Work wrapped up around 5:30pm last night, giving me just about an hour to ride before it was too dark to see. I put on all my clothes and backpack, brushed the 4 inches of snow off my bike and pedaled down the road. I passed the parking lot where my co-workers were leaving. Horrified at the thought of riding a bike in this weather they tried to convince me to throw my bike in their trucks and hop in, but I assured them I was fine. I didn't want to go home anyway, I wanted to go for a ride. The temperature was probably just above freezing when I left because the snow was slushy under my tires. I decide to try riding the gravel trails around Standley Lake and the connecting Big Dry Creek trail. I knew Mower would be muddy with the snow falling and melting all day and I didn't want to tear up the singletrack. At the edge of Westmoor and Sims, just east of a big open space area, I saw a coyote. He and I just watched each other but mostly I imagine we were watching the cars. I've seen several coyotes on Mower before so it wasn't startling and he looked pretty good. I didn't have my camera so you'll have to trust that the above image from google is a pretty good representation of the moment.
I pedaled down Sims and arrived at Standley Lake pretty quickly. As I hit the dirt and gravel road I knew I was in luck. The moisture wasn't making the ride muddy at all and the ground remained firm. I soon connected up to Big Dry Creek and coasted down the hill. A dog and his owner were out for a run passed me looking happy. There's definitely an unspoken bond between people who deliberately go out in this kind of weather and it's fun to share that bond in a passing "hello". The sun and temperature were both dropping quickly now and I had a brief "oh shit" moment as I hit my brakes and got no loss of momentum in response. I guess even disk brakes will ice over in the right conditions, something I'd previously not experienced. Fortunately I just held the lever in and the pads eventually hooked up. From that point on I remembered to brake a little earlier. By the time the path dove underneath Wadsworth it was after 6:00 o'clock and I began to track north towards home. There were a lot of cars out still and the roads looked okay so hopefully Marni wouldn't have too bad of a drive. As I passed my street my watch told me I had a few more minutes of riding time so I made a quick loop up another gravel path near my house. It was almost totally dark now and cold. My bike no longer shifted which was fine. I was in my single speed gear anyway. The stanctions of my fork were covered in ice, preventing any compression and my wet gloves were finally freezing my hands. If there is one piece of winter riding gear I have left to purchase it's appropriate gloves for the really cold and wet days.
The trail wound me back to a subdivision street which I followed to my front door. I let Turbo out into the snowcovered yard and pulled the Fuel into the garage to melt. By the time I changed and layed my clothes out to dry for the morning Marni arrived home. We made some tasty quesadillas for dinner and by the time we finished reminising to VH1's "I love toys" I was fast asleep on the couch.