Just about the only activity that nature has been displaying this week is the slow, inexorable process of turning water into ice. Watching ice form is a lot like watching paint dry, just colder. Neither has much of an excitement factor. But that pretty well describes my bike journeys this past week. Although our normal high for this time of year is supposed to be +7, we haven’t even reached 0 since sometime last week. So puddles and ponds are now solid, the open leads in the Sturgeon River are slowly closing off and Big Lake is completely frozen for 50 yards from shore. Thankfully, we have not had any appreciable precipitation, so the trails are still clear and dry. Being a skier, I am used to dressing appropriately for sub-zero temps and am quite comfortable on my rides, but I do have to watch out for overheating though overexertion. Getting a sweat on at this time of year is not recommended! I think that reigning in the horses that have been galloping all summer, so to speak, is the hardest thing to get used to when it turns cold. I have turned into a zen cyclist, everything slow and deliberate.
There are still a few patches of open water on the river, all of them filled with ducks, swans, geese and gulls trying to extend their stay in the frozen north (for some strange reason). Even though the trees are mostly bare and few of the water birds remain, there is still beauty in the pre-winter bleakness. On the sunny days, the fresh ice glints and reflects light like vast imperfect panes of glass. On the cloudy days, the structure of the ice stands out more. The shoreline mud is frozen into little polygon patterns, bounded by solidified foam, then ice ripples spread out into the smooth texture of the deeper water ice. The ponds are either glassy or mottled with the frozen-in-place detritus of weeds and reeds. In the larger pond areas, the position of the green-brown carpet of duckweed shows the wind direction on freeze-up day (northwest).
No coffee rides this week. I have my coffeeneuring rides planned out for the weekend and am hoping for snow-free trails. If I’m snowed out, as the forecast portends, it will be touch and go as to whether I can get the last 3 official rides in before the deadline😦 Supposed to be above zero by mid next week, though, so there is still hope.