald's there, KC randonneuring's finest around the table, from the left Gary D., Anda A. (she's a new rider, but already rides like a veteran), Joe E., Rod G., and Spencer K.  Much food was consumed.  Hydration was quickly becoming a "thing" and without even thinking about my own thirst I downed 4 refills of water in my 20 oz. McD's cup - supplemented with Hammer Endurolytes - while sitting in the cold A/C and eating what I could for the next leg.  

Under crystalline skies, our group continues east toward the next control.  I love this shot - just a perfect post-card of randonneuring bliss in the Missouri countryside.


But, it was hotter than most of us had been used to.  All I could do was look down at times, as it'd been so bright.  Here, I study the details of Adam's new bike and admire the crispness of the shadow the bright sunshine is casting on the pavement.  No trees, no shade.


The middle section of the ride started to get into some really scenic country, all new territory for us - desperately pretty, but hilly at times.  Combined with the heat of the day, nobody really felt quite perfect at the half-way control, and break times began to increase.  The A/C was so cold inside some controls, many began to get chills.

Hydrate, and try to eat.  Repeat.  After a springtime series which seldom allowed riders even the simple comfort of removing arm warmers, the sudden weather shift proved challenging.  



Finally at Cole Camp, MO. - the route's namesake - we came upon the best Missouri lettered highway marking combination I've ever seen.  Well-played, Cole Camp.  Well-played.  While the state highway department affectionally gave us "the finger", I think the feeling was mutual among some of the riders.  Here, after struggling with cramps and nausea, Adam would call it a day.  Feeling equally weird, I took an especially long break here as well before continuing.  Last on the road, I'd face the final 100 miles alone and in the dark.  At least it would cool off a little.  Yeesh.


Though I do enjoy people's company, years of solo missions and personal R-12 time-trials do pay off sometimes.  Nothing but my thoughts and dark country roads, I chipped away at the mileage, hitting Sedalia again, enduring some light rain (which actually felt really nice) in Warrensburg, having the Casey's all to myself in Holden, MO., and then here at Lone Jack, MO., getting jacked for the last - quite hilly - 12 miles back into Grain Valley and the finish.  I think it's around 4:00 AM in this shot.  Have caffeinated Espresso Hammer Gel, will travel.  Let's do this.


My camera really didn't handle this request well.  Finally, a bright spot in the darkness, I make the final turn and begin the last leg north toward Grain Valley, MO. and the finish, just a few miles distant.  Greeted by a lone Spencer K. standing in the motel parking lot giving an encouraging holler, I put my feet down for a 410km finish right at about 23 hours.  Not a wicked fast 410km, but, considering the very long stops and rests, it was not a bad day.  Thanks to recent dietary changes and a few lost pounds, I felt surprisingly good... almost ready for more.  

Random raw notes:

Nutrition:

- breakfast: black coffee, oatmeal & honey
- hashbrown and starbucks double shot can in Grain Valley right before the ride
- Holden, MO. control:  Hashbrown, Raspberry Fig Bars - pbj crackers (6pk) for the road
- pbj crackers on route to Sedalia, 1 serving of Hammer Gel per hour enroute
- Sedalia control: McD's, egg mcmuffin w/ no CB, large fries (should have gotten medium), 4 20oz waters, Endurolyte tab
- consistently emptied bottles between controls, with Hammer Fizz tabs in each (electrolytes)
- Windsor control:  small can Pringles, 12 oz. V8 juice, water, pbj crackers for road
- Lincoln, MO.: refilled water, continue on pbj crackers, no purchases here
- Cano Country Store: water, 2 bags plain potato chips (Uncle Rays brand), endurolyte tab
- Cole Camp, MO: long rest w/ Adam; 1 slice cheese pizza, water w/ electrolytes 
- Had a 2nd V8, can't remember if at Cole Camp w/ pizza, or at Sedalia after dark
- Hammer Gel on road, as before, consistent on road between controls; added espresso HG after Sedalia control (nite mode)
- Sedalia control: PM, Casey's: water, small can Pringles, more pbj crackers for road, long leg to Holden from here
- Holden, MO.:, Starbucks dbl shot can, couple of pbj crackers, raspberry fig bars (same as AM) one for now, one for road
- Lone Jack, MO. (store closed) finished pbj crackers, espresso Hammer Gel for run to the finish!
- Immediately after ride, packed car, drove through McD's in Grain Valley, ate in parking lot: egg mcmuffin w/ no cb, 2 hashbrowns, large water, finished remaining ride water/Fizz mix.



