I heard the wonderful Willie Weir speak again last night, for Cascade Bike Club. I try never to miss his talks. He makes me want, as Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt in that movie, "to be a better man."
Last night Willie organized his presentation around our five senses, and how biking engages them all. For example, he reminded all us cyclists how amazing even crummy food tastes on a long bike day. He reminded us of the smell of the sea and fields of wildflowers, as well as long stretches of guano! We heard the sounds of his travels, singing in South Africa and Cuba, and, my favorite, the solo violin concert a 13-year-old girl gave Willie and Kat at a house in, I think, Rumania.
As a cyclist, I felt kinship, and some pride. This is how I travel too, I thought.
And then I thought, "Not really. I'm not that adventuresome, not like Willie! I've never taken off to a country where I don't speak the language, just me and my bike and my paniers. I'm a lightweight."
How does Willie know what I'm going to think, before I think it? I don't know, but he responded to that unspoken thought. As he ended the evening, he said, "You don't have to go far to experience adventure. It's right here in Seattle."
The truth is, it's not the miles he puts in. It's his openness to getting off the bike.
And actually, I know this well. I know it best from my bus life. It's an attitude, a willingness to travel without earbuds and pay attention, to strike up conversation with strangers. Take any bus....
Or, as I did last night, strike up a conversation on the way out with the older lady -- older than me, that is -- who'd also heard Willie. I asked if she's a cyclist. No, she told me; she's a lawn bowler. She said her lawn bowling association was about to die from lack of interest. Then Willie joined. Now there's a two-year wait list.
See? That's what I mean about Willie.