Monday, November 30, 2020

Baste Your Giblets and Grab Your Bike


2020 has certainly been a year of personal reflection for quite a few folks, lots of opportunity and time on our hands to figure out what is important in our lives and what maybe just seemed like it was before it was ripped out from underneath us as if we were dishes under the table cloth of a hack magician. Now as we enter into the holiday season each of us is faced with deciding which of our family traditions and personal praxis are important to us and which we can forgo this year and maybe into the future as well.



Not having family within a 6 hour drive (most of the family being three to four times that far) and then add to that the fact that I spent 4 1/2 years in the Marines and almost 10 years in corrections where holidays were just another day on the calendar and you don't get the chance to build up a lot of family traditions to miss. I haven't been home for any holiday in 30 years or better, not getting together this year won't seem any different than any other year for me but I do empathize with those who will be missing time with their families this year. Most of my holidays in recent memory have involved some sort of holiday ride, the Turkey Day Ride probably being the one I've gone to the longest so it was nice to see that it was still happening. Albeit there were several changes this year, instead of the normal meetup at someone's house followed by post ride bacon themed food and beer-mosas we decided to just meetup in front of Meadowlark Coffee and forgo the rest of the festivities.


As expected the group was quite a bit smaller this year than in years past, the weather being a little bit brisk didn't help on that matter either. Now I know there are going to be those who poo poo the fact that the ride went on at all but there are people that poo poo things just to poo poo and maybe that's their holiday tradition. However just to put your mind at ease. Medical professionals, some of the best in the country, put group rides at a 2 out of 9 on their chart. About the only things less risky require an almost entire hermit like lifestyle and let's be honest, how many of you have participated in riskier behavior... grocery shopping, going to work, getting your hair did, sending the little tykes to school... heck riding is even safer than spending time with the big guy upstairs. Finally, justification skip church and go ride bikes!

Edit: Sure there are risks involved with riding with a group of people and it's not as safe as riding alone however doing multiple of these activities in this chart don't exponentially increase your risk. By that I mean it's not an addition problem, if during the day you do something in the 2 category and then something in the 5 category, your risk for that day was 5 not 7 or that's how I see it. Your mileage might vary on that and that's okay. As expected I've received some push back on these rides but the way I see it if the government is willing to gamble with my life by not mandating work from home for any employee sitting at a desk working on a computer and at home schooling for all children, then I don't feel so bad enjoying some recreation with the same smaller group of friends that is on the lower end of the spectrum of activities. 





The Turkey Day Ride was started in 2010 by Nathan and Corey, I didn't start going until 2012, so the idea this year on the 10th anniversary was to retrace the original route.





Gravel was rolling super smooth and fast on Thursday, near freezing temps likely helped with that as it kept the roads a bit more firm than they might have been if it were much warmer. I did take some liberty with the route as it was chocked full of pavement, we still ended up with a pretty good chunk of it even after the modifications but the original route had over 20 miles of the 30ish mile loop being paved. What were the early adopters of the idea thinking, nobody rides road....


Of course the ride wouldn't be complete without a stop for a bridge beer, it's nice that the Lincolnites tend not to call the suicide hotline on you while you're resting atop the overpass like they tend to in Omaha. I'm not jumping, it spills the beer.


No matter what you chose to be in life, stay in school because even if you decide vandal as a chosen career path, spelling matters and Krylon doesn't come with an eraser.


Now that is a Christmas yard display, a person after my own heart.


Saw this caravan of folks outside the Matt Talbot kitchen and it's kind of humbling, especially when you stop and think about the things most of us complain about in this time of pandemic. Things can always be worse and we should take inventory of what we have in our lives that we take for granted and be thankful. If you've got a warm place to live, clean clothes and ample food in the fridge that's more than some folks have.







Amazingly we ended up in the same place we started some 38 miles later, almost like we planned it that way. We said our good byes, shared Happy Thanksgiving sentiments and dispersed to our corners of the world to finish out whatever Thanksgiving feasts we had planned.



Not having any plans for the rest of the day I decided to swing by the Zoo and check out the tree, it did not disappoint and it might have made my heart grow three sizes or it could have been the spicy jerky from earlier, whatever it was something made the heart do a few extra beats.

This might have been the first Thanksgiving in a long time I didn't have any of the traditional Turkey Day fare, no turkey, no stuffing, not a single cranberry; I polished off some left over pasta from earlier in the week and napped on and off in the easy chair watching 'Dem Boyz lose badly to the football team with no name and somehow those two teams playing to that outcome seemed perfectly fitting for the year that has been 2020. I'm not complaining however, I had a great ride with good friends, tasty food to fill my bell and a nice cozy chair to dream the day away in. As I said it could be worse.  Hope everyone got to find a little joy this Thanksgiving and got to do something or see someone who brings happiness to your life and into your heart.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Beer Never Broke My Heart, But It May Have Left Me Half Naked In A Park



Rolling into Mid November we have been lucky to have some fantastic weekends as of late but while it's beautiful now it also fills me with a sense of uneasiness and apprehension. Here in the mid-west is always seems like if we have mild November and December days, we end up paying for it on the back end of winter in March and April when were are anxious for the thaw to get here.




