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From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

You can see some extreme things out on the road, but what I saw yesterday certainly took the prize. It was a tricked-out Toyota pickup pulling a tricked-out "overlander" trailer, with tricked-out motorcycles inside.

The two fellows had an interesting job. They drove this monstrosity around the country to appear at public events of various kinds. "Their" rig was essentially an advertising billboard for a motorcycle manufacturer.

 They were friendly guys and I had a nice conversation with them. The ridiculousness of their rig didn't seem to bother me -- nothing surprises me in this world of ours.

And besides, was their rig any more ridiculous than some of the things seen in my sport's culture? Do "roadies" still wear those tight, uncomfortable, shiny plastic, Italian cycling shoes ($250) with exposed cleats on them? They make it so hard for the cyclist to even get off at a coffee shop and walk around like a normal human being.

What a nice concrete example this is for the ridiculousness of the human condition: a person works hard (at work they probably dislike) so they can spend insane amounts of money to buy something that actually makes them look ridiculous, all the while hoping that they are impressing other people -- people who don't really give a damn about them, in the first place.

I was thinking about those kind of shoes lately when I had just the opposite experience. Recall that I am on a campaign to adapt to summer better than in the past. So I dug out a pair of bicycling sandals that hasn't gotten much use the last couple years.

They were surprisingly pleasurable in two ways: first, they have unexposed cleats in them that allow you to use large, under-utilized muscle groups like the "glutes" and the lower back. It is easy to see why this speeds you up a little bit. But why does it make the overall experience so much more satisfying? Perhaps it is just the confidence that comes from being able to climb hills like a goat.

Secondly, there are few sensual pleasures in the outdoors better than bicycling on a warm summer day with a breeze blowing through your naked little toes. My toes might not be cute like a baby's toes, but the giggly sensitivity is still there.

 I wonder how many people have vivid memories of their halcyon summer days of childhood that are triggered by sensual memories from the toes, like walking across gravel (ouch) in bare feet, or across a lush green lawn? Or diving into the lake, feet first; and then walking on the muddy or sandy lake bottom.

Ironically I vividly remember tromping barefoot through mud puddles after a summer thunderstorm. I expected the puddle to be cold of course, because rain is always cold, isn't it? But the puddle was warm. I tromped harder, deliberately, and soaked much of my body. Something that had been feared had turned into something to revel in.