Posted by: Henry | September 7, 2012

What a Wonderful World!

Today may be our last day of summer weather for 2012 so I set out this morning on my bicycle for a ride around the neighborhood that I’ve called home for most of my years. It rained yesterday, a welcome rain, and this morning a gentle fog covered the neighborhood.

As the sun melted the fog, I set off on my ride to find the sun filtering through the green canopy of trees growing deep in this world’s largest deciduous forest, it’s rays glistening in the remaining water droplets suspended in the morning air.

I reached out to touch them, but they only existed in my mind, light reflected on a fine mist, fleeting and fragile, passing quickly into memory. Alas, I did not have my camera with me or I could have captured that light and held it captive, at least for a time.

I’m amazed that I see something new, different and wonderful every time I ride, even in such a familiar place. I always feel closer to God as I marvel in awe at this wonderful creation He gave us to live in. I’m reminded that He gave us everything we need in abundance – air, water, food, sunshine and love. What a wonderful world!

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Posted by: Henry | September 3, 2012

Five decades and counting

Freedom was an important topic in my last post and cycling is the personification of freedom for me. I love the sense of adventure, feeling the breeze ruffle through my hair and the feeling that I can go anywhere the road takes me. The rhythmic rotation of my feet as the miles pass is a form of meditation, my way of being whole and complete with this wonderful universe!

I was fortunate to celebrate my fiftieth birthday last October riding in the inaugural Bicycling Fall Classic in beautiful eastern Pennsylvania. Bicycling magazine hosted this 50 mile ride in honor of their fiftieth anniversary. What a great birthday gift!

The ride was also available in 10 and 25 mile routes and this year they are adding a 90 mile route. This is a great ride for families and with the different distances, there is a route for every rider. This year’s ride will be held on Sunday, October 7. The ride ends with a victory lap around the Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome!.

Here are a few pictures:

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Posted by: Henry | July 4, 2012

Independence Day

We celebrate the birthday of the USA on this day each year. This Independence Day is a very special day for me, as this year, 2012, I am celebrating my own personal declaration of independence.

As I write this post, our Internet connection is down so I looked up independence in a paper dictionary. My dictionary defines independence as the freedom from subjection to the influence or control of others. Freedom is defined as the state of being free. Free is defined as exempt from the will of others. Interestingly, the origin of the word free is a Gothic word that also means “to love.”

I have always believed that we exist in creation to learn, to live, to love. My journey in recent years has led me to realize that my mission, my purpose, my calling in life is to help others uncover their own freedom, happiness, love and peace.

So here’s my declaration of independence: From this day forward I allow myself to be free. Free to learn, to live, to love.

I’ll say more on this topic in future posts. For now, I’m wishing all of you freedom, happiness, love and peace. If you can’t yet see that they are already yours, I will hold that space open for you until you do. I love you all, the other parts of me. Happy Independence Day!

Posted by: Henry | August 7, 2011

Carcinoma, surgery and cycling

I can’t believe so much time has passed since I last posted to my blog. Much has happened since, some good, some bad. Looking back on my training log, I see a gap of inactivity from March 15 until April 3. On March 17, I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my upper face (the side of my head.) This was my first personal experience with either cancer or surgery.

Since I am very fair-skinned and have spent much of my life basking in the warmth of the sun, I always suspected that I would be affected by skin cancer if I lived long enough. I never thought it would appear in the 50th year of my life. Maybe the hole in the ozone layer was more important than it seemed at the time.

Surgery, even though minor, was far worse than I ever imagined. I don’t understand how people with major surgeries survive and recover. Due partially to the insanity of our medical care system, I lucked into having one of the world’s best surgical dermatologists perform the surgery. He and his staff were wonderful and couldn’t have done a better job. The recovery was the hard part!

He had a tough time in surgery due to my very thin blood and very high blood pressure, but he was so good that he took it all in stride. My recovery wasn’t very painful, but I didn’t feel well at all for at least six weeks. I was back on my bike on April 3.

I decided that considering my cycling goals and my severely high blood pressure that I had to get serious about losing some more weight. In the last four months, I have lost twenty pounds and four inches from my abdomen. I am approximately 80 pounds below my peak weight and weigh about the same as I did when I was 25. Thanks to the help of my family physician, my blood pressure is now normal. I still have 20-30 pounds to go to be at a healthy weight, but I’m well on my way!

