Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ray of Sunshine

After a night of snow that continued through the morning, I thought for sure this would be a day of working at home. Then suddenly the snow stopped and it grew warm and sunny. And just as I stepped outside to get some coffee, the Co-Habitant came home early due to a change in his schedule. Our eyes met and we knew at once what the other was thinking: Bike ride!

This was the first time we've been on a real ride together in weeks. The Pashleys were ecstatic to finally roam freely in each other's company.

It grew so unseasonably warm, that the snow was all but melted by the bright sunlight.

Only this treacherous footbridge really posed a problem, as it was covered with patches of ice and hard snow. The Co-Habitant sped through it as if it was nothing, but I was more cautious after seeing one jogger after another slip on the ice patches.

When the sun began to set, it was one of those golden sunsets and the views were just beautiful.

I especially love the sun's reflection in the ice formations on the Charles River.

Sunlit cityscape in the distance, with that massive field of cracked ice stretching towards it. So magical.

As the sun set, we rushed to complete the trail loop so as not to be caught there in the dark. The Co-Habitant rides like a maniac, even on the slow and stately Pashley. He is much too fast for me, but I am too arrogant to ask him to slow down - so I brace myself, lean forward on the handlebars (this must look quite comical), and pedal as hard as I can. This time I even passed him a couple of times, which made me realise that riding the Pashley exclusively over the winter months, if only for commuting, has had some effect on my strength. He also complimented my improved leaning technique on turns, which pleased me immensely. Leaning on turns is one of those things that didn't come naturally at all. I guess now I finally got it, because I no longer have to think about it - the lean just happens and I even hold the inner pedal up without realising that I am doing it. It must seem silly to be excited by this, but you have no idea how uncoordinated and unathletic I am. The next goal is to conquer the "steer with your hips" thing. Maybe.

Our sun-drenched afternoon gave way to a surprisingly frigid evening, and after getting off the trail we hurried to seek shelter in a cafe. Once inside, I collapsed on the armchair - realising that I was completely depleted of energy. I was revived by hot coffee and a piece of dark chocolate, but unfortunately once we got outside it was even colder than before. We rode home with incredible speed just to warm up. My legs are now mush and I am so tired I can't think straight - but the ride was a welcome surprise in what has been a decidedly low-intensity season.

Next week I am leaving for Austria again and will be there for a month. Hopefully, when I return to the US spring will be in the air and I will be able to go on long rides again as often as I like. In the meantime, today's wonderful ride will be a nice thing to remember while I am abroad. And I have reason to believe that this time I might actually have a bicycle of my own while in Vienna - the person whose place I will be renting might have a spare. Either way, Lovely Bicycle shall continue relatively uninterrupted as it goes international again.

20 comments:

  1. Hurrah, finally a perfect day for you to get out and give Eustacia Vye a good gallop! Lovely wintery pics too. How long were you out? I saw the blizzards in DC and NY on the news yesterday and thought that Boston probably got a bit of that... but here are your photos, with ridable areas and only patches of snow and ice.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one who's had to learn a leaning technique in the last year :-). Feels odd at first, doesn't it!?

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  2. Lovely ride, lovely pictures. Looks like one of those perfect days where everything lines up just so (except for the dropping temps, of course). One thing about winter riding that I've also experienced is not going on substantial rides with my partner. In the summer we often take long weekend rides for the fun of it. In the winter we are happy to make it to work and back with all our fingers and toes :) Here's to luxurious rides in snow mixed with sunshine.

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  3. Carinthia - There was supposed to be a serious snowstorm on Wednesday and Thursday here, but instead it rained on Wednesday and the brief Thursday snow turned into what you see in the pictures.

    Re leaning on turns and all that... The thing is, that when I learned to ride a bike as a child, nobody taught me how to do it properly. I just learned on my own by sitting on the saddle, pushing off with my feet and coasting, until it worked. The entire time I rode a bike age 9 - 17, it never occurred to me that there was more to it than pedaling, turning the handlebars, and squeezing the brakes. I never even switched gears because I didn't see the point of it. So in a sense, I feel that last year - at age 30 - I had to learn cycling from scratch; the physics of it at least. Sounds like a weird story, but I know that other women have had similar experiences.

    Dottie - Exactly. We used to take rides together in the summer almost every time we both had days off (not necessarily the weekend for us). In the winter we have ridden together maybe 3-4 times total. Well, we will just have to make up for lost time this spring.

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  4. I once raced the Tech Dinghy's on the Charles River and I see the Pashley has taken you there in style! Have a great trip to Austria.

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  5. Oh, that looks so lovely. I haven't had a bike ride with my husband since November. I really can't wait for spring and joyrides.

