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Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Cold December Ride

"Because in the end you won't remember the
time you spent working in the office or mowing
your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."
Jack Kerouac

It is really predicted to be cold tomorrow morning and to not really warm up all day, and I briefly consider canceling the ride.  But I decide not to do that.  If someone shows and wants to ride, I will ride with them.  If not, I will stay home and finish preparing for the upcoming holidays.  Those thoughts in mind, I fall asleep.  I don't really expect anyone.  Those few that have been riding with me recently have other plans, and very few people ride in the cold.

When I awaken, the weather people were right.  It is cold out there.  Pale frost covers the ground.  I decide I will get ready in case someone shows, but if nobody does I will do my weekly grocery shopping and some household chores that did not get done over the summer.   After I dress and walk over to the fire station and see nobody, however, I realize that I really do want to ride.  Already they are saying possible sleet next week-end, and today, though cold, the sun is shining and the sky is blue and there is little wind considering it is December.  

I finish dressing and head out.  My GPS thermometer says it is 14 degrees.  But I truly am not cold.  For my feet, I put toe warmers on both the top and bottom of my toes and used a shoe cover.  For my hands I have a pair of thin wool liner gloves, hand warmers, and then covered them with the new men's felt gloves I bought at the Dollar Tree.  I already have my Bar Mitts on the bike and I am interested to see how the new, cheap gloves do.  I have on my expedition weight Minus 33 wool base layer, a jersey, and a coat.  I coat my face skin with vaseline, then add a balaclava and the hat that Lou Binick of Foxware made me.  I also have on the pants Mr. Binick made me when I told him I needed something to wear when I ride and it is 10 degrees out.  I just love the clothes he made for me.  They are so warm.

While my nose is a bit chilly for the first five or ten minutes, I find I am actually a bit overdressed.  Surprisingly, my dollar store gloves are keeping my fingers as toasty as the ridiculously expensive bicycle gloves I have had in the past, and I can manipulate my fingers much better.  I bless the day I ordered Bar Mitts.  I know without them, no gloves would be keeping my hands this toasty.

For awhile I ponder whether it is harder to ride in very hot or very cold weather, and I don't know that I ever reach a definite conclusion.  My gut feeling is that is probably easier to ride in cold weather if you have the money and prepare for it  because other than acclimating and making sure to stay hydrated, you really can't prepare for extreme heat.  Modern fabrics and chemical warmers make winter much more manageable. My biggest concern today with the cold, though,  is something that would not be as big a concern in the heat, or perhaps it would: a flat or mechanical that would mean I have to take gloves off. But I will not let that stop me from climbing today's mountain.

As I pass the creeks and river that run by State Road 39, I notice how those where the water is still have frozen almost all the way across.  Where the water moves more swiftly, the edges are tinged with white, just starting to freeze.  Both glitter in the places the sun has access now that leaves are a mere memory and I thank God for the gift of sight.  I wonder if Jiggs will be open for lunch or if I am going to have to try to force down the energy gel I brought along just in case.  I grin thinking of how I despise energy gels and hope that my water isn't frozen.  It is bad enough to wash them down with water.  Without it......ugh!  Oh, Jiggs, please be open.

I am about 16 miles in when my phone rings and I see it is from the security service I got after my husband died not because I have anything much of value to anyone else, but because I was afraid.  I am not quick enough to answer it, and curse as I have to not only stop but begin removing gloves so that the buttons respond to my touch.  There is a voice mail that something is wrong with the system and I need to check the monitor.  It cautions that it could be from a power outage.  And so, I turn around knowing full well that despite the fact I have quite enjoyed myself, I will not be able to force myself back out.   I contemplate going on and just checking it at the end of the day, but I know myself well enough to know it will worry me all day.  When I get home, I don't see anything on the monitor and really don't know what the issue was, but I have the holidays to prepare for. The Lord works in mysterious ways.   I suppose 32 miles is not so bad for such a day.  I would feel better, perhaps, if I had forced myself to "climb the mountain," but at least I climbed the foothill.

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