Saturday, November 26, 2011

riding ... with love and care

late autumn - november 26th -
i think of each ride on the road bike as the "last of the season".
it's what i call a "pointed stick" . . . a way of really experiencing something with the intent in this instance of holding the experience of this ride through the long, dark months on the bike trainer that are stretching out in front of me.

i left late - 3:25 - for a ride that i set aside two hours for - door-to-door 50+km.

the sun sets around 4:45 so even though i've got some cute flashy lights on the front and
the back, i still feel vulnerable and not entirely expected in the vernacular of the road at this time of year.

the temperature was hovering around 10 celsius, so it's pretty warm for this time of year. the air was almost windless which is exceptional for this area and especially for this ride which is notorious for malicious zephyrs that pummel you on the way out and somehow know to turn around at the same moment you do
and pummel you on the way home.

the sun was already dropping before i arrived at the turn-around point.

this was one of those rides where everything went right. i was entirely and completely able to take risks and not get hurt. lights changed in my favour, my legs did absolutely everything i asked of them, my body didn't crave food or water even though it's not been getting enough of either lately!!! i had the most wonderful conversations, sharing thoughts, and wishes and dreams and speaking so bravely about all that matters to me ... all on my own of course!!!

the return was even more beautiful.
i hold so much more in my head and my heart than i can share here,
but these images hold something of the moment.

i made it back in 1 hour and 45 minutes. i'll do the math right now - not that it matters a whole lot because really, for the beauty, the good loving feeling that filled me and especially for the tremendous fortune that holds my hand and quietly says "come on then" in my ear, the numbers are of no consequence but i moved at an average of . . . no seriously, well really, who cares!!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a late autumn ride

in the late autumn the temperatures are in the single digits . . . above and below the zero line.

so, when morning opens torn and wild like this

words flutter fast and furious across my thinking
- much like the forecast snow.

do i ride?
which direction do i go first to grab a tailwind on the way back?

how much grip do racing slicks have in the snow?
how long will the hurt last when i drop?
will i be able to keep up?

the answers, are all found as i watch our wheels on the road
which care nothing for anything
other than the joy of quietly passing through this beautiful world
exactly as it is
and not as it might be
or could be

and when we stop and look over the fields at the places where
the sky meets the earth in a soft wavering film of falling snow
words pass through me:

we're here now . . . in this very moment.
it's all that it is and couldn't be anything more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

summer memories #1: the blondel deviation

this memory, i think of as "the blondel deviation".

for those of you you who don't know dave blondel you might be expecting something a tad off colour - well no! blondel has tried to lead me down muddy and gravelly paths, but nothing really off colour.

if you don't mind, i'll take you back a little bit. a long time ago, dave mentioned on his blog that his buddy kieran had posted a piece about a little dirt road which (if followed) provided lovely scenery and exquisite views to cyclists who ventured off the river road bicycle pipeline. the dirt road he referred to is one i have passed a lot of times and yes, i have wondered as i pass it each time "what's up there" but it's the strangest thing that
i couldn't bring myself once to turn right and have a look.

note to self: stop writing notes to self and start asking more probing questions of self!

well one day this summer i followed dave's suggestion, and i am so glad i did!

i wasn't more than a hundred metres along the road when the quiet settled so suddenly around me it was breathtaking. to add to the beauty of the moment, a huge monarch butterfly fluttered up right next to me and followed me until i stopped to take this next photograph, at which time it flew on ahead and
then came back and joined me again!
it was right out of walt disney.
then it was entirely real.

further along this road, the sumac had really taken hold of the idea of autumn's arrival.
i love the gift of colour in nature and for that, the autumn has to be the most amazing
heap of gifts in the whole year!!!!

i got so immersed in the beauty of this little stretch of road that i took a "wrong turn". can you make a wrong turn when you're somewhere this beautiful? i think not!

i rode on, heading somewhere but i had no sense of direction although i figured at some point
i'd see either douro or warsaw.

but really.
i didn't care!

i mean ... why worry?!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

first ride - first snow

an after-work ride south of peterborough - thirty minutes out and thirty minutes back, it's like grabbing a snack only much better because it's bicycling with a lovely person very late in the year.

entirely unlikely and entirely welcome!

the temperature is just below zero celsius.
the wind is merciless and blowing from the southwest.
snow squalls are forecast and visible.
we are riding south and southwest for the first half of the ride.

