20 commutes in 2020 — #1: Ice, ice baby.

I was sure glad I had studs because Kepler was a sheet of ice. Not a smooth sheet, but one that had been churned up by car tires and turned by the daily freeze-thaw cycle into a jumble of babyhead-sized lumps. It was like riding on slippery cobbles. I knew it would be a little icy but everything was still more frozen than I had expected.

At least the technical challenge took my mind off the thoughts churning around in my brain, namely the ways I’d messed up today, and the ways I continued to make the same mistakes.

Closer to PA Furnace, the ice smoothed, and the climb wasn’t bad. My wheel slipped a few times on the steep pitch at the end but I stayed upright, kept pedaling. At the vista, I stopped to admire Stone Valley for a few minutes. This side was much more devoid of ice, the white patches proving to be slush instead. The slush was just as tough to ride through, maybe tougher. Luckily, it lasted only a few miles until I was on pavement.

On the climb up Wesley Chapel, I hoped the dog wasn’t out, the one that has chased and growled at me and cornered me several times before. Every time I pass the farmhouse, I scan the yard, looking for it, hoping to get past before it detects me, or have time to turn around and go the long way around just to avoid it. I’ve done this multiple times before.

I’m almost past the house when I see it. The dog is out, but so is a human. It barks but the human yells to it. It stays in the yard.

It’s almost dark, though still light enough to see. I have my front light on for the benefit of the cars, so that I am visible in the gray dusk light.

I feel better than when I started the ride, the determination to do better outweighing the self-deprecation after almost 3 hours of sweating and pedaling. That’s the beauty of bikes.

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