not a tradition... just a window of opportunity

there is a Christmas routine...
much of my Christmas holiday routine is molded by my Thanksgiving routine
over the years we have repeated our routines such that they have become our tradition
that tradition involves many things... but not necessarily a bicycle

the basic design of our holiday tradition involves visiting the in-laws in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving
and then hanging local in DC for the Christmas Holiday.... with my wife flying off with the boys to Florida for New Years
within our Christmas plans involves Christmas Eve at my house and Christmas proper at my dad's
having me cooling Christmas Eve and my dad cooking on Christmas day

Christmas Eve is a day that can offer a mixture of routines
normally when Christmas Eve falls on a week day I have to work
this year...
I was given the day off, which makes things easier

a few days before Christmas I rode the Frankenbakfiet to The Eastern Market as part of my Christmas Holiday routine
classically I cook up Paella for Christmas Eve dinner... it is well received
the Eastern Market sells just about everything I could possibly need to make Paella

I enjoy my routine of shopping at Eastern Market around Christmas time

the ride across town was full of Christmas cheer
I traded my bicycle helmet for a Santa cap and was enjoying its response
the pleasant honks of the horn and the friendly waves were one thing
but the look on small children's faces really amused me
my red Santa hat and my white beard brought wide eye stares fro all sorts of small children

in Mount Pleasant I heard an utterance from a few children that sounded like Papa Noel
I enjoyed assisting the myth and adding to the excitement of the holiday

I hammered through traffic cringing at the quality of the DC roads
the disrepair of the roads gave me anxiety as my home made bike with its welds made by a friend who is a handy artist but not a welder by trade bounced and slammed on the uneven pavement
the rear wheel with its broken spokes had me riding with my fingers crossed

well... the bike got me there
I was able to get sausages from one vender and seafood from another
although there was a line at one chicken salesman so I went to the chicken kiosk without a line
which was conveniently next to a booth that sold vegetables and other things I would need for our Christmas Eve Paella feast

ah... quick and easy...
one stop shopping!

my bags were filling up with chicken drum sticks... mussels... clams... two types of spicy sausage... two types of rice... and all sorts of other items to be tossed int other mix I took a break for lunch
a fish and oyster platter from The Market Lunch was a fantastic holiday treat
a fantastic fried feast to be enjoyed as I did some people watching

with my bag and belly full I left out and got back on the bike
the temperature was chilly
my toes were cold with only one pair of socks and some holes worn in my cycling shoes
so... I pedaled straight for home

camera around my neck... many photo opportunities... but no slowing for pictures

when Christmas Eve arrived nothing firm was scheduled until guests were set to arrive in the late afternoon to head off to church
while I would stay back and cook up dinner for a party of 13

the day started slowly...
my boys woke early after a sleep over with their NYC cousins
to my frustration they broke the NO ELECTRONICS-NO SCREEN UNTIL 7AM rule
worse than breaking that rule
they did not close the door as they watched tv... just down the hall I could hear the television and their laughter... which had me waking up earlier than I had wished to get up

there had been talk of a hike with the dog and momma Lisa
but that was not developing
the departure time of the cousins was rapidly approaching and I could not accept that their interaction would be so electronic based
so I stepped in and rushed things forward


the boys were quick to get ready
we were had a small window of opportunity
the boys were scheduled to be picked up by 10am
which allowed us enough time for a quick hike and then breakfast

on our feet and into the woods and I had the boys moving at a good pace
we did not have much time to stop and smell the roses
to complete the march to the Melvin Hazen and back in time to have breakfast before it got cold
all before it was time to be picked up I had to keep the kids moving

if given the chance to move at their pace... the children would not move at all
so... I lead the forced march with the clap of the hands... a whistle with my fingers.... and an occasional shout
offering a second here and there to "sniff" the roses
no time to stop and smell them... but enough time to slow and sniff on the pass

I explained to the kids our shortage of time
the notion that the cousins were being picked up at 10
and that momma Lisa was home cooking up breakfast and that we did not want that food to get cold
the boys understood... but I am sure they did not enjoy moving at my pace instead of theirs

we hiked along the creek
the boys threw the stick for the dog 
and then we hiked the short loop that borders the land where Klingle Mansion is hidden along side our secret sledding hill
the boys paired off.... older boy with older boy.... younger boy with younger boy
once home the boys raced to the table to indulged themselves in bacon, sausage, and pancakes
all accompanied by orange juice and milk
ah... the food tasted so good after our vigorous hike

our timing was perfect...
the boys were finished eating and cleaning up when my sister and her husband arrived to pick up their boys
on their arrival my brother inlaw offered up to take our boys with them to The Ford's Theater
I was willing inf the boys were interested
they were... which freed things up a bit

before the boys had their seatbelts bucked in the backseat of the car I was plotting a road ride in Rock Creek Park
a few emails... a few text messages... and a message to the DCMTB group offering up the message that I would be heading north on Beach Drive at 11am from Pearce Mill

there were multiple refusals
people were at work... people had family obligations... people were out of town
I was off to ride solo
which was fine... I am used to riding alone... always the fastest in my group, but also the slowest

a short exchange with my wife had me thinking that the temp was roughly 40 degrees
I dressed accordingly
early into my ride I felt I may have left out under dressed
the hands and the feet are often the most sensitive body parts when riding in the cold
I was unable to find my mountain bike shoe covers

hands were fine... toes were not

an hour into my ride and the toes were numb
I had ridden out past the Mormon Temple on out to Garret Park Road
on the way back I started to feel that I could not feel my toes
there had been the intention to extend my ride with some looping some of the side roads
but the numbness in the toes had me heading straight for home

just a few miles from home and I saw a familiar form
first the DCMTB kit caught my eyes... then I recognized the rider... it was Ron Edwards
the call out to the team worked...
Rod Edwards had a small window of opportunity and suited up and rode out to join me for some time on the bike

Ron is faster and more fit than myself.. which had me working hard to maintain at his casual pace
we chatted as we rode some of the hills of Rock Creek Park
it was short... but it was a good extension to my ride
taking my short out and back and making it a little closer to a "real ride'

during our short pedal together it was it started to snow
a magical wintry mix

good to catch up with Ron
nice to share the day... the ride
getting some "weather" made our short ride that much more interesting

we looped a few hills then split off to head to our respective homes
each of us needing to get into our holiday routine

once home I was relieved by the tame tone to the house
the boys were back from the museum and seem well rested
it was good to get on the bike
a long bike ride is good for the body and soul
works well to tame the emotions which is important at events like this

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