Hello to the equinox and to the change in temperature and in the light it brings. Hello to the sudden appearance of the various paraphernalia of fall cycling – long sleeves, tights, head-gear, toe covers, mid layers, gilets, and long-fingered gloves, et al.

Hello to cool morning rides, chilly north winds from the Devon Ice Cap, and to shorter rides and longer coffee breaks. Okay, I got carried away there. The coffee breaks won’t eat up too much time. We’ll still keep it tight and formal and on schedule. Is there really any other way?

To-day’s poem is apposite, don’t you think. It’s a tongue in cheek paean to the humble oatmeal dish of porridge, known for sticking to the ribs, warming the insides as it slithers down, and the perennial favourite food to fuel the start of the day’s ride. Yum! But, warning – it can be a solitary experience, especially if you’re in the habit of eating oatmeal at 5 am. With that in mind, be ready for tomorrow’s assignment: who is your imaginary breakfast guest. When was the last time you had homework?

Here’s the tentative plan for Saturday, assuming wind is from the north-west:

Meet at Stinsons at 7:30 am 7:30 am and ride to Renfrew (yes, again):

As for the ride, this is a roundabout less than straight forward route to Renfrew that will take us on many back roads, and twist us in circles as we turn first in one direction and then in another. It’s flattish, but with enough bumps to keep you from falling asleep. Dress warmly. And, don’t forget to wear a smile against the cold. I hope to see you at Stinsons. Let’s take full advantage of the wall to wall sun in the forecast. Be there or be square. Besides, it’s too soon to mount the in-door trainer just yet.

Here’s the Route: Ride to Renfrew via White Lake Rd to Conc 8, Waba Rd, Campbell Side Rd, Bellamy, White Lake, McLaughlin, McLeod, Burnstown, #508 to Anderson Rd to Miller Rd to Lochwinnow, Gillan, Hall, Raglan; home via Bruce St, Castleford, RR, Stevenson, Braesloch, Campbell Dr, etc. for a total distance of 84 kms. Coffee at Bonnechere Cafe after 53 Kms. As usual, it’s steady as she goes, with minimal delays on the road. Bring gels, bars, water, electrolytes, etc. Liquids will be a key element tomorrow.

NOTE the Venue and Time: Stinsons on White Lake Rd for 7:30 am departure. (Sunrise 6:56)

Temperature will be in 5 C to 14 C; wind NW at 15. Details here – https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/arnprior-south-renfrew-municipal-airport.

Alert 1) The Rideau Lakes Tour – June 10-11, 2017

Alert 2) Important information: These are ‘no-drop’ group rides, except for the hills where it’s every man for himself. Regroup at the top. Honest effort required by all. New cyclists welcome.

For non-subscribers: See Contacts

Okay, Ride your bike! Bye-bye, ac. Comments always welcome at arnpriorcycling@bell.net; https://twitter.com/ArnpriorCycling

Oatmeal

I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that it is better for your mental health
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,
as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,
and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat
it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had
enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as
wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something from it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the “Ode to a Nightingale.”
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words “Oi ‘ad a ‘eck of a toime,” he said,
more or less, speaking through his porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his pocket,
but when he got home he couldn’t figure out the order of the stanzas,
and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they
made some sense of them, but he isn’t sure to this day if they got it right.
An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket through a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,
and the way here and there a line will go into the
configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up
and peer about, and then lay itself down slightly off the mark,
causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about
the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some
stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal alone.
When breakfast was over, John recited “To Autumn.”
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words
lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn’t offer the story of writing “To Autumn,” I doubt if there is much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field go thim started
on it, and two of the lines, “For Summer has o’er-brimmed their
clammy cells” and “Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours,”
came to him while eating oatmeal alone.
I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering furrows,
muttering. Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion’s tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneously
gummy and crumbly, and therefore I’m going to invite Patrick Kavanagh to join me.      Galway Kinnell