The Last Roundup (Blue Spoon to Little Village)

“It was a fine fall morning; early and cold and sweet as cider. It was one of the prettiest times of year at one of the  prettiest times of the day…” (Ken Kesey, Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear)

And so we met at the Blue Spoon Cafe in Prairie du Sac, WI.  Breakfast (for me) was cakes bluespoonand eggs with coffee. It was about 35 degrees, no wind, a bright sun low in the sky. By the time we finished our breakfast and were ready to hit the road, it was over 40; still pretty crisp, but with a promise of warmth to come.

We (the stalwarts of the Half-fast Cycling Club) headed out, crossing the Wisconsin River and making our way to the Merrimac Ferry.ferry (For Cycle America folks, the morning route was more or less the route from the July 26 posting “I will never wear shoes“, only in reverse.) We wound our way up the switchbacks of Devil’s Lake State Park and on to lunch at the Little Village Cafe in Baraboo, home of the Circus World Museum (and former home of the Ringling Brothers). Lunch was a grilled chicken sandwich with pesto accompanied by an Argentine Malbec, followed by bourbon pumpkin cheesecake and espresso. No pictures of food. I’m not that kind of guy.

Leaving Baraboo the temperature was over 60 degrees. The wind began to pick up, out of the west, meaning we’d have a headwind early but a tailwind to push us home. The afternoon is the hillier part of the ride, so it was a good thing we were well-fueled. We headed up Happy Hill (and were happy), Freedom Road (where we felt free) and Swiss Valley (where we saw Brown Swiss cattle).  Rollie and I waited for the others by an old stone barn foundation with a silo in the middle. Since I’m used to seeing silos outside of the barn, I decided it’s really the top of an ancient and long-buried castle.

You can see the slits for the archers to shoot through at the top of the parapet, and the lookout tower above. After crossing a busy highway (with only a few feet of milled pavement – see the August 6 post “Back in the US, back in the US, back…”) we crossed onto a bike path for the last few miles. We saw a bald eagle perched above the river, which looked much better through the viewing scope than in the accompanying photo.eagle

Back to the Blue Spoon for drinks and hors d’oeuvre on the patio overlooking the river (just upstream from the eagle) and then it was back home for dinner, driving into the rising and nearly-full moon. Today was probably the most beautiful day of the month, a perfect day for what may be the last ride of the year that is just for fun and not to get somewhere. We’ll see how many of the Half-fast Club are up for the New Year’s Day ride.

The Last RoundUp (take two)

Today was (probably) the last organized ride of the season. A year ago I might have looked at today’s forecast (50 degrees and rain) and decided to stay home to do the laundry. But I already paid the registration fee, and it’s warmer than it was from Thompson Falls to Missoula.

Sunday, October 7. I leave Madison in the dark. There’s not a whole lot of traffic at 6 AM on a Sunday. I’m listening to a Nigerian American artist and writer talk about his work on the radio. It starts to mist as I head out of town. I stop for coffee in the Only Waunakee in the World. As I start to dictate this in their parking lot, I realize that my phone is trying to type the nearest Spanish phonetic equivalent to what I am saying. When I say “Change to English”, it types “sangre”. When I say it again, it starts typing in English.

After riding with 2500 people in the Door County Century, on today’s ride I saw a total of five on the road. There were two people at the registration table when I arrived but I didn’t see them again. I saw a family of five about 20 miles in, but they were going the other way.

As a result, I had plenty of time to compose a letter to the editor.

Dear Editors:

The Wisconsin State Journal, like most of the mainstream media and the Senate, had the narrative wrong on the Brett Kavanaugh story. By casting it as a tale of “unsubstantiated allegations” you were able to reduce it to a he said/she said story. Since the “corroborating witnesses” had a vested interest in failing to recall the events of that night in 1982, and were self-professed blackout drunks, there is little surprise that no evidence was found to corroborate Dr. Ford’s testimony.

This way, Senate Republicans (and you, by printing their narrative) could cast this as the tale of “two lives utterly destroyed”. One of those lives can spend the rest of his life drying his crocodile tears with his new black robe.

Missing in this narrative is what we learned in the past week. Mr. Kavanaugh perjured himself more than once. He told us that his high school drunkenness was totally legal. Unfortunately, the record shows that the drinking age was 21 when he was engaging in his teenage hijinks. He told us he got into Yale with “no connections”. Unfortunately, the record shows that he was a legacy student, as his grandfather had gone to Yale. Why were these lies not the story? We didn’t have to go back 35 years to find out what kind of man he is, he showed us in his testimony. If he will lie about small things in order to gain power, why should we believe him about big things when he comes to power?

