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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Maple Syrup Ride 2017


"Man plans and God laughs"
Yiddish Proverb


While I am not overly excited about the cold start, I am excited about the Maple Syrup ride.  I have so many memories of this ride.  So I head to bed early so that I won't be tired as well as weak.  While it is normal in the winter to lose fitness, circumstances have caused me to lose more than normal and I am feeble.  It will be so nice to see everyone though, and I have ridden a couple  of centuries lately albeit slowly.  I know I can finish:  it will just be slow. And I need company.

At 2:00 a.m., however, I am rudely awakened by a loud ringing.  Cats arch their backs, puff their fur, and scatter from my bed in a dead run.  A few years ago I had my basement waterproofed, and that included a pump with an alarm.  The pump has stopped working. The alarm courses through the house in warning. Instinctively I know, there goes my three pay check month. 

I don't fall back to sleep despite telling myself this is silly.  The house did not have a pump for many years.  In the early morning, right before departing for the ride, I e-mail the installer feeling he will probably come the next week. It is, after all, a week-end.  Rain is due later this week which worries me, but I lack the skill to fix it myself.   Bike packed as well as an extensive wardrobe that allows for last minute clothing changes, I head out.

 I arrive and there is a large crowd despite the cold.  Many I don't know, but many I do and it is so good to see them.  I realize that my eyes have been starved and I look forward to a day of company and conversation.  As usual, I am not sure who I will end up riding with, particularly with my weakened state, but regardless it will be delightful to be  on a bicycle and to have conversation with camaraderie. 

Suddenly I receive a text.  The repair man is coming and coming today.  I pack up my bike and head home, disappointed but glad I don't have to miss work next week to deal with things.  As I head home, I realize once again how much my life has changed in the past few years. I think of how, while I always loved and appreciated my husband, I appreciate him even more now.  Not too long before he died, he asked me why I always thanked him when he did things that he should do.  And I explained that just because people should do certain things, they don't always do them, and I was just grateful every time he did something to please or help me, whether he "should" do it or not.  I miss that.  I miss the giving and the taking.  The things done for me and doing things for him. He would have fixed the pump or waited for the repairman so that I could be selfish and go ride.

I have a theory that things happen to us for a reason, that there is something we should learn from every experience that we have.  Indeed, as the saying goes, "Man plans and God laughs" or, as Steinbeck and Burns said, "The best laid plans of mice and men." As I told a friend recently, if I really want to exercise regularly, it appears I will start having to drag myself out of bed and go to the Y.  Then it becomes a question of how badly do you want it, for I treasure my time in the morning, cat on lap, coffee cup in hand.  I think one of the things I have learned is that we can never love or appreciate those people in our lives that care for us enough.  No matter how hard you try, when someone is gone there are always those little nagging regrets, the "if only." 

After the repair man fixes the pump and leaves, another thing that I appreciate, I decide to head to the festival anyway, but it will be a mere 20 mile trip rather than 100 miles.  On the way, I think of the brevet I missed today as well,  and while I have some regret, I find that despite the good weather, it really does not bother me that I decided not to ride.  I hope the desire to do brevets returns, but if it doesn't there is nothing to be done and the bicycle holds so many other promises. Another thing I have learned is that life is fluid.  Changes happen whether we want them or we don't.  And while I don't particularly like change, I really have very little control.

While I don't expect to see any of the century riders because of my late start, I actually pass numerous groups of riders.  Some are obviously puzzled by my appearance.  They wonder if I have just been that slow, or if I am with the group, or where I came from.   When John passes I think how I wish we could have ridden together today and talked some because John is funny and makes me laugh and I have not seen him for awhile.   The same with Lynn.  Amelia and Mike pass, but  I know I would not have kept their pace today.  Cathy and Kirk pass.  All of these people I have met through bicycling. 

By the time I get to the festival, there are no riders left.  I park my bike and make my intended purchases.  Christmas presents for certain people are bought.  For this purpose, I put my carradice and large handlebar bag on my bike and rode the Surly.  I sit on the hill in the odd warmth of the early March sun eating Maple Cotton Candy, a treat I allowed myself since the line for pancakes is longer than I am willing to wait.  And for awhile I lose myself in memories:  Dave standing too near to the heater and melting the material on his riding pants,  Mike Pitt laughing and joking, Grasshopper, Steve, Randy, and more and more.  I wonder how many of the riders today knew that I originally designed the course, and how during the design I came upon a motorist bent on terrorizing me.  

I slowly pedal home, thoughts still swirling knowing there are a million chores waiting for my return.  I keep saying that one day, when I retire, I will get them done.  But I am wiser now, at least when I remember to be, and know that while I plan, God laughs. 

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