It’s rare we get a comfortable Thanksgiving Day to ride. Normally, we’re up at my mother-in-law’s house. She lives further north in Michigan’s “snow belt”. Down south, if we get an inch she’ll get six or eight. This year is obviously different. We’re home. This year the temp was a little more favorable but we had rain for the last 40 hours or so which meant dirt roads were out… in fact, even the paved roads were still wet – and not “damp” wet, “wet wet“. I’d been checking the weather since 3 am and we were good, though. 3-4% chance of rain, temps well above freezing… if the paved roads were still a little damp, so what.
At 8, an hour before we were to ride, it started misting, then sprinkling… a cell had popped up out of nowhere. It went from wet wet to England.
And we suited up anyway.
Just Mike and Mike showed, other than my wife and I, and we rolled out having to make sure we weren’t in the line of anyone’s spray. Thankfully, we were on the gravel bikes so I wasn’t worried about the bike getting a little gritty. We completed my usual summertime weekday evening route and my wife split off to head home while Mike and I rode Mike home for a pile of bonus miles. Better than an hour later and it was still just as wet as when we’d started, though thankfully we didn’t get rained on.
On dropping Mike off, Mike and I turned for home and we kicked up the pace. We had one tailwind mile followed by two cross-tailwind before turning into the teeth of it. Mike took the first mile at 19-mph and I took the second. Surprisingly, I managed to hold that pace, but heading up the shallowest of inclines my heartrate went from manageable to pegged in about 20 seconds. My power (and speed) dropped off a cliff. Mike came around and picked me up but it took a couple of minutes for my heart rate to come back and my breathing with it. The last mile was fairly relaxed.
Mike and I thanked each other for the ride and he loaded up and headed for home. I took my toy inside, showered up, and prepared for breakfast. My daughter was in the process of making French toast with caramelized apples and bacon… it was amazing. Shortly thereafter, I passed out into a sugar crash induced coma. I woke up with a gratitude that often accompanies a short-sleeve and shorts summer ride but rarely comes with a just above freezing, wet, windy, ten minutes before winter ride.
I went to work cleaning my bike up from the road schmutz. Then, because I was in the giving mood, I cleaned my wife’s. Every detail, right down to the cassette, wheels, tires, hubs, cables, brakes… they’re ready to go for today.
Dinner, while not traditional, was spectacular. Fried chicken breast, mac & cheese (Bella’s a pro at the mac & cheese), green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes… it was not easy to save room for pumpkin pie, but I managed.
I attended a zoom meeting with a couple of friends before watching a movie, the whole family on the couch. It was unbelievably cool, all of us curled up on the L-shaped sofa, just like when the girls were little kids. Man, how they’ve grown up. I fell asleep with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. The glow was still there when I woke up, and I’ll get to do it all over again today.
This is why I keep coming back. When I was in the little hell I’d created, using, I had an inkling life was supposed to be better than I was experiencing. Little did I know how good it would be once I’d finally quit. I had no idea. This is better, and simpler, than my wildest dreams back then.