Monday, February 8, 2010

Rolling rolling rolling

I rode ten miles yesterday and didn’t get anywhere. That’s probably about par for the course for me.

The temperature outside was a chilly 34 degrees, with the wind chill well down into the twenties. That’s the wind chill if you’re standing still, of course. If you’re a goofball on a bicycle, who knows how cold you’d get. I didn’t want to find out, so I decided to ride in my garage.

No, I’m not loony -

Oh. Wait. Yes I am.

But I’m not loony enough to just ride in tiny circles around the inside of my garage. Instead, I rode the rollers. (This may actually be worse than riding in tiny circles around the inside of my garage, since the second worst accident I ever had occurred while I was on the rollers, but I did it anyway.

I haven’t ridden the rollers in a while, but I hadn’t forgotten that disconcerting tendency the bike has to slide sideways and off the frame, with potentially bad results to various parts of my body. (We won’t even discuss what happened the very first time I ever rode the rollers, but it was particularly painful and would have been equally painful for about half of the population. We’ll leave it at that.)

The first few seconds on the rollers were a bit hectic, but things settled down after that. In fact, they settled down a bit too much and descended into boredom. That’s the problem with any sort of stationary bike. It’s booooooooooooring. Rollers are about the best of the bad lot, because, at least if you ride as clumsily as I do, you always have the specter of impending doom hanging over your head to give the ride a little added spice, but it’s still booooooooooooring,

I rode intervals to add a little interest, and I had a book on tape playing (one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels just in case you’re wondering), you can only look at the interior of a garage for so long before it begins to get…oh, what’s the word I’m looking for…oh yeah… booooooooooooring.

I stuck it out for ten miles, during which time I discovered that the garage was nowhere near as cold as I had thought it was. After about my second hard turn, it was really rather warm. During my third hard turn the bike considering slipping off of the rollers and dumping me onto the ground but kindly decided at the last instant not to do any of that. I was grateful.

I do plan to climb back onto the rollers this evening for another ten miles. Wish me luck with that. I’m hoping I can make myself do it. It felt better to get some miles than none, and the fact that it was actually a fairly hard workout made it even better, but no matter what I do, riding indoors is still…well…you know…

See you in the garage on the road.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frozen Spokes

I am not a good weather forecaster. If there was any doubt about this, I laid it to rest on Friday when my students, all of whom had keenly followed the weather reports, asked what would happen if we didn’t have school on Monday. “Oh, I’m quite sure we’ll have school on Monday,” I assured them. “But, if we don’t, then we’ll have the test on Wednesday instead.”

Of course, as you’ve already guessed, we did not have school on Monday. A winter storm smacked us right in the face over the weekend, leaving a lovely covering of pristine white all over everything. (My Lovely Lovely, trying to drive while the sun reflected with great brilliance off of the snow and ice and shot straight into her eyes like a laser beam, described the snow somewhat differently than I just did, but we have to allow for personal preferences in these things.

After racking up a measly hundred miles (if I round up) in January, I am determined to do considerably better than this in February. I am not off to a good start. However, apparently feeling that I need a kick in the pants to get me going, the fates decreed that I would ride today.

No work on Monday and a two hour delay on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and today, our first day back on our regular schedule, my car decided not to start. (This lack of starting power on my car’s part is not due to a lack of motivation. It’s due to the fact that I didn’t close the back door all the way a day or two ago and therefore the battery, instead of being full of electricity and ready to go, is mostly ornamental at this particular point in time.) When I realized all of this, I sighed and went back into the house for my helmet.

The sigh was largely due to the fact that it is cold out. It is freezing out. Literally. 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing. My work clothes, while quite stylish, are not very good for riding in the cold. (Actually, that’s a lie. My work clothes aren’t stylish at all.)

I filled a bottle (hey, the ride is only a little over six miles, but I always take something to drink anyway), put on my nice warm winter Walzcap with the earflaps (which I have been told makes me look like a German schoolboy – why German? I have no idea), pulled on a sweatshirt, some gloves and my helmet (I would very much like to keep my brains inside my head if anything untoward should happen while I am on the road), pumped up the tires and headed out.

I had been on the road less than two minutes when I began to reconsider the wisdom of riding without a balaclava. I mean, aside from the fact that it makes you look like a ninja of the road, it does keep your face warm. I didn’t feel like heading back home to get it, though, so I just figured my face would go numb eventually and then it wouldn’t bother me anymore.

It’s a bit surreal to me to be riding with piles of snow and ice sitting beside the roads. If I lived somewhere else (like Anchorage), I suppose it wouldn’t be surreal at all. Or, if I lived still somewhere else (say…Tahiti) then it wouldn’t so much be surreal as an indication of a complete mental breakdown on my part. I guess it all just depends.

The ride itself was pretty smooth. My face did eventually stop bothering me, though the wind in my eyes occasionally made tears run. The cars were nearly all extremely polite, giving me lots of space. I have a feeling the drivers felt sorry for me because of the temperature (or because they felt it would be bad luck to hit a crazy person, I don’t know). Either way, I’ll thankfully take it.

I do miss bike commuting and this really inspires me to do more of it. It just feels so darned good. (Okay, I know that, if you read some of what I wrote above it doesn’t sound like it feels good, but it does. I know. I was there. My Lovely Lovely worries that it’s just too dangerous, so she doesn’t want me to do it, but, let’s face it, bike commuting is good for the soul.

See you on the road.