tradition... holiday traditions... my traditions

there are no photos to go with the words
although I had the camera
my time on the bike was far too wet for me to contend with both riding and documenting the moment

so... you get text
all you get is text
text and no images

Thanksgiving Traditions.


Fiddler on the Roof... Tradition
no... that is not me dressed for the Tweed Ride
that is Tevye... our beloved protagonist in the film adaptation of the classic musical The Fiddler on the Roof
and yes... Tevye is ripping off some of my classic dance moves

here it is Thanksgiving... over the years my family has developed our own set of Thanksgiving holiday traditions
where we go... who we gather with... what we all do once we are together
these are our traditions

rinse and repeat... rinse and repeat
it is the repetition that makes it a tradition

on Thanksgiving people create their own traditions...
traditions are often more than just the gathering around the table for turkey dinner... although turkey dinner and all the fixings is a pretty great tradition...
there are more opportunities during the Thanksgiving holiday than just the meal itself

we all have our Thanksgiving Traditions... for some... working on Thanksgiving is part of their tradition
then some people look forward to snagging some deals with some Black Friday shopping or catching the latest new release at the movie theater
while for others there are morning runs... afternoon golf sessions... family football games... and for the two wheel set... Thanksgiving Bicycle Rides

ah... The Thanksgiving Bicycle Ride!
a great excuses to get out of the house...
a get away from the stress of being with family...
and of course...
a chance to burn some calories

over the past few years I have tried to develop my own Thanksgiving Bike Ride Tradition
this year was no different

so... when packing the car to leave to visit the in-laws I made sure that the boys had their Nintento DC games, I loaded Season One of Avatar the Last Airbender onto Lisa's iPhone and that I had my bicycle... along with my bicycle I packed what I believed to be the requisite riding gear

we made the drive from DC to Pittsburgh the day before Thanksgiving
this is all part of our holiday tradition
a staggered approach and a early departure to try to evade holiday traffic at its most thick

I had glanced at Weather Dot Com and plugged in my inlaws Zip Code to get an idea of what gear to bring...
the right gear can make or break a ride
the forecast... rainy and cold!
so... I packed for rainy and cold...
well... I almost packed for rainy and cold

having not done much riding in the rain or the cold this season... my packing was a little disjointed
I filled a bag with some random stuff and hoped for the best
thinking I had everything I needed... later realizing I spaced on some valuable essentials that could have been used and would have been appreciated

we made the drive arriving at the in-laws to a misty moist reality... not rainy... not cold...
but definitely misty and moist
okay... a bit cold... but not frigidly cold
not cold enough to snow cold

we gathered with family informally... took a family photo for grandma and grandpa at the local mall
after the photo fiasco we disbanded... then re-grouped for pizza
pizza with the same people at the same place as the year before
which was the same place as we had pizza as a group the year prior to that
tradition or habit?

then later that evening... there came rain
and then Thanksgiving morning... more rain... steady rain
steady rain... steady cold rain... not cold enough for snow... but almost

as I sipped my morning coffee I looked at the rain and the cold
the Thanksgiving Day ride seemed illogical
I stepped out onto the in-laws' back porch and looked at things
it was hard to get motivated

in the RIDE OR DON'T RIDE argument in my head
DON'T RIDE was winning out

then as I looked at my day I gave it one last thought
so... I get a little wet
what is the worse that can happen?

I have the bike... I should ride my bike
sure... what is the worst that can happen?

I get wet and cold then have to take a hot shower to regain my core temperature
really! I can handle that!
okay... that is not the worst that can happen... the worst could involve a crash and an injury... or worse yet... a collision with a car and an injury
non of these things were enough to keep me off the bike
the risk of car to bike conflict is always there... that should be a reason to be cautious... not a reason not to ride

so... after realizing that my wife Lisa had created afternoon plans for a movie matinee I realized that I best get on the bike
my ride had to fit into the family schedule

so... to the guest room
I stepped out of civilian gear and got into bicycle gear
then I realized... oh man... I knew I forgot a few things

I did not bring Gortex socks... I did not bring neoprene shoe covers...
one or the other would have been great... BUT NEITHER!??!!
I seemed to have everything else I would need... the shell pants and the shell jacket would be the cornerstone of my apparel
but gloves? I just had basic full finger gloves... nothing water repellent... and nothing for borderline freezing temperature... I had the Lobster Claws in hand when gathering my gear... but did not pack them
and head coverage... another shortage... just a cycling cap to go under the helmet... nothing more
yes... the balaclava was in hand as well when I was packing in DC... that too got tossed back into the bin rather than into the travel bag


the three most vulnerable parts of the body when it comes to cold... hands... feet... and head...
each would be covered...
but not covered to really protect me from the wet cold rain

the rest would be a guessing game... how much to wear? how much would be too little... how much would be too much?

