Saturday, March 01, 2008

How about another foot of snow?

March is coming in like a big, wet sneeze. After the foot of snow now being delivered, we can expect a brief break with daytime temperatures above freezing before three days of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain, according to today's National Weather Service forecast.

The snow banks along my section of road are already well over six feet high. This is a flat, straight stretch without a lot of slope to the ground to give the snow an artificial lift. In tighter sections the snowbanks pinch the road so that two large vehicles can't fit through at the same time. I mean pickup trucks and fatass SUVs, not the really big things, like dump trucks, logging trucks and other massive beasts.

A few cyclists still defy the weather and defensive driving wisdom by going out. One was not only riding south down the shoulder of NH Route 16 in Intervale with inadequate lighting in the deep dusk next to heavy traffic, he was swerving wildly to avoid the large and frequent patches of ice coating said shoulder. His swerves brought him up to, and occasionally into, the travel lane. And this was someone equipped in a way that made him appear to be a real cyclist, not some unfortunate DUI dub on his WallyCo full suspension Mound of Bike. He was cutting sometimes as much as four feet laterally at a speed in the mid to high teens, so it was pretty abrupt.

Inadequate lighting seems to be a theme. Down in the meat grinder of North Conway, at the same hour of a different day, I saw another inadequately lighted cyclist on a mid- to high-grade older mountain bike, just heading into the death canyon between the heavy traffic pulsing through main street's narrowed lanes and the parked cars. Doors swung into that space even as pedestrians popped out from between cars at random intervals. And the grey slush swilled all around, all around, and the grey slush swilled all around. One strip of fixed red LEDs gleamed dully from his seatpost,while a single blue-white helmet lamp announced his arrival in front. Oncoming traffic in the narrowed roadway made it impossible to give him generous clearance and his cautious speed made it pretty unworkable to stay behind him until conditions improved, which would probably be May.

Reveling in the Nordic ski conditions, I still understand the lure of summer's open roads, and the private spring classics we all ride to prepare for them. Just make sure you actually get there.

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