At 4:45 am the day before yesterday, we were awakened by the sound and flashing lights of heavy equipment. VDOT had sent Bobcats and front loaders to clear our streets of snow properly, since the couldn’t/didn’t do it with snowplow blades. They made huge mounds of snow at the street corners, which had been particularly ill-plowed. They also gouged the streets with grooves 3 ½” wide, ¼” to ½” deep, and 6 to 12 feet long. In some places they actually took off the top 1” of asphalt, creating almost sure potholes for the future. The neighbor kids who play street hockey all summer just got their “ice” ruined. Yesterday morning the equipment was back again, this time along our street from above our house to the corner below. I got about 8 feet of dirty snow dumped on part of the sidewalk I had shoveled out after the storm. The poor neighbors across the street got a 7- or 8-foot snow fort wall between their house and the street.
But there was a method in VDOT’s madness. For yesterday the melting began in earnest. The sun was out, the air temperature was 40, and everything was dripping. I spent a couple of hours unburdening the branches of our ornamental trees and shrubs, and digging them out from their drifts to take full advantage. Our giant icicle “Fang” shrank to a mere shadow of his former self, and today received the ultimate indignity of emasculation as half of his remaining length suddenly fell off. As for the street, it was clear and dry by 2:00 pm yesterday. And so were streets all over the subdivision, having gotten the same treatment.
So today I was able to ride (21.13 miles) for the first time in three and a half weeks. From my neighborhood circuit I can report that: mounds at intersections are as much as 15’ high, traffic generally is still very light, lots of people do a terrible job of shoveling, and some cars inexplicably have never been moved or cleaned since the storms began, so they’re now plowed in with frozen slush. I saw only one other cyclist, who appeared to be on a mission similar to mine. I had seen others from the car over the last few days, commuting on major thoroughfares.
The ride itself was wonderful. Just being back on the bike excited me, and I vowed to push it hard enough so that every muscle fiber in my quads was screaming for mercy at the end of the ride. I succeeded fairly well in that, and threw in my calf muscles for good measure. (I intend to write about the pain of physical effort sometime soon.) The sun was warm, though the air was a cool 40˚ and the wind chill brought that down to about 32˚. Somehow I didn’t notice. I was too focused on the smells and sights of the ride, as well as the exact road and traffic conditions. No unforeseen perils, though. Now if we can get the trail melted in a few more days, we’ll be all set.
Wow! I have been waiting to ride for a long time. Couldn’t feel better.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.