Friday, October 29, 2010

A Bike Stowaway

My Wife and I recently returned from a 9 day camping trip that took us through North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

This trip was not a cycling holiday. In fact, my wife was opposed to the whole idea of me bringing a bike, so while she wasn't looking, I folded the Bike Friday and stuffed it under the bunk in hopes that she wouldn't notice.

I was too pleased with my resourcefulness to stop and think about the logistics of actually getting it out and taking it for a ride without my wife noticing. However, that was a problem for tomorrow and I don't usually get in the habit of thinking that far ahead. Anyway, I did have a plan in the event she did catch me. I would simply deflect the impending attack by blaming my good friend Steve, who planted the idea in my head in the first place.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Racing Diety

As I prepared to leave work yesterday, I looked out my window and noted dark clouds above. Yet, when I scanned the ground, it was dry. I figured I could make it home and as such left my rain gear in my pannier.

A couple miles into my commute, on a section of road that runs adjacent to the James River, I glanced to my left, across the river and to what did my wondering eyes behold, but a wall of white racing across the surface of the water in my direction.

I immediately calculated the distance to the nearest shelter and compared it to the distance of the storm. I then bounced my current speed against the speed of the impending maelstrom. I think I can make it. I should have recognized the foolishness of such an endeavor. It would not be a battle against flesh and blood, but an all out sprint against the Hand of God that gently nudged the storm. In this match up, I was sure to come up short. I know this, not based on some theological theory, but from first hand experience, for this was not our first head to Head sprint.

The thing about it is that although I have a rough idea my of distance to the nearest shelter and the time it will take me to get there, God knows it precisely, down to the nearest nanosecond. Armed with that omniscience, God times His effort such that his opponent maintains a slim margin of hope that I was actually going to be able to make it. Then just before crossing the finish line, God sweeps the storm over me such that I arrive at the shelter drenched and panting profusely from my vain effort.

For God's part, I think it's all in good fun. It brings a smile to His face when His creation dares to go toe to toe (or pedal to pedal) with Him. For my part, I don my rain gear and slowly ride the rest of the way home. Grateful for the fact that I have a Creator that takes the time out of His busy schedule of running the universe to help me improve my sprinting skills. I just wish He'd let me win every once in a while!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just Learning To Ride

On a recent commute home, I stopped at a local convenience store for some "post ride liquid refreshment". As I was walking in, a lady stopped me and ask what the little thing was that I had dangling from my helmet.I explained that it was a mirror to help me see what was behind me. I asked her if it looked dorky? She changed the subject and went on to explain that she was 40 years old and had, at the ripe age of 38, just learned to ride a bike.

I wasn't sure whether to be happy for her achievement or greatly saddened by her neglect. I can't imagine going your whole life without having ridden a bicycle. What about the overwhelming joyous experience the first time your Dad let go of the seat and you actually stayed upright on 2 wheels? What about the freedom and escape and adventure afforded by a bike ride? What about the daring of riding your first wheelie or jumping your first ramp or riding with no hands? To be robbed of such simple pleasures is a tragedy of sorts.

I figured this lady had been deprived enough in her life, the last thing she needed was for me to open up old wounds. Instead I simply smiled, said "good for you". Now, I hope she gets out there and rides, she has a lot of lost time to make up for. Given the fact that she never answered my "dorky" question, I have a feeling she'll never put a mirror on her bike helmet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The First Time This Year

I've ridden to work every day this year, with the exception of 4 days last Spring when the roads were covered in ice and snow.

This morning is the first time this year when I don't want to get on the bike. The reason probably has something to do with the thermometer reading 46 F. It's not that 46 F is cold in and of itself, I've certainly ridden in much colder weather this year. I think it's more a question of acclimation. For months now, Ive been riding in the heat and humidity. My body has grown accustomed to it. While this Summer has been a record busting scorcher, I am just not quite ready to let it go.

If you were to ask me, "What is the hardest part of your commute?" I would respond, "My driveway." When the weather is frightful or your dragging physically, getting up, climbing on a bike and riding away can sometimes be a daunting task. This is especially true when you look over and your automobile is beckoning for you to climb in.

If you were to ask me, "What is the easiest part of your commute?" I would respond, "The end of my driveway." Once you get on the road and have a few pedal strokes behind you, all foreboding flees and you find yourself privileged to be on a bike.

Dark - 46 F - today my driveway is gonna be a long ride. I can't wait until I get to the end of it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Idiot - We Work For An Idiot

"Idiot - we work for an idiot!" That's what my secretary said as I walked into the office this past Thursday morning. This Summer has not only been an absolute scorcher in terms of heat, but we've had practically no rain for months. Everything was dry and dead. I use the term "was", cause Thursday morning as I readied for my commute to work the weather forecast (compliments of CNN) read something like this:

..."Tropical Storm Nicole only lasted a few hours, but its remnants, along with a stalled frontal boundary, are expected to dump heavy rain Thursday on parts of the Eastern Seaboard. Flood warnings are in effect Thursday for parts of the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia. Flood watch advisories are in effect from eastern South Carolina to central and eastern parts of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire."...

"southeastern Virginia" - heck that's where I am! It was time to break out the "Shower Pass" rain gear.

When I pulled out of the driveway and for the first 1-1/2 miles of my commute, not a drop of rain fell. I was a bit disappointed, but not for long. As I drew closer to work, the rain began to fall in veritable torrents. At one point - the heavy rain, flooded roadways and strong wind gusts combined to push me off the road, where I ended up locking the brakes and almost doing an endo. Thankfully, I was able to get my foot down and not so gracefully get both wheels back on the ground. A little shaken by this mishap, I slowed down and rode the rest of the way to work more cautiously.

As eventful as my morning commute was, it was nothing compared to my ride home that afternoon. Steady, heavy rains fell all day and continued to fall as I headed out to my bike late that afternoon. The drainage systems of the city were overburdened and simply not able to keep up. More than once I had to gingerly navigate through small lakes that had formed. It was one of these "lakes where there should be no lakes" where my judgement faltered. I was passing through Huntington park and came upon a section where the road disappeared underwater for a stretch of 30 or so yards. Without a second thought I rode on. It wasn't until I was a third of the way through and noticing that my hubs (I ride 700C wheels) and bottom bracket disappeared underwater, that I realized that maybe my secretary was onto something. At this point I was already committed, I stood on the pedals and pushed with all my might to keep up some semblance of forward momentum until I reached the far shore.

I made it home safely, but now I have the unpleasant task of overhauling my hubs and drivetrain.