Snowed In

I’ve walked out to the edge of my driveway three or four times this morning just for the sheer pleasure of experiencing the full fury of a blizzard.  Technically, a blizzard has to have sustained winds above 35 mph and falling snow.  No need to get technical here—this storm is unequivocal.  I suppose my impulse to feel the wind in my face is the same urge that made me and my friend Ron go walking in the midst of Hurricane Carol in 1954.  That storm had a perfect eye when it made landfall in southern New England, and seeing that huge circle of blue come and then pass, with the wind and rain recommencing in the opposite direction (blowing west to east instead of east to west), has stayed with me for over 50 years.

The wind is bitter now, with the temperature having dropped ten degrees in the last two or three hours, and the snow is both heavy and viciously windblown.  We won’t pick up even ten more inches, I don’t think, but it’s not the amount of snow that’s remarkable today.  Rather it’s the fury with which it arrives.  No bland, placid mounds of white remain, but instead deeply carved drifts with energetic lines.

A few years back there was a DVD called The Road to Paris, featuring Lance Armstrong’s preparation for the Tour de France.  One of the most memorable episodes was an April training ride over one of the Alpine stages to be included in the Tour that year.   Lance is riding up the mountain on a cold, wet day when his directeur sportif (or “coach”) drives up beside him with the news that he can’t go on—the road is blocked by snow up ahead.  At first Lance just refuses to accept it, saying something like “I’m going to the top.”  But when he comes to the snow line it’s a huge drift, several feet deep.  Slightly ticked off, Lance stops and says “you wait here; I’m going down and ride up again.”  He has such drive, such determination, that he refuses to finish the day early, but instead does extra work to compensate for the loss of the last few km of the route.  As he rides off on his descent, the directeur sportif is grinning from ear to ear, saying “that’s why he wins the Tour every year.”  Motivation!

That inspiration motivates me to get moving down to the mag trainer.  I am about to witness, thanks to the magic of DVD, the now elder statesman Lance finish third in the ’09 Tour.  Not bad for an old man.  But I wonder if he’ll still be riding a bike when he’s my age.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010

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