What a great word! And it is, as I think about it, precisely how most of my bike rides tend to go. Take one’s time, be slow, waste time. Describes many of my rides to a “t,” as it were.
Especially on days like today.
Especially on days when I’m carrying a kit of watercolors and the forecast calls for 0% chance of rain…yet I’m riding along, pleasantly enough, in a shower.
Especially when I pass a donut shop on my way out of town and the sign reads “no donuts. No Baker showed up. Would you like to be our Baker?”
Especially when the bite in the air reminds me so much of Ireland, and there is a faint glimmer of a rainbow peeking out of a stormy and darkened western morning sky.
Especially when as I prepare to cross the Missouri River I notice off to my right a freshly combined field with a flock of 50 or so wild turkeys strutting about, picking over the chaff.
Especially when it’s harvest time and the crops are morphing into fields of gold and brown and orange.
Especially when, despite the intense greenery of the foliage, the morning feels like the first legitimate day of autumn.
Excuse me now. I’m pretty busy.
Predawn hours. It’s black as night.
Oh. Maybe that’s because it is still night.
Country lanes are devoid of illumination, save for the thin sliver of a crescent moon and the distant twinkle of yard lights. The headlight on my bicycle has an adequate charge and the lane before me reveals bumps and sticks and stones in a narrowly channeled beam.
There are no other headlights. None from cars – mercifully, none from trucks either, not even as I roll through town on my way into the rural hills of Clay County.
The absolute quiet of night is a fallacy. A complete fabrication. In fact, on this early and wondrous September morning, the air is filled with sound: billions of crickets and other insects are playing a tune, singing their song. A light breeze buffets my helmet.
To the east a faint, rosy glow emerges along the horizon; night wanes and the dawn approaches.
Here’s a good one worth sharing – what I believe to be a 1938 Schwinn Superior – the first year of the company’s new lineup of lightweight, high end bikes. It’s in excellent condition and was ridden in last weekend’s tweed ride by the current owner, whose father purchased the bike used in 1940.
Provenance is often difficult to establish with old bikes, but this one comes with a bill of sale – dig those prices!
The new models, including the Superior, the New World, and the top of the line Paramount, were built in the “hand build shop,” a completely separate area of the Schwinn Chicago facility.
Definitely one of the coolest bikes I’ve had the privilege of riding alongside! Note that one of the differences that distinguish this bike from the Paramount is the fillet brazing. Sold as a lower priced alternative to the Paramount, I’ve yet to figure out just how in the heck they produced these terrific fillet brazed frames at a competitive price.
I’ve invited the owner – who lives very close by – to take the “cousins” (his Superior and my 1966 Paramount) for a spin sometime soon.