New Roads to Ride

horses by the windmillMy life has been busier then normal lately. I had some great bike rides in January but all of them were on familiar roads, mostly for the sake of transportation.

I have been itching to try out a new route and just have a day to meander around the countryside, when I woke up this morning I knew that today was the day.

Finding a route to ride, feeding and walking my dogs, getting all my gear together and eating breakfast seemed to take me forever! It never ceases to amaze me that when I need to leave for work in the morning it only takes me a half hour to get ready but on my days off it can take me a few hours before I finally drag myself out the door.

But eventually I found myself on my bike heading down the road. It was a nice, slightly sunny morning and the temperature was predicted to stay between 25-30 degrees throughout the day.

Within a few miles I was pedaling down country lanes that I have rarely, if ever, been down before. It is great fun to explore new roads, never knowing what will be around the next bend or over the next hill.river 2

After an hour and a half I took a quick stop at a convenience store to have a snack and refill my water bottle. Going back outside, I felt rather chilled and even after ten minutes of biking my body wouldn’t warm up. I hadn’t brought along extra clothes which now seemed like a grave mistake.

“Oh great,” I thought to myself. “You are in a pickle now.”

I pedaled furiously down the road trying to warm up, worrying that the reminder of my ride would be spent with cold toes and freezing fingers. But then I saw the hill. It was a great big old hill and I let out a sigh of relief, there was no way I still feel chilled at the top of that hill!

My route took me through four state forests, where there were trees, trees and more trees. I don’t think I have ever seen so many chipmunks and squirrels in my life, they were everywhere, chattering or darting across the roads. It was so quiet and calm in the woods, a perfect place to think and pray.bike on icy road

After stopping again for a bathroom break and more water, I came across my favorite road of the ride. It was a dirt road covered in ice. My studded tires seemed so delighted to sink their teeth into the icy surface. But then I came to a long downhill stretch of road where the ice was mushy and mixed with mealy snow. My tires could not find anything to grip onto as the bike started to slide feverishly down the hill. I thought I was about careen wildly off the road and crash but I reminded myself…

Relax.
Trust the bike.
Don’t you dare touch the brakes.

Once we were safely at the bottom of the hill, I let out a wild laugh. I could feel the adrenalin rush for the next several miles.

Before long my ride was almost over and I felt tired and happy, having accomplished my mission for the day. It is wonderful to know that there are so many roads in my local area that are just waiting for me to explore them.

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How to make people smile in winter. (Unintentionally)

If you happen to see me out biking when the temperature is lower then ten degrees Fahrenheit, there is a good chance that I will be wearing this to keep my face warm and protected.trail riding

This ensemble is composed of a helmet, which is covered by a waterproof shell, a balaclava and a pair of ski goggles. It is a setup that works well for me, it keeps me warm in the coldest temperatures but is breathable enough that my goggles don’t fog up. Thankfully, it is also super comfortable to wear.

There is just one drawback to wearing this: I look quite ridiculous. A glance in the mirror tells me as much, but unfortunately there is overwhelming evidence even aside from my reflection.

First of all, the most common reaction that occurs when I am spotted wearing my winter gear is that people burst into spontaneous giggles. Also, it seems impossible for people to look me in the eye. Instead they seem to focus on my nose and their mouth tends to twitch at the corners while they are talking to me.

Then of course, there are the things people say to me while I quickly putting on or taking off my headgear.

You look like Darth Vader!
But…I am not anyone’s father…

Going to rob a bank?
Yes, I have a speedy getaway vehicle, the cops will never catch me.

Haha, you look like a ninja!
Would a ninja use flashing red lights to be easily seen?

Are you a spy?
Of course not! No way!

You look like you are going skiing.
That’s true.

You look creepy.
I know. Muahahaha!!!

So why am I talking about wearing a balaclava and ski goggles when it is currently 36 degrees outside?

Well, it has been warm for days and will likely be warm all week. I don’t know when it will be cold enough to wear them again and that makes me sad.

Not because I miss my alter-ego self where I appear as a ninja or bank robber that no one can pass on the road without staring at…

…But because I miss cold days and falling snow.

Or maybe I just don’t like the rain and dirt hijacking the roads and making me and my bike look like we survived a sandstorm.