Day’?s Verse:
The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds.
The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.

Job 37:9-10

Although few things flourish during the frigid winter months, this year we did have one bumper crop: Potholes. The weather — a mix of sub-freezing days interspersed with the occasional 35-degree rainy day — proved perfect for growing large, juicy potholes that spawned plenty of seeds for next year’?s crop, too. The freeze/thaw cycle from November through March has provided excellent fodder for the potholes, of which several varieties are available. By the end of March or beginning of April, many of the largest potholes have already been harvested (filled in), leaving only the less egregious ones for the warmer months. A savvy connoisseur of potholes will search out the finest crop during late February, before road crews begin the harvest, although it is always wise to keep a weather eye out for a well-developing pothole.

You can find the large, shallow potholes that tend to expand across an entire lane or road, so that even a diligent driver has to just grit his teeth and accept the jarring passage. These tend to grow very rapidly, but instead of deepening, at maturity they start spreading small pebbles of asphalt along their edges.

Then there are the long, narrow potholes that take much longer to grow. These take two seasons to reach maturity, starting the first winter season as a crack in the road that only slowly expands. Sometimes road crews head these potholes off, filling them in with a dump of asphalt, but usually the pre-potholes are relatively benign in their first season. Their second season, though, they expand rapidly both lengthwise and in depth. These do not tend to propagate themselves, but can tend to ripen into deep, dangerous potholes by the end of their second season.

Then, too, are the deep, round potholes that often form on the lee of manholes, storm drains, and other metal intrusions in the road. These often grow jaggedly and unpredictably, sometimes deepening with ripeness, although often the depth is mitigated by the fact that these often fill up with pebbles, rocks, and other road debris. These potholes are unpredictable, ripening at random times and not usually in a very satisfying way. Heavy rain followed by freezing temperatures contribute to growing these potholes.

Finally you can find the very rare random pothole, which seems to materialize out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. These are often the largest, deepest potholes by the end of the season, and they particularly benefit from heavy snowfalls. Pebbles and road debris often fill or surround these potholes, which tend to rebound even after road crews fill them with asphalt patches. These most rare potholes go for astounding prices at all times of year, with connoisseurs everywhere clamoring for them.

Plows are the natural stewards and caretakers of potholes. During heavy snows, plows often contribute greatly to pothole development by scraping away at the edges of potholes while moving snow. They also lay down layers of salt and sand, which help erode the edges of potholes when cars drive over them. Indeed, the abundance of snow plows this season — both the large, city workhorse ones (see previous research speculations) and the small, domesticated, pickup-truck version — would indicate to the savvy observer that a bumper pothole crop was on its way.

Domesticated pickup truck plows are, indeed, strange creatures of themselves. They undergo a season-related molting which transforms them from winter snow plows (often containing sand-spraying apparatus in their beds) into spring/summer landscaping trucks. Molting often occurs between the middle and end of March through early April, depending on temperatures. Usually these pickup trucks shed their heavy front plows and exchange them for large trailers emblazoned with landscaping business logos. Often the trucks’ pelts start gleaming more during the summer, revealing names of landscaping businesses previously obscured by a winter’s accumulation of grime.

These trucks’ behavior rarely changes season to season, despite their radical physical changes. They often drive too fast for conditions, relying on 4-wheel drive during dangerous or slippery winter months; they often carry rattling, pointed implements, ladders, or large full sacks in their beds; they tend to travel in pairs (not, apparently, mating pairs — no females in this species have ever been seen), the rear one tailgating its leader dangerously. They often men, often Hispanics, as passengers. During all months of the year the frequent small, lesser-known roads, turning unexpectedly off of major thoroughfares without signaling. They pay very little heed to cyclists, hugging the edge of the road in an alarming way.

Little research has been conducted on the pothole/snow plow interaction. It is not currently known whether the relationship is symbiotic — and if so, whether they are obligate or facultative symbiotes — or if we are actually observing a commensalist or parasitic relationship. It is not known what benefit the snow plows might receive by facilitating pothole growth, although some researchers have suggested that in the summer months the trucks find work harvesting (filling in) potholes. More research is required before any significant conclusions can be drawn.

Bike talk.

I got lost today on my way home from Concord. Somehow I ended up extremely turned around, riding north on Route 27, and when I passed over Route 2 to find myself in Acton, I admitted defeat. Ian performed a map intervention for me, told me to turn around and head south, which I did. That worked well, although I did end up riding five miles more than I intended. I would describe this ride’s defining feature as Wind. I rode Davey for the first time this season, which felt delightfully zippy* at times. But it takes much less wind to shove me around on him, and sometimes I found myself challenged to keep moving forward at all in a headwind that seemed all set to blow me backwards. The temperature never got much above freezing, as far as I could tell, so the wind ended up chilling me pretty dramatically despite my hard athletic activity. My right foot and cheek felt several degrees colder than their left-hand counterparts, and in fact when I took my shoes off at home, my right foot was that bright red I associate with fairly-cold-but-not-frozen-solid-yet, while the warm left one looked normal.

I stopped in Concord at 21 miles to eat half my Luna bar, and along the way I drank water. That seems to work well for the 40-mile range, especially since I make a point of consuming a good number of calories before taking off. On this ride, despite keeping a sharp eye out, I saw nothing particularly noteworthy. I think I did pass through a record number of towns, though, thanks to missing Route 62 in West Concord and following some other road of similar size up north-ish. I feel somewhat tired again, my back rather stiff and sore, but otherwise I fee
l good.

For this ride I left my old Jett saddle on Davey, just to see how it felt. Interestingly, that worked out much better than the Jett had on Charlotte — I think I’m more upright/less stretched out on Davey, which means my sit bones are spread apart farther. The more you stretch forward, the more your sit bones squeeze together and the narrower your saddle should be. I will try the Jett again on tomorrow’s 40-mile ride to see if my mild butt soreness is going to be a serious problem.

*Sometimes zippy. Davey, intended more as a road bike, has very different gearing than Charlotte. Charlotte, a mountain bike, has lots of very low gears for climbing big, steep hills. Davey has more higher gears to let you go very fast, relying on you having lots of muscles to push you up any big steep hills. I guess I will have to rebuild those big hill-climbing muscles now that I’m back to riding Davey. Ouch. But I’m happy to have him back in action, hopefully for the whole rest of the season. I will devote half my prayer time every day to begging for NO MORE SNOW, ICE, or WINTRY MIX weather to facilitate my bike change-over.

That is all.

Please help me raise money for the MS Bike Tour Cape Cod Getaway. Donate today on my MS Participant page.

KF quality

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