Sunday, January 5, 2014

Opening the Year - Guest Blog from the Cycling Yogi

You can’t count on ski days in Philadelphia any more.  In a good year, we’ll get three or four of them, but two winters ago we had none at all.  So when I woke up this morning to 8 inches of snow on the ground, I knew it was a special day.

After a symbolic pass at yoga stretches, I decided to shovel the walk before meditation, and by the time I got to my friendly neighborhood sangha, the 6:15 sit was ending.  I sat briefly, but the woods were calling – lovely, dark and deep.

On with the skis and down the hill into the park.  My street had been plowed but not salted, and the packed snow was perfect for skating along.  The steep road into the Wissahickon hadn’t yet been plowed, and the deep snow helped brake me on the way down the hill.  (For those of you who are not cross-country skiers, they’re different from downhill skis.  The binding is much looser and the skis have no edge, so you can try to brake going downhill, but the ski won’t necessarily come along with your foot.)

I was the first one in the park, skiing on virgin snow except – except there was a single track all along Forbidden Drive, the mark of a one-legged skier, I thought, or perhaps it was the tail of a woozle.

I could follow in one ski, but the other ski had to make a track for itself.  I developed an asymmetric gait: kick-glide, kick-glide...

And I kept imagining who it was had preceded me, with this single-runner track through the woods.  There were footsteps on either side of it.  But the footsteps were too far apart, I noticed.  And with time I became aware that they didn’t reach to the bottom.  They were depressions in the snow, but no one had put the weight of a foot into them.

When I suddenly realized what had made the tracks, I thought, “This is a page for the Biking Yogini.” 

Decades ago, I was the Boston area’s only bicycling piano teacher. I would cycle from my home in Watertown to teach my students in their Wellesley homes after school. When it snowed, I had no other transportation and no other income. But bicycling in the snow was dangerous, slow and uncomfortable.  Mountain bikes hadn’t yet been thought of.

But now, I see, there’s specialized equipment.


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