Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Riding through a Gauntlet of Emotions

Doing the best that I can do right now.

Leaving from my home office after a less than stimulating work day, it was imperative to get outside, (now a strange form of exercise when I used to bike commute). Indeed, 5 pm never rolls around fast enough for me. I alternate evening walks with my husband with solo bike rides on the Burlington Greenway, listening to soothing sounds of waves or relishing the quiet stillness, encountering only a few walkers. This is usually the me time that I crave.

But after wonderful cross-country ski snow, a warming trend has softened compacted firm snow on our trails to slippery mush. I came to grips with this reality this evening, fleeing local water-filled, icy trenches for roadways with cars, (so noisy!), studded tires rattling on asphalt, wondering if it was worth pedaling at all. I passed a beautiful odor-free dead skunk, weaved around puddles, feeling that I was unprepared and emotionally caught off guard after navigating frozen snow-filled paths with confidence for 3 months. Then a car sprayed me as I pedaled through a neighborhood - nobody's fault, I realize - but nonetheless it seemed like the nail in the coffin. What the heck was I doing out here on roads?

Shortly afterwards, I headed to the waterfront path, determined to take my chances heading home on a car free route. It was quite slushy and slippery at times. I had to concentrate to maintain forward momentum and keep the front wheel straight, and even so there were periods when I had to put my foot down, walk a bit, before setting off again. It was then that I realized all the balance skills I acquired from riding on packed snow came into play, lending confidence. Without pedestrians to dodge, I challenged myself to keep at it for as long as possible. There were also stretches of bare pavement - more than I had anticipated - that gave a welcome reprieve from intense bike handling.

As I crested the bridge over the Winooski River, I felt euphoric - this bridge always has that effect on me - because it's the homestretch, because it feels like I'm flying in the darkness. I could walk home from there if needed. As I navigated the last half mile home, I thought about how this particular ride, through a gauntlet of emotions (better word than "gamut" don't you think?), seemed an apt metaphor for 2020 and now 2021. We're all dealing with change, highs and lows, but we keep moving forward, as best we can.


  1. I admire you riding in these conditions Annie, even with studded tyres it must take a lot of concentration. Although we dont get nowhere near your winter weather conditions we have had a few days of ice and snow and I just go for a walk as for me riding in these conditions is just not relaxing.

  2. Love it. Keep it up - I share the love of a challenging trail... the nice thing is the worse the conditions, the fewer people. People are the worst.

  3. I wish my local bike path looked that good. Mine's still covered by dense snow around 10 inches thick, though fortunately melting quite a bit this week with rain and high-ish temperatures most of the week. Mine'll look like that in probably in a week or so. I've got 2.1-inch studded tires and they can handle conditions like that with aplomb, but they're useless in deep snow. I have reservations as to whether even a fat tire bike would work in deep snow; I've never tried one, but it might be better than my current bike.

  4. A helmet is uncommonly useful in such conditions - as well as the realization you can't throw same away once it has been used since one needs to complete the round trip journey first...


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