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Sunday, March 28, 2010

On Loss and Love of a Beloved Pet


Yesterday I was out of town and got a call that my cat once again was barely able to walk. I had just taken her to the animal ER the following Sunday after returning from Texas, and now my daughter was following my tracks. I feel so helpless, so far away, but I have family responsibilities that have called me away from home as well. When they ring me, my husband tells me he does not think she will return from the ER this time, and I feel as if I have let her down by not being there.

I have had this cat for 16 years. The children and I picked her out from a now defunct pet store. When I brought her home she was covered with fleas and half dead. She developed runny stools and to this day I believe it was my husband and not the vet who saved her life partially by taking her off the medications the vet had prescribed. She was so small he would tuck her in the pocket of his shirt and carry her around to keep her warm. When she got a tad bigger and feeling better, she would climb his tree as if it were a tree trunk to reach his arms. He was leery of my getting another animal knowing how I suffered with the loss of previous pets, particularly my beloved Pupik, and because of his own vulnerability to attachment. It is hard to lose what you love. Today as I write this, part of me thinks he is right.

Kitti soon wormed her furry little way into all of our hearts. At first she was partial to my husband, but she then took up with me and has been my constant companion at bath time, while doing chores, and at bedtime. My daughter showed her at the 4-H cat show and won. Kitti rode my shoulder like a parrot at times or would wrap herself around my neck while I sat at the computer or while I was doing household chores. When I had the flu one time and was so very ill, she guarded my bed and kept me company the entire time, refusing to leave me except when one of the others fed her or she had to use the kitten's room. She became my furry alarm clock that always kept me on time at work. Mostly, she became a beloved family member. I will miss how she misses me when I am gone and how she pretends to be angry at me for leaving for just a few moments when I return as if to say, "I'll forgive you this time, but don't let it happen again." At home we joke about how she does not approve when her servants go missing for any period of time.

There are too many memories and too much love to recount on paper. Sometime or another, she suffered a back injury. We don't really know what happened, but it is beginning to cause nerve impingement and arthritis that is affecting her ability to walk and use the kitten's room. Right now rest is helping, but it seems to be happening more frequently. I had accepted that the kidney problem would end her life rather early, but now find that it will more likely be the spinal cord injury.

Yesterday, she made it home. When the time comes, I will not have her leave this world alone if possible so that she is not so very frightened, but I dread the moment when I must say that final goodbye. And I will suffer a loss that will haunt me for the rest of my life and that nobody can assuage: only time. This will serve as my notice to the world that I love this purry, furry little being and I will be forever grateful to her for her presence in my life. I only hope she understands how much I love her. My comfort must be that she had a good life with our family.

The vet says to try to keep her from jumping so today my husband and I will attempt to jump proof her favorite perches. He is building stairs for her to use for her chair and my bed. I had bought step stools before and she would not use them, but hopefully I can train her to the stairs. Here's hoping for another year or two at least.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Texas Hell Week: Day 7, Blanco

Today it is Dave, Steve, Bill, and I on a ride that is not one of the scheduled rides. I am afraid of the wind as the prediction is for 15-25 mph. winds all day and I have no cue sheet, but I trust the men I am with not to leave me behind. Once we cross Highway 290, the endless hills begin, but the sweeping vistas with their mixtures of green and brown are a sight. If I had to pick the three most scenic rides, it would be this ride, Windows on Dos, and the Death Ride. Again and again the hills assault my legs, and again and again my eyes reassure them that it is worth it. I think that it reminds me of PBP, this endless going up or going down with no flat land. Interestingly, Dave later says he had the same thought.

I am amazed at how quickly this week has slipped through my fingers and it feels as if we have just arrived, but my legs tell me differently. I am sad, but I also am beginning to be homesick for the familiar.

Before lunch, a dog jumps the fence and runs out after us. I am amazed at how much strength there are in the old legs after all. The guys laugh at me and ask me what was the rush. At lunch, I opt for the special and not the cheeseburger. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as a cheeseburger would have been. Next year, I am eating like the guys and damn the consequences;-) After lunch, we don't stop to see the dinosaur footprints in the creek bed that Bill is sure are not real. Teasing him, I point out that it says they are real in a book. This really gets him going and he makes me laugh and laugh.

