The Oregon Gran Fondo and finding the beauty hidden within
Yesterday I wrote a good portion of what was intended to be this blog, then didn't publish it, in the process losing it all. But then it couldn't be THIS blog, could it. This blog is this blog, and not that blog. But hold on, I digress already.
I wanted to write an article about how I set a personal best, at seventy years old, even though 119 riders finished before me, and only one after; and how I hated the roads, with the potholes, and rough chip seal; and how I lost a crank arm, my foot still clicked in the pedal, the crank hanging like a pendulum toward the road surface, not being able to get out of the pedals, and landing in the ditch, unharmed, losing twenty minutes in the process, not having the right gears after that. But then that's all just bike racing. And, apparently, the universe does not really care whether I write that or not. There is even some question as to whether it care's about me writing this. But, alas, I write.
After losing that blog, I looked out the back door, and saw this little succulent on our rock wall that partially holds back the hill that is above us. There are several types of succulents that someone planted and gave this task. This one, once a year only for a short time, flowers. Cute, little, star shaped, yellow flowers. It seems that only I notice this plant, and it's hidden beauty. Otherwise, it goes totally un-noticed. Much like most of us. We all strive to be noticed in some way, to be acknowledged as exceptional in some way, never realizing that, perhaps, we should notice others in order to be noticed ourselves.
I don't want to get into our long list of problems on planet earth, Syria and North Korea, and Trump and healthcare and immigration, and how we have all become just cheap imitations of our celebrities, our sports stars or worse yet, thugs.
What I really want to talk about is that hidden beauty in us all, our true nature, or our Buddha nature as Rimpoche likes to call it. You don't have to be a Buddhist to appreciate this. You don't have to know that it's there, or even to have had the slightest glimpse. It is there. Let me demonstrate.
By asking you a question. What really, really matters to you? You will struggle with this question as you search for your answer, and then you will come up with something like: "I love my kids," or "I care about people," or "I try to do the best that I can." And these are good answers because the question is designed to elicit what your deepest held core values are. Now I have always said that my core value is honor, that I, most of the time-no one that I know always represents their core value-but most of the time, I try to do the very best that I can to do the "right" thing. I don't believe this is a learned behavior. I can't imagine which adult when I was a child would have taught me this. I truly believe that it is the deepest, most identifiable characteristic that I was born with. It is my true nature, my hidden beauty.
Now let me reiterate, I am not always like this, in fact, it may even be rare that I am. However, this does not alter this nature. Actually my true nature, like the universe, does not even care, it just goes on being what it is, as does yours.
So, what does this have to do with the Oregon Gran Fondo, a bike ride I have now completed six times? A good question. There is so much that I don't like about it, most of which I already mentioned. But what do I like, that keeps me coming back? The hidden beauty.
I love the start in Cottage Grove.
Cottage Grove is the pleasant, and attractive little former mining town that is twenty minutes south of Eugene. The start line is peaceful, and calm, unlike all of the other start lines I have stood at.
Parts of the route, the first 30 miles, and the last 37 are on good roads. Those that are not, the 50 miles of chip seal, with the several hundred potholes do lead into one of the most isolated areas in all of the Oregon coast range, the Oxbow area. I probably rode this event three times before I realized that you are not lost in this area. And though you have to slow down to avoid disaster, maybe this is a good thing. This really is a beautiful area. And I will only ever see it by riding my bike through there on gran fondo day. I would never drive my car through there.
I love the challenge of getting to the finish. At seventy years old, this is not easy. It takes some real determination, an aspect of my true nature. And this past year has taken some real tenacity just to get there. The fall on the ice in January really hurt me. It is amazing that I healed like I did, amazing in fact that I came back as good as I have ever been for an old, endurance cyclist. I will never be as fast as I was twenty years ago (my ego is saying: "Dude, that wasn't fast.) yet by embracing the characteristics of my true nature, I managed to set a personal best time. And with all humility I remind you that I finished next to last. But like Rimpoche says: "Doesn't matter." And, yes, despite all of the things I didn't like, it is still a great story, and big time evidence of my Buddha nature.