Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finding Nemo – by Bicycle

Winter storm Nemo hit like a bad Clint Eastwood speech the last two days, blowing full force in the Valley. We got nearly two feet of snow in less than 24 hours. People were talking about the Blizzard of '78, but I lived through that Blizzard, I sledded in that Blizzard, and winter storm Nemo, you're no Blizzard of '78.

Sorry... Political flashbacks...

I was eagerly planning to find out what it's like to cross-country ski in howling, snowy winds yesterday, but I ended up spending much of the weekend fighting off the cold that Mrs. V was suffering from all week. Instead, I entertained myself by cooking a special meal for last night. Not a bad way to beat cabin fever, though it sadly added calories instead of subtracting.

Today, I felt a bit better, so I ventured out to the big farm field next door on my skis. Unfortunately, all I could manage to do was post-hole my way around the meadow one time. Exhausting and not fun; no gliding going on at all.

So, I popped back in the house, changed into hiking boots, and hit the road (though not literally, despite plentiful snow and ice) on the all-season, all-terrain, all-awesome Salsa Vaya -- these days featuring the Sport Package: full fenders, lights, and rack.

Before I knew it, I was off in search of Nemo... or its aftermath, at least. My 35 mm Kenda Small Block Eights were enough to keep me upright (with a few intentional pounds lower PSI than usual), and there was no shortage of gorgeous winter views. The weather was very cooperative -- 32 degrees with a warm sun and stark blue skies, saturated with winter intensity. First sighting: a classic Hadley tobacco barn, all decked out in dress whites for the occasion. (Tobacco used to be a cash crop around here, before the anti-smoking days.)

Next, a more traditional barn, with the residential towers of UMass Amherst rising like sentinels in the background. 

It wasn't a long ride, since I didn't want to risk my health, but after two full days trapped in the house (literally, since our plow guy didn't get here until mid-morning today) it was very, very welcome.

Don't let winter stop you having fun. Be persistent, and be willing to compromise. You don't have to be out for hours to feel the good of it. To quote the megagazillion-dollar coporation and their genius marketing guys: "Just Do It."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Adventure Journal: When you're not out there yourself

Okay, so winter storm Nemo has us socked in like a pair of bears waiting for spring. Doesn't keep me from posting about bikes. Or re-posting, more accurately. I spent the morning trolling around on my new iPad Mini, and stumbled across a very promising blog: Adventure Journal. In addition to all kinds of thoughts and reports about all things outdoors, they devote regular space to people doing very cool (or crazy) things with bikes.

Here's one great story about a Black man in a sketchy neighborhood in Denver who's singlehandedly building a cycling culture, against great odds. He fixes WalMart bikes for homeless folks needing to get to jobs, and also spends time in the summer building his own whips, branded Chocolate Spokes.

Here's another about a Canadian racer who will be spending the winter training in Florida. No news there, except that he decided he needed yet more miles... So he's riding all the way there. Through snow and single-digit temps.

I'm guessing I'll be spending more time on Adventure Journal.

In the meantime, pass the remote, willya?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Midwinter Meander

Three-and-a-half hour winter base ride today, temps could have been higher to suit me -- mid-20s most of the day. Thank goodness for my wonderful new Thermos with the one-hand trigger-top sip lid.  There is just nothing as good as hot coffee on a long, frigid ride, especially when you can drink on the fly. Though pulling off on a ridge-top to enjoy a moment of sun and a long view makes the taste that much better.

Everything the Thermos site says about this puppy is true, and then some. And, with a standard stainless steel bottle cage, I can squish the opening a bit and the bottle stays snug.

The ride was beautiful, cold, long, and fun. Not necessarily in that order.

Rusting farm machinery, some of the Valley's best scenery

Circles times circles

Colors aren't restricted to spring and summer

The eponymous feature of Falls Road -- Frozen, for February

Can you see the ice fishing folk on Lake Warner? Dozens!

About eight miles in, when my fingers felt close to frostbite, I considered cutting the ride short. Glad I didn't. Whatever you do in the winter to stay fit, make sure to put some warm clothes on and get outside as part of it.