It’s snowing, finally.

1:15’06, 20.18mi
avg 16.1mph, max 38.2mph
25ºF, Odo 2754.0mi
Cadence: 90rpm

My toes feel like they should be burning holes in my shoes.  They were cold, but I could feel them, so I kept going.  Now that they’re starting to warm up, they’ve fulfilled their pain quota for the day, and are working overtime. These toes want to succeed from the union of my body, overthrow the government, and then hari-kari.

I crushed the coup, put on smartwool socks and some loose fitting shoes, then went about my business.  Specifically, I was applying moisturizer to my face, back, and upper arms.  I realize the futility of doing this before showering, but it was a triage step.  The sting on my cheeks/forehead from the snow/wind became intolerable once I got inside.  Snow hurts at 20mph.  It’s beautiful, I love it, but it feels like raining sand when you’re on a bike.

Yes, I have a facemask and a hat, and huge sunglasses, but the facemask is wretched.  It choaks, it gets wet inside, it constricts air intake to my nose and mouth, it is a point of frustration in every ride.  I usually end up pulling it down and using the nose hole for my mouth.  Today I stuck the camelbak tube up through that hole.  More frustration.  The tube was bent on holding it’s twisted shape, the nozzle blocked air passage.  Argh!

The windburn on my back wasn’t as bad as usual, likely due to the insulating layer I wore: a windproof coat.  It’s more like a liner than anything, but it provided the insulation I needed.  I was itching for pit zips about 15 miles in, alas, no solice for those on the cheap.

I also nearly stopped into the bike shop and bought footcover at the end of this ride.  The bags are useful and free, but I’m not in love with the solution.  It’s not done yet.  I will tinker with it more when I have more time.  Right now I’m dying for a shower.

But first, a small workout: 50 pushups, 50 crunches (cycling legs).  Because it would be stupid to do this after showering =P

My legs feel great! And sarcastic!
Every time I walk up or down the stairs, my legs remind me that I could have spent the day in bed.  I counter by reminding myself that my legs wouldn’t feel like the coiled steel cables of the golden gate bridge if I just sat on my butt all the time.

Love is a fireplace and mulled cider.
I am wearing a hoodie I just pulled out of the drier.  I didn’t think I could ever improve on the “just showered” feeling, until this moment.  Now the plan is to take fresh sheets out of the drier just after showering, put them on a bed by the fireplace.  Mulled cider and cuddling. ah love

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Every once in a while I see the word ‘innovation’ used in a commercial, or an ad, or some marketing ploy.  It’s always used wrong.  An innovative approach is supposed to be different.  Today I was innovative.

In my last post, I commented on my cold feet after a 40+ minute ride at 29ºF.  Sure, you can buy foot covers, but they’re outrageously expensive.  $50 for a pair.

Let’s think about this for a moment.  My  foot already has all the insulation it needs: sock and shoe.  The only problem is the shoe is meant to vent.  The first thought is: get weatherproof winter bike shoes.  But that’s expensive, even more expensive than the booties.  I guess my big problem is, it seems all I need is a water/wind barrier.  I just need something to stop the cold before it  gets to my  foot and I’ll be fine.

Something like a plastic bag.

Now, before you start thinking about fashion, remember that I already look like a complete dork with a helmet, neon jacket, tights, and funny shoes.  How much worse is it, really, to put plastic bags on my feet?

It’s a lot worse, but I did it.  My toes were warm and cozy!  My solution was free.  I WIN.

0:23’50, 6.77mi
avg 17.0mph, max 24.5mph
29ºF, Odo 2727.0mi
Cadence: comfortable (80s maybe) rpm

Clearly, however, I didn’t check the weather before I left today.  It was beautiful and crisp on the ride in, but it’s raining now.  Too bad I didn’t bring my fender; looks like I’m going to test the ‘weatherproofness’ of these tights today.

The ride home was uneventful, except for feeling fast.  I know there’s no way I was actually fast, since I had a huge backpack full of clothes, however, I had the energy to keep pushing even when I was tired.  The roads were wet, but not enough to cause major problems.

