The ride is the thing.

Winter lasted far too long, it’s as simple as that. I rode when I could and mounted the trainer when I couldn’t get outside, an endlessly mindless activity punctuated by the awfulness of network television. (Thank you, digital recorder, for ending the nonsensical stream of television commercials.)

To be fair, there’ve been several weeks – or at any rate, days – when I’ve been able to get out and ride. Clearly this is true: I’ve already managed to fit in seven or eight metric centuries so the weather cannot have been all that bad, right? But I’ve been antsy the last two weeks as promising days were swallowed by meetings and art shows, and rain fell on many of the days when my calendar would have permitted a ride. I’ve anguished over the battering winds that have whipped dust up out of fields and that have flags not simply flapping, but standing straight out from the pole, perpendicular.

To hell with it! I’ve gone out and rode in it anyway – calm days and flat roads are for sissies!

Oh my gosh, the wind was tough though. And yesterday it seemed like no matter what direction I was pointed, the winds were coming at me, diametrically opposed to any semblance of smooth riding. The head winds were battering, but at least I made slow progress; it was the cross winds that hammered at me, relentlessly pushing me around, the gusts shoving me feet out of the line I tried to cut. Traveling down an incline seemed to defy physics; gravity no longer applied and I had to pedal downhill or risk rolling to a stop. And when – finally! – I turned my back to those gales… it was to go uphill. Forty interminable miles.

I loved every one of those miles – every minute and every second, of course.

Today’s ride was short: five miles with a few minor climbs. While the winds from earlier this week were countered with the low gears and triple chainrings of my Shogun randonneuring machine, today’s ride was a decidedly more civilized affair astride the early 60’s 3-speed Falcon San Remo. Dressed in (sort of) authentic tweeds, my wife and I enjoyed the companionship of over a hundred other vintage cycling enthusiasts in the Velocipede and Tweed Indeed tweed ride. In attendance were people of all ages and a nice selection of rides from high wheelers to mid-century touring bikes, classic randonnees to folding bikes and club racers and three-speeds and cruisers. One of my favorites was a Pedersen, a bike I’ve only ever read about, but never seen in person. The owner allowed me to sit on his bike, as oddly positioned a bike as I can imagine – but strangely comfortable all the same. Later today I’ll be getting in another couple hours of riding, hitting it while the weather is permissive. I’ll be thinking then, as I am now, about how wonderful it is to be out on a bike, free. No matter the excuse: exercise, leisure, tweed ride, camaraderie – whatever! – the ride is the thing.

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