08 May 2009

Blue Lion Mental Clarity Ride

Following the last post, one would think that my last weekend was just complete bust. With pulling out of one of my favourite races of the year, and skipping the crit on Sunday, you would think I would be in a cloud of frustration. Not so says the Aaron, not so.

I love dirt roads. That is no secret to anyone about me. Here in Louisville, I don't get to indulge in the un-pave nearly at all, so when I got the chance, I took it. From my driveway to the nearest dirt road is only 3 miles, so when I decided not to race Sunday, that was exactly where I headed. I have a loop that criss-crosses the area, with my own Sectors of dirt. They all have their own personalities and attributes, just like the cobbled Spring Classics. One section is billard table flat, yet rough as can be, while another has a super short 14% rise. Some are curvy, some have deep ruts, some have so much loose gravel and dirt that you just float through it. Its a beautiful feeling to churn along in a big gear across these neglected roads, dust flying, in a constant mix of sliding, forward motion, rearward motion, or just falling over. I've crashed more on these roads than anywhere else. I have scars to prove it.

Halfway into the ride, I make my way to my favourite little cafe to have a Jones Root Beer and a cookie. Its a little cafe called The Blue Lion. Now, I love the lions. Not the football team, but more the lions that rear up on old family crests, the Lion of Flanders, and the Kayrouz lion here in Louisville. Not sure why, but to me it is a very welcoming sign.

I knew when I discovered the Blue Lion, I had found something special. I was on a 7 hr training ride last spring before I moved to Louisville, and it had done everything from rain and snow on me, to nearly blowing me off the road with wind. I was pretty familiar with the town, and had always seen the Lion advertised, but never knew where it was. Its off of main street, and in the bottom of an antique store. You are greeted with the above sign, but more importantly greeted at the door with this friendly fellow:
It was pretty cold, and I really needed some food and coffee. You never know what to expect with a cafe; sometimes it is literally coffee and a few cookies. Other times, such as the Blue Lion, you get a full menu of deliciousness. Sandwiches, cookies, scones, soups, salads, pie, cakes, pastries, oh, and great coffee. I was definitely in the right place. So, I shed all my layers, and clacked my way up to the counter. A few minutes later, I sat down with a bowl of Curry soup, some excellent sourdough toast, and a triple Americano to help warm me up. That memory stays with me, as it was a happy blurb in a not so happy time.

This stop was on much better terms, and I knew exactly what to expect. It was a nice day, and just stopping in brought back memories from all the nasty days that the Lion had saved me from. So, cookie and Jones Root Beer down, and I'm off again. Well, almost. The deal sealer for me from my first trip was on my exit, I noticed the burnt red bricks under my feet as I stepped towards my bike. It was a nice reminder of my love of the bricks, cobbles, dirt, and just the grit that accompanies those surfaces.
So, last weekend was not a bust, but rather a ride that brought back some joy to my riding. Its the riding I grew up with, and the riding that I'm constantly drawn back to. Fresh pavement is nice, but cannot match the grit, grime, and toughness of the dirt, gravel, and bricks. So, I rode, smiled, and felt at peace and at home. Maybe not racing was a hidden blessing. Either way, I wouldn't trade my Blue Lion ride for any silly crit. I'd much rather see the dirt under my Pave's than pavement.

1 comment:

hawkjt01 said...

Man, those were the days. Riding the backroads in search of adventure. Sometimes it would be nice to be 13 again with our crappy mountain bikes and time to kill.