Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day Rides in Oroville, California . . . I'm Still Rollin'

This photo represents for me much of the reason why I am bicycling. The shot is a creative experience--seeing the opportunity and taking the shot, and then working with the photo, cropping, turning it to a b & w photo, and playing with contrast. I think I've created a mood that represents (at least for me) what I was experiencing at that moment on Lone Tree Road west of the little town of Palermo: the power and grandeur of nature, the wonderful mystery of life, and the underlying, silent, pure potentiality that is the basis of all activity and individual intelligence.

The best decision I've  made in a long time is that once I realized I'll be spending about six months caring for my parents and brother, I chose to buy a bicycle. I made that decision about two months into my California stay, and I thank my wife for endorsing and encouraging me to action on my desire.

I've now been taking day rides in the Oroville area. These rides are good for both mind and body. The physical activity involved with spending time with people who are blind or who use walkers or wheelchairs is limited. I'm glad I have the time and the opportunity to be active more according to my current needs and abilities. Thank you, everyone, for giving me the chance to engage in something that gives me joy.

Crazy Guy on a Bike is a website that provides the space for individuals who ride bicycles to post journals and photos about their bicycle travels. Neil Gunton is a bicyclist who is also a computer programmer. He toured on his bicycle one year . . . and developed a website to share his exploits. He has opened that site up to others, including me. CGOAB now includes thousands of journals with photos, product reviews, a bicycling forum, and much more. The site now has a life of its own (still shepherded by Neil), including the possibility of donation to support it. Thank you, Neil.

Here is my profile for CGOAB. It includes my journals/photos, my travels so far. Below are photos and comments about my travels during this time that I am away from SE Iowa while taking care of my family.

Taken about 8:30 AM, this photo isn't technically great, but the sky and the morning were. This was the first time I had ever been on this road. Although I can deal with traffic, its lack that morning provided deep satisfaction. In no hurry, I stopped, took photographs, enjoyed the morning, and appreciated being there. The only sounds were those of nature and the whisper of my tires on the pavement. The sky was huge and bright and beckoning. The road before me was an invitation. I gratefully accepted the moment given me, pedaling toward the horizon, alone yet completely connected.

Here I am on a gravel road, a 2.5-mile connection to the next paved section. I enjoyed the change the gravel gave me, and I enjoyed the new environment. I met one auto on this road, a farmer in a pick-up. I like how on these rides I have an overall time frame of travel, since I am caring for my family, yet within that time I am free to rest, explore, or just ride. I usually take some food and stop somewhere along the way for a snack and an opportunity to let the world come to me rather than my coming to it. "Earth abides" is the phrase that sums up this photo for me: I am engaged in the everyday task on eating, yet around me, those eternal rhythms of nature paint the environment with large strokes. The distant bleached fields of grasses--who can miss that we do not move through nature but that we never leave it, that we are part and parcel of it.

This ride was along the Feather river above the fish hatchery. It's a beautiful ride, yet I couldn't escape the memory of how beautiful the river was before the environment was altered by the California water project in the 1960's to dam the river (several times) in order to provide water for Southern California and flood control and recreation for Northern California. In many ways, I think Northern California got the short end of the stick. The rugged canyons and isolated gorges of the area, laced with the river branches and streams, was such a beautiful and unique environment, now buried by man-made reservoirs. What we have created has its beauty, but certainly a beauty no greater than the original.

All that talk, and then a truly grand experience like riding a bike over the suspension bridge at Lake Oroville--great moments come from within as much (or more) than from without. This ride involved climbing, an experience that I had little of or for short duration in Iowa. So, gearing down and grunting or getting off and pushing, both of these experiences I enjoyed and tucked away. The pay-off of the suspension bridge was a treat. Up in the mountains and above the water, the quality of light and sound are special. Vision expands to distances and sound echoes and deepens to silence. I feel like a stone dropped into a pond; I expand, becoming more and more as I become less and less.

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