January 2, 2012

Berkshire Cycling: The Landscape of Home, 6

 Winter Goals

Ahhh...the second day in January, my second ride this year. This can't keep up, tomorrow I go back to work and their is too little daylight in New Englandto ride before or after work. Today the sun was out when I left the house, the temperature in the low 30sF. I figure the only way to learn what is too cold to cycle in is to keep trying as the temperatures drop.

Cold weather cycle pants and a windbreaker base layer make all the difference: again today I was warm. And that is no easy feat ... in my world, I feel the cold quickly. And I suppose it helped that I had both the hat and headband on that I wear under my helmet.

In any case, I headed north towards Dalton, passing the train tracks which carry new automobiles from the midwest to the east and oil or gas, I think, from eastern ports to the midwest. It is the main line for both freight and passenger trains from Boston to Chicago, and passes through the huge Hinsdale Flats ACEC (Area of Critial Environmental Concern.)   The NYC line westward meets it in Albany. It is a shame, a real loss, that Amtrak cannot keep the passenger trains on schedule. We could use a good rail system here, one that can transport bikes.

A female kingfisher hunts this section of stream and swamp. I see her regularly until the water freezes up too solid for fishing. Yesterday there was a raven with its hoarse call overhead.

Intending to get myself more involved in cycling here, as opposed to touring in France, (which I cannot do all the time) I have decided to ride the St. Patrick's Day brevet, 100km ride, from Westfield to Sunderland this year. It could easily be the first ourdoor ride this spring, and could easily be quite cold. So I want to get a feel for riding distances in cold weather. Also, probably because I have come to enjoy numbers, I wanted my last ride before the temperatures plummet to be a 50km ride. Today I was just about there. This week the temperatures are supposed to plummet, with lows below 0F and will probably be the end of outdoor cycling. How funny! I feared that in October when we had the 26 inch snowfall, but it has been the latest cycling season I remember.

 Riding along, I focused on some of the things I plan to add to this site this year: first to appear will be a series of interviews with other cyclists. It will be fun to share their stories and experiences on the web. Look for Loretta Henderson, who is riding around the world, east to west, in the next week or so.

Secondly, I am hoping to build a page of Berkshire resources. It seems somewhat silly that I know where to look for info and resources in France, but not here. I'm hoping that it might help visitors from other parts of the world.

The clouds above this crow threw some small, white things at me for a bit, and the wind picked up as I headed home. My fingers were definitely getting cold, and my feet, even under the booties, knew it was getting colder outside. A nice, easy, 50k to open the 2012 season.

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