Saturday, April 16, 2011

180 Days On A Bike

In 2009, for reasons that range from from pragmatic to altruistic (and perhaps even a bit eccentric) I decided to park my car Memorial Day weekend and commute by bike until Labor Day. An entire summer on my bike was the goal. Wasn't easy (at the time I was still riding around on a 40lb mtn bike with road slicks) or convenient, but I did it. 2010 was the summer of LOTOJA prep. I logged more than 4000 miles but drove to work every once in a while when I needed to or in inclement weather. This year I planned to see if I could commute by bike for 6 solid months.

I chose conference weekend (first weekend of April and October) as a convenient start/end point, easy to remember and it covered the six months that featured what I assumed would be the most bike-friendly weather. When La Canadienne's brother invited her to join him for a ten day Tour de London I found myself with all the responsibilities (including Taxi service) of a single parent. Even if I had the time, which I didn't, my two boys are too big to throw in a chariot behind my bike and pedal to school (though it occurs to me now that had I managed to pull that off it would be the start of the most triumphant 6 month cycling marathon ever).

Instead I opted to start my personal cycling saga the Monday after La Canadienne was back in her adopted* Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Good thing too. The morning of Sunday April 3rd (conference weekend) I awoke to find this:

I told La Canadienne there was at least one more big snow storm in our future [yes, I realize the irony involved in me advising a Canuk on matters of snowfall] when she talked me into putting up the trampoline for the ankle biters back in March. She had the good sense of being out of the country when this happened.

I chuckled to myself as much as you can while shoveling snow off a trampoline and thought "man if it weren't for La Canadienne's London trip I would have to ride my bike in this tomorrow morning." The weather stayed pretty much crappy the entire week (reference Rodzilla's recent blog entry re: Mother Nature's poor sense of timing and Karma) and each day that it rained or snowed I congratulated myself for postponing my self-imposed 180 day challenge. The morning of Monday, April 11th came without a cloud in the sky but unfortunately it also came with the post snow storm, sunny day temperature drop. When I hopped on my bike at 0545 the mercury read a paltry 27 degrees f. Not sure how cold with the wind chill, but cold enough to crystalize any humidity in the air. At first I though my helmet lamp was attracting insects (as if they could beat their wings at those temps) but no, what was blowing around my head was airborne ice. My grand plans for 35 miles in two hours were abandoned about 30 minutes into the ride, around the same time my left hand stopped stinging and went numb altogether. By the time I got to work my entire left arm was dead to sensation. I hopped into the shower & turned the water past warm to hot and all the blood that had been frozen out of my limbs returned in a rush that left me feeling like I was going to lose my pre-ride PB&J. I actually had to resort to my Boyscout era first First Aid training : head cool & pale? Raise the tail. I got out of the shower and laid on the tile floor with my legs resting on the wall above my head until the queasiness passed. Good thing we have reliable locks on the bathroom door, that incident would have required some 'splainin'.

Tuesday's ride featured scattered showers, Wednesday was 60mph wind gusts and dodging blown over garbage cans. Thursday was my day off. It snowed in the morning, melted in the afternoon and I managed to get in 40 miles (with two canyons: Butterfield & Rose) before the clouds rolled back in. Friday was another Iditerod run (this time with Rodzilla sharing the misery ... looked sunny & warm and was unseasonably cold, only I was dressed for snow-mobiling and 'Zilla dressed like it was April 15th.

As of this entry my first week of the 180 Days On A Bike is ending with 200 miles on the books and our (Rodzilla & me) first pre-dawn Saturday training ride of 2011, this one braving the mountain snow and the mini-Suncrest, Rambling Road hill up to the Draper temple. It's going to be a long six months, but it will get better. It has to ...


Talk/Blog soon,


*See (pending) Blog entry 'Who is La Canadienne?'

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