Edge of Winter

For about 10 days before Thankgiving, the weather was warm and generally dry. We were still wearing shorts, T-shirts and light shells on most of our rides. During the week before Thanksgiving we rode Tuesday and Wednesday evening, and Friday afternoon.
The Friday afternoon ride (October 8) was interesting. We rode to Bird’s Hill, into the wind. Crossing the Perimeter Highway at Gateway was a little scary because the traffic is heavy and fast. We stopped at Sobey’s in Bird’s Hill and bought a snack. (There is something obscenely hilarious about me eating a banana in a croissant). On the return trip Mike’s handlebar broke as we were crossing the Perimeter. He was using his old bike because his bike was in the shop for repairs and a tune-up.

It is rare for a handlebar to break, and I know that Mike has not had that bike in any crashes. I think there must have been a casting flaw in the metal tubing, or some damage when the bar was bent and cut into shape at the factory, concealed these many years under enamel paint. Mike had waited for a good break in the traffic and made it across, and retrieved his camera, which had fallen in its handlebar holster when the bar broke. We had the right tools to get his bar-end off the broken piece and on to the broken stub, which gave him something to grip but not a lot of steering leverage. We made it home for about 4:30 which gave me time to get into the kitchen.
Randy was in town for a wedding, and Claire and I had started to make plans and ended up with a party of 16 or 17. I think some of Claire’s friends arrived a little late so we did not all sit down for dinner. Randy, Mike, Steve and I stayed up late. Randy consumed less beer – he was driving his mother’s car and had to drive back to their place. He was nevertheless in fine form, insulting my choice of music (enough Stan Rogers!!). He was more pleased with the Sopranos soundtrack albums.
We also managed a ride to St. Adolphe on Sunday morning that weekend, riding into a brutal south wind and flying back with the wind at our back. Mike had another flat tire after picking up another sliver of broken glass.
The rest of that week was a washout – rainy cool days and evenings.
We took a cold 40 K ride through Woodhaven and Assiniboia to the West Perimeter on Saturday. The forecast was for snow in areas immediately west of Winnipeg. It was cloudy, near freezing temperature and windy. We were wearing cycling tights, fleece jersey, balaclavas. I had neoprene gloves which were clammy but warm. I talked to a neighbour who had gone to track meet in southwestern Manitoba and he saw cars that had been travelling through snow.
We didn’t see real snow in Winnipeg last week, although some wet snow was coming down with the rain one morning.
The overnight temperature Saturday night was -8 Centigrade. I spent some time clipping dead plants in the garden and cleaning the yard.
My formidable elderly Polish neighbour sold her house and moved to a nursing home this summer. Earlier, I had removed a wooden fence that I built to contain a dog that I don’t own any more. On Sunday I removed about 20 concrete tiles that she put on my side of the property line as a garden edging. They had tipped and heaved constricting my sidewalk, and making it impossible to push a regular snow shovel up the walk in winter. I dug them out, cleaned them and stacked them neatly. I also cleaned up and stacked the fence boards – I don’t know if they have any real use here but they are in good shape and I don’t want to take them to the dump. I removed one fence post – damned if I hadn’t actually set them in concrete – and left the others for another time.
Mainly, I have raked leaves. Winnipeg has done a fair job of protecting and preserving its urban forest. In my area that’s a canopy of 80-90 year old American elms, which drop their leaves in early October. The leaves started to come down about two weeks before Thanksgiving and they were almost all done by yesterday afternoon. The City sends street-cleaning crews out at this time of year to get the dead leaves and mulch off the streets. In my area, many residents rake their leaves onto the street when the street is posted for cleaning. That day came yesterday and I spent the better part of the last two evenings raking my leaves, and the leaves at the house next door (sold but still unoccupied) across the boulevard into stacks and then over the curb into the gutter.
This morning, the leaves are gone and a heavy rain is washing the dust and grime.


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