My neighbor is learning to ride her bike with no hands. She’s 9, and we live at opposite ends of a 300-foot lane off a busy residential street. Her family lives at the busy entrance and our family lives at the quiet end, but we see her often, riding her bike or scooter up and down, patient and determined, while her younger brother zooms around in circles, crashing here and there and always getting up.

Ray Holley mug

Ray Holley

Last weekend, she was working on upping her bike riding skills. “I’m learning to ride with no hands,” she announced, on one of her trips up the lane, as we sat on the porch and marveled at the energy of youth.

She has a strong one-hand style, gesturing, switching hands, shifting her weight, occasionally stretching the opposite leg behind her like a trick horse rider, but no-hands take a little longer.

“Keep pedaling, keep your balance, that’s what I have to do,” she said, as she practiced and practiced.

And, that’s what we all have to do, isn’t it?

Tuesday night was a warped mirror of four years ago. In 2016, I spent Election Night at the newspaper office. I can’t forget my clueless arrogance when I recall that Bleys Rose asked me when I wanted him to stop by the county registrar office for an election reaction story. I told him to get there in the first hour after the polls closed, because I was confident that Hillary Clinton would have declared victory by then.

When you’re that wrong, it’s no consolation knowing that millions of other people are also wrong, and I felt the same way last night, as I watched the Blue Wave lose energy before it got to shore, and went to bed knowing that the presidential election could be undecided for days, or even weeks.

Wednesday morning, I felt hope, reading the polls, analyses, predictions and re-predictions, that the Blue Wave is really a sleeper wave, and that millions of Biden votes are being counted now, and that he’ll prevail, if we stay sane and patient.

But, is that another kind of cluelessness? Am I refusing to believe that my country is that divided, that we’re eager to follow anyone who’s not embedded in the DC establishment?

We may know the answer by the time you read this, we may know later in the week, or it may go to the Supreme Court, where the Trump-GOP court-packing scheme may turn out to be all part of the plan.

Keep pedaling, keep your balance.

Locally, voters took a mixed approach, but signaled that they like and trust their local institutions. Newly elected (or re-elected) city councilmembers and other electeds are hard-working folks. They’ve proven themselves at city hall, on school boards and as community leaders.

Yet, a hint of change is in the air. A few incumbents were defeated or chose not to run for re-election, and our newcomers reflect diversity, in age, ethnicity and approach.

Voters looked favorably on a modest slate of tax increases and extensions, despite a concerted effort to derail them by business groups. North county voters approved the sale of Healdsburg District Hospital to another organization, which may reflect our aging population, who want an emergency room to stay open no matter what.

As I rush to file this column on Wednesday morning, the presidential candidates are lawyered up. Trump is promising to stay in character and fight in every way he can to suppress vote counts and use legal trickery to retain power, and Biden is promising to meet every thrust with his own riposte of counter-challenges and suits.

Keep pedaling, keep your balance.

Ray Holley is wobbly, but pedaling. He can be reached at

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