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Friday, October 16, 2015

Riding in the Fall: Can't Get Enough

"Fall colors are funny.  They're so
bright and intense and beautiful.  It's like
nature is trying to fill you up with color, to 
saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter
turns everything muted and dreary."
Siobhan Vivian
I am home and I am physically tired, but despite back to back centuries this week-end, I am not sated.  I do not know if it is possible for me to get enough of these beautiful, sunshiny fall days, days that start cool but that warm near or into the seventies and winds that do not yet chill me to the bone.  Siobhan Vivian is right.  I am trying to stockpile this weather and all the little details for I know it cannot last.  Soon the world will turn gray and dreary and life sounds will fade away until the spring. Already the insect sounds grow fainter and sound frail rather than brazen and robust as they do in the spring of the year when the world is awakening and mates are being sought.

Morning is as crisp as a cracker calling for arm warmers, knee warmers, vest, and long fingered gloves, painting my cheeks red to match the changing maple leaves, but morning also breathes the promise that you eventually will pay the price for your morning comfort by carrying all those extras for part of the day: perfect if I am riding my Lynskey with the carradice attached, but not so nice on the Cannondale where I end up stuffing pockets until I look stuffed to the point of pregnancy.  Either way it is extra weight and bulk, but this time of year it does not matter.  Fall is not a time for speed despite summer mileage hardened legs.  And frankly, the older I get the less I care about what people think of my looks. 
Near the end of my ride today, I think that I am lucky that vacation is almost over since rain is not predicted or I might ride myself to death or back into some semblance of fitness, whichever happened first.  Even when I reach home a part of me wishes I were just heading out, that the sun was not heading west toward bedtime,  but that it was in the east just rising and that the day could go on and on.  I think about how riding the first century with company gave me things to think about and digest, smiles to relive and tears to shed, during the second century when by myself even though earlier this morning when I started out my legs said, "You've got to be kidding me. Again? One is not enough?   "

Yesterday was the Medora Century, and I shared the day with club members and friends, including two new century riders.  The pace was relaxingly slow, the day languid, and the scenery spectacular in places.  There is something about the sunshine this time of year that makes even the harvested fields, already brown and dry, scenic.  It was not the kind of pace where you wonder if you will ever sweep people in or if you will be out shepherding riders until midnight, but a pace that allowed conversation to flow and laughter to float through the air, and it was not the pace where you gasp and your sides heave as you attempt to  hold on to the wheel in front of you as some sadist presses the pace, but  the kind of pace that allows you to savor the day and hold it close for those times when you feel alone and if there is no joy in the world.   It is the type of day you will remember when you are home snow, wind, and ice bound longing to be on a bicycle without wearing layer upon layer and to see color in the world and hear something besides the man made sounds of automobiles.

The town of Medora was having their "Medora Goes Pink" festival to support breast cancer research.  Kirk R. came up with the idea of having riders wear bras for the bra judging contest thus starting the day  with giggles and laughter at the elaborately decorated bras worn, of course, outside of jerseys.  One couple on a tandem  had a bra with ghosts on one said saying boo and honey bees on the other cup saying bees....  boo bees....get it:-).  The other on the tandem had owls on his brassiere. Bras had lights in the middle, tassles in the centers, writing, and were colorful.  Regardless of the color, style, or the sex of those who wore them, they brought a smile to everyone's faces.  I wished I had taken the time to participate as I intended and had made a bra that said, "Grow a Pair," but things seemed to get in the way.

Riders rode the children's barrel train at the festival and posed with cartoon characters getting their pictures taken.  It just was the type of day that makes you feel almost inebriated, perhaps because it is a closure:  the last of the tour stages for the year and for some, indeed most, the last of the club centuries until 2016 as many do not ride distance throughout the winter.

On the way back, we pass the mobile home Lloyd and I lived in until the children were older and we had saved enough to buy a house.  So much love in that place that it had to have seeped into the soil and permeated the atmosphere. Surely it can not be entirely gone.  Deep sobs racked my body shaking my bike for just a moment as we passed.  I remain amazed at how quickly this can happen and how quickly it can pass, but then this has been a new world for me the past few months and a new me is emerging.  Sometimes it is hard to tell what is temporary and what will be permanent.

