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A blast from the past

In to the Wind

September 4, 2013
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Long before certain personal electronic devices or social media caused distractions, there lived a young idealistic writer. It was in Iowa City, that great liberal city to our east. He wrote a weekly column for the paper there. It was a column very similar to this one. Because of the insistence of a headstrong editor, he was deemed to be "Into the Wind," instead of "In to the Wind," as is actually the case. The name stuck, for several years.

It was probably because of the time he helped the kid from across the street win a city kite flying contest with one made of two sticks and a sheet of plastic. Therefore, he just had to be into the wind. Editors are funny like that. And you guessed it, that young writer was indeed yours truly.

But is there really a distinction between "into" and "in to?" In my mind there clearly is a distinction.

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Consider these two sentences.

He turned the bicycle into the wind.

He turned the bicycle in to the wind.

The first sentence is absurd. *Poof* the bicycle was turned into another object, the wind.

First off, the term into, in contemporary speech can mean something that one finds particularly attractive. I am into technology and computers. However, I am NOT into the wind!

The wind has been a nemesis most of my life. I am not into it! Instead, In to the Wind is a sort of metaphor for a challenge, or obstacle I must overcome.

So bearing this metaphor in mind, it is easy to understand the angst and obstacles a certain idealistic writer might encounter. Many times this "in to the wind" was indeed on a bicycle.

In the distant past, I was really into bicycles. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I seriously kept a car. During my teen years I kept a series of jalopies to tote me around town, but a bicycle was my preferred means of transportation. During those years I averaged over five thousand miles each year on my bicycle. Besides being in the best shape of my life, I saved a lot of money. And yes, I have been on RAGBRAI a few times. I was even on the second one which they called SAGBRAI.

I lived south of Iowa City at a place called Indian Lookout. I regularly rode my bicycle to work, which was the newspaper in downtown Iowa City. Part of my route was on Highway 218. Regulars were used to seeing me ply that route. I went very fast on that stretch. My head was usually down, and I was pumping really hard to try and avoid the inevitable traffic. I paid little attention to much else than the road, my front wheel, and the rhythm of my pedaling.

The first part of that stretch of highway took me directly past the Iowa City Airport. Not too far from the edge of the road was the end of the east-west runway. It was a Friday evening. The Hawkeyes had a wrestling meet that night.

I knew this because I was at least peripherally interested in the program. I also knew about the great benefactor of the Hawk's wrestling program, Roy Carver. He was a millionaire philanthropist, industrialist, and the man behind the Bandag tire retreading company in Muscatine, Iowa. He was mostly responsible for recruiting Dan Gable as the head coach. Roy was also in attendance at most Hawkeye wrestling meets. This meant he had to travel between Muscatine and Iowa City, in a manner in which a millionaire industrialist might travel.

So, here I am, head down, pedaling like mad, oblivious to anything else happening around me. All at once my world changed. In an instant I was deafened by a mighty roar, and blown completely off the highway and into a heap in the grass at the edge of the road. I had absolutely no idea what had just happened.

I have always worn a bicycle helmet. I could write a couple more columns about how they have saved my life-twice. I took it off and went through the self examination process one might go through when blown off their bicycle. Other than the grass stains on my clothes, and a little dirt, I seemed to be okay. The bike was fine too, once I straightened out the handlebars which had twisted a bit west of south. I had no idea what had just happened to me. It was complete sensory overload.

I stood there for a few minutes dazed and confused. I had an awful ringing in my ears. It was then that I saw the sleek black Lear Jet taxiing towards the terminal building. That jet had just landed. It had blown me off the road, because it had just come in a few feet over my head.

The runway at that airport was designed for prop planes, and not sleek, fast, personal jets. In order for a fast jet to land, it needed the entire runway-all of it. That meant the landing gear had to hit the first few feet of the runway. In order for that to happen, the aircraft had to come in really low over the highway to greet the runway.

As is usual with someone who is always "In to the Wind," The timing was just such that I was at the exact point on the highway, pedaling like mad, when the jet made its landing approach.

I may be the only person on earth ever blown off the road by Roy Carver's Lear Jet. But, this story just adds credibility to the moniker "In to the Wind," and explains a lot about how I own that title, metaphors and all. Yes dear reader, I remain In to the Wind.

Until next time-

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2013 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342



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