Much is made of the two-part episode of Happy Days where Arthur Fonzarelli goes water-skiing in his leather jacket but I don’t understand why people are so quick to accuse tv shows, or more often blogs, of jumping the shark*. At least it’s evidence that someone is still making an effort. Critics forget that after the shark-jumping episode, there was still Suzi Quatro, Laverne and Shirley, Mork the Orkan and Tom Hanks all yet to make guest appearances. For mine, the real sign that the scriptwriters have surrendered to lassitude is the flashback episode. This is the one in which a situation is contrived where a couple of the lesser-paid actors are trapped in an elevator/snowed in at a mountain lodge and spend the episode reminiscing about past episodes from a time before the scriptwriters stopped caring. I only mention all this because although today’s blog entry is the third or fourth time I have written about cycling up Teineyama, I wouldn’t want these to be thought of as flashbacks because each time has been entirely original involving either a different bicycle or, as is the case today, different weather.
Although I have lived in several places that have a snowy winter, I still look forward to snow with great excitement. It’s everything that rain isn’t. It falls on you quite gently; it’s made of water but doesn’t really get you wet; and you can roll it up and make snowmen or throw it at your friends (but not your wife, if you know what’s good for you). So imagine my disappointment that the weather forecast kept predicting snow but the best we got was a light dusting and a wet balcony. All I could do was gaze mournfully out of the window at the snow in the mountains and wish we could get some down here. On Wednesday I woke up to an excitingly heavy snowfall but after it didn’t last very long and failed to settle on the ground, it was clear I had only one course of action. If the mountains wouldn’t come to Bruce, Bruce had to go to the mountains. Without stopping to wonder whether a sentence like that could result in a fatwa, I pumped up the tyres on the Long Haul Trucker, put on several layers of woollen underclothing (and some overclothing) and headed, yet again, for Teineyama.
There was still no snow as I got to the base of the mountain but as I started the climb, I enjoyed some very light snowfall to motivate me on the way up. Soon there was little snow on the leaves of plants by the road, then a little on the ground and finally, in a poor reflection of our modern, technological era, the first thing I did when I reached a reasonably-sized patch on the ground was not to play in it but to photograph myself and email it to friends.
Despite the top of the mountain being closer to the sun, it got colder the higher I went and there was more and more snow by the side of the road.
Finally I got to the base of the ski fields, where snow covered all the open ground. Luckily the drinks machines were serving hot as well as cold drinks. Here was my choice:
And although I had been wearing my thickest gloves, holding the hot can was very pleasant.
After this short stop I continued up the mountain and the snow started covering the road until I had just a thin strip of bare road left to ride on. When I got to the top, the entire car park was covered in compacted snow and as I rode in, a group of Japanese getting ready to do some cross-country skiing seemed surprised and impressed that a crazy bloke on a bike had ridden up the mountain. I managed to dispel any awe they might have had of me by coming perilously close to falling off twice before I decided it was probably better to get off and walk. So I parked the bike and took its photo:
Then I went for a stroll. I was too self-conscious to build a snowman but luckily someone else had done the job for me:
As I got back to the bike from my stroll, a Japanese bloke got out of his car and offered to take my photo. He still seemed impressed with me so I assume he didn’t see me nearly come a cropper a few minutes earlier.
I waved goodbye to him and headed back down the mountain, riding the brakes all the way down for fear of skidding on the snow and slipping over. I stopped to take a photo of the snow on the road and my new passed me and waved again.
Despite my gloves and slow speed, my fingertips and toes were still quite numb by the time I got to the bottom. The sun was out, so they warmed up a bit but looking to my left, I could see a big front of snow coming toward me. Luckily I had the wind behind me all the way home, which enhanced my enjoyment of riding in the snow.
But even for all this snow, there still isn’t any left on the ground down here at sea level. I mustn’t complain, though. I think we have a good few months of snow and ice to look forward to before next spring. Plenty of time for me to practice riding the Trucker on slippery surfaces.
*I should also like to point out that although this expression is now somewhat cliched, my first encounter with it was in the excellent book Sushi Daze (still available at some bookshops in town last time I looked) by author Rob Payne. To my mind, this means he invented the expression.