[Actually from a ride that took place 3 weeks ago… a bit behind on my updates]
The roads were bone dry, with lumpy grey clouds hanging low over the landscape and there was a tepid dampness in the air – ah, the first signs of Spring maybe ? As the miles increased I removed my layers: the arm warmers under my jersey, the jacket, the woolly hat. Why, I could head straight for Shiraishi Toge hidden in a ring of cloud ahead rather than the more circular, predictable Winter route over Sadamine. A day like today, sure, there wouldn’t be any ice. I was more worried about sun burn. But those clouds did look mighty odd though, like rings of Saturn enveloping the peaks above.
I pushed hard – today I was learning to suffer again, forcing my heart rate into the red, feeling the lactate acid weigh down my legs, and the nausea rise in my throat. My eyes could barely focus on the few feet ahead of me never mind the rest of the road, but I did spot the smallest traces of slushy ice in places. Harmless.
Climbing higher. There may have been a few noodles of snow on the verge there, in my peripheral vision, but that was the last thing on my mind, really. Eyes back on the road. Hmmm. More traces of snow, tracts of slush pushed up against the side of the road and a little in the middle. Nothing to worry about, it’s painful legs and lungs that worried me more. The mounds increased and got bigger, the verge and trees were completely covered, and I was carefully aiming my front wheel through narrow furrows of clear tarmac. Oh, feel a little sick, must hold back some. I hadn’t really noticed, but the bike and I were conducting a subtle dance, rocking back and forth just so I could keep some kind of traction over packed snow on a ten degree slope. A thin veneer of snow was stinging my eyes now, and I threaded a 23mm tyre wide line through virgin snow.
A car appeared in the gloom ahead, reversing from around the next steep corner – at least he had seen sense! – and I snapped out of my trance. Holy crap, where the hell was I ? I stepped to the side to let it pass and my foot immediately sunk eight inches into soft snow. Visibility went as far as the side of the road – this was a frigging blizzard ! There was no choice but a long, cold walk back down – you’d have to be crazy to try and cycle in this.
It was Winter’s final salute to me… of the middle finger kind.