Equipment and Gearing

New 48/38 chainrings up front, true "half-step" front gearing difference seemed to favor more consistent speed and less overall shifting around; sorta favors my overall style of being "single speed" in mindset, but with options.  The 38x27 combo was sufficient for even the steepest hills in the Ozarks area, excellent cruising otherwise - right in the middle of the cassette with good mid/high cadence.  Shifting from small ring to big ring subtle enough to not "spike" the legs with too much load, no cadence over-runs when shifting from big to small for climbs.   

Yup... total knuckle-dragger, I'm running an old lugged steel frame with downtube shifters and 9-speed gearing, 12-27 tooth cog out back, and 48/38 front.  
Honestly, 48x12 is plenty big... and I still never find myself needing that gear.
The business-end, however, 38x27, is butter on longer climbs if one keeps the cadence up.  Yeah, sometimes I feel like I'd want a true compact gearing setup with a 34 or 36 tooth front ring, but, I just prefer the look of my old Shimano Ultegra 6500 crankset.  It fits the aesthetic of the frame.  One of these days they will stop making bottom brackets and my hand will be forced, but, I like a certain look.  


Issues:  2017 Specialized Mtn Sport shoes seemed to create hotfoot issues under balls of feet, but, seemed linked to strap tightness; even with the straps quite loose, it felt like I wanted to loosen them even further.  This was with thin wool RUSA socks, nothing excessive.  My last, now retired, Specialized Sport Mtn shoes didn't exhibit this effect, so whatever they did with the last model change, my feet don't seem to like it.  I miss them, but the heel cup is completely shredded on both shoes, I don't think that's a repairable issue.  They fit great and feel great, aside from ruining socks and cutting up my Achilles area... which is a deal-killer.  I miss the sandals at times like this.  Definitely notice the issue is more apparent when hydration is behind, however... so, maybe it's not circulation?  Dunno.  Still monitoring and adjusting where possible.




Moments:

B2 bomber takeoff and flyover

Trying to Yehuda Moon the roadside speed camera in Green Ridge, MO.

MS-150 memories all along MO-58, Green Ridge, Centerview, MO. -- been on a lot of these roads before in my "pre-rando" days

Ambitious Rider drafting the farm equipment at 23 mph, flies past us like we're standing still

Awesome flash of heat lightning over horizon when checking maps at MO-23 south of airbase, after dark

Rain in Warrensburg, and on last couple miles to Holden - nothing bad

"Hammering" along MO-58 between Kingsville and Strasburg -- feeling FRESH after 225 miles, amazingly, and secret dreams of actually reeling in a rider --- not realizing that they'd all finished at least 45 minutes ahead of me.  FINALLY, the last 30 miles don't feel like a death-march, and maybe some of it is the nutrition choices -- on and off bike.

Lost 20 lbs since last 200k (as of 5/5/18, referring to Oct. '17 200k), far better diet, no refined sugars, lower calories overall - still eating whatever, but making far smarter choices, more protein, choosing items with as few ingredients as possible, etc.  Absolutely NO soda on or off bike is a large component.  Stuck with Starbucks canned coffee for any caffeine after dark, water with electrolytes, V8, that's ALL.  Nothing sweet, no pastries... while those items do "work" and have in the past, it's the sugar crash that likely creates the death-slog issues I've faced in the past.  Consistent energy is far better than quick, flash-fire sugary stuff, for me.  The Starbucks canned espresso and cream does have sugar, yes... but, it feels vastly different than when I'd have a can of Coke.  

Small amounts of protein during ride, not sure if it actually helped, but it can't have hurt:  PB crackers, the egg mcmuffin w/ cheese, small amount in the Starbucks dbl shot.  No choc milk - thinking the lactose and addtl protein would be difficult, based on past experience.  Fig bars were good, the same organic type sold at the Hy-Vee health section.  Very tasty, all natural, nothing added.  I need to buy some and keep in saddle bag for longer rides, if the stores don't carry them.  Very effective and delicious.


Great ride.... feeling almost invincible afterwards, like, let's start another R-12 run already!
It's never "EASY"... but, after some changes it did feel "easi-ER".

Remember this next time a big soda and some peanut M&M's sounds tasty.
What I put in my body matters.



Thanks for reading!
On to the next!






