I knew. I’m not a weather forecaster, and I knew. On Friday, the wind was howling across my rather delicate cheeks, and I was battling a headwind that would have stopped the U.S.S. Constitution on the open sea. I knew from the pine needles and ice stuck in my brakes, and the sandy dust that had settled over my frame. I knew from the countless layers of goose down and sheep’s wool that took ten minutes to get on and off, layers that would have impressed Shackleton. I knew that winter was at my door.
We’ve already had an inch or so of snow, and I tempted fate and rode out. And I rode home about three minutes later. I can juggle a whole bunch of collective variables, but ice, out of glass and under tire, is not a great playmate. The following day, with the sun doing its work on the accumulation, I rode out again, confident in the clarity of the way before me. I was thrilled. Trails had just enough cover to make the sound of my tires a thrilling new sensation and the contrast of the black bike and tires impressing upon a sea of white before me would have made any abstract artist swoon. It was a study in senses, in adventure, in contrast. A study in balance with two very small points of contact touching the earth, while keeping just enough torque on the pedals to remain upright. And in a few days, the sun melted the snow, and I returned to my routine of riding.
Until Friday, when my red cheeks, nestled behind my Peruvian alpaca scarf, were wet with tears from the bracing wind. The cold found its way into the seams of my woolen mittens and my toes worked for warmth. I turned my attention to the warm but distant sunshine, and the light of early winter. I cut through an open field to listen to dry grass under my tires. I saw the frozen waterways and birds flitting from branch to bush. And I knew that winter was at my door.
And now it’s here. A thick layer of snow, that may stay until the spring or melt and open the road yet again to my ride. But for now, I’ll enjoy the quiet muffled beauty of white and settle into the comfort of home and hearth and wait to be back in the saddle.