Feeling Kind of Flat

Well, I’m (finally) home, and feeling kind of flat.

Despite the best of intentions to match last year’s mileage, I’m a little bummed out that I’m falling well short of the 9K mark. The frustrating thing is that it’s come to be less about the mileage and more about the time in the saddle. Freakishly wonderful weather in January gave me high hopes that I’d be able to ride all winter long, but months of late (and deep) snows dashed those hopes. Work and life got busier after that, followed by summer break, when I can normally plan to consistently spend a lot of quality time in the saddle every single day.

But for most of June and part of July I’ve been far from home, and far from my bikes – actually, pretty far from bikes of just about any kind. During these past weeks I’ve been on the Navajo Reservation, among some of the nicest, most interesting, and most honestly wonderful people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. My home in the center of the United States tops out around 950 feet above sea level so you can be certain that it took some time for me to acclimate to hiking at five, six, seven, and eight thousand feet. Everyone I met had a story to share; everyone seemed curious and openly interested to hear about where I was from. I was guided up and down canyon walls – did I say “hiking?” To be certain, it felt a whole lot more like climbing.

But no cycling.

And I digress. I’m feeling flat this first morning back – and in more ways than one. First off, I haven’t pedaled a single stroke in weeks. I’ve been anxiously anticipating getting back on a bike during the entire time I was in the Southwest, and this morning I finally got to do just that. Maybe it’s got something to do with leaving the dry heat and coming back to the steamy and humid Missouri weather. And perhaps there’s some sort of re-acclimatization I need to go through, down here at the lower, flatter elevations.

Or maybe – just maybe! – it’s got something to do with the loud bang I heard coming from my front tire about a minute down the road this morning; all the same, I’m just feeling a little flat.

This might be a good opportunity to share a link from the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation on how to fix a flat.


5 thoughts on “Feeling Kind of Flat

    • Rod, I’m very interested in oral history, story telling, folk tales, origin mythology, etc. The Navajo people I met shared many such stories with me; over and over again people wove into the fabric of tales handed down to them ideas about coming from the North, being related to the Athabascans, and saying their forefathers had come across the land bridge in Alaska. I was in Canyon De Chelly and although the Navajo have only been present in that location since the 1700’s (which many of them will dispute, claiming an earlier residency), that location has itself been in habitation for at least a couple thousand years – some of the cliff dwellings I visited date to 300 BCE. And of course the Navajo people themselves migrated to that location, having been on this continent for a good long while. It’s difficult for me to express how touching I found the oral histories shared with me.

      • Rod Bruckdorfer says:

        Beautifully written and a testimony to these beautiful people. Spencer Wells, the genetic anthropologist, has traces the Navajo to the Chukchi people who live above the Arctic Circle in Russia. I was very pleased to see your reference to Before the Common Era (BCE) and your mention of mythology, of course these beliefs are religious belief to the beholder. If you have not read or seen “The Journey of Man” by Spencer Wells, I recommend it.

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Rod. I teach art history and have a particular interest in Paleolithic stone art, as well as cultural symbols and mark making. I find that stories often self-define a people, and the Navajo people with whom I interacted were no exception. The pride of heritage and tongue is clearly apparent. One of the pitfalls many of us tend to fall into is “interpreting” prehistoric marks, often coloring or skewing the original intent by viewing these symbols through lenses tinted by our own cultural biases. (I particularly recall a book about Lascaux stone art that “definitively” explained the meaning and intention of those magnificent paintings. I’ve often wondered how that author could defend such a nonsense position!)

    What is fascinating – to me, at any rate – is the conversations I had with Navajo peoples about the marks found on the walls of cliff dwellings. These marks are sometimes a conglomeration of many different cultures and times, with Anasazi, Hopi, Navajo, and perhaps others overlapping. The Navajo never once interpreted the symbols of others; but because their own symbolism is part of a living tongue they were quite capable of providing a context and plausible meaning for Navajo symbols engraved or painted over the past 300 years. That is about as close to a primary research confirmation as you can get!

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