Take a ride just for fun? What a concept! After having worked seven days a week for who knows how long, I've either been riding to work or to teach. You can blame the gal on the right for it. The ride that is, not the working.
Our Instructor Banquet was on the 18th. I was also teaching my last class of the year that weekend. One of the things that happens at the banquet is some recognition of instructors who teach a lot. Turns out that between actual classes and instructor training sessions, I had worked somewhere around 34 weekends this year. Considering how there's only 52 weekends total, it was no wonder I was feeling a little tired by now!
I discovered over Thanksgiving weekend that I'm no good when left on my own to just relax. Specifically, when there's a lot of leftover food involved! After so much rushing about and wolfing food down, can you imagine what a treat it is to be able to take time to enjoy your food? Katie decided I'd been doing too much of that. Her big clue was my painful groans as I sprawled on the couch clutching my belly, I guess.
"We need to get you out of here before you kill yourself!", she sternly told me. I asked her if she'd changed her name from Katie to Jenny Craig. Knowing that the only thing I'd really be tempted by is riding ( as opposed to Christmas shopping or something ) she convinced me to take her for a ride. We'd ride just for the sheer enjoyment of being on the bike. Something that has, unfortunately, become far too infrequent of late.
Saturday was a weird day weatherwise. There were some spots that were soaking wet while others were bone dry. As much as possible we tried to dodge rain showers.
As we rode I thought about a post that Steve Williams had done on his blog, Scooter in the Sticks. Progress is creeping in no matter where you go. Part of the reward of riding is finding places to sort of isolate yourself from the rest of the frenzied world. I've found roads over the years that serve this exact purpose. Kind of a "escape the zoo and find peace" thing. During this ride I sought out some of these places. Even here, the craziness of the world isn't totally out of sight.
Here's an example. The picture right above is of a winding farm road. Yes, we found some rain here. This road pretty much goes from "nowhere" to "nowhere". In a five mile stretch there's maybe 10 houses. They're all farmers. In the picture below is how the bridge was until just recently. Just a small bridge about as wide as a lane and a half. It passes over a pretty little creek. Visibility was great at both ends. If you saw someone coming the other way you could just wait a minute for them to cross and then have at it. I've ridden over the bridge for years and seldom encountered anybody coming the other way. Now somebody's decided it's a problem.
Have a look at the new concrete and steel monstrosity that's replaced the old bridge. Another piece of history and character bites the dust just so people can have another place to blindly drive with their heads inserted someplace.
Each little thing by itself isn't a disaster, granted. Yet each small assault chips away at the whole. Before you know it nothing's the same as it was. What really makes me sad is that it won't be long before the young generation will have no idea how things used to be. In my humble opinion the problem with society today is that nobody has a connection anymore. There's no community roots because commercialism encourages the pursuit of one's own interests. Every place starts to look like every other place. There's nothing to distinguish anywhere as "our" place to take pride in. Families pursue separate goals. It's easy for people to be self absorbed, rude, and selfish. Once in their cars the effect is magnified. Cars are just another way for people to cut themselves off physically from others.
Wow! I really didn't mean to go off onto that tangent!
Back to the ride.
Here's another example of the insidious creeping of modernization on our rural landscape. This is a lovely motorcycle road. It winds through farm land worked by several Mennonite families. There's a few young boys in the clan. Many times in the late afternoons I'd ride this way on the way home from work. The boys would always wave as they played in the trees. If you look closely in the background you can see a big truck. Right smack dab in the middle of this peaceful landscape is the Interstate. It won't take much. An interchange here, a little shopping plaza there, and another dot springs up. One of a string of dots that soon become connected by urban sprawl.
The end of our ride saw us stopping at a little coffee shop in an out-of-the-way cluster of small buildings. We'd been trying to avoid any road bigger than one lane in each direction. When we pulled in and saw the three state patrol cars I figured somebody had seen me coming and made a call. False alarm. It was just three officers who had gotten tired of busy roads and were looking for the same peaceful respite we were. The proprietor was trying to unload some of the day's pastry. Buy a pecan sticky roll and the coffee was free. He'd even heat up the roll! Such a deal. Take that, Jenny Craig, I mean, Katie. I'm getting more food!
The photo of Katie taken by the bike was just this side of the patrol cars. I'm actually standing by the bike as I photgraph the cars. Notice how dry it is by the cars? If you look at the picture of Katie you can see a water puddle right in front of the bike. It was like that all day. Wet here, dry there. Made for some interesting contrasts in judging how much traction I had to play with. Like I say, a weird weather day.
Sunday brought another heavy storm so we huddled up and watched football all day. Accompanied by more heavy eating, of course. You'd think I'd learn. At least I had pleasant memories of our ride for fun and relaxation on Saturday. So far we can still find peace on our favorite roads. I just wonder how long it will last.
Miles and smiles,