Pre-Birdflesh Snowcrush

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At the Heart of Winter #lookthefuckout

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As a holiday bonus, we got nailed with about nine inches of snow today. I’m new to the whole winter bike commuting experience, so I was pretty stoked to plunge my studded tires into some serious snowfall.

My commute–from the corner of Belgrade and Range to the outer reaches of Lookout Drive–was an absolute blast, despite some hurdles. At about 10 a.m., the biking / walking path that winds up Lee Boulevard was totally buried, and I didn’t feel confident that I possessed the stamina to maintain a straight line up the right side of Lee’s serpentine climb. (I depend on the bike path’s wide berth to accommodate my wild mashery.)

So. I threw my bike on my shoulder and hiked up the side of the road, which assuredly infuriated the FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE RENDERS ME INVINCIBLE crowd.

About halfway up Lee, I jumped back on, and ripped the rest of the way to Lookout incident-free. But once I hit the intersection? Whooosh, bro. The area atop that hill harvests some brutal gusts–the North Mankato city planners seemingly took North Dakota’s “screw Arbor Day” ethos t.o the extreme–and we were mired in some straight-up whiteout conditions for a good half-mile.

But when I finally reached my destination, the feeling wasn’t one of relief from white-knuckled freakout, it was exhilaration. I had CONQUERED my city. My typically 30-minute commute only took me about 40 minutes in a freaking SNOWSTORM, and it RULED.

(Crucial point incoming in five…four…)

Here’s the deal with living in Minnesota: You can embrace the ridiculousness of our winters and make ’em an adventure, or you can make yourself miserable for a significant portion of the year. Every year. Seems like a simple choice, doesn’t it?

But too many people underdress for the elements. Too many complain about scraping their car windows. Too many keep themselves confined to controlled climates. I was among these people about a year ago, nearly settled into a one-dimensional, curmudgeonly thirtysomethingness.

On my adventure home from work, I realized that mindset is just another one of adulthood’s slow sacrifices, chipping away at wonderment as you’re subtly crushed into complacency. As I ripped through the snow at nightfall, I experienced the winter air in a way I hadn’t since I was a teenager, roaming the streets of Duluth’s Central Hillside in search of any thrill available, or carving through the slopes of Spirit Mountain and Trollhaugen as I grasped for a freedom that was, at the time, unattainable myth.

Winter riding recaptures a vitality that, with age, you acquire the luxury to avoid. Life is about finding the thrill in living. Slap on some layers and get the hell out there, Mankato.

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Get Red With…

I – “The Storm I Ride”

Immortal has been long entrenched as the world’s Official Snowstorm Band, so listing them here would be more than appropriate. Yet albums like At the Heart of Winter, Sons of Northern Darkness, and All Shall Fall, despite moments of serious velocity, boast a lumbering, conquering gait more appropriate for motorized excursions.

Abbath’s blastbeat-free 2006 sideproject, I, was infused with a freewheeling flair more suited to two-wheel bombing. Cheeseball black n’ roll from one of the subgenre’s mightiest showmen: What’s not to love?

There was a storm. It was ridden. Enjoy the riffs.