Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

My ride today

Posted by Frum Hiker on March 30, 2007

It was exactly five o’clock when I stepped out of the dungeon into the brilliant sunlight that was not even obstructed by one cloud. My eyes were droopy and on the walk home from my part time mashgiach job I debated in my head what I should do with the rest of the day. My body told me I should go to sleep, I could feel my mind arguing with itself. “Dude you have been up since 7am- its time for a two hour nap”, oh how luxurious your sleeping bag will feel as the daylight turns to orange. Then the other side said “dude its time for a nice country drive down to Schoharie County or something, roll down the windows turn up the bluegrass and go wander around some old decaying barns.” Then off in the distance the underdog came out, “dude your getting fat from winters wrath- its time to take your bike out and get your heart rate up and you will get to see some nice country with it.”

So I donned my spandex, filled my camel back, grabbed a small bag of peanuts and mounted my bike. My loop would be an 11 mile pretty easy mix of rolling farmland and snaking crappy shouldered roads through suburban developments. Normally these rolling hills would be pounded through at 15 miles per hour, but I knew I was in terrible shape so it may be horrific.

There is nothing quite as scary as getting out on the first over 20 minute ride of the season and realizing how out of shape you are. I never realize how good shape I am in mid-season until winter comes and the days between rides turn into weeks. Slowly my gut grows a bit until some friend of mine will point out that I am gaining weight- then I start to think about all the hiking and riding I will do in the summer.

I was in heaven rolling along at a good pace the first few miles because they were flat, I hit a gradual but long hill and powered up it surprising myself at my pace. I rde for about fifteen minutes and suddenly the nasty suburban dream houses with their fake Roman facades ceased and wide open farmland began. I could not believe how close this beauty was to me house. Just 3 minutes ago I was passing streets that snaked off the road I was on and came back to it, streets with names after trees and towns in England, like Covington and Elm. Streets with names that tell you exactly who lives on those streets. The more fake the name like Edgewood Creek Road- the higher the income of those who choose to have 3 acre front lawns void of trees, and outdoor pools surrounded by nicely manicured lawns that take more water then a public golf course to keep green in the dead of summer. Then you slowly go past the middle class streets, Elmwood or Briarcliff or Roslyn, streets that could easily be said and they mostly run around in circles until your at last wit and suddenly you realize that you are in exactly the same spot you started in- though having traveled many minutes looking for the address on your ripped off piece of notebook paper.

All this was behind me, I pumped my slightly burning legs up the gradual incline looking straight ahead to where the double yellow line curved in the distance. I decided to take a break and stretch. I pulled off the road and walked down a gentle hill and sat with my back to the road. I was facing a massive field that had been used for hay, I could see the already 6 month old depressions from the hay gathering device, they went in circles around the whole field, methodically as if they were man mad crop circles. Every few feet I would see the unsightly cigarette thrown from someone’s car as they drove home from their desk job at Empire Plaza, then a candy wrapper, maybe some half crushed cans of Labbat and then multiple little piles of sand and stone that had been plowed off with the regular snows.

I didn’t let this field turned into mini garbage dump bother me, I gazed off to the left about 100 yards away lay a beautiful red barn with numerous outbuildings, no silos, I do love silos especially stone ones. The shadows were long, the telephone poll was taking up a large portion of real estate in the shadow department, it cast its long pole in the midst of the fading day, the colors not yet turned to that dusky orange hue- but almost there. I love the orange that the sun gives off at dusk- especially in the fall, the days are shortening and the ebbing of winter can be felt by the swirling leaves and the frosty chill that makes your breath look like exhaust.

A couple swigs and I was off, I rode even more steadily- spinning my legs and looking down at the long shadow that was I. All was peaceful I rode and screamed at the top of my lungs as I flew down a rather steep hill, that meant I would have to come up a very long or steep hill. I rode down to the bottom yelling and pulled my hands off the bars and pretended I was swimming through the air. Any passing car must have thought I was out of my mind- but I was relishing the great outdoors without the hindrance of a shelled in cocoon of steel that you simply got pissed off whenever you went into it.
Suddenly the rode started gradually rising and I got into the steady rhythm and had to convince my burning quads that I wouldn’t dismount and walk. Suddenly I looked up and a man was riding abreast with me.

I told him he scared the hell out of me being as I didn’t hear him approach, very stealthy rider, one would hear my heavy breathing from a mile back. He was riding a redline cycle-cross bike and we started schmoozing of my bike and how I liked the suspension. He mentioned what he had in his bike collection and we spoke of multiple different bikes and routes and such.

I started telling him about my road bike buying thoughts, he told me that road riding is great because its not as loner type sport as mountain biking. You go with groups, they push you and you end up riding faster and farther then you thought you would. I had already made up my mind a couple weeks back to start saving so I could buy one a few months. I love riding my mountain bike, but I feel with a road bike I could go so much further, I really want to do century rides and cannot ride more then 75 miles on my mountain bike. Every time I ride over 50 miles I feel the pain of a mountain bike.

We parted ways at the next intersection and I mentioned that because of him I didn’t even realize we just went up a mile long steady climb. I was giddy with excitement realizing that although I have gained weight from the winter sedatives known as snow covered trail- I was really in better shape than I thought.

I rode the rest of the way home very fast trying to make it on time for davening at shull. I passed gradually from farmland back to trailer park then to suburban homes of the middle class until I reached the most dreaded part of riding out of the country. Retail hell as I have termed it. 6 lane byways full of concrete parking lots, poisoned runoff and big box stores that seem to be on every corner. How many Rite Aids and CVS’s do we need?

I rode on the shoulder expecting some college kids to ride by as usual and assume that I don’t have a car and yell at me. Or maybe the folks who find it funny to try and run me off the rode. Didn’t actually have much of that today. Last year some car tried to run me over so I told them to go F— themselves in so many words. Well they proceeded to chase me and then get out of their car and start running after me. A large SUV full of white trash Abercrombie types with their white hats turned sideways, pre ripped jeans hanging off their tushes and driving Hondas with those farting mufflers.

I reached home a bit early downed the peanuts for some protein muscle regeneration and went to shull.


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