Tuesday night club ride, afterwards in the parking lot…
Chuck says, “Hey, let’s do a fun ride out to an apple orchard Friday morning at 9. It’ll be about 30 miles.” (I know, I do have a job, but being the boss has its privileges)
It was just going to be Chuck, me, my wife and Mike.
We were running late but not late enough to worry. We pull into the parking lot and in various states of preparation are Brad, Mike, Chuck and Gary. As my wife and I are getting ready, Diane pulls up and parks. A minute later, Mike and his wife Diane pull into the parking lot. We had a crew!
We rolled out into the crisp morning breeze, which was quickly building into a headwind. The rising sun was to our left and as long as we stayed out of the shadows of trees, it wasn’t too cold… The frost covered grass was just turning from white to green where the sun lit it up.
The first three-quarters of a mile was comical. The faster we went, the colder we got. Jaws were clenched, just a little bit. Starting temp was 38 degrees (that’s like 3 C, I think), but as we rounded a curve the tarmac pitched up and we were forced out of our saddles to climb the hill. At the top of the hill the jokes and laughter started. Nothing beats a big climb on a crisp morning ride to warm a cyclist up. Nothing.
We cruised around a subdivision that loops around a lake, known for its hills, before coming out onto another road that led into the now well-risen sun. A perfect, beautiful fall morning for a bike ride. We laughed and told tales of past bike rides, made kindhearted jokes at each other’s expense and rolled on. Traffic was, now that I think of it, amazingly light.
We rolled up on the Parshaville Apple Cider Mill and Mike let out a sigh.
I said, “Oh, no, it’s not this one. We’re going to Spicer’s.”
He replied with an urgency in his voice, “C’mon, man! I want some hot cider!”
I tried to work him down a little, “Fear not, Mike… We’re only five miles away.”
We rolled into Spicer’s less than 20 minutes later and lined up. The cider was steaming and the assorted sugared donuts were still warm to the touch as we bagged our well-earned treats. We paid an exorbitant price for those goodies but Fall only comes around once a year and how often can you get donuts while they’re still warm?!
If you remember I’ve written that I may eat donuts maybe once or twice a year. Well, I do it right when I do. I fired down four with my cider. A cinnamon sugar, a powdered sugar and two pumpkin spice cinnamon sugar donuts.
After a few minutes of getting helmets and gear back on, we rolled out for home. My buddy, Mike is recovering excellently from his triple bypass surgery, and he’d come from somewhere behind me to take a turn at the front. I got on his wheel and we talked a bit as he exercised his doctor’s excellent work.
Out of nowhere, my wife came rocketing up on my left, leaving the whole group in her wake.
I shouted, “Well look at her go!”
Mike responded, “Where is she going?!”
Just as I was to offer a “Dunno”, Mike and I saw the Tyrone Township sign. We didn’t have a chance. She’d smoked us while we were chuckling about some inconsequential tidbit. As we caught my wife, well after the sprint line, I congratulated her on a well-played sprint, and as is customary, got on her wheel and made her pull for a couple of miles.
A few twists and turns later and we were on our way up Runyan Lake Road’s main hill and it got quiet again. Everyone in our group is borderline fanatical about bicycle maintenance so there wasn’t one creak all the way up the hill. Just the whirring of chains and the “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” of the tires as bikes were thrown side to side in an attempt to fight gravity.
As we crested the hill, I decided not to go for the final City Limits sign of the day just beyond the bottom of the hill.
“It’s just a nice club ride”, I thought.
On the way down the hill, having switched from the baby ring of my Trek’s triple to the big ring, I passed 30 mph. Then 31 and 32. Then it flattened out and I was still a quarter-mile from the sign. Down to 28… but I held it there.
Damn right I was going for that sign! It was on! I knew Mike and Diane on their tandem were going to give me a hard time but all of a sudden I saw Brad’s yellow and black tire coming up fast on my left. Too fast.
I jumped from the saddle and put everything I had into the cranks. I wished for my Venge. I can sprint mean on that bike… 28… 29… 30 again, going up a rise. Brad faded off and I crossed the line triumphant. Mike and Diane passed me, a couple of seconds too late.
I slowed and waited for the others who didn’t partake in the sprint to catch up (actually, so I could catch my breath of course).
We rolled into the parking lot and it was all high-fives and hugs, and a kiss between my wife and I. 26-1/2 perfect fall miles with friends. And cider. And donuts.
This never gets old.
Oh, and I did skip lunch after those donuts. They felt like a bowling ball in my gut the whole way back. It’s amazing I didn’t hurl after the sprint. They sure were tasty though.
Reason #4,862 of why cycling rocks: The Fall Apple Cider and Donut Ride. With eight of my best friends. On a perfect Friday morning.