The 4th Annual Christmas Light Hunt

Christmas Light Hunt 13On Friday night I completed the Fourth Annual Christmas Light Hunt Ride.  Ride membership maintained the same level it has had for the previous three editions.  Longtime readers with good memories will know that number is one.

This year’s hunt targeted the newer neighborhoods of Ewells Mill Estates and Hope Hill Crossing.  I found several nice displays.  I also passed through regular spots Lake Terrapin and Montclair.  I was disappointed to see some of the finer displays were gone due to the owners moving.  Still there were plenty of nice offerings to see and the ride was made all the more enjoyable by the balmy temperature.  In past years I’ve struggled with cold and ice.  This year the temperature was a pleasant 55 degrees (that’s approximately 450 degrees Centigrade, I believe, for those using that strange form of measurement).

I broke my camera while fumbling with in it the cold during last year’s hunt, so this was my first opportunity to use the Canon on Christmas lights.  On the whole, it was a big improvement, but when displays moving in the evening breeze they turned out blurry in the final shot.  I hope you can get past that unpleasantness and enjoy the below movie.  I must confess and tell you I did not take the last picture!

Not Following On Facebook?  You’re Missing Out!

Many of you doggedly refuse to follow There And Back Again on Facebook.  Big mistake.  You can see all sorts of incredibly interesting and funny commentary, along with up-to-the-minute updates on my cycling activities, such as “Too damn cold to cycle. I’m going to have a beer and watch TV.”

Ok, that may not have been the best example, but feel free to stop by and see for yourself.  Loyal viewers were treated to a picture of the Christmas Light Hunt TWENTY FOUR HOURS before I posted the movie on this blog.  Think about it.  A full day early!

You can find There And Back Again on Facebook here.

The 2012 Christmas Light Hunt

As it became obvious to me that the Mayans were wrong and the world would not come to an end today, I decided to get back to the business of updating this blog.  I also decided the time was ripe for my annual Christmas light ride.

The 3rd Annual Christmas Light Hunt was conducted this evening under partly cloudy skies and a brisk breeze.  Temperatures were appropriately cold, slightly above freezing, and even an occasional snow flake fell from the sky.  Ride membership remained consistent with previous years, holding at a total of one rider.  Road conditions were excellent, which made me quite happy as I recalled the icy conditions of the inaugural event.

This year’s ride took me around Lake Montclair on a nine mile route.  With several stops for picture-taking, the ride lasted over an hour, meaning it wasn’t very much of a cardio workout.  Still it was quite fun and merry, at least it was until I dropped my camera and broke it.  It is possible the camera can be fixed.  I’ll know in the coming days when my blood pressure drops sufficiently to attempt a repair.

I have used the handy WordPress Gallery  feature to display this year’s images.  Just click on any one of them and slide show begins.  Here’s wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Ride

(Not a self-portrait)

We didn’t have a White Christmas and Lake Montclair wasn’t frozen as it was last year, but it was cold enough for a frost and for the dog’s water dish to freeze over.  These ominous signs, combined with reports of snow to the north, indicate the depths of winter are not far off.  I waited patiently for the sun to heat things up a few degrees and set out in the late morning to review the Christmas landscape.

One nice thing about being a dedicated cyclist is people give you cycling-related presents at Christmas.  Today I tried out some new cycling gloves (pictured at right) and some wool socks (not pictured) which my loving daughter gave me.  Both worked well – the gloves too well, in fact.  I’ll need the temperature to stay around freezing, else my hands will fill them with sweat.

There was little evidence of Christmas on my standard 17-mile loop.  There was only one bicyclist – a young man riding a mountain bike that was much too small for him.  Vehicular traffic was much lighter than normal, which is difficult to capture in a picture.  I did spy a nativity scene at the Christus Victor Lutheran Church on Rte 234, which was a pleasant reminder of the day’s meaning.

