I had the good fortune to be accepted into a study abroad program in college. It was more than twenty years ago, and through some miracle I found myself in Ireland, England, Scotland and then turned loose upon the European continent for six weeks. Having had the opportunity to see Germany and Ireland, Scotland and France, I now wonder more at the capacity to diminish travel accessories than the panacea of architecture, art and culinary experiences I missed out on.
I brought a portable CD player that only worked on level ground, needed two AA batteries for three hours of music and a carrying case with 40 compact discs, and if traveling with a few books was not enough, I bought more books from a Parisian bookstore called Gibert Jeune and carried them home to gather dust on a bookshelf for twenty years. Last summer I finally got around to reading one of them, and let me tell you Leo Tolstoy had it right, "We can know only that we know nothing..." but you can skip everything but the last fifty pages and it still makes sense.
I don't do a lot of fishing in the winter, and while I initially made efforts to ride my bicycle as frequently as possible, my winter cycling is woefully thin compared to many, many regular cyclists commuting throughout the winter in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. What I have noticed from previous mileage is the tendency for roadways to become narrower as the snow accumulates along the peripheries. Bicycle trails are well maintained however, so negotiating debris fields along certain stretches of roadway between moving traffic and parked cars seems unnecessary by comparison.
Last year's total mileage was about a third of where I was four years ago, I appreciate the fancy Velo Viewer infograph telling me I climbed Mount Everest once, but it is not as comforting as not having foot pain. As such I spend more time riding Metro Transit buses and trains, watching the consistent diaspora of bicycle styles between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. On the same day a casual observer will see skinny-tired steel frame single speed fixies with leather strapped pedals being ridden through the same snow, slush and ice as a person on a carbon fat bike with monolithic tires set to 9 psi. The benefit of there being ample snow means the cross country ski trails are more usable, where it is more likely to see a fat biker negotiating single track mountain bike trails than a rebuilt single speed.
Speaking of ample snow, it just snowed again and it sounds like it will snow some more before March. By April it might still be around, but hopefully the transition between road tires and studded tires will not include too many instances of the former on ice or the latter on asphalt.
|Early season skiing on man-made snow, Minneapolis . Photo by Michael McKinney|
|Finding the bike lane, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael McKinney|
|Art Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael McKinney|
|2017 Velo Viewer Infograph, Michael McKinney|
|December Sunset, Saint Paul. Photo by Michael McKinney|
|Skiers racing along Nicollet Mall, February 2018. Photo by Michael McKinney|
After finishing War and Peace around Mid-Summer, the remainder of my Goodreads Reading Challenge was mostly non-fiction books, with a couple of Tom Clancy and John Grisham books in there too.