Sunday, March 24, 2013

An Icy Saturday ... RIDE!

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Willow-fronds glowing golden-green
Silently stepping sandhill cranes
Fretful geese honking "Human! Human!"

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Scene:
Wisconsin, late March. Sunshine and 36º F. Icy north wind veering to east.
Snow everywhere - except on the roads.

Dramatis Personae:
Sue, a determined blogger and desperate cyclist
Mr. M, her loving husband and personal bike mechanic

Costume:
Shorts
Tights
Wool tee
Jersey
Arm Warmers
Jacket
Wool Socks
Fingerless Cycling Gloves (bit of a mistake, that)
Helmet Full of Holes (it came that way)
Touring Shoes

Machine:
Iris the Invincible (vintage Cannondale, circa 1986)

Course:
Wimpy Moderate 15.2 miles with one tiny hill

Soundtrack:
Thrumming tyres. Crunch of road salt. Whistling wind. Sandhill cranes. Geese. (And a whole lot of other unidentified birds - at least it sounded like spring.)

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Sunday being forecast for snow, this exciting production actually took place Saturday (thanks to the thoughtful advice of Mr. M).

Prepped by a hot bath (what better way to warm up the legs before exercise, was my thought), I spent what felt like half an hour struggling into the eighty-five or so clothing layers mentioned above - and was tempted, when done, to call it a workout. But thoughts of my loyal friends and readers (and horror at having to peel the layers right off again) drove me out the door and into the saddle.

Across the mud and ice of the driveway and onto the blessedly dry street, I feel again that sense of collapsed time peculiar to the first ride of every season - as though all the months between have slipped into nothingness and I've never been off the bike.

Around the corner and headed for the village limits; dang, that wind is cold. But the eighty-five or so layers are keeping me warm; only my fingertips really feel it. (Note to self: look for a pair of cold-weather cycling gloves or even running gloves. They may even be on clearance this time of year.)

The snarl of snowmobiles sounds behind, and I turn to see two of the beasts go roaring by. Strange, somehow, to be cycling during snowmobile season. It gives me a smug pleasant sense of derring-do. "Cyclist Faces Wintry Weather, Armed Only with Wool and Determination." "While Others Burn Gas, She Burns Calories." "Cycling: The Quiet Way to Enjoy the Outdoors." (Does anyone else visualise silly headlines? Dreadful habit.)

Out of the village, the snow-covered countryside is of a boring white-and-brownness...


...and I begin to wonder why I brought my camera. Can there be anything worth snapping?

Why yes. A shadow shot, for one:


And red barns still make pleasant spots of colour:



Bare trees still have beautiful shapes:


(And in default of other subjects the desperate blogger can always fall back on self-portraiture.)


Uh, oh. I'll have to slow down for these curves:


(As opposed to taking them at my normal superhuman speed.)

A bit farther on, I look up to see two sandhill cranes just crossing the road and stepping softly onto the verge. I'm past them before I can wriggle my camera out of my pocket, so I turn the bike around, very slowly and nonchalantly, and come cruising past them to snap their portrait:


Like stately dancers they cross and re-cross each others' paths. I snap several photos, but it's hard to ride slowly, balance the bike, and get a clear shot while trying not to spook the birds.

Which is why this shot is cross-processed:


(Though out of focus, I loved the composition and wanted to redeem it somehow. The cranes have a sort of Oriental grace, I think.)

Long-time readers may recognise in the next shot my favourite willowy corner. Though it looks rather more wintry than usual, the willow-fronds are glowing with thoughts of spring:


And here, my favourite bend in the road:


(This bend, and those trees on the right, seem like very old friends. I don't quite know why I like them so much, but I do.)

Around more bends, up the tiny hill, down the other side ... through woods and past houses and a favourite tumbledown shed (which I pass too quickly to snap).

I reach my favourite marshy bend. One one side, wild geese dot the curving river's edge. When I get off my bike to take their photo, the two in the center start shrieking battle, murder and sudden death. (You'd think they'd never seen a human with a camera before.)


I don't want the flock to fly away, so I cross the road to the goose-less side and snap these satiny-black waters ringed by white velvet snow:


Then onto the bike, with freezing fingers, and six more miles to go. How good it will feel to get those digits out of the icy wind and into a warm house....

And it does. But my legs would have been happy to keep going; it's nice to know that last year's training hasn't worn off.

A very good ride, though cold.

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P.S. If you're reading this before midnight CDT Sunday the 24th, you still have time to enter my Red Hot Giveaway. Click on the big red giveaway button in the sidebar, and leave a comment telling me which book (of those pictured) you'd like to win. Good luck!

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37 comments:

  1. Hi Sue, your photos are lovely. I miss not having snow :(. It's always a pleasure to read your posts!

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    1. Thanks! It's probably MUCH warmer where you are.... :)

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  2. You are gung-ho and dedicated! Very admirable. Keep it below 35 mph, would ya' please sista'?

