Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Recap - New Year Resolutions

Well, here we are on the last day of 2009. Time to review how I did with my New Year Resolutions.

1. Drive my truck to work less than 25% of the time. (GRADE = A+)

Year end totals:
Bike = 202
Bus = 18
Truck = 22

Truck driven to work 10% of the time. I have to admit, I am pretty proud of this achievement. Riding to work this often was no walk in the park. I had to endure some pretty nasty weather and overcome my own laziness on many mornings. Never the less, I endured. Reach hand over shoulder and pat myself on the back:-)

2. Complete a Triathlon. (GRADE = DNF)
Dropped in April. I found that as the weather got better, I wanted to ride more and run/swim less. Oh well- it was a decision that I did not regret. Riding more is a good thing - right?

3. Ride at least 6 centuries. (GRADE = D)
I rode centuries in May and June. All was on track and I was looking good. Then Summer peaked and I was so busy, I never could seem to find the time to ride 100 miles at a time. No excuse - I got lazy!

4. Start blogging and create a web site for "". (GRADE = A)
I was able to average 2.25 blogs a week during my first year at this thing. I really tried to focus on the quality of the content versus the quantity. I feel like I accomplished that goal. As far as the web site thing is concerned, I decided to put that on hold indefinitely. The Blog itself takes up quite a bit of time and to be honest, I'm not sure that I really need a web page.

Well - there you have it. When I step back and look at this past year, overall I am very pleased with my accomplishments. it was a good year and I believe 2010 will be even better.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


By the time I started heading home from work, it was completely and utterly dark. I switched on the lights and rode slowly. My pace was not dictated by the darkness. Nor was it incumbent on my physical limitation. I rode slowly simply because that's how fast I wanted to ride. This was my final ride home in the dark for this year. The following day, I would be heading home to Louisiana for the holidays. I wanted to enjoy this final ride. I wanted to look around and take in my surroundings. I wanted to make it last.

As I was crossing a side street, I glanced down it to make sure no cars were coming. As I did, a particular house caught my attention, it was decked out with lights and Christmas decorations. Wanting a closer look, I turned down the street, stopped in front of the house and admired the handiwork.They had
- huge snow globes
- reindeer and a sleigh
- a Ferris wheel and Merry-go-round
- Santa and Mrs. Claus
- snowmen, toy soldiers and elves
- candy canes and stockings
- miles of lights strung to and from, up and down, in and out and amidst it all.
- and finally, the whole scene was choreographed to Christmas carols, echoing softly in the night.

After a few minutes of enjoying the scene, I pushed away and rode on down the same street, making my way around the block and back to my normal route home. Two doors down from the winter wonderland house, something else caught my attention. In the side yard were three small, simple, white figures. One was of a little baby, lying in a manger, the other two, were a man and woman looking over it. While above the three, a single star was suspended in the sky. I stopped again, climbed off the bike, sat across the top tube and let this simple scene touch me.After some time, I managed to pull myself away and climb back on my bike. I rode home even slower. As I did, I pondered Christmas. I love Christmas. I love the whole season. I love the hustle and bustle, the excitement, the activities, the lights, the songs and the time together with family and loved ones.

Yet in all these wonderful things, it is so easy to forget what Christmas is really all about. “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.” For me, this single verse out of the Gospel of John embodies all that the Christmas story is about. Throughout the old testament, there are countless stories of God appearing to man in many different ways. Yet, the Christmas story is different. In this story, God did not just appear to man. In the Christmas story, “God became a man.” The living, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty, Alpha and Omega, eternal, all powerful GOD, became flesh and blood and dwelt among us.

One would have thought, that when God came to earth that: He would be raised by royalty, yet his parents were mere peasants. He would be born in a palace, yet he entered this world in a stable, because there was no room in the inn. His birth would be attended by all the movers and shakers of the world, yet the only ones that came were smelly shepherds in the fields nearby.

The Christmas scenes that I had just observed brought all this flooding into my heart and mind. What caught my attention was all the lights and fanfare of the festively ,decorated home. It would have been easy to overlook the simple nativity scene. It didn't jump out at you. It was not displayed in a prominent area of the yard. There was nothing distinct to announce its presence. Yet in this simple, quiet scene, the heart of Christmas is captured as perfectly as God orchestrated it some 2000 years before.

“The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.” My hope and prayer for each of you this Christmas, is that you let Jesus be as human as he intended to be. Let Him into the muck and mire of your everyday life. For it’s only when you let Him in, that He can pull you out.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Paul and His Magic Rain Suit

We've had a particularly wet Fall this year in Virginia. I finally grew tired of the wet weather keeping me from riding to work, so I broke down and purchased my first ever cycling rain gear.