At the last store, Dave says he is not feeling so well and is going to finish slowly. Later, when he is pulling at about 20 mph, I tell him I am darned glad he decided not to finish at a fast pace. We all slow up for the rest of the trip in. We pass the peach trees again who blush pink at our passing. At the hotel, I begin to pack for the long trip home. Texas, until next year.

Hell Week Day 6: Windows on Doss

Today it is just Bill, Steve, and I. We are not sure that this is the group ride, but I ask to do it as it is always one of my favorites, at least the first part of the ride. If I remember correctly, this was the first Texas ride I ever did, and I remember the feel of the sun on my shoulders and the comradeship. It was the first Texas century I completed on my fixed gear, and occasionally as I climb hills today I will wonder at our audacity and success in doing so. Oh, the things I let these boys talk me into doing.

Suddenly Bill, Steve, and I are the subjects of a photo shoot. The car photographs us, drives ahead, stops and photographs us again and again. At one point, it really begins to be a bit annoying and I am glad when they stop. Evidently the photographs are for a German cycling magazine. I wish I had a copy of a couple of the shots as I am not a good photographer and I am not capable of taking photos while riding anyway.

The roads on this ride wind over cattle guards and down little used roads. The live oaks again amaze me with the beauty in their tortured forms. The pace is nice and relaxed: we have no place to go. I begin to grow melancholy about the end of this adventure.

At the first store stop, we run into the Gregs, Joe, Jeff, and Lynn. Greg and Joe have told me that tonight there will be a Big Dog gathering at the brewery. I don't believe I have ever been there. I know I will not gather the courage to go and that I have a million excuses to serve me. Part of me wants to go, but part of me knows that it would be like torture. When I see the photos of all the people I don't know, I am glad that I don't go and don't have to worry about how I stammered and babbled like an idiot girl.

Later in the ride Steve comes upon a cow, quite large and quite black, that is not at all sure that it wants to share the road. It glares, but gives in moving enough for him to pass and the rest of us to follow. We decide to cut the Lukenbach loop off of the ride as we have all been there. It is scenic and I have some fond memories of the place, particularly during one brevet when it was cold and rainy and the pot belly stove was pouring out heat and the guitars were pouring out love songs, but I have no strong desire to return right now.

After the ride we head to the Enchanted Inn for one last Mexican meal. We talk about tomorrow and decide that rather than the group rides, we are going to ride to Blanco for a cheeseburger. (Yes, it's all about the food;-) This is Mike's last night with us. Tomorrow he is flying home, but he tells us he is already planning on returning next year. The rest of us all know we will return next year, God and pocket books willing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Texas Hell Week Day 5: Leakey Death Ride







Yesterday we did not ride due to cold, wet weather and perhaps a touch of wimpiness. This morning I arise early to meet Steve and Dave for the trip to the donut shop and then on to Bandera for the death ride. We travel in companionable silence through the dark to the park where the ride starts. Bill and Mike are meeting us there.

We arrive at the park right when dawn is beginning to lighten the sky. It is cold outside, and other than a quick bathroom trip, we huddle waiting in the van trying to decide what to wear. Learning that Bill and Mike are only doing the 80 mile ride, I worry about my ability to maintain the pace and keep up with Dave and Steve. After this ride, we always drive to Waring for Steak Night, and it would make me feel awful if I was too slow and we did not arrive in time.

Bill and Mike drop early in the ride as we pace line towards the first store stop in Vanderpool. There is a significant climb before the store, and many more afterward. The scenery is crazy beautiful. We are the first to reach Vanderpool, but a group pulled in not long after us. Steve takes off for the start of the two climbs to Leakey. I know the next 15 miles are hard ones. Still the climbing goes well and it seems only a short time before we are at the next store stop. Traditionally, and this year is no different, we have barbecue at this stop.

The rest of the ride went too quickly. We meet Greg S., Jeff P., Greg Z., and Joe C. in Tarpley, but we head out before them. Near the end, the guys are revving up for the last green sign. I just don't have the desire or energy, but I am able to keep them in sight and catch up before the end of the ride. Bill and Mike are waiting at the end. On to DQ and then steak night.