May 4, 2018

Guest Post: "Try Something New, Every Day"

Every once in a blue moon I see something come across that just feels like it should hit a larger audience, and this is one of those times.  The below comes from last year's Cole Camp 410km brevet out of Grain Valley, MO., from Gary DelNero.  I've had the pleasure of sharing a lot of miles with Gary, and he always has a smile on his face.  I think it's that positive attitude that - at some point or another, on a hard day like he describes here - pushes the pedals farther than mere muscle.  So, with Gary's permission, here's his tale from last year's edition.  Enjoy!


-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
"Try Something New, Every Day"
Gary DelNero - RUSA #7468

Forecast: 100% chance of rain from start to finish... flood watch... highs in the mid-to-upper 50’s (F).
Did I mention 400km - 255 miles? , which I usually do in 18-20 hrs.

This was a new route.  From Grain Valley into central Missouri.   
Heaviest rains are in central and SE MO, so we’re safe, right?

Saturday AM - text from Paul - he’s bailing.  Karen and Greg have also bailed out.  Gary Felkner has volunteered to come get us if needed.  And he has a boat.

I see Dave Matthews at the start. He’s not sure he wants to get out of the car and it’s barely drizzling.
Spencer, Rod and Joe are there - they need this ride to qualify for a 1200km ride in California in July.
Three guys I don’t know - two from Westport, one from Springfield.
We start about 6 am.

The three new guys and Dave Mathews have abandoned by the time we reach 20 mile point. One had a flat. One was in shorts…

We roll south, then east to Sedalia, then south west on a loop heading back to Sedalia with plans to stop at Cole Camp for BBQ.

I’m not sure I want to stop for BBQ, so I roll a bit ahead of the group. I’m at the halfway point about 10 ½ hrs into the ride.

My Gore-Tex might be leaking. My new rain pants have a semi-functional drawstring waist. Semi- means they fall halfway down whenever I stand on the pedals. I have to sit a lot. Even on climbs…My over-mitts fill with water and feel like water balloons. I’m thankful for every piece of functioning clothing I’m wearing. We’re all shivering a bit at every stop. Quite unpleasant, but not approaching crisis…When pedaling, we generate enough heat to stay somewhat comfortable.

We reach a control café at 140 miles in, at about 4 pm.
Chatting with locals we learn that our route to Cole Camp is flooded and impassible.

Fortunately, this store has a map for sale showing nearby routes.
Some debate about options-  one way adds only about 6 miles, but the guys seem to lean towards something adding about 16 miles. We really have no idea how many additional miles are involved, and guesses and opinions are varied.

The cashier gets a call from a customer who had just left, asking if we would take a ride around the flood in his pickup.

We take the offer, then eat while we wait for him. The other guys choose the pulled pork sandwich, so I went with that instead of a hot dog, which I really wanted. I would regret that choice. We start to wonder just when he’ll come back, and whether he really has room for us.

He arrives, we load up, and he takes the long route to Cole Camp.
I ask why he didn’t go the other way - he says he’s never gone that way before…another customer had said the same thing. (Why is that?)  

So, taking a ride from a saint in shiny steel - that’s a first for me. (I’m no longer amazed by how many very generous people you meet riding bikes out in the country)

We get out of the truck at Cole Camp and head on to Sedalia. This is 85 miles from the finish, and the last likely motel opportunity.  We decide to press on, with our next stop in Holden, 50 miles away.

I get ahead of the group on a climb, but get very tired/sleepy. Can’t take advantage of the gusty tailwind as we head west. This is why I like to reach a motel by 2 am.  Fortunately, no more flooding.  On north stretches, I see tree limbs in the road.  That was some gusty tailwind!

We regroup in Holden, MO. The guys want to take a break and sleep next door at the post office. It’s like 3:00 AM - we leave our bikes at the convenience store, spread out in the post office lobby.

Two guys have claimed the rubber floor mat and Rod is already snoring away by the time I get there. Spencer is leaning against the wall with eyes closed.

I claim a wall spot and close my eyes. Feels good to rest, but I doubt I’ll get any sleep.
Jolted awake by a loud, new sound - I think I was snoring!  
Maybe I shouldn’t sleep sitting up.

We’ve had maybe a 30 minute break, but get up, refreshed and ready to roll.  The rain has let up a bit.  

Spencer reminds us, “these miles won’t ride themselves”, and “we’re not getting any closer standing here.” More wisdom than one can imagine.

Sleeping in a post office - another first.

We head out for the final 30+ miles. The roads start to dry out, but we do encounter some flooding.  Water about 6” to 8” deep for several hundred feet.  We ride through…it’s not moving very quickly.

Then, we began to encounter some fog, but it never got too heavy. 
  