Rolled on down the Rock Island trail and over the fantastic new connector bridge and onto the Jamaica Trail. Such a great accomplishment for the city and a much needed safe way for families to get to Wilderness Park and beyond via the rest of the trail system it now connects to. Might have to start throwing this into the regular rotation when we can, still not the easiest way out to gravel but if they build it, you should ride it. 




The plan for Saturday was sort of an semi organized non-plan, plan to ride roads we haven't ridden and see things near Lincoln we hadn't seen before. This covered bridge in the ritzy hood was on the top of that list, not sure what a covered bridge is costing these days but it can't be cheap.



On the way to Denton we Columbus style discovered and old Renault just off the road by and old, dilapidated barn. Like the good friend that I am, I let the others test the waters to make sure that nobody was going to get all shot gunny before I wandered over to get a quick picture.


Hit up the gas station in Denton for some food and beverage and discovered that Gas Mitts are a thing. No germs seems good... but likely only works if A) they aren't outside in the elements, hanging on the pole holding up the gas pump cover and B) the previous 100 people sticking their grubby fingers into the box to extract a mitt were also germ free. I did not take my complimentary gas mitt so if you're ever in Denton, you're more than welcome to mine.


Since the gas station is the place to be in Denton with lots of folks in, out and all about, we took our wares and headed a few blocks down the road to the outdoor pavilion in the park where spatially we could distance ourselves from ourselves. There we discovered a disturbing half naked doll awaiting us. Yes I know she looks dressed but I added the blue to the blur to make it look like Betsy Wetsy was still an innocent curio, so as to not invite the disquieting voices in your head from trying to figure out what exactly took place here prior to our arrival. Some dear moppet is probably wondering what happened to their dear dolly, for their sake I hope they do not find it... that doll has experienced some shit I fear.







Our ride back to Lincoln was fairly uneventful and we found ourselves at White Elm procuring a few to go beverages for later and then onto Saro for a hot apple cider for the now.


Before departing Saro I discovered two things, I needed to drink more water and I now know the real reason Donny is always a shade of orange/yellow. In a way it also possibly explains the fly problem on the veep as well. 


Oooooh, I guess three things if you count the fact that I learned that the former Panic building is going to become a coffee shop. Aptly calling itself The Filling Station, in a building that used to be a filling station back in the day. This will make an excellent stopping spot on a cold day and is slated to open on February 4th 2021, still while we are in the grips of winter.




Ran us down a couple of alleys again this week, I really dig them and since I made the route everyone else had to go along also. Odd little gnome showed up at the shop a few days ago, well a few days ago on Saturday time, not sure where he came from but Christmas gnomes seem to be all the fashion this season so he'll fit right in.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Back Alley Sally



For a city of almost 300,000 people Lincoln is still rife with these little back alleys and even a few unpaved city streets here and there. The first house I can remember as a kid on the south east edge of Great Falls had an alley and detached garage, so I sort of have a nostalgic affinity for alleys. I was in first grade so facts are a little fuzzy but I remember the house was just down the street from Sunnyside Elementary on 19th Ave S, or so I think that was the street we lived on. My stint in that house was brief, I think I might have finished first grade at Sunnyside before moving across town on the other side of the Mighty Mo so I'm not really sure why I still carry that love of alleys to this day. Any who, Lincoln has quite a few of them remaining in the older parts of town so it was nice to incorporate one on the route out of town. Always a good day when you can ride the "inside" gravel to get to the "outside" gravel, luckily the no riding bikes inside rule doesn't apply here. It also doesn't apply at the D Street mansion, or so the legends and lore goes. 




There were a few minimum maintenance roads on this route so when we got to the first one and it was still a little dew slick, I was hoping it wouldn't be a sign of roads to come. We did however "have the tires for it" and other than one roll in the muck, we managed to get through it mostly unscathed.



Mud scraping seemed like a perfect time for a ditch beer, found a pumpkin beer hiding in the fridge the night before that had so far not been eaten by squirrels and decided that sounded perfect for a mid November ride. It was the right call, it was still ripe but not overly so and went down smooth. Might have possibly been better with a smidge Cool Whip as a chaser but sacrifices are sometimes necessary in the name of mobility.


They say that timing is everything and on Saturday that was certainly true, a few minutes after we cleared the MMR this mini caravan of SUVs came lumbering down the road. It was nice not to have to slip slide on down the road at the same time.


Despite muds low coefficient of friction, once dry it does not make a great lube for bicycle chains. Thankfully it was just squeaky and no spokey, breaky, kablooey for the rear derailleur.



Elmwood was our farthest point east we would go and was a great place to refuel before heading back west, unfortunately the local bar/eatery/reception hall/community center is closed on the weekends for the foreseeable future so we had to opt for the gas station/convenience store/Co-op/non-health food store. Eh, who am I kidding, healthy food choices are not common in the rural gravel scene unless you're packin it yourself.




The next big stretch of MMR looked a little sketchy but turned out to be in prime shape. Wanna know the number one rule of riding MMRs if they look suspect? Never go first, let some other brave soul test the muddy waters while you hang back on firmer roads. The laughs and the clean up are much better on this end of the mud stick.



We rolled through Eagle on route but then opted to hide in the trees on the MoPac since the breeze was picking up quite a bit, I'm not even mad about that choice. A brief stop at The Hut and a few more miles into town ended another great Saturday ride. Not sure how many more of these warmer weekends we have in store for us but I'm loving every one of them and will continue to do so until they decide to move on and give way to winter's icy grip.