Jason Feb 10, 2016
Every winter, sometime in February, it seems we usually get a reprieve from the wet, blustery winter weather and enjoy a glimpse of the coming spring. That's been the case this past week here in the Willamette Valley so I took advantage of the weather window to ride my February Gran Fondo.
What a difference from last month's ride! Instead of being bundled up in layers and thick gloves, I reveled in riding in shorts and fingerless gloves. The change in weather also adds a proliferation of scents to the air; smells of things living and things growing.
I headed east from Salem into the Cascade foothills to Silver Falls State Park. Particularly while riding, the progression of one's surroundings is worth dwelling on. One of the great things about Salem is that even from a relatively urban neighborhood, within minutes of hopping on a bike you find yourself surrounded by rural farmlands. Further east, the unbroken farms give way to rolling hills and ridges until finally you're climbing into the forest itself. Connecting this progression in one's mind gives each road a potentiality, a set of destinations it can bear you to if you only invest in the journey.
Of course, heading into the Cascade foothills means plenty of opportunities to test one's climbing prowess. Climbing is also an investment in the future and means fast, fun downhills later on. Past the midpoint of the ride, the progression began to unspool, from forest to hills to farmland to city. Returning west I chased the setting sun into a beautiful sunset.
I've not pushed these distances this early in the year before, making each of these rides an adventure in more ways than one. It's a great reminder that instead of pining for the hot days of summer, adventures can be had every month of the year.