Wednesday, October 6, 2004

My Last Long Ride of the Season

I took today off work to go out for what may be my last long ride of the season. The temp got into the upper 70s today and for this late in October that's pretty nice. Actually, the next few days are supposed to be well above normal.

I got up early and couldn't go back to sleep I decided to get a jump on my ride and made it out the door by 8:00. It was a bit cool at 52 but I rode hard for the first 30 minutes and I was comfortable. I headed out County rd 46 and rode that west then took Hwy 5 north to Hwy 13. The traffic was pretty busy along 13 but I always get a rush from it. It also helps to have some good tunes to motivate you. I remember having the New Radicals pushing me along as I caught drafts from the passing traffic. Cruising past Valley Fair now and thinking about all the fun times we had there this summer. I remember a few years ago when I couldn't pay Rachel to ride the Corkscrew. She was maybe 10 at the time and still a bit afraid of most of the larger rides. Within a month of that visit she went back with her friend, Camille and came home to tell me that she did all the rides...even the Power Tower! I guess she didn't want to disappoint Camille and found out they weren't so bad after all.

By the time I rolled into Shakopee the temp was in the upper 50s but the wind was pretty stiff out of the southwest. Once I left Shakopee it would become a head wind. Just outside the city I saw the sign for Mankato...56 miles. Did I have it in me today? I briefly thought about doing that trip but in the back of my mind I didn't think I would because of the wind. Anyway, I hadn't totally discounted the idea.

>I took this photo on Hwy 169 after recalling the time a few years ago along this same stretch of road when a dump truck pulled out slowly well ahead of me. After a short time I was able to catch up to it as the driver cycled through the gears. I tucked in within a few feet of his rear wheels and stayed with him for a couple miles as I reached over 50 mph. It's probably not one of the smarter things I've done on my bike but definitely one of the more exhilarating. I remember thinking that if there was some road kill to avoid, I'd never see it in time and I'd likely crash. I decided on self preservation and backed off.

Once I saw this sign I started doing some figuring trying to calculate what time I'd get back home if I decided to press on to Mankato. I'd pretty much decided I'd go to St. Peter and make a decision then based on how I felt.

My cellphone rang around 10:30 and it was my doctor. I decided a month ago that I wanted to be up front with my employer about my headaches so that when they return again I can pull myself from controlling until they're gone after a month or so. It's not so easy to just come forward and admit that you have a disqualifying condition. My fear being that they may say my controlling days are over and put me behind a desk pushing papers or worse yet, they may terminate me for not divulging the condition sooner. The doctor I'm working with presents my case to the Flight Surgeon of the region I work in with hopes that I'll be granted a waiver to continue as a Controller and immunity from punitive measures for hiding my condition. The news he had for me was that my case has been sent out of the region and elevated to a higher level where it's anyone's guess what they'll decide. The higher it goes I think the more less likely I am to receive a favorable decision...not to mention, it'll probably take them much longer to decide what to do. In the mean time, I have to hope my headaches don't come back and if they do I'll have to come forward then as I'm not putting myself in the position of controlling with these again. I spent about 20 minutes off my bike as we talked. I also gave Tammy a call to explain it all to her.

A few miles up the road I pulled over again and ran inside the DQ for what I was hoping would be some fast food but it was anything but that. The service was quick as they took my order right away but I had to wait over 10 minutes for my food. I just wanted to get back on my bike as quickly as I could. Another 20 minutes delayed and now I'm 40 minutes down from where I'd hoped to be. Hey, it's really hard to complain when it's such a beautiful day out. I convinced myself that I was on my bike and it was really warm and so what if I was running behind.

I pressed on past the Le Seuer exit with St. Peter about 40 minutes up the road. Hwy 169 south of Le Seuer is a very pretty ride. The wind was keeping me from fully enjoying the ride but hey, I wasn't at work. I rolled into St. Peter and decided I'd keep heading toward Mankato.

South of St. Peter the leaves are beginning to turn. Tammy was mentioning the other day that she'd like to take a drive and see some Fall colors. I think another couple weeks and they'll be peaking. So many of the leaves along the way were still green with the occasional stand of trees which were tuning sooner than the others.

Finally, 75 miles into the trip I rolled into Mankato and got off on Riverfront Dr. I got back on the other side of the road and dialed the speed up the 25-35 as I had a nice tail wind which I was very happy to have. My legs were a bit tired though so I couldn't push as hard for as long as I'd like to have.

As I passed through Belle Plaine on the way home I caught my odometer as it turned 7000 miles. That was nice to see and it got me wondering if I can make 8000 before the snow flies? I think it's a bit of a long shot but I'll see what I can do.

The rest of the trip was good and I was focusing hard to keep the negative thoughts at bay and keep my speed up. I couldn't believe the traffic jam in Shakopee and wondered if it was this way every evening during rush hour. The cars were backed up for over a half mile standing still. I'm so glad my commute to work has none of that.

I got home around 5:30 and 151 miles later. It was a good ride. I tried to lay down and catch a couple hours sleep before tonight's all night shift but I just laid there. I gave up after 30 minutes and came down when Tammy came home. We chatted for a bit then I headed to work. I'm so tired as I write this and can't wait to get some sleep when I get home. We've got a big day planned tomorrow.

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