Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Ride Before Christmas...

Festive color on Christmas Eve!
It's been an unusually mild Chicagoland December thus far as it is the end of the month, and the lack of snow has made it so that I can only look longingly at my cc skis. So, I've taken it upon myself to try and squeeze the season for every last drop of outdoor riding before the first real winter storms hit, or the mercury plunges too deeply below the freezing point.

After bailing on an otherwise lackluster cyclocross racing season, I set the bike aside for a few weeks (sorry, no Montrose Harbor for me this year!), did a little running, and otherwise partook in my strategic end-of-season "active recovery" (read: a slothful malaise punctuated by trips off the couch to reheat a slice of pizza or refill my tumbler-o-ginger ale).

My 'forest of Arenberg'

It was a bit of an odd / eerie experience being out on the bike path today. It was well into the afternoon as I headed north for an out-and-back toward Crystal Lake. I was maybe one of 3 cyclists on the path the whole entire time, and the walkers weren't many more (no, not Imperial AT-AT Walkers... those come out with the Hoth Wampa, once the snows hit). It was, in a word, desolate. The pending holiday hush made it seem even more desolate than a ride I had been on just a few weeks earlier.

It was just a much quieter, colder version of the usual late afternoon ride. I could begin to smell what people were cooking up for holiday fare.. (yes, even chestnuts!).. Aah, fabric softener!.. Someone's doing laundry!.. Steak, potatoes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch?.. Mmm, wishful thinking.. I must be bonking! But alas... wouldn't you know it?.. on the tail-end of the return trip, I stopped into the friendly confines of Main Street Bicycles where my friend and brother-o-bikes Jeff P. had quite the stash of leftover Hanukkah BBQ feast!!! As this is a family blog, I will not mention the certain frosty adult libation that also somehow magically appeared!

"Your Surly Pugsley
does not  impress me!"
So I lumbered out of the shop with wrench Peter S. (okay, he's more of a ninja / wizard among bike mechanics, and his word is law when it comes to bike setup and maintenance). We rode together for a bit. Peter, happy to be done with the day's work and headed home for Christmas Eve / Hanukkah with his crew... I, post-ride, post-feast stuffed and feeling defiant like an ice-age mastodon, and re-energized to sprint away from one of these, should one suddenly appear:      

Merry Christmas!!... and think of all those lucky kids (of ALL ages) who will be waking up to new bikes and bike gear on Christmas morning! And of course, those of us only too happy to go out and ride our old, tried-but-true stuff! Wahoo!