Feed on

(note: I wrote this up yesterday mostly in word, then couldn’t post it because the ‘net connection crapped out. Therefore this is basically yesterday’s news. Today was a largely snow and slush-free ride and I did an impromptu photo-ride on my way home which I will write a little about later)

I got a nice snow-ride in this morning, which was plenty of fun. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with the fan-shaped ruts and ridges of snow that emanate from every intersection. On one hand, it’s kind of fun to plow through them, at least when they are fresh and relatively soft. On the other hand, if/when they freeze or contain hard chunks, they sure can launch your bike in unpredictable directions, including flat, splat, horizontally. I did a fair amount of fishtailing through deep spots and ruts this morning, but I managed to keep it upright and moving forward, and that’s quite enough for me. I’m getting pretty good at recovering from losing traction. It used to be that when I lost traction, I wrecked. Not so much anymore. I think this is going to be a significant advance for me offroad, too.

I really admire people who can ride gracefully in the snow. Joel goes completely nuts when there’s a good layer of snow on the ground. Some weekends when we’ve had plenty of snowfall, we actually go out and look for places where nobody’s been driving, to go play in the snow on our bikes. Cliff Drive has been good to us this year for such adventures. We’ll be pedaling along through the snow, muscling into it as snow clogs up our bikes’ brakes, packs into the fenders, and sticks in the spokes until the wheels look like solid discs of snow. Joel likes to do little back-wheel hops, fishtail, and tri-pod around corners. I just ride along in awe, trying to do nothing fancier than not wipe out. It’s kind of like watching a Husky pup go wild in the snow. It basically looks like frolicking while riding.

Another rider I’ve been admiring lately is a random stranger who passes through my neighborhood regularly. I don’t think he lives on my block, though he may live in the apartments at the foot of the street. Joel thinks he’s a customer of one of my neighbors. At any rate, this man rides a complete beater of a 1980s 10-speed, and due to the season and weather, sports a suit of Carhartt coveralls, a bulky stocking cap, and big, chunky snowmobile gloves. Despite being bundled up like Randy Parker from The Christmas Story, this man displays beautiful agility on his bike. He hops it over and off curbs in a seemingly effortless, fluid motion. He does tripod skids around icy corners with confidence. He pilots that old ten-speed along with a velocity that’s a joy to behold. This man and his bike are a beautiful team.

I think it might be the same man I saw one morning on my way to work. I was working my way up this one big dumb hill inconveniently located about a third of my way into the route (before I’m warmed up and can breathe properly) when I saw a guy about two blocks ahead of me haul a bike out of the back of a van, take off at a sprint, and fling himself aboard in an admirable cyclocross-style remount. It was perfect. He ran along with the bike a good four or five paces, then just leapfrogged up on to the seat, slick as could be. He moved with a similar grace to the neighborhood mystery cyclist, and appeared to be dressed similarly. It could be somebody completely different, but it might be the same guy. I did see the neighborhood dude do a pretty sweet rolling dismount one time, though, which is why I think it was probably the same guy.

I reckon if I ever meet him on the street, I’ll say “hey,” just to be friendly. Cycling’s a pretty small world and it doesn’t hurt to be neighborly.

One Response to “Biking, biking, biking on the mind.”

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Jason Rakowski

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