We got our first real snow in a year on Thursday night. Not much -- a few inches -- but it was enough to merit digging out the cross-country skis and head to our local hilly golf course. It was technically a weekday morning, and there were delightfully few others around. I parked on the shoulder, clicked in, and off I went. Once I climbed to the top of the hill, I discovered an extensive network of wooded trails off the back of the course, and amassed one-and-a-half hours poking around back there. Not bad for the season kick-off.
Friday, I spent part of the afternoon at my LBS -- Hampshire Bicycle Exchange -- chatting away with the good-natured staff and taking advantage of the off-season lull to commandeer some of their professional-grade tools. (Oh, joy!) I finally properly (re-)installed on the Vaya the fenders and rack I'd bought from them a couple weeks ago. Consequently, yesterday found me tooling around downtown Hadley on said bicycle, sporting my stylish new black Ortlieb pannier and running every errand I could think of to extend the ride. (Pix and reviews of all gear to come, in the new year.)
During a what-the-heck addition of a back road with a good view of the Holyokes, the next snow started dumping, and I made for home.
I'm rediscovering the joys of winter riding, both through commuting to my new one-day-a-week private practice office, and going everywhere by bike this vacation. It's been the healthiest, happiest vacation I can remember.
That snow yesterday turned into three or four more inches overnight (oh, the joy of hearing the plows going by all night!) and I headed back to the golf course this morning to find out where those trails really led. Miles of woodsy tracks led me on and on, though I was out of food and the needle was on E. Postcardy tableaus of snow-laden pine branches against bright cobalt skies, and very few fellow travellers, once I really got out there. Two good hours of exploration and exertion, followed by an exemplary guten-free, aprés-ski grilled sandwich and hot java at Cushman Market, clomping around in my ski boots.
Thence, homeward, fully sated.
How often I've said it, and yet I keep discovering it: The Pioneer Valley is an outdoor paradise. Get out there!