I have a bit of a history with this ride.
Rather, I would have a bit of a history had I ever actually gotten to participate in it.
Two years ago
2008 was my first attempt at doing the solstice ride. It was spectacularly cold. The average number of degrees during that day was 13. And then, after that, the sun went down.
I put on four or five shirts, two or three pairs of pants, numerous other accessories, and struck out into the cold. It was about six miles from where I was living in the Highlands to City Park, from where the ride was leaving, and it took me about thirty minutes to cover the distance.
On the way, the laces of my boot got sucked into my cranks and almost threw me off my bike. I executed an emergency stop in the middle of 15th Street, numbed my hands after removing my gloves in order to gain the dexterity needed to untangle myself, and then continued on my way. After, that is, tucking those laces oh so carefully down into the collar of my boot.
I got to the park and to the fountain, where the ride was supposed to begin, only to find ... nothing. I couldn't see any person in any direction. I circled around the park thinking maybe they meant the statue instead of the fountain.
Along the way, I bumped into another cyclist who had also showed up for the ride only to find a lack thereof. He had just moved to Denver from somewhere in Alaska, and seemed comfortable in the cold.
We puttered around the park for a short while longer, and then parted ways, and I returned home, having never spotted the peloton.
We had moved across town by the time 2009's winter solstice came around. I was mere blocks from City Park instead of miles from it. And it was much warmer. The average temperature that day was 44 degrees! That's 31 more degrees!
I arrived at the fountain in plenty of time. The crowd was still gathering after I got there, so I mingled and gawked and chatted up some other riders. We all climbed up on the edge of the fountain and had our picture taken, shortly after which we started to roll out.
It was at this time I noticed my rear tire was flat. All the way, rim-on-the-ground flat. I considered patching the tube and then playing catch-up, meeting up with the group at some later point in the ride, but there weren't any scheduled stops and I realized I wasn't interested in rolling around Denver by myself searching for a couple dozen people on bikes.
I watched the last of the group roll off, and I pushed my bike home.
This year, my work schedule conflicts with the ride. I was about to resign myself to the fact that I just wasn't going to go and that it was going to be yet another year of not participating, when my Partner and Co-Pilot pointed out to me that my thing is trying and then failing to go on the ride. Not failing to go for a lack of showing up.
And she's right. So if I'm going to fail yet again to go on the winter solstice ride, it will only be after making a valid effort to succeed.
I'm going to arrange to get off early. I'm going to execute a thorough pre-ride checklist to avoid flats and whatevers. And I am going to go on the damn solstice ride this year.
I want you to imagine I said that last part out loud and that I said it with all the determination that Darnielle does in This Year.