Last Sunday a good sized group was ready to brave the elements for a Southern NJ 200K. Because the forecast on which we’d made plans was dead wrong, we all bagged the ride; good thing, too, as the precipitation that day was largely ice, turning every road surface into an ice rink. Winter is like that; you make plans that sometimes work but sometimes, the smartest thing you can do is cancel them, take a breath, get the fire going and grab a good book.
Today I almost didn’t ride even though the forecast looked fine yesterday. This morning I watched the weather again and heard the mention of a possible flurry or two in some areas (meaning, next to nothing, and certainly nothing to worry about); this forecast worried me, but instead of canceling my plans, I decided to start an hour earlier, and I managed to finish the ride just as the first flakes started falling. Now there is half an inch on the ground, but I’m inside, warm and dry.
I’m so glad I went. There is an austere beauty to the winter landscape: dried seed pods on long brittle stalks, clumps of tall, brown, feathery grass, bare fields to the horizon, brown-black leafless trees, patches of ice and icy slush, and streams half frozen, half sluggishly flowing. It’s quiet, too: fewer singing birds for sure, but it’s almost as if the cold and frozen ground absorbs sound.
I moved through this landscape as efficiently as I could, keeping in mind that I was possibly on borrowed time. An excellent winter ride.