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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Long Haul

Riding gives one the chance to think deep thoughts, ponder the meaning of life, work on solutions to the world’s problems. You know, those things you don’t have time to mull over in the course of a normal day. Well, maybe it’s just that my mind wanders when I pedal and every once in a while I stumble into a thought. Whatever.

On Saturday, when just a mile from home, I had to stop and wait while a long train rumbled through the Ward Avenue crossing. Each car was loaded with two containers, one stacked over the other ~ a moving array of multi-colored boxes sporting names like MAERSK, COSCO, HANJIN, TEX, and EVERGREEN. The brawny locomotives that had urged this traveling steel community into motion and now carried it smoothly along had long since passed, but I knew their powerful diesel engines had settled into a steady rhythm, turning the generator that provides electric power to the big traction motors, one for each axle. No land speed records were being set, but the engines and their following of flatcars were making steady progress as a result of the constant torque applied to the wheels of the engines.

Not long after this encounter, I was cruising (read: riding with a tailwind) down the river. Just past Goose Island, I was treated to the sight of hundreds of snow-white tundra swans bobbing on the water. Up above, more of them were organized into unbalanced “V” wedges, warming up for the trip east I imagine. There with the whitenesses of swans were gaggles of Canada geese and rafts of small ducks. An affecting avian assemblage that made my day.

As it was with the train, the swans were in it for the long haul. No sprinting, just steady progress on their way to the mid-Atlantic coast. I hope they got going while the wind was blowing their way.

For me, it was the same procedure as every time: rolling along, making slow but steady progress, a 51 mile ride on a day that would have been spectacular without a train and migrating waterfowl to provide opportunity for contemplation of ~ on this day ~ the value of persistence.


Anonymous said...

So the "P" in pedal stands for persistence?!!

Spiffer said...

In music, we'd say : fortspinnung.

Happy Birthday, Sophie??