Davies & Hodgson ask the question, “Does it feel that your life’s a catastrophe when you look through the years and see what you could have been, oh what might have been, if you’d had more time?”
I won’t quarrel that the tune by Supertramp is a catchy one, but sometimes the long way home is the one that lets you see and learn lots of new things about yourself and about the world around you. Like, you can gear down and find a steady pace into a headwind, or that if you stay within yourself, the extra miles and climbing are a reward, not a punishment.
The year ended on a high note with a gathering of cycling friends for today's morning ride. The day started out warm for a 12/31. 52F when I left the house, deciding to pedal to the start to add the miles and the climb. It was still cool enough for long sleeves (the Woolistic Visconti birthday present from last month), with a short sleeve wool (Swobo Tee) base layer under it. A light wool cap (sort of hound’s-tooth check in colors that go well in AL) Fox River wool socks and Ibex knee warmers under Smartwool shorts. The Wool – Microfiber Giro long finger gloves which also came last month were prefect for the weather.
Left to right, it's Jeff, John, Pete, and Tom
Here we are heading out of Millbrook. Jeff is resplendent in a wool Rapha jersey and Steve (not in this picture, but see below) is rocking a Wooly Warm by Rivendell jersey as well. Wool, it’s spreading! There was sunshine and a light tailwind outbound. We stopped at the usual store stops and had more than the usual # of dogs come out at us. None were super serious, all were irritating. I snapped a picture of this lab barking from the safety of the roadside. He retreated after hearing Max’s bell.
We spent a little time at each stop, something that Pete’s son Zach was not thrilled by when he rode with us on Tuesday. I don’t like to stay too long, but with a bunch of 50+ year old men, it’s a good bet that someone needs a bathroom. And we all like to give that saddle region a break. I suppose I’ll never be a training racer, more a tourer. The roads have room for both. I like to get a banana at the “The Boys Store” to go along with the grain breakfast bars I eat at the other stops. And some sugar free Fuze Tropical Punch. Frank introduced me to that drink and I like it as a change up from the Propel that is usually found in my water bottles. In between, we tried to get some pictures. Tom is trying to get his to work. Steve offers assistance.
Heading north from the store, we crossed Lake Jordan and then turned west on Possum Trot before turning south into the breeze. While we were at the store, you could see the clouds coming in to herald the 100% of rain for tomorrow, and the wind both shifted and strengthened. Before we got it full on, we had to climb a 12% grade because, well you know, it was there. One rider was a little rusty having been out all of 3 times this year and he was laboring up the grade on his compact double. For the 1st time I can remember, I thought to myself, “no big deal,” I’ll just go back down and ride up again with him. I think that’s a way to measure one’s progress. Can ride what you once walked up? Does the prospect of giving back hard work in elevation gain sound like an opportunity to stretch your legs instead of a prison labor camp sentence? I’ve always preferred hills to wind, but have come to actually enjoy climbing. Can’t say the same for wind though. That’ll be another mile marker on the way, I suppose. We pulled back some 20 miles into a very stiff wind. Mostly at 13 – 14 mph. It was tiring. We got a bit strung out in this phase and somehow John got separated from us. He was between Max and Jeff, and when Jeff showed up, there was no John. We assumed he chose to return home by the way he came, and we went on. John emailed later to say he had been dropped on a “no drop” ride. I feel bad about that but still don’t know how it happened.
Steve asked to bypass the Marion Spillway with its “Rough Riders” pavement (http://www.xo-1.org/) so we went a different way. With 38mm tires and a steel frame, I didn’t mind it, but others might find it very abusive to bikes and bodies. My highlight of the day was finding myself in the lead on Ceasarville Road and cranking along for a brief spell at 29.7 mph on level ground. I switched the Garmin to heart rate monitor and when it started to rocket skyward, I dialed it back and got behind Steve for a spell. It was heady while it lasted though!
So, over 100 rides this year, almost 4,000 miles. 163,000’ of climbing, and lots of great memories. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and blessed 2011. May all your winds be tailwinds.