Mi primera vez en la nieve, con la ‘bici’ (con versión en inglés)

 

Este fue un invierno atípico en Breslavia. Solo hubo dos semanas frías con nieve y temperaturas de -5 durante el día. ¿Helado? Sí, aunque el helaje real en la escala polaca es de -15 ó -10 grados, 25 bajo cero en casos extremos. Ahora estamos a 11 grados durante el día. Florecen azafranes en los jardines, bandadas de cuervos ya migraron a Rusia y los polacos celebran con sus bicicletas wiosna, la primavera: esperamos que un coletazo del invierno no nos sorprenda en las próximas tres semanas.

Éramos pocos los ciclistas hace un mes y medio: los tejados, las calles locales, los prados y las aceras secundarias estaban blancas. Había pocas personas caminando y los carros se movían con lentitud y cuidado en vías cafés, cubiertas de sal-tierra para derretir la nieve. Los cuervos dejaban huella de sus patas en el césped nevado y los patos y gaviotas se resbalaban con torpeza sobre los canales congelados del río.

Usar la ‘bici’ para recorrer ese nuevo mundo era un juego. No sabía si nos caeríamos con el primer pedalazo bajo la nieve o si las rampas heladas serían toboganes. “¿Aún en bicicleta?”, me preguntó mi jefe en esos días, y me aconsejó en broma que usara patines en la cicla: si montada sobre ella me resbalaba en el hielo, podría aterrizar de pie.

Sí, casi me caigo en una antigua calle pedregosa y desnivelada –seguramente fue construida antes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial-, pero en otras vías y ciclorrutas yo tenía el control. Sobrevivimos a nevadas leves con la ‘bici’ y ahora extrañamos el paisaje blanco, aunque no echamos de menos los dedos y pies entumidos de camino al trabajo, ni el esfuerzo extra de pedalear con nieve-arenosa congelada en las llantas.

“¡Zdrówko, rower!” (léase sdruvko, rover), me gritó un desconocido en la calle una mañana a -5 grados. El hombre alzó un vaso de café –supongo-, como diciendo “Salud, larga vida a las ciclas”. Y yo me sentí en el tour de Francia.

Historia publicada en el blog de Diario ADN Colombia Yo prefiero la ‘bici’, en marzo de 2014.

Cycling in the snow for the first time

It is possible to measure the temperature in the streets of Wroclaw (Poland) by observing bikes. If you see more than 10 parked in the racks of the City center, in front of the cinema or the shopping centers, it’s probably 9 degrees Celsius (48 Fahrenheit) outdoor. If, otherwise, temperature is below zero, you won’t see any bicycles at all.

This was an atypical winter in Wroclaw. We only had two cold weeks with snow and -5 degrees (23 Fahrenheit) during the day. Freezing? Yes (at least for a Colombian like me), but in the Polish scale, the real freezing temperatures are near -15, -20 (5 and -4 Fahrenheit) in extreme cases. Now we have 11 degrees (51,8 Fahrenheit) during the day. Saffron is flourishing in the gardens, flocks of crows have already migrated to Russia and Poles celebrate wiosna, spring, with their bikes: we are all just hoping winter won’t surprise us with a sudden whiplash in the next three weeks.

There were few of us cyclists in the streets one month ago: the roofs, the local streets, the lawns and the sidewalks in small streets were all white. There were few people walking and the cars were moving slowly and with care in brownish roads, covered with the salt-soil that melts snow. The crows were leaving footmarks in the snowed grass and ducks and seagulls were slipping clumsily above the frozen canals of the river.

Using the bicycle to travel in this world seemed like a game. I didn’t know if we, my bike and I, would fall with the first move of the pedal in the snow, or if the frozen ramps would turn out to be slides. “Still using the bike?”, asked my boss those days, and advised me to use ice-skates while using the bike. If I slid while riding it, he said, I would be able to land on my feet.

Yes, I almost fell from my bike in an old stony and uneven street that was probably built before the Second World War. But in other roads and bike paths I had it all under control. We survived mild snowfalls and now miss the white scenery, although I don’t long for numb fingers and toes on the way to work nor the extra effort to pedal with snow-sand between the wheels.

Zdrówko, rower”, shouted a stranger in the street in a -5 degrees morning. The man raised a cup of coffee, as if he was saying “Cheers, long live bikes!”. And I felt as if I was riding the Tour de France.

This article was originally published in Spanish in the blog Yo prefiero la ‘bici’, in 2013. I thank Liliana King for her editing.

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