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Blue skies, 60 degrees, and time to play.  My kind of day.  The trees here in Chicagoland are turning color quickly now and dropping their leaves.  Days are nice, for the most part, and nights are cool in a leave the windows open pull the covers up sort of way.

Yesterday, my boss told me to celebrate the Cubs big win by taking the afternoon off.  Yesterday’s weather was just like today’s weather, so I finished up my work, cut out at 2:45, loaded my mountain bike up on my car and headed for my favorite trails.  I got there with time to ride at least 90 minutes, spend some time reveling out in the parking lot with the regulars who also are relishing this possibly last blast of shirtsleeve riding weather, especially since the clocks change tonight, and headed home to enjoy a burger with my son.  The trails were a bit greasy last night what with heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday, coupled with fallen leaves, but they were still good to ride.  My fitness has not fallen off yet, so the riding was fast.  With cool weather, I didn’t even feel a twinge of fatigue.

This morning, I headed out for a leisurely breakfast, took an hour or so to write before heading back to the trails.  It was around 54 degrees when I rolled out, but soon enough it was in the 60 degree range.  I was glad to have thought to bring my Under Armor mock tee, a perfect first layer, knocking just enough chill off so that I only needed a tee shirt over it.  Shorts were good enough for this weather.  After the first hour, the morning damp had left the trails and they were absolutely perfect.  As soon as the warm up loop was done, I found myself bombing the trails at full speed.  Two hours later, I pulled up to the back of my car, thrilled and satisfied.

One of the guys that I had passed on the trails approached me while I was opening up my car.  He introduced himself, told me he had been to the trails a few times but was still finding his bearings.  After listening to his description of where he had been on the trails, I told him about a few of the trails he had missed.

“You feel like riding a bit more?”, he asked.

Honestly, I felt like I could ride a few more hours, so I agreed.  I jumped back on my bike, introduced my new and thankful friend to some of the trails he had missed.  He is the same age as I am (old), but it was funny as well as a boost to my ego to see how much effort he had to put out to keep up with me.  Several times, we had to stop for him to catch his breath, and the guy talked my skills up.  Frankly, the day was so good that I was shredding the trails and everything seemed to be coming together.  I was having a freaking huge amount of fun!

Mike gave me his phone number, asked for mine, and wants to ride with me as much as he can.  Looks like I have a new riding friend.

Honestly, I had a lot of thinking to do from something that happened late Wednesday.  The next few months of my life will likely be a tough ride.  The rides yesterday and today, the times alone on the trail, were an elixir, a time to think and even pray while I rode, a calming that really helped me to find some clarity.  The bike has been a gift from God to me in my life, the way He speaks to me the best, and I needed what those rides brought to me.

Another nice day tomorrow — can you say RIDE AGAIN?  I can.  After all, I also got the lawn mowed and the leaves cleaned up.  I’m golden.  🙂