"Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?"*
Last weekend marked the unofficial end of another summer. For some, it signals blessed relief from the heat, a visit to SNIAGRAB (the yearly snow-sport sale at Sports Authority in Denver, held on Labor Day weekend for the last 57 years) and one last visit to the Farmer's Market for roasted Hatch peppers. For others....
I glance at the mountain bike I ride at work and sigh. We have passed the end of our "rotation," the four months my summer team spends together. We said good bye to some members, and greeted new ones. I prepared for the inevitable moment I set the bike aside because of snow and cold. But, not without a fight.
I, and a few others, find a way to extend the riding season by taking advantage of Denver's often mild winters, making sound uniform choices and practicing advanced denial skills. "It's snowing? Yeah, but it's only sticking in the grass!" Never give up, never surrender. Deploy the winter gear!
Arm warmers - ingenious devices to get a patrol officer through the morning chill. Elastic, lightweight, arm's length and warm, they turn the summer short-sleeved jersey into a long-sleeved shirt. After the sun comes up they are easily removed.
Full-fingered gloves - nothing like fumbling for the radio on a cold morning, fingers frozen into ten icicles. Padded cycling gloves marginally change how one grips the pistol (practice!), but dramatically improves command presence (not shaking uncontrollably and dropping the pen while writing out a contact card).
Skull cap - black, lightweight, fits comfortably under the helmet but does not interfere with the radio earpiece. Instantly turns a well-coiffed look into hat hair, so the fastidious need not apply. In reality - a badge of honor.
Winter coat - stylish, vented, lightweight and highly sought-after. No longer issued (who would want to cycle in the winter?) so an officer leaving the department gets hit up for his or hers. With some kind of fleece pullover underneath (not regulation) it becomes a winter coat good down to 15 degrees. The rest of me may not be good, but core temps stay toasty.
And then...it snows. In Denver, storms dropping a foot or more visit us regularly. The accumulation does not remain long, except for those places that get little or no direct sunshine. Black ice!
Once winter sets in for good.... March is just around the corner!
*"Are the Good Times Really Over," Merle Haggard, Big City, 1982.