Monday, November 19, 2007

Pray for snow

Date: Nov. 19
Mileage: 28.6
Hours: 2:15
November mileage: 475.7
Temperature upon departure: 35
Rainfall: 0.06"

I spent some time today scouting the Fish Creek area in hopes of locating future winter trails, should snow ever finally take hold in Juneau. While mashing over faint foot paths that cross slightly-frozen bogs, I found several tasty possibilities. But who knows what their conditions will be once the snow settles? I am actually considering joining the Juneau Snowmobile Club, so I can advocate for grooming and receive information about local trails. I can already imagine how I'll explain myself when they ask me what kind of snowmobile I drive ... "Well, it's gray, and it has a two-stroke engine with extremely low emissions, and big fat tires, and, well, it's a bicycle ..."

With no new snow for a week and no snow anywhere in the forecast, it is beginning to look like Juneau is going to have one of those "normal" warm winters. The cyclists I meet are absolutely thrilled. Their road bikes remain useful in November and the relative dryness compared to fall has them out in numbers I haven't seen in months. I join the skiers on the sidelines, staring anxiously at the brown slopes and praying that a few of these flurries take root. I don't need snow to be happy. I need snow to survive. Training for a 350-mile race on a snowy trail means training on snowy trails. Without snow, I'm just biding my time and have fun while splashing through half-frozen beaver ponds, for what that's worth. But as I look at my new snow bike and imagine all of things I have yet to learn about it, I'm beginning to worry splashy fun may not be enough.

But what can I do about it? Lucky for me, I don't need snow to simply ride my bicycle. Cycling is one of those beautiful sports that can be enjoyed year round ... snow, sleet, wind, rain, mud, wind, and even, on rare occasions, sun. Come to think of it ... there are few conditions that can prevent a person from riding a bicycle, if a person is determined enough to ride. Unless, that is, the Juneau Snowmobile Club decides to start posting "No Bicycles" signs on the trails. Then I might just have to take up Nordic skiing.