Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Dreams and Frozen Toes

Work clothes are not proof against the cold. At least, mine aren’t.

It was a chilly morning, but I checked the temperature empirically, which is a fancy way of saying that I walked outdoors and said, “It doesn’t feel all that cold,” and I was empirically wrong. It was that cold. It was colder, in fact, but that didn’t stop me from deciding to ride to work, a distance of about six and a quarter miles.

I was riding the hybrid, and the hill right outside my door looked like a mountain, but I made it up to the top. My body wasn’t awake or adjusted to the temperature. I was wearing a balaclava and some cross country skier’s gloves, tennis shoes, slacks, jacket and, of course, a helmet. (You might conclude that my riding to work on such a cold morning dressed like that was evidence of a previous brain injury, but I still might as well protect my head.)

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

That was the voice of someone worried for my sanity or my safety or both.

“Not entirely,” I said, before pedaling off.

As I rounded the first corner and felt the full force of the wind for the first time “not entirely” became “no, I don’t want to do this,” but I merely pulled my balaclava up to cover my mouth and kept pedaling. Unfortunately, covering my mouth somehow made my glasses fog up, and riding blind didn’t seem like the best idea, so chose to pull it back down again and let my face freeze.

Actually, I’m kind of used to the cold face from previous winter rides, so I adjusted to that. My hands were fine, thanks to my trusty gloves, and my jacket kept my upper body warm.

An elementary knowledge of anatomy will show that I still have several body parts left to be troubled.

The wind cut through my slacks with ease, and my toes began to go numb. I felt that both of these developments were bad. (Actually, I had looked for my heavy winter socks, which go all the way up to my knees and are wonderfully warm, but I had only been able to find one of them.) I began to wish I was wearing tights and had some toasti toes handy. Well, it was only six miles, right?

You know, it’s amazing how long it can take to go six miles when the temperature is below freezing and you aren’t really dressed for it.

I know that particular ride well, so I had a number of landmarks picked out that I could use to fool myself. You know the sort of thing I mean. No, I’m not riding all the way to work, I’m only riding to that stoplight. Now that I’m at the stoplight, I’m not riding all the way to work, I’m only riding to that little store. Hey, what’s a little hypothermia between friends, right?

The above was, of course, written before the appendectomy which is currently keeping me in a chair and out of the saddle, but I thought of it because I had a conversation just today with someone who asked how I was doing. I gave the answer that I have already given at least a hundred times: “I’m getting better, but it’s killing me that I can’t ride yet.”

“Well,” I was told, “It’s cold out, so you probably don’t mind much.”

Cold?! It’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit out there right now! (How do you tell a native born science geek? He doesn’t give a number without including the unit of measurement.) 50 degrees isn’t cold. That’s good riding weather, that is.

My ride to work that day when there was ice on the ground – that was cold. Today would be a great day to be out spinning the pedals.


My day is coming soon, though.

See you on the road.


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