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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Carl's Maple Syrup Ride

Despite a cloudy sky and nippy weather, thirteen (not counting me) showed for today's Maple Syrup ride.  On the way to the ride and periodically throughout the day I thought about when I first put this route together.  Once that was completed, Grasshopper always co-captained it with me until a few years ago.  Everything changes I suppose, but there are those moments that remain in the memory so long as you are alive.  It is the moments we remember, pieces of rides and days.  And it is the people in many of those moments that tend to make them special, something to treasure when you are feeling alone and overwhelmed as we all do from time to time.  Such a shame that some of them drift away when we should cherish them more, but that is the way life is.  And just as we remember that they have meant something to us, I suppose they remember that we meant something to them.

As usual this time of year, I was unsure what to wear.  It was thirty two at the start, but the prediction was for a partially clearing sky and fifties.  I decide to go with my short sleeve base layer.  This would have been fine if it had actually gotten to fifty rather than staying overcast and cold the entire ride.  For once, I was not overdressed.  I can't really say I was cold except when we stopped, but I wished for my soft wool shirt that keeps me toasty even when wet. 

I am so glad to see new friends and old.  Some of them ride with me all years while others are harbingers of spring as much as the daffodils, crocuses, and snowdrops.  I think how I just noticed the daffodil leaves working their way up through the soil getting ready to decorate my yard, delighting my eyes with their brilliant yellows and whites.  I don't have as much luck here as I used to have as the soil is so poor, but I still manage to coax the daffodils and grow enough vegetables to put some away for the cold winter months.

Soon into the ride the front group is riding toward me:  the way is flooded by the recent rains.  This will make for a faster, easier day as we can go down State Road 31, but it will also mean more traffic, less scenery, and less chance to talk.  It is a strong group that has showed today.  Someone mentions that my post on the list serve scared people away.  That was not my intent, but I also wanted to be in before dark. 

I giggle as I hear Dave and Steve planning what beers they intend to take to Texas, but I am forced to admit I have bought wine to take along.  All year long, as much as I detest the drive, I look forward to a week of having nothing to do except ride my bicycle.  All year long I look forward to seeing those friends I see so rarely, normally only in Texas or on TOKYO. 

After the first store stop, Mark tells me it is colder.  I have not imagined it.  Not only is it not going to get into the fifties, but the temperature is dropping.  We are able to get back on course and soon the hills take care of any temperature problems.  Part of me wishes I had brought my fixed gear, but I could not have held the pace we ride this day. 

When we near the festival,  the smell of the cooking tree sap wafts through the forest on the downhill and my appetite sharpens.  I think that is one thing that I love about riding; it makes me hungry, really hungry.  It is not the hunger I have those days when I don't do much of anything but clean house or go to work.  It is hunger that signals the body really needs the food to do the work there is to be done.  We laugh as a van passes us and the children inside begin screaming as John's new nickname is the Vaccinator. 

I think of when I first found the festival on a solitary ride through the countryside.  I remember feeling blue and alone when I caught a faint hint of a melody on the air that was tinged with faint but enticing smell that I could not quite put my finger on.  Then I saw the sign and followed the arrow, finally arriving at what looked to be a homestead from the past.  Now I look forward to it every year.

Soon the pancakes are eaten and we are back on the road, the miles passing quickly.  We are done early, before 4:00.  Guess there will be some time to do some of the dreaded housework. 

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