Willow-fronds glowing golden-green
Silently stepping sandhill cranes
Fretful geese honking "Human! Human!"
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Wisconsin, late March. Sunshine and 36º F. Icy north wind veering to east.
Snow everywhere - except on the roads.
Sue, a determined blogger and desperate cyclist
Mr. M, her loving husband and personal bike mechanic
Fingerless Cycling Gloves (bit of a mistake, that)
Helmet Full of Holes (it came that way)
Iris the Invincible (vintage Cannondale, circa 1986)
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
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.)
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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