TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

There’s something about road racing that makes you feel like a kid again, don’t you think? It’s one of the sport’s major attractions. And with each passing news cycle it seems to be more necessary than ever to find such a sanctuary of innocence.

Last night’s protests in Charlotte, another black man shot dead by police in Tulsa, a divisive presidential campaign, yes, we live in a very complicated, even dangerous time, the horrors of which are presented to us on a never-ending loop on more and more devices 24-7.

We need a place to get away, to decompress and consider all that is going on around us. In the old days it used to be barrooms and street corners.  Today, for the fortunate it is out on the streets at speeds of varying degree.

When we go to a road race we set aside all the trappings of adulthood, and return to a very basic child-like state. There the distinctions between us and troubles of the world get subsumed beneath the push, the plod, the self-inflicted punishment. It’s all very rudimentary. Plus, they give us water and juice along the way.

More than any other sport or activity, road racing is a very basic undertaking, requiring very few, if any, of the accoutrements of modernity. We could be thrown back in time, and except for the quality of our shoes and singlet fiber selection, we would easily fit into the pack — Although these days there are more do-dads and monitors strapped to some people than there used to be in a hospital ICU. But that’s for another column.

But here’s where I get confused. Truth told, I couldn’t wait to be an adult. See, I was reared by people who had long since accepted the Copernican Theory that I was NOT born at the center of the universe. In fact, my generation may have been the last to assume a “shut up, and sit down” posture without ever a word being spoken by mom and dad. A glance alone was enough.

But what always got me as I synthesized the information coming my way was, what we were being taught as kids didn’t seem to apply to the adults. It was like the Catholic Church at Vatican II, all the rules changed on the other side.

What were we always taught as kids? Among everything else, two things primarily: “don’t play in the street”, and “don’t talk to strangers”.

And yet what is road racing but a gathering of strangers playing in the streets? You see my point?

“Don’t play in the street” was right up there with, “don’t play with sharp objects”, and again “be wary of strangers”. But then when I was 8 they dragged me to the barber shop where a strange guy with scissors was coming at me!

Folks, you gotta make up your mind. I’m getting mixed messages here.

But isn’t that our modern world in a nutshell?  Where’s the center cut?  I was Face Booking with Steve Bosley today, cofounder of the Bolder Boulder 10K, and he was lamenting the loss of an unbiased media, what’s called the fourth estate, essentially our fourth branch of government.

And I agreed, what became of the unbiased watchdogs that help keep the ship of state in proper alignment as we prepare to elect a new captain? (What happened was that news got lumped in with entertainment, and ratings became more important than Peabodys and Pulitzers)

Yes, we live in troubled times. Maybe I should just go to a race this weekend and get ready for the big debate on Monday night. That ought to return me to a child-like state, too, bawling uncontrollably and pooping my pants.

END

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