Thursday, February 4, 2010

Finding the Silver Lining in Grey Snow

A lot of stuff goes through your head when you fly back from warm, sunny Florida to Nashville, only to find that the ground is covered with snow:
  • "Gee ... I'm glad I wasn't here for this. I'll bet nobody rode this weekend."
  • "Hmmm ... it doesn't look like it's gonna melt any time soon. I'll bet nobody is gonna ride this week."
  • "Grrrr ... that probably means a few hours on the rollers."
  • "Yikes! That's ice on the edge of the runway!"
It was slushy Sunday evening, and then froze that night. Since then, the snow has repeatedly thawed a bit, and then refroze, so that it looks like ice cream that your teenage daughter took up to the living room and ate some of while she watched TV for an hour, and then put back in the freezer. Not so much ice cream as hard frozen pudding, with the chocolate chips melted in with the green mint to become a murky grey.


Finally, this morning I threw caution to the wind (it was a headwind, of course, so caution came right back and smacked me in the face) and rode my bike in to work. Leaving the house in the cold pre-dawn, I could not help but reflect ... but then, I was wearing stuff made of illumiNITE, and I have all of these yellow plastic patches on the bike. I also could not help but reflect -- mentally -- that it was only one week ago that I had ridden in Florida wearing bibs and a short-sleeve jersey.

This is a bad way to start a ride. You get gloomy and wish for things that you cannot have. Like warmth.

Fortunately, I then started up one of the short steep hills on my commuting route, and I remembered that I was on a bicycle, working hard to get up a short steep hill. I was riding outside, and I was alive.

The rest of the trip in went great. Yeah, it was cold, but not nearly as cold as some days that I had biked in last month. There wasn't really any ice to worry about ... just a few banks of grey snow on some road shoulders. A couple of places that I normally get up on the sidewalks were problematic, since big lumps of grey snow were piled up on the ramps and curb cuts there. But these were just opportunities to work on my bunny-hopping skills (always fun on a single-speed loaded down with a 15-pound pannier).

When people ask me why I commute by bike, I give them all kinds of reasons: Carbon footprint, exercise, yadda-yadda. But the main reason is really just that a day that begins with a bike ride has absolutely got to be a good day.

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