Darkness

21 12 2011

Combine the unseasonably warm weather with one of the longest nights of the year and you have a recipe for a dark ride through the river valley.

The rain made the wooden bridge shine.

It started to rain just as I left (and December rain in E-Ville is always freezing rain), which soon turned to sleet, which greased up any exposed asphalt and made me second guess whether I should be joy riding in the valley (on a single speed foldie no less) on such a night.

Things started getting dicey after this picture was taken.

I’ve said it many times – freezing rain is my least favorite riding condition – specifically, when freezing rain forms a very thin but effective coating on hard surfaces that renders tire studs useless. As I rolled over the black roads and paths, I could feel my back tire slipping back and forth, and hoped I wouldn’t have to try to stop, because I doubted if I could and still remain upright.

Once I got into the shaded ravine where the trees protected the last snow we had from disappearing, the freezing precipitation formed a hard crust that my studded tires easily bit into, creating perfect traction. If I had been walking, it would’ve been a much different story.

The sepia glow of darkness in a city lit with sodium streetlights.

Through the night, the rain turned to  snow, and I awakened on the shortest day to the sun reflecting off a blinding white landscape. And even though the worst of winter still lays ahead, I can at least look forward to every day being a little bit brighter.

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Relax….Enjoy the Ride

30 01 2010

Sometimes the biggest obstacles to riding are in the brain, and the biggest difference between a pleasant and unpleasant experience is all in the interpretation.

WInter cycling evokes a special brand of awesome

Last week, with a touch of freezing rain, I was riding home, taking the lane on a busy 4 lane street during rush hour. Traffic slowed ahead of me. I lightly braked and went sideways, just like that, flat ass on 82 St. I was using due caution, proper equipment, the best technique, yet I found myself in the nightmare situation of going down in the middle of a slippery street in moving traffic with vehicles rapidly approaching from the rear. Luckily, the woman driving behind me was attentive and courteous, and there wasn’t a real danger of her hitting me. If I hadn’t been asserting myself and taking the whole lane though, it could have been much uglier.

I wasn’t physically injured (OK, a little sore for a couple of days), but it shook me up, even scared me, as I’ve had more “incidents” in 2 weeks than I did all of last winter. This week my riding started out as tense, stiff, tentative, white knuckled leaning on brakes too much and too hard (which reads like a list of “how not to ride in winter”). It took a few days to find my comfort zone again and trust my bike, to break the self perpetuating tension that comes from fear of injury.

Rolling over the small but ubiquitous snow bumps on the High Level Bridge this morning, I relaxed my grip on the handlebars as the gentle vibration massaged the last bit of apprehension out of my body, ready to enjoy the ride again. Yesterday these bumps stressed me out. Today, hardly anything is more comforting.