What did I put in the bag? My cycling gear, my camera, a crochet project for a magazine, my design notebook, my purse, and - as an afterthought - my one prescription medicine and a spare pair of undies. (I'm not sure what this says about my priorities, but I remember thinking that I've trained too hard to miss my big ride, and though I could borrow a bike if mine were lost, I'd hate to have to replace my shorts, jersey, gloves, helmet, etc. And the crochet project is due to the magazine in a little over a week. And if I want to keep selling patterns I need to hang on to my design notebook, as it contains all my ideas. Cycling and crochet - what can I say?)
Luckily there was no tornado, just hours of stunning lightning and thunder and rain and high winds. This morning dawned clear, to my relief - we had breakfast plans in Madison and I really wanted to ride there and back.
Tallulah and I set out before 7 to take advantage of the cool morning air. Temps are in the mid-70s, humidity is 90-100%, and a strong south wind is blowing. This means a headwind all the way, but I don't really mind as the wind keeps me from melting.
Tallulah is riding in her new custom turtle basket (though it takes a few attempts to get her loaded):
"Dang it!" she says. "I'll get into this thing if it kills me."
"Would you like a little help?" I ask.
"No thanks," she replies. "I really want to do it myself."
With commendable persistence she tries again, taking it a little more slowly this time:
"Sure you don't want any help?"
"No thanks," comes a muffled voice from the depths of the basket. "I think I've got it."
Some grunting and groaning ensues...
...then: "Ready!" she says (a bit breathlessly).
And we're off.
Red-winged blackbirds serenade us all the way to Madison, while mourning doves sit on the power lines to watch us go by. Chicory is blooming now, and bird's-foot trefoil, but I take very few photos (it's too windy, and the air is rather thick). I see some storm damage: large trees have been split or knocked down, and one house has giant pieces of twisted metal strewn over the lawn - a barn roof has been torn off by last night's high winds. (What a mercy none of them hit the house's windows.)
Barn shot (with bonus blackbird in flight):
The headwind gets stronger as I reach Madison and makes me later than I planned for breakfast. But Mr. M is waiting for me and has snagged a table on the terrace.
We're eating at Sardine, one of our very favourite brunch destinations. Though we only come here about twice a year, the food is always divine, the service always impeccable, and the view always outstanding.
We both order the croque-monsieur, a heavenly ham and Gruyère sandwich dipped in egg batter and grilled until the cheese is melted into submission. Served with spicy mustard, pommes frîtes, and a gem of a salad, it's the perfect pick-me-up after a strenuous bike ride.
Tallulah sniffs at the sandwich and refuses a bite of lettuce ("I don't like balsamic vinaigrette," she says).
While Mr. M and I shovel in the fries, she amuses herself by scaling the water carafe (made from a recycled wine bottle). "Cli-i-imb evvv-ry moun-tainnnnn," she sings loudly.
Heads begin to turn, and I quickly take her down and put her in my upturned helmet. "Shush!" I tell her. "I'm just trying to find my dream," she says.
When the meal is done and our leftover bits of sandwich safely packaged, she emerges to inspect the take-home box.
"Why did Monsieur croak?" she asks. "Was he a frog?" (Not knowing if this is a joke or a serious question, I pretend I didn't hear it.)
We pay our bill, thank the server, and head over to Machinery Row, the handily-situated bike shop next door.
I'm in need of new handlebar tape, and this brand immediately catches my eye:
(I wonder if Snowcatcher's husband The Lizard uses it?)
Mr. M's eye has been caught by a bike with wooden wheels...
...while I wander around and look at the old cycling posters on the wall:
Machinery Row Bicycles, and Sardine, where we ate brunch, are located in a set of historic buildings that once housed implement dealers. The original woodwork and floors have been lovingly restored and add great character to both businesses.
Statutory bike shop shot:
If it was too windy to take photos on the way down, now it's just too hot. Though I have a lovely tailwind that makes the ride seem almost effortless, I want to get home and out of the heat as quickly as possible - so I just keep riding, admiring wildflowers along the way, but stopping for none. About halfway home, a few welcome clouds roll in, providing a bit of cooling shade.
A good ride with a strong finish, thanks to a great meal and a tailwind. Also my longest ride ever (until next weekend).
Miles today: 66.7
Miles this year: 932
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P.S. If you thought a tornado might be coming, and you had to pack a bag of things to save, what would you put in it?
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