This is a guest post by Jason McDowell
It was seven o’clock. I had set up a date with a girl I had met and I hadn’t heard back from her. We had met twice before. Actually three times, but the last two times we both remembered it. This was going to be our third (fourth) time, but it would be our first official date. Yet we hadn’t set a location.
It was sometime in mid-February. I had gotten her number from an event at the Great Lakes Distillery called Metal Pedal, a race on bike rollers. I came in second place.
This night, though, I hadn’t heard back from her. But I didn’t quite have that feeling of being stood up, either. I decided to stop in to work and wait it out. I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew it’d be close to work. And if the date didn’t happen at least I’d get something done.
At any rate, I could start suiting up. That’d kill ten minutes. Maybe she’d call. I donned a pair of tights and some jeans. I had a t-shirt and a merino wool sweater with a windproof jacket over that. And a hoodie over that. I had wool socks and hiking boots that I always wished were warmer.
I headed out in the snowstorm. Snow fall. It was a gentle snow this time around. It was light, with fat flakes and clung to my beard and hipster mustache and melted down my ski goggles. The air was barely cold enough to freeze. I exited Walker’s Point en route to the East Side and could sense the city was alive. The roads had a light coating of snow which was easily pushed aside by my fat, studded tires.
A good rule of thumb: it’s a good time to ride when you can feel your thumbs. I had a brand new pair of Endura gloves which were “good down to 40 degrees.” I shoved a pair of cheapo “magic” gloves, those cheap gloves you buy for a dollar at Walgreens, which increased the glove tolerance by a few extra degrees. Always buy a size bigger, so you can use a liner.
I arrived at my workplace and got down to business. As much business as I could manage while checking the clock every three minutes. It may have been forty minutes, or it may have been an hour forty. I was mostly just concerned with every three. I really liked this girl.
Eventually I got a call. “Sorry I didn’t call earlier,” she lied. “I was with a German speaking group and wanted to practice.”
“No problem!” I believed her. “Where do you want to eat?”
We walked to Cafe Hollander. I introduced her to the world’s most tastiest pretzel (Miller Baking Co.) and we chatted for a couple of hours.
But all too soon the end of the night was upon us. We agreed to do it again (on time this time) and I left. The air had cooled and the snow had stopped. There may have been an inch of snow on the ground, but the top had melted and re-frozen. The bottom remained soft. It was like riding on creme brule.
The city had since been lulled back to sleep, but I was not the first person on the Oak Leaf Trail to experiece the crackle of the snow beneath my tires. I followed the track that was set before me as it wound around the back of the art museum. I watched my breath curl up and out. Everything was right.
Riding through winter doesn’t always have to be a hardcore battle with the elements. The Milwaukee Bicycle Company is inviting you to celebrate winter with its 5th Annual Winter Cycling Party and Forum this Tuesday, November 5 at Great Lakes Distillery, from 6:30-9:30PM. It is our annual fundraising event and will feature quick talks from Kate Riordan, Laura Kling, Mark Welch, Tom Brandstetter, and more. There will be a Q&A after. Get tips from your fellow riders, toss in your own advice, or just come for the fun.
There will be drink specials made with Skratch, new Bike Collective t-shirts, special edition logo pint glasses, and the new 2013-2014 Milwaukee Bike Winter sticker.
Raffle prizes feature The Milwaukee Bicycle Collective, Truly Spoken Cycles, Coast In Bikes, Becky Tesch, The Queer Zine Archive Project, Slipnot Bike Tire Chains, Vessel Workshop, Riverwest24, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, Fyxation, Knog, Nutcase, Travel Wisconsin, Skratch Labs, Urban Cycling Hall of Fame, Discovery World, Planet Bike, South Shore Cyclery, Twin Six, Stanley, ABUS locks Stone Creek Coffee, Adventure Rock Indoor Climbing, Walker’s Point Tattoo, the Wisconsin Bike Fed and more announced every day. Bike parking will be provided by Wheel and Sprocket.
Proceeds will help the Bike Collective keep the heat on through the winter, purchase additional tools, and organize appropriate programming for those in need.
The Milwaukee Bicycle Collective is a 501(c)(3) non-profit publicly accessible bicycle workshop dedicated to empowering individuals through accessible transporation. We are located at 2910 W. Clybourn St. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53208. More information: http://bikecollective.org.