Fresh Snow = Scenic Route

The snow had stopped falling about an hour ago, the sun dipped below the horizon about two. The temperature when I woke up was a balmy 50 degrees, now it had plummeted a full 35 degrees to a mere 15. Now, it feels cold. In less than a month, fifteen will be welcome.

Clouds still hung over town, reflecting the orange glow characteristic of sodium vapor lights. They continued at a stately pace towards the east with a barely perceptible breeze enough to just notice your hair being brushed. Over the Bridger Mountains, over the Bangtails, over the Crazies, each time depositing a bit more snow on the western foothills and slopes.

I stood on the sidewalk in amazement at this sight. Streetlights reflected off the thin layer of ice on the road, buffed to a sheen by passing cars. Two inches of fairly light snow on top, enough to easily slice through with my 35mm tires but just dense enough to drift through turns if I wanted to. I was headed home from a friend's place, and it was a quick North then East route to get home, not even a mile. I wouldn't even be warm by the time I arrived.

I headed West instead. The side streets, silent with most people staying in this first real winter night, were blissful. My studded tires made a subtle sound on the smoother ice, much like a zipper. The rare slushy areas at intersections posed no problem either with my full fenders and ample Surly mudflap. Fixed gear for freedom in this season- freedom from skipping chains, slipping freewheels, frozen derailleurs, icy brakes.

Turning on to Main street I let the front get a bit loose and deftly brought the bike back to a state of dynamic stability by giving the back a wiggle- now there's two wheels drifting...nice. Stopped at a light, a Suburban pulls up. The driver is safe and warm in his steel and plastic cocoon. I am safe with the control my bicycle provides and warm from the joy that only comes from physical exertion. The light turns green, I easily get the holeshot. I ride the wave of green lights for five blocks, the Suburban falls behind a bit more with every light. Finally I turn off and head out to the industrial part of town. The familiar orange glow is more visible now and clearly delineates the clouds. An occasional streak of red and white light signals a car on the interstate. I cross the tracks and take a quick left onto the spur trail towards the old mill. A mile of powder and even more solitude is my reward. Over the bridge and back on the dirt road to head back into town, I'm riding faster and quieter than I ever have here without the dry gravel slowing me down.

It's another lap down main street, then catching and passing an Audi driver. I've got a few more side streets to ride before I get home, but by now I'm getting the feel of the tires when I'm cornering, leaning a bit more, taking the turns a bit faster. I roll in my driveway and brush the cold powder off my legs before walking in to my place.

Winter provides some of the best cycling opportunities. You just have to see them.



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