Walking to work with my bro.

DSC01813One of my younger brothers moved into his own apartment in the “big city” just a few weeks ago. Last night I called him up to ask if he would want to walk to his workplace with me the following morning. He usually drives the two miles to work but he has expressed an interest in walking so I thought maybe if I showed up it would give him a bit of motivation.

I did the calculation in my head-it is 27 miles to his house, then two miles of walking-he starts his shift at 8:00…I wanted to set my alarm to make sure we had enough time!

Walking took a little longer than we anticipated  and we ended up at his workplace at exactly 8:00. It was great spending a bit of time together, he is such a sweet guy. Maybe we will get the chance to do it again sometime!

It drizzled on the way home but the sun was shining and the smell of the fallen leaves made me smile. Then the shifting cable for my rear derailleur snapped. Yippee! For the last 15 miles of the ride  my bike was effectively a two-speed. Highest gear in the back, big or middle ring in the front. I had to climb any and all hills out of the saddle, with a painfully slow cadence.

After a few miles I went past a field with four Galloway cattle, two of them with striking white belts. Naturally, I stopped to say hi. For a while they wanted nothing to do with me, but finally, after an excessive amount of coaxing, one of them galloped clumsily toward me. The others soon followed. Awww…now I could see their adorable faces up close. Eventually, they went back to their grazing and I went on my way.DSC01741DSC01754

Five miles more and I once again stopped, this time to hang out with some gorgeous horses. They were super friendly. Every time I am around horses, especially draft horses, I am amazed at their quiet strength.

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I am a Belgian Draft Horse. I am quiet, regal and wise.

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Just kidding! I am a big clown!

The road took me past an Amish schoolhouse, where about fifteen pupils were outside playing noisily in the grass. They waved at me, smiling. Then the bell at the top of the schoolhouse began to swing back and forth.

Clang. Clang. Clang.

Recess was over. They scurried inside.

I was slowly grinding up the last hill before home when a German Shepherd rushed into the road behind me. I love dogs but I was bitten on my bike last summer. Now every time I see a dog running behind me I can’t help but be nervous. Without the use of my gears there was no way I could beat the dog up the hill, so I stopped and clipped out, ready to calm the dog down.

But I had totally misjudged the dog’s intent. She ran up to me whining and when I started petting her, she flopped to the ground and asked for a belly rub. Poor thing, I think her owners were out for the day and had left her in charge of the farm. She was lonely.

So thanks to a bunch of friendly animals, the ride home was a great one, even without gears.

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Race Recap

Did I mention that I was racing this Tuesday evening? No?

Well the reason I didn’t tell you that I was racing is because I did not know that I was racing either.

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I got to stop and visit with a lovely herd of cows.

Here’s how it happened. I biked to the big city today to watch my little brother’s soccer game (he scored two goals and his team won, yay!) and to do some clothes shopping. It turned out to be a 60 mile trip in total.

The ride home was beautiful. I saw the sun set in the west and then a gloriously orange harvest moon appear in the east. So big and so bright! As the sky grew black, it’s light became even more brilliant.

About twelve miles from home I passed through a small village. An Amish horse and buggy pulled onto the road right behind me.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of my first ever eight mile road race. (But not my first ever Amish horse and buggy race.)

For the first few miles I was able to keep the pounding horse hooves at bay, but as I was climbing a hill, the clatter of horse and wheels grew loud and I knew the safe, courteous thing to do was let them pass me. So I eased up while they overtook me.

I was able to get a good view of the vehicle and its occupants. This wasn’t a typical closed buggy but a open, lighter carriage. Seated in the carriage were an Amish couple and I am going to go out on a limb here and say that they were two young lovebirds out for a nighttime drive.

They continued down the road setting a pace of 17-18 mph. Once I got over the hill I was able to catch up to them and I spent the next mile or so biding my time to attack. We came upon a slight downhill grade and I went for it, crouching into the drops and pedaling like mad.

Three miles later they caught up to me, again while I was on a hill. (Someone needs to work on her climbing skills…) This time when they passed me it was with clear intent. No more games, they were in it to win it. But so was I. So I clung as close as I dared as they ramped up the speed to 20-21 mph.

Passing cars must have observed us quizzically. A bike with flashing lights following behind an Amish carriage with flashing lights. It is an odd combination, I admit.

I had caught my breath while following behind the clattering wheels and now the question became, when do I make my move and win this thing for good? We were coming up a small slope and I decided to attack once we were over the rise, if the coast was clear.

I took one last swig from my water bottle and mentally prepared myself. This time I wasn’t gonna back down. Full throttle all the way. But as I was thinking these motivational thoughts, the horse and carriage turned left, off the road.

NOO!!! Game over. I lost!

But even though I lost, the last four miles of my ride felt like winning. I passed another horse and buggy and I went full throttle anyway even though there was no one left to race. I pulled into my yard feeling like a million bucks. As I took my dogs for a walk, I could feel the effects of my ride, my body was flooded with a crazy rush of endorphins.

I  had the time of my life riding furiously in the crisp night air. And from the way the Amish couple looked back at me, I am pretty sure they did too. The attitude of the horse, however, is unknown.

I do have some major bones to pick with the race organizers though. Can’t they at least inform all participants in a race where the finish line is located?