Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mother Nature Sets Me Straight

You know how I was taunting Mother Nature in my last post? That was a mistake, as is messing with your real Mother. I was hoping to goad her into some good snowfall in my city, but I should have known better. My longtime friend and adversary Mother Nature knew precisely how to hurt me in retribution for my insolence, and it was not with the heavy snow I had hoped for. No, she knew better than to reward the manipulations of a transparent and petulant child with precisely what they desired. Instead, she punished me. If I had thought before I wrote, I would have remembered that Mother Nature has a temper when challenged, as even the advertisers of my childhood knew well...

The morning after my last post on Tuesday, Mother Nature responded to my taunting. Remember, what I was after was snow. As I left the house, I was treated to precisely 2 flashes of lightning and 2 claps of thunder, which are pretty damn rare in London Ontario in December. It was as though she wanted me to know that she, and not chance, was at work.

She gave me 0 degrees C, a strong headwind and lots of cold, cold rain. It was miserable by almost any standard. My gear, while pretty good in rain, was no match for what she laid on me. I was soaked. One of the beauties of cycling, however, is that so long as you are working, you remain reasonably warm. My goggles were a godsend and freak that I am, I quite enjoyed my gnarly ride.

If there was any doubt that Mother Nature was at work, it vanished in the afternoon as the strong East winds I battled in the morning changed to even stronger West winds for me to fight on the way home. She tried to knock me down with the wind several times, but was unsuccessful. My best guess is that she was accustomed to knocking over thin, fit roadies rather than a 200+ lb man riding Mutant Winter. I came away from my PM commute energized by the fight and ready for more, so much so that I considered writing an open letter to Mother Nature here on RANTWICK, telling her she had been unsuccessful in keeping me off the bike, and that I had enjoyed the cold, wet and wind because I am a masochistic freak. I was tired and went to bed instead.

This morning it was -5 C, with the wind still strong out of the west. An inch or so of snow had fallen overnight, but it was the nice light, blowing kind. I thought my ride complete with beautiful tailwind was a sign that she had given up on trying to punish me. Sadly, not long into my ride I discovered that Mother Nature, like a thug who knows their enemy will not be broken, had lashed out at something I loved instead:

The tree pictured above was a favourite of mine. It used to make that sharp corner of the bike path extra interesting by sprinkling it with pine cones that could wipe you out if you weren't careful. As you can see, it was kind of on its own, a landmark tree along the path. I liked that particular tree quite a lot. Mother Nature took it down:

The destruction of that tree bummed me out, and took some of the fun out of the remainder of my ride. Much like a parent who has meted out some stern justice, however, Mother Nature followed it up with a little tenderness, reminding me of how magical she can be.

The ride included several of those wondrous moments when you are riding with a stiff tailwind and your speed matches that of the wind precisely. The air seems as still as it would be in your living room despite the fact that you are moving fast, which is just so cool. Throw in some light snow cover unspoiled by the track of any other foot or wheel with just a few ice patches, and it was great. If it had not been tainted by the sadness of losing such a great tree, it would have been as close to a perfect winter ride as I have ever experienced.

It was too dark to get any good video, which kind of sucks, but snippets of video are incapable of conveying how good Winter riding can feel anyway. If you haven't tried it, take a few steps to keep your important bits warm and give it a shot. There is an excellent chance that you will love it, maybe even as much as I do.

Man I Love My Bike.



Rollz said...

I thought of your post the last 2 days as the wind blew me all over. I loved that wind reversal on wed. Today I almost got blown right off the bike. I have ridden in some wicked storms but this gust of wind just caught me right. I am no "thin,fit roadie" either. Tomorrow doesn't look much better.

Big Oak said...

I must commend you on your diplomatic response to Ma Nature. I always take it personally when the wind blows in my face all the way to work, then changes direction to blow in my face all the way home.

Sorry about the tree.

Steve A said...

After my ride yesterday, with 9F windchill & headwinds, I elected to drive in today. In my case, Mother Nature meted out the punishment of crystal-clear skies. A slight nip in the air is nothing compared to the stars and then a winter sun. It wasn't even too windy. My. Co-workers laid it on by inquiring if I'd ridden in and I was unable to respond with the usual "of course." Timely post.

cafiend said...

Nice ride.

I took a fixed gear ride on Tuesday. Ice on one section of my route persuaded me to tackle a more exposed piece of highway with a burly headwind rather than slither precariously on a more sheltered (and shaded) road.

I said "beyitch!" a lot. It seemed to help.

We got 8-10 inches of snow yesterday.

@Steve A: bummer, dude. I know how that sucks.


Skyers said...

Good work!! I'm Glad to see that you rode thru all that wind. I am out of commision for a while but I have been thinking of you when I see the wind blowing so hard. Sorry to hear about the tree..Maybe you can get a new one planted in the old spot. It is The 'Forest City" after all.

RANTWICK said...

Rollz - carry on man! Have you been riding all winter for a while, or is this your first season?

Big Oak - I would have taken it personally of I hadn't DARED her. I deserved all I got.

Steve - I hate that. You ride 95% of work days, and then...

Cafiend - If you ain't talkin' to her, you ain't alive to her!

Skyers - Thanks, and rest that hip for sure. It would be super to see a replacement tree grow in that spot. It was a pine, so I would have a hope of seeing a decent replacement grow... she was big, though.

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