It’s amazing what people can do when they decide it’s the right thing to do.
Think about the transcontinental railroad, Hoover Dam, the Marshall Plan, the Apollo program.
Think about Chicago building a tunnel two miles out into Lake Michigan to bring clean water to a polluted city.
Think about the margarita. (It’s delicious.)
Now think about what we absolutely can’t do.
Levitate. Turn lead paint into gold faucets. Argue Arizona statehood with Elmo in a strip club.
Elmo LIKE Sheriff Arapio.
And, of course, how we can’t fix a washed-out public right of way in central Illinois.
It’s been, what, two or three years since you could walk or ride a bicycle on the Rock Island Trail from Princeville to Wyoming?
Elmo LIKE linear nature of time.
This isn’t a closed trail. This is what 21st-century learned helplessness looks like.
Welcome to the state of Illinois.
Elmo LIKE Iowa.
Light on a pole. West of Chillicothe on Cloverdale Road.
While drinking by the blanciest of casas blanca, this conversation:
Rick: We’ll always have the wind. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but whenever we ride.
Ilsa: Yes, the wind. And in the mornings, perhaps less of it.
Rick: You’re getting on that bike with zip ties where you belong.
Ilsa: And you, Rick…
Ilsa: Try to keep up.
That lowly braggart, that big ol’ ball of flames, did promise fair chase this day, but as his want this April, abandoned the chase well before the climb past the lilacs on Santa Fe Road.
If there’s such a thing as a perfect ride, this is it.
Downhill warm up, smooth roads, 65 degrees, Santa Fe Burlington Northern train clearing the crossing one minute before I needed the same space, tailwind chasing me on the way home, thunder upon arrival and light rain 15 minutes after that.
Took the picture just south of the old 10-mile time trial dogleg toward Truitt and, eventually, Chillicothe.
Might need to trial it again and see what difference 30 years makes.
The best destinations lead somewhere else.
Let’s face it. One of the earliest and most elegant bicycles was developed in Canada centuries ago.
You may have missed the story in class due to the machinations of the international bicycle wheel lobby, an organization with members professionally incapable of recognizing a bicycle without wheels–including the Canadian design.
But consider the genius behind the machine.
No bearings, no wheels, no moving parts–just a reshaped and inverted bicycle fender propelled by a flattened stick.
Some folks call it a canoe.
It’s simple. Efficient. Capable of long-distance transportation of people and freight and designed, like all bicycles, for the specific terrain at hand: in this case, water.
Where do you want to go?
Across the Great Lakes? Take a canoe.
Hudson Bay? Canoe.
From Chicago to New Orleans? Canoe.
Eleven-mile road loop west of Chillicothe, Illinois?
Okay, not a canoe.
The solid portion of the Earth really does seem to demand the complexity of a bicycle with wheels.
But a pair of fenders still goes a long way.