Yes, yes, I'm still here, lock up the messenger pigeons, and put away that cattle prod. I've been absorbed in, shall we say, "other stuff." Life stuff. You know -- what we do when not staring at a glowing screen? You do remember that, yes?
I've also been touched by the classic end-of-season malaise, but not as bad this year as previously. I'm still riding, still enjoying, but I have to double-check before I go out: Do I want to do intervals, or do I really want to cruise to the library and check out the latest Batman comics? More often than not, it's quirky rides, like 'splorin' new roads, riding to an event, or just slow-pedaling to the top of the hill by my house and checkin' out the sunset. Love it -- bikes were built for fun and transportation, back before the Victorian jocks got hold of them and decided they were one more way to prove their mustachioed manhood.
I did do a great little ride this past weekend, Northampton Cycling Club's annual BikeFest. Decided I was only in shape for the 43-miler, which turned out (of course) to be 48-miles-plus. Met up with a couple buddies, who promptly disappeared over the horizon about three miles from the start (no worries -- it's part of the unwritten group ride contract). Rode my own ride for about five miles -- as usual, floating in that no-man's land between the fast and the merely fit -- waiting patiently for a group of riders up ahead to realize that they'd let adrenaline get the better of them, and to start drifting back to a more humane pace. I saw them at the top of a hill and worked my way up to them; we finished together, more or less, and some of them were quite friendly and fun to ride with.
It was an ugly day, warm and soupy-humid, but the scenery -- distant, jagged peaks dressed in thick rolls of cotton-candy mist -- was fully up to par.
Back at the start/finish, we gathered for excellent jambalaya (speesy-spicy!) from the Lone Wolf in Amherst, and local hero Roger Salloom's excellent little combo doing rockin' Lonnie Smith and Chuck Berry covers, which added a little sunshine to a drab, wet day. Spirits were high, conversation was good, and I was glad I'd been talked into the day.
Here's to people getting together to do what they love!