Reader story: The Tiniest Bright Spot (a poem about riding in January)

Last (and cold) sunrise of 2010-1

This poem was submitted by reader and St. Johns resident Jamie Caulley. I think it captures the challenge and the beauty of riding through Portland winters. Read it below the jump…

The Tiniest Bright Spot
by Jamie Caulley

    January —
    The darkest time of the year
    the rainiest month
    the post-holiday sluggishness —
    a bike commuter’s biggest challenge

    Festive Christmas light brightened my December commutes
    now gone

    Leaves, vanished from the trees
    dissolved into lingering dark mush on the road

    Bitter darkness surrounds me
    Blindly, I bang into multiplying potholes

    Winter wind whips through barren trees
    the only sound

    My rides, lonely
    lack vigor

    Early on an ordinary Thursday
    surprised by an unexpected break
    a lack of resistance from the air
    I begin to ride in a comfortable rhythm
    finding a grey, but clear, view of the Willamette
    No rain pelts my face

    Today, the pavement is partially dry
    Gaining positive energy, I stand up on my pedals
    increasing my cadence
    Spring-like air rushes past my cheeks
    I relish it
    Still cool, still moist
    But noticeably a few degrees warmer

    My usual winter route skirts Grant Park
    The cloud break allows just enough light to safely ride through
    Pedaling down the path between old maple trees
    I recognize I am not alone
    something else is enjoying this tiny change in the weather
    a songbird

    Nearing the office,
    I feel ready to start work for the first time in a long while
    I remember the reason I ride

    Too early for long sun-filled days
    six more weeks of winter struggle
    somehow easier this morning
    allowing the tiniest bright spot of hope
    that spring would soon return

We’re always looking to publish reader stories. Feel free to submit yours via our online submission form.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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11 years ago

Thanks, Jamie. This week has been tough, with the very cold mornings. This helps!

11 years ago

very nice, love experiencing adventure through prose.

11 years ago

This is my first year biking year round and I am really enjoying far! The thing that keeps me going is that I know it’s fasting than taking Trimet, I am getting daily exercise, and I’m saving time/money.

11 years ago

Thanks for sharing this— lovely way to start the day.

Mark Allyn
11 years ago

Thanks! You’ve echoed some of my feelings as well!

Catherine Magdalena
Catherine Magdalena
11 years ago

Great poem Jamie – you’ve nailed it again.