Mixed Feelings

21 February, 2006 Temperature: 9 degrees F (-13°C)

My neighbor Coleman just said something to me that stopped me dead in my tracks.

Coleman is the nice gentleman who moved into the house behind mine a few years ago with his lovely wife Jessie. We don’t hang out much, because we have so little in common, but he is always friendly and talkative when we meet face-to-face.

He was walking down our shared driveway this evening when the Baron and I were pulling in, home from work. I removed my helmet, said “Hey Coleman.”

He stood there and looked at me for a moment. Then he shook his head with a bemused expression on his face, and said, “Well, looks like you made it.”

I said, “Well, it was an easy ride tonight. Nice and warm and no real traffic to speak of.”

He said, “No, I mean riding through the winter! Haven’t you heard the long-term forecast?”

“No. What are they saying?”

“It’s supposed to get into the forties next week, with maybe a fifty-something.”

“Wow”, I said. “Are you sure?”

“That’s what I heard.”

“Hmmmph.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. “Well, thanks for telling me.”

He kind of chuckled, and walked back up to his house.

The end of winter? Already? That just doesn’t seem right. Past winters have been interminable affairs, stretching on and on in a long train of misery during those years when I didn’t ride through it. It’s only the twenty-first of February… Surely the Old Man has some fight left in him? One more big storm? A few more sub-zero days?

As much as the promise of spring thrilled me the other day, I realize that I have enjoyed this adventure. Some mornings, putting on all that gear just seemed like a chore. But on those days when I was going to be challenged by the cold or the road conditions, I felt positively energized! To have something to struggle against, with well-honed skills, and ultimately triumph, is a memorable thing. That is the very definition of adventure, isn’t it?

Well, I can’t believe winter is over just yet. I’ve just checked my “Sent” file in my email account, which stretches back a couple years. Sure enough, message traffic increases around early March, when I have started riding for the last few years. By then, I am positively vibrating with anticipation. I rationalize that there isn’t THAT much salt left on the roads. A little ice never killed anyone. Er, well, at least it never killed me.

Yes, “Weather or Not” is a common theme in my writing come March. I ride, regardless. Well, this year, I think I am going to continue on the Baron until I am sure the salt is gone. There is some light snow in the forecast for later this week. Probably not enough to present a challenge, but it might make a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. I still have that magazine article to write, and there is one unmolested patch of snow at work that I can play around in for the camera.

So yes, I am excited by the onset of spring. But I am also kind of sad that the struggle is coming to an end. It has been one of the mildest winters on record, and for that I am probably fortunate. I will keep this blog until the official end of winter, on March 20th. After that, there will be another blog, but I’ll tell you about that later.

Right now, it’s time for me to get off this computer and hang out with my girls. See you tomorrow…

18 Responses to “Mixed Feelings”

  1. Dick Aal Says:

    IF you feel guilty for surviving such a mild winter, it looks like you will have to do it again next year in hopes of a really tough winter. I can remember a winter in the 90’s when I visited Minneapolis for thanksgiving week. My cousin lives on Garfield. They had the ENTIRE year’s average snow fall that week!! I relearned how to shovel snow. In fact I had to shovel out to get to the airport at the end of the week. You need one of those years to feel qualified to write about the winter ride??
    When the weather turns nice I will miss your daily missives.

  2. Steve Williams Says:

    Never fear, some of our three foot snow falls happened in late March so there will be plenty of time for more miserable weather. But I do understand the feeling that an adventure is drawing to a close. I felt the same thing when my sailing trip ended in Maine. I had mixed feelings, wanted to get back on dry land and never sail again, but I also felt that the alive feeling I had for weeks at sea was also going to go away.

    Part of my challenge in life is to stay awake. You seem like the kind of man that will always find a way to be energized!

    Looking forward to more of this blog before a new one comes along.


  3. Bus Driver Says:

    Gary When I got my Tractor Trailer endorsement, a man told me that driving a big rig is like having a Tiger sit behind just waiting for you to forget.It’s not over until the Fat Lady Sings !!!

  4. Tiff Says:

    Ditto feelings about spring - I like winter (there’s snowboarding, the (slim) chance of some snow, and the Six Nations rugby to look forward to) but come late february one can feel the change - it’s daylight before I get home from work now, and soon it’ll be daylight before I leave for work too. The smooth tyres are on the mountain bike, ready for the commute to begin. I can cancel my gym membership, in the knowlege that it’ll get plenty of CV exercise up and down the hills cycling to work. I’m even planning to mow the lawn at the weekend!

    Then the countdown begins for the end of march and the switch to summer time, when all of a sudden evening activities become possible - walking the dogs in snowdonia (just up the road for me), windsurfing in the Dee estuary, mountain biking in the Clwdan hills - all the things that I, basically, live for; all the things that keep me training over the winter, knowing I’ll be ready to enjoy them when spring comes again. I used to get really bad SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder - the official term for existential gravity) and put on 2-3 stone in weight over the winters, but I try really hard to fight it nowadays. Anyway, I’m rambling enough that this should probably be taken to my blog…..suffice it to say that my feelings are less mixed than yours - roll on spring!

