It has been a considerable time since I have written much. Many reasons for this, and they are not all clear to me. I am certain that bad relationships at work contributed considerably. In my anger and pain there was not much room for joy, and not much to write about. Winter may have contributed somewhat. This was both a wonderful and a difficult winter. I never quite got my adaptation legs under me.
The winter was difficult to adapt to. The climate was a new one in my experience. It snowed a little early - October, but it didn't stay on the ground. The freeze wasn't good and solid until after Thanksgiving, so that was pretty much like the northern US. But, there was no snow! Or, at least, there was so little snow that the most appropriate outdoor activity wasn't skiing or snowmobiling, but off-road bicycling. I was able to walk through any drifts I could find, and there were mostly clear zones with only an inch or two of snow. Riding off-road would have been great.
It wasn't until late December, almost the New Year, when we finally got some real snow. So we had January and February as two months when there was real snow for winter sports. And, in January, we had a two week stretch of very cold weather, with temperatures down to minus 40. Minus 40 is minus forty, on either scale C or F, it doesn't matter. That is on the edge of real cold, dangerous cold. It is certainly still easy enough to deal with, if you are able to dress well, and have a warm fireplace somewhere, but any risk is magnified. Then in March, spring came quickly. By the end of March we were seeing days with the weather above freezing, and the snow and ice were melting. Before April came there was open water on the Miass and in the marshes. The roads were nasty and wet from the end of February through the second week of March. Now they are mostly dry and clear. We have had two spring snow showers, neither of which lasted out the day. The snow was melted or melting before the end of the day, and gone by the end of the next day. The ground is still plenty muddy, but there are already dry areas to walk on in Chelyabinsk, as well as areas of very large puddles! It won't be long before things start turning green. It is still below freezing most nights, but not by much.
So, you see, there wasn't a whole lot of what I'm used to as winter. We had a little over two months of snow time. And, there wasn't very much snow, either. At the worst, when I was walking in the field, I found spots - drifts - that might have been all of three feet deep. But nothing more than that, I think. And for the most part, snow cover was from 6 inches to 2 feet. They get more in the Urals, they tell me, and I believe it from when I passed through, but it wasn't like Michigan or New England. So unless I was ready for it, there wasn't much time for winter sports. I think next year I will have my off-road bike.
That I hadn't been adapting well had been obvious enough, but that winter contributed became quite clear two days ago. It was a beautful afternoon, above freezing, perhaps in the upper 30's Fahrenheit. I took off from work right at five, thinking to ride my bike, maybe. I actually put together enough mental energy and resolution to make that happen. I walked out the front door, wheeling my bike with my shoes in hand. I began putting my shoes on, getting ready to ride. Then, what happened, but Bob popped out the door with his road bike and the same idea as me! Wonder of wonders, not just a day to ride, not just the first ride of the year, but someone to ride with! It was not even in my consciousness that there was another road bike within 50 miles! I know Bob had told me that he rode on the road, and that he had his bike here, but he carries more extra weight than I do, and I had unfairly discounted his ability. So my brain just didn't register his road bike! He has stayed in better shape than I over the winter, and he was stronger than me. But, this was great! It pushed me to work harder!
There is another roadie at the camp. He used to ride on Johnston Island. Brian, I think. Nice guy. I don't think he has his road bike here tho.
So we went out about 5 miles, and I was feeling the strain enough to welcome the thought of returning. I was a little worried, because my legs, lungs, and liver aren't used to this now. Walking is not the same! On the return I did feel the strain, but everything held up well enough. Not much extra, but it was good. Afterwards, I felt wonderful. My legs felt like somebody had released them from prison. I could feel the burn in my thighs, and it was great!
The next morning my soul felt as good, or nearly so, as it feels after good sex or a religious experience! Two spiritually wonderful moments, and here I am comparing riding a bicycle to them! Wuah. I've been saying I loved bicycling for years, because I could keep doing it, and I enjoyed it, but this was even more! Amazing. I really felt freed, released, reprieved, whatever! I had been let out of prison, and I was alive again! Freedom, o freedom! For the first time in months my spirit is clean, vital, and enthusiastic!