So this last weekend signs were pointing weatherwise for Tuesday to be a relatively mild day in terms of blistering cold and we’ve got a good 3 feet of snow on the ground. The skidoos have been packing that down on the trail for a few weeks now, so I decided that it would be as good a time as any to test my theory that riding the packed skidoo trails would be just about the same as packed dirt.
Monday night and the weather’s turning against me. Colder temps on the horizon. Bah I say. I’m going come hell or highwater (or freezing highwater), I’ve got my gear all set. I’ve amped myself up all weekend to go. It’s go time, period.
In a bit of foreshadowing, I feel it only proper to mention that although I talk a mean game, the weather here has gotten the better of me in these past few weeks and I have indeed not been on the bike in quite some time. 3 weeks? A month? Longer? Has it been that long? I had in my own defense done ALOT of snow shoveling, wood hauling, and hockey playing, although in Canada it’s in the criminal code somewhere that these must be accompanied by beer consumption to boost warmth (so the locals tell me). Not wanting to be branded an anarchist, I wanted to follow the rules…and usually with beer theres snacks and…anyway, I digress.
I awoke Tuesday AM to temps at around -10 C ( 14 F and a few degrees colder with the windchill). Still undaunted and fueled by fresh coffee, I suited up:
-helmet, knit hat underneath
-combination fleece balacava/hoody thing I have
-underarmour longsleve shirt, wool DirtRag jersey (thanks mom), fleece vest, windbreaker
-cycling shorts, thermafleece tights, windbreaker pants
-wool socks under waterproof socks inside Sorel boots – I gave up on the cycling specific winter boots, I think they just can’t hack it, plus in the on again/off again world of winter cycling the clipless pedals have become a no-go – they just freeze up no matter what.
-Pearl Izumi AmFib Gloves – still the bomb.
On departure I felt pretty good. The sun was out, which for me is always a boost, ifÂ only psychologically. Nothing worse that being cold AND dark.
It was only about 10 minutes to the skidoo trail – this would prove to be the most pleasant 10 minutes of the day.
Hit the skidoo trail and contrary to my intial thoughts it was like trying to ride sand. My first instinct was to go screaming back home. I could have called Lyn to pick me up, but it was at that moment, even after much admonishing on her part the night before for me to do so, I had forgotten to bring my cell phone and it was indeed charging on my desk.
I pep talk myslef forward.
“I rode my bike to work for 3 years.”
“I’ve climbed muddy trails worse than this. Uphill. Uh, that was in the summer though….NONSENSE! Ride on hardened cyclist!”
I decided to keep pushing on, thinking this was just a ‘rough patch’ and things would improve. It occured to me to go back an ride in on the roads – which meant dodging the early morning bleary eyed commuters in their big cars slipping and sliding on inadequate winter tires. Seemed to me that the skidoo trail was the lesser of two evils. Still, I hesitated, because I knew that once I committed to the skidoo trail, it took me out through the woods and there was no bailout to the road for quite aways. I hunkered down.
I might have even chuckled to myselfÂ – laughing at my miscaluculation at the rideablity of the trail – and muttered somthing like ‘C’mon, you’re hardcore’. I was still feeling pretty sprightly. The level on the ‘morale meter’ was still reading about 85% – a little setback, not much more. Bah. At least it was sunny.
It was slow going. I tried riding in the path of the front skis of the skidoo – that proved to soft and mushy. The only alternative turned out to be the pat that the actual rear skidoo tread left. It was much firmer, however, if you’ve ever seen a skidoo tread, it looks a bit like a tank tread only there’s teeth about 1-2″ apart along the whole thing. That means that the track it leaves behind in the snow is a path of bumps about 1-2″ apart. Frozen in the snow. Hard.
Firmer riding and alot of traction, however riding it on a rigid bike when you have to stay in the saddle to keep traction on your rear wheel is akin to having some sort of gorilla on meth working a pogo stick on your spine.
I walked a bit. Rode some. Walked again. I think it took me about 45 minutes to cover a half mile. At least it seemed like it did. The commute to work clocks in at about 8 miles. At this point I think the ‘morale meter’ had hit about 35%. A huge drop.