    Looks like you are flexing in the shadow shot. :-)

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    1. I'll do my best to stay under the speed limit (she says meekly).

      It does look like flexing, doesn't it? I was trying to get a photo from an angle that didn't make me look like a giant lump on a bike. :)

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  3. You are a superhuman biking in this cold weather! Marvelous pictures!

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    1. Call it desperate.... :)

      Thanks Barbara.

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  4. You are such a brave woman cycling in that weather. Well either that of mad. It looks like such a beautiful cycle though and those cranes just look so graceful. Thanks for sharing.
    Rosie

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    1. Mad might make more sense. :)

      The cranes are amazing - they manage to be soft and majestic at the same time. Perhaps dignified is a better word.

      Thanks Rosie!

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    2. P.S. Hope you're feeling much better now.

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  5. Well done Sue.......although after a hot bath I oftenfind all my energy has drained out of me.
    Beautiful scenery even covered in snow. Love the Willows and the cross processed shot.
    I can imagine how lovely it was to finally be home and warm your fingers.......

    Claire x

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    1. Thanks Claire - I was careful to make it a very SHORT hot bath. Otherwise it would be as you say. :)

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  6. Okay you are a beast, that is the highest of all compliments at our house. I am in awe of your determination. I am afraid that cold weather and I don't get along, I think it is chilly at anything under 60 degrees and want to hibernate, thus the growing backside and thighs.
    hugs to you,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The funny thing was my legs got cold after I got home. Go figure. :)

      P.S. Good thing you moved to Florida....

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  7. I looking liked your post as it is very interesting to read thank you

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  8. Loved the pictures, felt the cold, need a cup of coffee with a little Irish Cream in it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Even vicarious chills demand warm drinks. :)

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  9. The pictures are awesome. I had to get a blanket just to look at all that snow...brrrr. :)

    Wishing you a day filled with sunshine and lots of time to knit/crochet, too.
    Blessings always friend

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! We need sunshine for sure. It will help melt that snow! :)

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  10. Lovely freezing photos!

    OK, you have proved it now. Please don't court frost-bite again, till normal cycling weather comes. Please... :-)

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    1. Don't worry, Auntie. The fingers got red, but not white. And I kept sticking alternate hands into my jacket to ward off the worst. :)

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  11. Applause Applause.... yOU DID it. WOW . I rarely leave my home on the bike until JUNE!

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    1. June is normally more my style - but this year I need to be fighting fit by June for a special ride which is coming up. Hence the ridiculously early start.... :)

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  12. My goodness you are one brave cycling lady! Well done,you must have felt such a sense of achievement! xox Penny

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    1. Honestly I had a sinus headache, and was drinking a ton of water to try and get rid of it, so in addition to the freezing fingers, felt a desperate need for the loo almost the entire ride. (Cold weather makes it even worse.) So it was more a sense of "Thank God I can use the bathroom now!" :)

      But thanks Penny.

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  13. You're well on your way! How exciting that you got an amazing 15 miles in! Nothing wimpy about that at all, especially in 36 degrees! And carrying the weight of 85 layers of warmth! Just think, maybe in a month, we can be back down to three layers... Ha ha! Congrats on getting out there!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ha! Yes, it will be nice to shed those layers.

      And of COURSE I had to get out there. You know why.... ;)

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  14. Beautiful photo's Sue and my how brave you are, I am most impressed, my only exercise of late has been hoola hooping in my warm lounge haha

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    1. That sounds like a lot of fun! I'll bet your tummy is as flat as anything. :)

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  15. I'm most impressed, Sue! So wonderful to meet up with a fellow cycling enthusiast! I will follow your blog and adventures with great delight!

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    1. Thanks so much Paul - and again, the best of luck with your recovery process. You'll be out there yourself in no time. :)

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  16. Weird that we have more snow and colder temps here than you do there! Great pics as always Sue. And yes I have favourite trees, and think up newspaper headlines for life as it happens :)

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    1. Yep, that 36º was a real mini heatwave for us. :)

      MORE snow? Wowie zowie. Hope it all melts off in good order.

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  17. Oh, yeah, those satiny-black waters - love that one! And you are a brave woman, with a brave husband, cycling on such a cold day!

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  18. A braver woman than I am, that's for sure.

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  19. Beautiful ride! I love the cross-processed crane shot. Very graceful indeed. I am SO OVER riding in the wind. I'm very impressed you did it for 15 miles. Wind is way more difficult than hills, in my opinion.

    Fancy bike gloves are worth it. My boyfriend gave me a pair of (eep!) $80 Gore brand cold weather biking gloves for Christmas last year. They keep my hands warm--sometimes too warm--down to about freezing. Below that, my hands still get cold, but above that I am impervious. Cannot recommend highly enough.

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