Yesterday morning, I awoke to frigid temperatures. A chill had settled on my bedroom floor while I was fast asleep. It startled me awake as the soles of my feet swung down onto the icy oak.
Looking outside, the bare trees shed a starkness onto the road unlike any that I had seen this year. Even though it was January, and a new year, this was the first time in many months that my surroundings felt like winter.
I stuck my head out the back door just to make sure it wasn’t an illusion. My nose froze as my warm nasal passages breathed in the frosty air.
A day like this was not designed for casual riding. As much as I hated sitting in traffic in my car, I saw it as refuge from immobilized winter cycling fingers. Twenty minutes or more would be needed to defrost my hands if I ventured out on my bike on a day like today. I settled for the car.
Breakfast flew by me as I multitasked my way out the door. Just to enter the car I had donned an outfit comprised of layered clothing, with a heavy sweater resting under my warmest down jacket, gloves to protect my hands and a hat to tide me over until the car’s heater kicked in.
I thought of my student days when I rode my bike 365 days a year as if weather didn’t exist. The passage of time had worn away some of my invincibility, after which, days appeared where mounting my bike seemed insurmountable due to having to face the elements. This was one of those days.
As my car warmed up, I began to peel off insulating garments to match the changing ambiance. Hardly a bicycle was in sight on a road usually packed with commuters. Perhaps some of the other cyclists had sought shelter in alternate transportation as well.
For once, the traffic was light and I made it to my appointment with time to spare. Before entering the building, I noted two bike racks standing almost empty, looking barren and isolated in the cold. I hesitated to give some consideration to the ‘is the glass half empty or half full’ question; there were two bikes locked to the racks.
I wondered whether they were abandoned bikes or whether someone had actually ridden there in the cold. I settled upon the half full approach and attributed the presence of the bikes to a couple of hardy cyclists.
The day flew by in a way that no day had flown by for me in the past year. Was it an omen? Did it foreshadow a better year in 2013 than I had had in 2012? The new year had just begun so it might have been too early to tell.
On my way home, I stopped at Whole Foods, the food store so many people like to bash. Politics aside, not everything at Whole Foods is as extravagant as the store’s opponents make it seem. Some of their sale prices are far superior to the best prices I’ve ever seen at my local supermarket. Still, I only stop in from time to time to pick up a few hard-to-find items. And although it is a health food store, I almost always go there by car — go figure. But, I digress.
After zipping through the aisles to grab the few things I needed, I randomly chose a checkout line since they all appeared to have the same number of people waiting to pay. When it was my turn, I placed my items on the conveyor belt, which never seems to stop in time at that store.
I always find myself placing something at the front of the belt to make it stop before my items get confused with those of the customer before me. As I placed my hand in my pocket to retrieve my wallet, I noticed a sticker on the post attached to the counter near the scanner.
It was for Bicycle Benefits “a progressive bicycling program designed to reward individuals and businesses for their commitment to cleaner air, personal health, and the use of pedaling energy in order to create a more sustainable community.” Their program offers discounts for cyclists at various shops throughout Massachusetts (and a number of other states, as well).
No such sticker could be seen on the checkout counter next to mine or the one next to that. My lane was the only one with a Bicycle Benefits sticker. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one of the program’s stickers with me so I couldn’t get a “benefit.” Instead, I made a mental note of the store’s participation in this program.
Just as I began to wonder whether my having chosen the one lane with a bicycle program sticker was an omen, the grocery bagger struck up a conversation with me. Ordinarily this would not have bothered me. However, he was one of those people who had emigrated from another country — the name of which I would not have guessed if he had not told me — who speaks with a heavy accent and broaches topics typical Americans are unfamiliar with.
I nodded politely, not catching a single word he said, and drifted off into my own thoughts about omens. Was the sticker an omen related to good fortune with my cycling? Or was this idea just wishful thinking?
Grabbing my grocery bag, I was reminded of the date. My Jamis Coda Sport had just turned two years old. It seemed like only yesterday when I was researching steel bikes and shopping for an all-purpose bike. I remembered how much trouble I’d had finding a moderately priced steel bike — and how happy I was when I found it.
Oddly enough, that bike was the reason I started this blog. At the time, I only intended to write something about my trials and tribulations surrounding the search and purchase of that bike. It was quite an adventure. And, I hadn’t really thought past that point, I mean about what I would write or whether I would write beyond that at subject at all.
Somehow the blog took on a life of its own. It was borne out of a passion for a bike and it blossomed into a variety of thoughts, theories and ideas about all things related to cycling — or at least all things I’ve been able to think of related to cycling.
In the midst of all this, I experienced a lucid image of how cycling could spawn so many things beyond what’s apparent to the naked eye. Creativity is one of them.
Many times over the years, I’ve written whole passages in my head, churned out to the rhythm of my pedaling. I’ve thought of blog topics based on observations and I’ve even come up with ideas for inventions, some of which I actually built.
Bikes can mean many things to many people; we shouldn’t limit ourselves in the way we look at things, not even bikes. Perhaps that realization was the omen I was looking for.
2012 was a horrible year for me; I’m glad it’s over. It ended of its own accord. Maybe none of us needs an omen after all. Each new year is a new beginning. That, in and of itself, is a harbinger of a future filled with possibility.
I ran inside, threw my food into the refrigerator and headed for my bike. I lubed my two-year-old Coda Sport’s chain, wiped the frame down and gave the bike a once over. The hell with it, I thought. Tomorrow I’m going out for an anniversary ride on my Coda Sport. Weather be damned!