Bicycle Lesson #8 - Rhône Alpes, France

When It Rains It Pours

When It Rains It Pours

Didn't want to bike in the rain.  Made excuses.  Said it was pouring though it was only drizzling.  But here I am.  Glad I came, though now it really is pouring.

Lesson for today:  Do it!  Do it!  Do it!  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  It's okay.  The ride gets easier.  If I take a break and not ride, it only slows down the process, puts a stop on what's important.

And that gets us to why I'm really here on this hilltop in a rain and windstorm; it is to write my new novel "Marisa," which by the way is going great! Near the end of the first draft but I have to keep at it every day.  Just something.  Anything. Just a thought.  As long as its 1,000 words a day. 

So that 's it for today.  Got to go fill that blank page. Happy Sunday. 

Bicycle Lesson #9 - Rhône Alpes, France

You might be wondering why I'm photographing sheep for my lesson on gear shifting.  Well for one they're cute and might draw your attention and, more significant, they are a metaphor for those who hardly ever shift gears.Sheep prefer to move very slowly and eat and then be eaten.  The other half of the lesson is for those of us who are gear-shifters. My brother, Greg, an avid bicyclist once said to me, "If your bike has gears, it's easy to ride uphill." Though there are five gears on my bike, I still hadn't figured out how to make it "easy."  Today huffing and puffing on my uphill climb I breathlessly said, "I can't do this. I'm going to get off and walk."

But then I shifted gears in my head and said, "Wow! look what I can do. I'm climbing a hill. The little engine can do it." And I made it to the top feeling breathlessly wonderful. 

There's still a lot to learn about gear shifting that can't be covered in one lesson. 

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Bicycle Lesson #7 - Rhône Alpes, France

Come fly with me ! ! !"The more you let yourself be distracted from where you are going, the more you are the person that you are. It's not so much like getting lost as it is like getting found."  William Stafford, poet (1914-1993)

View from bicycle.

View from bicycle.

This is a very important lesson for me.  When I ride my bike, I get so focused on where I'm going, which is usually up or down a hill, that I forget the joy of distraction.  Today I stopped on a hilltop and allowed myself to be distracted.  And in that moment I found myself drifting with the clouds and it was grand.          

Bicycle Lesson #6 - Rhône Alpes, France

Get Going!  Marcel Proust called it exercising the authority of his inner self.

I woke up this morning knowing it's Tuesday and I've committed to riding my bike though I'm really not into it. This early in the morning I'd rather be in bed reading.  But once on my bike, I take off down the hill and immediately start feeling really good.  And now I'm on my way home with the results of my work; a baguette, a good workout, and several new ideas I want to put to paper. 

I realize I do the same with my writing. I go to work at my desk saying I have to do it as if it is a terrible chore. When actually once I get going it is the most fun thing in my life. 

Bicycle Lesson #5 - Rhône Alpes, France

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body but rather to skid in sideways thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "What a ride!"

Goats grazing on bike trail.

Goats grazing on bike trail.

Today's lesson was difficult!  I just couldn't find the energy to pedal up the final hill and had to stop.  Looking down on the goats who felt as enthusiastic as I did reminded me of this anonymous quote I use to get going.

I got back on my bike and pedaled hard and when I reached the top of the hill, I loudly proclaimed, "What a ride!"

Bicycle Lesson #4 - Rhône Alpes, France

If you want to reach the top of a hill on a bike, you must have a goal in mind.  Upon awaking this morning, I realized that I had no reason to go to la boulangerie to get a baguette as we were having lunch with friends at midday.  Oops.  Now what am I going to do?  I asked myself, lying there in my peaceful bed.  Croissants quickly came to mind.  That's it.  We'll have croissants for breakfast with strawberries.  And being quite interested in the DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) affair, because I really want to see this guy go down, I will also bring home Le Dauphiné to read the latest on the scandal that daily enfolds like a soap opera here and in the USA.  So with two worthwhile goals in mind I took off on my two-wheeler.

Bicycle Lesson #3 - Rhône Alpes, France

Boulangerie at 7.30 A.M.  Spring Water Tap

At  6.45 a.m. I was snuggled in bed reading "Hunters and Gatherers" (great summer read) and I didn't want to take a bike ride. It was sixty degrees outside and that meant it'd be cold on my ride until the sun came over the canyon wall.  And then I remembered it was Sunday.  On Sunday I reward myself at the boulangerie with pain de chocolat, tarte framboise (rasberry), and croissants along with the baguette.

After a slow start, I whizzed down the canyon, as if it was a ski slope, relieved each time I drove through a sun-patch.  On my return, the phrase "one step at a time" came to mind though this was one pedal at a time. I found that it helped if I looked down at just what was in front of me, the pebbled road, and shaded my eyes with my cap so as not to look ahead at the steep incline, a vision that filled me with discouraging words. 

So today's bike lesson was that when you have something that you really want to do, actually love to do, but it's really hard (most things you want to do are hard!) - to reach your ambition you take one step, and then another, stay in the present, and don't look too far ahead. 

One Step at a Time