Keep your head down!

28 01 2017

Keeping your head down on the bike is how you power through rough weather, or a bonk on the third mountain climb of the day.

This winter, it’s a matter of survival.

170128pothole

This is the kind of massive pothole that can destroy a season if a cyclist isn’t paying attention to the road surface.

It’s been an extraordinary off-season. After a run of virtually snowless winters, we were hit hard in early December by three consecutive storms. The thaws that usually wash those snows away never really happened. Instead, we descended into a weeks-long deep freeze that iced the land and roads and bike paths.

Now that temperatures have moderated, and most of the snow and ice has melted away, we’re finally able to safely get back on our bikes. But keep your head down, your eyes on the pavement ahead!

170121bluesky

Warmer temperatures and blue skies have actually afforded some opportunities to ride.

Because the consequence of our wintry weather is streets and bike lanes cratered with crumbling asphalt, gaping potholes, yawning sinkholes. A moment’s inattention can collapse a front wheel, pitch a daydreaming rider over the handlebars, destroy a season.

The work crews are out there, doing what they can to patch the pocked pavement. But they can’t keep up with the structural failings. The repeating cycle of freezes, brief thaws and subsequent deep-freezes expanded cracks into fissures, pocks into potholes. And with more cold temperatures forecast, it’s only going to get worse.

Still, a couple of weeks of warmer weather has afforded some chances to ride. The legs are still feeling the effects of the season’s sloth, so the routes have been conservatively flat, the pace languid. But the air filling the lungs feels good, the muscle fatigue is welcome. Because it means we’re actually out there, turning the pedals, keeping our heads down. Dodging divots.

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