January 27, 2014

January put up a good fight

This winter in the midwest -- for the whole continent of North America, really -- has been remarkable.  It's difficult to tell if this is just another pattern in a larger cycle which we don't yet understand, or if something is awry with our climate, or if it is something else altogether; but, the whole "polar vortex" and subsequent roller-coaster of extremes in temperature for the region has indeed made for an interesting season so far.  Cold air normally kept north by the Polar jet-stream and strong ridging has instead been repeatedly hurled into the continental U.S., while competing surges of Gulf moisture and warmth from the desert southwest clash in-between.  A couple weeks ago, it had touched nearly 60F - and, hours later, another Canadian airmass overcame the area with strong winds and temperatures dropping on the order of ten degrees an hour.  This has repeated, more or less, every week since mid-December - making it difficult to plan anything outdoorsy, much less a bike ride.  

I set my dates with the organizer, and watched as each one fell victim to poor timing.  Steven W. was able to get lucky and enjoy one of the warm days a couple weeks back, and was even thrown back north along the Border Patrol route with a roaring tailwind, something usually reserved for summertime rides!  MY dates, on the other hand, yielded strong and frigid north winds, and temperatures in the teens for the

January 17, 2014

The Tolls of the Twenty-Ninth

Man, I've wimped-out HARD since the last 200km winter-epic-slaughterfest-horrorshow that had been the December 2013 edition of R-1,000,000.  (riiight...)

A recent email exchange with my coordinator nailed it... it's not so much the temperatures, it's just that wind.  I do reside in Kansas, and - arguably - it's always windy here to some degree.  Various weather systems are either coming up from the gulf, sliding down the front range of the Rockies, or barreling down from Saskatoon.  

Saskatoon is in the room... 

Last night, laying in bed - pretending to sleep as I tried to crystal-ball whether or not I was wasting a perfectly good, potentially sunny day-off from work and associated ride - well, there wasn't much discussion.  The house creaked, tree screamed "uncle", and tormented howls wafted across the peaks of neighboring roofs as Canada delivered its latest helping of misery to the midwest.  I could see in my head images of a lone figure locked in battle once again with sub-freezing temps and crystalizing gales... teetering between heroism and futility.  A moment later, I became that lone figure astride, once again, a bicycle without enough gearing to endure the constant

January 5, 2014

Into the Grey

It's been an especially cold winter season so far in east-central Kansas so far, to the chagrin of many an all-season cyclist, me included.  As I type this, we're slightly above the freezing mark for the first time in a week, since the cold front and weather system which arrived just before the December ride you'll read about below.  More of the same is coming THIS weekend, and will drop our local temperatures even lower by the beginning of the work week - which may present me with a rare opportunity to topple my personal "coldest ride" number of -9ºF.  Considering the last time I endured such temperatures, I legitimately required ski goggles -- and as this writing, I've *just* ordered a pair which won't arrive until Monday afternoon -- well, maybe I will, maybe I won't, get that new record.  Not without some eye discomfort, anyhow.  

(pauses from blogging to scour the basement for those goggles he thought he still had)

December proved difficult.  Sure, our group of riders waited until practically the last possible minute to get the December edition of our collective streaks in before we ran out of month - but, it wasn't for lack of trying.  With a DNF in the group on December 8th caused by slick ice and snow on top with gusty winds -- a ride that wasn't deemed improbable until perhaps mile 35, it should be noted in this specific case the bravery of the rider, as I repeat... with 17ºF at the start, wind, falling snow, and already ice on the roads, this ride was NOT a DNS...it was a DNF.  Getting moving is the hardest part... and, yet, he started anyways.  For me, I watched the forecast and made my plans... and then watched them fall apart with each passing weather system rendering the local roads treacherous at best, and impassible by bicycle in most cases.  It was beginning to look like my streak would end with "R-30."  ...and I was beginning to be okay with that fact.

(I'm not a fan of asterisks, but... can I call this R-42 yet?  If I include the R-12 run of 2008-09, then it's R-42... if I include the half-run/do-over run of 2010, then it's R-48... errr.... whatever.  Crud, between RUSA and the ACP, have I really ridden 65 of these things since 2002?  Yes, apparently I have.  For now, I guess I might as well shoot for 100... contiguous or not.)
Sitting in the driver's seat, watching as the dark