Terii’s Cycling Babble

A Few More Miles
December 19, 2012, 7:34 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep. Yesterday I made it out the door with the trike for the first time since the ‘Winter Wonderland’ ride.

The weather lately has been highly unstable. After the deep cold and vast amounts of snow, it warmed above freezing. The little walks with Loke were accompanied by the almost musical chime and gurgle of melt water falling from eaves and trees, chuckling merrily through downspouts. In spite of temperatures around 34 F to 35 F, we had snow rather than rain. A heavy, wet snow that stuck to tree branches like glue, threatening to snap them under its heavy weight. The ground snow which had been a fluffy, dry powder no child would have been able to make a snowball out of took on that familiar texture of wet, churned sand. Through it all, I was still sneezing, coughing and sniffling with the stubborn cold.

Yesterday, I awoke feeling a mostly normal. It’s been so long, it felt almost surreal. In spite of his ear and the fact the antibiotics have left him with little appetite, Loke’s been quite high energy. The evening before, he had been making it quite clear the little walks weren’t enough. This was after his ‘grandma’ (Jens’ wonderfully kind mother) had walked with him several miles between their apartment and ours. So, I decided since I didn’t feel sick, I would need to take him for a ride.

First it was a trip to the vet after I called to see if the test result was in. It had arrived late yesterday afternoon. At first the vet had said the pills should take care of it. When I asked advice on cleaning Loke’s ear, she asked how bad was the build up. When I gave her the gory details, she decided she should take a look. She had to clean his ear before she could see a thing. The good news was that it didn’t pain him which is an improvement. In the end, I got a prescription for the ear drops any way, something to use to clean his ear and a quick lesson on how to do so without hurting him.

Then it was home and out the door for a ride!

Yesterday was the first day in the past 3 or 4 that actually got below freezing let alone stayed there. Most of this week and part of the last weekend, even the nights hovered around 33 F to 34 F. But as I wrestled the trike out of the car, it was a nippy 30 F or so. Overhead the sky was a soft, pale gray though for once it wasn’t snowing.

I remembered my promise to my mother-in-law and instead of taking my usual route down the road to reach the school, I went another way on cycle paths to reach the tiny, very low-traffic residential roads to the rest of the river loop. What promise? I’d mentioned taking Loke for a ride and she gave me a very worried look. “Oh, I don’t think you should! It’s very dangerous with all the snow on the street corners! Cars can’t even see your flag and you can’t see them!” I promised her, I would go on very small roads with almost no traffic and paths. She told me she would appreciate it since she didn’t want to see me hurt.

She is right. The mini-blizzard followed by a near constant dusting of snow has left it piled everywhere. Once it’s shoved out of the streets, there’s few places to put it in the city. So there are street corners with mounds over 15 feet wide and higher than most tall men. Shorties like me on foot, let alone sitting on a recumbent trike, are invisible at places. Even with pedestrian crossing lights, turning cars are still a hazard. In most areas, there’s a wall of plowed snow separating sidewalks and roads. Often those are higher than Loke’s back. The city has been trying to haul it away, but it’s just near impossible to keep up.

The few roads I went down were devoid of traffic. Loke spent most of that stretch hopping on his hind legs while whining and yapping as I chewed my way along. He wanted to run. With the layer of sand-like snow over the paving, it was hard going. During the warm months for the first mile or so, Loke can pull me and the trike to speeds of 15 mph without help. Yesterday, even with him dragging and hopping with all his might and me pedaling like a mad woman, the best we were able to do was 8 mph. 9 mph maybe.

It improved a bit once we reached the cycle path beyond the school. We almost made it to 10 mph for a short while. That first underpass was still a bit of a problem, but Loke understood he had to help and we managed that first climb okay. I did get a rude shock while going under the trees on the other side. Bunches of snow still hung on branches above and the air had begun to move in a light breeze. Instead of wearing my usual winter cycling hat with a bill, I was wearing a sort of fleece beanie. A gust of wind dislodged a clump of snow and it fell right down the front of my face.

Without the cap’s bill to deflect it, I found the space between my eyeglasses and eyes packed with wet snow. Thankfully, I blinked in time so protected my eyes. Still very unpleasant and one of those 1 in 500 chance occurrences. If there’d been anyone around, I’m sure they would have fallen over with laughter.

