My trip to Vermont for Thanksgiving turned out to be a wonderful and much-needed break from schoolwork and grading, and Hobgoblin and I had a great time hanging out with friends. There were five of us total, and we spent our time eating (a lot), talking, reading, and walking the dogs. I love it that this is what we do when we visit these friends — they live surrounded by the Green Mountains, and although there are places to visit in the area, the best thing to do is a whole lot of lounging around, with occasional forays into the woods. It was very restful.
We did make one trip out into society, though. There is an excellent bookstore in the area, and since we are all very bookish people, we simply had to visit. I had a wonderful time browsing, and came away with a book called The Great Age of the English Essay, a collection of essays from eighteenth-century Britain. As far as I’m concerned, I can never have too many essay collections. I came across Zadie Smith’s new essay collection, Changing My Mind, which looks really good, but I decided to wait until it comes out in paperback to get it.
I spent most of the week reading Obama’s Dreams from My Father and just finished it a few minutes ago. I’ll say for now that I am hugely impressed by it, but will write up my thoughts in detail later.
Hobgoblin and I returned yesterday (Saturday), and today I had a chance to ride my bike, something I’ve neglected a bit in the past week because of my travels. My cycling club had a group ride today, and the plan was to ride for about four hours at a steady pace. That sounded fine, if on the long side, but it turns out that my definition of steady pace isn’t necessarily the same as everyone else’s. I got a little nervous when I showed up for the ride and found a dozen men and no women at all. But I couldn’t back out once I was there, so I decided that all I could do was give it a try. The first half of the ride went pretty well; I worked hard but did a decent job of keeping with the group pace. We rode over a few miles of dirt road, which was a little frightening, especially as the group seemed to fly over the rocks and ruts, but it was also fun and the landscape was beautiful.
It was on the way home that things started to go bad. I’m used to riding two or three hours, but not as many as four, and not four hours of really hard work, so during the third hour I found myself getting slower and slower and falling behind again and again. The group was very nice and waited for me now and then, but after a while I got to the point where I wanted to ride all on my own, so I could go at my own pace without holding anybody else up. So I headed off in a different, less hilly direction, and rode the last 1 1/2 hours on my own, getting slower and slower, but feeling a whole lot better now that I was by myself.
The ride was 72 miles total and was fun in spite of the tiredness. As long as I’m by myself, I can generally keep up my spirits, even if my legs refuse to work hard and my speed gets slower and slower. I know I will get there eventually. So now I’m about 135 miles away from my 5,000-mile goal, and I can probably finish in the next two weeks without any trouble. I think after that I may take a good long break. I will need it as training for the spring racing series will start in January.