Update

African Connection links are now in the sidebar to the right, just below the My Travel section.

Click here to see a La Crosse Tribune article about the mission in Uganda.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Out and About

Sled dogs love to run. It's in their blood, I suppose. As taxing as it must be to pull a large sled miles and miles across frozen tundra in sub-zero temperatures, just letting them see preparations for another ride underway sends them into a noisy frenzy of anticipation. I got to see this first hand during a cruise-tour of Alaska when we rode on the riverboat Discovery outside of Fairbanks. We stopped at Trail Breaker Kennels where Susan Butcher, the late four-time Iditarod champion, lived and trained her dogsled teams. They rolled out a stripped-down four-wheeled ATV used as a training sled when there was no snow and the dogs in the yard went absolutely ballistic. As wild as the Canadian ice hockey team was when they won the Olympic gold just a few minutes ago, they could clearly use lessons in showing excitement from these dogs. It's great to see someone, even dogs, who get such pure pleasure out of doing what they love.

It's not quite like that with me and my biking, but I have to say it was with no little anticipation that I took the Bianchi down from its place on the wall in the garage and got it ready for the first ride of the season. The sun was out and, depending on which bank display you believed, the temperature was either 38 or 42 degrees. It didn't much matter, though, as either of these are easily above the do-not-ride minimum.

I did have to re-learn the process of getting dressed for cold-weather riding. This and a frustrating session with my floor pump delayed my departure for bit. And, truth be told, if there was a video of the experience, I wouldn't let you see it. There isn't. So don't ask. Anyway, I finally got myself and the bike ready and after negotiating the lake at the end of the driveway, I was on my way.

It wasn't one of those big rides, the kind you get after you are in shape and have all of a warm summer day in which to ride. But it was outdoors. And the weather was OK. And the roads were decent. Up to the Ebner Coulee dead end as a warm up then a climb up Bliss Road. The Bianchi was overhauled while I was in Africa and had been waiting for this for more than a month. It was in good form, better than me, but together we made it a good climb. On to the end of County FA then back around to County F to the intersection with Highway 33. On the way back, a brief detour down FA again, this time just to the weather station and back, preceded the descent, one taken carefully in consideration of the sand and wet spots. A 21.5 mile afternoon ride with a bit over 1,500 feet of climbing. It felt good. Really good.

I'll probably not ever put on a display such as the sled dogs in Alaska, but it is exciting to think about getting out and about on a more regular basis.

2 comments:

Spiffer said...

I know that feeling, that little taste of spring and the escape from indoors after the long months of winter. Nicely written.

The video version might be a fun short film project: "Wisconsin Biker Comes out of Hibernation".

Anonymous said...

No slush, but no mush or rush, huh? However, you were out there! Go, biker boy!