Decisions, decisions

Life is hard when you’re retired. Today’s forecast was for a high of 67 (19.5 C) with ample sunshine and little to no wind. The next few days are to be even warmer. This is not normal for the end of October/beginning of November around here. What to do?

Those of us of a certain age remember cigarette commercials that seem to apply everywhere 😉

I planned on a bike ride for the afternoon. Two friends/neighbors were busy. I raked leaves this morning as it warmed up. Getting the rake out of the garage, the kayak called my name. I can ride my bike tomorrow and/or Wednesday when friends are available. The water won for Monday.

At a paddling workshop I learned you should dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. That advice is so you are always prepared for a dunking. On a calm day on known waters, the chances of that were pretty slim. I was overdressed. The local paddling shop is having a moving sale. I bought a waterproof phone case with a lanyard, which gave me the confidence to take pictures as I paddled. If I were to drop the phone it wouldn’t sink and it would stay dry. You can take pictures through the case (more of a heavy-duty plastic bag), as you can see above.

I turned downstream to the lake. Hugging the shore I came into a nasty algae bloom, rendering the water opaque and pea soup green. I moved farther out into the lake and made my way across to Olbrich Park. As I neared the beach there, the water got thick again so I turned back to the middle. My paddling route was pretty close to my skiing route from last January’s post.

Have fun storming the castle!

The half-fast fall colors tour had its second incarnation of the season. We postponed due to weather and it was the right choice.

After a leisurely breakfast to let it warm up a bit, we headed off through the former Badger Army Ordnance Works, now being restored as prairie by multiple owners. This version of the route took us on a few miles of dirt road, sometimes with gravel, sometimes with scattered rocks, sometimes just rutted dirt with fallen leaves to hide the ruts. We met a car. They must have been lost, because we saw them again minutes later, going the other way.

Picture a little shaky due to riding on rough terrain

After lunch we rode past a stone silo and some more stone work that always reminds me of this scene from “The Princess Bride”.

The afternoon featured hills, as we are on the edge of the Driftless Area.

While the colors may be one day past perfect, it was still a beautiful fall day

It remained warm enough for hors d’oeuvres and wine on the back porch of the cafe overlooking the Wisconsin River.

The Wisconsin River, over Pinot Noir

After a day of rest we joined the last Bombay Bicycle Club ride of the season. The ride started 10 miles from my house and was only 40 miles, so I could ride from home to meet them. It has always seemed weird to me to drive my car somewhere in order to ride my bike. It makes sense after work (see Wednesday Night Bike Rides) when you want to get somewhere out of town before it gets dark, but on Sunday morning, with a meetup time of 10, there was plenty of time to do the laundry and get to the start point.

There was a car show going on at the meet point, with a bit of everything (including a matte black Lamborghini roadster – looking at pictures just now, I’d say it was an Aventador – nothing like a stealth car that can go >200 mph [>350 km/h] and 0-100 km/h in ❤ seconds [Ed. note: some browsers change less than 3… < 3… to a heart emoji, sorry]). There was also a Model A Ford and some Chevy IIs, later renamed Nova – another good story, as the Nova had poor sales in Mexico and GM didn’t know why until someone told them “No va” means “it doesn’t go”. Major corporations then learned to check languages other than English before they named cars and other products, and also to use made-up words.

It was 60 degrees (15.5 C) and warmed up to 75 (24 C) as the day went on. We rode out into a brisk headwind and returned into that same wind, as it was a circular route. We seemed to get short-changed on the tailwinds today – but if miles are equal, time certainly isn’t.

Tomorrow may be the last warm day for the year (unless the front comes early), with the temperature dropping 2o degrees by Tuesday and that could be it for warm weather for this year. Then comes the dark and wet season until snow comes to brighten things up.

Sun early, then clouds as I left the house – all of the light seemed to come from the trees. Sun returned within the hour.

Happy birthday to an 80 year old who helped introduce me to cars. Luckily, I outgrew that and turned to bikes;) since the Italian car mentioned above costs about a half million dollars more than my Italian bike.

Do it again!…with feeling!/A Fine Fall Morning

Here at the half-fast cycling club, we believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well…and again.

We didn’t always feel this way (about the second part), but riding across North America twice changed things. Of course, we also believe that beliefs, like selves, shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We don’t place much stock in belief.

With that in mind, we decided that the fall color ride, being one of the highlights of our year, might be twice as fun if we did it twice. On Tuesday, October 18, we decided to put that to the test. Finding two available dates was surprisingly hard for a group that is mostly retired. [By “mostly retired”, we don’t mean like “mostly dead”. We mean that most of us in the group are retired.]

