Road Blog – Day Four, Oceano, CA, A Cool Wind Blows and the Gideon
by Michael Morris
The kind folks here at the Oceano Airport are allowing riders a free email service through their dsl line with computers provided by Exploration Station. Clint Backes is IT Manager for Exploration Station and he set me up.
We are camped in Oceano this evening, just south of Pismo Beach. It is cool and the ocean breeze, as it has since this afternoon, cools us down from a very hard ride. Paso Robles to Oceano, 69.8 miles. I started at 7:10am and finished at 2:40pm. My feet were fine but I’ve tweaked my back. I’m going to see Dr. Davidson again in a bit to see if she can tweak it back.
Dr Davidson and her staff of volunteers come from The Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. They are really great, each intern sees 15 patients a day from around 2pm to around 9pm.
The Twin Peaks, the hills that promised "two hills on Hwy 46 that love to challenge riders", bid not disappoint. The climb was very hard, but at the summit we saw the Pacific Ocean. The site was at once breathtaking and relieving. If you saw it it meant that you slayed the twin peaks and there would be no more major hills today. The next thing I saw after seeing the ocean was this sign: "6% Grade Next 5 Miles". I, literally, did not pedal for those 5 miles, plus a bit more. It was a blast!
The interesting thing is, what got me up the hills, was me singing a song my good buddy Mark McLay wrote called "Cool Wind Blows". The song’s chorus is "every time I’m thinking I can’t stand the heat, a cool wind blows in". Sure enough at the top of that hill we got the cool wind of a lifetime!
Earlier in the day my Tinman/Lion metaphor revisited. I met Mark (not McLay!) and rode with him for a few miles. He is on the ride because he won a bike in a contest at Kiss FM out of LA. He didn’t train. He’s not a rider. He’s in a lot of pain. As we rode he talked a lot about why he is riding (his brother is HIV positive) and why he wanted to do something to help. He said he’d lived a life that was unexceptional, and that this ride is the most amazing thing he’s ever done. He continued and said it’s challenged him in so many ways, not only physically, but also spiritually. He has been arriving at camp after being on the rode for 11 or 12 hours a day.
Talking to him I felt a bit like the Tinman. I am a stronger rider than Mark, but Mark has amazing courage and commitment. The last 8 miles today I called on that strength from Mark because folks, I was spent, hurting, and just wanted to stop. Thinking about Mark the Lion pulled me through.
We lunched at an Army barracks, again outside, sitting on cardboard under 18 wheel trucks. As I sat and ate everything that is off my health eating menu, potato salad, potato chips, cream cheese, chocolate chip cookies (hey, I had just ridden 40 miles, gimme a break!) an elderly man came near me and said hello. Thinking he was a fellow rider, I invited him to share a wheel well with me. He wasn’t a rider. He was Rudy from nearby Morro Bay and a Gideon.
We talked about the ride and how he’s helped every year except last year. He handed me a Gideon Bible, which I accepted and he told me the story about how a guy went into a hotel to kill himself and found the bible in the drawer, which helped him overcome his reasons for wanting to kill himself.
Rudy flipped up his sunglass clips and fixed his blue eyes on me. "You see Michael maybe the bible can help you in the same way. When it is too hot to ride, or you need strength from within, maybe the bible can help you."
I said, "Rudy, I died yesterday from the heat in Paso Robles, and I think heaven is right here under this truck." He laughed and said good-bye, pulling out another bible and said, "Excuse me" to another rider.
I secured the bible in my pack, filled up with water, stretched, and hit the road.