Known for riding off the front of group rides only to be caught in the first mile, CJ got back on a road bike and realized he must win the Donut Derby at least once in his life. Regularly pledging he's "not a climber," he can be found as a regular attendee of Trexlertown's Thursday Night Training Criterium or sitting on the couch watching Paris-Roubaix reruns. CJ has been a constant rider of the Hell of Hunterdon in New Jersey and races the Tour of the Battenkill before going into seasonal hiding on cross-country ski trails.

Rides We Like: Through a Blizzard

Rides We Like: Through a Blizzard

(2017) There are times when the professional world says, “Screw it. Stay home.” This coincides with my industriousness in the kitchen producing challah bread and batches of switchel. Snow days are a balance of relaxation and hard work. With limited resources, one only has a handful of options with which to execute a plan. Nagging though, are the snow piles growing outside and, unless one lives in an apartment, the job gets harder the longer one waits. Time it just right and it just might involve two shifts of shoveling.

 

Inspiringly there are times when the weather is so unwelcome that it excites a rider to roll the bike outside looking for bragging points. Or, the trainer is just that monotonous. After deeming the challah bread a success for French toast but before steeping ginger for switchel, I scheduled a 29er ride to roll over snowdrift roads amongst blowing snowflakes. The miles spent in the sweltering summer on the same roads were recalled to contrast the winter ride.

  In all the miles completed, only three cars passed by. Here the road went from relatively clear to windblown farmland roads.

In all the miles completed, only three cars passed by. Here the road went from relatively clear to windblown farmland roads.

I rolled over an array of conditions. For several miles I picked a line over crème brulee covered roads. The crackling of the hard snow and ice was invigorating. The wide tires ate up the frozen corduroy vehicle tracks. At one point a well-timed traverse behind a row of coniferous trees blocked an intense crosswind coming off of a farm field. It would have certainly pushed me into the gutter. Often the brief wafting of woodstoves created a downhome feel in a countryside blanketed with snow.

 

Moving over to secondary roads and the surfaces cleared to reveal slush mounds that clogged the drivetrain. The piles of watery snow resembled the morning smoothie that accompanied the French toast. There were moments of descent that flung road spray off the front tire but catapulted it over my helmet. The Ass-Savers clipped to the saddle prevented much of the backside drenching. I decided I would make mochas when I returned to warm up the cold fingertips holding firmly onto the handgrips.

  The crosswind covered the whole road from right to left while the road curled off to the left, creating a tailwind.

The crosswind covered the whole road from right to left while the road curled off to the left, creating a tailwind.

One of the greatest moments came when I rolled toward a banked turn located in the middle of intense crosswinds. The tunnel of blowing snow made me excited to enter it. The sugary snow meant the handling required the utmost attention. The piles reached from one side of the road to the other. All the blowing snow created a smoky effect on the road. The best part involved the sudden tailwind picked up on the way home after following the road. The bison tacos for dinner would warm the body after battling a scant few miles through Bucks County farmlands.

 

Of the four seasons I still love winter best. I always anticipate the hour before sundown after a major snowstorm. The darkness that wraps the land paradoxically feels like a comforting blanket. The porch lights that are usually taken for granted twinkle innocently when the storm blows itself out. The living room lights cast a warm glow to encourage relaxation on the couch after a long day of hard work and sitting back. Adding a bike ride into the mix that took several hours to thaw out makes me glad that I said, “Screw it. I’m going riding.”

Review: Long Rifle Soap Co. Tallow Shave Soap and Bar Soap

Review: Long Rifle Soap Co. Tallow Shave Soap and Bar Soap

Essay: On the Wheel in the Sky

Essay: On the Wheel in the Sky