Blog update:

Abraham: The Shaping of a Life and Culture.

Over the next few months, my posts will primarily focus on the life of Abraham as I attempt to "blog a book."

Entries in bicycle (4)


A specific description, not a specific speed

This man was riding his bicycle down a really steep road. He was moving like a freight train. No. That's not right. He was moving like a locomotive. No.

He was moving like a gazelle.

He was moving like a man with a mission. (Snicker.)

He was moving like demons from hell were chasing him.

He was moving like a giraffe. (Huh?)An antelope.

He was moving like he had no manana. (Hmmm.)

He was bookin'. Haulin'. Smokin'.

He was streakin' his way down a gnarly run.

He was rockin' and rollin' down like a man with an endless groove loop in his headphones.

He was piston-ing his legs with the galloping cadence of a thoroughbred.

Duuuude! He was steamrollin' it, man.

Like greased lighting.

Like a hurricane. A tornado. A torrent.

Like he was shooting out with the rip tide.


Anyway, he was riding the bike along, trying to describe just how fast he was going. He couldn't find the right analogy, simile, metaphor or otherwise. He just knew his eyes were watering and the sweat he'd worked up was cold in the self-made wind. He knew if he tipped a little too much to the right he'd pop his peddle on the curb and likely flip in a fury of flailing limbs. If he veered too much to the left he'd be plowed by the passing cars. It was a rush, but he couldn't describe it. Not with the right image.

He turned and glanced over his left shoulder. No head lights. Good it was clear.

"Hey! How fast am I going?"

(He doesn't want a specific speed. He wants a specific description. Do you have one?)


Living a Better Story, take two, day five

Above: Me, Travis, Paul, my dad, Joshua.

Day five of Living a Better Story found us at Martin Creek State Park awaking to a still, brisk, bright morning. We would be able to finish, granted we had the energy and the wits to avoid being killed on the road.

To be honest, I don't think the guys felt the energy, but we departed anyway on the bikes, ready for the dogs we knew awaited us just outside the state park. They provided a brief sprint; the fear of being bitten or having a dog collide with your front tire is a nice way to get the adrenaline flowing and the legs pistoning.

Highway 43 to Henderson was uneventful, until we found a pair of panties lying on the side of the road. I haven't metioned it before, but as we've been going along this trip I've been looking for "roadside treasures." I told one of the guys on the first day that the things I see most often on the side of the road are trash, bungy cords, gloves, and bras. He thought that was random... we both did. Well, on day five I found a pair of red panties. I took a picture of them to make a joke for my wife, which worked quite well, I might add. Then Travis decided he would wear them, and he made a joke of his own.

All down Highway 43 and then onto Highway 64, Travis peddaled himself and his pantied heinie along. The other guys were pretty grossed out by the whole thing; thoughts of where they had been especially grossed them out. Heh, all Travis could think about was finding a bra to match. He never did find a bra, so we ripped the lingerie away about twenty miles from Tyler, our destination.

Other highlights? Well, Joshua (who fell pretty hard the second day) has been struggling all week with a sore elbow. On day five, his sunburn blistered and his arm went numb. I tried to get him to ride in the truck with my dad, but he refused. He said he could still feel his hand, so he'd be okay. I didn't want to stop him from finishing this story his way, so I let him ride. He finished red, yes; he finished tired, yes; he finished with a stiffening arm, yes. As he put it himself, he "spends most of his time indoors." This bicycle trip was beyond his everyday activities. But he finished. I'm proud of his efforts and his accomplishment.

Paul proved to be the supportive big brother this trip. He would hang back and wait for Joshua, he would look after him and check to be sure he was feeling alright, he would encourage him. He was the first to help Joshua up off the road when he crashed. As we neared Tyler, Travis remarked to me that Paul was a good big brother. Travis said he would have probably left his own brother and then told a snowboarding/skiing story to support his point. Of course, Travis didn't actually leave his brother stranded on a mountain, but his point was taken. Paul is a good big brother and Joshua was better for it this week. Joshua still did his ride his way, but his biggest fan was certainly Paul. (And, for the record, I think Travis might find himself a better big brother than he thinks, if given the chance.)

We arrived at my house around 3:30. We were all mildly euphoric and thrilled to have finished the journey. My dad was already there, unloading the trailor. We gathered around for one final picture, which proved to be opportunity for one last prank. My wife called as my dad snapped off his last shot, and handed the phone to Travis. The three boys played their roles as redneck brothers, confused my daughter and my wife, and had one final laugh.