  5. Mad Says:

    I bet March will find one last dirty trick to throw at you Gary. We had snow (not much and it didn’t settle but snow nonetheless) yesterday and today is trying to glower like January. Give it a chance, it’ll pull something nasty…

  6. Seagullplayer Says:

    Don’t let your guard down now. It’s not over just yet I’m sure you’ll be lucky enough to get some nice black ice or freezing rain, keep your head up…

    Rubber Down.

  7. Administrator Says:

    Come on Gary, you’ve lived in MN long enough to know better. We’ve had snow storms in April. The most depressing thing about spring (and they are few) is wintering trying again and again to revive itself.

    In late march, most of the snow will be melted, then it’ll snow 2-3 inches, stay a couple days then melt. This cycle has to repeat a handful of times before spring finally has the strength to hold back Ol’ Man Winter.

    Just remember how lucky we were last year here in MN, summer fell on a weekend.

  8. Keith Says:

    I agree with Admin. It’s too early to get excited about Spring yet. At least it is here in Chicago. Last week I spend a few days in Phoenix for work. I think all of us Northerns are insane for living here when there is paradise available in our own country. Darn family obligations!

  9. Ron Johnston Says:

    I feel for you, Gary. A couple of days ago I thought it was warm enough to leave off the balaclava. It wasn’t. I am dealing with -3C in the mornings, and 0C on the trip home. Its supposed to get to +7C next week. With rain (groan).


  10. jim Says:

    I don’t think you are out ot the woods just yet. I remember a lot of times in Iowa we would get a blizzard right around girls state basketball championship time.
    We got nailed here in nw ar. last weekend with snow and sleet. I forgot how much I dislike that stuff.

  11. irondad Says:

    It’s weird that for some of us challenges are so “energizing” as you put it. Some of us just don’t know when we have it good, I guess. Then again, it depends on what your definition of “good” is. I always seem to need that carrot on a stick dangling just out of reach ahead. I thrive that way. For me, that’s “good” because I achieve more.

    In some ways I will miss reading about the noble Baron. However, when one comes to the end of the story one closes the book. The good news is that there are other books. You seem multi-dimensional and I am glad to see another blog coming. Let me share this with you.

    This blog has been of value to me. Not because it is about the scooter. The value for me has been in the connection I have found here. It’s been a great place to come together with people who share the same interest ( ok, let’s just say it “nutters” –thanks for the word, mad ). The value of your blog has been that it acts like a catalyst. We all have different approaches and personalities. Some of us are even what you might call “colorful characters”. Your blog lets us all blend into a synergism. Thanks for that.

    Unless you do one of those “moved with no forwarding address” numbers most of us will follow. Face it, you would miss us, too!

  12. mnscooter Says:

    Ok, it’s unanimous: Winter is not over, so sayeth we all.

    Now that you mention it, I do seem to recall some correlation between late-season blizzards and basketball tournaments.

    The increased email traffic in March only signifies that point in the year where I Just Say No to winter and get the bike out anyway. I have done this every year that I have winterized my bike, because I just can’t stand it any more. Yes, Shane, I remember April (snow) showers.

    But the desire to load up the KLR and ride someplace Far Away for a few days is getting stronger. I’m ready for spring. I’ve also become addicted to blogging, so never fear. I can’t go more than a few days without it, so you will always have something fresh to read.

    Ride well,

  13. Bro Shagg Says:

    My birthday falls around St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ve found that, here in Western NY, I get two presents. A coupla spring days to whet the appetite, then another few inches from ol’ man winter!

    I’m waiting to see how long you can hold out on bringing out the “big bike”!

  14. Mad Says:

    Nutters indeed ;)

  15. Mad Says:

    Hey I got blogrolled!

  16. mnscooter Says:

    Mad said, “Hey I got blogrolled! ”

    Oh geez, I think I did that. Did it hurt? Are you alright? Do you want me to call someone? Just lay down there, and put your feet up, the ambulance is on the way.

    I’m really sorry about that, but I just didn’t see you, mate. ;)

    Ride well,

  17. mnscooter Says:

    Bro Shagg, for the commute, this is no problem. But when we start to get really rideable weekends, you will see me trying on all sorts of rationalizations for why it is OK to take the KLR out.

    Hell, the Schell Brewery down in New Ulm, Minnesota is putting on Bockfest this Saturday. One-hundred some miles away. If I didn’t have this article to finish for Scoot Quarterly, I would be changing the oil on Frogwing right now. Other than that, his battery is charged, and he is ready to go.

    But I am going to wait another week or two before my first weekend out with Frogwing. Anticipation…

    Ride well,

  18. Mad Says:

    Blog SMIDSY’d! :o

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