I'll be frank - I hate this holiday. It isn't my holiday - I got robbed at birth. I decided long ago not to accept it. Quite honestly I'm delighted that this holiday has become a beacon of all things commercial (which I'm against) and crass. It makes me feel much happier that it's no longer mine. (sorry mom) Being born on December 25th is NO HOLIDAY.
For many years I was happy to seek the solitude of far off places and those unacquainted with a day strangled by religious regulation and manipulated by marketing maestros; the best was hanging out with a handful of rare Tasmanian Forester's Kangaroos. So a few years back I decided to arrest the situation, impose my will on the world, or at least my immediate environment and insure the day was mine (much like I did on that morning in 1956) so December 25th has since become my first century ride of my next year.
This year was extra special having the full compliment of "kids" along for the ride - Lash, The Terrier, Hammer and TT (Lee we miss ya). A peloton of pedaling pals enjoying 31-34 degree fog (see photo above of Lash crossing the start over the Broadway Bridge) and lapping up the rare sun break. I couldn't come up with a better way to finish off the decade.
In years past it's been a partial peloton or just me being off the front on a solo break from my porch. Those are usually the years it's snowing or pouring rain and 37 degrees - neither occasion can I blame anyone for passing on this annual op.
December 25th is a grand day for the Birthday Bouclé - the roads are generally quiet, the bubbas are sleeping off the previous evening's tryptophan over-loading, which means fewer turkeys on the road. The weather can be dicey and yesterday had its hiding icy patches. Some years throw a few flakes around, but only once did the weather conditions shut me down completely which called for desparate measures - a century on the trainer! Yes, while the passing of years should make us wiser, it often surfaces hidden stubborness. In 2008, as snow fell, then a glazing veneer of ice locked it in, I realized even the Gavia Gladiator, heroic Andy Hampstead, would have been in trouble here, it was time to seek an alternate route. I turned to Phil & Paul and took on six pedalling-to-nowhere hours in the Alps and Pyrenees of France. Wisdom, fatigue or maybe just head-banging boredom settled in after four increasingly long hours and they finally called up the broomwagon, I abandoned last year's Birthday Bouclé somewhere in 75-80 stationary miles mark.
This year, no trainer, no snow abandonment, no freezing rain. We negotiated the Vernonia Loop on some familiar roads, a few new wrinkles, a slightly slippery climb up Scaponia Hill, and just a single flat among 10 tires spread over 500 miles - that alone is a holiday considering all the crap on the roads this time of year. It was an awesome birth day out.
Hammer's calling for something "epic" next weekend to kick off the New Year, I say we just kicked it off in brilliant fashion - let's go epic on the whole decade.
Thanks Kids, for a truly wonderful Birthday Bouclé 2009!
PS - Jennie, thanks for the cake, and I'm glad no rescues were required this year :")