Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Aw, My Bikes are Dusty!

Road through the Intervale. Crusty snow.
So there you have it. I found lots of dust on my bike. But that's to be expected when it sits, snuggly beside my other bikes, like ducks in a row, stored on our back porch for a couple weeks. Or longer.

Winter isn't regular riding time for me. Unless... Unless there's a lack of snow for skiing. And, I came up for air after pecking away at the computer, finally finishing a big homework assignment. Outside it's nearly windless and hovering near 30F. With an approaching storm, it's best to take advantage of a calm window of weather.

Change into long underwear and tights, complete a cursory wipe down of my bike—in the kitchen, of course, where it's warm. Quickly oil chain, pull on my fake Ugh boots, warm gloves, pullover, headband, helmet, grab a handful of chocolate chips for energy, and head out the door before I change my mind.

I immediately head to the Intervale for some quiet. Conditions could be bad there, but I'm in luck. I roll and bump over hard packed snow, pock marked from walkers and dogs. We haven't had significant snow for 3 weeks. The cross country trails are, sadly, bare in many places.

A blue jay sweeps in front of my wheel, making me smile. Cool air. Sunshine. I feel alive again.

I stop to navigate a tricky, narrow section of trail close to the Winooski River that overhangs the bank. I haven't seen the river frozen over like this in sometime. Peaceful. And, there's some kind of animal skeleton in the middle, on top of the ice. Something pretty big. But my hands are cold, so I bypass using the camera's zoom lens to figure out what it is. Or was.

I get back on bare roads, quickly warming when I pedal faster again. Then head to the waterfront trail. In places many trees have been taken down in preparation for widening the trail this year. It looks kind of barren now. Utility poles are exposed, resembling a power company right-of-way. Adding width to the most popular pedestrian/bike trail in Vermont will have it's advantages. I'm pleased that this trail is such a boon to the area, attracting people from all over new England, and especially our Canadian neighbors. And for all of us locals who regularly use it.

I am taken aback, excited as I near the lake. Ice! And lots of it. It reaches at least 3 miles west, towards New York.

I detour to North Beach, Coffeenering #2's location, because I have to see the ice up close.

If Lake Champlain is going to freeze, it happens in February. And it rarely occurs every year, more like 1 in 5. At my feet there's a ten foot swath of ice chips, then a big crack, then plates of ice as far as the eye can see. Sun is low, reflecting on the surface. An eerie sound, like  someone hauling a metal row boat over the ice, though it's muffled and happens randomly. That's the sound of ice cracking.

The ice plates up close, resembling a glossy puzzle.
As I near downtown, sun lowers and casts beautiful light on the lake's surface, shimmering on a rough, frozen section.

And, amazingly, as I get to the boathouse, there are people skating, with others standing atop the rocky breakwater, a half mile off shore. I've thought about getting a pair of skates; this would've been the winter to use them.


  1. Although both beautiful, what a contrast between these photos and your coffeeneuring post. I'll bet a hot coffee would have been a real treat on such an icy day.


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