Kringle Me When It’s Raining

I had a layover day to recuperate in Green Bay thinking it would be wise. And it would have been wise, if it was a wise man recuperating. Alas, twas I, a nincompoop. I figured I deserved a nice meal on a night when I could sleep in the next morning. So I had two locally-brewed, craft raspberry ales to wash down pesto gnocchi in a thick fettuccine cream sauce. I spent most of the night and part of the morning digesting it. For all I know, I’m still digesting it.

When it came time to ride this morning I got off to a breathtakingly late start. I don’t know how I frittered away so much time except that I do remember having to download a route plan to the bike computer in the motel lobby after I had checked out. I had gone over all of that the night before. How could I miss the essential fact that the one route I needed was not on my Garmin bike computer? We may never know.

In hindsight, it looks like it was a mistake to stay off my bike all day. Tour de France riders, no matter how many 100s of kilometers they rode the day before, always ride a little bit on their days off.

So, by the time I was locked and loaded and turning pedals by 9:45 AM, they had a leaden indifference to motion. They were a perfect model of America, the left leg blaming the right leg for all that was wrong about this trip and the right leg accusing the left leg for coming up with the idea of the trip, which it now deemed a conspiracy. Both legs were equally and stridently convinced that the other leg had “weaponized” the bike trip for some sick and twisted goal that would, upon success, finally—at long last—trigger Armageddon. They… just… didn’t… want… to… go… forward.

Not uncommonly on a trip of this sort the arresting power of nature to delight would squelch all quarreling body parts. It’s often that you’re in an urban setting and unexpectedly you turn your wheel and ride into a field of splendor. In this case, under a braid of swooping elevated roads were cattail marshes.

Cattail marsh outside of Green Bay

By now, storm clouds loomed and I amused myself by imagining that I could ride free of them some how. There was always at least a quadrant in the sky that beamed brightly with light and undarkened clouds; as my bike and trailer followed the twists and bent around curves, it seemed “yeah, why not, I could get lucky?”.

Storm clouds over the Green Bay of Green Bay

The Quixotic notion of “beating the rain” got my legs moving. Then I came upon a bakery. Not just any bakery but a Kringle bakery, a delight I had only occasionally had skirmished with in Kenosha, WI, on my many, many visits to the velodrome there on Wednesday race nights. Now and then the race director would bring kringles out of a shopping bag to share on the infield with the racers. Store bought kringles didn’t seem like they would match up with what I might find in this little shop.

U.P. Pastries Storefront

Of course, I was right. The woman who came to greet me assured me my Kenosha kringle was an American confection, implying a bastardized hybrid barely worthy of the name, whereas what they made came from the old country, implying that anything I bought and tasted from U.P. Pastries would taste pretty much the same though I had picked them up on the streets of Copenhagen. I believed here. I bought a couple mini-kringles and a Danish. And then, in her shop, I ate this.

A Danish from U.P. Pastries

Between bites, we discussed the weather, I dashed out to get my rain parka as a precaution, and she explained that this region with it’s proximity to the coast seemed to cleave storms in two so the worst would fall to either side and they tended to suffer the least from ravaging storms. Whatever its meteorological merits, it’s a theory I chose to believe in the moment.

I left the shop, the rain came. To my right, for a while, lightning splintered the sky. I road with my kringles in the rain. The rain came down steadily, slowly soaking through my parka, but I was warm, my legs limbered up. I got up a rhythm and made my legs work hard for long stretches. That old idea of “riding yourself into shape” which I really wanted to believe in from the very outset, now finally, a week into this thing, started to prove true.

I made it into Oconto, WI , crossed the Oconto River, and was checked in at the EconoLodge by 3 PM, having ridden a little over 35 miles.

There could be no doubt that my Danish was a superfood. It was the catalyst that prodded me into fluid motion and shake off my sloth. For riding, for the harmony of man and machine, rain notwithstanding, it was the best day of the trip so far.


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