The Best Laid Plans
April 11, 2010
Total mileage: 269
We were on the way home from a party late Friday night when Mr. Spoked broke the news that he wasn’t up for a Saturday morning ride. We’d planned the ride earlier in the week, after Husband learned he had to work, thinking we’d ride together to his workplace. After he finished, we’d do some circuit riding together then head home. But you know the saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men.”
So it was that I had to decide whether to ride alone in the country or stay in the city. The latter would be fairly easy, even boring, with few hills and plenty of buildings to buffer the wind. It was with some nervousness that I settled on the country instead, a hilly 20-mile circuit southwest of Topeka. Clouding my judgment about this particular route was the fact that the last time we’d ridden it there was a memorable encounter with a bad dog. A very, very bad dog. During the winter we’d fantasized about its carcass rotting in a ditch somewhere, with X’s where its eyes had been. Riding the circuit alone would make me nervous, particularly when I passed the Dog Incident location. But, as Adventure Monkey says, seek adventure and feed your monkey. Okay, then, I’d ride the tougher circuit because it was both fun and challenging.
Thus it was that yesterday morning Husband got ready for work while I donned riding gear and pumped up the bike tires. We loaded up the Sweetpea and headed southwest. At the school parking lot, he went indoors while I strapped on a helmet and tried not to think about being short on sleep and fighting a headache (possibly from too much wine the night before). One of the best aspects of riding in the country early on a Saturday morning is fewer cars, but this morning was different. Hordes of high school students were pulling into the parking lot and heading inside to take their ACTs. They looked angry to be stuck inside a classroom on a beautiful spring morning. Who wouldn’t be?
But the Sweetpea and I managed to get out of the parking lot without being plowed down by an annoyed teenager. This photograph was taken before the first roller. The worst hills on this route are the first and second ones (you can see both of them). It’s still hilly afterward, but you can crank it open and have some fun.
The traffic cleared out pretty soon after I started, because it was getting close to the test’s start time, and the ride began uneventfully. There was a crosswind, probably about 15 mph, but wind is normal for Kansas and anyway a crosswind is better than an headwind. My back was bothering me a bit, so about 10 miles out I began to concentrate on flattening it and was pleased with the results. I made the first turn, ran north for about a mile, then headed back in the direction from which I’d come. It was a lovely morning, and the legs and lungs were holding up fairly well for so early in the season. The traffic was light, and the forsythia and redbuds were blooming all around. Life was good. Then, I crested a hill to see a large dark shape near the side of the road. Man, what is that massive animal? A cow? No, it’s a dog!!! Aaargghhhh.
Memories of the dog last summer came rushing back. Boy, it would have been nice to have Mr. Spoked for company. I veered to the other side of the road and unclipped from the pedals in case I had to jump off the bike and place it between me and the beast. The heart beat a little faster. Then I noticed the dog was looking past me, at something much farther down the road. The Sweetpea and I got closer and closer, but the dog didn’t even look at us. We rolled on by and I thought how silly it was to let the memories of one unusually scary dog from last summer taint the route.
The Sweetpea and I kept going, swooping up and down the rollers with happy effort. We passed a clump of blooming trees, probably sand plums, and their sweet scent filled the air. I dropped the Sweetpea in front of them and took this picture.
Soon we were finishing out the circuit, just shy of 20 miles, at the high school. I sneaked in to fill up the water bottle, rummaged around in Husband’s car and found about 20 mini-shredded wheat squares (his leftover breakfast) for a quick snack, then got back on the bike and did another circuit. The wind had picked up considerably, to about 20-25 mph, but it was still a sweet ride. No dogs the second time around, either.