The Waiting – September Challenge Peaks – Happy Spring

1-2 September 2021

30 kms (on foot)

What is the scent of spring? Is it freshly mown grass? Is it flowers blooming? Is it the scent of sheets hung on the line instead of coming from a dryer? Or is it, like in the town where I went to uni, the smell of moist cow, horse, geese and dog shit as the ground starts to thaw?

For me, it is none of those. The ground never freezes here, and we mow our lawns more in winter than in summer, so mown grass is not a new scent in spring. The same goes for flowers – they bloom more in winter than summer here, so the scent is not novel in spring-time August. And I hang my sheets out year-round.

No, the scent of spring for me is… sunscreen. There is only about 2.5 months of the year when the UV index is such that sunscreen is not recommended where I live. And so, after that brief pause over winter, the slightly acrid, slightly bitter smell of SPF 50 jolts me into the realization that we are, once again, on our way to the insanely hot temperatures of summer.

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The Waiting – August Ride 2 – Happy Anniversary

17-20 August 2021

104 kms (65 miles)

You’d think I’d remember such a critical occasion. But I do not. I don’t remember the leaving or the arriving. Perhaps those memories are there, I just can’t pick them apart from the 20-some other times I did the exact same thing: say goodbye to my parents as I flew over the ocean far, far away to my home in Australia.

Yes, 20 years ago on the 18th of August, I arrived in Australia to live on a permanent basis. I had a backpack and suitcase with all of my belongings. I have no idea what I prioritized to bring to start my new life. I don’t remember saying goodbye to my parents. I am sure it was heart wrenching. It has been every single time I’ve said goodbye after visiting them over the past 20 years. I do not remember which airports I flew through. But I did land in Sydney, my new home, and Nigel did pick me up at the airport. But I don’t remember it at all.

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The Waiting – August Ride 1 – Get it while you can

10 August 2021

30 kms (18.5 miles)

Some moments in time are fleeting – a brief pause, a stuttering breath, or a whirlwind of events that pass so fast you wonder what just occurred. Sometimes you know the moment will be fleeting and you engage with it fully knowing it will not last. Other fleeting moments hold some pregnant pause of potential but slip on by before giving birth which leaves you to wonder just what might have been.

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The Waiting – June/July – The corner

Squiggly line roads are the best. When you see a squiggly line road on a map, take that one. These roads contour with the land. They curve with the rivers. They follow the ends of ridgeline spurs instead of going over them. They switchback up a pass instead of climbing at a 20 percent grade. They also tend to be very scenic, and part of the adventure is never quite knowing what will unfold around the next bend.

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The Waiting – March Ride 2 – Riverina Rollercoaster

26-27 March 2021

The end is nigh.

The earth has tilted. Back the other way. The equinox has come and gone.

The sunrise is after 7am. We are pulling the last dregs of daylight savings. It finishes soon.

And the fire restrictions also finish at the end of the month. After 31 March, farmers don’t need a permit to light things on fire like crop stubble and debris piles.

So with the end of everything summer coming soon, it’s time for a ride out in the cropping areas before the farmers start burning stuff, and the air becomes way too smoky to breathe.

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The Waiting – March Ride 1 – Re-jigged rail trail ride

5-7 March 2021
171 kms (106 miles)

There’s an urgency in autumn. The earth’s tilt is just right. The weather pattern is stable. The temperature becomes humane again, and there is day after day of sunny skies and light winds. There is a hurried sense that you need to take advantage of every single day because that perfect confluence of factors never lasts long enough.

In my part of Australia, you’ve really got to hit it and make the most of those perfect early autumn days. Those weather and earth axis conditions that are perfect for outdoor activities are also perfect for burning off crop stubble and conducting planned burns in the forest. The consequent smoky days really ruin the gorgeous days of autumn, so you’ve got to get out there and make the most of it before the burns begin.

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The Waiting – Feb Ride 2 – Over to the river and through the woods

26-28 February 2021
120 kms (75 miles)

The thought of a ride is always on my mind.

 If I am at work, and the day outside is nice, I consider the wind and which direction you’d hope to be riding if on tour on such a beautiful day. In my mind on those beautiful days, I can see the road flowing forth up a long valley or the views from any of the numerous forest roads in the region.

If the weather is poor, it will remind me of that day I rode 103 miles across the Montana plains in wind, rain and 42 degrees F. Or a couple times on tour waiting out a snow day in my tent in Iowa or Illinois in early spring.

Or I will get random memories from the thousands of rides I’ve done over the past 10 years that pop in my head at any ol’ time. Cycling memories are always there, and regardless of weather or health, I’m always planning the next ride.

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2021 The Waiting – Introduction

2019 bled into 2020. The drought, the fires, the extreme temperatures. It seeped into the new year like the bushfire smoke seeped into our homes and lungs. There were no fireworks in the new year, since there was enough fire in the landscape already. Celebrations were subdued. And so began the year that was 2020.

2020 has bled into 2021. We’re all still working from home. Virus restrictions are still in place. The virus has seeped into the new year like it seeps into nasal cavities. There were no fireworks in the new year, except in Sydney, since authorities didn’t want people to crowd together to watch. Celebrations were subdued. And so begins the year that is 2021.

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