Usually, in the dead of winter, I pass the time by looking ahead to the upcoming riding season. We certainly haven’t had much of a winter here in Chicagoland, but my mind wanders forward just the same. Excellent memories of riding seasons past only serve to increase my yearning for the rides yet to come. And so some trips have already been booked, while others are still being planned. There are some of the usual trips, events, and fundraisers that I attend every year, but I always try to add at least one new thing each season.
To be sure, last year will be hard to top. I put some good miles on Miss Scarlett, my full dresser touring bike, in 2016. One trip alone was 4,800 miles long—running from Chicagoland to Portland, Oregon and back—the stuff of dreams! My son was with me for half of that one. Nothing bad happened; he’s been going to school in Portland and wanted his bike out there with him. A mutual friend of ours, an experienced touring rider named Eddie, made the entire trip with me. My wife and sister also made the entire loop in a chase vehicle of sorts, also known as the family minivan.
There were other great rides as well, some with my son, some with riding groups, some with my dear friend and riding companion, Ann, and a few alone. I don’t recall my total mileage for the season—I may not have even recorded it—but I’m pretty sure it was in excess of 10,000 miles. Nice.
What will this season hold? What lays on the road ahead? I don’t know that I’ll be able to replicate that Portland run, though I am toying with the idea of doing a portion of that when my son rides his bike back to Illinois to work a theatrical production in the Quad Cities this summer. We’ll see. I do have one new thing planned, a trip that many of my biker friends have done several times over. Ann and I are going to join a small group of riding acquaintances on a four-day bike trip around Lake Michigan. I’ve been meaning to make that run for a few years now. Almost did it once, but my financial situation abruptly changed and the trip never happened.
Until now. This year, it’s gonna’ happen. Averaging only 330 miles per day, Ann and I will follow our highly seasoned riding buddy “Johnny B” up through Wisconsin, across some of the more picturesque parts of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, then across the Mighty Mac bridge into the Lower Penninsula, through the Tunnel of Trees, stopping at the most unusual Legs Inn for a bite and some atmosphere, before heading down into northern Indiana and back into Illinois. That’s not nearly as many miles as my epic journey to Oregon and back, but I believe this trip will be epic nonetheless. And you will be able to read all about it, right here.
Just one final thought, about which I shall write more someday. There is this bittersweet moment that occurs, not at the end of each road trip, but on the last night before that trip concludes. It’s that one last night on the road that does it to me, every time. We’re still not back home, doing laundry and paying the bills. We’re still not back at work, earning the money to pay for these trips. Not at all. We’re still out having fun… but we can see the end from where we’re standing. The music is playing and there’s a cold drink in my hand as I look at Miss Scarlett shimmering in the moonlight—or perhaps that’s the glow of the sodium arc lamps in the hotel parking lot. And it feels so good to be free, but I can already hear Monday sharpening its claws in the distance. Therein lies the bittersweet part.
I can’t wait to show you some new places and things this year! Thanks for hanging with me.