Friday, November 29, 2013

Going off the deep end--what a nice place to visit

If one makes a calculated decision to go into delirium, would it still be considered delirium?  

The past two weeks have been cold here in the Midwest.  Really cold.  We've been experiencing January weather in November...something I'm not that fond of.  When this cold snap hit, I had to make a decision, either give up the long rides and only bike for commuting, or say "fuck it", jump off the deep end, and keep riding.  

Freezaroo ride 2013
The annual Freezaroo ride, put on by Bombay Bicycle Club, is usually the last road ride of the year for me. It's always held around thanksgiving, and it's almost always hovering around the freezing mark with stiff winds.  Not this year.  Nope, 32 degrees would have been balmy compared to the 9 degrees with a 15mph Westerly we had.  And yet, five of us showed up and had a blast, feet feeling like frozen stumps and all.

That ride was the coldest actual road ride I've ever done.  It proved something to me.  I could keep on doing long rides and survive.  I've never had an issue keeping my core warm, but following in my dad's footsteps by having Raynaud's disease, made me think twice about taking on long distance winter cycling.  Thanks to chemical foot warmers, wool socks, booties and coffee stops, I got a new lease on cold weather riding and doors began to magically open.

Years ago, I considered those who chose to do long rides in the winter to be "nutters".  Winter was for dog sledding, skiing, and ice skating--there were three other seasons for cycling.  Then the fat bike movement went viral.  Everyone and their brother got one and everyone I seemed to ride with was either entering, or thinking about entering, a fat bike race.  My riding season began to lengthen since all my friends continued to ride, first by starting in March, then going through 'til December.  Now, it seems as if I only have a period of eight weeks when I don't go on actual road rides.  I had to start thinking of myself as a "nutter" as well.  

Following the Freezaroo ride, I headed up North to the Twin Cities area for thanksgiving.  My mom currently lives in Waconia, about 45 miles Southwest of Minneapolis.  I'm not shy when referring to how much I hate suburbs. Within moments of being in one, I start to feel like a caged animal.  The only thing I hate as much as suburbs is driving back and forth from suburbs into the city.  This left me in a pickle.  I had three days where I'd either have to hang out in the 'burbs or drive into Minneapolis.  I had to figure out how to blow off some of that cagey feeling.  After watching the weather, no snow in the forecast, I chose to bring my bike.  I had done research and discovered a way to bike from Waconia into Minneapolis and then from Waconia, West past New Germany.  It would mean piecing trails, both paved and gravel, together with paved and gravel roads.  I didn't have a detailed map but decided to wing it anyway.

Quick pit stop to check out a frozen over lake Waconia

No amount of cold could stop me from petting this farm kitty

I found a sculpture garden on one of my rides, making the entire thing worthwhile

Two days of riding later, and almost 100 miles in temperatures ranging between 17-25F, and I can honestly say I think I've gone off the deep end.  I'm not saying this because I did the rides, I'm saying this because I thoroughly enjoyed myself--even when riding into the 15-20mph winds.  I'm guessing what this all means is there is no longer hope for me.  I'm a convert.  I doubt I'll ever like riding in the winter as much as I love riding in the heat and humidity--too many damn layers--but for the first time, I can say "I don't hate winter riding".   Sadly, no winter races will ever be in my cards due to the fear of frostbite, but you will see me out riding more in the winter months with a smile literally frozen to my face.

Smiling to be on my bike and to be on gravel!

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