Saying goodbye to each other and the trip is an odd thing. We had just spent the better part of five days together, riding, struggling, laughing, eating, thinking (well, thinking some). Now, it was over. There were a few hugs, a few handshakes. Then, goodbye. I'm not sure I even got a chance to look each student in the eyes as we parted ways. It lasted so long and it comes to an end so abrubtly.

Truly, such a trip as this--such a story as this--is about the journey. It's hard for a goodbye to be other than quick. I do hope these young men will read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl and find themselves thinking through what we did together and what they can do in the future... what they can do to live better stories. A real change in perspective doesn't usually happen in an instant or overnight or even through five days of riding bikes and spending time together. We have a start. Now it's up to them to consider further. To pour meaning and purpose and ambition into the characters they are becoming. To live a better story. I wish them the best and godspeed on their coming stories.


Living a Better Story, take two

Today a group of Brook Hill students and I began our Living a Better Story class. It's basically a five day bicycle trip around East Texas--we ride during the day and discuss Donald Miller's book A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS at night. We're working on seeing that the elements of a good story are also the elements that make a good life.

More on this later this week. For now, let me list some observations about cycling and life that I've re-remembered or learned today.

1. Sometimes, you have to go at a slower pace than you're accustomed to going. I ride fairly regularly. The guys with me on this trip do not. I'm here doing this for them--my life for theirs, so to speak. On the bike and in life, sometimes I need to slow down to a pace the people around me can follow.

2. While practice and regularity can improve a person's speed and skill on a bicycle, music seems to help as well. Okay, music DOES NOT improve skill, but it did seem to help the guys stay after what they were doing (which was, uh, peddling). Music can help us stay after what we're doing in life as well. We all know it can set our mood or help us express the mood we're in. It can also set the tone for our days and weeks, especially on Sundays when we worship and sing corporately.

3. When it gets dark, sometimes it's better to just get in the truck and ride to your destination that way. We got a late start today so we didn't make our destination before nightfall. Around 8:30 I decided it was best to get in the truck and drive the last eight miles. Getting carried, often times, is the safest course through some of the riskier moments of our lives.

4. Closely related to Number 3 is the valuable truth that most of the times we need to do what we're supposed to do before we do what we want to do. Today I was responsible for the lives of three young men and myself. Yes, I wanted to ride the last eight miles to Daingerfield State Park, but it wasn't best. It wasn't safe. It wasn't what I should do, what I was supposed to do. So we drove the rest of the way. This lesson is a daily one; it applies to so much of life.

It's now 11:42. We rode 42 miles today. We began thinking consciously of living a better story. We learned some lessons, most of which I've not listed, nor can I articulate just yet. It is good.

What kind of lessons have you learned today? Let me know if you have a moment.


Trying to see the tilt

I'm going on another bicycle trip soon. Two hundred and fifty (and change) miles in five days with three young men and my father as companions.

My hope? I want to see some of the wonders of this wide world. Well, the East Texas part of it, at least. We plan on going into Arkansas and Louisiana, too. That might be world enough to open my eyes a little wider.

Last year when I did this trip, we got chased by a sheep and awoken in the night by racoons possessed by banshees. Good times. I--WE--are hoping for more this time. Ah, but the more I want is to see more broadly, more deeply. More awareness, more appreciation.

In his book Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, ND Wilson begins by pointing out the broad wonder of our existence on this planet:

Just to be clear, I live on a near perfect sphere hurtling through space at around 67,000 miles per hour. Mach 86 to pilots. Of course, this sphere of mine is also spinning while it hurtles, so tack on an extra 1,000 miles per hour at the fat parts. And it's all tucked into this giant hurricane of stars. Yes, it can be freaky. Once a month or so, my wife will find me lying in the lawn, burrowing white knuckles into the grass, trying not to fly away. But most of the time I manage to keep my balance despite the speed, and I don't have to hold on with anything more than my toes.

Mach 86. That's pretty fast, right? He's writing in the first person (as you probably noticed). Then he draws us all in: "You live here too. Which means I'm not special." We all live in such a place as this, and we haven't even begun to explore any of it. It's a wonder. And, I, the not special, not ordinary one, miss it. Have you? Have you missed some of the wonder? All of it?

I'm going riding to try to see more of it again. I'll find it. But in my preparation for that week in March, I'm going to be looking around here, too. The wonder is right before my eyes.

I'm trying to see the tilt. You come too.