0:21’51, 6.76mi
avg 18.5mph, max 29.7mph
40ºF, Odo 2733.8mi
Cadence: 90rpm

My face hurt when I got home.  I left it exposed, since it wasn’t that cold out: 40ºF.  My face feels sunburnt, though there was barely any sun out, and it was never on my face.  It must have been the water in the air.

I did not wear the plastic bags on my feet.

I Like My Toes

November 23, 2008

Today I woke up motivated.  I woke up and saw the beautiful morning light on my cello.  I did 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and rode my bike.  Before I really started, I bought some ambfib tights.  My legs don’t feel cold at all!

0:47’56, 13.13mi
avg 16.4mph, max 36.0mph
29ºF, Odo 2720.2mi
Cadence: 85+rpm

I am disappointed in everything about this ride, mostly because I didn’t get to put in the effort I wanted.  I came home early because of my feet.  My legs were loving the new tights, as goofy as they look, they work.  Unfortunately, my shoes let all the heat out and my feet were cold unfeeling blocks attached to my ankles.  I cut the 20 mile ride short at one of the loopback points and I’m glad I did.  There are pains I push through, things that make me stronger after.  This isn’t one of them.  I like my toes.

Now I’m sitting in my living room with mulled cider and a cold fireplace.  I’m thinking about practicing Handel’s Bourrée on cello.  iTunes is playing Gnarles Barkley – Crazy.  It’s a good day.

Hell Poem

November 19, 2008

It’s 7:16pm but it feels much later.  I’m standing in the kitchen with a slice of undercooked pizza in one hand, and a blank look on my face.

This is Hell.

I’ve got a beer and a day old shirt.  I commented on the cold and the delivery man made a snide remark.  He was late, and got the miniscule tip he deserved.  Angry thoughts continue to flow unchecked through my mind.  The pizza was cut unevenly, with some sliver-like pieces.  I’m not even enjoying the beer.

Upstairs is Heaven.

Literally.  Everything will fade: the economy, the cold, the uncertainty, the anger, all of it.  I will sit, breathe, and play the cello.  Handel’s Messiah.  The world will dissolve into nothing and sweet music will fill me in.

This is Hell by comparison, I’ve got heaven in strings just up the stairs.

© 2008

Bike to Work, day 112

November 13, 2008

Almost there!

Last night on the ride home I wore a thin teckwick shirt under my space windbreaker.  Usually it’s warmer on the ride home.

Last night when I got home my shoulders felt sunburned.  I have to assume it was windburn.  Weird.

0:27’03, 6.76mi (47.34 week)
avg 15.0mph, max 25.4mph
30ºF, Odo 2700.3mi
Cadence: fortysomething

Every once in a while I remember to get out of the racing mentality and look up at what’s passing by.  This morning I enjoyed the trees that surround me, I enjoyed the dark world of pre-dawn New England.

You might think I was the only one out there, at 30ºF, before the sun comes up.  You’d be wrong.  I pass people jogging, walking, walking the dog, walking multiple dogs, carrying bread home from the store, waiting for the school bus, and rarely now, other crazy cyclists.

The leaves have mostly fallen, they are mostly brown and piled up by wind or rain or a rake.  They aren’t crunchy, which is sad.  How many days I walked home kicking huge lumps of dry leaves around, or jumping into enormous piles, when I was younger.  I never appreciated fall the way I do now.  I imagine one autumn witout these colors would leave me with a wretched ache in my heart.

The ride home was good.  There was plenty of light and the temperature hadn’t dropped yet.

0:23’12, 6.76mi (54.10 week)
avg 17.5mph, max 32.3mph
42ºF, Odo 2707.1mi
Cadence: 90rpm

It’s pouring rain.  My gums hurt from seeing the dentist.  I helped at the karate studio after, simply because I was available.  Secretly, I wanted to cry.

Bike to Work, day 111

November 12, 2008

Today the struggle was to get going.  I managed to get out of  bed, albeit late, but then couldn’t seem to get my act together and get out the door.  Today was one of those mornings where I thought to myself i don’t want to be cold so i wore a thicker shirt under the space windbreaker.

