Ouch!

Michael Heffler Winter 2013-4
There’s an expression “Having the tar knocked out of you!” I’m thinking about our roads. The roads we plan to cycle on this spring.
When you think of a pot you might think of the little thing you make oatmeal in, or the bigger thing you boil pasta in, or maybe the still bigger thing you cook stew in. Those pots are the size of some of the potholes we’ll be cycling around soon. But I’ve never seen a pot the size of some of the potholes I’ve recently seen on our roads. We’re talking about the whole stovetop and more!
People are blowing out tires on their cars when they hit potholes. They say they’re lucky they didn’t crack a wheel or an axle. Because of the weather, companies selling tires are running out and the rail yards and seaports are backed so shipments aren’t coming in or getting distributed. Imagine the variety of shapes and contortions that might happen to our skinny bike tires and rims when they hit that oatmeal pot or a crevice the size of a deer.
This has been a cold winter with a lot of snow. Polar vortex is a term I wish I’d never heard. The cold tells my bodies to hunker down. The desire to go downstairs and spin on the cycling trainer, never a strong desire, is often absent as my body says: “Keep your energy. You might have to go out there. It’s awfully cold.”
It makes you want to stay inside and read a book.
I don’t usually drive the back roads I cycle on. The roads I’ve been driving are major roads that generally get serious maintenance attention from our towns, counties and state. If the major roads are cratered I can only guess what our pretty back roads look like.
I want to get out and ride. It’s almost March and there’s snow all over the ground. There’s more snow in the forecast. I don’t ride when there’s black ice on the roads. I want to ride. I know when it does get warm I won’t just get on the bike and take off. I’ll be looking down, paying attention to avoid all the potholes. I can’t imagine speeding down hill not knowing if a small canyon is about to expose itself.
I can see myself, Wile E. Coyote in spandex, with a bike under my arm, crawling up a canyon wall.
The road conditions aren’t going to be fixed by tar and chips – the roads require major work. I hope our taxes are at work and I hope the road crews continue to do their job. When will it be warm? When will the roads provide a safe transport again? I want to climb something besides the tedium of the calendar and the thermometer.
We’ll get out there in the spring. We’ll get new experience changing flats. We’ll be thankful whenever we cycle over smooth asphalt.
We’ll get through winter.