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Riding through Winter’s Wasteland

December 7, 2011

Today’s Ride: 70km—Bell School Line

Weather: Cold, bleak. 0c

I took a wrong turn today. Or, rather, I failed to consult the map with sufficient care to see where I was supposed to be going. My plan had been to explore Lower Base Line, but I misinterpreted where I was supposed to pick up the scent, and wound up rolling down Appleby Line to Britannia, and then back along Bell School Line, before recovering my tracks home. Mild disappointment, but I did try 2 Sideroad for the first time, which was nice.

Riding out of Waterdown towards Mississauga, the residential area recedes rapidly into pocks of working farms, stables, and executive homes. Traffic subsides to a minimum. Leaving me quiet and alone. Out of the valley, snow has not just fallen, but rested, on the fields and gardens. Not much, but more than a dusting. The world is wet underneath. And white mixes with the greys and browns in a foreboding and forbidding landscape.

The rhythm of a good cadence is effortless. And on bleaker days, rolling through empty wastelands, that rhythm is crucial. There’s something invigorating about feeling as though one is the only mobile figure in an otherwise empty and static tableau. Cars don’t count: drivers shielded from the elements and out of touch with their surroundings. Rhythm, tuned to the light sound of rubber on the road. Rolling effortlessly. At speed. Losing the rhythm can be disastrous as every lump becomes a massive obstacle, and the body cools and the legs slow. Winter riding provides a critical reminder that fatigue—especially this time of year—is less a physical phenomenon and more a psychic one. Or psychical. Wind, wet, and cold attack the legs and the core—and fingers and toes—yes; but their influence on the soul can be the real killer. Find the rhythm of the road.

On the brighter side of things, I trotted out my new Fi’zi:k rear light for the first time. I noticed that cars seemed to give me more clearance as they passed. Not sure this is necessarily a good thing (many sat tentatively on my tail when there was ample room to pass—I always find this distracting). But a good sign that the light works and serves its purpose. It certainly provides a sharp and distinct light, despite its relatively compact size. I also like the aesthetic of it being tucked centrally into the back of the saddle, rather than attached to the seatpost. Out of the way, so my leg isn’t rubbing against it, slightly higher, and nicely compact. Form and function.

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