Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Steely Skies and Slicing Wind

Sand bars and rock reefs break the surface of Lake Wentworth, drawn down for the winter. The west wind beat the surface into white-capped waves and flung icy drops that could have been sleet into my face as I rode along the shore this morning.

The battery died in my camera after I took this shot. Maybe it was just cold.

The forecast said the day would clear, though the temperature would remain cold. They got the cold part right.

Streams of white flakes flowed sideways on the relentless wind this evening. My clothing worked perfectly to keep the weather out, but the raw wind and deepening dusk still gave me a sense of urgency.

For the darkest commuting time I can reduce my exposure to traffic to just a couple of blocks in downtown Wolfe City to get to the DERT. Once the season turns dark and cold, I have the path almost entirely to myself.

My biggest worry is skunks. I could totally imagine running over one in the gloom.

Once I got away from town and open water, the wind was just a sound effect. I ran over branches, but nothing big. With no derailleurs, I had nothing to fear.

Snow accumulated on the trailside ground cover and on my gloved hands in a white rind. The plank bridges were coated and slick. The rails were treacherous.

On the morning run, I had hopped onto the trail after my Lake Wentworth diversion and gotten railed on one of the crossings, but again it offered slapstick comedy rather than a real smackdown. This time the bike went right down and I ejected off the left side. I ran it out slap-footed for a few yards before turning back to pick up the bike. I pulled a wad of compost out of one handlebar plug. That was the only mark on the bike or me.

Bike commuting days get really scarce after this week. I have to start the northern run, so maybe I ride a dawn patrol, conditions permitting, or maybe I turn to other training methods. The weather calls the shots.

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