Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Heart of darkness

Put down the pistol and back away from the vodka, Marge, I think we're gonna make it through this.

That's right, baby. It's the winter solstice. We're still riding through the darkness, but today we know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, this is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Sure, we'll have less than five and a half hours of daylight (and I use the term "daylight" loosely).

But tomorrow will be a few seconds longer, and every day after that will give us a little more precious light until that cursed day in June when all the pseudopagans celebrate the summer solstice with festivals and silly rites as if it's some cosmic touchstone. All it really means is that, just as we reach the full glory of summer, we begin losing a few seconds of light every day. Facing this sad fact on the leading edge of the best season is like showing up at a college party only to hear your buddies say that the keg's dry and all the girls just left.

Summer solstice should pass without notice. It's a buzz kill. The glory months should be soaked up lustily and without thought, as if there is an infinite supply that will never end.

Winter has its beauty, but it's a season of milestones on the path to the Holy Grail we call summer. To me, Halloween means winter has arrived. Thanksgiving nails that fact home. Rolling into a new year provides a step in the right direction. February means I'm a year older, but will hopefully receive some bike-related gift that distracts me from creaky joints and reminds me a new riding season is just around the bend.

March brings the Iditarod, the last big event of winter in Alaska. When those little mutts and the zombies they're towing hit Nome, we know we're in the home stretch. Time to hang up the studs and start getting the summer bikes ready for fun. Time to put in a few weeks on the trainer while waiting for the spring slush to melt away so that we can ride dry streets and bide our time until the trails dry out by the end of May.

They say junkies and drunks can't get better until they hit rock bottom. Well, today we bottom out. Shift her down into the granny gear, kids. We're startin' a big pull up a long hill, but the view from the top kicks ass.

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