Rides We Like: Tilting at Windmills
(2016) Four-hundred years ago today (and tomorrow), two pillars to literature kicked the bucket, one after living a life that involved a five year prison term in Algiers, and the other who supposedly died on his birthday, respectively. I say supposedly because no records indicate when William Shakespeare was born, but through the powers of deduction, many babies were baptized exactly three days after birth. Being baptized 26 days into April, that put Billy Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23, 1616. Across the North Sea, however, Miguel de Cervantes would die on April 22, 1616. It’s pretty obvious whose name is globally more recognized. To honor the ‘underdog’ if you will, I decided to do something uniquely quixotic yet Bucks County: I would mount my carbon steed and attack the local windmills.
Let’s go through the list Cervantes’ main character, Alonso Quijano (who would take the name Don Quixote de la Mancha), sworn to right the wrongs of the countryside. I had my version of his horse, Rocinante, actually a bit aged but with the newest shoes in the form of Vittoria Corsa rubber. Unfortunately, Mike, our regular hero ridekick, had to work today. His role as Sancho Panza would go vacant. This saddened me very much. If I would be pinned down by a sail from a windmill, who would help? I’ve heard they’re an aggressive lot.
I rolled out amongst the Bucks County farmland … countryside that is, and began looking for any situations that could use a professional cyclist's jurisdiction. I guess everyone was working today, that would explain why there were no bickering neighbors, no savage animals running around, and a complete lack of Sophia Loren singing at the nearest tavern. I resorted to avoiding the local school district’s buses and their stopping. It was certainly out of the question to commence chivalric combat with a bus.
I found my first windmill straightaway. It was not facing me today and it was too far to walk. I figured since it was keeping its distance, I would categorize it as a fearful windmill and be satisfied with its desire to remain afar. Oh. Before I forget. These are not the grand windmills of Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, nor other parts of Europe used for medieval needs. These are the wiry offerings quintessential of America’s mid-west used for pumping water from an underground aquifer. They look like they weigh a total of five pounds. They’re a good bush league confidence builder to any windmill assassin.
I bounced around to my next windmill where I met up with a fellow road cyclist. A cycling retired vet, who was willing to explore the path of the remaining targeted windmills, accompanied me. This was all so grand. We talked at length about the beauty of Bucks County’s cycling-friendly roads as well as about our home life. He was ever so glad to be going by bike today. I don’t believe he qualified as a squire. Perhaps he was more Canterbury Tales’ Knight’s Tale material.
Together we made our way toward the windmill close to the path on Sweetbriar Road. Naturally I would have attacked this one, but it was on private property. I concluded that this wild giant served no injustice so I recommended we moved on. Even the beastly windmills seemed to be behaving today.
Meandering through the countryside, we noted the final windmill tucked up on a hillside at the corner of Dark Hollow Road and Covered Bridge Road. Again I concluded it was too far removed from my flight path and decided to leave its evil race present for another day. The sheep looked able to live peacefully within its presence. Then again they’re animals with the inability to reason so there’s that.
The return leg of the trip saw a rise in a headwind. No doubt this was the protest of the oppressive windmills. I split off to head home while Dan would continue on for a few more miles. It was a nice way to share a ride to commemorate Don Quixote in some way. I would sit at my table and recount how my writing has thrust me into the limelight as a famous literary presence. I’m joking. Judging by the traffic to these articles I have a long way to go.
It was nice to tie together cycling with one of my favorite books of all time. Furthermore I was glad to have commemorated four centuries since the passing of Cervantes by seeking windmills in a tongue-in-cheek memorial. It was especially adventurous to ride with someone willing to follow a crazy cyclist stating he was going to do battle with windmills to recognize a ridiculous fictional literary legend concocted many centuries ago. In the meantime my future rides will serve as a warning to those who may encounter the huge arms of an evil race. And when people try to tell me they serve a farming purpose, I’ll just quixotically reply, “Obviously you don’t know much about adventures.”