Boxing Day

There is no more perfect a cure for overeating (in my case turkey, bacon rolls, sausages, roast veggies and then plenty of trifle) than a good bike ride.  Once again, I could not have asked for a better day for it.  Clear, bright sunshine, almost no wind, and with the colder temperatures we are now seeing the dramatic looking ice flows form in the lake.  The blocks of ice have not fused together yet, so they still bob up and down sluggishly in the water.  If we see the temperatures continue to drop over the coming week then they will become one solid, unmovable mass, an ice wasteland.  A couple of weeks later, usually by the end of January, and you’ll be able to walk your dog out on the lake.

There were surprisingly few people out despite the gorgeous weather.  My first encounter was with a middle-aged lady and her Alsation.  She started a conversation with “How’s the riding?“, and then promptly continued with “Either you or I will have to go because I can’t handle him, he’s too strong“.  I was smart enough to realize that she was referring to aforementioned dog who was now pulling quite energetically on the leash in my direction.  I bid my farewell!  I was not in the mood to be eaten by a large German Sheppard, or anything else for that matter, and besides, I had some snow riding to get on with.

I went as far out as the lighthouse, a landmark in Lachine which is right opposite a familiar summer time haunt, the Dairy Queen.  Boarded up during the winter months it is a sad site at this time of year, but the lighthouse presents a terrific photo opp, especially with the ice forming in the water below it.  The empty car park surrounding the lighthouse provided an excellent opportunity to practice sliding.  I am pleased to say that I did not end up on my arse this time around.  I am either getting better, or I am simply not being as bold in my moves as I was before.

The homeward ride back was into a very slight headwind, but it didn’t affect me.  It’s the depth of the snow that you’re riding in that’ll determine whether or not it is going to burn your lungs and thighs.  It’s funny how you can tell what surface lies under the snow.  It has not been on the ground long enough for everything to freeze underneath, so you have more give when riding over the grass, and you immediately feel the resistance of the tarmac as soon as you come across, by chance I might add, the bike path.  Riding on the footpath, which had been well marked by the passage of countless feet already, and you were setting yourself up for a real bone jangler.  The form of everyone’s footprints had frozen riding over them produced a violent vibration.

I got back home after an hour, and I estimate that I had covered about 20-22 km.  In the winter, it’s not about the distance, though.  I think you have to measure a ride by time alone, because the difference in riding and terrain and general conditions demands it.  One hour out in this feels like a bloody good ride to me!  There is something incredibly satisfying about looking down at the crank and seeing it covered in slushy, icy snow.  The simplicity of the gears, one large cog connected to a smaller rear cog by a chain, belies the immense amount of fun that you can get from a bicycle.  It is no wonder that the basic concept of the bicycle has not changed form the beginning of the 20th century.  Why mess with something that works as perfectly as it is ever going to?

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4 Responses to Boxing Day

  1. tuckamoredew says:

    I agree, you can’t compare this sort of winter riding mileage with fair weather road riding. I think it is more akin to cross country. There must be some sort of riding effort equation with coefficients for temperature and terrain. The answer is likely expressed in units of Fun.

    • James says:

      I could not agree more. I think measurements in “fun” are entirely appropriate given the nature of the riding at this time of year. I popped out again this afternoon for an hour and had another blast around the neighbourhood, although the temps were mild today and that has already had an effect on the state of the snow on the bike path.

  2. Steve says:

    If there is an equation comparing winter to summer miles, it was almost assuredly invented by a Canadian. Get to work, guys!

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