March 18, 2021
When we (Laurel and I) first started hopping atop the carbon donkeys, not so long ago, we had the great privilege of riding with the usual Evening Unwind coordinator, an EVCC member whose name I won’t mention because I didn’t get permission. The rides he led were amazing. He was an ex-randonneur (those who ride unsupported long distances) and his riding was some of the most even and consistent I’ve ever seen. He never seemed to be exerting himself, even on the hills. It was always the same steady relaxed style. I once rode up beside him once and said, “You never carry a water bottle.” Now you have to remember I was new to the sport. I needed about a hundred or so bananas and a gallon of water for a 10k ride.
He’s the one who gave me a conceptual understanding of the Unwind — it was a ride founded in camaraderie and ridden at beautiful unwavering pace. Every time I head out on a Thursday night Evening Unwind, whether I’m leading or not, and I think back to his rides and the many little lessons that he taught me with his easy style and his consistency. He taught Gray Way counterclockwise too, a little bit of icing on the cake once the later and warmer evenings are here.
The thing about Evening Unwind rides is that they’re like the first time I held hands with someone I had a crush on in second grade. I went over to the side of the playground, and my minuscule heart leapt, and I reached out my little hand and then….and then the teacher told me to keep my grubby little paws away from hers. Whoops, sorry, that’s a different story. The Evening Unwind is the place where you ride into the sunset as it rises up from the silhouetted mountains and think you’re in a Sergio Leone movie and then you return in the cool dusk, pointing out the deer and the occasional moose. Nothing can beat that on a Thursday night.
Evening Unwind, by the end of last summer, had devolved into an out and back hammer-fest and some people had decided it was no longer for them. That didn’t fit my conception of the ride and so tonight I suggested we reign it back in and try to return to what I felt were the ride’s roots as constructed by that first leader. Hey hey to the gang who showed, we were mostly regulars and surprisingly they were game for steady-state. Great. In we clipped and out we rode.
If you’ve never ridden the Unwind, it’s a local bucket list ride. We edge two ponds, undergo a short roller coaster dip and then turn on 262, which we follow to the intersection of 1A and GlenEagles. A headwind from the West is common; I’ve been in therapy for years over this and my therapist says my dislike of headwinds is all related to my grandfather who didn’t write a will because, he said, “I want you to be really sad when I go.”
We took a breather at the dizzying summit of GlenEagles. We’d done quite well considering that some people probably still were feeling a bit fuzzy after yesterday’s heavy bout of “research” as one of my Irish friends calls it. For some people it was their first longer ride of the season and they turned back at that point. Others rocketed down GlenEagles to that idyllic home of the gods, called The Parking Lot. Here one of us sipped water and a granola bar and then we muttered and chugged our way back up the 128 meters.
It’s early season and there is gravel on the turns, so one must be conscientious. I recommend a wide arc with low speed. Nobody wants road rash ever let alone this early in the season. The ride back on 262 was fast and without a lot of effort, and according to one member, riding outdoors is like being free and flying on the air, something like that. No animals were observed but there was an elliptical someone had chucked into the ditch. Let’s see, January, February, half March, now we know the timeline on a New Year’s resolution. Maybe they discovered it didn’t have a little holder for the nachos and dip.
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