Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Riding into my Shadow

I had been keeping track of my ride time with my wristwatch and had been riding for four hours already and still I was riding directly into my shadow (it was early afternoon so that means I was heading north which is away from home). Frankly I was getting kinda nervous. Not because it was going to be a long ride – I wanted that – but because I didn't bring my headlamp along on the ride thinking I'd be back well before dark.

Going back to my preparation for the ride: I have a thing for maps. I could look at one for hours (an argument could be made with simple mind, simple pleasures as its basis). And so before going on each ride I gaze at maps of the roads I'll be riding on – in part because I've never remembered to make an actual copy the map so I can take it along. This particular brand of doofus-ness results in me making extensive grocery store lists and then forgetting them when I actually go grocery store - and have to use my memory to buy the groceries. This gets a little ironic as it was my knowledge of a bad memory that led me to make the list in the first place and so usually just end up buying a bunch of Powerball tickets. Anyway how this all relates to my ride is that I had looked at the map before I left, didn't take a map with me, and so I had a kind of vague idea of where I was and which roads connect up with other roads.

So there I am riding along a forest road into my shadow after four hours of riding. It was getting to the point where I had to make a decision about whether to turn around or keep going the way I was going - I was pretty sure that the road I was on intersected a road that would take me home more directly than turning around (let's call this intersection “B”). I had been going up a slight grade for the better part of an hour and I had a tailwind (more on this in a bit) and told myself that if I didn't intersect the road I wanted by the time I had been riding 4 hrs 30 mins then I would turn back and it would be easy to make it home with tailwind and downhill for the first bit. At 4:23 I stopped because I wanted to take a picture of an intersecting forest road so when I got back home I could find exactly where I was on the map. I noticed when I stopped that I had been riding with a stiff tailwind for a while now. Now I have been biking seriously now for about 16 years and this kind of rookie mistake of not noticing which way the wind is blowing is something I would have expected myself to make something like 15 years ago. At this point in my biking “rookie mistake” = “idiotic mistake”. I immediately dropped an F-bomb and turned around and started biking back against the wind – after all I wasn't sure if I was going to come out where I thought I was going to (at “B”)...in fact I wasn't really even sure where I was. After biking a while it became clear that as long as I could keep my pace up I would easily get home before dark. When I got back I checked the map. I had been less than ¼ mile from “B” when I turned around.

We had a snowstorm here on Saturday and then was nice on Sunday so the snowmobile trails are now open. I tried riding a bit on a trail right near our place. They were way too soft for my setup (a skinny-tired single speed) and so I turned around after maybe twenty feet. But they'll be hard soon. I think it's really weird: I never thought I'd be looking forward to hearing whiny, loud, irritating things (snowmobiles) but I've been looking forward to hearing them each winter for several years now. Poor Jenny has heard me whine about the wussy snowmobilers for a while now and why aren't they out on the trails yet? (knowing full well that the snowmobilers aren't “wussy,” the trails were closed until Saturday) enough times that if she even had a little asshole in her I'd probably be sleeping in the chicken coop.

Speaking of snowmobiles makes me think of how Ashland is probably the biggest town I have been in that has a snowmobile route running through the middle of town – and also has an ATV route on a fairly major street. Reminds of of this picture:

This is the classic picture I took (“classic” in this case means “very common to see in rural settings but perpetuates stereotypes of rednecks everywhere”) I took this picture while out on a bike ride that I was on while trying to get in shape for the bike tour I was about to take. It was taken in the tiny town of Glen Haven, Wisconsin. This picture is of the downtown

Also in the town of Glen Haven I stopped at a pavilion there to have a snack and stare into the distance with an intense look on my face like Lance Armstrong.

The pavilion was in a little park and it had a little bathroom type thing. This is where I learned that if you have a bunch of urine produced by males it can be be contained and drained by a simple roof gutter:

This gets me thinking about how “redneck” is sometimes a condescending way of saying “practical.” Though I stop short of thinking that this guy is practical in a good way, I think that we should look for redneck solutions to problems as well as the city slicker solutions to problems using higher thought. And then there's this guy. I'm not sure where he's coming from because I fell asleep almost instantaneously when I started watching the video.

Speaking of bike tour training and perpetuating redneck stereotypes, on the same ride that the last two pictures came from I happened to take a picture of what happens when gun crazy country boys (or girls, I don't like to be sexist but chances are they were male) with high-powered rifles meet propane tanks:

Upon reviewing the pictures I took during my ride Friday (the one in which I was within ¼ mile of “B”) really the only one worth putting up is one I took when I was riding off on a sideroad that had been plowed before the most recent snowfall but had had no trucks/Subarus on it since:

There is a strange satisfaction in making the first tracks. And it doesn't happen too often on a bike.

That picture reminds me of this one:

My ego would like me to point out that there are no footprints beside my bike tracks indicating that I rode all the way to where my bike is “parked.” My humble side would like to say that my ego is an idiotic braggart and that there was a clear stretch of trail before this and that the trail in the picture is going downhill – and so this isn't really very impressive.

Remember to try before you buy:

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