Night rides

The prospect of riding home in the cold and dark doesn’t thrill me. But once I’m out there, I rather like it. My commute is nearly painless – 5 miles each way, mostly flat, mostly on a protected (well-maintained and -lit) path.

Riverside Park is beautiful at night. Its post lamps, designed in the early 1900s by Henry Bacon (who also created the Lincoln Memorial), cast a warm, golden light that softens the city’s contours and makes even grimy snow look good.

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Of course, a gritty cityscape is never far away.

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Isn’t my guy splendid?

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Siberia on the Hudson

When it’s

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here’s what happens to the river

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no matter how far south you ride.

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And here’s what happens when you breathe into your face mask.

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Still here, huh, winter?

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I got home from Arizona late last night. I’m giving myself a day (maybe two, considering the forecast) to get used to the cold again before I ride to work.

Next year, I’m getting a pair of these studded tires. Worth the modest investment (and a little extra weight) to make winter cycling safer!

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Winter break

No cycling this week: I’m in Arizona looking after my dad, without enough leisure time to justify bringing Monty along.

It’s a treat to be out of the Northeast’s deep freeze for a bit, enjoying spectacular sunrises…

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sunsets (doesn’t this look like a Spielberg special effect?)…

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…and clowning around with my favorite nephew, who joined us for a few days of family time and rock scrambling.

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You thought I said BIKING?

Between concerns about black ice and warnings of more “wintry mix” (doesn’t that sound like a holiday party snack?), Monty and I haven’t been out as much as we’d like. Fortunately, two days of near-40º temps have cleared a lot of scary stuff from the roads, and I was delighted to commute this morning.

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Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of baking around here. I had some sour cherries (pitted and frozen over the summer) and heirloom cranberries (frozen after Thanksgiving) on hand, and cooked them together into a filling for Joanne Chang’s granola bars. Don’t be misled by the name; other than a scattering of flax seeds and millet on top, there’s nothing healthy about them! But they’re delicious.

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For my dad, whose sweet tooth I inherited, I make a monthly batch of spice cookies. The original recipe is from my brilliant friend Dorie Greenspan. With her blessing, I’ve tinkered with it over the years and now use local sorghum syrup in place of molasses; my pal Steve Sando’s extraordinary granulated piloncillo for the brown sugar; and Aleppo pepper for a little heat. I love that Dad loves these so much, and I make sure he never runs out.

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Clever way to distract you from the dearth of Brompton-related content, no?

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Golden sun, gray slush

Last night’s ride home was uneventful. The bike path exit I usually take was unplowed, so I walked Monty over the snow, and by the time we got home he needed another bath. This time I extended the back wheel to make sure the chain was clean. (No pix, unfortunately, but the girl cat thought this was hilarious. The boy considers the tub part of his territory, and did not approve of the interloper.)

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Another beautiful morning, bright and calm. We stopped to admire the light on the Freedom Tower.

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No guts, no glory

The universe tested my new resolve to bike through winter by dumping 8″ of snow on Manhattan. (Far less than the historic blizzard predicted, still a mess.)  The city was shut down on Monday, and other factors kept me home yesterday too, but this morning I suited up and wheeled Monty into the sun and c-c-c-cold (24ºF, 9 mph wind).

I keep his tires pumped to 100 psi. Many experts recommend lower pressure for better traction in winter; however, I realized I have no idea how to let air out. (Brady? Belichick?) No matter – my boy’s Schwalbe Marathons cut through slush like buttah, even over cobblestones.

As I entered the park I could see that the Hudson River Bike Path had been plowed, but a layer of snow and ice remained.

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Once I was out of the shade, though, the path was quite clean. There were a few other hardy souls on foot, and I passed two on bikes.

It’s a beautiful day. I’m so glad I skipped the subway!

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A repurposed cowl kept my head and face from freezing.  I knit it in qiviut, a yarn spun from the downy undercoat of musk oxen, supposedly the warmest fiber for its weight around. The cowl is thin enough to fit under my helmet, just lacy enough to let me breathe freely, and quite warm.

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We made it! Stay tuned for Part II: The Ride Home.

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