Days of future past

30 09 2018

Three years ago this week, my 30-year run as a journalist appeared at an end. My paper was being closed.

But the reward of such long tenure — 24 years at the same company — meant a severance arrangement that would tide us over for several months.

The next job could wait; it was time to enjoy my newly-earned liberation.

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The fall really is a most wonderful time to ride.

The fall of 2015 was one of the best in recent memory, resplendent with sunny days and dry roads. Along with my fellow unemployed newsroom colleague, Lone Granger, we embarked upon day-long pedals with languid lunch stops at café patios. We were the guys you cursed as you peered out the office window from your cubicle.

That October I spent 25 hours on the bike, 560 kms. In November, I rode 443 kms in 20 hours. December was a dud, but the pace resumed in January through to May, when I became employed again.

It’s easy to look back fondly on that respite from the work-a-day world, especially when there was money in the bank account. But the stress of an uncertain future always percolated just below the surface. It was the worst of times, but also the best of times.

Last week I got to recapture some of that feeling.

Little Ring’s daycare where he goes to before and after-school care had scheduled a holiday break. We’d known about it for months, and took a run at juggling various options to cover the gaps around his school day and my departure for, and return from, work. But I still had a week of holiday coming so I thought, why not use it to eliminate that particular stress. And if the weather holds, I can ride.

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Let my falliday begin!

It did. And I did.

While errands demanded my attention for two of the five weekdays, for the other three I rode in glorious fall sunshine. It truly is the best time of year to put kilometres into the legs. The air is fresh, the light soft.

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Sunshine, clear air and views.

By happenstance, another regular riding companion, Flying Oakes, had also booked some vacation time; so, for a couple of rides at least, I had a companion.

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The long and very straight road.

We’d hit the pavement in the brisk morning air, arm warmers extended all the way up, a wind vest as the outermost of two or three layers. By noon, the sleeves would be rolled down to the wrists, the vest packed away in a jersey pocket.

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The reward is that much sweeter when there’s no line at the patisserie.

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Construction! Curses!

We stopped for snacks, and for construction. We exhilarated in our freedom, speculated this is what retirement will be like. Until, well into our longest ride of the week, an actual retiree joined us and complained he never has anyone to ride with. He seemed a little desperate for the company.

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If riding on a workday is a glimpse into retirement, I wonder what this guy’s retirement is going to look like?

It’s easy to be overtaken by life. Getting on the bike is a way to get ahead of it again, even if only for a day.

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