When we do something illogical

it pays dividends

Probably because our logic

always takes us in the same direction

and the illogical actions

break the mold, smash through our still ponds, and make us question

those sane choices

we so carefully planned


My friend’s dad asked me a question at the dinner table

“Would you like to do Passport to Pain with me?”

“That sounds fun!” I said. “What is it?”

“An 80 mile bike race on Vashon Island with 18 major hills.”

“Wow!” I said. “I’m in!”

We skyped my friend living in Switzerland. “I knew Andy would do it, just because of the name!”


The morning of the bike race was dark and rainy. 

I looked at my alarm clock. 4 AM. And I only had 5 1/2 hours of sleep.

Oh well, I was up.

I took my shower, threw my bike in the back of the truck, and hoped I didn’t forget anything.

I listened to The Intelligent Investor in my truck.

I heard a profound word of wisdom that is a hallmark of my philosophy

“Always 

walk,

invest,

go,

in the opposite direction

of everyone else.”

That is the only way to beat the

market,

system,

game of life.”


My friend’s house is dark

and I think, 

Clayton Senior chickened out because of the rain,

but then I see a light turn on

a shadow

somebody’s awake


I walk inside

it’s Carina

“Morning.”

“I’m coming with you,” she says.

Carina’s been doing boxing, running, skateboarding, anything active.

Now she’s picked up bicycling. 

‘”We have to leave in five minutes to make the ferry.”


Clayton Senior straps our bikes to the car and we are off.

“I biked 81 miles last week. How many miles have you been doing on the bike?”

“Zero,” I laugh. “I’ve been resting. That’s my strategy.”


We take the ferry to Vashon

The rain pounds the waves

And we see the shadow of the island in the distance


Driving across the plank

we tour everything

small fields, small shops, and big hills

Island life is quiet

until we reach the start/finish line

It is like a rock concert!

Everybody’s in bicycle gear

Young and old racers scramble to the starting line

“Go!” The announcer shouts.


“Remember,” Clayton says, “You must pace yourself. 80 miles will take all day.”

We start our first ascent and I want to burn my way to the top.

I’m Lance Armstrong

in my own mind

but then my bike chain locks up

I crash

I yank out the chain and refit it to the gear

I meet Clayton Senior at the top

“It’s every man for himself now, Andy. You left me on the mountain.” He smiles, but now the competition is on.


My friend’s dad is crazy when he gets competitive. He races down the mountain at over 40 miles per hour.

I go less than 20.

By the time I get to the bottom, he’s already halfway up the second hill.

I catch him and pass.

Carina videotapes me doing it. “Way to go Andy!”

Now I’m roaring down the hills like a madman.

I’m two hills ahead of Clayton, 

but I know he’s conserving his juice.


The next hill is so steep

my wheel pops up

My bike chain locks

and I fall backward again

I hear an ambulance screaming in the background

and I wonder if it’s for me

It stops at the top of the hill

I walk my bike up

and watch


The medics are doing CPR on a guy

Shirt off, skin bouncing and rippling to the CPR beat

Clayton Senior is watching

“How did you pass me? I ask

“I’m not sure. I saw this guy’s eyes get really big when he fell off his bike. I got it all on videotape.”


We rushed down the mountain to the next station.

The movie theme is zombies.

They look scary as hell and they’re waving baseball bats at us.

I get some chocolate milk and look for Clayton Senior.

He’s arguing with another bicyclist.


“I have the right to videotape,” Clayton screams. He’s flipping the other guy off. His finger is pointed right in the guy’s face.

“You have no decency. That man was dying and you chose to send that video to one of your friends. There’s something seriously wrong with you.”

Clayton gets on his bike and climbs the hill.

I overhear the guys talking. “Did you see that guy? No affect in his face; a pure psychopath if I ever saw one. Somebody should confiscate that guy’s phone. He shouldn’t be able to race.”

I think about telling them off, saying that Clayton is a great guy, he served his country as a Navy Seal, perhaps he’s seen guys die before, and he doesn’t process emotions the same way. 

I ascend the hill after Clayton Senior, but the man is gone. 68 years old and he climbed the hill like it wasn’t even there.

A lady in her forties passes me, complaining, “My friend suckered me into doing this race. She said it would be fun.” 

She wants to start a conversation, but I’m too tired to talk.

She passes me to finish the 30 mile race.

I keep going.


I’m climbing Evil Twin 1 when Clayton Senior rushes down the mountain. “Keep going!” He screams.

At the top, I meet Yoda and some other movie characters.

Yoda tries to stamp my passport without success.

“Use the force,” I laugh.

I ride down the mountain and up the second. 

I never find the peak.

I just keep following this bicyclist in front of me.

He stops to ask for directions.

“Shit!”

I realize I’m lost.


I catch a ride from some nice islanders.

“We saw you at the sandwich station. You drank three cokes.”

“That’s right,” I said.

They ask me about the usual stuff:

Career?

Marriage?

Where are you from?

and they talk about island life.

“We know all of our neighbors, there are great schools, and we live in a quiet community. Would you like us to drop you off at the finish line?”

“Sure!” I say. 


I pull my bike out of the back of their truck and ride toward the barbecue without a drop of sweat on me.

Music is blaring, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah…”

“Did you request that song?” A lady asks me. “You look fresh. You don’t look like you’ve been riding.”

I get the full interrogation and tell some half-truths.

“The end of the race was effortless.” I smile.


Of course, other things happened that day.

I told my story to people at work. Showed off my bruises. And bragged about the pain.

‘Why did you do it?” People asked.

“You must experience pain to enjoy pleasure.” I said.

They all thought I was nuts. I could read it on their faces.

But sometimes we must do things that are illogical.

Not everything can make sense.


We should not follow a perfect plan.

It needs to be crumpled and burned.

We should surprise ourselves

and learn to enjoy

pain.

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