On Bicycling and Busting Out

Today there is barely a hint of the several feet of snow that plagued our community this entire winter, and after a very long and brutally cold winter, we are seeing small signs of spring. As I said, small... but there all the same. Winter has been harsh on us Midwesterners, to be certain. But we have seen a couple 50-degree days and some much-needed sunshine here in the last week, and our roads at the moment are ice free, allowing us cyclists to finally get the road bikes off the trainers and onto the streets.

I, myself, haven't had the road bike out yet but may do so this weekend. In winters past I have ridden my road bike all winter long. Not a chance this year. With something like 65 inches of snowfall this winter, not even my wider tire cross bike was a match for what Mother Nature dumped on us. The few rides I did manage outdoors on my Surly Straggler on the rare above-freezing day were a bit on the messy side -- through patches of outright snow and ice or slush and pools of melting snow. I totaled a meager 75 outdoor miles this winter. And though a bit chilly, wet, and sometimes muddy, those rides still were a good deal of fun and a much-needed respite for this cabin-fevered lover of all things bikes.

Now, mid-March, with spring teasing us a bit with a 54-degree day (ever so cruelly followed by a 27-degree day), I am more than just a little anxious for warm weather and outdoor riding. And so this post, my friends, is my eulogy to winter. It is here that I make my peace with an unforgiving record-breaking Midwestern winter. Here I let go of the gradual weight of seemingly never-ending days of sub-zero temps and ice-covered everything that bound me to my trainer. Good-bye to those sweaty motionless trainer rides staring at the blankness of my sliding glass door blinds. I can see the pavement now, and I am busting out.

Granted, winter and I had a few good moments, but they really didn't measure up to long rides on warm days filled with favorite stops along the way... my bench at Riverfront Park... my bench at Perry Farm... a late afternoon coffee at Starbucks... an ice-cold root beer and deluxe hot at Jaenicke's after a 40-mile ride on a 95-degree day. With spring comes sweet freedom. I'm so ready for that again.

As I count down the next five days to the First Day of Spring and dream of warmer days that are going to get here eventually (I just know it), I share with you a few memories of my winter rides...

An early winter ride on the Kankakee River State Park trail before Snowmageddon hit in full force

Gritty Greta at Perry Farm

 A late afternoon ride at Perry Farm

Yesterday at Riverfront Park, a beautiful 54 degrees with 31 mph wind gusts
 (but now a high of 25 predicted for tomorrow)

Ah, Spring, please get here. As Carly Simon sings...

Anticipation, anticipation 

Is making me late 
Is keeping me waiting 


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