It's not often I get out a road bike on Christmas Day but today it happened. The forecast for sub-freezing temperatures never materialized and the sun was out all day. I rode the SV650 to the bank a couple of days ago and figured that might be it for the year 2014.
I learned something about the planet we ride on today. I have always assumed that the latest sunrise and earliest sunset of the year occurred at the Winter Solstice -- the shortest day of the year. Not so. Because of the Earth's elliptical orbit around the sun, this year's earliest sunset occurred on December 10 and the latest sunrise will be on December 31st.
As often happens these days, we celebrated Christmas early as kids, grand-kids and brothers could massage their calendars for a trip to Wenatchee. This left us with a quiet, relaxing day to ourselves on the 25th. I started the day by smoking and cooking a couple of pounds of bacon on the Traeger grill. Bacon is always a good way to start out the day. Christmas deserves a special breakfast even if it's just us two at home. For me, that means waffles, fried eggs and bacon. I took Vicki's plate in to her for breakfast in bed while I ate mine out on the deck in the morning sun. It felt good to be out in the sun without a coat but the metal chair was cold.
We opened our gifts and put gadgets together. I felt a bit tired after all that breakfast wrangling so I did a little sunbathing on the guest bed with the low-angle rays streaming in. Sleep soon overcame me and I took a rare late-morning nap. It's Christmas! I can do what I want.
After a spell in the hot tub I was ready to do something. I think a day like this calls for a bike ride. Don't you? The thermometer read 47 degrees so I put on my ski bibs, Polar Tex gloves and neck warmer. The Tiger 800 was soon warmed up and down the canyon we rode.
The bike's ambient-air thermometer read 50° as we glided down Crawford Street and over the bridge to the east side. At this point the sun-drenched road up Badger Mountain was looking inviting. The closer I got the more I thought I might just ride on up over the crest. When I reached the plateau the temp was down to 35 so I wheeled around and headed back down. I rode through Fancher Heights where it was reading 45° and then on down over the new Eastmont bridge and across to Olds Station. Even at highway speed, having the sun saturate my clothes makes a noticeable difference.
Still feeling good and warm, I rode up Birch Mt. Road and over Rolling Hills to Crestview. A lot of new houses have gone up in that area. I hit Lower Sunnyslope Road and rode over Chatham Hill and then southward across Wenatchee to home in the canyon. Remarkably, my hands were never tempted to switch on the heated grips.
It was not a long ride but on Christmas Day in the brilliant sunshine it felt like real luxury.