On the speed note, notice how most seem to be able to go faster on skis than bikes. 40 on skis is nice, 40 on the bike is at my upper limit.
Must be the illusion of snow being soft and fluffy and dirt and pavement being hard and abrasive, along with the illusion that you do wear a bit more padding in clothing to keep warm skiing.
I disagree. I think it has rather more to do with the innate stability of the ...vehicle? gear? 40 mph *does* feel fast on skis that are designed to be manoeuvered at ultra slow speeds, the 8-15mph that is comparable to most recreational cycling.
On a relatively stable road bike (one with large trail) 40 doesn't even really seem that fast. Trouble is, that type of bike design is mostly dead - it's much easier to find it amongst vintage touring and rando bikes than in anything new.
I'm waiting for pics of your Rivendell next. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)