Are There No Good Guys Left?

Famous people, especially actors, should not be looked to as role models. And yet few people know my friend Gary, my step father Fred or any of the other truly good guys in my world.

With actors especially it is easy to confuse the characters they play with the people they are.  And yet given all the press they get usually there is enough known about their private lives to think you know. So when I read that Morgan Freeman had an affair with his stepdaughter that started when she was a teenager, it saddens me. He certainly played many stand up guys. He had that reputation as well. Married to the same woman for 25 years. Maybe the car accident was Karma.

Mel Gibson’s fall from grace has been well documented. Woody and Soon-Yi.  John Edwards. Too many others to list.

All I can say is that I can take a slew of mediocre movies from Tom Hanks but finding out something that drops him from the Good Guys list would put me over the top.

As long as we are discussing famous prople as Good Guys, my thoughts go to Walter Cronkite who is 92 and reported today as being very ill.

And that’s the way it is.

My Fear of Falling (To My Death) From High Places

I do not have a fear of heights. I am fine on a plane or in a tall building. I have a fear of falling off high places to my death.

I am sure I have written before of family vacations in the mountains. I love to hike as long as I am not on the edge of a narrow path. My wife and son will walk to the edge and look down. I can barely watch them do that. I am sure I miss some spectacular photo opportunities because of this fear.

While I would like to overcome this fear, there are often reminders of why I have these healthy reactions. Newspaper articles with titles such as 81 Foot Fall Kills Man are all I need. First let me say that I send my sympathies to the family and friends of Milos Hrsto. He was only 21. But here is an excerpt from the article in the Chicago Tribune about his trip to Starved Rock National Park:

The latest death to hit the popular park about 90 miles southwest of Chicago, near Utica, involved a 21-year-old recent college graduate whom relatives said had veered from the marked path about 8 feet to peer over the rim of Pontiac Canyon along the upper trail, one of the park’s many rocky vistas.

Milos Hrsto fell 81 feet to his death Sunday while hiking with his older sister, her husband and her sister-in-law. Relatives said he fell after a tree branch he was leaning against broke, causing him to lose his balance.

I have hiked there. One of the few decent places for hiking in the Chicagoland area.

Lesson to be learned. Take risks but realize that the unexpected happens. Be careful when near the edge. I will be too far away to help.

Karma: I Believe!

I used to kinda joke about Karma but no more. On my bike ride last week I stopped to help someone and this week it was Karma payback several times over.

I got a flat at the end of my south route, 22 miles from home. No spare inner tube and just one vial of compressed air. I had a patch kit but could not find the hole in my tube. I was looking at a very long walk. 

Then Karma stepped in. A passing rider asks if I need help. I tell him I need a tube. Without a moment’s hesitation he says that he has two and one is now mine. I was barely able to thank him before he was on his way.

After putting in the new tube I used my limited air to fill the tire–or I tried to. Nothing was happening. After a couple of tries I realized that I had the valve in the lock and not the open position. By this time I only had enough air to partially fill the tire.

Then comes good samaritan #2 with a vial of air. Tire filled. Problem solved.

If that is not Karma I do not know what is. From now on I carry extra equipment just in case I run into someone in trouble. Help others, others help you. Good Karma.

77 Down 100 To Go

Another picture perfect Chicago day. Sunny, low humidity, morning in the  mid 70s to low 80s by the afternoon. Also 2 weeks to the day before I ride 100 miles for the first time.

Not confident that the two 65 mile rides mixed in with the normal 50+ rides would tell me what I want to know. Am I ready? Five hours and 45 minutes and 77 miles later the answer is… who knows. If the weather cooperates and the energy generated by several hundred riders helps and if the biking gods accept my offerings then I have a great shot.

I am planning on finishing 100 miles in about 9 hours. Anything faster would exceed expectations. That means that if ride day is like today I would have 3 hours to finish 23 miles. Unlike today, I will be riding through the hottest part of the afternoon. Yet, even at a pace of 10 miles an hour for the last stretch I should finish within my 9 hour window. 

I am psyched.

For today’s ride I started with the 44 mile south loop that takes me from southern Evanston to the South Shore County Club at 71st street.  I then rode back past my house up to northern Highland Park and headed home.

I saw my boss J on the southern section. I also paid homage to Karma today given my experience of a couple of months ago. As I was passing some riders they called out to ask if I had bike tools. I may not be much of a rider but I am equipped. I stopped and was able to repair one of the riders’ bikes. They were friendly and thankful. Karma or no Karma it helping others is the right thing to do.

I also had a couple of opportunities to pace behind people faster than me at various times. I like this extra incentive, at least until they start pulling away and I lose sight of them over the horizon reminding me of how slow I am.

Next week a modest ride just to loosen up and then comes the big day. Check out this site to find out if I finished. It will be obvious.

50 (Plus One) Ways To Leave Your…

Youth. Technically its mine not yours but I am already playing loose with Paul Simon.

51 years young on Monday. I no longer wait for milestone birthdays to get reflective. Last year a friend who had just turned 60 told me that the 50s are great. People hit their stride and have an opportunity to take all of the wisdom and experience of the past decades and make their mark. I have never thought of myself as a mark maker. At least not in any big way. I have always tried to positively impact a small number of lives in a meaningful way.

So, how have I spent the first 10% of my 50s? I helped my son get his drivers license. This may sound small but for those that spent the 50 hours with a teenage boy behind the wheel holding both of your lives in his inexperienced hands, you know this was big. Really big. I started this blog. A new experience and an enjoyable part of the journey. No life changing events though I am more open to having fun, I think. In a life filled with responsibilities fun can get lost. Another year older looking forward to more sums up how I feel.

So how did I spend the weekend leading up to my birthday? Friday night I got home at 10 pm after a 14 hour day and collapsed. Saturday was to be spent riding. I had done 48 miles last weekend and felt strong the whole ride. I was set for a strong 51. The good news. I rode 51 miles. Just not in the way I imagined. You know, riding as fast at the end as I had in the beginning with the Rocky score blaring in the background.

June 16 was the first really hot, humid weekend day of the year. I never got into the rhythm I had had on the last ride. OK. No problem. I am an experienced rider. I know that I just need to grind it out. The first 3o were good. I stopped for some Gatorade (product placement here because I am working on an endorsement deal). Then heat and Karma stepped in. The heat is self explanatory.

I am not a big believer in Karma but sometimes things are more than coincidences. While sipping my Gatorade, a rider asked if I had a bike tool. I did. He borrowed it and went off on his way. 5 minutes later I passed the same guy pulled off the path working on his bike. I knew I should stop and offer the tools I had but chose to ride on. As I rode, it bugged me that I didn’t stop. Not in a My Name is Earl kind of way but because the man I think I am would stop to help a stranger. Karma stepped in. I lost leg power with 10 miles to go. Then a flat tire. The rear frickin’ wheel. It is always the rear wheel. Small lapse, small Karma slap.

The rest of the weekend was good. My family took me out Saturday night and hung with me on Sunday. As of now, I haven’t even opened birthday or Father’s day presents. More joy to come.