I wore my wool Dirt Rag Jersey over a long sleeve jersey with the gortex shell over top
then I packed my pockets with a bottle of water... a can of coca cola... and my wallet in a zip lock bag
no cell phone... and no tools...
I double crossed my fingers to prevent a flat or a mechanical

somehow I had made the rookie mistake of forgetting my commuter pack
a pack with tubes, patch kit, and assorted bicycle specific tools
including a pack pump
I would be riding my bike with the air pressure as it was set for the Rockburn Cyclocross Race
more than likely the PSI has slipped from the 38 in the front and 40 in the back as it was set the night before the race

oh well...

realizing that my window of opportunity was closing in on me I jumped into my riding gear and onto the bike
the rain was falling as I rolled out of the garage and onto the driveway
as I pedaled down the road I looked for the turkey family I had seen in the holler behind the in-law's house the day prior

I have come to expect the turkey family to move to the higher ground when it is wet outside
so I scanned the suburban yards for the wild birds as I started my ride
sure enough... the turkey family was marching about someone's front lawn
had I had my camera... I would have taken a Thanksgiving Day photograph
alas no.... no camera... too wet for a camera

no time for photo ops
just time to ride

so I rode up and down the very hilly roads of suburban Pittsburgh until I found access to the Montour Trail

ah... sanctuary
sanctuary from the Pittsburgh Hills!
sanctuary from the Pittsburgh Drivers... but really...
the ratio of fast close passes and dangerous cell phone driving did not seem any different than the DC area
most cars passed unsafely fast... only a few passed obnoxiously close... a good majority of the drivers had their arms at a right angle with a cell phone pressed to their ear

ah... just like home
only not being on my home court I refrained from giving the obnoxiously fast close passes the one finger salute
only a choice few got the bird

so... safe on this Rails To Trails path away from the cars I started to spin the cranks
it was raining pretty steady... I was already feeling wet and cold
even with the cold rain there was still a good number of walkers, runners, and dog walkers doing their daily thing
as well as clusters of families doing what I would guess to be part of their Thanksgiving Tradition

once I was soaked through and through the rain stopped
by this time my feet were numb and I was regretting not having better coverage for my feet, hands, and head
on top of that... I was thinking that my long cycling tights were just tights... no pad... no chamois
sure I had brought some padded shorts
but in my haste to get my ride of an undetermined distance and an undetermined duration I got dressed without noticing this subtlety
a tad less than comfortable

I had a random objective... a slight modification of last year's ride
I was unclear of the distance or duration
all I knew was I had the desire to push the pedals past a series of old train trestles and an old tunnel before turning back
not wearing a watch I was not sure of the time on the bike
not having a computer on the bike I was not sure how far I had ridden
it was an arbitrary turn around point... in short... I wanted to see some of what there was to see
a few things a little more special than just the path beneath my tires

the miles went past...
not a full day epic
nothing near a century... maybe 25-30 miles when all counted
I pedaled along side a large creek and then a small river
there were all sorts of water falls on the hillside that flanked the old railroad grade
water flowing in the mist... it was quite picturesque

I exchanged nods of respect and hearty Happy Thanksgivings to the other trail users

sooner than expected I reached my destination
pausing at a water fall for a moments reflection and a 12 ounce can of Coca Cola
then pointed things back

off the bike I could feel the numbness in my feet
it was tough to put the cold gloves back on my hands after I finished my can of soda

as I exited the more rural areas into the more developed areas I thought to myself...
this is not even that remote and it is pretty amazing
these old hills with all of their mining history
then I thought... maybe THE DEER HUNTER did shoot on Pennsylvania locations
but no... some web detective work shows otherwise

to get home I simply reversed the path out
it seemed like the trail was uphill on the way back
which was interesting... it did not seem like it was downhill on the way back
maybe I was just getting fatigued

on my return I passed a number of the same runners and dog walkers
even the groups of people playing football were still on the field playing ball
they too had braved the rain for their Thankgiving Day Tradition

the limestone path turned to asphalt and then I was off the rails to trails path and back onto the road
knowing that I was on a time constraint I tried to maintain pace
even though the rain had stopped it was still wet
going fast downhill was a mixture of pleasure and pain

off the multi-use bike path and back onto the streets
once again gritting my teeth and crossing my fingers as each car made its pass
then having to climb a series of hills to get back to my final destination
returning to the inlaw's neighborhood I again looked for the turkeys

refreshed from my ride I entered the house only to find that my family was dressed and ready for the movies
but before putting on some dry clothes I needed a shower... a shower and a sandwich

after getting my core temperature back to normal I was in the car and off to the movies
Lisa and Grant saw Mega Mind
Dean and I saw the latest Harry Potter Film
on the drive to the theater I tried to share some highlights from my ride with my less than interested family

after the movies we gathered with an the same cast of characters that we have gathered with on this day each and every year since I have been married
we ate turkey and all the trimmings while football played in the background
then after a few slices of a few different types of pie our Thanksgiving Holiday Tradition was complete

I was pleased that I had not let the rain and the cold inhibit my desire to fulfill my holiday tradition of riding my bicycle

the holiday traditions continued in other directions
the day after Thanksgiving we went to The Pittsburgh Children's Museum