Thursday, December 24, 2009

MORNING REFLECTIONS ON THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

I arose earlier than intended today, the day before Christmas. I guess I had achieved my maximum amount of needed sleep and was beginning to get those 56 year old body creaks and moans. I wanted my “better half” to get as much sleep as possible before she starts her annual “cookfest” for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals so I left, as quietly as I could, the warmth of our bed to get the first pot of today’s coffee brewing.

The day dawned without a cloud in the sky. As the sun first peaked over the right shoulder of Mt. Pisgah, I enjoyed seeing the birds beginning to populate the feeders for their morning meal. As far as I can see, the mountains and coves are still solid white from the recent snow storm. We still have 6” of snow on our deck after 3 days of melt. Another winter storm watch is currently in effect for areas to our immediate northeast. A small movement of the pending moisture to the west may easily result in some further snow for our area. Otherwise, we are predicted to have a rainy Christmas day. Of course, rain will melt the remaining snow and probably result in some local flooding as the watersheds drain to the creeks.

I’ve had to think and read more about riding than actually getting to ride since the storm. My Fuji CCR3 has remained safely ensconced in my office since the day before the storm. I had hoped to get out and get a ride in yesterday but simply walking to lunch from my downtown office is, in itself, an interesting adventure. The sidewalks are still piled high with snowfall remnants and that is topped by the snow scraped by town maintenance as they pushed snow to the side clearing the roads. Pedestrian traffic is still forced to walk along the edges of the roadways.

After a couple of days of this, I’ve decided that being a pedestrian is actually scarier than being on my bike. I have had the unnerving experience of actually looking into the eyes of the drivers as they come toward me too fast for conditions with their cell phones stuck to their ears with one hand and the other hand resting upon the steering wheel while holding a cigarette. As they approach closer, I realize that my presence isn’t registering with them so I begin to look for my escape routes. Fortunately, I’ve only been nearly clipped 3 or 4 times on my lunch walkabouts since Monday. I’m thankful that I haven’t found out what one of those protruding mirrors might feel like at 30 to 35 mph. On the cycle and trying to be a proper riding cyclist, I ride with the traffic and therefore don’t see what is coming up behind me. Being a pedestrian, I see what is coming and it sometimes scares me! It certainly always keeps me wary of my environment and that is a good thing. When riding, I try to adhere to the “Wood-man’s” philosophy: Ride so hard that if they hit you, you’ll want to say “thank ye for stopping my pain!

Another consideration for riding in the snow…

Thanks to Jim at Cycling Experiences for posting this link to some serious winter riding: http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/. He also has an interesting video link for some truly winter cycling. These whet my appetite for a mountain bike or alternative to my road bike so that I too could ride in the snow… Santa? Are you listening?

Just because I’m not riding doesn’t mean I can’t “flat”…

I consider myself to be fairly fortunate in that I’ve only flatted a couple of times this year and they’ve both been within quite reasonable distances from safe havens. The downside of that is that I’m still not accomplished at quickly changing a tube out. On Tuesday, I did have the unique (to me) experience of having a flat while sitting at my office desk! I noted that my front tire had lost its pressure so I whipped out my bike pump and quickly brought the tire pressure back up to the 110 lb psi that I try to maintain. Well, to say that I did it quickly is a mis-statement because nothing is quick with the bike pump I keep in my office. The pump accepts both Shraeder and Presta valves and is always a pain in the posterior to get it to work properly. At any rate, I pumped up the tire and returned to my desk. In about 10 minutes, I heard a whooshing of air coming from the bike and looked over just in time to see the front end of my bike drop down. I clearly had “flatted” while sitting 15 feet away from the bike!

When I pulled the tube, it had about a 4” opening where it appeared a seam had separated. I took the tube down the hall to a co-worker, who is bike wrench, and showed it to him. To MY surprise, he wasn’t at all surprised. He joined me in my office and while telling me about the general weaknesses of tubes, quickly took my replacement tube, installed it, pumped it up, and checked out the work all inside of two minutes AT MOST. Heck, it would have taken me 30 or 40 minutes to pull that off. So, in addition to creating some new mileage goals and hill climb goals for the 2010 riding season, I’m now resolving to learn to fix a flat as quickly as my co-worker pulled off. I do hope to accomplish this goal without having to have my own flats in the number required to get as good as he was at the procedure. Maybe my LBS will give me some “hands-on” experience!

The generosity of bikers still impresses me…

As the calendar year winds down, I find myself continuing to be impressed by and thankful for the generosity of bikers. I don’t just mean cyclists in this statement. I have a much longer and more intense relationship with MOTORcyclists than I do BIcyclists. I have many years of being involved with Toy Runs and other fund raising efforts with the gas powered 2 wheelers and have been proud to be part of those incredibly generous adventures. This year, in particular, I’ve been equally impressed with the good works and efforts of BIcyclists across the country. I continue to be amazed at the recent fund raising that occurred with the Fat Cyclist and I see numerous examples of cyclist generosity on the many blogs that I read each day. The uninformed public quite often bases their opinions of cyclists on the actions of the few scofflaw cyclists just as motorcyclists are often inappropriately judged by the behaviors of the rogue biker elements. Here’s hoping that 2010 can bring about more balanced perceptions and behaviors on the part of both the cycling and non-cycling interests.

I am also thankful that my “better half” is recovering nicely from bouncing her head off of the icy pavement on Monday. Thanks to those folks, who suggested that I stuff her stocking with a bike helmet and pair of crampons. I’ve been looking for ideas for those last minute shopping needs!

Until later,

- Zeke

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