This is something I wrote for the Growler Magazine. It wasn't published but may show up on their website.
Thanksgiving morning. I roll out of the front yard before 7:30, the sunrise a siren of pink and blue and orange light. I am headed to meet with Bootsy Collins and Colonel Angus to roll out and roll off some calories before the inevitable onslaught of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and overdosing on family time. And it’s nearly 60° today, Thanksgiving Day, in Minnesota. This is not normal. Usually at this time we’re digging deep in our closets for thicker gloves, balaclavas, overshoes and long underwear. Instead, I’m reaching for the lightest wind jacket I own and powering through Uptown en route to Bootsy’s south Minneapolis garage. I arrive first and we drink coffee and talk hockey, waiting for the Colonel, and I think how great the fall has been, riding deep into the season with just the lightest of layers. Then the Colonel arrives, we make some last minute safety adjustments, and ride out of Bootsy’s driveway into the crisp, calm air, the streets noticeably silent on this Thanksgiving morning. On to Lake Harriet, where the Turkey Trot 5K is taking over the road. Hundred’s of runners, all in various states of suffering. We take to the nearly deserted adjacent bike path, rolling in the opposite direction of the tide of runners, and I wonder how many of them will reward themselves with a cold beer at the finish line? Our route takes us onto the Hopkins bike path, and before long we are rolling out of town on an abbreviated loop around West Bush Lake, returning through Edina into south Minneapolis and Lake Harriet, going our separate ways into a day that will likely bring food comas, all washed down with a tall, cool, Budweiser. It’s still early, Thanksgiving morning. I roll onward toward home, solo, the last several miles unfold beneath me, and I am thankful for these rides. I realize that this may be the last “good” –good in terms of weather– ride this year. I also think of all the dark beer I have been enjoying, and will continue to enjoy this season, specifically, Stout season. –Full Disclosure: Recently, the in-laws were in town so we took them to Republic 7 Corners for dinner. Imagine my delight when we are greeted at the door by the awesome poster for “BURNT: A night of stouts from Bell’s Brewery.” Great Scott! I’ve struck the goldmine, for as the poster reminds us, in boldface type: IT’S STOUT SEASON! And who doesn’t love stout? (I assume if you’re reading this magazine, you and stout get along just fine.) Bourbon barrel-aged Batch 9000; Bourbon barrel-aged Cherry Stout, and the Black Note Stout, to name just a few. I like stouts. A hearty beer in the colder months will often satisfy more so than a hot bowl of chili, so as I’m thinking that this may be the last “good” ride of the season, and we’re on the cusp of winter, it is by no means the last ride.
When people ask me if I continue to ride through winter, I’m sometimes taken aback, incredulous, as if there were another choice, another option, than to not ride. Then I remember that not all cyclists enjoy riding through winter, nor would they seize the chance to roll across a fresh, crisp snowfall, and that’s just fine. Perhaps they’re fearful of nefarious black ice, or simply unwilling to subject their hands and fingers, and toes, and noses to the bracing north winds. I cannot say I blame them. Some days it does border on demented to brave the elements. Right now, as I write this, the temp has gone from a high of near 60° this morning to a blustery 33°, and light snow. It’s a fickle time of year, weather-wise. But this isn’t a screed on why biking in the winter is somehow more “hardcore” or any of that bullshit. And you don’t need any special gear to do it, though any decent Local Bike Shop (LBS) can help you in that department. It’s simply an invitation to get out and enjoy everything that Mother Nature has to offer. Have you been to the new Indeed Brewing Taproom in Northeast? (http://www.indeedbrewing.com) What about riding down to the nearest package store in search of a bottle of Fulton’s Libertine? There’s tons of great ways and reasons to get out on your bike in the winter months. Reward yourself with a bottle of that delicious Deschutes Obsidian Stout on your next ride. Every Tuesday night, North Loop Wine & Spirits offers complimentary beer tastings. (http://www.northloopwine.com/) The Widmer Brrr! is pretty ok in my book, and I know for a fact that a local downtown bike shop has a Tuesday night ride centered around ending the ride there. Hope to see some of you on two wheels this winter. Cheers.