Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dead a long time

My Dad, 55, just started biking seriously the last 2 years. Doctor said it was ride a bike or get ready for an early burial. He had a bike before that, but the doctor put the fear of god into him and cycling became more of a need than a want. He can be called a cyclist now, riding daily and hitting at least 100 miles a week. He pushes himself to go farther and faster and now sees what I've seen all along. He's interested in cycling stuff, parts, the dorky clothes and the investment in good components. I guess it's the difference of looking in vs looking out. The old adage "walk in his shoes", you never really know how someone sees things until you've been there yourself.

The cyclists in the cycling world are an interesting groupo. The one thing that unites us all is riding a bike. No matter what class, color or creed. Riding bikes is good. I was forwarded an email, from my Dad, that a girl wrote to NPR about cycling. The last part is about one of the group rides my dad goes on. She sums it up pretty good.

I believe in biking, because when you die you're "dead a long time".
Biking centers me, allowing me to reconnect with myself. Regardless of the day's stressors or my tension level, when I start riding through the countryside over gently rolling hills, my load lightens and my spirit brightens. Pedaling, I feel a rush from the speed, wind, increasing adrenaline, and the release of endorphins. Life slows down for a few hours out on the road and I can hear my own thoughts, reflect, and contemplate.

Biking is an equalizer; it puts everybody on the same playing field. In this community it doesn't matter if you are a dishwasher or an internationally known researcher. In this community it doesn't matter if you are in your seventies or nineteen years old. In this community everyone looks out for one another, no person is left on the side of the road with a flat; there will be a crew of people that stop to help change the tire. Biking provides me with meaningful relationships with others. I'm part of a biking community, a biking family.

Biking has taught me to value what is most important in life. At the end of life I doubt that my grades, my bank account, or career moves will mean as much as the connections I have had with significant people who enrich my life. I have learned that a part of everyday can be enjoyed, savored or celebrated.

One evening after a full, fun and sunshine filled day of biking, my bike family was riding home under the moonlight. One of them suddenly pulled into a cemetery along the road and indicated for everyone to follow. One of the bikers asked why they were stopping in the cemetery. Another speculated that it was to pass a flask of Wild Turkey (this subgroup of our bike club are the Wild Turkey Riders). Everyone was motioned further into the cemetery and they approached a large headstone. "Oh my God," one of the bikers exclaimed incredulously, "they have fireworks; they are going to shoot fireworks off of somebody's tombstone!" As everyone gathered in closer there was surprise expressed that the tombstone had the name Rudin engraved across it. Steve Rudin, our bike club president, was standing next to the tombstone smiling broadly as they placed a large rocket on the top and lit it up! BOOM! And a flash of light! What at first appeared to be a coincidence, upon closer inspection revealed a bike club logo; it was Steve Rudin's tombstone! What ensued amounted to a pre-death wake; a celebration of living. Steve, soon to retire, after heart attacks and open heart surgeries, is living each day fully. After a day of biking that ended with a celebration of life at his tombstone, Steve, beaming with contentment, said, "Today has been a good day."

Get on your bike and ride the road of happiness because when you die you are "dead a long time".

This I believe.

1 comment:

Ray Bao said...


I forwarded this to Pops.