That wasn’t enough.

I didn’t wear the giant sunglasses either, and the area around my eyes stung in the wind.  My eyes themselves seem slow when there is cold air blowing on them, drying them out.

0:26’27, 6.74mi (33.79 week)
avg 15.3mph, max 23.8mph
34ºF, Odo 2686.8mi
Cadence: Whatever.

I made it, and that weekly milage was my only grudging motivation.

Now then, maybe I have a reason to be so tired this morning:  Last night I passed my step exam at the karate studio.  Yes!  In the next few months I’ll be testing for 3rd degree black belt.  YAY!

Today was the kind of day where it may have been a better idea to stay in bed.

The ride home was late with late dressing and some late on the side with an appetizer of late followed by late for dessert.  Hence dinner at 10pm, and why I am writing this post at 11:38pm

0:23’30, 6.77mi (40.57 week)
avg 17.2mph, max 26.4mph
42ºF, Odo 2693.5mi
Cadence: not bad.

It felt much, much colder on the ride home.  It certainly was darker.

And now to bed with me.  Hopefully I’ll get up in time to bike to work tomorrow.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Bike to Work, day 110

November 11, 2008

Wow, what a difference ten degrees makes.  I’m not even just talking about riding.  It was ten degrees colder this morning and I had to struggle to get out of bed, ten minutes later than I’d like.  I was about ten minutes late leaving.  But I’m here!  I did it!

0:24’40, 6.75mi (20.27 week)
avg 16.4mph, max 25.6mph
36ºF, Odo 2673.2mi
Cadence: High 80s rpm

Tonight I have a step exam at the karate studio. I’ve practiced and prepared. I’m ready.

What a ride home!

0:21’51, 6.76mi (27.04 week)
avg 18.5mph, max 32.0mph
45ºF, Odo 2680.0mi
Cadence: 90s rpm

Now to shower, eat, and ace my step exam!

I’m not dead yet!  I’m still alive and kicking!  Yesterday hurt, it’s true, but I felt motivated enough to get up and ride in today.  It was nice and warm, too!

0:23’25, 6.74mi
avg 17.2mph, max 27.8mph
44ºF, Odo 2659.7mi
Cadence 84rpm

If this weather holds up, it’ll be easy to bike in every day.

I had hoped to ride about 10 extra miles after work today, to help make up for lost miles, but it was dark before I even left work; I had to stay late to help a VIP.

0:22’15, 6.76mi (13.51 total)
avg 18.2mph, max 30.3mph
47ºF, Odo 2666.5mi
Cadence 86rpm

It felt like a great ride, really.  I pedaled strong the whole way.  It’s good to be back!

I’ve Missed You

November 9, 2008

My calculations show I missed 12 days. At 13.52 a day, that’s 162.24 miles. Well I set aside some time today to ride, but not that much time. Still, I’m going to get out and ride today. I haven’t planned a route, but I have an idea.

My idea had been 50 miles, but after 15 I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I stopped at a tiny cemetery, ate my monster peanutbutter and jelly sandwich, and read the stones.  The oldest was 1815.

As I ate my sandwich, a cyclist past on his own 20mi route, and asked if I needed assistance.  I thanked him, and let him know I was ok.  Another pair of cyclists passed, drafting.  I waved, but they barely seemed to notice.  They were working.

Still, it was a good ride.  I started with the idea that I’d buy some leggings when I passed the bike shop, unless my legs felt ok.  My legs felt fine, I didn’t stop.  I brought a windbreaker but never wore it.  I only had bike shorts and a long sleeve techwick shirt.  Unfortunately this shirt fits loosely, creating drag.  Though I felt a bit chilly the whole time, it was only when a big cloud covered the sun that I started to worry.  The cloud passed, I warmed up in the sunlight.

The hills were killer.  Though I never broke 500ft, my total climb was 1669ft, and it hurt.  I never used the granny gear.

1:44’37, 30.48mi
avg 17.4mph, max 43.5mph
50-55ºF, Odo 2653.0mi
Cadence: 86rpm

Obama

November 5, 2008

Wow, we WON!