I have two friends that have become real special to me over the past few years, one I know because of the other — Jim and Jon.  Jim is a friend I met over ten years ago during a Tuesday and Thursday night club bicycle ride.  We clicked after we discovered that we both share a strong faith in God, something I learned while listening to Jim talk to another friend while riding ahead of me in a pace line during one of those bike rides.  Jim is one of those genuine Christians who knows his flaws and is open about them, not afraid to let anyone know he is a Christ follower despite being aware of those flaws.  I was drawn to him because of how real he is and because he is an excellent bike rider — a great combo for me.

Jon I met through Jim a few years later, after Jim invited me to ride one Saturday morning with group of guys he rides with.  After I decided to get Jim back on a bike after he had a liver transplant (several in our bike group had volunteered to be living donors), Jon and I got to know each other better.  The way I got Jim back on the bike for good was to ask him to show me the local Chicagoland mountain bike trails, something I knew he was familiar with.  That ride was what introduced me to the thrill of mountain biking and also how I was really introduced to one of the most enthusiastic and accepting men that I know — Jon.  Since that day, we three rarely take a mountain bike ride without inviting the other two.  We now have two mountain bike trips we take together each year, plus a New Years day tradition that we just celebrated together for the third straight year today — an off road ride on the trails at Palos forest preserve in Palos Heights, Illinois.

The last two years it has been just us three, but today our group expanded.  When people learn of our love to ride mountain bikes, they want to ride with us.  My friend, Mike, who also went with us to ride the trails in Brown County State Park (Indiana) recently, also joined us.  Another new acquaintance, Jay, a young man who is getting married this June, also rode with us today.

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Here is Mike, Jon, and Jay after our ride this morning.

It was 15 degrees F during our ride this morning.  Last year, Jon and Jim and I rode over snow/ice covered trails during a beautiful snow storm.  The year before we rode on pristine frozen trails, trying to injure ourselves from riding the rocky portions along the canal that borders the forest preserve.

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There were no blue weenies this morning, just in case on certain person who reads my blog now and then is curious.

Santa Mom was good to me, giving me a gift card to Performance Bicycle, which allowed me to purchase these items.20141231_161747

I sorely needed a new helmet.  Let’s just say my old helmet was getting a bit funky and taking on it’s own personality.  I have had to chase it down the last few times I have gone for a ride.  The tire is for riding on indoor trainers, the tire’s material is formulated for the extreme friction created by the resistance unit used on indoor trainers.  I guess that (ugh) means I need to start riding my trainer!

When we finished our ride this morning, we participated in another tradition — coffee at McDonalds.  I think we spent as much time over coffee as we did on the trails.  Our ride started at 8 AM.  I pulled in my driveway at 12:30.  A woman at the McDonalds, a rock and roll themed restaurant, also ‘adopted’ us.  Clad in leopard print shoes, she grabbed me as I walked by and asked us to dance with her (no, get that thought out of your head).  We obliged.  She shared her hash browns with us afterwards (that is not code).

Good day.  Good start.

Happy New Year!

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