It was Monday and winter in Iowa finally came in the form of snow. I had swept off my steps around 10 a.m. and realized that I would appreciate a clear path to walk on when I left the house for work. The snow was up to the ledge of my bottom step. Joy! I am not a winter person, my enjoyment of playing in the snow long since flew the coop. I became aware of the unpleasant factors of snow at a younger age, which for me overshadowed the enjoyment one can have. Snow can create slippery roads, challenges, delays, coldness, wetness, and creates another job for me to do.
I won’t lie and say that I do not enjoy making a snowman here and there and I’m sure I would enjoy sledding if given the opportunity. Preparations for my work journey began, for I’m very much the person who will give herself extra time to get from point A to point B. No reason to rush, besides, rushing is usually what causes accidents. I will wear all of my winter gear, and will undoubtedly look like a storm trooper riding in a siege of white abyss.
I got my bike and prepared to take off on my journey to work in this winter wonderland of fluffy snow and swirling flakes. When I started to head down my sidewalk I thought that I should turn my bike to go into the yard. I’m running a fat front tire; let’s see what this thing can do. The next thing I know I get another lesson in the turning capabilities of my bike. With a larger front tire, the definition of tight turns becomes wide. You slow and turn very gradually and anything out of that new normal will not work. Fluffy, light, slippery snow made contact with my tire that had hopes and dreams beyond its capabilities. I did a slow motion fall into the snow in my yard; much to my disdain, my elderly neighbor saw me.
She’s not a terrible neighbor by any means, and we get along pretty alright. She does have strong opinions of cyclists, so I’ve generally kept my distance from her after an episode last year. I could only imagine the worst, her laughing manically in her head at my snow-covered rear. I heard her ask “Are you okay?” to which I replied “Yeah!” while brushing the snow frantically off my jeans. It’s not so terrible until you are at work, thawing out, and have very wet legs.
I continued down the sidewalk with an attitude of “Well, let’s do this,” and pedaled along. My most awesome challenge every year is Mill St. hill, which to me is almost like sending yourself off the edge of the world in old history. You come to the top and see down, hoping with all hope that a car doesn’t either buzz past you down the hill or smack you while coming up. You hope that you go slowly enough so that if you do wipe out, you won’t get hurt. You also hope that you do not have an audience of any sort, and please let me make that turn! I inched my way down the hill, my back brake squawking due to being cold. “Oh boy, everyone can hear me coming. I should be okay.” I tried to warm up the brake by holding it in just a little to rub continuously, but it annoyed me too much to keep up with it. I made it around my turn and made my way to the stop signs. My balaclava covering my nose feels like it inhibits my breathing. I feel like I’m sucking in little woolly hairs.
At the stop lights I give a sigh of relief; I made it this far, if I were to go down now that would just be silly. I feel like it’s some sort of epic battle, lone biker fighting against the weather, proving to the vehicles that she is very capable and deserving to be out there on the road. I enter the co-op parking lot, an older man whom is a member as well as an avid biker gave me a big smile and head nod. Stuff like that makes me, who still sees herself as a newbie, feel warm and fuzzy inside. Even tho I may not be amazing yet or have all the technical skills down, or know all of the ins and outs of cycling. There is a sense of respect for those who really give it their best shot.
I came to a stop at the bike rack, successfully I might add, and locked Athena up for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We had our first successful, legitimately snowy ride to work. Last year I remember Travis escorting me to work by bike several times. It was my first winter and I was filled with nervousness and worry. I cannot lie and say some nervousness isn’t there, but I have a better concept of knowing what I’m doing. You could say it’s like riding a bike--you never forget.