Written by Patrick Stelte - March 2017
The forecast for a recent Sunday in February was 46 degrees and sunny with little wind. The circle on my ride calendar went twice around the date. I was ready. My fast bike was looking eager in the basement waiting for the day to arrive. I posted on Facebook I would be at the Show N’ Go hoping to prompt others to join me. I thought about what I would wear for the ride. The temp and sun meant one layer on the bottom, two layers on top with shoe covers and mid-weight gloves. I had forced myself outside earlier in the week in less than ideal weather and got soaked and dirty from snow melt with a large chafe mark on my upper thigh from wearing two layers in the near freezing cold. Sunday would be different.
The night before, a light snow began to fall. It continued for two hours until 2 ½ inches covered everything. If this were December 24th, I would feel warm and cozy, the fluffy white stuff enhancing the holiday spirit. However this was February, the dead of winter, an everyday gray that marches from dawn to dusk. The month is a lament for winter to be vanquished. The Vikings ravaged their neighbors during a little ice age that could be described as eternal February. They had Ragnorok, all I could muster was patience. To rally hope, I decided to do mental calculations. The hourly forecast for Sunday called for sun and temps that should have melted the snow by the time of the Show N’ Go. I reassessed my clothing knowing that the wet streets and snow covered ground would mean one more layer. I regrettably decided to plan on riding my wet bike (not as much fun), but my optimism for an outside ride would carry my enthusiasm. I went to bed ready for the next day.
The dawn arose in the ashen light of despair. No sun. No snow melt. The temperature was below freezing and my mood fixed on a thought that nothing was going to change. I quickly got online to look at an updated forecast: Sun was coming and the temperature would rise. I resolved to believe, but as the hours passed the outside remained frozen and I was resigned to the fate of broken dreams by a cruel, mocking month. Yet, this February Sunday was not finished toying with my psyche. By early afternoon, the sun finally appeared and the white blanket disappeared a couple hours later leaving a hint of damp pavement. Only a sadistic Norse god could enjoy the irony: the elements were right for a ride, but the light of day was soon to end. “I hate February!” was all that my thoughts could summon. Loki was my torment, laughing at me, enjoying my frustration. I had fallen for the trickster month, the evil gray that is unpredictable.
March is now here and a yawning spring means cycling outside for most of our members. The club officers are gearing up with organized ride schedules and dates to write on the calendar. The initial club event is a presentation on first aid applications for cycling accident victims by Andy Grote. The class is a response to club members’ requests for more information about helping others in medical need on group rides. Every year, accidents happen on our group rides and how fellow cyclists react can make a difference in the welfare of the fallen. I can readily attest to the importance after my accident last year and the care I received by the group. The class has a limit, so sign up at the earliest. Look in this newsletter and on our website for details.
In keeping with the theme of Norse gods, I welcome Freyr, who brings sunshine and fair weather after a long winter slumber. The saddle beckons for the warmth of sun, the smell of growth and deep breathes that fill the lungs with past memories and thoughts of future adventures. I wish you a safe passage and a fair wind at your back through spring travels.