"Wake up. It's a beautiful day for biking." During my cross-country bike trip this phrase became a euphonism for "Wake up. It's 35 degrees outside, we're in the middle of Nowhere, Ohio, and we have 50 miles of headwind to burn through before we reach the other side of Nowhere, Ohio, so get your lazy butt out of the tent."
However, today reminded me that this phrase can still be said without sarcasm; even in Alaska, in November. I went for a two-hour ride along the ridge above town. There were a couple new inches of powder on the road and I had to earn every pedal stroke - but it's no worse than thick mud. The new snow clung to needles and bare branches, giving the landscape a rich contrast that comes when color is removed. Near the reservoir I met a pack of cross-country skiers on the road. We nodded in appreciation of each other and moved on, crushing through grains of snow as they sparkled in the afternoon sun.