|The first bike I rode for the BRR|
Always the same question. "Are you going to Perry for the BRR ride?" Usually a woman asks me this. May be they live vicariously through my bicycling. It is well known that I ride every day to work even in winter. I drove once this year on a Monday when it was -10F or something totally devoid of God's love. "Are you doing the BRR ride?" In July it will be "Are you riding on The Ragbrai?"
Even people who ride bicycles ask me this. Francis from Grazianos asked me this tonight when I pulled my dead carcass into the store 2 minutes before they locked the doors. Fortunately, the man behind the meat counter answered the question properly. "He rides BRR every day."
Perry, Iowa's annual bicycle ride to Rippey is probably one of the best bicycle rides in the state. The first Saturday of February many bikers don their winter riding clothes and venture the 24 miles of BRR (Bicycle Ride to Rippey). I do not not recall how many of these Mary and I have done. That requires too much thinking and review of my bike log. Suffice to say it is like one day of Ragbrai held in winter. All our friends are there. I regret not seeing them. I know they had a great time.
I think I did my first one in 1992 or 1993. Took our now stolen Cannondale R400 road bike. The official SAG vehicle handed out beer to riders in Rippey. We took the tandem a few times. I remember riding that bike and passing the long haired dude on a recumbent who took his dog everywhere. We used to ride BRR with our friends from the Des Moines Cycle Club. Later with our college friends, Team Mystery Machine.
Get to Perry early. Find a place to park the vehicle. Packet pick up. Do the ride. Eat at the school. Go to the Bally Hoo and drink until 9 pm when they start charging cover for the band. Go home. That drive back to Des Moines on 141 is a killer.
|If this dude would be on the BRR I would have gone.|
Then we stopped riding it on a regular basis. Kids, weather, boredom. Took a special reason to go to Perry. If an old friend specifically requested our presence we would go. If a BRR virgin needed a veteran to ride with we would go. If the Bar Fly bus took us there we would go. But not this year.
BRR can be heaven or hell. I remember a year that we had to purchase ice to keep our beer cold. I remember a year that it was so windy that we stopped at the first ditch on the way out of town and hung out there until we called it quits. I recall being in the bar til 1 pm before we decided to ride to Rippey. Last year's Perry to Woodward was epic and I truly regret not repeating that. One time I want to see the High Trestle during BRR.
|The last bikes we rode for the BRR. But look beyond them. See that flat nothingness? That is The BRR.|
But when I think of BRR I think of this: the 12 miles between towns is a barren winter wasteland. Frozen tundra of nothingness. Bleak, white and grey. Flat and dull. Lifeless hell. Usually a strong wind no matter if you are headed to Rippey or returning to Perry. And I usually end up in the parking lot of the gas station in Rippey drinking bike beers. If it was not for my friends I'd never do this again.
But why did we not do the BRR this year? Mary and I do it every day, Monday through Friday, 25+ miles every single working day. And it has been a hard winter. Winter riding takes a toll on body and soul. By the time the weekend comes we are sick of biking. We want to sleep in. We want no responsibilities. We want freedom. We want an effortless day. We need to catch up with things we are too physically exhausted to do Monday through Friday because commuting this winter has been a bitch. Jim Davis said it best when we talked during Wildman's Life Celebration at Orlando's. "When you commute to work every day you really do not ride on the weekends very much." How true. My weekends are the biggest opportunity to increase my mileage.
One of these years I'd like to ride with Steve Fuller and his group to Perry. But not in 2014. I plan to be sleeping or drinking coffee in the comfort of my own home. Warm and comfy.
640 reasons. 640 miles I have ridden since January 1st. Mary must be the same or close. She does not track her mileage as vigorously as I do. Not all those miles have been bad. Some have been quite enjoyable. But lately it seems like it's always dark and -3F with a 20 mph Northwest wind. Tonight when I left work it was 20F. I still felt cold and exhausted. I barely made it to the store before they closed. Lately it has been my eyes. They feel swollen from exposure to the cold. It was so much easier last year when the commute was 2 miles each way. But 12.5 in the morning and 15 home is wearing me thin this winter. I need a break from the extreme cold. I may have to start driving.
As the great capitalist philosopher Stephen Covey said is his dialectic on the 7 habits of effective people, one needs to sharpen their saw. Do what need to do to recover. Take a break. Enjoy something. That's what iIdid today instead of riding the BRR.