I’ve never ridden a bike on Christmas Day, primarily due to the fact that I’ve usually lived in places where riding a bike in December is viewed as a symptom of mental imbalance. However, after a season of cycling I now understand that there is no place too cold for cycling. At least that’s what all the other cyclists say and they can’t all be wrong, can they? I therefore resolved to head out for a short pedal.
The roads and paths are still a little dicey with ice, so I opted for the hybrid bike. This gave me an opportunity to go off-road a bit and visit Lake Montclair. As you can see from the photo, the lake is frozen. We’ve gone entire winters without the lake freezing, so this is a good indication of the kind of winter we have had – not much snow but freakin’ cold. Almost every day in December has been below seasonal norms. Sigh.
I had a chance to dabble in the mountain biking discipline by riding a narrow path next to the lake. I can report that the knobs you find on mountain bike tires are very useful. I know this because my hybrid’s tires lack this feature and I found myself wishing for those knobs about every twenty feet. Each root, rut, rock, and other protrusion in the trail threatened to send me off the path and down a five foot embarkment onto the lake ice. I strongly suspected the ice would not withstand that impact. Despite the element of danger, it was a fun 1/2 mile.
Once back on the neighborhood roads, I headed in an unusual (for me) direction – east. This takes me toward the congested areas of the county and I therefore seldom venture this way. My goal was a modest one – to read and photograph a historical marker on Benita Fitzgerald Drive. I drive past this marker almost every day on my commute. The markers are almost always on the side of the road, but the writing is too small and lengthy to read as you drive by, which I find very frustrating and just a tad self-defeating. If you put up a sign and nobody can read it, what exactly is the point? This marker is tucked into some shrubs, making it impossible to even read the title.
As it turns out, this was a first in my growing collection of historical markers. Most markers highlight a significant event that occurred on or near a given spot. This marker explains why a road was given its name. Benita Fitzgerald Road’s namesake grew up in this area in the 1970s and attended a highschool a few miles from this location. During her youth, this specific area was nothing but woodland, but lets not let that detail get in the way of a good historical marker!
I pedaled back to the traffic signal in the background of the above picture and turned onto Cloverdale Drive. Like the rest of this trip, I was pedaling through neighborhoods and competing with light but alarmingly inept traffic. It must have been the holiday, but I came too close to a “significant event” on three occasions, each one with a driver racing up to the street I was on and hoping to quickly make a turn onto it. The absence of other cars emboldened these drivers, who didn’t notice the fool riding his bike in the cold weather.
I successfully avoided any mishap and finished my ride in fine form. My Garmin informed me that the temperature was 34 degrees. I am taking solace in the fact that the solstice occurred a few days ago and therefore every day has slightly more sunlight than the previous one. The end is in sight!