We ride on as the sky begins to brighten. 
We finish at about 6:30am, just before sunrise. 

We never saw sun or sky, just clouds and rain...
The whole day has been cold and wet. Temps never rose above the low 50’s. 

That little amount of sleep in the post office kept me going to Grain Valley and for the drive all the way home. The other guys will get a few hours of sleep at their motel room nearby before heading home.

So 24 ½ hrs, a new longest time for this distance for me. 
Wettest ride ever. The other guys agree - pretty tough ride.

First all-nighter since the ‘80’s. Pretty cool, really. Not something I want to repeat anytime soon, but 600km in two weeks.


 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Thanks, Gary!!


March 11, 2018

Didn't I JUST write a post like this?


If you're like me ....and if you are, get some help....  the cycling seasons probably start running together as the years pile on from a maintenance perspective (hopefully, not an enjoyment perspective).  This is just a part of getting older, and doesn't really apply directly to anything specific; certainly not cycling.  If you're under age 35 you likely have no idea what I'm talking about.  If you don't have kids, you'll have absolutely no idea.  If you're in your mid-20's, for gawdsake why are you reading this website??  Go have a pint or four, watch GCN on your VR goggles, and, if it's before noon, go back to bed.  Okay, just kidding... if you're actually reading this, hats off, and thank you.  I'm not REALLY a prick... just when it comes to climbing.  

...What'r we talking about?  

OH... (see.  see what just happened there?  I'm getting OLD.)
That's my point here... not only do we old Freds start to lose our train of thought too quickly, time - for us - also starts to compress a bit.  Think of these examples, friends:

"I just got this shirt!" he exclaimed, offended, when someone mentions their decade-old shirt and general sense of style might warrant a visit to the Goodwill bin.

"But, I just got this lawn mower!" he exclaimed, when the lawn mower he swore he just bought craps-out the spring after it's 20th winter being stored outdoors.

On cycling... 

"But, I just got these chainrings!" he exclaims, after the chain keeps skipping and he then checks his mileage log and realizes he "just got them" four-score and 20,000 miles ago.  

This is usually followed by a sheepish "Oh...", and some acceptance.  Hopefully.


When it comes to things like routine maintenance on a bicycle, everything sneaks up on us.  Especially if we invest in good parts which don't require hardly ANY periodic adjustments, we can often forget they're there.  But, this is sometimes what lurks in the shadows or in the roadside ditch, waiting to jump up and grab us - usually during an event for which we've been training.

Don't let this be you!

This doesn't have to mean a bunch of money, of course.  As winter turns to spring, this just invites the chance to "make sure" as you move around your bicycle.  Check your headset.  How do your cables look and feel?  When did you install that cable housing, really?  Are your rims okay?  Go around the bike with a set of Allen wrenches and give things a quick snug.  Torque wrench?  Even better!  Are those the same tires from last year's SR-series and summer of commutes?  

Are you really still wearing those socks?  (ok, this isn't that big of a deal -- but have you shopped socks lately?  Dude.)  It is, however, fashion... and I think there's some adaptation of one of the Rules which might advise that if you can't be fast, at least look good trying.  
I might be making that up.   (You've read the Rules, right?)

Neon socks AND a reflective stripe?  OMG YES. 
Wait.... "look GOOD"... I'm not sure this qualifies.
I only "look good" while cycling every 10-15 years, when the fashion
happens to come back around to whatever I happen to already own.

All of these things are important, and certainly not limited to the items I've mentioned above.  Definitely check all your wear items, maybe re-tape your bars, and if you have any doubts about ANY of it - or, doubts about your own garage skills, give your local shop a visit.  

For when something DOES go wrong, however, perhaps the best thing you can have are your spares.  Spares, however, usually live WAY out of sight and mind - right up until you need them.

Your seatbag... framebag, whatever these kids today are running ... the place where you keep your tubes (or plugs and patches?) ... your tire boots, small dropper of lube, extra energy gel, .... are they all dried out, stuck together, and utterly useless if you'd happen to need 'em?

Well, this is the time to get in there and see what's happened to the contents of your repair kit over the last season and subsequent winter.  Even if you rode throughout the winter, chance are some of these items didn't like it much.  Even if you're running tubeless, there are special considerations you likely already know to stay atop, like refreshing your sealant -- but, that "just in case" tube you should be carrying might be a rotted and useless hunk of vaporized butyl-powder at this point.  This is the time to make sure you'd don't have to make any embarrassing phone calls or rack up $70 in Uber charges if things go sideways this spring on the roads.  


