1. Even when the temperature is COLD (15 degrees F when I began my ride today), the sun is higher and stronger now, so dirt roads can still turn mucky.
2. Riding past the cow farm--which during mid winter is quite pleasant, even if windy due to the open fields--becomes a bit of a stink fest about now.
3. Road riding this time of year (which I did last Monday when the weather was warmer and the roads were dry) entails riding through endless grit (which clogs up the whole drive train), trying to avoid the worst of the potholes and frost heaves, and mostly riding further into the road (to avoid the snowbanks and deepest piles of grit along the road's edge). The good part was that my bike felt very light (compared to the fat bike), I felt strong, and I could ride 1.5-2.0 times as many miles as I can in the same amount of time on my fat bike. (All fine and good; now my road bike is in the shop getting a total overhaul for my trip.)
4. Even while all bundled up and freezing, spring birds are singing. Or are year-round birds singing springtime songs? (There you go, folks: My ornithological ignorance on full display!)
5. The barrels and piping are out--for collecting maple syrup. This year it's so cold that the syrup barrels I've seen have all been wrapped in insulation! Never saw that before.
6. Normally, ice out on the river would have occurred by now. Most ice outs are not that dramatic--either because the ice melts gradually or, more often, because a Coast Guard cutter breaks up the ice before it can get jammed behind bridges and cause flooding. When ice out happens all at once, it is thunderous, dramatic, and quick. The boulders of ice chase and bounce over each other; all is still and quiet again less than two hours after it starts.
It's been especially cold, so the river is full of ice still--even though it's getting quite thin. I held my breath the other day as I watched someone on a snowmobile speed down the middle of the river. People do the most stupid things! No cutter has ruined the ice yet, either. Here is what it looked like when I was on my ride today:
This photo is from the dramatic ice out of 1996: