December 17, 2013 § 13 Comments
Sometimes the things he says take a bit of decoding, and sometimes the things he says leave you scratching your head, but sometimes my pal G$ will let a pearl of wisdom drop that is practically Buddha-like in its wisdom. So you gotta be on your toes and you gotta be patient, sometimes extra, extra patient, because when one of those nuggets plops down if you’re fiddling with your Garmin or yapping about your last indoor training session, you’re gonna miss it.
We were coming back from a sedate little pedal up Mandeville Canyon, and we had hit a traffic light, I think it was on San Vicente. When it comes to traffic signals I am like a Republican mom who’s got a double tall chai mocha soy latte in one hand, an outgoing text message on her iPhone in the other, three squalling kids in the back seat, all while running five minutes late for li’l Becky’s ballet lesson.
In other words, my preferred mode of travel when riding alone is to blow through anything that doesn’t have a cop or oncoming traffic. Red lights are suggestions, and stop signs are bad ideas that won’t be adopted in this draft of the presentation.
As I’ve gotten older and more concerned about the opinions and terror of others, though, I pretty much stop at red lights when I’m with a group, and I’ll even slow way down for a stop sign. It freaks people out too much otherwise.
So we came to that ol’ stop light and put our feet down. G$ looked over at me and grinned. He’d been talking about pole vaulters and how they were put together different from other track and field elite athletes, especially when it came to beer and curfews and careful dieting — that is, pole vaulters apparently didn’t believe in either. I was concentrating as hard as I could, trying to remember what pole vaulters did, and trying to follow the details of the bus ride back in 1983 from Kansas down to El Paso in which the pole vaulters had caught a skunk and fed it beer and then let it loose in the opposing team’s locker room.
I was trying might and main to wrap my brain around how you “caught a skunk,” much less “fed it beer,” into a reality framework, and it wasn’t happening, when G$ let drop a nugget. “You know,” he said, apropos of nothing, which is his finest contextual context when it comes to nuggets. “Stopping is good.” Of course, we were stopped.
My brain ground to a halt. He might as well have said “Wife beating is good,” or “Heroin injected through the tip of your penis is good,” or “Bat sandwiches are good.”
“Dude!” my brain screamed, but didn’t say. “Stopping is TERRIBLE! Stopping is the OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE DO! Stopping is to biking what books are to Kanye West!” But instead I just looked at him kind of mutton-headed and said, “Huh?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I used to want to go all the time. But now? Stopping is good. Every time I stop it’s like, you know, good.”
“Aw, you know. It just feels good.”
We waited for the light to change while he picked up the story where the skunk and the other team’s star miler found one another, but I had tuned out because I was focusing on my leg, the one that was anchored to the ground and not pedaling my bike. Then I focused on my other leg, which was also not pedaling my bike. All of the pedaling juice that had backed up inside my veins from the trip up Mandeville ebbed away as we stood there doing nothing.
My heartbeat tailed off. Everything relaxed. I looked to the left and smiled at the Brentwood mom and her double latte.
The light turned green and off we went. At the next stop light it happened again; we stopped and it was good. It wasn’t an annoyance or an obstruction or a deliberate plan by the auto-industrial-military-Republican-anti-Obamacare-complex to force me to carry a gun, it was … good. Stopping was so good in fact that, once I’d left the group and couldn’t be observed by anyone who knew me, I stopped for a stop sign.
Then I began to ponder the Oracle of the South Bay and the deeper meaning of his utterance. “Stopping is good.”
What if it wasn’t just about cycling?
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Note to reader: Did you know that you can now subscribe to Cycling in the South Bay in order to help me feed my cats, even though I don’t have any? For a mere $2.99 per month you can pay money for something that you could otherwise have for free. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner … and thanks!
It’s a different kind of “Time in zone”
Thanks for setting up a subscription that allows me to pay you for great reading, Seth!
Dude, thanks! Gotta get some cats now.
Since your republicans are adjectives maybe they should not be capitalized?
Hmmm … what about Senegalese?
“For a mere $2.99 per month you can pay money for something that you could otherwise have for free….”
Perfect, but it won’t let me pay via debit, unless….
Just email me your SSN, bank account numbers, and PIN. I’ll take care of the rest.
You and that flooring tile vendor, Omar, from Moscow. I just got a lecture from the banker missus about trusting too much via the internet. You’re a bike rider…worse, a bike racer…a sane person goes RUNNING from your type. I will try again.
Did I ever tell you about my brother, the Nigerian prince?
See how low you can get your heart rate at stops. Just chill and clear your mind. Smile and forget about cycling for a moment. Be a goodwill ambassador for cycling and don’t throw anymore chum overboard for bike haters to snap up.
Biker chum! Awesome!
I’ve been thinking about charging for comments. Why not? I remember reading somewhere that in rural China, farmers are grateful if you crap on their lawn, leaving behind valuable fertilizer. Are not thoughtful and well crafted comments a kind of fertilizer for the mind? Of course they are, grasshopper. That will be five cents, please.
Where do I send my nickel?