Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cold, cold, cold

It has been really cold in Lyon this winter. As I write this blog, it has been 5 days since the temperature got above freezing, and we have had 3 snow storms that actually left enough snow on the ground to cause trouble on the roads and leave the grocery stores lacking of fresh products. It's been so wintery here that the skateboard park near my house has looked more like a snowboard park lately.

I need a small park board so I can try this half next time it snows

Everyone tells me that this is the worst winter they have ever seen in Lyon. This is only my second winter here, and it didn't snow once last winter or hardly ever drop below freezing, so it is certainly colder than last year. Even after the snow came back and melted the snow, it remained really cold. And cold here is cold! Probably because I do not have a car, and spend more time outside walking, biking, waiting for a bus, etc., but I am wearing my warmest jacket and many layers of clothes and still feel like my toes are about to fall off. Even the farm animals are trying to cover up more to stay warm.

nice hat

However, while the cold weather and frequent snow has made life a little more difficult here in the city, it has made the weekend trips to the alps AMAZING! After riding in the Alps last winter I was honestly a little bit disappointed. The resorts are cool, huge, numerous, and the food is great, but the mountains just didn't have enough snow on them. Most of the good resorts were way up in the mountains, way above the tree lines to maximize the possibility of snow and cold, and I really like to ride deep snow, through the trees, off-piste as much as possible. So last year was a little bit meh for me.

Those fresh tracks there are ours

This year, however, has been awesome. Tons of fresh snow, and we have been able to go to some of the close, and lower elevation, resorts and hit the off-piste tree-runs all the time. And surprisingly--to me anyway--many french people do not like to ride/ski (or drive) in this type of weather. They prefer the clear, sunny skies and groomed pistes, so the resorts have been half empty. I have to admit, it is nice to ride in warm sunny weather with clear, awe-inspiring vistas of the Alps around you, but I'll take cloudy skies and falling snow over that any day.

My friend Michel gives the snow conditions the thumbs up

Riding in the deep stuff is a lot more work than just sliding down the groomed pistes too. I love leaving the resort totally exhausted (and a little bit in pain) every day, after really pushing it to hit every little jump, drop, fresh powder bank, etc. You really have to lean, push, and sometimes jump into your turns when the snow can easily cover your board, and of course when you fall (which I do a lot occasionally), it takes a bit more energy to dig yourself out and get back up. I usually end these types of days like this:

Exhaustion has gotten the best of me

I know many parts of the US are experiencing unusually cold and snowy weather as well. My parents have had quite a bit of snow in Dallas, and Washington, DC now seems a better city to host the winter Olympics than unseasonably warm Vancouver, Canada. Many of my friends back in Seattle are ambiguously happy with the warmer weather in the city and sad that there isn't a lot of snow in the mountains this year. For me, I just cannot wait to get back up to the mountains.

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