Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First ride of the Spring!

I can't believe that my last ride on the bike was in November, 2011. That's 4 months ago! Mike was out a couple of times this winter, but I'm a wimp when it comes to cold weather on the motorcycle. Today it was sunny and 60 degrees, and we didn't let the muddy ruts in our road stop us from a beautiful ride.

Spring is a finicky time of year in Vermont. It will snow one day, then sunny and in the 50's the next. Add in rain, sleet and hail and all we're missing are hurricanes (wrong season) and tornados (infrequent in the mountains). Even though this winter wasn't as cold and snowy as usual, we're all ready for Spring.

Today we rode north on Route 30 into Pawlet, riding through open farm country. It's too early in the year for farmers to work in the fields that are still dotted with patches of snow and pools of water. Everything is shades of brown and tan from the rows of broken cornstalks to the leafless bushes and trees. I've heard that daffodils are peeking up in some sheltered, south-facing locations, but we didn't see any today on our ride.

We turned toward Middletown Springs and started climbing toward Danby, passing streams still showing signs of the terrible flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Irene in August. As we rode down the winding Brook Road into Danby, the air become crisp and cold, snaking in under my helmet. The combination of narrow road shaded by steep rocky hillsides covered in snow and the cold mountain stream dropped the temperature several degrees.

One positive about Spring in Vermont is that the sap from the sugar maple trees starts to run. The combination of below-freezing temperature nights and warmer days causes the sweet sap to flow, and sugar houses throughout the state are busy boiling down the sap into maple syrup. We saw both the modern, large containers that use a tubing system fed by gravity to collect sap, along with the more traditional sap buckets, scattered along the roadsides.

Mike says that riding on muddy roads is just as dangerous and difficult as riding on ice. We're heading into the fourth season in Vermont:  mud season, when the deep ruts and slippery, sticky mud makes driving any type of vehicle more difficult. We live at the end of a dirt (mud) road but that won't stop us from more bike rides, now that the weather is turning!

snow, ice and mud on Mending Walls