I awoke to the buzzing of my alarm and momentarily forgot what day it was. For a minute I thought I had to get up to go to work. But then I quickly realized that it was a holiday. Yet I was still getting up to an alarm, in the dark. I should still be sleeping, I thought, as I threw the covers off and searched for my slippers. Two seconds later I hear buzzing from the other side of the bed. That was G's alarm. Alarm number two. Time to head downstairs and make breakfast. All I really wanted to do was crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep.
I took out two of the pancakes I had made the day before. Pumpkin spice of course - it was Thanksgiving weekend after all. I put them on a plate and warmed them up in the microwave. Added a healthy slather of maple syrup and washed them down with a glass of water. Time to get myself organized. Better check the forecast first, I thought. Accuweather.com here I come.
Forecast checked, I now stood in front of my closet staring off into space. I should still be sleeping, I thought as I shoved a pair of gloves into my bag. What else do I need? Armwarmers, jacket, helmet, shoes. Don't forget your booties. Up and down the stairs I go, remembering everything else but what I actually went upstairs for in the first place. I really should still be sleeping. But I continue to move around the house, grabbing things as I see fit.
It was chilly when we walked out the door. The sun was just starting to make its way above the horizon. I questioned my choice of attire but we were already running a bit late so I hopped into the car. The windows were dewy. I turned the seat heater on, lay my head back on the seat and closed my eyes. We headed along Lakeshore and G pulled in to get coffee. Ahhh, this is just what I need. I was starting to feel a bit more human.
We picked up Adam, our little protege, and hit the road. It was a quiet ride up. The sun had risen above the horizon and was casting its warm orange glow along the farmers fields. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day.
We arrived at the parking lot about 20 minutes early. I wanted to stay in the car and keep warm but G and Adam were ready to get going. Kiki and her friend Katherine showed up shortly thereafter and the bike assembly party was underway. Heather and Jordan showed up a few minutes later and within a few minutes our contingent was assembled and ready to go.
Those first 20 minutes on the bike were cold. Really. Freaking. Cold. I knew I wouldn't be cold for long. We were heading towards 6th Line hill. We flew along single file, wheels hugging wheels. We made the turn, a wide swinging arc of bikes, and headed towards the base of the hill. The climb splintered our group. My legs weren't feeling that good but I soldiered on. Breathing hard and gulping in the crisp fall air. Loving and hating it all at the same time. I got to the top, no longer cold. One by one we crested the climb and caught our collective breaths. Conversation began to flow. The sun was out in full force. The sky was a bright blue, the breeze no longer cold.
We wound our way around the countryside. Up and down hills, across train tracks and back again. Past the big houses, saying hello to people we passed. Seven friends, on 14 wheels, enjoying each others company in the great outdoors. Time flies when you're having fun. We made our way back to the parking lot, our appetites fully recovered from the previous days over indulgence. Bikes packed up, we made our way to a local restaurant for a post ride meal.
I found a table for 6, grabbed a chair for the head of the table and we all sat ourselves down. The chatter started and only stopped when our food was served. It's amazing how the arrival of food can temporarily halt a conversation. We ate in silence, all of us hungry from our ride. One by one we emptied our plates and the conversation started up again. The sun was streaming through the window by my seat, bathing me in warmth. I smiled, listening to Kiki tell one of her crazy stories. I didn't need sleep. This was what I needed. This is what I was really thankful for. The little things like sunshine, blue skies, newly paved roads, slow moving trains, strong legs, two wheels, good friends and a post ride butter tart.
What are you thankful for?