Daring the Elements for a Cold Bike Ride on New Year’s Eve

Because of the extremely cold weather over this holiday break, I haven’t been able to be on my bike since last Tuesday; under other circumstances, I would’ve ridden nearly every day. Today—Sunday, New Year’s Eve day—I finally put on my quilted pants; added several upper layers to my torso; stretched my navy-blue balaclava over my head and face; zipped up my down parka; and ventured in to Riverside Park on my old Trek cycle. It’s 16˚ outside, and my hands—in full gloves on the handlebar grips— were deeply cold and hurting in 10-12 minutes. By then, I was pedaling northward in to the wind on the Cherry Walk alongside the Hudson River, and though The Great Gray Bridge beckoned in upper Manhattan, I circled back south. Again, I’d have usually taken some photographs, but today, wincing with hand pain, I was just relieved that I hadn’t gotten far from home when I turned around, after barely a fifth of a standard bike ride. I dismounted momentarily to take this frigid selfie, and am back indoors now, thinking with concern about people who have nowhere “indoors” to go, and all manner of creatures who, warm- or cold-blooded, are assigned by nature and evolution the task of trying to endure despite elements that work against their survival.

In that vein, during the years I had my dear black Lab Noah, I wrote a poem titled “Creature Comforts,” which I’ve photographed and pasted in  below, along with a picture of me and Noah. I was then in school at Franconia College, where temps of 35˚ below zero were known to happen, and I thought a lot in those days about how creatures survived, or didn’t, in the wild.

Since I wasn’t able to take anywhere my usual allotment pictures on this last day of 2017, I’m gonna share a substantial gallery of bike ride photos taken during the year that ends this day, such as this handful.

Happy New Year, may 2018 be be an improvement on 2017!

2 replies
  1. Eudora Watson says:

    This New Year’s morning in Northern NY, I’m looking out to the snowy fields out back, where the temps have warmed up to -15. The occasional squirrels, red and grey, give evidence that they are thriving despite the temperatures, and the Juncos, Chickadees, and Blue Jays feast at the sunflower seed feeders from just past dawn to late in the day. Last night I took a short ski out back – my hands too, suffered, but it was worth it to get out to the back meadow, moonlit and still.

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