Sunday, June 17, 2007

Missed Opportunity/Mystery Ride

The pathway to Hades, they say, is constructed with bricks fashioned out of such things as "shoulda, coulda, woulda" and the like. I'm afraid that I'm guilty of firing my own gargantuan pile of pavers. Well, since this blog is austensibly cycling-related, I guess maybe I should say I'm hewing cobbles laced with the stench of brimstone. Yeah, whatever.

Several of us had made tentative plans to ride from Townsend, Tennessee (on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park) to Elkmont (inside said Nat'l Park) on Thursday with the expressed purpose of witnessing the magic of the fireflies. It turns out that, at this particular time of year, the fireflies that populate the Elkmont area tend to flash their lights in a synchronized pattern. It was first reported to a researcher in the 1970s, I believe, who studied the phenomenon. At first they thought that it happened only at Elkmont, but it has since been witnessed at other places.

But not by me, and certainly not on Thursday evening. I was a victim of weather forecasting. That's my story, and I'm not budging from it.

When I left work on Thursday the Nat'l Weather Service was calling for "Strong Storms" throughout the area. Thus, I bailed. It turns out that we all bailed except Gary S., who ended up going and of course never seeing a drop of rain. He did see some fireflies, though.

I'd thought of using the evening to go to Sundown in the City (a local summer outdoor concert series. The band this week was Uncle Earl, an all-female bluegrass band. I thought Mrs. Guy would enjoy it. Sadly, she had a bad headache. We stayed home instead. And never saw a drop of rain either.

On a side note, Uncle Earl is performing at Bonnaroo, as are several local (Knoxville) bands. My friend John B. will be playing with two of them (Angel and the Lovemongers, and the Westside Daredevils). Bonzer, fellows.
I went for a ride today (Saturday, when I started this post). There was a ride starting at 9:00am starting not too far from my house. I got there at about 8:55am. They were already gone. (What the....?). I have never, ever been to a ride that even started on time, much less more than five minutes early. Yes, my watch is accurate. Very accurate (set to the National Institute of Standards and Technology atomic clock).

Rather than sulk about it and drag myself home to sit in a dejected heap on the sofa, I decided to head down toward downtown. I wanted to go to the Bike Zoo anyway, so I just parked there and headed out, knowing they'd be open when I got back.

I usually have some idea of where I'm going when I start a ride. I'll at least have a general route in mind. Not today. I just, well, headed out, letting the bike aim itself wherever my subconcious whim told it to. I've done this type of ride before, though usually with others along for the ride. We call them mystery rides.

"Where are we going?"

"I don't know."

"Oh, OK."

I've been on some Magical Mystery Tours, and I've been on some Tragical Mystery Tours (AKA 'Tragical Misery Tours'). Today wasn't either end of that spectrum, really, but it was a fun ride. I just rode along finding roads I'd never been on before. Some I knew where they would come out, and some I didn't, though I recognized where I came out in all but one place.

All but one, did you catch that? It's important.

I was somewhere around the half-way point I was aiming for as far as mileage (I was hoping for 30 to 35). I was on a road I figure would come out in a certain place. But it didn't. "Hmm", I kept thinking, "maybe it just comes out further up than where I thought."

And then at some point I realized that the sun was in the wrong place for the direction I thought I was going. Hmm, indeed.

What to do? Well, I entertained the notion of continuing on until I eventually hit a road I knew, as I knew I was bounded by several main thoroughfares. Of course, I did realize at the same time that some of those bounding roads were quite a ways away from where I would really like to have ended up. "Hmm", I thought, as I kept riding along. Hmm, indeed.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple out working in their yard. "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to get to downtown Knoxville from here."

"Well," said the lady, "you could turn around, take the second left, and take it back to Chapman Highway."

"Or," said the gentleman, "you could turn around and just go straight and come out on John Sevier Highway."

"But whatever you do," she started, "I'm going to have to turn around," I finished for her.


Other pleasantries exchanged, et cetera...

"Thank you very much. Have a nice day."

And that's how a friendly couple out placing mulch kept me from ending up in Sevierville, a good 25-30 miles from where I needed to be (and in so doing prevented a Tragical Misery Tour, or at best a call to Mrs. Guy to drive an hour to come pick me up).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catching Up After an Extended Absence

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. It’s been a long time since I’ve even thought about posting anything. I’ve been busy, I guess. Busy pursuing and/or developing other interests, mostly.

I originally started this up as a way to let out some creative energy. I remember thinking that I could post about three times a week and be happy. Then, immediately, I threw that notion aside and was posting daily (barring travel, illness or injury – and there were a few of those). I immersed myself into the blogging culture. And it was working very well for me. For about a year.

Then it became tedious. I felt the internal pressure to keep it up. I even felt some external pressure (“Hey, you didn’t post yesterday – are you OK?”). I started to burn out. Add to that the fact that Mrs. Guy was starting to complain about the amount of time I was spending on writing. Yeah, I’ll admit that it was taking longer than in the past. Where the words had previously flowed easily, it became a struggle to come up with something new. I felt like my writing was suffering. It was frustrating. I needed to do something.

So I took a break. I’d meant for it to be a short break – maybe a few weeks. Then I got wrapped up in my photography. The amount of time I’d been spending on writing was then being split between Flickr and trying to spend more time with Mrs. Guy. But now I think I’m starting to feel the spark a little again, so maybe I’ll start posting some again.

But it will be different. I will mostly be posting when Mrs. Guy is on the road with work. I will also try to ignore any self-generated feelings of pressure to write. Maybe I’ll post three times a week, and maybe I won’t. I will, however, try to live up to more of the quality of my earlier work than the products of drudgery that I felt I was putting out toward last winter.

So, what have I been doing? Some riding, though not enough. My mileage is down this year due to nagging injuries, but it’s starting to pick up again (and I’ve started running some again, too). I’ve done some travel. Mrs. Guy and I went to Cabo San Lucas courtesy of her company (and some of the photos I took made my Flickr page). We also took a trip to Charleston, SC to see her sisters (no photos, though I did convince her youngest sister, a burgeoning photog, to get her own Flickr account). I’ve also helped put on a major bike ride (the English Mountain Challenge) again with my bike club. That was just last Saturday.

Oh, and I got allergy tested and am now getting weekly shots. For the next three or four years. Joy.

Coming up? Well, Mrs. Guy and I are going to London in early July to catch the start of the Tour de France (WooHoo!). I'm told we'll also see a couple of plays (including Avenue Q - WooHoo!).

And more allergy shots. For the next three or four years.