Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bars Raised, Limits Extended

Tuesday ended up an inspiring day, but the morning was a slog. I cycled to work. It was froggy out. I used lights in the morning for the roads even though the sun was up.

The beautiful bike trail conditions I raved about for the New Year's Day Ride were now covered by a thin sheet of ice. Riding through it was similar to a ship coming off Lake Superior in January. My tires chomped away making a very unique indescribable crunching sound. It was tough watching my average speed drop sometimes as low as 4mph for parts of the worst 3 mile stretch. A few riders had come before me, enough to make riding harder. Sure riding in their tracks makes for easier rolling but the bike then wants to respond to what had been their shifting weight, creating a disconnect now. I knew I was in trouble when all the tracks abruptly departed the trail and aimed for a nearby pasta restaurant…and I continued, halfway through the hardest portion, now through virgin ice. The resturant isn't open for breakfast anyway.

I exited my more common route to try my hand at the sloppy but perhaps more passable roads. This was a good choice even though one combination of slop and ice had me so sideways I unclipped my feet to catch myself…but did not dab. I finally arrived at work…very late.

I had all day long to think about the ride home. Should I. Shouldn’t I. At 5pm I put in an 11th hour call to The Wife to check the possibility of a carpool. She had left work early and was already home. She’d come get me, but you know, that’s not really what The MinusCar Project is about now, is it?

I put off my departure another 20 minutes by hanging out with my workmates. Outside, on my way to change clothes, I discovered the same froggy stuff from the morning with additional freezing drizzley mist. I was debating a bus catch, but my brain said ride. Ride. It will be EPIC. And it was.

As I rode I felt enclosed by so many elements it was surreal. The cold, fog, mist, darkness, the layers of warm clothes each offered something similar to support. Each independent beam of the handlebar mounted TripleShot could be identified and seemed almost to be made of physical matter, like tubes of water extending from the handlebar. The helmet mounted DoubleShot was a light saber, visible almost point to point, especially as it connected with the face of an SUV driver internally debating the pros and cons of running over me to get to the latte.

Without the pressure of being late to work I was free to enjoy the three mile ice breaking effort. With each pedal stroke came the realization of strength, the thought that I had perhaps found the longest, steepest hill in southeastern South Dakota, and it is pancake flat.

The end of my commute includes a natural uphill from river valley to bluff. Always occurring toward the end of any ride, this bit often seems like a slap. But this night, like a batter swinging for the fence after warming up using three bats, I hit the top feeling awesome.

The phone rang shortly after that. “Do you need rescuing?” The Wife asked. “Nope, I’ll be home in a couple minutes, save me some pork loin.” And she did.

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