Sunday, November 16, 2008


November tries to get its claws into me every year. I used to lean forward and train hard in November, anticipating mountain adventures. As I find no time for those, I have no physical goal. With the warming climate, no one can count on being able to do any particular thing in the winter. The skiing could be lousy, but nasty weather could still prevent biking.

In dwindling daylight, with various pressures on my time, I try to get a ride whenever I can. I'm not ready for the rollers yet, because I should be reshaping myself in case I do get to ski. Rollers come around in March. Late February at the earliest. By then I see the rising sun and imagine the open road. Right now I go on the fixed gear for 15, 20 or 25, depending on the available time.

Today was a good one. The temperature was in the mid 40s. The wind howled out of the west. I worked my way west on diagonal roads and then blew east on Route 25 for about eight miles. At Loon Lake Road I turned north into Freedom. From the village there I pushed my way back against the wind, sometimes nearly halted. I stood on the pedals with my hands on the drops, put my nose down on the front tire and grunted out one pedal stroke at a time. The route home crossed the wind except for that stretch coming out of Freedom and a short bit on Green Mountain Road back in the 'ham.

The power had gone out. I left the house dark when I started my ride. I saw the power company truck at a pole several miles from my house. They had the juice back on by the time I got home.

November is National Go Back to Sleep Month. I have very little energy. It's been a rough few years. Maybe that's about to get better, but it hasn't quite kicked in yet. I need the small accomplishment of rides. It's a simple thing, on equipment I already own. All I have to do is get dressed and go do it. I always feel better afterward, even if I got soaked and chilled.

November's skies and the mountain landscape change from one dramatic vista to another in a fraction of a second as clouds gather and shred, gather and shred. All around the continuum of the ride swirls the constant change of the turbulent sky. And then you'll get a day as flat gray and unchanging as the walls and ceiling of a mental institution. At that point, your motion seems to flow through frozen time. Nothing was. Nothing ever will be. You have only this ride, from home to home, for no particular reason. You flicker through a static world, a flash of color in defiance of gray.

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