Monday, April 28, 2008

Controlled Burn

smokey Montgomery

Unlike the past several weeks, the air was quite still this Saturday. According to the calendar this was the 18th Saturday in a row that I've had a long bike ride or a long bike/run brick. My enthusiasm, however, was damp as the air. Some of the excitement of beginning has waned. I wondered if I would meet Officer McBreakfast Taco again, and my hostility was probably weighing me down--that and my digital camera and a laminated copy of pertinent provisions of the Texas Transportation Code.

Yeah. Ask me if I know the rules of the road and I am likely to show them to you--chapter and verse.

But there was work to be done and miles to cover in the heavy air. That air, humid and still, hung like a curtain, woven from smoke and fog and ambiguity. I kind of wondered why I was out here. Again. By myself. To ride a bike. For a race in which I won't win, place or show.

What's the point? Will this one bike ride make a difference? What if I just run 30 minutes off the bike instead of an hour? I could feel myself equivocating. That usually doesn't happen until about half-way into a long workout.

I guess more out of habit than anything, I clipped in and got going.

As I headed west out of town, I started to smell the wood smoke. A few minutes later there was a sign:

Smoke Ahead

The smoke was from a fire, one that was intentionally set inside the Sam Houston National Forest.

You see, there is a time in Texas, before the summer drought comes, when it is safe to burn. During that time, the foresters come out and set fires in the underbrush, to burn off waste and fuel that would become a destructive conflagration if it received a spark during the hot days of summer. So, during those smoky and wet days of late spring, the forest endures the fire--giving up its waste to the flame in order to save what it dare not lose.

Then, there is me. Riding through. Running. Swimming--sometimes even when I don't want to. Sometimes when none other go with me. Am I burning the waste? What am I leaving behind? What is being put to the flame? And for what purpose? What am I preserving? What about you?

Caution. There's smoke ahead.


21stCenturyMom said...

I've left 6 pounds somewhere - the smoke can have it.

And I got something for it, too - tremendous joy and a great sense of vitality.

No one has asked me to pose nude for an art class, though

CoachLiz said...

I noticed the controlled burn scars last week and could smell the cinder in the air with the moisture and honeysuckle in some areas.

I wish I could have been out there with you this past weekend.

I have work training this Saturday, but I am going to Chappell Hill on Sunday. Yea! Hills!!!

CoachLiz said...

Hey! Good Luck at Wildflower this weekend!!!

TJ said...

We had fires of the wild kind here in Georgia last summer. The smoke made the long training days that much more "memorable".

Bigun said...

I find it hard to believe that a man of your character does is not firmly set in his reasons for toeing the IM line once again.

Oh, I think there will be "win, place and show" at this IM. Which is really interesting in that with all the bloggers racing, there has been NO smackage. hmmmm....

Tri to Be Funny said...

Like fires, your passion burns in various ways...I have a feeling that Smokey the Bear better be present at IM CdA because you'll be smokin'... Best of luck at Wildflower!

Supalinds said...

..."a laminated copy of pertinent provisions of the Texas Transportation Code." HILARIOUS. YOU ARE HILARIOUS.

If you didn't have such bad taste in basketball we could really be great friends.

I'd say good luck at Wildflower but only friends say that kind of thing :)

stronger said...

Me? I wouldn't want to inhale someone else's smoke. Burn it up at Wildflower!

Jumper 2.0 said...

Yea, I was assuming the smoke was from your tires. Burning rubber! Woo hoo!

monica said...

you're only 139 pounds. you've got nothin' to spare to be givin' up to some control fire. kick some lean mean ass at wildlfower.

oddly, i did my 70 mile climb ride LAST SATURDAY and as i descended down into the flats, i saw the beginning of the sierra madre fires they've been showing on the national news all week. it's still only 60% contained. not so fun when it's not a control fire you're witnessing...