November 2011. I rode outside every weekend, and on through the entire winter. New England weather was mild: temperatures were low, but critically importantly, the roads ice free. Winter 2012. I rode outside almost not at all: late November through mid-March, ice was always on the roads, along with a nasty mix of sand and salt. The result: November 2013, like a three-year-old, I don't know how to dress.
|Hooded merganser continues to fish here, ice or not|
Saturday was cold enough: 30F in the morning, the high forecast for 36. The first skim of ice is on the swamp, but the more interesting thing about the photo is the hard-to-see hooded merganser in the water. It popped up and down, hunting for fish. They are among the first birds to arrive in the spring, and the last to leave in the autumn.
With no reason to hope or wait for warmer temperatures to arrive later in the day, I started off well bundled. Full-fingered gloves, full-foot booties, many layers, a cap ... and headed downhill, to the base of our local mountain, though it is really a hill, not a mountain at all, to pick up a few groceries. And, of course, to get a cup of coffee. Actually, I was hoping for hot cider, which I got there last year.
|Dull hues dominate the landscape|
One of the things I don't much like about this time of the year is the muted, one dimensional color palette of grey skies, grey roadway, grey trees and grey water. I didn't get the bird in this photo, but kingfisher is still hunting this stream, and in past years has stayed until the water freezes solid.
Unfortunately there was no cider, so I settled for a cup of adequate coffee. At least the coffee wasn't at the end of this ride, it was not yet quite the middle. Along with my coffee I had a home-made energy bar (more about these in a later post.) And you might notice that it is time for new bar tape.
I didn't stay long, it was too cold for lingering over coffee. Next was the ride back up the hill. It is one of the longer hills in my immediate areas, climbing about 1,000 feet in something like 3 miles. It wasn't cold, actually I was overdressed and hot. Nonetheless, I was pleased with the climb, realizing that my heart rate was staying lower and my cadence higher than it did the last time I rode it with an eye on those numbers, two seasons ago.
|Look at us looking at you ...|
Once on top I stopped for photos of these two beautiful horses.
16.5 miles, 1700 feet climb