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Another year, another ride
Today’s my birthday.
I know, I know. You MEANT to pick me up a little something, drop that card in the mail. I know. It’s OK. It sneaked up on me, too.
Don’t sweat it. You still can send cash gifts to me here at the paper. And I accept PayPal.
No, I don’t bring that up to call attention to my Big Day. It is, after all, a milestone birthday, though I’m not at liberty to say which, but it’s one where friends — if they can be called that — have been known to take out ads in the paper of the poor sap about to turn (fill in blank) with a picture of the schlub as a baby with pithy sayings like “Lordy, lordy, look who’s turning (fill in blank).”
But I digress.
I bring up my birthday because, barring a miracle middle-of-the-night epiphany — not to be confused with a middle-of-the-night trip to the loo; I’m not getting any younger, you know — I’ll wake up and have no idea where to go for my birthday ride. Which is entirely different from waking up and having no idea where I am.
Wait. Where was I?
Oh, yeah. The birthday ride.
Several years ago, I heard a cyclist talk about how he liked to go on a special ride every year for his birthday. Some of his birthday rides were unusually long or hard; some were short and easy but meaningful.
When I started riding semi-seriously, I thought it a good idea and have kept the tradition for years.
In the early going, I remember riding the SLT bike-and-hike from north to south and back again for the first time. To my car, which I had driven from my house. Not much of a ride — about 20 miles — but it was memorable for coming around a bend to find a bunch of kids who had just lit a huge string of firecrackers. I couldn’t stop, so I rode right through. I don’t know who laughed harder, the kids or me.
At one point, I thought I’d try to ride my age every year on my birthday. Back when I was in my (earlier decade)’s, it seemed quite an accomplishment. Now, however, it seems kinda pedestrian to ride my age. I plan to be able to do that for many years to come. The day that I can’t ride my age in miles is the day I’ve lost my bike legs — or I’ve gotten really, really old. Or both. That’s also when I’ll make the leap to metric and ride my age in kilometers instead. Or maybe minutes.
One year I rode to Shawnee Mission Park and back on my birthday. The high point was riding through De Soto, which for some asinine reason had, until just last month, a city ordinance that banned bikes on the stretch of road I rode to get to Shawnee Mission Park.
I actually kind of hoped I’d get pulled over and thrown in the slammer.
Me to thug: So, what are you in for?
Thug: Murder. Mayhem. General thuggery. You?
Me (in Lycra bike clothes): Uh, riding my bike on 83rd street. You want a piece of me now?
A couple of years ago, I scoured the map for a birthday-ride destination based on name alone. I settled on Twin Mound, in part because half my maps listed it as Twin Mounds, the other half without the “s.” Turns out the “city” to the southwest of Clinton used to be the site of a fort and has an interesting history. The background, I have to say, was more impressive than the view.
And one year I made my shortest birthday ride yet, about eight miles round-trip from my house to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center to watch my kids take swim lessons. It was my first ride on a fixed-gear bike. I only forgot I couldn’t coast four or five times over those eight miles and got a startling little kick in the backside every time.
Which brings me to this year.
I have no idea where to go.
I’ve ridden around here long enough there aren’t a lot of places left to explore. Globe. Worden. Overbrook. Fall Leaf. Clearview City. Jarbalo. Black Jack. Reno. Check, check and check.
I’ve checked off most of my mileage goals, short of a double-century, but I don’t think I’m up to tackling 200 miles today before heading into work.
So, unless a destination comes to me in the tossing and turning of an old man’s sleep, I fear this milestone birthday ride won’t be nearly as memorable as birthday rides past.
But, heck, at my advanced age, I won’t remember it for long anyway.