Check your wheels.  Oh, and the ones on your bike, too, probably.

SO, yeah... make yourself a list and check everything twice.
Fender and rack bolts... if that's your thing.
Check your wheels for any truing issues or sidewall wear... unless you run disc brakes, and then you should check your rotors for wear and swap out your pads.
When's the last time you re-packed your pedal bearings?  (wait, that's a thing?)

Yeah, this isn't an exhaustive list, but you get the idea... you want to be riding for the ride, not the amazing opportunity to exercise your roadside resourcefulness.  Well, unless you're into that kind of thing.  

That's your post for this week... while I can't guarantee I'll be on here any more often than usual, this blog is still very much alive .... if not completely irrelevant to most modern cyclists; unless you ride to work, still happen to like steel frames, own several neon vests, prefer non-GPS cycling computers, rim brakes, tubes, fenders, and riding long distances at a moderate pace with no real training benefit.  

After all, I just did a race... didn't I?  

Um, no, dude... you didn't.



Thanks for reading!

February 25, 2018

Fear Not The Wind


When we decide to go, we all start the journey the same way.
We are each a tightly-woven tapestry of threads, 
neatly hemmed and sewn.

We're beautiful. 
Pristine . . . yet... incomplete.
We don't know ourselves.  
Not yet.

We are each run up, to the test.
To the breeze.  
To the wind.
Sometimes, to the gale.

Our ends become frayed; tested.
I wasn't strong enough to hold myself together.
I'm coming apart.
We're supposed to.
Fear not the wind.

In the toughest of challenges, we may be afraid to let others see what we're made of.
In the strongest of life's winds, we may be afraid to see ourselves for our individual threads.

The very sinew of our being is ripped, exposed, 
torn from its neighbor to flail and strain, 
on its own, against the forces which lash against it, unrelenting. 

The wind takes our souls apart.
Down to thread.
Down to bone.


Lashed to the mast or the line, we are tested.
Left naked to the coming squall line, we are measured.
Some of what we need is exposed.
All of what we don't is lost to the wind forever.

We look for enjoyment, only to find pain.
We saddle up for release, only to find more stress.
We seek definition - and we find it.
We need it.  
We are not alone.

The wind and weather just are.
Can you take it?
The wind always raises the bar.
Can't we fake it? 

Fear not the wind.
No, it will not always cool you.
No, it will not always favor you.
Yet, it does not judge you.
it only reveals what's already there.

As we struggle, the wind rips at our hearts and screams in our ears, 
and only a few of us can understand
what her tormented voice really tells us.

Surrender.
Drop your guard.
Let me see you.
Give me your threads, your fibers, your spirit.
Let go of what you're holding onto.
Let go of that which you didn't even realize you held, 
but knew, somehow, that you had to unravel.

We can't remain pristine.
We shouldn't strive to keep ourselves whole,
for often, the whole is flawed.
It isn't our fault.  
We were woven too tightly, too early.
We never held the needle.

People we can't name or recall
People who discolored those errant threads
People who didn't know the damage they spun
People who didn't know the tax they levied.

Fear not the wind
She does her work, 
whether we draft or face her alone.
We're not here by accident.
We chose this.

If your tears be from effort
If your tears be from pain
No-one but the wind will see them
Eyes down, grinding - they dry before they fall
The thread is ripped away, and never lights

At the end
Our flag looks tattered, wasted, thrashed, thread-bare.
Faded by sweat and sun
But it is complete.
It is more whole than when we'd begun
The journey is done
The flag is un-spun.

Fear not the wind.





A flag which once seemed uniform from afar
Now we see as tinted, single threads
We are not grey, or beige, or sand
We're a rainbow of emotion, rage, and pain.
We're a prism of friendships, handshakes, and nods.
We are everything.

Blue threads of truth, 
Noble purple character, 
Emerald green honesty, 
Crimson pure love,
Yellow rockets of joy, 
Pink tears of pain,
Jade waves of anguish,
Orange sparks of knowing.

Fear not the wind, for the wind fears not you.
It only seeks a worthy foe
It's not the ringer you've put you through.

The once tight weave of fabric is transparent.
Light can pass through.
Air can dance through.
I can see myself.
At last. 

We are more than the steps we take,
The tears we cry,
The miles we run,
The kilometers we climb.

We are what the wind makes us, 
not where the wind takes us.

Fear not the wind.
Just
Listen.






We can't always laugh into the wind; but sometimes we need to.