Sunday, March 30, 2014

Welcome to Spring?

Heading out for pancakes.  photo by Josiah Lent

It's almost April, however, by looking at the ground you'd think it was late February.  It's been a loooooong winter.  What we, as Midwesterners, are experiencing reminds me of an old tv show from the 90's, set in Alaska, called Northern Exposure.  There was one episode which stands out clearly in my mind that talked about "break up".  Ask anyone from Alaska about this and they will give you the all knowing nod.  You see, after a hard winter in the North, people get a bit squirrelly and maybe even a little crazy.  When spring does finally hit, and the ice begins to break up on the lakes, a release of energy seems to take over entire communities.  People do silly things like wear shorts in the 30's, they sit out on their decks grilling and drinking beer even if their breath can be seen, single folks couple up as if the world is about to end, and the cyclists hit the road in mass numbers.

On days like this, when the morning starts at a meager 24 degrees, but is estimated to hit 60 degrees, a few friends of mine like to get together and ride...ride for pancakes!  Honestly, I think we all need an excuse to load on the much needed miles.  Riding big miles for the sake of riding is tough when you still see snow and ice and the wind is strong.  Laughter, pancakes, eggs, good coffee and a cool place to gather all make it so much more fun.

Roxbury Tavern
My place of choice is the Roxbury Tavern, located a bit over 20 miles Northwest of Madison.  It's good...I mean really good.  Not only do they serve real maple syrup and local ingredients, but they are friendlier than all get out.  Over the years, I've introduced several groups to this spot and I know most have made it a favorite.  They are committed to the community and could really care less about being "PC"--take a look at their "gun fish tank" when you enter.

One of the best parts, or worst depending upon how you look at it, is leaving with a full belly and hitting the hills outside of Roxbury.  Today, we split into two groups--those training for upcoming gravel events/triathlons and those just happy to be out on two wheels.  ALL of us were just so damn happy to be out.

Because of my ever-so-near gravel rides, I took folks a bit further West where we cursed the wind in between making jokes.  It is for this reason, I love riding with others in non-ideal conditions.  It was such a glorious ride heading back--for both groups I later learned--except one "oops".  A close friend of mine had her first bike crash due to all the thick sand left in the bike lane heading back into town.  I heard it all happen behind me, but miraculously, by the time I ditched my bike and turned around, she was up and brushing herself off.  I swear she was so much tougher than I'd ever be, and with a couple shots of whiskey to kill the pain, she scrubbed the living daylights out of her wounds when we got back and happily hopped on her bike to get home.  She told me before this happened, she thought she'd rather be alone when she took her first spill.  After this, however, she said she was happy to be around so many cool people.  And THAT, my friends, is what cycling with others is all about.  If you go down, who else would run to your aid and make things better?  This just sealed the fact I ride with the most amazing people and am so lucky to have them in my life!

And with that...Seasons Greetings all!

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