Four foot wide no more– two, three, four days post-snowfall and the sidewalks are passable, as natural singletrack. Boots drag their feet, printing Vibram and Sorel into the white. Simple over the curb, through the fence or across the park shortcuts in summer, are snowy singletrack connectors in winter. Eventually, one of many dozen snow bikes around town passes through, smoothing and grooming boot tracks with the characteristic chevron-shaped Endomorph pattern. With two more passes it becomes pleasantly rideable; until then, it washes the bike to sides, as a frozen luge studded by postholes. Bump, bumping along like waterskiing into whitecaps, desperately spinning tires to keep moving and stay afloat, more like operating a snowmobile on water. When the tires stop, the U.S.S. Pugsley sinks, and stalls. Must walk a few feet, or try and try and try to get started again.
Road grading and plowing deposit two and three foot berms at crosswalks and entrances to bike trails and sidewalks. I approach at speed, lift the wheel and thrust the chainguard at the pile hoping for the best. The mountain gives way as I break through, leaving a topographic low– a pass– in the micro-ridgeline. Sometimes a three foot pile of road crust and ice, refrozen. I go up, and over.
Sidewalk riding alongside busy three lane parkways is bumping along singletrack, spinning tires; crashing through, up and over berms; and delicately rolling across lumpy compacted roadcrossings like frozen lakes, careful not to steer to quickly or be lying in the road. A half-dozen inches of snow or more falling today. The singletrack cycle starts again, with spinning tires.