I’ve enjoyed riding since April 3. Yesterday’s ride was exciting. I traveled 44 miles in 3 hours and 17 minutes with 5,000 feet of climbing including two challenging mountains. I’m so blessed to be able to ride like this at my age. The old cliché is that you take your health for granted until you don’t have it. I’m trying not to do that. I’m living my health every day and with every ride!

Posted by: Henry | February 20, 2011

Another Brick in the Wall

I watched some more Pink Floyd interviews yesterday and Roger Waters reminded me that the “bricks” from their album “The Wall” are metaphors for our fears. Per Wikipedia “Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger.”

The Wikipedia article also says “Worth noting is that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable.” I wonder to what extent we limit ourselves as human beings due to the power we invest in our fears.

I suppose the wall is a metaphor for the barriers our minds build to protect us from our fears and ensure our survival. This wall ultimately becomes a prison isolating us from all life has to offer. Sure, we feel both pain and pleasure. Pain can be uncomfortable and unpleasant but is also a necessary part of our journey.

So many seem to “grow” old, becoming cynical and jaded and unwilling to recapture the sense of wonder and adventure they had as a child. They ultimately wall themselves off from others until their lives are boring, dull and unadventurous. Perhaps this explains our societies’ reliance on alcohol, drugs, and television.

We find ourselves walling off those who love us and limit our love to those few people around us. Sometimes, we don’t even love those closest to us – or even ourselves. We try to escape our own lives with mind-altering chemicals and live vicariously through the lives of others, even if they are fictitious. We fight wars, take our neighbors to court and live in scarcity.

I believe the child we once were survives in each of us, longing to discover the world, to fully feel both pain and pleasure, to love and to be loved. Remember the first time you felt the wind rushing through your hair as you rode your bicycle for the first time? Remember how warm and inviting the summer sun feels? Remember how you felt the first time you fell in love or when your child was born?

Once again, I’m reminded of a Henry David Thoreau quote that aptly sums up my greatest fear: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.”

Perhaps it makes sense to let go of our fears, to release them and to embrace this journey we share with each other. Isn’t living life free of fear, being courageous and seeking adventure a good way “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life?” Does anyone really want an epitaph that reads?

Here lies one who never took a chance, never watched the sun rise, never lost a love, and seldom felt pain. He lived a life of fear, striving to survive, but perished in the end. His only regrets are the things he didn’t do, the people he didn’t love and the life he didn’t live.

Personally, I believe that we are all one, each part of a universe. The walls – the barriers our minds put up in the name of our fears – to ensure our survival – separates us from our oneness. These barriers isolate and alienate us from each other, they give us the illusion that we are separate instead of being part of one.

Our bodies are limited in time and space and will not survive this world. This invalidates many of our fears, because our bodies will not survive this world no matter what we do. This realization frees us from our fears. Maybe it’s time we stop building our “prisons of the mind” and live life free of fear. Maybe we should all embrace our oneness and love each other as part of the one.

Thank you for reading my opinions on these matters – or my truth. I acknowledge that each of you needs to find your own truth. I hope that my thoughts help lead you to clarity in discovering your truth. In no way do I expect others to believe what I believe, but I do hope that we can all live our lives free of fear, and embrace love. Never believe that no one loves you – I do! After all, you’re part of me, part of the one, only separate in space and time – both of which are only part of an illusion. I love you!

Posted by: Henry | February 13, 2011

Hanging on in quiet desperation …

Yesterday, as a brief escape from the grind, I watched Classic Albums: Pink Floyd – The Making of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. I was reminded how much I have enjoyed listening to this album over the years. Per WikipediaThe Dark Side of the Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard 200 for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, longer than any other album in history. With an estimated 45 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide.”

I remember checking Billboard each week during the late 70’s and early 80’s to see if Dark Side of the Moon was still there. Alas, my relationship with Billboard ended well before Dark Side of the Moon dropped from the Billboard 200, but that’s a story for another time. To this day, Dark Side of the Moon is the only album I bought on both vinyl and compact disk. I still have both copies.

The lyrics of Time, one of the songs from Dark Side, have always held a special meaning for me. Especially poignant as regards my blog:

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

My high school English teacher strongly encouraged us to start journaling, using Henry David Thoreau as an example of the virtues of this discipline. I immediately grasped the wisdom she was sharing, and I decided that I would faithfully write in my journal.

Well, I never “got around” to starting that journal and I regret that so much has been lost by not following up on my plans to record and reflect on my thoughts and insights. Again from Time:

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them” is one of my favorite Thoreau quotes. I’ve often wondered if Thoreau influenced the lyrics for Time or if the similarities are only coincidental.

