Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lots Of Miles In The Mild

 This week was a good one for winter mileage. Unsurprising given the relatively balmy, soaring temperatures we've seen this week. As I write this it's some degrees below zero, but earlier in the week temperatures approached 30˚ and it was beautiful and clear. The snow was a little sticky, as you can see in the following photo of a fender "snow tongue", but overall conditions were wonderful and I found myself humming "Yankee Doodle Dandy"* as I rolled along.

Since getting my new fixed-gear wheel for the orange bike, I've enjoyed the workout and the simplicity of fixie riding. It seems to work better in the snow and has thrown into high relief just how out of shape I've gotten this winter. The gearing, to put it mildly, is not high (42/20) but I find my ass well and thoroughly kicked pretty often. Still, no hills have turned me into a pedestrian, so I'm going to get a new cog soon to up the exercise ante.

The world I live in tends to be a pretty nice place. I have a wife and kid that I'm crazy about, my job is a good one, and our little family wants for nothing. Still, a sun-drenched winter ride highlights the good and banishes, for a time, the darker thoughts and shadows that lurk in the background of even the most content of human souls.

My friend Jim has stated that he's enjoying the riding very much this winter, even as many normally hardy souls around him are capitulating to the season. I'm with Jim. This has been a hard winter but worth facing head-on and no reason to stay off the bike. Still, that first ride with no sweater or jacket will be very sweet. . .

* The Fergus Falls High School Band (where I took my basic education) was invited to play in President Obamas inauguration parade and they chose "Yankee Doodle Dandy". So bravo for them!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 Winter Pedal Pub Crawl

Join us at the Bulldog NE on Sunday at noon for the first Winter Pedal Pub Crawl. We'll hit 5 of the premier beer spots in Minneapolis, enjoy a few beverages along the way, and defy Father Winter to mess with us.

Download the map of the route here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snowy Fixed Riding

 During yesterday's snowfall I took a short ride on an old bike with a new wheel. I replaced the recently taco'd el cheapo wheel with a new flip-flop wheel (Surly hubs and a very shiny Sun CR18 rim) and decided to try some winter fixed riding.

I liked it very much. As many have said in other places, riding fixed is easier in the winter.

Sadly, just as I was feeling the burn in my sorely neglected cycler bits, a phone call shattered the dream and I had to pick up my sick and puking son from school. 

Here's to the strange illness of looking forward to another winter ride soon!
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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking Back

For the last five years or so I go off on a snowshoe hike to celebrate my birthday. It's a time to ponder the past year and think about the year to come. I like to joke that the hike sets the tone for the coming year. As the snowshoeing goes, so goes life.

The photo above is the view behind me. I've gone beyond the established path and am now breaking trail in 18" of soft snow. It's hard, pleasant exertion. The sky is a vivid blue, the snow sugary and fine, and the exercise a welcome variation from the previous day's drinking and eating.

As I stomp through the fresh snow, it strikes me that my traditional New Year's Day (and birthday) snowshoe hike is a pretty appropriate metaphor. Behind me lies an already-broken trail and ahead of me a vast untrammeled sea of white. The year just past is history and, as a Dutchman I once knew liked to say, the year ahead a mystery.

I am glad 2008 is over. My wife finished a grueling 18 month treatment for breast cancer and it looks like we can enjoy many more snowy Decembers together, but it's been a rough road. We've both changed in the course of her treatment. She's transformed physically but still the same wonderful and gentle spirit that I've known since the age of 16. I'm no different on the outside, but I feel different to myself emotionally. The occasional temper tantrum aside, I feel that I'm more patient than before. If a stranger cuts me off in traffic or does something stupid I'm much more likely to wonder what is behind their behavior than to fume. Not always, but certainly more often.

Some people are born patient and others, like me, have patience thrust upon them. I hope to become increasingly even-tempered as the years progress. It's one of my life goals and so far I'm satisfied, if not happy, with my progress.