Monday, February 15, 2010

Signs of spring

Date: Feb. 13
Time: 95 minutes
Details: Intervals on elliptical trainer at gym; intensity 65-95 percent.

Date: Feb. 14
Mileage: 31
Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Weather: Rain showers, 40 degrees, southeast wind 25-45 mph
Details: Pain ride into the wind and back; intensity 60-85 percent

Date: Feb. 15
Mileage: 46
Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Weather: overcast, 43 degrees, east wind 10 mph
Details: Mid-distance ride; intensity 65-90 percent
Note: Horrible ice break-up on the road north of Eagle Beach

My perusal of the weather report had me questioning whether I should even bother setting out for a "distance" training ride today. Not because the forecast was bad, but because it was so startlingly, unconscionably good. Monday's forecast called for light showers, light wind and temperatures in the low 40s. There was supposed to be a little more rain and a breeze on Tuesday, and then it just skyrocketed from there, turning from partly cloudy to mostly sunny to outright sunny with a 0-percent change of precipitation, light winds and temperatures near 50 degrees. Fifty degrees! High pressure like that often brings serious fog inversions at sea level. Which means I would almost certainly spend those days seeking out high places in the mountains, because it's going to be June-like in the alpine. A prolonged mountain bender will almost certainly wreck any bike training I've been doing with burning-quad, swollen knee, sore back overindulgence, so why even bother with the bike training?

But it was such a beautiful day for a ride, why give it up? As I rolled my road bike down my dusty driveway, there was a strange and yet deeply familiar aroma in the air - a thick, moist sweetness infused with fresh dirt and hints of decay. The smell of spring. And sure enough, as I pedaled down the road, I saw new life emerging from the alder branches:

On Feb. 15. In Juneau, Alaska, latitude 58° 18'. Just when the eastern weather blitz is pretty much guaranteeing snow and ice in places as far south as Alabama and Florida. Could this be the strangest winter ever?