For me, starting this blog was both an attempt to avoid “quiet desperation” and avoid “going to the grave with the song still in me,” one last chance to start that elusive journal. I thought it might help to have readers to both hold me accountable and keep me honest. Time will tell if I give this blog any more attention than my long-planned journal. For now, I’m just “hanging on …”

Posted by: Henry | September 1, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway – Part Two

We stopped for lunch at Cumberland Knob on our Parkway journey last Saturday. Cumberland Knob was the first recreation area to open to the public on the Parkway. On September 10-12, 2010, Cumberland Knob  and the Blue Ridge Music Center will be hosting the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Festival.

Cumberland Knob sign

Here is a picture of a purple mushroom we saw on our hike to the Knob:

Purple Mushroom

Building on the Knob:

Building - Cumberland Knob

After leaving Cumberland Knob I rode south to the Stone Mountain Overlook.

Blue Ridge Parkway

IBlue Ridge Parkway

Stone Mountain

After 38 miles, i was done for the day!

Done for the day!

Posted by: Henry | September 1, 2010

Saying Goodbye – the World Moves On

I’ve never been a big baseball fan, but we decided to catch the Bluefield Orioles final home games of the season last night. Little did we know that these were to be the Orioles last games ever. They went out with a whimper as they lost a double-header to the Princeton Devil Rays 10-4 and 5-0.

The Orioles played in the Appalachian League, a Rookie League that plays a short season. Most of the players in this league are very young as most of them are rookies dreaming of a major league career. The Orioles played their home games in Bowen Field, opened in 1939. Their 53 year affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles was the longest continuous affiliation by a minor league team with a major league franchise until now.

The Orioles have been a part of Bluefield longer than I have. They started playing in Bluefield in 1958 and Boog Powell played for them in 1959. As a youngster, I watched Boog play for the Baltimore Orioles on television. I don’t remember ever attending a live baseball game as a child, but perhaps I did.

Boog was one of my favorite baseball players. It may have been his unique name, or it may have been his 1970 season. In 1970, he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and hit home runs in the first two games of the World Series as Baltimore beat the Cincinnati Reds in 5 games. Most likely, it was because he hit 339 home runs in his major league career. I have always admired anyone courageous enough to swing for the fences!

Perhaps the most famous person to play for Bluefield was Calvin Edwin "Cal" Ripken, Jr. Cal played here in 1978. He is famous for holding the record for consecutive major league games played – 2,632 games! Cal is only one year older than I am, so I was able to follow his career closely as it unfolded. His longevity was an inspiration to me. He retired from baseball in 2001.

So – another part of Bluefield, the small city I love so much, dies. I should be used to it by now, but I’m not. Maybe another team will take the Orioles place next year but the tombstone reads – Bluefield Orioles, 1958-2010, rest in peace.

Posted by: Henry | August 31, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway

Saturday was a warm, sunny late August day – perfect for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We began our Parkway journey in Fancy Gap, VA.

Map picture

 

Once we were on the Parkway, I unloaded my bicycle and headed south towards North Carolina. Here’s some of the scenery along the way.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Dirt Road

North Carolina sign 

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The Blue Ridge Parkway was started in 1935 as a public works project of the WPA (Works Progress Administration.) Although the Parkway was started during the Great Depression, the last section was not opened until 1987, 52 years later. The Parkway is 469 miles long and connects the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. The Parkway is celebrating its 75th birthday this year.

Posted by: Henry | August 23, 2010

Riding in the Rain

The Weather Channel forecasted a 10-15% chance of rain on Saturday, so I decided to ride on the New River Trail from Fries to Buck Dam and back. This is a very scenic stretch of the New River even though it is scarred by two small dams, Byllesby and Buck.

Regardless of the forecast, the radar map showed a line of rain moving from west to east. I decided to risk the rain as the storms on the radar did not look menacing. When we arrived at Fries, it was not raining but the sky was very dark. As I approached Buck about 45 minutes into my ride, the rain began.

The rain turned out to be a gentle, summer shower. As I rode back to Fries, both the trail and I became wetter and wetter. It was the first time I had ridden in the rain for a while. I have to say, it was a lot of fun riding in the rain!

Unfortunately, the wet trail refused to stay put and my tires sprayed mud all over me and my bicycle. I’m clean now of course, but I’ll have to wash my bicycle soon.

Yesterday, I was back on my road bike and headed over East River Mountain for a beautiful Sunday afternoon ride. I’m very tired today and glad, in some ways, that today is a rest day. Be sure that I’ll be day-dreaming about the next ride – what an adventure!

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