Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘precious friends

Trail Riding

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It has been a very long time since I have ridden my beloved hard-tail mountain bike. So long, in fact, I forgot how much more work it can be compared to my road bike. I bonked yesterday in a 16-plus mile ride with my life-long friend, Paul Keiski, whose biking condition is much stronger than mine.

Luckily, I was still close enough in contact with him to enjoy the spectacle of his slow-motion crash as he let out a little laugh over the predicament of tipping in the direction of the down-slope into the scrappy growth, wheels up, and on his back for a second.

The Makwa singletrack is a hairpin winding hardscrabble trail of big roots and jutting rocks that frequently will bring momentum to an abrupt halt where I would find myself in an unwelcome pedal stand and needing to muster the gumption to somehow kick the bike forward over the obstacle on the incline before me.

Yeah, I got tired. If I was on my road bike, I would coast for a while and catch my breath, but there is little time for relaxed coasting on this kind of trail. Arms constantly flexed, absorbing the concussions with obstacles and desperately working to hold the bike on the trail.

We chose to circle back to our starting point by way of a gravel fire lane road that had been re-graded not too long ago and was softer than preferable. I was already exhausted, but being well aware of the mostly uphill grade we needed to accomplish to get back to the pavement added a psychological burden that caused me to walk up more hills than I care to admit.

I was in the company of a generous friend in Paul, who was very patient and smart enough to have some energy supplements along for the ride which relieved my fatigue for a bit.

The last leg back to our lake place was on the pavement which felt great for the comparative ease but I was acutely aware of the fact this bike lacked the better geometry and larger wheels of my other bike.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my trail bike. It is wonderfully responsive to my moves in the woods and probably saves me from calamity despite my lack of experience on more occasions than not. I only inadvertently wandered off-trail several times when I failed to control my momentum and negotiate a turn, twice successfully carrying on anyway and riding back onto the trail without interruption.

That quick response of the bike made my soft gravel road riding a little squirrelly which only added misery to my fatigue, but overall, I am grateful for the way this old refurbished Trek performs for me.

It deserves to be ridden more often and my skills and conditioning improved enough to do it justice, but I am afraid being on the upper side of 62-years-old has me more inclined to just settle for hopping on the road bike and coasting down paved roads.

Many thanks to Paul for inspiring me to join him in the adventure and adding one more precious trail riding memory to our shared life experiences.

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Nine Left

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With the sun and relative warmth of a gorgeous fall day, we were able to make satisfying progress on the deck project yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it, there are some rain showers passing by early this morning. I have nine rows left to complete if it dries up later. That is compared to the 43 rows of boards already trimmed and screwed into place.


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We are getting close.

I’m noticing my perception of the deck has changed dramatically. I wasn’t aware of it before, but I felt very little draw to spend any time out on those old rotting boards unless the weather outside was simply irresistible.

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Now I find myself pulled to be out there for any reason I can dream up. Luckily, I have a very obvious reason to be out on those new boards while I’m still in construction mode.

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I have a notorious ability to not finish things I start, so pressure is mounting as time drags on and I slowly creep closer to completion.

On the surface, a project like this seems simple. We aren’t drastically changing anything. We are keeping the frame of joists and simply pulling off old boards to replace them with new. The concept is not complicated.

However, there are complications. Several are related to trying to fit things into pre-existing nooks and crannies without completely tearing out the framing around doors or the railing posts. We also spent a fair amount of time tailoring the fit of board thickness around the stone chimney.

Every step we take to improve the look and quality of the end result adds time. I have no problem spending more time to make it better.

The number one reason we have achieved the quality and progress accomplished thus far is due to the generous contributions of time, tools, and muscle by our treasured friends Mike and Barb Wilkus. Mike has offered two of his Fridays and most of his tools to support us in spending less money overall.

His contributions are worth so much more than money. It is hard to put a value on true friends.

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Written by johnwhays

October 19, 2019 at 9:26 am

Special Friendship

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We are richly blessed this year to have two very precious people sharing our homestead while they are in the process of relocating to Minnesota where they will be closer to family. Our combined situations have aligned such that George and Anneliese are helping us out immensely while we are giving them a temporary home-base for their varied activities.

Since Cyndie’s knee replacement surgery on the last day of November, they have been a key support in allowing me to maintain my early work shift by covering morning chores in caring for our animals. They have also been instrumental in filling in with meal preparations, grocery shopping, and kitchen management.

dscn5678eIt has been my saving grace.

Last night, Anneliese surveyed a few recipes and whipped out a spectacular dinner of barbecue ribs, sweet potato fries, spicy beans, pineapple slices and salad. It was a taste of summer on one of the colder nights of the year that warmed our hearts as much as it filled our stomachs and thrilled our taste buds.

We hit the jackpot once again, on the lottery of precious friends. Their companionship during this period of sharing living space together has been so rewarding that we find ourselves longing for them to return whenever we are home alone for too long.

There is a saying that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Well, we seem to keep getting around that by finding friends that very quickly become members of our family.

Thank you, George and Anneliese for taking such good care of us while we are taking care of you!

Isn’t that just the way things should always go?

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Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

Double Whammy

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Wow, am I ever aware of a wave of melancholy that is washing over me presently. Today is the day when the annual bike and camping trip begins, and I ended up needing to withdraw at the last minute. I say it is okay, but my heart is letting me know that “okay” glosses over some deeper feelings that don’t quite jibe with that description.

A horse would let me know that I am not displaying congruence.

I would like to have a tantrum like a two-year-old, but I’m pretty sure that I have developed more constructive ways to respond. I just need to muster the energy to enact that more constructive response. Unfortunately, I am exhausted. I think this role of responsibility, filling in for the owner of the company where I work, is taxing even when things appear to be going smoothly. I haven’t really done anything, but I am feeling more drained every day.

That week with friends, cycling, camping, laughing, and being on vacation outdoors for a week was going to be my shot of healthy energy. Not only have I lost that opportunity, I have stepped into a role that increases my need for what that would have given me. It’s a double whammy, thank you very much.

No wonder I want to stomp and cry and flail about.

I will rally my energies, and choose to find the as-of-yet-unseen surprisingly valuable lesson/growth opportunity/reward that awaits on the other side of this experience. I don’t mean to be a doubter, but I find it difficult to imagine anything that could be better than being with the precious friends who show up at this bike trip every year. I will miss them immensely.

I already do.

Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2013 at 7:00 am