Considering how much the stuff limits my winter cycling, my enthusiasm for this year's first real snowfall is a little perplexing. What exactly am I so excited about? Is it the lack of traction around bends on the unsalted roads? Is it the poor visibility? Or is it the overall fact that my two-wheeled travel radius has just decreased by a factor of god-knows-how-much until further notice? Oh the moaning I've done about snow in years past once its presence was no longer a novelty! Has my memory been wiped clean?
And as I look at the endless expanse of white that used to be a field with a lane going through it, I am convinced that is exactly what happens. Snow arrives and wipes everything out, including common sense. "You've been rushing about too much, thinking too hard," it whispers. "There, I fixed it for you! Look how pretty and fluffy I am, aren't you happy just being around me?" And indeed we are. Even as it causes disruptions in services and wreaks chaos on roads, we grin and hop about like children in the presence of its magical sparkle.
Some of us also venture out on bicycles!
Studded tires? Nope. Roads been salted yet? No sir. Superior handling skills? Don't make me laugh! But what the heck, let's just go and see what happens. Who can resist the call of the siren?
The thing I remember straight away about cycling on snow, once I start doing it, is that it's actually not so bad - as long as there is no ice. The sensation is similar to cycling through not-too-thick mud, and also to cycling through shallow sand. In fact, if you can imagine adding some sand to some watery mud, it's kind of like that. What happens to me on all of these surfaces, is that the bike starts weaving - either fishtailing, or its scarier opposite, "fish-heading." Now, that might seem scary at first. But the secret here, I've found, is simply to let it weave a bit without tensing up or touching the brakes - rather than tightening up on the steering, or worse, attempting to stop mid-weave. Counter-steering a bit also works. And then, before I know it, either the weaving disappears, or else I just get used to it and stop noticing. Either way, it seems I can happily plod along a snow-covered lane without incident, traveling to such distant and exotic places as the shop a mile down the road, or to visit friends a bit further on.
"Yes, there is cake and carrots in there. Which are you after?"
I am sure it won't be long before I am moaning and groaning about the weather cramping my style again. But for now I am on a high from actually managing to ride my bike, even a little bit, in these conditions. The bicycle, exhausted and proud, is now dripping in the front porch and I am thawing off by the fire with a ridiculous look on my face. It's a snow daze!