29 March 2011

A Sort of Reveille

It's really strange.  The other day, when I was out riding through some old stomping grounds and along seaside bikeways battered by winter storms, I saw maybe two other cyclists.  Granted, the weather was chilly and breezy, but it was still more conducive to cycling than what we had through much of the winter.  

Today, if anything, was colder and windier.  Yet, during my commutes, I saw even more cyclists than I saw during our "heat wave" (when temperatures climbed over 70F) about a week and a half ago.  Some were dressed, as I was, in clothes we'd wear to work; others came wrapped in lycra on their racing bikes.  I'm happy to see them all:  They're definitely signs of spring, even if the weather isn't.  

And the bike rack at my second job was full.   It was yet another sign that the bike season is, if not in full swing, at least on its way.  

But one thing tells me it's not quite spring yet, whatever the calendar says:  the hue of the water.  The other day, when I crossed Jamaica Bay and clattered along the Rockaway boardwalk, the water took on an almost metallic, cobalt-like hue:

In some places, along the beaches of the Rockaways, that color was made a bit earthier, as if the dunes were spilling into the tides:

Of course, the water is still much too cold to swim, and will be until some time around Memorial Day. But the tone of the water is enough to tell you that we haven't quite left winter yet.

But sometimes I think that we, as cyclists, have our own clocks, much as other living beings have internal chronometers to tell them when to stay, fly away, change colors or go to sleep.  We are all just starting to wake up.


  1. Swimming in the ocean? I remember that!
    Here in Oregon, the water is too cold even in the height of summer. The Alaskan current keeps the water in the mid-50's. Waded through a puddle once on the beach, and will never do that again!

  2. Wow! Never higher than the mid-50s? Here, at least, the ocean temperature reches the 70's during summer. And it remains fairly high into autumn; I've gone swimming in October and, in my youth, November.

    You in Oregon are further north than we are in NYC. That also accounts, in part, for the ocean temperature. I was reminded of that the time I went swimming at Cap Ferret, just north of Bordeaux. I figured that since it was the Atlantic, it would be something like here. But, as I would later find out, it's almost as far north as Montreal and the upper Maine coast.

  3. It's less the latitude and more the current. The Atlantic Coast gets the Gulf Stream, bringing warm tropical water northward. The Pacific Coast gets the Alaska Current bringing cold water southward. It's not warm enough to go into the water sans wetsuit until at least the Central Coast of California, and even then, barely so!