Monday, March 21, 2005

Spring into spring!


For the first time since starting this blog in mid-November, I am about to embark on a bike tour - leading a bike tour - and in that department, I may hold - yes, unsuspecting readers - A World Record.

I led my first bike tour in 1986 while I was still a grad student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, going for my masters and working as a teaching assistant to Bill Goetzmann, a Pulitzer Prize winning cultural historian. I started big, with a three week, 1100 mile tour across Texas for the state's sesquicentennial and 42 participants.

Since then (this is my 19th year), I have led from one to about 10 tours a year, making a grand total so far of at least 130 tours, probably, it seems, more than anyone else in the world - tours I designed, promoted and led myself (not working for a larger bike tour company, etc.). There are few things, I would venture, as personal and intense and opportune as leading some sort of intimate, personal, passionate group tour, no matter what the travel mode. Leading tours - and so many tours - has certainly changed my life and given me so many adoringly positive strokes (along with the risks) that it is (literally) a nightmare to considering giving it up - especially after so long. (So how DOES one move on and achieve such a loving success while literally following one's bliss?)

I guess I'm pretty darned proud of that record. I have had my ups and downs, but I have had some very, VERY loyal participants over the years - some dedicated Coyote groupies have been on more than 30 tours! It has, for me, been a true "labor of love" in every sense of that phrase, I would have to say.

And today, Monday, marks the shakey beginning of my 19th year of leading tours, and I'd sure like to make it to year 20, even if some "burnout" has occurred gradually over the years, as I've gotten older - and the feelings of responsibility have grown and the sense of "been there, done that"/'know how it's going to go' has inevitably compromised the fresh adventure of it all.

But for better or worse, today is the day, with a straggling 7 people along for the ride, even in lovely weather with wildflowers galore and good times to be had by the hearty few. (I've led tours with as many as 62 participants - a real trip - though my favorite group size is, I've come to know precisely, 16-20 people.)

Life needs a lot of things, some mentioned over the first few months here at "A Better Nation." But one thing life needs has only been implied here, not mentioned so overtly - and that thing is GUSTO. Life, the good life, the rich life, certainly needs that essential quality - GUSTO.

So follow your bliss, but GO for the GUSTO!!!

Cheers and happy trails...

Lawrence, aka El Coyote, aka "Coyote Guy"

~~~ world record bike tour leader???


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