January 24, 2008

Cold is relative.

That's what someone north of the arctic circle once said, in a small town in upper Alaska.

"Cold is relative."

para. ..."Zero degrees, for example, is warm here. And that's on the Fahrenheit scale, too.. I'm talking zero degrees. Zero degrees means the truck will probably run better. Zero degrees means the tires probably won't stay square for too long. Zero degrees means getting the mail is less of a hardship. Zero is almost t-shirt weather..."

The writings of a hardened railroad man driving fuel-oil trains in the land of three-hour daylight, brittle steel, and -60ºF nights.

Zero is still cold to me, tho. I ain't that hard, but I felt pretty good this morning as I set out.
For me, eleven degrees above is "warm" now. I just got inside from taking the trash cans out, and it's almost pleasant outside. No wind tonite helps. This morning was different.

I have spent weeks and weeks griping about the weather. Too cold. Too much snow on the roads. (Ok, that one is legit sometimes) The trail is all iced up. I'll ride next weekend.

Extremes have a way of motivating people. Two weeks back, it was much warmer than usual -- some might say, extreme for January. Of course, a lot of us got out, suited up, and rode. It was nice! Extremes of another kind can motivator also, but only in a few strange cases. I happen to be one of those. For some reason, LAST week 20 degrees seemed too cold to tolerate. THIS week, I saw the first little "negative" symbol in front of a temperature, and got excited. Yeah, I know -- weird. But, it motivated me. I dusted off the BIG gloves, got the nice jacket out of wraps - you know, that special winter gear that is so ridiculous that it's only really usable when it's below ten degrees -- but for some reason I bought a lot of it. Yeesh. With such an arsenal, it's amazing I make excuses not to commute at all -- but I still do sometimes. Today, I - without hesitation - suited up, readied the bike, and set out.

Full ice face, frozen tears clinging to my eyelashes, I made my way into a steady headwind from the north - temperatures at the handlebars must have been WAY below zero with the wind chill, but I was enjoying myself, and the looks from confused motorists! Some nodding with approval, some thumbs up, some agape mouths, some head shakes of disbelief or doubt about my sense of self-preservation. The looks sometimes out-weigh the power of the ride itself. The acknowledgement of doing something extreme, something that only the hearty will do. Something perhaps only the insane would subject themselves to. Weeks of nasty weather, and disappointing encounters with co-workers culminating finally with a "yes" to their questions,

"...so, did ya ride TODAY?"

Yes. Yes I did. And it was GREAT.

Yeah, it may not be -60ºF, and I may never impress those that post in the forums about their epic metric century in deep Manitoba winter-time, with blowing snow and -30 on the dial...but it's pretty good for me. After all, I'm not out to impress -- only to show it's possible, maybe only to myself. It's confirmation that I'm alive, and I still have a sense of adventure - maybe a slight taste for danger. It feels good to have those feelings again, instead of being so afraid.

All I know is, +50ºF this coming Sunday is going to feel HOT!!!!!

Kansas Weather. Rock on!

1 comment:

Noah said...

No negative digits for me out here in Lenexa. Downtown saw zero for less than an hour. -3 is my personal best, and one I masochistically want to beat this winter.

It really isn't that bad, though.

I do know I spent about 8 hours skiing Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho. Below-zero the whole time and it was some of the best powder EVER. A bike really isn't that much different except you don't need to sit still for 5 minutes on a ski lift when you're riding a bike.

Cheers, and here's to the motivation of challenge.