Here’s hoping you and yours had a very Merry Christmas.  I now patiently wait for the days to grow long and the sun to burn hot while I make do as best I can with my new winter gear!

P.S.  This is my 250th post on this blog.  I’m glad it fell on a special day such as this.

Christmas Light Hunt

Last night was the 2nd Annual Christmas Light Hunt, in which I pedal about the neighborhood looking to take pictures of lights on houses.  Ride membership remained steady, with one person participating. Unlike last year, when temperatures were below freezing and snow/ice were a factor, this year was extremely mild.  It’s nice not having to avoid black ice while cruising in the dark.  While there was no ice, I did add a degree of difficulty by bringing a camera tripod with me, in order to improve the quality of the photography and thus enhance the viewing experience for you, Dear Reader.  If there is a simple way to ride a bike while holding a camera tripod, I didn’t discover it last night.

There were many excellent displays this season, perhaps because the warmer weather allowed more people to get extravagant.  Whatever the reason, I took so many pictures that I decided to create my first-ever Christmas Light Video!

Enjoy.

Christmas Ride

I’ve never ridden a bike on Christmas Day, primarily due to the fact that I’ve usually lived in places where riding a bike in December is viewed as a symptom of mental imbalance.  However, after a season of cycling I now understand that there is no place too cold for cycling.  At least that’s what all the other cyclists say and they can’t all be wrong, can they?  I therefore resolved to head out for a short pedal.

The roads and paths are still a little dicey with ice, so I opted for the hybrid bike.  This gave me an opportunity to go off-road a bit and visit Lake Montclair.  As you can see from the photo, the lake is frozen.  We’ve gone entire winters without the lake freezing, so this is a good indication of the kind of winter we have had – not much snow but freakin’ cold.  Almost every day in December has been below seasonal norms.  Sigh.

I had a chance to dabble in the mountain biking discipline by riding a narrow path next to the lake.  I can report that the knobs you find on mountain bike tires are very useful.  I know this because my hybrid’s tires lack this feature and I found myself wishing for those knobs about every twenty feet.  Each root, rut, rock, and other protrusion in the trail threatened to send me off the path and down a five foot embarkment onto the lake ice.  I strongly suspected the ice would not withstand that impact.  Despite the element of danger, it was a fun 1/2 mile.  

Once back on the neighborhood roads, I headed in an unusual (for me) direction – east.  This takes me toward the congested areas of the county and I therefore seldom venture this way.  My goal was a modest one – to read and photograph a historical marker on Benita Fitzgerald Drive.  I drive past this marker almost every day on my commute.  The markers are almost always on the side of the road, but the writing is too small and lengthy to read as you drive by, which I find very frustrating and just a tad self-defeating.  If you put up a sign and nobody can read it, what exactly is the point?  This marker is tucked into some shrubs, making it impossible to even read the title.

The Benita Fitzgerald marker in its natural setting

As it turns out, this was a first in my growing collection of historical markers.  Most markers highlight a significant event that occurred on or near a given spot.  This marker explains why a road was given its name.  Benita Fitzgerald Road’s namesake grew up in this area in the 1970s and attended a highschool a few miles from this location.  During her youth, this specific area was nothing but woodland, but lets not let that detail get in the way of a good historical marker!

Click for details

I pedaled back to the traffic signal in the background of the above picture and turned onto Cloverdale Drive.  Like the rest of this trip, I was pedaling through neighborhoods and competing with light but alarmingly inept traffic.  It must have been the holiday, but I came too close to a “significant event” on three occasions, each one with a driver racing up to the street I was on and hoping to quickly make a turn onto it.  The absence of other cars emboldened these drivers, who didn’t notice the fool riding his bike in the cold weather.

I successfully avoided any mishap and finished my ride in fine form.  My Garmin informed me that the temperature was 34 degrees.  I am taking solace in the fact that the solstice occurred a few days ago and therefore every day has slightly more sunlight than the previous one.  The end is in sight!

Not much competition for sitting on the bench