Friday, November 05, 2010

What We Do When We Do Our Best

Five years ago today, I wrote these words:
"OK, let's see how this blogging thing goes."
At the time, I had only a vague notion of what I might write next and no idea of what twists and turns might lie on the path ahead. Today, I have only a vague notion of what I might write next and no idea of what twists and turns might lie on the path ahead. But I don't need to know the whole path, heck I don't want to know the whole path. I've got what I need to get going, the reason to turn the pedal over at least one more time. Stick around and I might get around to telling you about it. Maybe. As I said, I'm not really sure where this is going.

I have two very neat machines here. One is simple and amazing. A couple of wheels, some pedals. A bit of chain. A part you sit on and a part you hang on to. Here's the weird thing, though: It only works when it's going. You've got to put some faith into it, roll past a bit of fear and a lot of uncertainty. You give it a little push of your motion, catch your breath when you are sure you are about to fall but still follow it into that fall. And the bike rolls under the very spot you were about to fall into and you learn something magical, something called balance. And your world will never be as small as it was before. You've grown wheels that feel just like wings.

The other machine is complex and amazing. Wires and electrons and keyboards and all the glowing screens in all the coffee shops in all the world. Servers in cold rooms and satellites in space and light running through fibers. An encyclopedia written by everybody with a keyboard, a place where damn near anybody can publish and damn near everybody does. We've built the world's biggest and best copy machine and we mostly use it to forward bad jokes and send pictures of cats doing dumb things. We are the most stupid, cute, wonderful, amazing creatures on earth. If cats invented the internet, they'd be forwarding a billion pictures of us doing dumb things.

I use the internet to do a very little thing, a tiny thing, a trivial thing. I call it Kent's Bike Blog. Note the lack of global scope. I don't write about the entire world, I just write about bike stuff that interests me. I try to keep it to bikes, but I don't always succeed. If I was just writing it for me, I'd write it in a notebook and lock it away, but I write it on the internet so I reckon I must be thinking I have something to say to folks. I try to be somewhat interesting or useful in some way.

I've been quieter here lately for several reasons. One is Twitter, which provides a 140 character outlet for the "hey look at that" pointers that previously might expand to fill blog post. Another reason for silence is that given by David Byrne, "Say something once, why say it again?" I've written a lot of words over the past five years and on some subjects I figure I've said enough. But the final reason is that sometimes you have to be quiet to figure something out. I've been trying to figure out if I've said all I need to say or if maybe the words should go in a book or a tweet or some other venue.

I've written previously about a formative experience I had in the open spaces of Wyoming that showed me that we do indeed get what we need. I was blessed enough to get a reminder a few hours ago from an internet friend, a woman who wrote not just of her fear, but her desire to ride past that fear. She wrote not only to ask for help, but she wrote to help. And Hollie, this may surprise you, but your post really, really, helped me. Thank you.

Hollie reminded me that we pedal forward, not because we know what lies ahead or because we do not fear, we pedal because we love to pedal and we suspect there is something down the trail we need to find.

I've found beauty in quiet places and friends I know only through pixels. I've crashed into gates I didn't see, walked when I couldn't pedal and retreated for home when I know deep down I could have lost two days and kept going. But sometimes you have to stop, be quiet, go home, regroup and refill. And then you get an answer. Not the whole answer, but enough. Just a bit. The thing that brings you back to the only path you can possibly travel.

When we do our best, we seldom have that clean, clear certainty that we are doing our best. We are only doing what we can. I think I have a few more things to say here, things about riding and living and rolling around this beautiful world on two wheels.

For now I'll just say thanks, thanks to Hollie and all the rest of you who read Kent's Bike Blog and help me keep 'em rolling.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA


Bob said...

Thank YOU, Kent. Your posts generally get me thinking, which is usually a good thing. Keep it up. I used to subscribe to a newspaper called The Budget, which is a collection of letters written by Amish and Mennonites detailing what's been happening in their communities. I didn't read it because I am Amish or because I wanted to become Amish. I read it because it provided a refreshing alternative view of the world and life. Your blog provides a similar service.


Joe said...

I first visited here when I found your site while researching the ride the divide race. I have since enjoyed all your posts, and product reviews. (I even snagged a radbot 1000 which I love). Your take on life is refreshing, your approach to cycling is inspiring, and your zest for life and the simple things that make one happy is unmatched on any other site I have visited.

I'd like to say thanks for sharing your thoughts and views, and ask, ever so humbly, that you continue to do so, for as long as you find reward in it.

Thanks again, and keep em rollin.


Anonymous said...

Allow me to add my thanks, Kent, for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Lee

dexey said...

I'll add my thanks as well.
I check your blog every day and I hate the big gaps but the next post is always worth reading.
My first bivi bag night and my efforts to camp lighter are because of your writings. I reread the duct tape story. When things like that happen to me I suspect the hand of God.
So thank you and please carry on.

CurioRando said...

What I value most about your writing, and this post reminded me of it, is that particular intersection of humility and forthrightness that is you. You aren't afraid to stake your ground because your experiences--and just your youness--offer a great deal to the rest of us. Any blogger has to have that forhtrightness bordering on hubris to hit the "post" button. But, your writing is also steeped in a humility that is not falsely modest. Just the right spot.

That's what I like, and I'm glad after some pondering that you're staying at it. Anyone who reads your posts knows there is no exhaustion of material; the world is too rich for a guy like you to be mum.

Thanks much for all you've contributed! Looking forward to much, much more.

Cecil "Zeke" Yount said...

I'm happy to understand better the relative quietness of your blog recently. I was afraid you'd foresaken it for Twitter, which I do follow as well. I'm glad to see that you won't be deep sixing your blog because I, like the others that have commented, do find inspiration in your writing. It helps me keep going as both a cyclist and an aspiring writer...

In fact, as I sit here this morning with my first cup of coffee watching it snow, your post helped my day get off to a very pleasant start! Thanks for that and all the other days as well...

- Zeke said...

Congratulations on reaching the 5-year mark and thank you for setting the standard for us aspiring bike bloggers (also thanks adding me to your links, I felt very honored). Cruising the bike blogophere, a link to “Kent’s Bike Blog” is found on most sites. I think that speaks volumes. Kent’s Bike Blog is the blog bloggers blog about.

Keep up the good work, Jack Moore

SS:Mtn Biker said...

No Kent,the thanks goes to you,my friend =) Great reading there,Brother.

Steve in Virginia

Hollie said...

Thanks Kent! And you're welcome. :)

I have gotten so much inspiration from reading about your adventures, but what drives me to keep trying to ride (even though I'm a nervous pedaler) is your attitude, that open and optimistic view you have on riding, and the world in general. It has really affected me, and I'm so grateful you write down your thoughts.

Arleigh said...

Kent - I want to thank you for everything you've done for the past 5 years. The constant reminder that everyone is capable of doing amazing things. Often it begins with one pedal stroke, or one peck of the finger on the keyboard.

Your post to me many days ago after that car accident, was one I have repeatedly returned to. Your post have become articles, those articles found across the web thanks to Google or your favorite search engine. Your words have become history and we all thank you for that.

Yokota Fritz said...

Keep up the great work, Kent. Happy 5th Blogging Birthday.

kfg said...

"Say something once, why say it again?"

There's a lot to this. I often extend it to "If someone else has already said it, and said it better, why say it again?"

Of course between Voltaire, Paine, Thoreau and Twain that doesn't leave me a lot to say; but I will point out a contrary point of view.

Twain was once on the verge of quitting his newspaper job because he'd already said everything he had to say.

His editor told him to stick with it, because it isn't enough to say it, you have to keep saying it until they get it.