He showed utter contempt for the Senate and for the democratic process when he refused to answer direct questions and instead turned those questions around and asked them of the Senator questioning him. I’m no lawyer, but even I know that when you are testifying under oath your role is to answer questions, not to ask them.

So now we have a Supreme Court justice who shows himself to be a liar under oath and contemptuous of our constitutional form of government. And he is there for the rest of his young life.

As for the ride. It was misty/drizzling for most of today’s ride. When it got a bit chilly, I received the warming gift of a 20% grade to climb. After about 25 miles it became chilly enough to put my shoe covers on. That way, the next time we had a 10 or 15% grade, I was not in need of that grade to get warm. Leaves are turning, though with 100% cloud cover, we had to rely on the leaves themselves for their brilliance. There was no sunlight to add dazzle.

At one point I realized that it was not raining. I really don’t know when it stopped. I do know that the hardest rain came in the last 5 miles. We were provided with a cue sheet that recorded mileage to the nearest 1 1/1000 of a mile. Unfortunately, it was off by as much as 4 miles some of the time. Many road signs were missing. Being on a route with virtually no other riders and almost no route markings, this made for an interesting adventure finding my way back.

Most of the roads had names with “hollow” or “ridge” in them. It was clear we’d be going up and down a lot. One of the roads was “Dog Hollow”, which had me singing this:

Remember, there’s only a week left to vote in Madison Magazine’s “Best of Madison” awards.

Next week: The Famous Blue Spoon to Little Village Ride.

Is that all ya got?

Rode into the moonset on the way to work this morning. Watching it low in the west over the city skyline, I thought setting over the lake would make a better picture. By the time I got to the lake, the moon was nowhere in sight.

Left work in a hard rain. Within the first block, it turned into torrential rain, driven by a 30 mph wind in my face. I grinned and said aloud, “Is that all ya got?” I immediately regretted it and thought, “Be careful what you wish for.” I still had >5 miles to ride (though the wind would be a tailwind in a couple of blocks), my house is still sandbagged, the river is still out of its banks from the last round of storms, and the water has barely receded from its high point. A few roads have reopened. Bridges are out on both sides of Black Earth, where I rode yesterday.

I guess 105 miles in cold rain this summer changed me.

I just received our official totals from the summer. 4324.2 miles (not counting trips into town, doing errands, etc – just the official daily totals), 152,606 feet of elevation gain. Of course, the net elevation change was pretty close to zero – from sea level at the Pacific to sea level at the Atlantic; but don’t tell your legs that the net change was zero. They still have to lift you up those 150,000 feet. Going straight up, that is near the outer limit of the stratosphere. “Space” is typically defined as starting 62 miles up.

And here is the coast-to-coast official portrait. coast-to-coast

 

Gone Fishin’

Some days are just too nice to do whatever it was you were going to do. Some days, the bike just calls out to you and says, “Ride me!” Today is one of those days.

I know the story of the grasshopper and the ant. Some days you just have to be the grasshopper. Yesterday I was the ant. Today I need a new pair of shoes. I pretty well wore out my sandals over the summer. The best shoe store in town happens to be out of town, and happens to be in a great area for a bike ride.

VermontChurchTrue confession: I took the photo last spring, but I like it and I haven’t used it yet, and this is the area I rode today.

Warm and sunny, but fall is in the air. The low angle of the sun casts a golden light over everything. Corn harvest is in progress. The early plantings have been harvested, the late plantings are still green; in between, some look ready to these layperson’s eyes.

I rode some of my favorite roads today. There was a headwind for a while. I didn’t care. I was riding into the wind because I wanted to go that way, not because I had to get somewhere. It seems to make a difference.

No map. No cue sheet. I had a route planned out roughly in my head, but when I came to Ryan Road (along Ryan Creek), that looked like a good way to go. My plan fell by the wayside. That led to Moyer, the climb through Pleasure Valley to County F, and Brigham County Park, one of my favorite places in the world. 65B5FBD4-63F6-47C0-A4F1-8B44B88B37BBBy the time I got back to Black Earth I was hungry. The shoe store owner also owns a sports bar a few miles out of town. I thought I’d stop there for lunch and visit my dad. (The bar has pictures of sports figures and his picture hangs by one of the booths.) Alas, they were not yet open so food had to wait. Back home, it is suddenly cloudy. This grasshopper made it just in time.

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