Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winter Cycling in the Pacific Northwest

In May of 2012, we bought a new house in North Edmonds, nearly twice as far north from downtown Seattle as our previous home. Not only was my commute going to get longer, it got a little more complicated as well. Where before, I was able to catch a single bus downtown, it would now take two buses to get there. Either that, or find another option... Bike!

Not all the way, mind you. That would take about three hours. Bike to the nearest Park & Ride, however, and that gets rid of the need for that first bus trip. You know what's worse than riding a bus? Riding two buses.

I'd always wished I could live close enough to work to become a bicycle commuter, but I don't make nearly enough money to afford the size of home we need while being close enough to do that. So incorporating my bike into my daily commute has been a sort of compromise to make that dream come true.

Now, when I started riding, it was late May/early June. Then I had all summer--an Indian Summer at that--to get used to the ride (the ride itself isn't real long--takes about fifteen minutes-- but it is mostly uphill in the morning), so the big question to me was, how is this going to work come winter when it's dark, cold, and raining every day? Am I going to be able to do this?

The answer is yes. There was the matter of purchasing the right clothing (believe me, you get what you pay for in this department--my Showers Pass jacket, though pricey, has been amazing) and the right bicycle gear (lots of blinking lights!), but beyond that it was a simple matter of saying, "Fuck you, rain!" and hitting the road.

There have, of course, been days when it was simply too crazy to ride: an apocalyptic downpour, icy roads, etc. And there are days here and there that I simply don't feel like riding. But it only takes a couple days of taking two buses to get to work and two to get home before I'm back on my bike. 

Now spring has arrived. The days are getting longer and we're having more nice days more often. I feel like I can see the light. Like I've made it through my first dark, cold season and I'm pedaling on through to the other side. It's been a really cool experience, actually.

Last month, Showers Pass held a poetry competition on Facebook for Valentine's Day. The winner was to receive a new jacket and pants. I decided to enter. I didn't win, but it was really fun to sit down and write something. It had been too long.

The submitted poem had to be 50 words or less. Here is the full 82-word version:

sideways looks, shaking heads,
gaping maws of disbelief.
but we smile, because we know.

we know what holds us here,
in the dark, the icy rain,
painting plumes of white breath
on black canvas.

we know what holds us here,
we, flashing red comets,
slicing ghoulish beams of light
through predawn fog.

here, our morning climb, frosted over.
fire in the legs,
ice in the lungs.
feeling of lightness at the crest,
of floating, of release.

in our descent, freedom
and knowing.

1 comment:

Karen Keyes said...

I always enjoy your poems.