Whenever I travel to a bike rally, it's usually done before sunrise, and I end up having the privilege of driving into these small towns as the day begins. When you live in Dallas, and spend a lot of your time either indoors, or commuting between home, work, lunch, and other intra-city destinations, you kind of lose a piece of your soul and your spirit because of the fact that you're just engaging in a routine. You may notice the new house, the new paint job, the new roof... you may get frustrated that there is construction on one of your major roads, but by and large we tend to overlook too many details.
When I get up early, and usually when I am driving to my destinations alone, North Texas takes on a different look. This morning, as I drove through Dallas and over to Mineral Wells for the Kiwanis Crazy Kicker bike rally, I was reminded of just how lucky I am to live here. Many of you know that I enjoy traveling all over the state, and riding my bike. Recently, I have been engaging in these Ultra cycling events, more for fun than anything else, and just the mere fact that we are riding our bikes in this expansive land, through these small, smaller, and downright tiny towns, villages, and even just crossroads, takes me back to my childhood home on Sunday afternoon's watching a sort of world history/anthropological review of Texas Country Reporter.
There really is something extremely unique about the bike rally system in North Texas. Think about it, from late January through mid November, we have almost 30 weekend opportunities to ride in the suburbs and exurbs of the Dallas and Fort Worth area, on roads that are rich with history, are actually maintained pretty well when compared to other parts of the country and the world, and raise funds for great local causes. Driving into a sunrise, and watching the world of nature sort of wake up around me, even from behind the windshield of the car, is sort of spiritual. I think about migration, I think about how rugged these landowners are, I look at the ruins and abandoned homes and businesses, and wonder with some regret how and where these people went, and it only increases the joy of anticipation that I get for the day's ride.
Mineral Wells will always be special in my mind, because it was in the summer of 2010 that I first met Tracy, at a time trial in Graford, which is a small crossroads located about 11 miles outside of Mineral Wells. It is our first destination for rally-goers who are riding certain distances.
Texas is a rugged part of the world, with most of its resources lying below its surface. It is the people, attitude, that really make it tick. We all have different opinions about what is the best way forward, but that's just it, Texans always go forward. They are restless. They have attitude, and a type of confidence/braggadocio that is unmistakable. They swing clubs on crappy little par three golf courses until they develop adeptness that will make them scratch golfers. They handle the extreme Texas heat, humidity and arid ground with resourcefulness. It's not that they're doing anything different, it's just that they do it more. It's this and innate pride. It's this liberty. It is this non-fear of failure, and this expectation that one will not fail. I'm sure that it makes for a bit of a hard family life, and of course if one is born without access to resources, that just makes it that much more difficult, but from my point of view behind the wheel, and then behind the handlebars, I find myself looking at the road ahead, with a solid line on the right and a striped line on the left, and feeling like just about anything is possible.
God bless Texas, God bless America, God bless small towns, small, greasy-spoon coffee shops, chip-sealed county roads, and big attitudes.