Small Bottles & Paranoia

If there is one universal truth concerning my “doing stuff” in the months of November through March it is that the size of my water bottles is reduced. Under the mid-morning August sun I might drain two large-sized water bottles during a ride, come November I’m either doing stupid workouts indoors or riding outside in the full-nip cold and, despite still being needed, sucking down large amounts of water is pretty unlikely. Thus I start sipping from a smaller bottle instead of big ass magnums. Whatever, it’s just an observation, moving on…

The week thus far has been so all over the place, I rode on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?), I have no real remembrance of the fact other than some crap is uploaded to Slova™. The rest of my week was spent with piss poor indoor spins and lifting heavy stuff for no reason. Some of that was fun, but if I’m completely honest, it was shit.

Today (Saturday) had a forecast of 100% precipitation. However, while sipping coffee and watching Spurs go pear-shaped against Arsenal, I started to get the itch (not STD related). A check of the radar between sips showed a massive green blob heading our way. I gave it a few more sips, then finally got my ass up out of the chair and in to multi layers of kit. Before I knew it  I was out into the street lights on in the daytime morning, rolling northward sipping from my little water bottle.

With heavy rains overnight I knew the dirt roads would be a mess. This was confirmed soon enough by seeing some roads had water over them. Soon I knew I would have to do the paved edition of my Plèasant – Bêal – Plèasant route if I wanted to avoid deep mud and be fast enough to outride the coming green blob of rain and eventual snow.

Dark gray morning on the road.

I hadn’t done a full loop on paved roads since the early spring, choosing to avoid motorists at all costs, and it took a while to get in the zone for 23 miles of pavement and death hungry cars.

Baseline Road cow.

I was proud of myself, for the most part, I only flipped out on one car who of course chose to pass me as the exact time there was an oncoming car. A narrow road plus two cars and a fat man on a bike all jockeying for the same space had my temper running high and I let out an audible and loud “FOR FUCK’S SAKE! CAN’T YOU WAIT TWO FUCKING SECONDS???” Followed by the universal arm raised and outstretched sign for WTF. It was met with similar gestures from the man driving the passing ’99 Olds’ Alero that was held together with rust and bungee cords. Freaking knob.

Wet roads and corn litter.

Once my heart rate was down and I found some semblance of inner peace, I pedaled on, hoping to avoid the coming rain, but still taking the time for a photo or two.

Just as I was approaching the turn onto Baseline Road and the remaining 9.5 miles, it started to rain. Nothing too heavy, but I figured I’d better get the camera bits tucked away. The X-T1 and 18-135 lens are weather resistant, but I don’t like to risk it.

Confrontational crap photo.

As I pedaled along Baseline I decided to pull over for one more pic of some sort of farm plow/poop pusher tractor thing. Just as I hit the shutter button I noticed that a farmer was standing just behind me off to the right. Shit. I’ve never had anyone question what I was doing out on the roads with my camera, but I have read the stories of rural paranoia in the newspaper and I was about to have my first encounter:

“Hey, come here. What are you doing?”

“Just taking a photo.”


“I just thought the tractor looked cool sitting there.” (In hindsight, it didn’t at all, not sure why I thought I needed the shot).

“And you are?”

“My name’s Jason, *shake his hand* nice to meet you. I take photos and ride by here all the time. Just taking a pic, no harm meant.”

“Oh… OK”

“All good? See ya, take care.”

“Yeah… see ya.”

I was a little disappointed that we live in a time and place that a person can’t take a photo of a hunk of machinery from the road (which is perfectly legal by the way) without being confronted by someone thinking said person was up to no good. I was proud of myself in that I was friendly and polite with the smileless farmer type person. There was a day I would have been a complete smart ass and wielded a tale about how I’m obviously in the cycling division of a small rural ISIS cell and I was out gathering intelligence for our next terror plot which would involve a big ass farm plow/poop pusher tractor thing. Well, until I was foiled by an aging farmer working undercover for the Michigan Militia. “You got me, old man! Off to “Gitmo” with me!” Then I would ride off brandishing a middle finger towards him screaming things about Aloe Vera Akbar & Jeff or some such thing that would have his misguided paranoia kicked up another 110% and reaching for the gun he was undoubtedly carrying on his person somewhere.

But I didn’t.

As much as I would have liked to, I just rode off into the rain, hoping to get home before it started coming down harder.

Luck was on my side on Saturday. I only had to ride in the rain for about 3 miles, and about 10 minutes after I got home it started POURING, and soon after changed to wet snow.

I’m still not sure if a ride will happen Sunday [it didn’t], but all in all it’s been a pretty crap week of riding with less than 50 outdoor miles in my legs and a few hours of indoor spinning and lifting heavy stuff for no reason. The coming week will probably be just as crap as we’ll be traveling back to the Pittsburgh area for the Thanksgiving holiday. Sigh.


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