It is time. Circumstances have finally come together. The sun has feebly shown itself for a couple of days. Daylight lasts a little longer. It is time to try my beloved back roads. I can barely wait to head home.
Darkness, fog, and rain have banished me from this route. Flooding has buried some roads. Ice has lurked in its corners. I have been a slave to the interstate for months. The scent of freedom is strong in my nostrils. I must break out. I need to write my own music.
With county maps and a willing bike I have explored. My home is in one county. My work is in another. I have pieced a ride together. Bit by bit. I am in search of challenges. I am in search of soothing for my spirit. This route does both. The straight line run I have endured is 44 miles one way. This route is closer to 60 miles. The ride is my buffer time. I arrive home refreshed. No, not just refreshed. Victorious and celebrating. Katie must wait supper a little longer. For her my awesome mood is a valid trade.
The first part is a few miles of town. I go from a large city to a burg. At the North end of this small town is a curve. It is posted at 15 mph. The curve goes to the left. Most people seem to prefer this direction. For me it is opposite. This left curve is against my preference. There is only one line that works cleanly. The curve is off camber. There is a weird ripple in the middle. The radius is not constant. I use this curve as a measuring stick. It tells me where I am each day. Am I in the zone? Am I a little out of synch? Will the music I write be a rousing symphony? Or a country ballad? You may say one corner is not enough. How can one discern a whole ride from a single corner? We all have our measures. This is mine. I listen to what it tells me. Today I will write a soft tune. It is the first run in a while. It will be a gentle reunion.
After the curve I head North at the Fire Station. This second part is a warm-up. 35 mph "S" curves re-align my aim. Apexes are dusted off. I use the time to prepare my mind. There must be no distraction for the next section. One must be totally in tune with the bike. I must be looking well ahead. It is the warm up. Picture the orchestra playing softly. Tuning the instruments. We are just getting started. We turn right onto the next leg. This route goes through farm country. It is good to see familiar things. Two llamas watch me ride by. They have watched me do this many times. Each time they seem interested anew. There is no fear, only curiosity in their gazes. They are funny creatures. They must find me amusing, as well. These curves are sharper. Not like those to come later. Enough to challenge me. Enough to whet my appetite. The orchestra is playing with more vigor. The tune is getting faster. There is a hint of what is to come. We are building for a later crescendo. I look for the turkeys. There is a flock of wild ones. They are beautiful to look at. There is one Tom like me. He is aggressive. He is in control. It is much better to see them early. They like the road. Perhaps it is the gravel beside it. Often there are deer. Today I do not see any. The roads are so clean. Later they will be full of rocks and mud from tractors. It will make apexes interesting. Each day will be different.
In the next few miles the music settles down. Long sweepers are gracefully ridden. There are some stretches that are technical. Four or five curves in short succession. Uphill and downhill. Two of the best go downhill. It is important to get the pattern right. Apex way late. Make the bike turn. Keep the weight off the front wheel. Gaining speed like a roller coaster. The music is like a babbling brook. Surges and ripples create variety. The overall effect is stimulating yet relaxing. This is a building time. The orchestra catches its breath. The crescendo is coming.
Now it comes. Bursting free with pent up energy. The next eight miles are tight and demanding. It is largely uninhabited. It is here pegs scrape. It is here I have beveled the edges of both boot soles. The music is like the 1812 overture. Cannons rumble. It is here I am the fighter pilot. Strafing roads. Scattering lesser creatures in my path. I am empowered and alive. I can see forever. It is like wide open sky. We fly.
Then it is done. My mission has been flown. I turn onto old Hwy 99. The lights on both sides of the road beckon me home. They are like a long landing strip. The lights show my path. Our music is soft once more. The sunlight has faded. We are on a five mile landing approach to home. The senses settle. We are ready to land. Welcomed home by a loved one. Ready to fly the next mission. Ready to write new music.