I kept hoping for a glimpse of the sun, unseen since the fog drive, since the clouds were so thin the light made the sky look white. Where the hills had no backdrop of trees to define them, the earth and heavens were indistinguishable, one fading flawlessly into the other.

Our speed dropped before we made it to the second underpass, much to Loke’s annoyance. The week and a half of being too sick to do more than go for slow, little walks with Loke in between sleep and bouts of coughing had taken it’s toll on my strength and stamina. I had to go into lower and lower gears to deal with the snow and my cadence was down. I think roughly half the ride was at speeds of no more than 5 mph. I refused to cut it short though and even toyed with the idea of adding the field loop to give Loke more distance.

Admittedly, it felt good for me to be out too. During all the resting to give my body a chance to beat back the cold, I could just feel myself turning to jelly. The restlessness of ‘cabin fever’ has been picking at me every time I woke up from my dosing on the couch in front of the TV. I hated the idea that the goal of 800 miles was slipping away. Despised that my hard won fitness was softening up.

The wind picked up as we made the turn down the river extension. The river’s ice was a combination of that flawless, snow-dusted white and coffee-n-cream brown where the melt had let the tannin stained waters seep on top. We gained a bit more speed along there. The snow felt more stable so the rear tire bit firmly and the front didn’t slip or sink so much. For about a mile and a half, Loke got to move at about an 11 mph lope. He kept giving me happy husky grins as we sped along.

By the time we’d turned back the way we came along the river side, the clouds had darkened. The sky had gone from the almost pearly white to a misty gray with streaks of pewter and lead near the horizon. Snow spat down at us, hard frozen little pellets. Regretfully, I decided we’d have to forego the field loop. With the deepening cover between sun and earth, it started to get darker. Though the sun doesn’t set until around 3:15 pm it can get dark much sooner with a thick cloud cover. If the trend continued I estimated it would be twilight before 2:30 pm and guess who had left her lights at home?

We had a bit of a snow torrent as we did the zig toward the 272. Those little bits of snow stung and Loke went with his head low and eyes squinted. It didn’t last long thankfully. It continued to get darker though it was just 2 pm.

The usual stretch between the swim hall and home turned into something of a nightmare. The new construction at the swim hall and barriers between sidewalk and traffic combined with the snow made that stretch narrower than usual. There also seemed to be more people than usual. I’d pedal 20 yards, then need to swerve over, putting my left front wheel in the snow, pull Loke tight against me to let a person or 3 pass. Rinse and repeat. No way was I pushing over to the right which would have meant making Loke stand in traffic. He would have freaked out at cars passing on his side.

The final straw was when I saw a pair of unleashed German Shepherds coming. Fortunately, they were well trained and went back to their own when he called, but I didn’t want to test them by passing within inches of Loke. Muttering under my breath, I pushed out into an unlit crosswalk and scurried into a short stretch of road into a parking area. My plan was to take the inevitable foot/cycle path from the parking lot to the main cycle path. It would have been fine… without 3+ feet of snow we’ve had since the end of November.

The parking lot was ringed by a 6 ft tall mound, except where the cycle path to the road would have been. For about 1.5 ft wide spot, well packed by foot traffic, it was only 1 ft high. No help for it. I got up, put Loke on his flexi-leash and began to drag the trike. Very unpleasant and made worse with a hyper husky. The snow packed hard and slick around the cleats of cycle shoes after just a few steps and Loke kept yanking around as I fought to pull the front wheels through 1 ft deep, not-so-soft snow. It’s a wonder I didn’t go down and bust something.

Once I made it to a section of path wide enough to accommodate the front wheels, the rest of the trip home was blissfully uneventful. I made it back probably in the nick of time. For all I know, if I’d been spotted by an officer, they might have given me a ticket for being out without my lights. I felt a little wobbly in the knees and Loke seemed a bit calmer than he’s been. Our total ride was 8.16 miles.

Not too bad, I think. It bumps my mileage to 771.65

Oh! Another statistic I forgot to give in my last post.

Number of Rides – 91

I’d also like to mention that this is the first year since I began the blog that I’ve made at least 1 post every month!


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