It's been a while.
Long enough that the seasons themselves have changed. Although we had a long dry fall, with really excellent weather through all of November, snow has finally come to the Champlain Valley and winter feels as if it is finally upon us. The blue and yellow fixie is on a hook for the time being and commuting duties have fallen to my studded and fender-ed single-speed mountain bike. It is such an utter tank compared to the Trek, and spinning away from a stop feels as if I am engaging a giant flywheel. It gets the job done, though. Plus, with a beater bike, I'm not afraid to things like riding the last half mile home on a totally flat tire instead of stopping to fix it. It didn't thrash the tire or tube, and the rim that I built a couple of years ago was as true as ever when I got home. The addition of Christmas shoppers divining on unfamiliar streets and a small amount of ice has made things a little more interesting in the last week or so, but i really hope to ride a little bit every month of the winter, and every day I can until at least the new year.
I have been able to extend my riding season further in time than last year. I attribute a fair amount of that to the fact that Kate and I are not in the middle of buying a house as we were at this time last year. Our daily commutes are more regular and established and the need for us both to be immediately available to one another right after work is nil. Also, I'm much better set up in my basement shop now to handle the occasional repair or even to easily swap out bikes as conditions change.
So no house buying to occupy our time, but something always comes in to fill the vacuum. Kate has been teaching a writing course through the local adult ed. program and I have signed on to be a ski instructor for the winter weekends.
It feels like a big leap to be making. I taught a season at Snowbowl out in Missoula back in the 05-06 season, but my last really intense season of instructing was in 1998-1999, at Sugarbush in one of their seasonal programs, generally referred to as Snow Blazers. And I'll be doing it again. I applied to work at Sugarbush back in early October and through a series of training sessions and meetings with people on the staff, I've been asked to join up with that program again. It's more than I could have hoped for. While I have no problem teaching individual lessons half a day at a time, 'Blazers is special because you work with mostly the same kids throughout the season, every single weekend from halfway through December until the end of March. That's a lot of days on snow and a long stretch of working two jobs seven days a week for me, but it will be worth it. I'm looking forward to finally pursuing my PSIA certification and upping my own skiing and teaching skills while getting outside and out on the mountain as much as possible.
For the winter, I've gone ahead and put Sugarbush's snow report RSS into my Google Reader. The report seems to come out at about 8:30 each morning and covers what's open, what's opening, how much snow has fallen, and any special events that might be coming up on the mountain or in the Mad River Valley in general. You can get the report as a podcast through iTunes as well, if that's your sort of thing.
December 7th, 2009: Ski & Ride Snow Report Audio Podcast
What else? I have a couple of home improvement projects to document, including landscaping around our newly-rotated shed, fixing our bathroom fan, and installing an enhanced compost and leaf-mold setup in our backyard, but those each deserve their own posts. I'll get some photos of those projects and the mountain as time allows, but it's going to be a busy winter.