the sky opens up at a distance.

the snow holds off until we are riding north on crowley line and just past this house . . .

from which a hairy dog bullet comes flying down the driveway and across the road to gnaw on our tires - hers first and then (perhaps because i use my deepest growliest voice) -
the dog carves furry arabesques
and disappears behind us.
at which point a snowsquall flutters over us and settles all around us and i hear her laugh and i start laughing myself because really - REALLY - this is so epic!!!

we crest a hill by an old old wooden building and she says it could be a tavern (and wouldn't that be a dream come true!) a place to settle our windblown snow-covered bones and put back some liquid warmth.

but it's actually derelict and so on we go.

heading our separate ways.

one of my best ever and most unforgettable rides!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

on reflection

the autumn is probably the most beautiful time of year to be out on two wheels.

one of the routes i love to take follows the otonabee river which at this time of year is often lowered quite
substantially, slowing the current down enough such that if there's no wind,
there are amazing reflections in the water.

these are from last weekend.

the side-effect of these scenes is to slow me down. to stop.
to look around and really let all this wonder settle in.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

international angry dog day

I sent this posting out today as a letter to friends and family and then i thought "hey that would make a good posting on my cycles blog". so if you come here and think "hey, i just got that in the mail" then please don't feel any less special!!!!

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today I went out through the hills of cavan and then back through millbrook and along wallace point road and back through downtown peterborough to my home on the western edge of the city.

i've attached this photograph because when you look at it, you'll see that in the distance is a little hill. on the other side of that hill there's a nice long swooping dive into a valley that's a bit like the ones i imagined when i first read the hobbit. sort of otherworldly in a good and kind way. except this valley has one detail that makes it different from the idyllic image conjured up by tolkien.

see, this one has a reddish-brown dog who today was celebrating international angry dog day. how did i miss that on the equity and diversity calendar?!

he started barking as i crested that distant hill and when i heard him i looked over - wayyyy over - across a field of scruffy acreage to a house that i guarantee had nothing in it that i wanted to steal ... but this dog's job was clearly to protect that homestead and so it started to run towards me - from a very long way away.
i kept on going, figuring I'd cross the next hill before he got to the road. wrong. VERYwrong. this dog was FLYING!!! when i did a second check on his progress and did some quick calculations in my head, i figured my ass would for sure be in his mouth before very long and so i slowed down and turned around, dropped from the Big Ring at the front to the small ring and started pedalling hard. REALLY really hard.
(remember, i'm in a valley at this point, there's a climb in front of me, but i have a tailwind in my favour and fear on my side!)

i was really moving when i decided to look back and see how i was doing. at that point I saw the dog jump through the split-rail fence and onto the road and keep coming. No Way!!! i have never had a dog that crazy. i mean, i'm a skinny guy - there's nothing to me. "IT'S NOT WORTH IT" i yelled out and kept pedalling as fast as i could until i crested the hill and saw the dog still running but falling back now and do you think I stopped until I was a good 7 km from Nasty Dog Land? not on your (or my) life!

when I got into the Pastry Peddler in Millbrook i shared the story with colin and deanne who empathized at my plight as i huffed back a beer-mug of water and a big piece of caramel-covered brownie to make me feel better about my lot in life.

it was a chilly ride at times - 67 km including the detour I took to avoid the Angry Dog - but so nice to be away from everything - well almost everything!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

late autumn commuting

this is the time of year for cold rainy day rides. i commute to and from the school i teach at and until recently - very recently in fact - i've been riding in shorts. temperatures are hovering around the single to low double-digits in celsius so it's been a manly character-building exercise in something that when asked to explain, i simply can't, not even to myself. i simple feel the need to do it.

however, those days are passing by as my hands now have gloves on them and my legs (no matter how hairy) are also covered, by riding pants.

the bike looks out onto the driveway ."oh no. not again".....

yep! get your nose out there .....

it ain't gonna go away
and i've gotta ride.

every day, the road unfolds under my wheels. on these days when it's rainy and the roads are often slick with leaves, i read the road even more carefully than usual for anything that could make my ride - and maybe even my life - less than pleasant . . . or worse!

but i'm careful and so (touch wood) nothing overly untoward happens.

i love the early morning streetlights reflecting in the rain on the streets.

they're the hidden gift of a rainy day ride for me.