Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ice adventure

It was the slipping tires that bothered me the most. The cold did not bug me, the heavy coat and layers of underwear cut into my dexterity somewhat but it was the ice that had me anxious. When I started I knew to expect a few icy spots, but if I had to do it over again I would have walked.

My daily ritual of getting the mail to the post office was once again working into my routine. I have never liked the car option. No exercise, wastes gas, and it is far too early in the season to set a precedent of being lazy. In spite of the snow on the ground I did not want to walk either. That left my bicycle. The adventure of it appealed to me.

What streets I could see from my window were free of ice, but I quickly learned that was the exception and not the rule. The worst of them had a bizarre combination of icy slush and wet fall leaves churned into a bio hazard of ice coating the pavement. I gritted my teeth, watched the line I wanted my tires to follow and tried not to think about bicycle tires sliding out sideways beneath me. I began to have second thoughts about this adventure.

I got onto the side streets as quick as I could. I did not like the idea of falling in front of on coming traffic. I even decided to shorten my route. Post office was out, I wanted the closer drop box instead. It took two laps around the block to realize that the mail box I had relied on last season had been removed. Suck. Now I have to go the full distance. With bravery in my heart I went onward in the chill afternoon.

I enjoy the care free bike rides on warm days when I can zip around slow moving traffic and feel my muscles burn. Today my bike did not give me that joy. My hands got tired from my death grip on the bar. The winter clothes made the familiar motions feel cramped. The tracks through the ice were ever changing and I was afraid to look away and watch for traffic. Every time my tires slipped my heart jumped a little. I loosened my feet out of the toe clips just in case. I have never been so pleased to be wearing a helmet

The streets downtown were just as bad as the residential parts of town. The sidewalks were the cleanest. That suited me. Anything to get this errand over with. With the mail dropped I started my slow treacherous trek home. I was a little more confident by now. I was learning the difference between the slippery surfaces and the merely wet ones. I only cut off a couple cars by riding farther out into the dry parts of the street. The short downhill patch of glare ice took away my confidence again. Being very careful to stay balanced, not too fast, not too slow, I still felt the tires slip three times. Somehow I stayed upright.

It was with a sigh of relief that I wheeled back into the garage. Standing on two feet again the crisp air burning into my lungs felt like satisfaction. The sweat in my hair evaporate into cold mist. My legs had a comfortable ache. You know, maybe that wasn't so bad. It always feels good to be alive after a hazardous adventure. And it is pretty cool when a trip to the post office becomes extraordinary.

The next day I remembered the thrill more than the fear so I did it again.