I went out for a road ride last week. The sky was clear and the wind was out of the south at about 21mph. I did not have the psychological energy to ride south and take Cass County 16 to Clay County 8 to Clay County 11 then to Sabin and back north. There is something about Clay County Highway 8 that is a psychological drain. It is a section of road that just does not seem to end.
Instead I opted to go against the grain and ride north and save the hard work for the return trip. I headed through North Fargo to 8th Avenue North and took Dakota Drive to the Airport and headed up Highway 81 to Harwood. The wind was right on the South marker and my legs were set at a cruising speed of 21mph. I kept my effort well below a hard workout since the hard work was still to come.
My journey east on Cass 22 was holding nicely at about 18mph. It seemed to me that the wind was either dying down or was not coming out of the south as strongly as I thought it was. The cross wind on a 20mph south wind would have scrubbed more speed off of me than my computer was showing. I was able to hold 18mph nicely.
Somewhere on the Minnesota side (Clay County Highway 26) just west of Oakport Street North I had the pleasure of spotting a Great Blue Heron. It rose out of a roadside ditch and headed east ahead of me. I naively thought I would catch up to it but as I learned with the jackrabbit on Dakota Drive in the early summer that wildlife is far better equipped to escape situations than I realize. The Blue Heron gained altitude quickly adjusted its flight path for a southern route away from the road and was soon out of sight. Amazing how such a large bird can move so quickly.
As I headed south on Oakport Street North I could feel the presence of autumn. The sun’s height on the horizon and the coolness in the air all contributed to the understanding that one more summer of my life was gone. I felt a tug from autumns past; sadness that goes back to childhood and pain that I have never been able to reconcile; losses that have stayed with me and have made me who I am today in many ways for better or worse.
As I approached Probstfield Farm I decided to stop. I needed to take in this moment. I needed to feel the setting sun on my face and arms. I needed to see the haze over the tilled field to the south and just allow myself to stop while on an exercise based ride. It was good. It was right. It was grounding.
I mounted back up and moved south on Oakport Street North noticing the burning brilliant oranges and yellows in the community garden to my left and wanting to hold the memory for more than a moment; wanting to hold those colors in my mind for future days because autumn is special to me. I love the oranges and yellows. I love the pumpkins and the frost. I love the cool air and cider. I love the impending Halloween. I love the apple pie.
Upon my return to downtown Fargo, I ascended the stairs of my apartment building and was greeted by a neighbor of mine who asked me if I noticed anything different about her. In my post ride stupor I managed to say “you look wider” in the form of a question though I’m sure I meant thinner. She proceeded to launch into her experience of gastric bypass surgery while standing in a long t-shirt with no visible shorts on. In my mind I was saying “God, please make this moment stop so I can just walk away from this.” This was not to be the case; I suspect God has a real sense of humor and decided to see how badly I would fumble through this mind bending experience. As my neighbor shared her gastric bypass experience then went into the tumor on her ovary (which was information I really was not ready for) I really desired to just disappear into thin air. Never mind that I hardly know her but now I’m getting details about her ovary! Real funny God! The end of the shared experience was punctuated with the factoid that an ovary is the size of an almond not a golf ball as she had thought. I can’t remember how I responded to that factoid. Things were starting to fade into a blur of sound and light at that point. My neighbor signed off and I headed into my apartment to sort out what I had just experienced not sure that I wanted to sort out any of it.
Overall the ride went well, Blue Herons and all.
Distance 21.89 miles, Time: 1.12.24, Avg. speed 18mph.