A Bike Ride for All Seasons

Posted On April 12, 2012

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Easter In Coldfoot:

Images of winter literally melt away before us. This white land, once locked up so tight, is rapidly shedding its jacket of snow. The parking lot, as I also remembered it when I got here at the end of last April, is devoid of ice, instead filled with a muddy mixture of water and dirt and leaking truck oils. Ice that carpeted the decks all winter has all melted; blocks of snow loudly dislodge and slide down the roofs, crashing to the ground below. And everywhere, snow turns to water and drip… drip… drips down, forming more quagmires of Coldfoot mud. The thermometer pushes forty degrees on warm days, and with my winter-weary eyes I begin to perceive the faint outlines of a new summer. It is a glorious thing to behold.

A few days ago, I dusted off the last remaining bicycle that survived the summer. The ice that once coated the highway during the winter had all melted. Thus, the time was right for the first bike ride of the year.

During the summer, we escaped the camp by travelling up and down the highway on bicycles. For us coworkers, the bikes were our tools of freedom, our chariots across the arctic. I became so familiar with every bend and dip of the road, grew comfortable with the shouldering mountains, and thrilled in the chance to ride up and down the Dalton.

But the winter trapped us indoors, the harsh cold world outside was barely fit for walking, much less riding a bicycle. As I rode down the highway just the other day, I realized that it was truly spring in the arctic. The physical and psychological burden of winter had nearly vanished, and once again, armed with merely a bike, I was free to roam the world that I’d been trapped in so long. To be on that road again, surrounded by the trees and the pipeline and the distant, vigilant mountains, I found myself surrounded by old friends. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with these folks—it’s been nearly eight months since I last spent time with them.

Summer is coming. And I can hardly believe it.

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