I am starving. Everyone laughs at how quickly I finish my meal and am on to dessert. Hmmm. Wonder if they had THREE older brothers to compete with;-) It didn't feel to me as if we rode as hard as we did last year, but a great day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hell Week Day 3: Hunt through Ingram





Today I woke up to colder, windy weather. Normally I step outside the motel door following breakfast to judge what to wear. Today I chose a wind vest and arm warmers as well as shorts and jersey. I am glad I threw in some wool socks as I really despise having cold feet. I was delighted when I went outside and found Greg Z. and Joe C. were going to join us today. Mike had decided not to join us.

The first part of the ride I pull ahead of everyone except Joe when it is my time to pull, but I am more than happy to slow down. The ride to the first store stop is on back roads, but after that until near the end this ride is not about scenery but about the best taco stand in the world. At the first store stop, the woman begins telling me about growing up in a children's home. Sometimes it is like people know. I feel rather rude by not encouraging her, but I am on vacation. Bill comes out of the bathroom talking about ice in the urinal. The rest of us have never heard of this phenomena and/or they are reluctant to discuss it with me as I am a female. Only today did I google it and still really don't have a firm answer but rather speculation. Not that it matters, but it made me curious. We laugh at Dave sitting on the re cleaned corn bags. The things we laugh at on rides.

Finally we get to Ingram and ride along the river to Hunt. There is a lot of traffic on the road, but nobody but me seems to mind. The taco stand is open and it has warmed up enough that we aren't absolutely miserable eating outside. I have Michael's taco, and it is as delicious as I remember. Unfortunately, I can't stretch my stomach to eat the entire taco and it will be another year before I return, but such is life. During the ride we found out that the group riding at home had come upon a suicide in the park. It bothers me to think of someone in the depths of despair, and as I later say to the others, it seems such an odd place for such a private act. I think how lucky I am to have friends that lift me up when I am down and how I sometimes think of them as God's reminder that we are not alone. During the ride I think of a book I just read, "The Shack," and how some of the ideas within just seem right to me. I think of how odd that my mother, an atheist, was the one who brought the book to my attention, and I wonder if her beliefs are changing as her life is winding down.

Coming into Harper, I decide to go for the green sign. I just can't push big enough gears to take one without stealth or a running start, so about 2.5 miles out from the town sign I begin. I know that Joe and Greg are ahead and probably will take it first, but I should beat Dave, Steve, and Bill. Dave gives chase. When we near the sign, I see that Joe and Greg have not crossed, but are stopped before the sign. I try hard, but the Dave catches me right at the wire. I have given it all that I have in my current overweight condition, and I am depleted. Greg later pulls me to the Fredericksburg green sign and Joe pretends to chase me for it but gives it to me. Normally this would make me upset, but I know that his intentions are kind and it warms me inside like I have drank a cup of warm coffee or hot cocoa. I think again what nice people Greg and Joe are and how I wish they lived closer.

I was afraid of this ride as I have not slept well for two nights now. It seems I have more and more of these episodes though normally they are related to a worry. Still it seemed that I did not hold the group up and I am glad that I did ride with them. It never really warmed up. Tonight we will eat German. You would think that with riding so much I would lose weight here, but I know from experience that this just doesn't happen.

Hell Week Day 2: LBJ Ramble





This morning I awoke and peeked out the hotel window to find a glorious sunrise in the east promising another wonderful day of Texas riding. Following breakfast, Mike, Steve, Dave, and I gathered to do the LBJ Ramble. It is a nice ride though not in my top three favorites. Unlike yesterday there are clouds in the sky, and momentarily I forget how quickly the sun burns them up and disposes of them in Texas. No fruitless banging on the shoulders for attention here: the sun will not be denied. I find myself singing a Dan Fogelberg song, "To the Morning." I think how thankful I am to be here in the midst of this beauty as we meander along the river and the park to scenery that is so different than that from yesterday. That is one thing that amazes me about this land, the scenery differences within such a short distance range. Sometimes I forget how very alluring this land is until I once again traversing the roads.

We stop for breakfast and it takes forever, but as Bill points out there is no rush. One of the things that I love about Texas is that it is all about eating, sleeping, and riding. There are no other demands upon me other than to turn the pedals. Soon my eyes are awash with the pink of the peach trees, majestically in bloom this year. Like so many things, it draws me back into time and once again my daughter and I are at the peach orchard, lazing in the sun, juice dribbling down our chins, mesmerized by the droning of the wasps harvesting the fallen peaches. When I canned those peaches, they looked nothing like those from the store that are processed green, but they tasted of summer and of my daughter, her skin as soft as buttermilk as she melted into my arms and once again, however temporarily, we were one again as if the umbilical cord once again attached.

