The weather improved enough during the last week, with temps reaching the upper 30's during the day, the sun shining on and off, melting most of the snow and ice, that the possibility of getting out for a ride became reality Friday and yesterday. I get all giddy thinking about riding, and once I'm on the bike, I revel in the wind against my cheeks, the warmth of the scarf around my neck, and the strength of my legs as I pedal. Even this morning, as I stood looking out over the back deck, watching the rain come down, my thoughts went to riding later today, in the rain. I want to feel the rain, listen to it splatter up, spit high into the air as the tires of my bike roll along the road.
I was rolling along all happy Friday morning. I'd not ridden my commuter to work since reporting back three weeks ago, first because the temperatures were in the single digits and the real feel was in the negative double digits, then because we had a good snow that covered the roads, turned to slush, froze, and stayed that way. I'm not a fan of cycling on snow that has been packed down until it is a thick sheet of slickness, so grumpily and grudgingly, I drove to work.
Friday, though, the temps were in the upper 30's, the wind was light, and the roads were completely clear. No meetings on the calendar meant I didn't have to leave out early. I took my sweet time, finally heading to work around 8:30. I passed by the elementary school and waved at the crossing guard who always tells me I'm in danger of speeding in a school zone. I came to a stop at the four-way and waited my turn to go. I made my way carefully past some parked cars, hoping no one was going to open a door and nail me as I cycled by. While passing the university soccer field, I heard a car coming from behind. It slowed, so I looked over. The passenger side window was down. Then I heard, "Sidewalk!" and the car drove on. I smiled and nodded, figuring the driver was most likely watching my reaction in the rearview mirror, but more because the moment the driver yelled at me, we were passing a Share the Road sign. Ummm, yeah, that's a bright one for ya. I rode on, going to the coffee shop for a cup of Irish Creme coffee and a lemon poppy seed muffin before actually making my way to work.
Yesterday's ride was lovely. I left out mid-afternoon, the sun shining bright from a blue sky. My goal was 20 miles and no hurry. With so few warm, sunny days, I wasn't about to rush through the ride. Even if I wanted to, I'm not sure I could rush at this point; I've not ridden any mileage to speak of since October, so my endurance is at a low point right now. With this in mind, I moseyed along, enjoying the warmth of the sun, not having to wear my neoprene booties over my shoes, and the ease of the new gears on my bike. I enjoyed the piebald faced horse lying down to enjoy the sun, the two hawks sitting together on a utility pole, the three beagles looking out at me from their cage in the back of a pickup truck, and the four shaggy-coated Shetland ponies munching on what little grass there is available in late January.
While I truly wanted to ride today, almost as soon as I sat down and began writing this, the rain turned to snow and the wind came up, blowing out of the east. Sure, I could still ride, but the elements call for my neoprene booties and my balaclava. Unfortunately, I have no idea where my balaclava is. I think it became one of those items I loaned to a certain someone and that certain someone didn't put it back with the rest of my cycling gear. So, I am inside for the day. Maybe this calls for making oatmeal-raisin cookies. And hot chocolate. With marshmallows.