Friday, November 21, 2008

About what I said before...

I'm going to have to contradict myself today. I know this is setting a dangerous precedence, considering that I've only been writing this blog for about 2 1/2 month. It's a little early to be contradicting myself, but in this case, I think it's necessary. As a loyal reader of this blog, and how could you not be, you should recall that I have publicly stated that riding in cold weather is not something that I particularly enjoy. Not only have I stated that I don't enjoy it, I also have called into question the sanity of anyone who does. That statement not withstanding, I stand before you today to admit that one of my favorite bike rides of the year is coming up very shortly. I speak of the January 1st, Merry Fitness and A Happy New Rear Ride.

Each year, Bikin' Mike puts on this New Year's Day bike ride north of McKinney, TX. When you put on a ride on January 1st, you're pretty much asking for trouble with the weather. And we've had both the good, and the bad when it comes to the weather for this ride. We've ridden it on absolutely beautifully sunny days, with temperatures in the mid 70's, and we've ridden in cloudy, overcast, drizzly days, with bone chilling 30 degrees temperatures. Yes, in Texas, 30 degrees is considered "bone chilling".

Surprisingly, we usually get a good turnout for this ride. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure why. I have theories, not the least of which is the snappy name of the ride. Even I, as jaded and cynical as I am, have to admit "The Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear Ride" is a pretty snazzy name for a bike ride. The name, along with the long sleeve t-shirts that Mike gives the riders for this ride instead of the usual standard issue short sleeves T's, get a pretty good turnout.

In addition to the really cool t-shirt, there are a few additional reasons that I think we get a nice crowd. For some reason, the riders seem to be in a really good mood for this ride. I've noticed over the years that regardless of the weather, people seem to really enjoy themselves. I think it's just that after a couple of months of riding in spin classes, they're just really overjoyed to be riding outside again. And come hell or high water, they're not going to let the weather ruin their day outside. I've seen them come across the finish line, teeth chattering, nose running, lips blue, and just as happy as they can be. I personally thinks that its a hypothermia induced case of mass hysteria.

Along those same lines, I've also noticed that the drivers that we encounter on this ride, seem to be in a better mood than they are the rest of the year. I think this is due to their surprise at actually seeing a large group of riders out on Jan 1st. By the time they actually comprehend that there are cyclist out, they don't have time to work up the proper amount of rage to honk, or shout, or throw a beer bottle at my head. It's either that, or they just figure that we don't have enough sense to come in out of the cold, and they'd feel bad about picking on the slow witted.

All that aside, I believe the real reason that we get a such good turnout for this ride, is that Mike always makes it a point to have black eyed peas and cornbread for all of the riders at the finish line. If you've never experienced the pure rapture of finishing up a 40 mile bike ride, in 30 degree temperature on Jan 1st, and sitting down to a piping hot bowl of black eyed peas and cornbread, you've really missed out on one of the great pleasures that a cyclist can experience. For me, I try and savor the experience. While some of the less learned riders just dive right in and start eating the peas, I first just sit there and enjoy the warmth of the bowl as it heats up my hands. Next, I kind of let my face hang over the bowl, and let the steam just float up to my nose. After a couple of hypnotic minutes of that, then and only then, do I allow myself to eat. As you can tell, I REEEALLY enjoy my bowl of peas.

And the best part is, it doesn't even have to be a good bowl of peas. More importantly, it just has to be hot. But that's somewhat true of all finish line food. I recall a ride last year were they served hot dogs after the ride. My wife will be the first to tell you, that I have a special relationship with hotdogs. I absolutely love a good hotdog. To the point of it being an obsession. So I was really looking forward to the end of this ride. I finished my 100k, parked my bike, and made a beeline for the hotdogs. The hotdog was about luke cool. The bun was somewhat soggy. And the only mustard they had was the kind in the little packages, that has usually separated into the clear liquid part and the mustard yellow part. Even with all of that, that had to be one of the best hotdogs I've ever had. Coming from a hotdog snob like myself, that's saying something.

It's experiences like these that really make me wonder about those people I hear complaining about the food at the end of a ride. Generally, by the end of a ride I'm so hungry, that a shoe covered with the seperated clear mustard juice would taste pretty good. For those people who complain about bike ride food, if you just ride a little harder, the food probably taste a whole lot better.

Still yet another benefit to riding hard.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

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