Winter has returned to Edmonton.
It’s absence had been much noted as week after week passed with little or no snow and daytime highs above freezing. It had felt like Spring for so long that I had almost deluded myself into thinking that it really was. During the mild weather I was actually missing winter. As a cyclist, my rational mind knew that this was foolish thinking. Bare pavement and temperatures not prone to causing frostbite are a good thing, aren’t they?
Still, I missed the frosty beauty of deep Winter: sparkling fresh snowfalls, the squeaking crunch of packed snow, the unreal clarity of the bone dry air, and the satisfaction of successfully pedaling through the most adverse conditions. Instead, there was an endless dirty Spring.The roads alternated between long, gritty stretches of salty sand and stubborn patches of rutted ice. The long stretches of bare pavement tantalized me with the possibility of riding one of my fast bikes while the lurking ice hazards denied me any real ability to do so. I became accustomed riding my mountain bike to the ticking accompaniment of my studded tires.
Two days of steady powdery snowfall have changed all this. This prairie city is once again a winter wonderland. I do miss the warmer weather, but I will enjoy the snow while it lasts.
On Saturday, the first business of the day was shoveling clear the paths and having a bit of family fun in the snow. I efficiently combined the two activities.
Much later in the day, after other duties were attended to I was finally able to get out for a little bike ride. Dusk was fast approaching and the flurries were thickening. As I headed out on the road I felt like I was piloting a river boat as I churned through the deep snow spinning in true paddle wheel fashion. The foot deep undisturbed, powdery snow was easier to travel through than the places that were somewhat packed down by cars. The semi-packed snow breaks as one rides over it requiring constant steering corrections to maintain something resembling a straight course. At several points I unabashedly retreated to the sidewalk to avoid traffic. You cannot assume that drivers can control their cars in these conditions. I headed to my favourite local park overlooking the river valley for a little photo session.
By the time I returned home I was becoming overheated and my legs were feeling a bit wobbly. Riding in this sort of snow is quite the workout and I’m glad I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
I also took along my inexpensive bike-cam on this ride. I don’t do this very often as I find most videos I take are boring to watch even for me. On this day it seemed worth it. I like the way that the video frame rate syncs with the wheel rpm to create the illusion of an unmoving front wheel. Also, the constant steering corrections cause the handlebar mounted camera to make it appear that the rear end of the bike is fishtailing wildly.You can see my terrible middle-of-the-foot pedaling technique. I only seem to do this on this bike and only when the riding surface is particularly unstable: I like the way my boot heel rests firmly against the pedal. Finally, I have included what I hope is a mercifully brief amount of Nostril-Cam.
The public domain music (“Winter”, Billy Murray, 1911) was sourced from the Free Music Archive, uploaded by The Cylinder Archive.
WARNING! Watching this video may cause motion sickness.