A Tale of Two Sundays

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. When I went to bed the last Saturday night in April, it was snowing. I awoke to fresh snow for my Sunday morning ride. We rode east (a rarity in these parts – folks generally ride any other direction – though there are some great places to ride to the east). The sun was bright, the air was crisp. I had just the right mix of clothing, though a few times I wished I hadn’t left the shoe covers behind.

Pre-ride snow removal April 28

Tulips and irises were peeking out through the snow. Trees were beginning to bloom; the greens stark against the new-fallen snow. By noon the snow had melted in all except the deepest shadows. We followed the ride with a concert by the Choral Arts Society Chorale. The concert was “Water: A Celebration in Song“, and included works from the 16th to the 21st century, from multiple continents, and featured a newly-commissioned work. The 2018-19 “Go Big Read” for the university this year is “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” and copies were provided to concert-goers. Keep an eye on this group if you’re in or around Madison WI. Concerts are built around social justice themes (the last one was immigration). They are thematically linked and musically diverse.

The first Sunday in May dawned bright and clear, with the temperature rising through the 60s already by 8 AM. Morning came early, as I had heard and seen Mahler’s 8th Symphony (“The Symphony of a Thousand“) the night before. The work got its nickname from the number of musicians involved. This presentation featured a mere 500 including an enlarged symphony orchestra and three choral groups. Five hundred musicians (including a magnificent organ) make for a spectacular sound. The day was especially long, as I had worked from 6 AM – 1:30 PM and gone to a retirement party after that. The party was for the retirement of the long-time director of one of the great day care centers in the world, Red Caboose, featured in the 1998 book “The Goodbye Window” by Harriet Brown. (Disclosure: Both of my kids went to Red Caboose and are in the book. I was once the treasurer.)

But as for the ride: I arrived at the meet-up point with the sky darkening and the wind rising. It looked like a squall that would blow through quickly. After standing around waiting for that to happen, we headed out. The sky was getting lighter but the wind stronger. About ten minutes into the ride it began to sprinkle lightly. It rained just enough to make the sun’s warmth welcome when it reappeared, and to make us look like Saturday’s Kentucky Derby riders, splattered with mud – but I didn’t have spare goggles to toss aside when it got hard to see. By noon it was warm enough to remove my jacket.

The week between rides meant the alfalfa and grasses were now a brilliant green. The delicate spring green of blooming trees (including maples and willows) made a stunning contrast with the deeper greens of the grasses and the browns of the dormant cornfields. By the end of the ride the sky was a brilliant blue and, when I got home, the laundry I’d hung out before the ride was dry.

So I was lying about the worst of times. While one ride included snow and the other rain, both were great rides. And today I set up my espresso machine and brewed my first espresso, after an hour-long meditation in an MRI machine.

First espresso

Door County Century/ Best of Madison?

BOM2019_728x90_1535470768232_12972537_ver1.0.jpgThree weeks with no long-distance riding was enough. The Half-fast Cycling Club escaped to Door County, WI for a century ride on Sunday, September 9. (9/9/18, like an addition problem).

We left a narrow isthmus between two flooding lakes connected by a flooding river and headed to a narrow peninsula (looks like an island to me, since you have to cross a bridge to get to it) with Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. At least this lake is still within its banks.

 

  1. There used to be a beach between the lifeguard tower and the lake. 
  2. Find the bike path in this picture.

I arrived in camp in darkness after the 200 mile post-work drive. Rather than pitch a tent, I slept in the back of the van. Dinner was PB&J with popcorn. Left camp in the dark in the morning and had breakfast in a diner in Sturgeon Bay, not wanting to make breakfast in the dark.

They were nice enough to give me my birth year as a bib number in case I forgot how old I am.B0325C29-B1BB-49B4-B0B2-48C068783903

In case we haven’t shown this yet, this is the back of the coast-to-coast jersey, with the flags of the countries and states of origin of the riders. You may note from all the Union Jacks that the former British Empire was well-represented. The marked cities are the weekend rest days.

We started out by riding a gauntlet of yard signs for a rogue’s gallery of Trump toadies, lest we think that Door County has gone soft.

I wasn’t used to riding in such crowds. I saw someone with rider number 2700-something. I frequently found myself speeding up or slowing down to escape a crowd. It was a bit chilly for the first 20 miles and anytime we hit a patch of sun I wanted to bask for a while.

Twenty five miles in I found a coffee shop for an espresso. For Tim, here’s a picture of that espresso; and the view,  through the coffee shop window, of riders in more of a hurry than we were.

 

There were water and snack stops every 15 miles or so. Every one had PB&J.

Door County is beautiful, with plenty of quiet back roads despite being a narrow peninsula. The wind came up in the afternoon to make sure the day wasn’t too easy.

 

FAQ (there was only one):
Q: After what you did this summer, this was easy, right?

A: Wrong. 100 miles is tough no matter what. Maybe if you’re an elite cyclist, 100 miles is easy. If you’re half-fast, it’s hard.

Oh, yeah. I had a another flat tire. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s, I don’t know, I stopped keeping score.

Best of Madison!

BREAKING NEWS!

The Half-fast Cycling Club has been nominated in the Best Local Blog category in Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison competition.

If you like what you’ve been reading here, vote for us. The final voting period is from September 17 – October 31. Unlike round one, in which you can vote every day for what you think is best, in round two of final voting, you will only be able to vote once per category, so consider your pick and make your vote count! The ballot will be available on our website at www.madisonmagazine.com/bom.

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