Here, all that was fluffy is now slush. All that was white has gone gray. The river has freed itself from its icy cover, and sea birds cluster together and bob with the current. Those who ride their bikes evoke snorts of derision from pedestrians and motorists. They slip and slide in the frozen muck and spew it from their back wheels as they go.
In Australia, a pack of ludicrously skinny men are pedaling their bicycles through the Southern summer, racing each other, while those of us on this side of the planet cling for warmth to burgeoning body fat.
If your boots aren’t waterproof or you’ve opted for style over substance, you are likely sitting at your desk in sodden socks contemplating hypothermia. You raise your eyes to the horizon, looking for some sign of spring, but lower them again. We’re not even close.
For me, the Tour Down Under is a potentially great race. Picking up from our last Group Ride, Australia is a sports mad country. It offers beautiful countryside and friendly people. The Aussie contingent of the pro peloton is growing and growing. The TDU is everything the UCI’s globalization plan seeks to achieve, planting the seed of cycling passion in fertile ground and tending it carefully.
If we tilt our heads to one side and squint just the right way, maybe we can see the first tendrils of the new cycling season pushing through the earth. It’s a trick of perception and imagination, and one we need desperately to pull off, while our socks are drying.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International