August 18, 2000: Mythic Warriors Need Not Apply
As our hapless
early arrival found out earlier today, we are one week out from the early
stirrings of ButtLite II. (Much though I'd like to identify this poor soul,
I cannot; Eddie promised he'd keep that secret. At least I can comfort you
with the knowledge that our
Consider yourself warned: another tradition bites the dust.
Eddie and I have had our "three to four times per day, like it or not" telephone conversations for the past fourteen days or so. Not once in any of these conversations have we compared the coming event to a gathering of warriors or the convening of the lunatic asylum reunion committee. The turgid miasma of these metaphors is definitely out at TeamStrange.
When we think about this event, we don't do so in mythic, mystical terms. We're more prosaic. We curse, we sweat, we worry, and we laugh. These are not unfamiliar emotions to endurance riders. Long distance riding has shown me incredible highs, and despairing lows. Sometimes, the distance between these emotions can be measured in seconds.
I have in my posession a micro casette tape I made on the 1997 IBR, which contains a recording of Eddie and me at at some some gas station somewhere in Louisiana. We are cracking each other up with stupid jokes, outsmarting Kneebone, and figuring out the best route to the next bonus, all at the same time. I still laugh out loud today when I play this precious oxide scroll. I count Eddie as one of my closest friends, in no small account due to events transpiring during about 45 combined minutes over eleven days in the fall of 1997.
Moments later I recall another IBR moment while riding alone in Idaho, tears streaming down my face as I wrestled with some personal demons too private to disclose. This is a painful, embarrasing memory, but also one I treasure. Sometimes, adversity leads to truth, and clarity, and honesty.
Endurance riding requires hard work. Sadly, I am finding out this is as much true for those organizing events as it is for those riding them. We began working on BL2 about 30 days after the end of BL1. We won't stop working on the event until hours after the last trophy is awarded. But this, too, is as it should be. Does anything really worth having come easy?
From the major
to the mundane, we sweat the details of this rally. This isn't a complaint,
it's a point of pride. I personally believe that attention to detail is a quality shared
by all successful endurance riders. It
would be embarrasing and unfair to expect this
Here, too, another lesson emerges. According to the coptic Gospel of Thomas, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." Too pompous and profound? Try this: Any endevour worth pursuing takes work, sweat and worry.
Sometimes the task seems too great, the journey too long. Some give up, others perservere. Don't believe me? Ask Eric Jewell. On BL5K, he worked his way to first place with steady, intelligent riding. When others felt the ride from Summit, Illinois PAST the finish line to Fargo and back was "impossible," Eric just got on his bike and went. To paraphrase Danny Liska, its only far if you don't go.
Sometimes even the hardest effort fails to yield the expected result. Don't believe me? Ask Mark Kiecker, who on BL5K was circling the Great Lakes on his way to the winner's circle when he lost his paperwork somewhere in Toronto. Even so, Mark finished with over 5000 miles. On a Seca II. On his first rally. This year, he won his class in the Minnesota 2000.
I hope you will
forgive me for admitting I've had it up to here with descriptions of mythic
warriors and millions of dollars of endurance machines. That all seems so beside the point. What makes rallies like BLII compelling is
the triumph of ordinary people over
ButtLite II promises
to be an event worthy of its riders. Opportunities
for cursing, sweating, worrying and laughing will abound. We'll do our best
to tell all--except for the story of our unfortunate early arrival. We'll let that warrior on his million