Monday, January 20, 2014

Which Path on a Snowy Day and Lesson #7

I had not been riding for several days so today I was determined to go, despite the snowy weather.  It was about 23° F and there was lots of fresh snow on the road, but no wind, so I went for a 9 mile ride through the Village of Hilton.  I decided not to head out of town for fear of having to share the road with snow plows, which is not my favorite thing to do.

Lesson #7 - Which Path to Take?
Cycling Lesson - I think one of the things I really like about riding in the snow is that, although I am going much slower than I do on dry roads, I am definitely improving and refining my skills as a cyclist.  Riding in snowy conditions is hard.  I need to really concentrate on what the bike feels like, anticipate what lies ahead and adjust accordingly.  I need to constantly be monitoring and adjusting and learning as I go.  Although I know the route, there are many choices in terms of the tracks to take.  Fresh snow where no car, person or bike has gone? A slushy, brown track from a car?  A packed down snowy track from a car?  The ghost of a track where freshly fallen snow has covered the track from a car?  A track that has footprints?  A track, once packed, that now has lots of loosened snow?  What I've learned is that there is no perfect single answer to this.  I'm constantly adjusting and changing as I ride.  A lot depends on the terrain under the snow, whether I'm coming up to a curve or a hill, going downhill, approaching an intersection where I might need to stop, whether the road dips down toward the shoulder, etc.  Today, I looped back on part of my route and discovered that I didn't even necessarily stay in the track I had chosen previously.  Conditions, weather, time and knowledge change things the second time around.

Life Lesson - The path I take, even if familiar, also has many track choices along the way and it's okay to go more slowly at times, to change tracks, to not go a certain way just because I did previously.  I need to monitor and adjust and learn as I go.  Challenges help me to improve and refine my skills to deal with them.  Sometimes the path well trod, sometimes the one less taken, sometimes one in between.  They all take me to where I want/need to go, just in different ways.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sun and Wind and Freedom

My beautiful Salsa Cycles Vaya with its new rack and fenders enjoying the sun!
I've been hesitating to go out riding my bike during the day while everyone is at school.  I know that my doctor has approved me for driving and cycling, and I'm not approved to go back to work until next week, but it still feels awkward to be out publicly riding my bike instead of being at work, especially in a small village where so many people know me.  So, I've been waiting until late in the day and then it ends up getting too dark and cloudy or too cold or too stormy or too close to a time I have to do something else, and I've been missing my opportunities to ride.  Today I just said hang it and I took advantage of the time and the sun and one of my last few days of freedom and went for a 10 mile ride.  It was GREAT!  I decided to ride mostly north of the village so it was on roads a little less traveled.  It was sunny and about 35°, which was wonderful.  Dry roads, no snow, no unexpected adventures.  The only issue was the wind, gusting to 30 mph.  In hindsight, I probably should have done my route starting out in the opposite direction so as to not be heading uphill and into the wind on the last leg of the ride.  It was quite a workout and slowed my average speed by 2 mph!  Still, it was a great ride!  Now for some Advil and a shower and then off to PT.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

It Was The Best of Times

It finally got up to 20° today (which is my cycling line in the sand, or should I say my line in the snow and ice) so I was back on my bike outside again.  I got a late start, a bit after 4:00, but I went anyway.  I started out to ride to the Northwood School and back, about a 10 mile ride.  I made it over to Northwood just fine.  Made all the hills, seemed to be finally understanding how to shift appropriately and so on.  It took me about half an hour to go the 5 miles.  For my ride back, I knew it would now be starting to get darker, so I turned on my back blinky red light and started back. I made it up Frisbee Hill, pedaling all the way without stopping even once!  Victory!  The best of times!

It Was The Worst of Times

At the intersection at the top of Frisbee Hill there was so much traffic in all directions that when I finally had a chance to go again, I decided not to turn onto Frisbee Hill Road at the jog half way down the hill as I would have to cross in front of a lot of cars or spend a huge amount of time waiting.  So I decided to go straight north on North Greece Road instead.  Poor choice.  The ride was fine, but it lengthened my ride enough so that it was getting much darker than I had planned.  I had forgotten to put my new front light on my bike and although I was wearing a neon colored jacket, I had forgotten to put on my reflective vest.  I had nothing reflective on.  And for some reason, my bike stopped shifting.  I don't know if it was something I did or didn't do, or some other issue.  I didn't want to stop due to the falling darkness.  And besides, unfortunately I don't really know enough about bike mechanics to be able to diagnose or fix a problem.  So I just kept pedaling.  Kind of had myself a Fixie.  Almost home, back in the village again, with street lights, someone in a passing car yelled at me.  I couldn't quite make out what they said, but it had something to do with being seen.  I wondered what his problem was.  I knew I had turned on my back blinky light.  Well, when I got home, I discovered that, for some unexplained reason, my light had stopped working!  Ugh!

So, Now What?

From now on, if I'm leaving the house in the late afternoon, all my lights (and backup lights) AND my reflective vest are going with me!  I plan to have 2 or 3 red blinky lights on my back!  I plan to ride again tomorrow and hopefully my shifting will work.  If not, it will be off to the bike store on Saturday to have it looked at.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What to Do When the Temperature Falls Below Zero

I do like riding in the winter, but it think I have to draw the temperature line!  I'm good riding in temps in the 20s (Farenheit), but when the temps fall into the single digits or below zero, like they have today, I'm going to stick to my indoor bike on those days!
So what did I do today?  I was excited that my new bike socks arrived in the mail from The Sock Guy, and I began dreaming of sunny days and warmer weather and I registered for the Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour!  Now I'm officially committed!  July 13th - 20th I will be on my bike, cycling 40-50 miles a day, enjoying the views, tours, and the history of the Erie Canal.  We will be cycling clear across the state from Buffalo to Albany in 8 days, approximately 400 miles.  I'm so excited, I can hardly wait!  Now the task that lies before me is to cycle my brains out between now and then to lose weight, get in better shape, and build my endurance!  Ready, set, GO!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!

I decided to start the new year off right - with a bike ride on a snow globe snowy day!  My little biking buddy went with me for just over 2.5 miles.  I will say she does not love winter riding as much as I do, but I'm sure it was much harder for her in snow pants and winter boots.  I wanted her to be warm, and she doesn't really have winter biking clothes like I do. But 2.5 miles in the snow for a 7 year old 'ain't bad!  After dropping her off back at home, I went out for another 6 miles of riding.

It started snowing with more vigor, but the air was as calm and still as can be.  The quiet residential village streets with the freshly falling snow are more peaceful and serene than I can possibly describe in words.  

I have to say, it's almost spiritual!  2014, so far I love you!