I Hope This is the Last Winter Post

3 04 2011

First day of spring in the great white north, the sky’s gray, the wind’s bitter, and great bodies of ice are thawed and smashed and rammed and frozen back together.

Water frozen, broken up, then refrozen.

Except this is actually the bike path.

Just when I thought it couldn't get worse...

There was water underneath the ice in places, and at one point my tire broke through, bringing me to an immediate halt as my tire, rim and spokes sank under the icy crust. I (oh so carefully) hopped off my bike to try to free it only to find that the water engulfing my wheel was quickly refreezing, trapping the bike in the ice. It took considerable pulling and yanking to free it.

As I was taking pictures, another fellow on a bike rolled up in the opposite direction. “This is ridiculous,” he said, “if I hadn’t seen you stopped here, I might’ve rode right into this and wiped out.”

A fellow winter cyclist on a challenging trail.

As the first cycles of freezing and thawing began, it was clear that winter wasn’t leaving quietly. But after such a long winter, I have just gotten into the mindset of pushing on, no matter what. I have commuted by bike every day this winter (though there were a few days I went partway with my bike on the train). Every day, 10km each way, every day, not even sick once, every day, through one of the worst winters in memory, my body and bike reliable transportation, every day.

With full on snow melt in the forecast, I decided it was time to make my final peace with this long winter, and packed up a few provisions for a late night river valley excursion.

Sassy hops in my bike bin, looking for a cure to cabin fever.

Which, of course, required utilization of the tube-oggan.

Another look at the tube-oggan, a sled made of a discarded coroplast sign and old bike tubes.

I rolled the full length of Mill Creek bike ninja style, the darkness obscuring how icy the path really was. But there was no one around, and as long as I didn’t need to brake I knew I could ride out of trouble, so I rode confidently. The toboggan hill was also abandoned, so I had it all to myself and didn’t have to worry about anyone wondering why a thirty something woman was tobogganing alone in the middle of the night. It’s a scary thing to do. What if I was injured and couldn’t move? Would it be the next day before anyone found me? As it turned out, the worst injury of the night came when a bungee cord flew into my face as I was trying to secure the sled to my bike. I never crashed once, either on the hill or the bike path.

A bike rack in mill creek, peeking out through 3 feet of packed snow.

Since then, my friends, the snow has finally started to melt (and pool up in my basement, in case you were wondering why I haven’t posted anything lately). Finally, spring is in the air. I even rode a bike without tire studs yesterday, for the first time since November. It’s going to be a while, yet, before the snow is gone, but I’m ready for the puddles and passion of a new season, so bring it on!

Non Sequitur Post Script: Where else but in Edmonton would the municipal government release a video promoting winter cycling in March?

Not bad. I’ll save the analysis for another day, but suffice to say it’s not exactly the video I’d make. I guess I’ve just set myself a project for next winter…

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