October 25, 2015

Friday Photos: Details

There is something about a mist that brings the focus in close. First, of course, you literally can't see far, vision's distance is limited, the world becomes more intimate. Less literally, when world events seem dismal or just so sad, keeping the gaze close, focusing tightly on the world at hand, can bring beauty. And with beauty can come a calmer mind, perhaps even reassurance, hope.

Today Susan and I set aside our bikes, and walked the woods at Notchview, a Trustees of Reservations property, where we ski in the winter.

I was struck by the texture of the close at hand, the world immediately in front of me, the beauty found in the minutae of the natural world. Mine is a forested world where even without mist, long views are few and far between. Many fields, cleared in the 1800s, are now grown again into woodlands.

Lichen, algae, moss clinging to, perhaps even thriving on rock. Trees, covered with tiny intensely green mosses, reminding me of ancient clubmoss, with mushrooms growing alongside. Bark, splitting apart or gnarled, so beautiful on its own. We were startled by the toad, who stopped, posed so very still, no doubt convinced that by not moving he became safe, invisible. It is true that it was his motion that brought my gaze to him, his motion that made him vulnerable.

But wait, you say: mine is a cycling blog, right? I can think of three ways to link this post to cycling: tell you that I am reading a book by David Downe called "Paris to the Pyrenees" in which he claims that it was Nietzsche who said "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Silly me, I had thought it was a cycling coach who said that, never thought of Nietzsche.

Or I could tell you that this is weather is calling for a mountain bike and sheltered routes. But I don't ride a mountain bike.

Or thirdly, that I bid you adieu until spring brings the return of the riding season. I am not yet ready for that.

So, until next week.

October 18, 2015

October Ride

October in New England. Colorful, beautiful, gorgeous trees, blue skies, clear hilltop views. There's a picture, sometimes accurate.

I keep Metéo Arles on my desktop, don't ask me why: I am probably in wishful thinking land, or maybe denial. It is true that Mediterranean weather might influence my outlook. Today's Berkshire forecast: mostly sunny, high low 40s. Good weather for an autumn ride up to North Pond in Savoy with cycling buddy Susan.

The reality: snow-sleet squalls, each flake that hit our exposed faces as we sped downhill feeling like tiny violent needles. On the way back uphill, before the next descent,  I thought it would be a smart idea to zip up my jacket. We stopped. The photo looks out of focus and fuzzy. The world looked out of focus and fuzzy.

Soon enough, the sun came out. We continued, stopping to admire this handsome goat tethered on the side of the road.

We were headed to North Pond in Savoy, both of us feeling a bit sluggish... the 35 degree temperatures and wind? Riding our bikes with wider, more stable tires, me back on sturdy Papillon, my touring bike? Winter weather setting in, our metabolisms slowing down? A mystery. It was cold, and we thought of stopping for tea, but the sun returned and we turned north.

These beautiful black horses are not Merens, a breed of the Pyrenees, but they are surely handsome. And those white specks are not dandruff, but snowflakes.

Some miles further the snow squalls returned, our feet were as numb as our hands, and we turned back to find a cup of hot tea at the Savoy General Store.