14 September 2012

Archival footage: A foolish consistency

The following post was originally published at FlagstaffBiking.org on October 19, 2003.

What was it Emerson said?

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” right?

In the morning, the whole of Las Vegas looks a little bit guilty – from the tops of the towering theme hotels to the porn-choked gutters and drunk-trampled flower beds – the tourists still out roaming aimlessly after sun-up, even the smoggy-gray cloudless skies seem to wear the same expression, as if asking, wordlessly, “What the heck did we do last night?”

I hate Vegas. I’d be a little more ambivalent if I wasn’t so compelled to feel a little sorry for it: the city that sold its soul. And yet, year after year, I seem to end up there. Shuffling down the Boulevard some random morning in October on my way to wander the halls of Interbike, the bike industry’s annual bacchanal, in search of nothing less (and honestly, nothing more) than bike-show-gold: stickers and assorted cheap, free crap-with-a-logo-on-it.

Why do I go? Really, I dunno. Interbike’s kinda stupid unless you’re trying to sell something. It never changes; it’s the same faces, the same companies, the same layout and the same drill-team sales tactics year after year. So, I really don't know why I go. I guess I go because I can. Isn’t that dumb?

But, for better-or-worse, I’ve spent the last ten years of my life pimping myself out as a small-time writer, sales-dork, or whatever to newspapers, magazines, bike shops, and bike-related events, and because of that, one-way-or-another, I get a pass to go to Interbike every year. So I go. But I come back, every time, thinking, “That’s what Emerson was taking about.”

Such a foolish consistency.

I ride the same loop probably 100 times a year, after work, twice a week or so, just before dinner this time of the year. One hundred times a year: it’s just 10 miles door-to-door and, depending a little on the exact route and direction I choose, my desire to work hard or just spin, the bike-of-the-week, and/or whether I decide to siesta somewhere towards the top, regardless, it always takes me more-or-less an hour to ride. No uniforms, no regimens, no fuss. No big deal.

Call me crazy, but I love my little afternoon ride.  During last seven years, with nearly the same frequency year after year, I’ve never grown tired of the route. It’s what I do when there really isn’t time to ride, even though all I really wanna do is ride. Ya know?

I know it well by now, this little corner of our world.

I know every rock, every leafy oak, every brittle-brown, drying beetle-kill'd pine, the ways the rock and dirt change color from place to place. Without sounding too selfish: these are my trails. And on most afternoons they honestly are, abandoned like the world before time.

But on other days I gladly share them with faces I’ve learned to know by name, who like me head out in this direction often, when the sun is low in the sky, to grab just a bit of a reminder of why we find ourselves so grateful to live in such a place.

Some days I don’t need a hundred different trails; some days I just need one.

But, this practice was not for Emerson’s muse.

It was, I think, for Thoreau’s instead. For it was he who urged us towards “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

An unfoolish consistency. Amen.


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey