December 31, 2009

White Christmas

As luck would have it, I flew east for the traditional family visit the day after a record-breaking snow dump. A powerful nor'easter deposited more than two feet of snow near the coast, and I spent the first night of my visit with my brother's family because my mom's was impassable.

There was more than the usual chaos outside the terminal at the airport, with nary a traffic cop in sight. This was not a surprise to my brother, who wryly observed that it was cold, and Sunday night. The cops were somewhere warm and dry, leaving the SUVs and taxis to create gridlock as they battled for position at the curb.

With low temperatures of 17F for several days, the snow lingered. I had ample opportunity to shovel it and to refresh my ice and snow driving skills. "Mom's car doesn't have anti-lock brakes," cautioned my brother. No traction control, either. A worrisome crunching sound in a parking lot was simply thick ice that snapped when I rolled over it, not the hallmark of some inexplicable low-speed collision. (Whew.)

Warm rain dissolved most of the snow before my stay was over, leaving nothing of a giant snowman other than his boots and his skeletal twig-arms. All too soon, the visit was over.

And it seems that all too soon, another year is over. A record-breaking year for me, too, having cycled some 3,762 miles and climbed more than 234,985 feet along the way. Not to mention the achievement of which I am most proud, completing all five passes of The Death Ride.

What is my next big goal? Stay tuned to see what 2010 will bring.

December 5, 2009

I Feel It in My Fingers

I feel it in my fingers,
I feel it in my toes.
Cold fog is all around me,
And so the tingling grows.
(Apologies to The Troggs.)

The Low-Key Hillclimb season is over, whatever will I do with myself on a chilly December Saturday morning? [If you have to ask ...]

With my regular ride partner, I led a small group uphill to Henry Coe State Park. I recall my first trip up this road (in a car). It looked steep at the time, and I was astonished to see cyclists.

That was then, this is now. We transitioned into the lower wisps of the marine layer at 1400 feet, but it would not burn off quickly enough to unveil the views we expected. As I climbed, some fellow Low-Keyers from Team Spike were descending. Someone recognized me and cheered me on!

When I reached the top, I had to hunt for the rest of my group. How can you not see a bunch of people clad in neon yellow jackets? Mystery solved: They had taken shelter in the gift shop, which (thankfully) was open and warm. We fortified ourselves with hot beverages (25 cents?!), and browsed. A thin book about ticks, a thick book about mushrooms, and some fine specimens of the local fauna. I am quite certain I have never before seen a badger, and let me tell you, those claws look pretty fierce.

The next dilemma: descend at speed (very cold), or more conservatively (prolonged and cold)? [If you have to ask ...] On the wide sweeping pavement leading into town, I was passed by a speeding pickup truck. Dude! The limit is 40 mph and I'm cruising at ... uh ... 43.