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Bike Rides 110
Back on Track with the Holiday Train
I’m usually a pretty late starter
when it comes to catching the holiday spirit. Some years it never
seems to come at all. The more canned Christmas music I hear at
the grocery stores, the more elusive the cheer can be.
This year it hit early, December 8th in
fact, and I never saw it coming. I’d been sick the whole
week with a throat cold lowering my voice several octaves; which
makes me sound mostly like Hilary Clinton I’m told.
I was planning to spend the frigid evening
inside, as the temperature was forecast to flirt with the zero
mark for the first time this season. That’s no weather for
a lady with the sniffles to be stepping into in a pantsuit.
In fact, I’d just finished sending
a concerned friend an email promising to stay off my bike until
I was relatively healthy again. Then I heard the evening news
announcing in fifteen minutes the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday
Train was stopping less than a mile from my house.
I wasn’t even sure what the Holiday
Train was or why I needed to see it so badly.
Nevertheless in ten minutes I was on my
bike sporting a mish-mashed winter outfit, haphazardly fumbling
with my coat zipper, bound for the Milwaukee Road.
It was easy to pinpoint the site of the
stop as traffic was quickly building in the area and the conductor
was blowing the welcoming horn wildly, adding to the already magical
The Holiday Train was decked out with glorious
traditional Christmas lights. The slow movement of the cars as
they rolled down the track made for a very effective means to
view the entire display without stepping a foot and the attention
to detail was enough to make Clark Griswold proud.
A large crowd started to gather in front
of a single car at middle of the pack. I made my way over quickly
to investigate the scene. An entire side of the unique car started
slowly opening from the top, exposing stage lights and smoke.
The excitement escalated as the wall dropped down robotically
to reveal a full band; all decked out in warm winter clothes proceeding
to rock the railroad tracks.
“You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why.”
The singer’s amplified voice blared
out as the crowd went loco for the magical locomotive. The look
on the mesmerized children’s chilly little faces was incredible.
I’ve never had kids and to be honest it’s been a long
time since I’ve seen that look in a child’s eye at
Twenty minutes earlier I was home with
my feet up settling in for the evening news and now it was like
I’d stepped dreamily into a Terry Redlin painting. The Holiday
Train is truly that unique and wonderful folks. See photos and
video at dansbikerides.com.
I stayed for three songs before my cough
started to get the better of me and I headed for home. It was
funny how I found many more homes had illuminated their Christmas
lights for the ride home than on the ride out. Surely it wasn’t
The following day there was still a holiday
skip in my step when I strolled into the supermarket (I know they
don’t call ‘em that anymore) where there was a dear
woman positioned alone at the Salvation Army kettle singing Christmas
songs with the most lovely voice. It was a comforting deviation
for my sensitive ears from the perpetually ringing bell.
A five dollar bill almost magically leapt
from my wallet into the familiar red money pot at her side, already
heaping with cash. She returned a warm smile while singing right
through a classic carol without missing a note.
“The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor Shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!
Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for
Watch the video!
Traffic Tip: Zero calm degrees can be much more comfortable riding than 20
windy degrees. Either is still worth the effort.
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