The cows and sheep roam the land here freely fenced only by cattle guards. Upon the advice of the Gregs, I walk the water crossings while the guys ride through. All too soon we are at Harry's. Harry's is one of my favorite stops, strangely enough because of the old curmudgeon who used to run the store. He was not at all accommodating to cyclists much preferring the motorcycle crew. He was particularly unaccommodating to men not even allowing them to use the indoor restroom. I heard him tell one man to "pee on a tree." The woman's restroom here is a sight and for once I have a camera. At this stop we run into the Gregs, the Pearces, and Joe. Joe lets me know he is going to ride the brevet with us tomorrow. I am delighted as I did not expect him to ride with our group this week since he is a much stronger rider than I, but I always enjoy his company. At the stop, Jeff suggests a route that would keep us off of 290, but nobody but me seems interested. The guys accused me of wanting to avoid Gypsum Mine, not at all my intention as I love the climbs in Texas. The climbs here suit my legs without the steepness of Kentuckiana hills. They are long and gradual and normally I can keep up on these hills rather than fading as unfortunately I often do at home.

Steve and I joke back and forth all day about not finishing this century as it is the only ride that will count as a century on the club calendar, and he is out to break my century record this year. Still, we are joking. I already am unable to challenge this year due to obligations, and I am not really sorry: last time took a toll on my emotions and it was only Diesel's company that spurred me on.

Near Gypsum Mine, Bill and Mike break off to do a shorter route with less climbing, but Steve, Dave, and I press on. The sun is hot and it feels wonderful to feel it pummeling me and making me sweat, cleansing somehow. At one point, we stop to rest in the shade, one of my favorite activities when the sun is shining, the air is feverish, and the shade is seductive.

At the end of the ride, we decide to ride over to Nick's hotel to ask about the brevet. We are disappointed to find it is not the course the leads to the taco stand, and I tell the guys I don't want to do this course. I don't remember this course as being particularly scenic, but I have come to wonder how much my course memory is tainted by the fact that I had a broken rib the last time I rode the brevet as well as riding with Greg and Joe who are so much stronger than I. All I remember is chasing them up hills, having problems breathing, and being unable to stand and climb. We decide we will ride our own route to Hunt tomorrow rather than doing the brevet. I am worried about letting Joe know, but Bill is at the same hotel and is nice enough to let him know.

We are disappointed to find the Fredericksburg Pizza is no longer located in the bar, but we decide to eat there anyway. Once again, a long wait, and while the pizza was delicious, I wonder if we will eat here again. We do spend some of the waiting time across the street at a bar and I try to explain to Dave that women don't like to be thought of as "sturdy," a term I normally would use for furniture.
Another good day in the Texas hill country.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010: Going to Camp Verde





I normally take off work the Thursday we leave for Texas Hell Week each year, but this year I took off Wednesday as well for a medical appointment. Just being off work makes me shed years like a snake sheds skin and for just awhile I forget my years and I am a young girl again, free of responsibilities and decision making. As departure finally arrives, however, I have mixed feelings. While I anticipate this trip each year, almost from the time I arrive home, there is also a tinge of regret at leaving home and the people who love me the most. I treasure a husband who allows me the freedom to go on this vacation on my own with men that he really doesn't know.

Dave, Steve, and I meet at Dave's house at 5:00 p.m. and I take Steve to the airport to pick up the van that we rent. It is perfect for three people: all our luggage and two bicycles each can fit inside. It also is the first time either of them has gotten to see my beautiful new Lynskey bicycle as I am taking it and my Cannondale. Traditionally, the ride to Fredericksburg is a time for indulging in Girl Scout cookies, talking about club gossip, and reliving past Hell Weeks, and this year is no different. I grin at the guys and their eager anticipation of arriving in Texas to our first Whata Burger. I feel fortunate that they allow me to tag along. Originally I was to help with the driving, but I really am a lousy driver so now I just ride in the back seat. Sometimes I worry that they would rather ask someone who could contribute more, but I have given them outs before and they haven't taken it so I suppose they really don't mind so much.

