Recycled by Arizona

Preparing for a challenging bicycle tour includes bicycle, body, and mind, these three, but the greatest of these is mind (apologies to St. Paul). Getting my Co-Motion bicycle ready for the Grand Canyon Tour is easy enough—turn it over to the guys at the bike shop and get lower gears. Dealing with the body is harder—lots of long distance, disciplined training rides all summer long (more than I’ve done would have been better).

Getting the mind right, that’s where the difficulty arises. How do cyclists organize their thoughts so that confidence is properly balanced with prudence? How can we come to believe that we will do the distances with enjoyment. And at the same time  pace ourselves so that we have the best possible chance to achieve our goals, one of which is to finish each day with a certain dignity (perhaps even with a flourish).

Cycling regularly in Arizona, as I did for seven years during the first phase of my retirement, provided the opportunity to condition the mind, and as I prepare for another trek through the Desert Southwest, I am reviewing the lessons.

On the Sun Valley Parkway west of Phoenix, on the far edge of Sun City West, I bicycled day after day, sometimes with old timers like myself, more often alone. In a world where the air temperature consistently is higher than a hundred, where there is no shade, little traffic, and no water, cycling can take dangerous turns.

Three lessons are there to be learned: take lots of water, gear down, practice humility. On my Grand Canyon Tour that begins Sunday (September 19, 2010), these are the guidelines with which I am preparing my mind. And I’m rereading St. Paul who said that faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love. Faith and hope I’m bringing with me.

As for love? I believe that Paul was right. That this, the highest virtue, will be there already as the bond that unites 35 travelers on this wild and wonderful adventure.

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