Get ready to get out. Pack a couple of sandwiches and juice bottles along with a few chikkis. Make furious notes of the Google map directions you saved from the night before. Then forget the paper and get down with your bike. Realize that you forgot to bring the paper with map directions. Tell yourself that you remember the directions anyway and decide against going back. Wonder if the sunshine is boosting the optimism.
Feel blessed for the rare sunshine in the notorious Vermont winter. Ask yourself, what if it is minus 2 degrees Celsius? Take a few snaps while you wait for the GPS signal to lock on in your Nokia sports tracker. Let the pedals turn and wheels roll. Realize what a big difference the clear sidewalks, devoid of snow, can make to a ride. Be thankful to the weather. Shamelessly, switch to the grandma gears with every little uphill ascent. Thank God for the grandma gears.
Feel the exhilaration of every downhill roll and let it die with every sight of the uphill climb. Be thankful that the road seemed to go up most of the time, hoping that the return journey would be mostly downhill. Wonder if you would ever find a square mile of flat land in Vermont. Then, be thankful for the incredible beauty that all the hills bring to the land.
Devour the beautiful scenery all along the route and regret that you only have two eyes. Keep yourself hydrated every now and then. Stop every time you feel tired. Tell yourself that you are not tired but only stopping to capture the beauty around. Then move on knowing that you cannot stop for long if you want to complete the ride and be home before you freeze.
Keep checking the average speed at every hydration stop and recalculate the estimated time of return. Keep pushing it out, realizing that you are at least 20% slower on this ride on an MTB than your long rides of the past, on relatively flat terrain on a road bike. Realize that it is going to be dark and be thankful for the lights on your bike. Be thankful to the American drivers who never got too close to you while you are riding on the shoulder. Smile and wave back, when many of them encouragingly wave at you.
Gaze at the bright spot of your headlamp three feet ahead of you and see nothing else for a few kilometers. Check the time and see that it is still not six pm. Try, drinking from the insulated water bottle on the bike frame and realize that the water is now no more in liquid form. Thank yourself for all the layers you put on. Decide to add a layer to the gloves next time, when you realize the fingers began to go numb.