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  6. I love surprise days like that :) Right now in Portland, we're back to dreary rain all day, after a few days of bright sunshine, and I'm already looking forward to the rain stopping again so I can just meander to and from work casually, instead of trying to go quickly to avoid getting wet as much as possible. I'm also hoping to get out and ride around an area of town I haven't explored much on Monday, as I have the day off, so hoping for some weather luck there :)

    Have a wonderful trip, looking forward to news from Austria :)

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  7. Leaning or "counter-steering" (as the roadies call it), is not intuitive and takes practice. However, mastering it will save you from a nasty spill on a curved descent.

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  8. It is always nice to read of your 'adventures' you have had with your bikes.
    The longer and more frequent you use your bike the more your bike would respond 'reflexively' to you/your mind & body. It would soon seem that your bike is an 'extension' of your body. You may not realise this .. I guess by now you could keep your bicycle vertical for quite a while with your feet on (both)the pedals when you apply both front and back brakes simultaneously ... in coming to a halt .... without the fear of falling. (Try this for the first time only when there is no snow or ice on the ground). Soon there are other 'stunts' you would soon get your bike to respond to ! :D

    Thanks for another interesting account of your biking 'adventure'.
    Lem

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  9. Lem, that's called a track stand, and you need to turn your front wheel at an angle to have any hope of getting it right the first time.

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  10. i see fixie riders doing track stands at traffic lights all the time, and while it's a nice "trick", somehow to me it just doesn't look "organic" and graceful, like bicycle riding generally does. it's a jerky movement, even for the experienced track stander. in terms of visual appeal, it's the bicycle equivalent of seeing someone having a seizure or getting electrocuted; it's unnerving to me (no offense meant toward any of you readers who practice track stands).

    as for leaning into a turn, i always thought it was completely intuitive-- i didn't realize there was a learning curve. in middle school my friend and i used to see who could ride a tighter circle-- no hands. i guess if nuanced leaning has to be learned, that's probably how i learned it!

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  11. Nice weekend riding here in CA, just a little bit of rain...so I feel for all of you struggling with the snow and ice elsewhere in the bicycle blogoshere. Spring can't some soon enough!

    Vel...Happy Birthday! I remember you mentioning in a past post somewhere it was coming up soon...Have a beautiful day!!

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  12. "I just learned on my own by sitting on the saddle, pushing off with my feet and coasting, until it worked."

    Same story here though, truth be told, I still haven't realized there is "more to it than pedaling, turning the handlebars, and squeezing the brakes."

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  13. RidingPretty - Thank you, it was on the 7th and I had a great day!

    Kevin - I have indeed gone the entire length of the Charles River trail on my Pashley, including the far off parts in Waltham and West Newton!

    Lemony & Jefe - I can kind of do a trackstand on the Pashley, at least for a few seconds. I go back and forth between employing the coaster brake and pedaling forward a fraction of a turn, and it works. It just began to happen naturally, because I have my saddle adjusted quite high now and struggle to reach the ground when stopped - so I try not to. But as somervillain said, I don't feel very graceful doing the trackstand thing!

    The funny thing, is that with all these new skills I still can't mount a bike via stepping on the pedal and then hoisting myself upon the saddle. Instead, I lean it over until the saddle is low enough to fit under my butt, then hop onto it as I straighten the bike out. I can only imagine how awful this looks from the side, but it's better than having the saddle too low.

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  14. Velouria, you have a perfectly respectable method for getting on your bike. No, I neither like nor recommend track stands. However, counter-steering is more than just leaning. You must counterbalance the lean with increased pressure on the handlebar with the hand opposite the direction of the turn. It is remarkable how sharply one can turn when employing this technique.

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  15. I learned balancing a cycle at 12 when a friend and I played "kick the frame" game, circling around inside an empty city fountain.

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  16. Happy Birthday! And what a gorgeous looking ride.

    I'm going to have to practice this counter-steering technique - that is the one thing about the Oma - my turns just aren't as tight. So, do you not turn the handlebars at all? Just lean? Is this different than the usual leaning into a curve - which still results in wide turns for me?

    I have to tell you, Velouria, that every time I get on my bike I see Maggie Smith as Miss Brodie thanks to you. Now if I could just master that graceful dismount . . .

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  17. imaginarybicycle - It is exactly leaning into a curve. The handlebars do turn of course, but it happens automatically (rather than the cyclist stiffly turning them while keeping the angle of their body and the bike the same). Roadster and transport style bicycles are not as responsive as sporty bikes, so turning on them does take some getting used to. This is the same feature that keeps them extremely stable, so it's a give and take sort of thing.

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  18. I think that trackstands are to bicycles as rolls are to kayaks and spins are to aircraft. I can only do one of the three myself....

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  19. I love your web site--this has been a lovely winter to cycle in Boston--

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  20. You look oh-so-stylish on your Pashley! I hope that I can achieve the same when I pick up my Princess Classic this weekend!

    Looks like it was a wonderful Bike Ride... I'm looking forwards to going on rides with The Boy over weekends when we're together - we don't live in the same City, so it'll be quite special when we finally get to ride together!

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