… has finally come. For a magazine writer who’s limited in writing stories until the second week of the month, ‘production week’ can be sort of hectic. Basically, everything happens in the last week. The bosses change their minds about what the features are about at the last minute, leaving you-know-who to prove his typing speed and get it all done. This month, everything happened in two days.
So finally, Wednesday night, after we’d sent the last proofs to the publisher, I got home intent on relieving some pent-up tension. To my surprise, I even beat my wife home, which is about the only time I’ll ever beat my wife … [?] … To my even greater surprise, the weather was fantastic out. So I grabbed the mountain bike and left civilization.
I went to this one classic route I love in an area the locals refer to as ‘the bench’ or ‘the dry farms,’ whatever those mean. It’s about a 27-mile loop over rolling hills. I’ll guess there’s close to 1,000 feet of climbing, but it’s really spread out, and since I end up where I started, it’s all equal. When I started really getting into riding for fitness, I’d pound this route out as fast as I could holding as high a cadence as I could hold for the duration and pedaling for as much of the time as possible–no coasting. And it was purely for fun.
On Wednesday night, though, the sun was setting as I was leaving town. By the time I left the pavement, the sun was two horizons away from me, and I still had an hour to go. The road conditions weren’t great, but they were better than I expected. I actually anticipated being unable to get through the mud, so just making it through was a pleasant surprise. The fields around me had either been replaced with moonlight-reflecting lakes or now-melting snowdrifts, but for the most part, I couldn’t see anything. At one point, I rounded a corner alongside one of these lakes and saw a safey marker next to the road. I was just trying to figure out why when a dark shadow moved underneath me and swallowed up my front wheel. "Oh," my ever-so-quick grey matter said to itself as I flew over the handlebars and into the muck, "part of this road must be out."
Just before that, I’d had an owl fly up and perch on a telephone pole near me. I wondered if he had himself a good laugh over this moronic cyclist picking up his water bottle and unsticking his wheel from the mud.
My toes got a little nippy on the ride, but I still managed to pound it out in about 1 hour and 24 minutes–a little over 19 mph. Keep in mind, this is on a mountain bike over some muddy roads with some decent rolling hills along the way. I got home pretty exhausted, but my earlier work stresses were back there on those quiet roads in the dark probably freezing to death or being mangled by the owls. So mission accomplished.