Saturday, July 6, 2013

First Friday writing for Randos - Easy Does It

{First Friday Writings for Randos - A monthly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly.} This month it's an excerpt from . . .
Easy Does It 

By Bill Strickland 
Editor at large for Bicycling Magazine

When my bag of jelly beans drops onto the pavement of Dogwood Lane, I almost don’t turn around. We have just a while ago come off Coon ­Hollow, which is a road we would ride for the name alone but as a bonus happens to be smooth dirt packed as hard as any pavement, with such little canopy that the country sky sometimes curves blue and near-feeling from one of earth’s edges to the other, and with a ramshackle mansion of a barn that provokes sadness and wonder each time I pass—though I have been doing so for more than a decade.

Dogwood becomes one of those climbs that at first is barely so then can take your knees off here and there over a couple miles. But that is only after you disappear into its deep shadowed woods. Its bright opening slope sustains the reverie Coon Hollow began, with sunny farmed fields to either side, and split-rail fences gone gray from weather and time, and a rural community ballpark where a great home-run ball could be lost forever in the soy. This is where I am when my jelly beans fall.

I have been dawdling, letting the group get a little ahead of me so I can chase, so I can romp into then among them up where the road is just as beautiful but in a wholly different manner. The lane will narrow and curve as it climbs for real, and shadows stippling the pavement shift under your wheels when a wind riffles the leaves overhead. Go hard in some stretches and off to the side at eye level you will see the tops of trees that cast you in those shadows just a few moments earlier. Once, a few years ago, I stayed out of the saddle the whole way up, insensate to the outer world at the top but pulsing inside from all I’d felt during the ascension. Another ride, after the crest I limped all the way to the general store at Wassergas without waiting­ for anyone, and already had an icy Coke bought and open and missing a few sips as the last of us had straggled in, and it was their exhaustion rather than the sugar that put a sweetness into my own fatigue that made it bearable. This year, though, I am slower. I will need the impetus of catching then being in the group to go fast—I know this about myself—and if I turn around for my jelly beans, the gap will grow so much I might never catch anyone.

I have been thinking about my jelly beans for an hour, though. And this road is all around me and the day is one of those when we are the only cyclists who know just how this feels, who ever have, and all over the world, we know, other riders ache to feel the way we do but cannot and never have. Only we have this ride, only now. 

 To read the rest go here

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