Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Come on, Snow Day!

Snow is coming down fast, sticking now to the walks where an hour ago it melted. It coats the leaves; some will fall later, branches or even limbs still attached. The wind picks it up in swirls, the air has that storm-blue light you only see on snowy evenings. outside the basement window, the scrap roll of chain-link fence turns to lace.

They predict 5-10 inches tonight, the second real snowstorm of the season and the first big one. I find myself hoping that WYDOT will swing the gates to the summit shut on I-80, the offices will close and I will dig out my skinny skis and cross-country down the streets in the morning. Come on, Snow Day!

Snow has always made me feel hopeful. Snow is doing my schoolwork at the kitchen table in the breakfast nook so I can listen to the school closures on the AM radio. Come on, Snow Day!

Snow is the year I finally moved West and saw two feet of it on the ground in Alaska in May. It’s moving to a ski town with my now DH and hearing the avalanche cannons go off at dawn. Coffee tastes better when snow is falling. It’s the watercolor  my sister painted for me of my 2nd day on skis, in the Utah mountains. It’s seeing the darkened winter becoming bright, moonlight reflecting so its almost like day.

Snow is also a pain in the neck these days. I’ll wake up at 6 and shovel the walks. Remind me never to buy another house on a corner lot. I’ll spend 10 minutes finagling with the automatic garage door that always malfunctions in cold weather. I’ll go to the office and look out the windows at all the white once, wishing I could go out and play, before I retreat to my windowless office.

Snow both makes me feel old and reminds me of being young.

Sunday, I rode out to the experimental farm. It’s one of the few places outside of town where there are trees, along with beautiful old homes built for employee housing.

DH has impressed upon me that I must, must, must keep the tires property inflated, so I grabbed the pump before I pulled out the road bike. Opened the back tire presta valve and popped on the connector. Nothing. No hiss, no swing of the needle on the air gauge. I try it again. Nope. The last time I was too forceful with it, it stuck and I had to get the man to do the big, strong man trick to get it off. So I go to the front tire. The tire has lost way too much air and the valve is sticking out all catawampus. The last thing I need to do is lose air in the middle of a 20-miler, so I decide to take my commuting bike.

(Interestingly enough, spellcheck’s recommendation for “catawampus” is “cutworms”)

I grab the other bike pump and inflate the tires on the other bike. It’s about 40 degrees outside and I wonder briefly about that whole gas expansion thing I learned in high school chemistry. And continue to fully inflate them.

I head West out of town. It’s uphill, but still calm, and even uphill I build up a pretty good cadence. There’s no feeling like getting a good spin going -- anything 80-90 on the flats, legs loose almost no resistance -- it feels like flying.

My commuting bike has no cyclometer, so I don’t know how fast I’m going back on the longest downhill but it’s fast. Fast enough there’s a fleeting thought that if anything falls off the bike at that moment, this is gonna hurt.

Fortunately, it’s slower when I hear a POP and a hissssss and there’s something odd on the side of my front tire. Not good. I’m still 5 or 6 miles out and it’s either a long hike or a sheepish call to the DH. 

I stop. About 2 inches of the tire has popped out of the rim. All I can think is that I inflated the tire too much and I’ve lost the  inner tube. I take a little air out and push the tire back in. It still holds air. I take a little out of the back tire to be safe and ride home slowly, but under my own steam.

Twenty miles and three bad wheels on one sunny Sunday morning.

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