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Archive for May, 2010

Bike shops seem to enjoy a high-spirited ambience in disproportionate numbers. It is not uncommon for camaraderie to season the interaction between owners, staff, and customers.

Yet even in this remarkable arena, Asheville’s Liberty Bicycles stands out.

This Trek-heavy and expansive shop is filled with dogs, most lolly-gagging comfortably on the floor but one or two prancing about in high spirits. Better yet, the customer service is simply unbeatable. Not only efficient, accurate, and knowledgeable, but kind, personable, and humane as well.

If my experience serves as an accurate thermometer—after watching LB’s team interact with other customers, I have no doubt that it does—these folks will always go the extra mile for you. This was my first visit to gorgeous Asheville. I rented a Trek Madone from Liberty Bicycles and enjoyed three days of cycling in this majestic terrain. Liberty Bike’s easy rental arrangements made everything seamless.

Nothing but the best here for bike novices, aficionados, and experts of western North Carolina

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Sandbagger (noun)

Definition (from about.com)

1. Generally, any golfer who misleads others about his ability level, claiming to be worse than he actually is at golf.

2. More specifically, a golfer who artificially inflates his handicap index in order to better his chances of winning tournaments or bets.

A sandbagger is considered by many to be the lowest form of life on a golf course. Sandbaggers can inflate their handicap indexes by selectively leaving out their best rounds of golf when they post scores for handicap purposes.

Related words: ‘to sandbag’, ‘bait-and-switch’, ‘beneath contempt’, ‘spawn of Satan’

Rev’d Dr. John Bernard, President of Charlotte-based United World Mission, is a confirmed sandbagger on two wheels and thin rubber. Since taking up biking over a year ago, John (before today a long-time friend of the author) has insisted upon his beginner status and modest athletic achievements. In spite of losing nearly thirty pounds and making inroads into body sculpting of the middle-aged-man variety, Dr. Bernard has articulated and sustained a persuasive case for non-heroic status on the road. (more…)

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An exquisite sweetness pervades the grounds of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Billy Graham Library. For those of us schooled on certainties like the taboo of evangelists naming their organization after themselves, the experience seems destined to lurch in the direction of hoakiness, not least when the tour kicks off with a visit from a mechanical, talking cow.

Yet two hours later I leave with tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and the irrepressible desire to praise the God who would turn a dairy farmer’s son into ‘the evangelist to the world’ and then adroitly shepherd him through a lifetime of encounters with history-making moments, kings and presidents, stadiums and delicatessens, and conversations with the mighty and the mild. (more…)

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χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά. ‘Hard are the good things.’

I remember the day my beloved Greek professor, Jerry Hawthorne, taught us that the Greeks had understood ‘No pain, no gain’ long before it became a truism of our culture. Decades ago at Wheaton College, Jerry warned us that life’s achievements, improvements, and ennobling experiences—learning Greek, for example—would not come easily.

Gasping for breath, lungs and legs searing on yet another climb on a rented Trek Madone, the truth comes home with all the concreteness in the world.

John and Todd—fellow journeyers, breakfast-table philosophers—have been at this biking thing for a while. I have known for a year that I must join them, even before we covenanted to ride together twice a year for as long as body and mind remain intact. Yet I have dawdled. (more…)

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If you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting in the third row of a stadium-like conference venue with 37,000 pilgrims who’ve gathered from the four corners to listen to Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger scrape their chairs up to a table and answer questions for a day, I’d have wondered what you were smoking. Or curious whether you’d glimpsed my impending early retirement.

Yet thanks to a Buffett disciple who’s simultaneously joined the board of the Christian non-profit organization I direct and become a friend-for-life, the invitation to do just that came into my hands. Out of respect for my host, I joined the airport queues of the faithful making hajj in Omaha.

I shall not soon forget what I saw in that city, heretofore known to me chiefly as the source of mail-order steaks. (more…)

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