Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend, 2009

I spent Sunday morning reformatting Tammy's Dell laptop. She picked up a nasty bug of some sort off a link from eBay that rendered her computer useless. A search for 'Antivirus 2009 Pro' let me know that I was in for a challenge as it was rated 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for severity. I worked what little magic I could before throwing in the towel and reaching for the start-up disks. After a few hours of babysitting the process I now have a happy Dell laptop as well as a happy wife.

Rachel and I both had issues with our new Motorola Droid cellphones and had to have them replaced. The keypad is covered with a thin vinyl that was beginning to separate on Rachel's phone. She's pretty sure the protective cover we bought for our phones was put on backwards and a small tab was catching on a few of the keys whenever she'd slide the cover closed. My phone simply quit working after six days of use. The battery was showing that the phone had at least a 60% charge but I couldn't get it to turn on even when plugged in. I brought it in and the tech thought the battery may be defective. She gave me a new replacement phone and surprisingly the difference between the battery on the new phone being able to hold a charge vs the other is night and day. We're both very happy with our Droids even with the problems we've had.

Tammy had to work Thanksgiving afternoon and evening so Rachel and I went up to my sister's home 40 miles north in Maple Grove. Truth be told...I invited us over; her cooking is that good but of course it was nice to see her and Jerry and the others. Jackie generously loaded us down with a feast to take home to Tammy which she was so happy to have. I really wish she could've been with us.

We detoured to Keith's on our way back and spent some time with his family and Mom who had spent the afternoon there. Another nice visit was had before we found our way home via Mom's to drop her off. Keith really didn't seem as tired as the photo makes him appear but my photography skills leave something to be desired...'say cheese' may have helped.

Rachel had a sleepover for her friends from Brenda's School of Dance on Friday night where she both teaches and takes instruction. Pizza, pop, chips, talk, posing and lots of laughs made for a late night. A few of them managed to keep the party alive until 4:30AM as there was no hurry getting up in the morning. Rachel really loves this group of friends especially considering it wasn't too long ago when a whole different group made up the dance team and there was a lot of bickering and back-biting. Rachel gave some serious thought to leaving the school for greener pastures a little over a year ago but she stuck it out and to her surprise every one of the girls who were making the experience so miserable for all the rest didn't return. Tammy and I are glad she stayed put but my advice to her then was to move on as her time left there was so short and high school years can be so fleeting.

I thought for sure that my long rides were over for the year but last week I again found myself keeping an eye on the weekend's weather forecast with a glimmer of hope about getting out for one last longer than normal effort before resigning myself to rides of less than 40 miles. By Friday I'd somewhat lost my enthusiasm for a long ride on Saturday but I kept the option open; maybe it was the turkey talking. All that changed when I got up Saturday morning to let the pups out and I saw how nice it was.  A temp in the low 30s with little to no wind and a high expected to be near 50f.   It would be a crime to let a late November day like that go by without making full use of it; and so I did.

I brought the pups back inside where Tammy was making up a spread of pancakes and sausage for the sleepover kids who were showing no signs of getting up anytime soon. She pawned off all the pancakes that were a little burned or deformed on me which I was happy to make disappear. If I wanted to minimize my need to stop during my ride, taking on extra fuel before leaving home was a must.

With no particular route in mind I headed to the northwest to take advantage of whatever winds would develop later in the day. Passing through Excelsior I had the feeling that I was cycling through a Department 56 Village scene. The sidewalks as well as the streets were bustling with people enjoying a Thanksgiving weekend. A reindeer tied to a fence post where Christmas trees were being sold attracted little ones and no doubt some of the older crowd too. I thought how I'd like to bring Tammy back here and spend an afternoon going in and out of the shops that line the street.

The sun's low arc across the sky in front of me made it difficult to read the screen of my Garmin Edge 705 through the glare of my Flanders Bros jersey reflecting off it. I'd strain to look at it occasionally but didn't particularly care where I was headed; just that when I'd used up half my daylight hours I'd need to point myself in the direction of home. This was unfamiliar territory for me and I was impressed with the road I was on and the light amount of traffic using it. I got as far as Watertown, 50 miles out, where I refueled with a Chuckwagon sandwich at the Marathon station before jumping on highway 25 to begin the trip home. I'd been pushing into a quartering headwind of something less than 10 mph and I'd now get to more or less use it to my advantage.

Could this really be late November weather I wondered? Don't question it, just enjoy it I told myself.

Strange, but I saw no other cyclists out on the roads with the exception of a middle-age couple on their upright hybrid bikes. I'm sure there were many others out there but our paths never crossed.

Highway 25 would eventually take me to Norwood/Young America where I'd turn onto highway 212 and get the full affect of the wind at my back. Having my Edge 705 this year has allowed me to explore some roads I'd taken a pass on so many times before. One of them is county road 41 that meanders south out of Cologne toward East Union. It's a beautiful, lightly traveled road with one nice hill that prompted me to grab some video with my Droid.

My last stop for fuel was in Jordan where I usually hit the Holiday station for a pack of Hostess cupcakes but before I could lean my bike in that direction McDonald's across the street caught my eye.  I shifted my weight and veered into their lot then hurried inside for a couple cheeseburgers instead. Hey, I don't question my cravings when I'm on my bike; I simply indulge them. I was back on the road in less than 6 minutes and feeling good about knocking off the final 23 miles before the sun would set at 4:35 but rather than take a route that would maybe add a couple more miles to my total (which I usually do) I opted to stay on hwy 282 and take the most direct route home.

Official sunset may have been 4:35 according to my Edge but by 4:15 it's looking pretty dark and there are places I'd rather be than on the road without lights.  I sometimes make an attempt to sit up a bit higher or get up out of my saddle more than usual to make myself more visible at times like this. But still I was very tempted to add some additional miles at the end of the ride and use every last bit of daylight.  My better judgment won out and my wheels rolled back up our driveway with ten minutes of daylight to spare and 109 miles behind me.  I offered up a prayer of thanks to God for bringing me home safely then leaned my bike against the brick in front of our garage before walking back down the driveway to check for mail.  Tammy had already beat me to it.  I was still in my endorphin induced euphoria when for a moment I considered hanging out until our Christmas lights came on but I knew I had some pups beyond the door inside the garage who were waiting with wagging tails to jump up and attack me the way they do every time I come back from a ride.  The lights are beautiful and I enjoy them but they're no match for Toby, Allie and Charlie.  I headed inside.

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