Saturday, December 02, 2006

Embracing Winter

It's often easy, too easy, to look out the window, see the world as hostile and decide to stay inside. It's warm inside, the coffee is on and you really should catch up on whatever it is you're sure needs catching up on. I do this often and often times it is the perfect thing to do.

But then there are days, days like today, when the temperature is just below freezing and the fog is still hiding the mountains. It's early, but I am like a kid on Christmas morning. For, you see, I have these tires now, big rugged studded tires that flew here from Peter White's shop in the frozen northern lands of New Hampshire. Last night the UPS man dropped them off. "You're not going to do anything stupid with those tires now, are you?" Christine's question cuts to the heart of the matter. "No, of course not!" I lie. The truth is that yes, I do stupid things like ride my bicycle on ice. The studded tires certainly won't prevent me from doing this but the theory is that they will let me do this stupid thing in a less stupid manner. This morning is the test.

I'd worried that as soon as I had the tires in my possession things would warm to the point all the ice would be gone but the cold, crystalline air and pale patches of frost reveal a perfect morning. The studs rumble on the pavement and crunch on frozen leaves. I approach the first ice patches with caution but studded tires at 50 PSI grab both bare road and slick ice with equal aplomb.

I ride up to High Point on the trail and then ride the frosty road to Preston. I fill my mug with coffee in Preston and roll on to Fall City. Passing the Dead End sign that is a lie, I roll up to the Snoqualmie Trail and ride up to the fog-shrouded Falls. I descend and turn onto Fish Hatchery Road, past another lying sign alleging that the road is impassable. Two wheels have fewer limits than four and two studded wheels are tools for nearly infinite exploration. But today is not really an exploration, it's a celebration. This winter will not be endured, it will be embraced.

I'm home by noon, with 52 kilometers on the computer and a silly grin on my face. Some folks worry about the rolling resistance of big studded tires, but I'm happy with the way these tires resist. They resist the urge to stay inside, to say "I'll wait until a nicer day."

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