We make good time and Steve asks if I mind making a side stop at Austin to see Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop. Of course, lusting in bike shops is one of the things I do best; it is actually one of the few types of shopping that I enjoy. Each of us purchase a little something, then it is on to Whata Burger. Leaving Austin we happen to come across an older man, probably in his seventies, sporting a gray beard, a pink wig, a pink crop top, a pink thong, and a fanny pack. Believe me when I tell you that from the rear there was absolutely nothing left to the imagination. For some reason, I think of a favorite poem by Dr. Seuss and so appropriate for cycling, "Oh! The Places You'll Go." http://www.teamhope.com/seuss.htm

Finally we get to Fredericksburg and go to our motel. We are trying a new motel this year as we were all dissatisfied with last year's motel due to cleanliness and breakfast issues. It is beautiful, but only my room is ready so we head to where...you guessed it....the local bike shop. Actually, we end up going to both shops. At one shop Steve points out some socks I HAVE to buy as they have a vicious looking drooling dog on them. I think about how one of my favorite things about Texas and Texans is that they control their dogs unlike those in Indiana and Kentucky.

After we register and clean up a bit, we head to registration. It is like a home coming and I am incredibly elated seeing people that have befriended me through the years but that I rarely see. We see Greg S., Greg Z., Marsha S., Jeff P., Lynn P., and Joe C. Greg Z. points out some others who log on the Big Dog site, but I am too shy to go and introduce myself. Then Johnny B. strolls up. I haven't seen him but once or twice since PBP and while I don't know him well, I know this is a kind man from his actions: I had not ordered the medals for all the series leading up to PBP but he mailed me a set anyway. It is always a treat when some one's kindness knocks you on your rear because sometimes I forget this with the work I do. Kindness is vastly under-rated in this world. We also find Bill at registration and our group is complete.

I decide to buy a jersey this year. While I don't really care for the colors, I do like the design. We then decide to head to one of our favorite eating spots: The Enchanted Inn. This place has tortilla chips that I dream about all year long, literally glistening with what is probably lard. Once again I think that I am lucky that I do not live here or I would soon be too fat to get on a bicycle.

After dinner, we agree to meet early in the morning to take off as a group. Mike Crawford, a Hell Week newbie, will be joining us this year. In the morning, I am delighted to find that not only does the hotel have waffles, but they are shaped like Texas. Dave, Steve, Bill, Mike, and I meet outside of our motel door.

As we leave Fredericksburg for the ride of the day, "Going to Camp Verde", we pass a road runner standing in the midst of a field. The air is crisp but promises warmth with the brilliant sun and the turquoise blue sky that does not sport a solitary cloud. Within a few miles, I fall in love with the Texas hill country once again. Every year I forget how hauntingly beautiful this land is, a contradiction, desolate yet brimming with life. Spring is a good time to come: summer would here would be brutal and unforgiving. My eyes have been starved for color and dance with the wind flowers laced along the sides of certain roads drinking their beauty. As usual, there are deer shyly haunting the fields and trees, similar yet different from our own deer. For awhile, we frolic alongside the river, bicycles weaving in and out, and yet again I am struck by the various shades of color within the depths of the waters. There is a small waterfall in one spot adding sound to the visual feast. I am happy here with these people with whom I can ride in comfortable silence, sing, or chat.

For awhile I have to put my new bike through his paces, climbing and racing over the roads, and I find he responds. Only Steve paces me and we soon drop back to ride with the others. Lunch is at Vicki's Burger Barn that offers a mean cheeseburger. I eat more beef this week each year than I do at home in two months. Too soon this day is over, but there will be other days and other centuries to ride this week and the forecast is great.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Bicycles, Brevets, and such

After thinking that I was not going to have my new bicycle for Hell Week, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call on Tuesday that it was completed. I arranged to take off work on Friday so my husband and I could make the trip to Tennessee. I am excited as we head out. My husband is excited for me as well. The sun is shining for the first time in weeks, and I do have some regret that I am spending the day in an automobile rather than on a bicycle, but it will be worth the sacrifice. During one of his many hospitalizations when they told me he would probably not recover and the sadness drowned me as if I were covered by an ocean and would never surface to breath or see the sun again, one wish he expressed to me was that I get a custom bike just for me. I still don't exactly know why he had this wish except he knows that one day, when I am free of work and other responsibilities, I hope to take off on my bicycle and tour the country. I also know that he likes to see me happy and I am rarely happier than when I am on the road on my bike. On the way down we pass a Christian billboard that lists some of the commandments. I grin and tell him that I guess I am going to cause some people to break one of those commandments. He looks puzzled and asks what I mean. I grin and tell him that the commandment says "Thou shalt not covet," but there will be people coveting my brand new Lynskey bicycle. He finds this amusing and laughs. It is good to hear his laughter and see the man I married before the pain and illness began their onslaught on our lives. One of my favorite movie scenes if from "Hook" where the little boy looks into Peter's eyes and says, "There you are."