Another mile and I’d made it to my first opportunity to bail out to the road. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I actually had an internal debate about whether to bail out or not.
Incredibly and unexplainably – the stupid side won.
I STAYED on the skidoo trail.
1.5 miles later and the ‘morale meter’ is almost empty. I have made the unanimous decision that at the next bailout point I’m OUT, even if it means sharing the road with drunken lunatics that have escaped from the asylum.
Here it comes now, the bailout. I’m up to the road.
Luckily to this point, cold hasn’t become a factor, I’ve apparently dressed pretty well. This is good considering that I find out later that by the time I’m to arrive at work, the temperature has actually DROPPED to around -22, -28 (-7, -18F) with the windchill. Perhaps I was just too delirious to notice. Hey, at least the sun was out.
I managed to limp into work and was only an hour late. I explained to everyone what had happened and endured my minor scoldings for not having toted the phone along. I guess they were just about to send the choppers up.
‘Morale meter’ got a boost on arrival, back up to around 70%.
I find myself feeling lousier throughout the day and chalk it up to fatigue. I eat a monster healthy lunch (salad, soup, OJ) and drink lots of water all day and – you guessed it – come 5:00, I suit up to ride home. No need for Lyn to come get me, it’s only -5 out. MUCH warmer than this morning, and this time I’ve decided to ride the road the whole way.
And, at least the sun was out.
I rode the whole way home on the road without much incident. Tough thing about that kind of riding is that you can never really relax as every muscle is tense fearing you’re gonna hit a patch of invisible ice and go down in an instant. By the time I hit the last climb to my house I was screaming out loud at myself either out of encouragement or anger, I’m not sure which not sure which.
The neighboor’s dog who usually has a barking fit when I pass just stared. I probably scared him.
I got home, ate 4 plates spaghetti, orange juice, 4 glasses water, 1 glass cytomax, a bowl of fudge marshmallow ice cream, took a bath, went to bed. The ‘Morale meter’ was back up to 100%.
Woke midway thorough night sweating balls and cold..changed into dry clothes, couldn’t get warm again have made myself sick. for the next 4 days i could barely move and just shuffled from item of furniture to item of furniture trying to get my aching joints comfortable. It made me think of the Seinfeld episode when Kramer fell asleep in the hot tub and his ‘core temperature’ dropped. I was hot. I was cold. At night, I’d wake up and my pajamas would be as if I’d gone and jumped in a pool. I could wring ’em out. Then I’d have to go sleep somewhere else. Miserable.
Ordinary people trying to do something extraordinary.
“You can cage the animal but you can’t take away the rage…” – Shinedown
So, today I rode the bike home from work. Still a bit of a cough, but today it was only 0 degrees even and sunny. Of course it’s nice now. I only rode home, too. Lyn gave me a ride in when she took Emma to daycare, so I’m babystepping it back into the groove. I think I’ll take the car tomorrow – it’s supposed to be +3 on Thursday
I’ve just realized that this is a HUGE entry without much payoff. Sorry dear readers. Perhaps some family notes if you’ve read this far?
Julia lost her first tooth. This is apparently monumental as she is now a ‘big girl’. She was upset that all her friends at school were loosing their teeth and she wasn’t. Yes. I remember when I was a child how upset I’d get when my peers lost body parts and I didn’t. Ahhhh, childhood. She’s got another loose and ever since her lack of belief in the tooth fairy was dusted (she’s got the $2 to prove it) she’s now on a quest to get the other ‘wiggler’ to come out.
Emma is just Emma. She’s fascinated with all things ‘baby’ and gives Mom’s belly kisses all day and asks questions about the baby all the time. Our favorite so far was her query as to what the baby had to do in there – she asked if he had any books to read. She didn’t want him to be bored. We have a current running tally on the number of times a day she asks ‘when is he gonna come out?’ It’s in the double digits – easy – and there’s still 3 months to go.
I’ve got more to write, but it’ll have to wait. This entry’s been in the ‘drafts’ for 4 days and at this rate it will never get up.
Oh and in a last not of indignance, my old MORE crew finally waited until I moved away and was penniless to churn out some badass looking wool jerseys. Dammit.