So, when the day comes to settle down
Who's to blame if you're not around?
You took the long way home
We speak a lot here in the pages of Backroads about stealing rides, taking advantage of a surprise warmer day during the colder months and making each one of these aberrations count.
Our friends at Aerostich believe in “Commuting Fearlessly,” and they have the stickers to prove it.
For those who do not know the Aerostich Company; they are based in Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth has about two weeks of summer and then a wild mix of late fall, winter, and early spring the other 50 weeks of the year.
Okay, I exaggerate – but for all of you readers in the Backroads region, you should know that although this time of year we don't have it good, we don't have it terribly bad either.
Sure, we’ll get that four or five weeks in the dead of winter, but that is why they call it the dead of winter, right?
But there are always those weird few days that pop up every now and again., and if you are thinking “Hey, maybe I can take the bike?” then maybe you should.
For instance, just a few weeks back I had to get blood drawn. Gone are the days you could just walk into Lab Corp, show your paperwork and take a seat. In these after-times many appointments have to be scheduled – even something as simple as sitting down with a phlebotomist to get stuck and sucked.
It was a 2:45 appointment and, although the day started out well below freezing, by early afternoon it had warmed up to an almost balmy 50+.
I could, should, and would take the bike… even if traipsing in with my well-seasoned gray and yellow Roadcrafter suit from previously mentioned Duluth-based company caused Bashia (the world’s greatest and gentlest phlebotomist) to think I was a firefighter and that something was terribly amiss.
COVID bit the big one, but some things seemed to work better for it, like solid appointments for things like doctor’s appointments and lab work, which now are a breeze. I was in and out like the Mossad on a covert mission.
At the first traffic light my get 'back to the office route' was to the right, but somehow I went to the left and did a half hour thataway, before slowly arcing around and vectoring towards Backroads Central.
This time of the year we all know that those lazy, warm days of late summer sun are now lazily wastin’ time in the southern latitudes; and when out for a ride in the winter it makes sense to be rolling up your driveway by 4:30; as after that the sun flees, the darkness encroaches and, for us up here, the deer and the antelope play.
Almost on cue Michael Frankie’s Long Ride Home came spinning around on my iPhone via the zumo GPS.
Perfect. That was followed by Supertramp – now that is a good omen!
The 'take the long way home' scenario came into play the next day as well. It seems that good days come in small bunches, so we were ready for the next day. Getting all ‘set-in-stone’ tasks done as quickly as possible we suited up, with a base layer and electrics, as you really never know what you are going to get this time of year, and got rolling down the long drive to County Road 521. With the shortened riding window and the late morning start the plan was to take a pleasant but quicker route to lunch and then a far longer and meandering route back home.
But with the sun leaning more towards the little latitudes there are a few other things to take into consideration; and foremost is said sun.
For most of the riding season, I care not which way we ride, but during this time I try to head west early and then back east later in the day. This was especially important this season as Shira's eyes were not handling direct sunlight all that easily, and riding into the sun at this time of year is difficult in the best circumstances.
So our plan, and maybe yours too, is do the Horace Greely thing first and then have the sun at your back on the return trip.
But remember… with a strong winter sun at your back any oncoming drivers might not see you… at all. Just sayin’, so be ever vigilant – but whatever you do and where ever you go – take the long way home.