We get to the bike store a bit early because I have forgotten about the hour time difference, but my bike is ready. It is beautiful. Lynn tells me it is unique, that the frame was made this way to meet all the things I said I want in a bike. It will even hold three water bottles. Steve told me one thing he learned from one of his bikes is what he doesn't like in a bike, but I already know that I love this bike. With any luck, this bike will take me to Paris in a year. With any luck, this bike will know laughter, adventure, and friendship. When I take it out, there is some noise in the front as the spokes settle in, but it goes away. I have never had hand built wheels before. I wonder how it will climb as there are no hills here to try. Unlike the last time, the store is very busy. Two other people are picking up their bikes, beautiful Pegoretti bicycles. They have waited much longer for their bicycles than I have for mine. Joking, I ask one of them if they had to be bitten by a pit bull to get his bike. He grins and tells me that he didn't. I see the pride of ownership in his eyes and I understand. While I must admit I did feel selfish when I thought of all the money I was spending on a bike when there was such tragedy in Haiti and other lands, I also felt the pride of ownership. I will never attain being what I would like to be, but then I am human.

On the way home, my husband encourages me to ride the brevet tomorrow on my new bike. Common sense prevails and I resist temptation. I would like for my friends to see my new bike. I know that he doesn't understand the struggles, internal and external, that can confront you in a brevet. You really don't know a bike until you have ridden quite a few miles on it. Brevets are long and hard enough without the unknown. It turns out that I am quite lucky that I use common sense and the saddle on my new bike will cause me pain on my short Sunday 40 miler.

Friday night I don't sleep well as I fret about whether or not I should have switched lights and equipment so I could ride my new bike on the brevet. I fret about what I should wear as the temperature range is supposed to be huge and I don't want to freeze but I don't want to carry a lot of extra gear. Morning seems to roll around before I ever resolve any of these issues. When I arrive, the parking lot is crowded. I am always amazed at the number of people who ride brevets. I am surprised but delighted to see Susan. She had told me she intended to ride the brevets, but I knew she had not been riding and doesn't like cold weather.

It is light enough that we should be able to complete the course without lights, but I have them just in case. After asking everyone I know how many layers they are wearing, I decide on a light wool base layer covered by a short sleeved wool jersey, a wind vest, and a light jacket. I am chilled in the morning, but not terribly uncomfortable, and despite the forecast the weather never changes enough where I had to shed a layer. It was nice to ride in the sunshine at an easy pace even though it was a tad on the chilly side. Susan amazes me with how strongly she rides despite having not ridden a century for months. We are joined for awhile by one man from Michigan. His computer has broken and he has lost his cue sheet. Susan gives him hers. I am glad that Susan said we should wait for him earlier in the day or he would probably have gotten lost. Steve normally marks this course, but weather did not permit it this go round.

I worry that the guys rode the course so much faster than we did and I know they are going to hurt me badly in Texas, but I convince myself that we will adapt as we have in previous years. One of my greatest fears is the day when I can truly no longer keep up with these friends that I cherish. I tell myself I should have used the trainer more and eaten less, but it is too late for this year. Maybe next year I will be more disciplined.

Susan and I pull in a tad before dark and I head home. When I get here, I take a few moments to stare at my new bike and contemplate tomorrow. I have promised my husband to take him to the Maple Syrup festival in the morning for pancakes and freshly processed maple syrup, but I know there will be time afterward. As it turns out, he doesn't want to go as he needs to do some bee work while the weather is warm. This frees me to get out early, and I am relishing the coming ride.

I grab the green beans from last years garden out of the freezer and put them on prior to heading out the door. The first ten miles are like a dream. The bike descends like a dream, handles well, and climbs well. Then the saddle issues start. I had thought this saddle would work for me, and I suppose I can give it another shot, but I am really glad I did not take the new bike on the brevet. I will get the saddle issue resolved and there will be other, longer brevets to challenge me in the near future.