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Thursday, December 20, 2012


It is time for the traditional Bethlehem Century. And yes, to be traditional it appears there will be rain. It always makes me think of the original trek to Bethlehem to pay taxes. I really don't think the holy family rode along in a Mercedes, BMW, or Cadillac staying at the Hilton along the way. I suspect they were probably exhausted, dirty, cold, and disheartened. It always me make me downplay any discomfort from the ride as minor.....after all it is only 100 miles. Not that there is a similarity between our group and the holy family.

And of course it makes me think of other trips to Bethlehem. Once the Subway lady blessed us with sandwich gloves to add additional warmth to our fingers after mopping up puddles the size of the Atlantic Ocean, all without complaint. I can see Jeff "Lucky" dog trying to ride quickly to drop a dog that happened to be able to match our pace for five or six miles, a smile on his face (the dog's face) the entire time. Another time my daughter had to sag a few in. (This service is no longer available so please don't depend on a ride home from my family). I believe it was on Bethlehem that Carla "Stormy" got her Mad Dog Name. Oh, yeah, good times. It is peculiar how we remember those rides that challenge us or where the unusual happens the best.

Thanks to Mike Upsall who checked and says Bethlehem Post Officer remains open at the time. We may make our own history being the last to be able to mail postcards from that sleepy little town. Who knows what 2013 will bring: more jobs, less jobs, or different jobs.

Unless it is a downpour or there is lightening and it appears to be unusually dangerous, I will not cancel if anyone shows up that wants to ride. That being said, please stay home if you don't like riding in rain or are afraid to ride in rain. This can be a difficult ride. I suspect I will be the chubby anchor, but then I know my way and nobody is responsible for sweeping my sorry rear end.

I do ask that for the safety of the group and myself that you be able to maintain a 15 mph moving average. Daylight continues to recede more rapidly, particularly on an overcast day, and rain quite often means a plethora of flat tires.

"Come out and play!" Puddle 

The above was posted to the Kylistserve prior to the ride.  It is hard to believe a year has passed since I last mailed my Christmas cards from Bethlehem.  As I get older, time seems to go more quickly, but then I think of all that has happened in 2012 and realize the changes that a year can bring and a year does not seem so short.  Some of the changes were good, some were bad, and some were neutral, but through them all I have tried to maintain my dignity through both happy endings and sad endings.  It is hard to realize how little we really control, but we can control how we respond, and the strongest emotions and responses are saved for those closest to me and that I trust to handle them gently.  This year, yet again, I learned that "fair" comes once a year when the carnival comes to town.  We all know that life is not fair and never will be.  Perhaps that is why I have a great appreciation for people that I feel do their best to be fair.  But that is, indeed, another story.

I thought it might be the last year for the December Bethlehem  ride, at least with mailing post cards,  but per Mike the post office is open. Such a small post office in such an out of the way place, it puts an emphasis on how the world has changed. I really debate canceling the ride when I read that it would be rainy, but when I asked there were others who wanted to ride and so I was  in.  After all, it was only supposed to be rainy, not particularly cold and rainy.  And in the end, it are those rides that challenge us the most that we remember the best.  "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value."  (Thomas Paine).  In the past, this ride has, on occasion, been a real challenge, and I do remember bits and pieces and the satisfying feeling of completion despite those challenges.

Only a few show for the ride,  Perry Finley, Steve Rice, and Mark Rougeux, but that is enough.   Bill is still not riding and Dave has suffered an injury and is off the bike.  Mike Upsall, who has been riding with us recently, is busy with holiday plans as is John Larson. I know that each of these riders is strong and capable of riding if the weather worsens.  Despite predictions, there is just a light mist in the air, really not worthy of being called a drizzle.  The forestry is deserted except for those that showed to ride, and the lack of chatter from the surrounding forest and people enjoying the park  tells me that winter, however mild, is upon us.  

I think how this will be my last century for December as my  young ones are coming home for the holidays.  I think how I have ridden a century every month of every year since November 2003 and how fortunate I have been for my health to allow this.  I think how glad I am to have people to ride with and how much easier it is to keep the century challenge when there are others, particularly in winter.  And I thank Dave Parker in my mind for maintaining a web site that encourages the century challenge and gets me out the door each month.  But this day does not qualify as winter despite the calendar.  Yes, there are wet roads and some mist, but the temperatures are warm and the wind never seems to get too rough. 

Wheels turn and we are out of the parking lot and on our way.  There is laughter and the telling of a few jokes and stories, and always there is the sound of the road.  Worms fly up covering our bicycles.  While it would be better if they were food for birds or served a useful purpose with so many drawn to the road by the rain, there is no way to avoid them, they are just a part of riding a bike during certain types of weather.  They are also part of cleaning a bike after a rain, and following the ride I will wipe down my bike despite the cooler weather having learned from those times I was too weary or lazy to do so and found the difficulty of cleaning dried worms from metal;-)

When we reach Bethlehem, Perry and I proudly pull out our plastic wrapped Christmas cards and deposit them in the mailbox as the post office itself is closed.  After all, Mike checked and the post office has not yet been shut down.  And it hasn't, but it is closed until they hire a new Post Master and the unread sign on the door asks you not to deposit mail in the mailbox but to take it to New Washington.  Just as we read this and our grins turn to grimaces of despair on how to retrieve the cards, a postal worker drives by delivering mail.  I stop her and ask if we can get our cards back, and she assures me she will empty the box and see that they get mailed and have a Bethlehem stamp.  Whew!  Serendipity strikes again.  During the ride Steve reminds me that there is a Bethlehem, Kentucky and it has a post office if this Bethlehem is closed next year, and I remember that endings can be new beginnings. 

Part of each ride is, of course, deciding where to eat lunch.  The traditional stop on this ride is Subway, but we decide to eat at the Deputy store.  It should be open as it is Saturday, and the last time we ate there the sandwiches were especially good AND we got to see Santa Claus, or at least Steve got to see Santa Claus, or at least Steve SAYS he got to see Santa Claus;-) This year, no Santa Claus, but the sandwiches were good.  My feet are the only part of me that is cold, and I have brought an extra pair of wool socks in a baggie so while we are there I switch them out.  My feet are toasty the rest of the ride. Perry has brought his own sandwich and rides ahead finishing the ride on his own. 

And the ride ends quickly.  I bid everyone goodbye and a Merry Christmas as I won't see them until 2013,  then I ride the extra distance to make it a true century.   "And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year!"