Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Thaw Ride

I didn't intend to ride in January. A typical warm front approached 4 days ago, melting 12" of snow (insert big sigh here) into rivers running down the street. Rivers of refuse and salt. Yuck. Not my idea of good riding conditions. Besides, I'm content to give up the bike for the cold months. The January thaw—typical for Vermont—lasted five days, just enough to dry out the roads for one gorgeous, sunny day. Time for a ride.

However optimistic, I still had misgivings. The wind was ferocious. Forecasters predicted dropping temperatures entering the region for later in the day. I changed into double layers of tights—just in case—unlocked the porch where bikes are stored, and was met with northern gusts that howled, whipping trees. Afraid of cold fingers, I bagged the ride and changed into pants, opting instead for a walk.

Yet, I stepped outside to discover it was still in the 40sF and the wind really wasn't bad. Jeesh, I'm so indecisive and frittering can eat up time! Before I changed my mind again, I grabbed a few things, secured a strap around my pant legs, hauled the bike off the porch, and headed out.

Burlington's bike paths are not plowed in winter and could easily have accumulated snow—despite the big melt, so I avoided them in favor of city streets. But I needed a destination. I'd been thinking about my deceased grandfather, having just used his tools and reminiscing with a relative about Gramps, so I headed to visit his grave.

I hadn't been by the cemetery for a year. Dead grass flattened against all the tombstones, newly uncovered from nature's weighty blanket. I easily found my grandparents' resting place.

Grandpa's stone, especially, is uniquely decorated with two bicycles. That was my mother's doing and I can't thank her enough. I smile whenever I touch the granite etching, tracing fingertips along the grooves. (Read more about Grandpa and his bikes here.) Moss and grass covered the edge of the stone. I searched for a tool that wouldn't harm the marker's surface and came up with a plastic tire lever, which as I scraped, pulling grass with my left hand, I had to laugh—Grandpa would've liked my ingenuity.

After quiet time with my grandparents, I took a chance and looped back along the waterfront trail. It was generally clear, though I gingerly rode through slushy spots, walking troubled areas thick with snow. I still had time for a half mile swim, then met wild boy at school.

As I walked home with him it occurred to me that I completed another anniebikes triathlon. How odd in January!


  1. Good for you Annie for getting out there. I talked myself out of it this past weekend.

    Your grandpa's stone is very touching and tells us more about you. I always tell my husband and children that if I go one day that I want a stone showing me riding my bike up to heaven. Sorry if that sounds morbid, but it's true.

    1. This grandpa meant a lot to me for obvious reasons, but he was also a jokester and had fun with all his grandchildren - truly a hip grandfather.

  2. We just need to get you a Pugsley and get it over with!

  3. Awesome to get out there on the bike in the winter, especially up there in Vermont. We also had an oddly warm week, it was so beautiful to ride. But, I haven't been dealing with the slushy melted snow either.

    That bike on your grandfathers stone is also really cool. When I first saw the picture I thought you had drawn it with that tire lever and I was very impressed!


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