After much research, I decided upon Shower Pass rain gear. Shower Pass is out of Portland, OR and I figured if anyone knows how to make good rain gear, it would be folks living in the Pacific Northwest. So far I am happy to report that I have not been disappointed with my purchase.However, over the last month or so since I bought the gear, I have learned something special about it that is not advertised on Shower Pass' web site. Not only is this gear water proof, it also has special magical powers to completely and utterly stop rain. I'm not talking about simply stopping the rain from reaching my skin, I mean it stops the rain from falling from the sky.

I have only had two opportunities to use my new rain gear. In both instances:
- the Weather Channel showed a plethora of rain.
- the weather map showed that my immediate vicinity was completely engulfed in rain.
- the weather forecast was calling for a 100% chance of rain.
- when I looked outside, it was a veritable deluge.

Yet - in both instances - the moment I donned my new gear and excitedly shuffled outside to brave the elements - the rain stopped! It didn't just stop for a minute. I mean not a single drop of rain fell for my entire commute. Yet, the moment I arrived at my destination, took off my gear and walked to the window in my office, the rain was falling once again in solid sheets.

Go figure!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Sorry. I didn't see you. It's my fault.

“I'm sorry. I didn't see you. It's my fault.” That's what he said. I’m referring to the driver of the car that almost ran me over.

I was riding home tonight, through the same neighborhood streets that I've ridden home hundreds of times. It was dark. There were no street lights. That made it even darker. I approached an intersection and saw a car approaching from my right. I had the right of way. He had a stop sign. Yet, I instinctively applied the brakes. It was a good thing I did, because he barely slowed down and pulled out right in front of me. I was riding my Christmas Bike and, literally, was lit up like a Christmas tree.You would have to be as absolutely blind as a bat or as obtuse as a loon to not have seen me – yet he pulled out right in front of me.

One moment I was be-bopping along singing "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" and the next I clinging to my brakes for dear life. I yelled out "why don't you fricking pay attention!" What is it that causes a man in but an instant to switch from singing about the saving grace of the new born King to practically using the “F” word in the same sentence? That is an ethical dilemma and theological debate that I will let rest and probably never pick up again.

“Why don’t you fricking pay attention!” In the darkness, I failed to realize that he had his window down. Lucky for one of us, I kept me expression of dismay and frustration in the semi-rated “G“ mode. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the words that happened upon my ears. In the dark recesses of the vehicle that came within inches of barreling over me I heard, in a gentle, genuine voice, “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you. It’s my fault!"

After my close brush with death, I continued to ride on in the darkness. I felt strange. Here I was clearly in the right of way. I was lit up like a Christmas tree. I was dressed in a bright yellow jacket. Yet, as I and my arch enemy – the dreaded thing called an automobile, went our separate ways, it was I who felt guilty for uttering the word “fricking”.

What’s the deal with that? Could it be that my arch enemy, really isn’t an enemy at all? Is all this just an honest mistake or a legitimate misunderstanding? Don’t get me wrong, there are people who drive cars that are complete “A-holes”. Let’s be honest, there are people that ride bicycles that are complete “A-holes” as well. Yet, tonight’s encounter reminds me that the aforementioned “A-holes” on both sides of the transportation debate, represent an infinitesimally small majority. The rest of us are normal, everyday, “I’m sorry – I didn’t see you – It’s my fault” kind of folks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Bike

The weather outside is frightful.The fire in the kerosene heater is so delightful.A "Carol of the Bells" is a ringing.I have one more pumkin ale for drinking.

What is the meaning of all this rhyme?
Except to say its Christmas Bike time!

A Christmas Bike
by me

On its handlebars is hung a wreath of greenAround its tubes red tinsel gleamsAngel Bells dangle from the its levers just right.It's frame is accentuated by blinking lightsStockings are hung on its rack with careIn hopes that Saint Paul soon would be there!Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Colonial Trangle Ride - Day 2 - Night

After dinner, I went down to the bath house and took a long, hot shower. I then made my way back to my pitch black campground and crawled in my tent. Under the warm glow of my my light, I poured the second stout.I laid back in my sleeping bag and spent the better part of the next hour reading and sipping. Occasionally, I would look out the tent and thanks to the starlight, was just able to make out the outline of the river as it snaked away in the distance.

It was a perfect evening for camping. It was a perfect setting. All was right with the world. It was one of those moments that you never want to end. Unfortunately, like all perfect moments, they end all too quickly. I took my last sip and my eyes grew heavy. I turned off the Ipod, cast one more glance at the river and fell fast asleep.