Blogging about family and transportation cycling in Huntington, West Virginia was all about the hills. In Buffalo, NY it may be all about the snow.
When we moved in August 2013 we left our only vehicle behind. We adopted a fairly spirited attitude about living in a larger city. Buffalo had better transport options and some of us were excited to explore them. For instance, the children got a kick out of calling for a taxi on a particularly crazy try to return from Tifft Nature Preserve (10miles south) after bike-bus-waking to get there with a child who was still recovering from a neuromuscular disorder (I’ve made worse decisions). Taxis were pretty cool, and expensive. And. That’s our only taxi tale.
Public transit was a luxury. Someone else drove through piles of snow and slick intersection but I was loving rental cars. A perfect sized, new vehicle for each task that needed done. A snappy fuel efficient compact for a solo shopping trip or the minivan for a run to Boston to pick up our oversized bike that would help us keep cycling through those famed winter. I wasn’t put off by some inconveniences of not owning a personal vehicle when there were so many community, financial, environmental, and adventurous benefits to be had. But we didn’t all love rocking a “car free” lifestyle.
It wasn’t a secret that Brent, my husband, really wanted to own something again. He wanted to know that when he needed a car there was something reliable sitting in his drive way, not down the street in the car-share spot. He didn’t enjoy asking me to make reservations for vehicles or needing to watch the clock to return it on time. He wasn’t fond of not having the choice when sometimes he was tired after a 10mile round trip bike commute on a long and weather weary day. And I got it. But I let my concern over the financial aspects of car ownership and the exhilaration of an active transportation lifestyle wedge between us. These, amongst others, were huge concerns of Brent’s.
It’s a pretty middle class life to have dollars to wiggle around in the budget. We could have dropped cash on an older sedan but we opted for a newer minivan. One with seats for all seven (we have been hosting exchange students) of our bottoms and a warranty. The thing is we bought the van after all the snow melted in May 2014.
From the first flake in November 2013 till we hung up our woolens the next summer, we endured, and on most days, enjoyed the most incredible winter ever. It wasn’t so much the snow, where a surprise six fresh inches on a Monday morning wouldn’t even call for a school delay, as it was the deepest most painful freezing temperatures that made it memorable. I was trying to think of a word that could describe degrees lower than sub-freezing. The fluid in our ears would ice over. The marrow in our bones would seize up. Exposed flesh burned with the winds. There must be a word for that kind of cold.
However, thanks to good clothing, a new bakfiets with weather canopy (we spoiled ourselves, it has an electric assist!), and the determination to keep on, we walked, bused, accepted a few rides to work, and biked all the relentless winter season.
When it was all over, and I had a hard time believing it was, I missed it. I missed feeling that alive. The challenges and subsequent feeling of success drove my obsession and thrill with winter cycling. I no longer had hills to measure the inclines on and then calculate the weight I ferried up like in West Virginia. I didn’t have the feeling of being my own hero any longer. I missed that feeling.
So when I sat my fanny on my bike, and had it all bundled up with child sized cargo, and took the slow snow covered side streets, I was proud of me.
There aren’t a lot of photos from last winter as I wasn’t foolish enough to take my gloves off. But the few I have are some of the highlights. The “worst” of it will forever be a memory.
With all this, I welcome winter once again.