TCI Friday

I glanced to my left as I cruised down the street and spied a mockingbird, its long tail feathers canted upward, perched on the edge of a birdbath. Round the next corner, the song of a bright, red, male cardinal cut through the air. It reminded me of the opening of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique record, “Hey, hey, hey! Ladies!!!” I pay attention to the birds, because I’m like that, although I can tell you they don’t see the future any better than I do. They may be chirping like it’s about to be on, but that is no indication of what the weather will do two weeks out.

Still, by March 3rd, the sun is climbing higher and higher each morning, so bright and warm the snow caked at the road’s edge melts out into puddles, even though the air temperature is still below freezing. The gears begin to tick over in my mind. I should be doing something. The whole world is about to explode with possibility.

There comes a day, every March, here in New England, when the mercury spikes, the sun glows, and though it’s still below 50F, the winter-weary denizens of this region turn out in shorts and t-shirts like a bunch of giggly teens on their way to a beach volleyball tournament. New Englanders have a sort of Stockholm syndrome with weather.

And so, I should be cleaning my bikes. I’m not the most fastidious mechanic. Every bike I rode this winter has some grit caked in its nether regions. I’ll need to use one of these sunny days to set the stand up in the driveway and give each of them a good going over, with soap, water, degreaser, and fresh lube.

And then what?

Honestly? Then I’ll need to bide my time until the streetsweepers come through and clear off the sand/sodium chloride mixture the town has been bombing the pavement with for the last three months, until the trails go from a sort of dirt Jell-o consistency to their firmer, better selves. This is all ok. It’s part of the process. Patience rewards the patient.

And anyway, I can spin the road bike around for a bit, try to amass some “base miles,” and be ready when conditions comes good.

This week’s TCI Friday asks, what are the signs of spring where you are? How do you prepare yourself and your bikes for action? Or is there no difference? Your winter and spring flow together like the Tigris and Euphrates, like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, like salsa and that molten orange cheez in a pile of nachos.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    Wed Feb 23 was that glorious, nearly 70 degree day in Boston. Strava ride title: “I’m away from my desk right now. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m able.”

    Fri Feb 25, heavy snow, early ride before it got too heavy: “Dead Peet’s Society Flakey Snocial.” (Named on account of the Peet’s Coffee in Wellesley being closed and replaced by a bank, because apparently all of the other banks in Wellesley were full.)

    I can’t wait for spring. I’m gonna miss the snow. One last blast up at Kingdom Trails for Winterfest tomorrow. Then bring on the SPF30!

  2. jlaudolff says

    I always say here in Seattle, beware the February fake out. In some ways, winter can be a prime riding season here if you are willing to be a little cold and wet. There are two signs of the spring. The first are the frogs which start chirping in late February through March. They make quite the cacaphony near the bogs around here. The second sign of spring is a big ride called Chilly Hilly. Everyone piles on to a ferry and rides around Bainbridge Island on the last Sunday in February. Then you know winter is definitely in the decline.

  3. TominAlbany says

    Aside from the indicators you’ve described, now that I have my driveway back to it’s actual surface, there’s ‘driving home from work and it’s still sunny’ that’s a good indicator of spring.

    In February, I typically take my bikes to my LBS and ask them to correct the mistakes I’ve made over the past year and make the rides shine. That’s done. And, I’ve had them go over one of the two kids’ bikes. The other is on tap for next week. That leaves me staring out the window until the first rain big enough to clear away the salty grime you referred to. Then, I’m willing to take the ‘good’ bike out.

    Meanwhile, I’ll pull out the boards and use the snow while it’s still good here in upstate NY. In fact, I’m off!!!

  4. alanm9 says

    It’s the sun for me. When I can switch off my headlight before I get to work then happy days are here again. As far as weather, there’s rarely a time in the mid-Atlantic when you can’t get a winter ride in, if you can handle a little cold.

  5. Hautacam says

    I know spring is on the way when I unexpectedly plow into a cloud of tiny gnats on the ride home in the early evening. No risk of bug inhalation in winter.

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