This will be my third winter in Alaska. I’m not taking any crap this time. Not that I’ve had a bad winter up here yet, but I have spent some time feeling, well, a little put upon by the cold. Not this year.
The first winter was an adjustment, with a few stuck truck episodes, some good through-intersection truck slides, and coming to terms with more hours of darkness than light in a given day. We also took cross-country ski lessons, learned to put booties on the dogs (especially Auggie, who really doesn’t care for temperatures much below 25 degrees), and had a lot of fun. Cold became not such a big deal.
The second winter was a okay, too, but we didn’t do much outside. We still walked the dogs twice a day every day, but Katie was dealing with a lot of back pain and couldn’t ski, and I didn’t have the internal resources to get out and get active on my own. I mean, I like skiing and everything, but not so much that I felt like I really had to go do it or go crazy. So, this winter will be different.
Sidebar: The one physical activity that has held my attention is cycling, and as much as I like long distance cycling and as much as I like watching bike racing, I’ve always felt that the bicycle’s highest calling was as a form of practical transportation. All the sports and stuff are fun, but ultimately, the bicycle is the most efficient mode of human-powered transport there is.
I used to commute irregularly in Austin, and I always felt good when I did, so why not do it here? So I started riding my bike to work this summer. It’s a short ride — ten minutes or so — and I have a bike with fenders, racks, and lights. So I dared myself to ride as long as I could. I’m going to ride in the dark, in the cold, in the snow, and on the ice. I bought studded tires (the Extreme 296) for my bike that have more studs than the tires on my truck, and cost twice as much. I’ve got all kinds of stretchy, warm clothes and I’ve got super-bright headlights.
I rode last week after the first snow that stuck. I felt like I had just smacked winter in the face. The tires held the ice even around corners, even when cars were spinning away from stop signs.
We’ll see how things go when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.