I am far enough behind the other riders that nobody can hear, and I am determined that nobody will.  I do  not want my temporary longing and sadness to taint anyone on this glorious day, but I cannot help how I feel.  Would anyone understand that part of us is still there, that ghosts linger in the shed that he built, the trees that he planted, the memories?  The ghosts of children flit  through the yard, a tangle of giggles and silliness, and I think of a  poem my mother-in-law once gave to us, a rare gift for she was always struggling just to make ends meet and gifts were a luxury:

Are All the Children In?

I think oftimes as night draws nigh,
Of an old house on the hill,
And of a yard all wide
And blossom-starred
Where the children played at will.
And when the night at last came down
Hushing the merry din,
Mother would look around and ask,
"Are all the children in?"

Oh, it's many and many a year since then,
And the old house on the hill
No longer echoes to childish feet,
And the yard is still, so still.
But I see it all as the shadows creep,
And though many the years have been since then,
I can hear mother ask,
"Are all the children in?"

I wonder if when the shadows fall
On the last short earthly day;
When we say goodbye to the world outside
All tired with our childish play;
When we step out into the other land
Where mother so long has been,
Will we hear her ask,
Just as of old,
"Are all the children in?"
by Florence Hadley

My sadness passed quickly and I chatted with others as we neared the end.  The ride ended at the forestry and I finished my century up there alone after stopping to chat for a bit more before the others take off for home, for the route is a bit shy mileage wise.

Today I decide to head toward Story, Indiana to continue to savor the colors and feel of incredible fall weather.  Story is located in Brown County, a county known for its fall colors, artists, and quaint shops.  But to get to that color (I am not interested in shopping), I first have to pass miles of farm land.  Most of the fields have been neatly stripped and are bare of all but stubble.  I pass a home that has a circle of ghosts dancing in the yard. I then reach the covered bridge that I came across during previous ramblings, but there is a surprise:  it is being repaired.  It is bare bones, the lovely support arches showing, and I celebrate that it will be restored and not demolished.  So much of our history bows before the pressures of progress or is destroyed through maliciousness, but perhaps this piece will remain.

 

Birds are beginning to flock together and gather in the gleaned corn fields. Disturbed by my passing, they swing into flight, wings graceful against the blueness of the autumn sky, bowing to the wind and landing in another field a bit further away.  Leaves fall and swirl as the wind is a bit stronger than yesterday.  While I miss having company, I also relish having the chance to concentrate on the scenery.  I am desolate when I come to one of my favorite roads and find it pillaged and raped by the lumber industry.  Yes, like most people, I love wood and know it is necessary, but like any red blooded cyclist, I wish they would get their lumber from places other than the roads I ride on.

I think about going back to work and how I wish I could retire.  Just a week at home has convinced me that I would never fade from being bored.   I know, however, that while I could retire and live even more conservatively than I do presently, I need to work if I want to enjoy more activities when I retire.  And of course, I do have need of another bike.  At least I don't detest what I do, I think.  I am not unhappy working, but I look forward to having my time as my own. And I enjoy the extras the working brings.

I think about certain conversations yesterday and I think how difficult it can be to have a spouse or mate that does not understand the lure of cycling.  It interests me that while many of these people met their spouse through cycling, what was an acceptable activity becomes not acceptable and a point of contention.  My husband always told me that marriage changes people, and I think he was right.  Even he had his moments when my excessive cycling caused a squabble even though he bought me my first bike, but somehow he knew it filled a need and that without it, I would no longer be quite the same me.  Mostly he encouraged me, and I was grateful for that.  Not everyone is so giving or thinks of the other person's needs rather than just his or her own.  Maybe, I think, it takes years of marriage to make that happen. 

A few miles outside of Story, I impulsively decide to stop and try an eating establishment I have passed numerous times but never stopped at before.  When she brings the sandwich: it is huge. She even brings  a fork. Oh, well, a girl has to ride to eat.  It tastes so exquisitely good that it is not hard to eat all of it. The potato chips get stuck in my pocket to be eaten later and I am off.

All too soon, I am home.  As I said previously, I am spent but not sated.  And perhaps that is a good way to end a ride or to end many activities, wanting more.  I know what is coming and I am glad that I did not waste the sunshine and the color and the sounds that filled the ride, for Sibohan is right:  soon the days will become "muted" and "dreary" it will become harder to drag myself out the door and onto the bike.

1 comment:

  1. They say rest is not when you refrain from strenuous activities, but actually a change of activity. So, yeah, maybe you were physically spent, but I'm pretty sure you were well-rested!

    And, of course, the Fall makes it even better. :)

    Recreation Space

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