Rides We Like: An Early December Snowfall
(2017) I had two chances in my hockey career to play a game outside. Well, I had two chances to potentially experience a hockey game outside. The first possible time was a scheduled back-up role at the nearby prep school. Despite not being scheduled to play I still wanted to experience a game without a roof. Wouldn’t you know I came down with an illness the day before and couldn’t dress? The second time was never really a chance. Tupper Lake had covered their rink months prior, though I did play that game.
It’s a pretty safe assumption to regard an outdoor game as something I will never get to experience. Sure there are pond hockey tournaments but they have no goalie. Up until recently I was a sportist without a calling. That is, until cycling came along I struggled to find ways to get outside even in the most inclement weather.
At least that’s how I perceived my choice as I waited all morning for the weather. The forecast stated I would wake up to snow. There was none to speak of when the alarm went off. I checked the forecast for the day and warnings kept popping up saying to expect snow in ten minutes, then five, then ‘Snow will continue for 120 minutes.’ As I sipped my coffee at the window there was not one single flake to be seen.
It may sound strange but I was waiting for the snow. I love the winter weather and all the trappings brought along with it. I love how the outside world gets quiet. The roads clear out of motorists. The only animals usually seen are cardinals robbing nests. Even the slow moving creeks quiet themselves. I love the wood burning smells of fireplaces cranked up in anticipation of a day of coffee and books. This is why I urged the skies to give up the resistance and let it happen.
As I dressed I caught a glimpse of a flake. Here it comes! I was nearly finished dressing when more flakes appeared. At first I thought it was going to be a bust of a snowfall. Out the door and down the community I thought to do a short route and come home. It wasn’t falling remarkably for what was forecasted. I enjoyed the scant amount of flakes bouncing off of my model-like high cheekbones.
The route became more and more of a winter scene. The snow went from a sprinkling to a proper falling rate as the ride progressed. Few cars passed initially. My tires had yet to gain a coating of moisture. “I’ll just turn around after a few miles,” I thought.
There was something that pulled me farther out. The snow got heavier and the roads began holding on to the precipitation. Bridges along the route became easy to identify because of their rectangles of snow unnaturally present on the pavement. I realized for a moment that I was perfectly dressed. “I’ll skip this turn and go out just a bit farther,” I thought.
I crossed the steel grated bridge with slight nervousness. My perceptions came about that the back tire was skidding out from under me on the steel but really nothing happened. The silence of the snowstorm intensified. All I could hear was the hiss of my tires as they finally became wet. I turned along one of the old standby roads and laughed at the fact that every turn seemed to deal a headwind. The snow bounced off over part of me. The flakes died a smothering death on the drippy road. I fell in love with the sugary appearance my tires took on any time I rode through those snowy bridge accumulations.
I was not the only one out enjoying this seasonal treat. I saw at least one person walking her dog. There were at least two groups of walkers bundled for the weather. I passed a house that had one of the biggest backyard bonfires I have ever seen. I wanted to stop and warm my hands by it but I wasn’t sure of the reception I would receive. I took in lungfuls of wood fire smells.
As I made my return the traffic picked up. I imagined these were the grocery store raiders returning from throwing elbows in the bread and milk aisle. I imagined they were proud of scoring two loaves of smooshed bread as well as a bent carton of eggs, some of which were cracked in the melee. I also imagined the bewilderment of the motorists trying to figure out why a cyclist was out in the snow.
I have had chances to ride outside the snow for my cycling career. I think I have gotten out each time the chance has presented itself. The timing was perfect. The roads began to puff up after I got my shoes off and waddled on frozen feet into the house. Expect to see me out on the roads any time a mid-day snow is in the forecast. That’s just my game.