Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The ride of a lifetime...

When I was a kid, my parents often times would load us all into the car and simply go for a ride.  We'd drive up along the coast, maybe stop to walk the beach or ride out in the country with the hope of spotting a deer or other form of wildlife.  Sometimes the ride would turn into an opportunity for a nap or perhaps we'd end up at the local ice cream stand for a treat.  Regardless of the reason, the chance to go on a ride on a lazy afternoon was generally a treat unto itself.  Well, as my parents have aged, the shoe now has fallen on the other foot, but the reasons for going remain the same.  It's a chance to share some quality time without the distractions of life.

On Friday this week, with the seemingly interminable rains hindering the outdoor activity, it was time for a ride.  I used the excuse of needing to do a few errands, but what I really wanted to do was spend some time with my Mom.  She has always loved to "joy" ride and is always at the ready when to comes to this sort of adventure.  So, without the use of our GPS device, we headed off for a ride.  Our only goal was to get from point A to point B and back again, no flight plan no maps, just our instincts and enough gas to get us there.  We followed the old carriage roads along some of New England's infinite stone walls and passed through several of those little villages you could imagine Currier and Ives would have depicted in their lithographs.  It was all so quiet, even with the rain pelting down on our windshield and the wipers vigorously doing their job.  However, it was all worth the effort because we both could reminisce about the good old days when she'd be driving my brothers and me out to The Mill or to the apple orchards for an afternoon of errands.  We talked about things that happened many years ago as if they had happened just yesterday.  It was lovely, she said, just like she had said a million times before; and it was.

We finally arrived at our first destination and quickly moved on to the next,  wasting little time "shopping" as we had many years before.  This time I was in charge, as Mom waited patiently in the car, unlike we had years ago.  Regardless, it was all good.

As we made our way back home, I thought about how life comes full circle.  Those many eons ago my mother took us over many of the same roads carrying out her business with all of us in tow.  Now it was my turn to return the favor, but really, who was doing whom the favor?.  Once again, she was the one who was nurturing my soul with her quips and her effervescent smile just sitting there enjoying the "ride".  Yes, she was up to her old tricks again, and thank God I have been along for the ride.  Mom, how would you like to stop for an ice cream on our way home?  This time it will be my treat!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shore to shore

The lyrics found in the hymn,  America  the Beautiful, speak of the beauty in America while going from sea to shinning sea, and if you have ever traveled about this great country, those words couldn't be more true.  I have been fortunate enough to have crossed this land solely, with friends, and most memorably on family camping trips when I was younger.  However, when one goes from sea to shining sea, you have to cross the land in between, but if you go from shore to  shore, then one has to cross a body of water.  Well, my friends and I recently did just that, we swam across the lake at Chautauqua just so we could say we swam across the lake.

Guy's weekend at the lake has become a tradition for our group of "weekend" warriors.  Generally, there is an abundance of exercise, followed by a proportionately substantial amount of eating, in turn followed by a whole lot of "fellowship".  Although the name guy's weekend implies participation by only a fraternity of brothers, most of us have outgrown the need for male bonding, so the families are all included in the festivities as well.  Truthfully, the logistics of some of our activities are made infinitely more easy because of the "X" factor.

This year we decided it was time to man up and cross the lake, swimming the entire distance, 1.85 miles.  So, with the aid of our support staff in the safety boat and putting a "strategery" together for the swimmers, we donned our wetsuits, swim caps, and goggles and took the plunge.  It was a lovely day with calm "seas" and sunshine.  In no time at all, we were almost there, and then almost there, and then almost there.  The distant shore grew ever closer, but you couldn't have convinced any of us of that fact.  The primary target seemed to get bigger as we crossed the lake, but I truly believe that was more simply just wishful thinking.  However, we finally did emerge from the lake an hour and a half later to set foot on terra firma once again.  What a relief indeed for all those involved, especially the support staff, because, without their help, we couldn't have done it safely.

Without a doubt, the guys in this group have become truly special to each other over the years.  We have run, biked, and swam our way to becoming, quite literally, a band of brothers.  Now that we have conquered the crossing of Lake Chautauqua, we can say that for "shore"!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spinning out of Control

With the wild weather that most of the country has been experiencing of late, it is no wonder that there has been much attention given to all those whirling dervishes known as tornadoes.  In fact, here in the East, the weather this evening looked more like tornado alley than the gentle, rolling hills of New England.  However, even though most of the media coverage has been on the "spinning" air masses outside, some forms of spinning are found in the more sedate confines of the gym, and permit me to explain.

Most of us who engage in triathlon training recognize the value in cross training, and certainly as age catches up with each of us, the merits of mixing up the routine from day to day clearly provides benefits.  Because of the protracted number of recent rainy days, I was "forced" inside for my early morning constitutionals.  However, what I soon discovered was that spinning "class" offered a wonderful alternative when the weather outside was, shall we say, less than ideal.  There are some compromises, however, but when Mother Nature rears Her ugly head and fails to accommodate us with favorable conditions, then taking it the "seats" isn't so bad.

I have spoken to a number of "spinners" over the years who have encouraged me to try this indoor form of exercise, but my fondness for the outdoors has generally kept me on the "outside".  However, with the exceptionally wet spring we've had this year, I was forced indoors in order to keep up with my bike training.  I suppose one could say that quite "literally" being wet behind the ears now has me spinning out of control!