Bob Dylan is getting a Nobel. He wrote the theme song to the 2016 Great Pumpkin Ride. It’s called Blowin’ in the Wind.
We had a nice Indian summer this week. Temperatures were in the 80s during the day. Then a front came through and autumn was back. In force.
The ride continued nonetheless. Apparently the 20 -30 mile per hour winds and the 40 mile per hour gusts turned some people off. I signed up for this ride when Ultrarunnergirl asked me about it. She planned to ride with another friend. She ended up spending the day at a vineyard not far away. Can’t say I blame her.
I met up with some other friends, Paul, Amy, and Jody, at the start. We were going to ride the 48 mile route. Slowly. We left a little after the official 9:30 start.
Adding to the fun was the fact that I have a sore throat and a pretty nasty cold. I was shivering when we started and my energy levels were very low. I ate an energy bar left over from my June bike tour.
The wind seemed to be mostly at our backs for the first 15 miles, with the occasional crosswind to nearly blow us off the road. We mostly had protection from trees. One cool aspect of this was the fact that leaves were falling like rain. Every so often they’d dance in the air pocket in front of my body. As if to tip their caps to the end of warm weather.
The scenery could not have been better. It took my mind off the random blast. Jody led the way for the start. Paul and Amy rode together. I played shutterbug.
This was Amy’s first long ride. The conditions not being ideal, we decided to stop and give her a chance to chop off 10 miles of the route. Amy didn’t take the bait. We rode on to the first rest stop. It was at a church. Warm apple cider. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread. Even Paul’s favorite: pumpkin whoopie pies.
I said hello to Dave and Jean who were riding the 60+ mile route. They had been contending with lots of headwinds.
Leaving the rest stop, we encountered open farm land. No trees to protect us. And we were getting blasted. Not surprisingly this broke our group of four up. I was just plugging along keeping my heart rate where it likes to be kept. I ended up being way out in front. Probably has something to do with riding 6,500 miles already this year.
I stopped at the top of a hill. Riders struggled with the headwind as they climbed. Then came Jody. And we waited. After many minutes, Paul and Amy arrived. Dang. We may be old, but we are slow.
I told Amy the next rest stop at Old Bust Head brewery was four miles away. Jody corrected me and said it was six. “Amy, I rounded up.”
And away we rode. More pretty country stuff. Leaves. Farms. Dessicated corn stalks. A pony being trained.
The brewery was a welcome retreat. I had two pints. The bubbles felt good on my throat.
We set out for the last ten or so miles back to the start. I became separated from the three. I fell in with an old guy. (As Jody later pointed out, “We’re all old!”) He told me he had only recently started biking again. He said he was old and fat. He didn’t look it.We played leap frog.He actually rode faster than me on the flats but the hills were really challenging for him. He walked a few, huffing and puffing, but never gave up.
For most of the time I was riding I was in my usual meditative trance. When I rode past a turn early in the ride, Jody had to yell at me to get me back on course. Be one with the cue sheet.
I zoned out for the last few uphill miles. I have no idea how fast I was going. The scenery, the hills, the wind. As Robbie Robertson once said, “The wind just sort of took me there.”
At the end of the ride, I watched as the after party closed up shop. I waited and watched old guy finish. Then Jody. Then some others. Where were Paul and Amy. Worry began to set in. They finally arrived having been escorted by the police. Amy was la lanterne rouge. But she finished.
I rode to my car. I was the last car in the vast horse show grounds.
I drove off. Into the wind.
Here are some pix on my Flickr page.