And so, on Tuesday morning, after a breakfast that couldn’t be beat, we headed off into the sunrise. It was a fine fall morning…

“Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear” written by Ken Kesey, produced and read by Dad [so says the CD box] (with “Arkansas Traveler”, composed by Sandford C. Faulkner, performed by David Grisman & Jerry Garcia, and “The Harder They Come” composed and performed by Jimmy Cliff. )

Or maybe we didn’t. It snowed a bit on Monday, with a temperature that never got out of the 30s (<4ºC) and winds that stayed in the teens all day. The forecast for Tuesday was more of the same so, one by one, folks found other ways to spend the day. We rescheduled for a day when it is supposed to be about 40 degrees (F) warmer.

What to do? I made my own breakfast and coffee instead of going out with the gang. On the road early, temperature right at 32 (0 C), a strong wind making the wind chill some number I don’t care about. Why do I own warm cycling clothes unless it’s to ride when it’s chilly?

It was a beautiful morning. The colors are past their peak, but don’t tell that to the maples in their Serrano chili red, or maybe it was Ferrari red, or maybe crimson or scarlet or a red with no name. It was a red that made the sunlight different when I passed those trees; a red that made the sky around it bluer; a red that made me realize I don’t know what red means.

Alas, none were close enough for a good picture. As the kids’ book detective Cam Jansen would do, I said “click” and took a picture that only I can see.

One of these days, we will head out for the final group ride of the season. You’ll read it here first (since you won’t read about it anywhere else, ever).

An open letter

to my Cycle America community. To jog your memories, there will be one photo from each week, none of which have appeared here before:

Dear Friends,

trailer loaded, ready to head to ride start-WA

We have now been back in our respective real worlds for longer than we were away in our circus world. We used that metaphor during the trip because it seemed apt – we rolled into a new town every night, set up our tents, and were gone in the morning before most people were up and about. We didn’t put on much of a show, but…

Einstein in Jackson, WY

It’s also timely because I spent three days of the last week in Baraboo, home of the Ringling Brothers and the Circus World Museum. It was also where, for me, the two worlds intersected. My friends, my son and his wife, and my boss all came to Baraboo when the Cycle America Circus rolled through. It was my reminder that our circus world was fleeting, that the other world beckoned. It was the best of times…

Devil’s Tower, WY

And now we’re scattered across the globe doing whatever it is we normally
do; though even that is new for some – Ally went from being a student to being a nurse during those nine weeks. Mike stayed away longer than the rest of us to ride down the west coast of the US. How’d that go, Mike?

Did anybody do a Johnny Paycheck when going back to work?

Needles Highway, SD

I miss that world. I missed the daily routine of riding already by the first Monday I was home. I had my day of rest and was ready to ride again. I’m still looking for anyone who wants to pay me to ride my bike. From the headwaters of the Mississippi to the delta seems like a good route. Who’ll drive sag?

The jersey that got us in trouble in Belgium-Northfield, MN

But I also miss all of you. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get all hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya on you. If we all lived in the same town it’s not like we’d all be hanging out every night after work (those of us who do still work) or be drinking coffee together every morning at the corner cafe (for the retired among us).

Wind farm – Pepin, WI

But we had a community for those nine weeks; a loose-knit one, perhaps, but we shared something I will never forget. We shared fun, we shared miseries, we shared deeply transforming moments.  We found out what we were made of. Some of you, who had done this before, may have had no doubts about it. But I bet most of us had moments when we weren’t really sure what we had gotten into, weren’t really sure we could do this. But we did. And we probably knew that all along but it seemed too arrogant to say out loud, just as voicing the fears seemed too insecure to say out loud.

100 miles is just a number – almost a century in Ontario

We ate some great food and some food that we may not have eaten had we not just ridden 80 miles. We saw the USA in a way that most people never will. We didn’t fly over flyover country. We didn’t cross the plains at 80 mph (~130 km/h for those of the metric persuasion), staring at the ribbon of pavement and ignoring all else. We did wake up sober in Nebraska (or close to it – Nebraska, I mean). Climbing mountain passes didn’t mean just stepping harder on the accelerator.

Cycle America International Bobsled Team – Lake Placid, NY

We did all that, and we did it together. I, for one, already think about a reunion. It’s entirely possible we will never see each other again. I know some of you are friends in real life and do hang out. The rest of us? Maybe we’d feel awkward, not knowing what to say. Maybe we’d need a long ride together with margaritas to follow. Maybe a short ride, but actually together as a group, like the brief stretches when we were together for ferry crossings or through construction zones.

End of the road, Gloucester, MA-only one way to go

And maybe doing it again in 2020 doesn’t sound crazy after all. (Don’t tell anyone here I said that!) If those of you with the wherewithal to do it again do it, I’ll meet you in Baraboo with a case of beer. Or we can find an Irish pub and Mike can show the bartenders the proper way to pull a pint of Guinness.

See you on the road!

Love,

Steve

Maybe a motor next time?

Maybe Hogwart’s next time?

maple
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