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Biker optimist

by John Cox

Through the cold and dreariest days of winter, thoughts of spring give hope to the barren landscape in my mind.

By mid-January, I always find myself looking forward to the things that come with the new season. I get excited when chocolate rabbits start popping up in the neon green plastic grass at the local grocery stores, because I know it wont be long until spring is here. March lilies will be blooming. Fat little fuzzy buds will magically adorn the naked trees. Baby ducks will be swirling in the currents of the little stream out back. Bass and sunfish will come out of their lethargy and begin a spectacular feeding frenzy.

And the young punks at the bike shop will have a gleam in their eyes, dreaming of the piles of cash they are going to rake in from fat guys like me buying bike tires and yearly tune-ups. Its a very emotional time for everyone involved. But theres always something to interfere with the activities I have so desperately anticipated. Somehow I forget, until my eyes start itching, that I am highly allergic to the things that bloom or sprout when the March lilies arrive. For all I know it could be the lilies themselves. Or it could be the fuzzy buds looming over me in the trees. Just when it appears that the cycling gods are smiling, an incessant wind always blows either directly into my face, or, worse, from right to left, nudging me gently toward oncoming traffic. To be fair, the wind does not blow continuously. There are times when the wind stays away and the rain tirelessly takes over for weeks. And of course there is the ever popular combination of wind, rain and hail that I recently witnessed with a loaded bike rack on my car. When a person encounters hail during a cycling outing, the best thing to do is go right home, because the day wont get any better. But when the sun reappears, off I go eternally optimistic.

Equipped with new aggressive mud-slashing tires, I picture myself tearing through the woods astride a recently well-oiled and mechanically tweaked mountain bike. But reality leans toward a very ungraceful wallow. My 220 pound frame does not handle mud the way my 175 pound imagination does. I have the same difficulty with rain-swollen streams. I can never get my head around the amount of time between the end of the rain and the process it takes to uncloud the water. If I had a dollar for every raging creek I have gazed longingly into, fly rod in hand, I would certainly have enough money to buy a new fishing license and trout stamp every year. I have seen Beech Creek in Spencer County five feet out of its bankswhen it appears to be not only the color but also the consistency of butterscotch puddingand I would swear it hadnt rained in weeks. This stream can be crossed in the summer without getting your boot laces wet. I cant decide if I am just completely irrational when it comes to matters of the heart, such as fishing and biking, or if my immune system is completely defenseless against spring fever. While I ponder these weighty issues, I am keeping an eye on the torrential little stream out back. When the ducks stop acting as if they are afraid to go for a swim, Im heading out to buy my new fishing license.

Writer John Cox can be reached at

This story was posted on 2002-09-11 21:36:13
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