Saturday, February 11, 2012

We All Stand or For a Few Miles More

3 miles to go.  Got 3 miles to go.  At the end of the road there's a warm house and a Blue Moon Abbey Ale waiting for me.  3 miles to go.  Life goes on in this real life fantasy. Forever to be still, breath held tight inside of me.

The last mile and half started out real silent.  Mary and I lost in our own thoughts.  Just a matter of time.  Cross the 7th St bridge and lose the protection from the 20 mph north wind.  Prepare for  broadside cross wind attack.  And the stench of the sewer access points, both of them quite foul this season.  The beacon of hope was Mullets.  Here we'd turn south and enjoy a tail wind for a third of a mile before turning left for 2/10ths on the final stretch protected from the wind by the humble homes of Little Italy.

We started in Windsor Heights.  Hy Vee.  It took two trips this week.  Two pay days to gather enough goods to hibernate at home.  The weather started taking a turn for the worst.  I have no desire to leave the house until the cold wave flees.  But I needed to reach my weekly goal.  100 miles per week every week.

Good to have goals.  Jesus had a goal.  Hitler had a goal.  Obama had a goal.  Bush and son had goals, I think.  JFK had a goal to get as much pussy in the White house as he could get his disease ridden pecker in.  Many years ago my goal was to ride the bike at least once a week every week.  This helped me hit my first 3000 mile year. That was the 90s, last century.  Two years ago I increased the goal.  100 miles per week.

This is not always easy.  Sometimes it is a bitch to get it in.  Sometimes life gets in the way, say breaking a collar bone, too much snow and ice and Christmas.  But I have kept the current streak up since the first week of 2011.  IF I would have ridden to my sister's dwelling for Christmas Eve 2010 the stretch would go back as far as Ragbrai that year.  AND IF I did not crash my 520 at 30 mph on Indianola Rd or Ave (one goes north and south the other east and west) this record would go back to the last week of March 29/April 4.  Stumble and fall  over... 

This week started out shitty.  Monday I had no energy.  I had a meeting at 615 pm that I blew off.  Mary had her monthly meeting and would not be back until 8pm.  The kids needed to be fed.  I came straight home.  Saturday's snow and ice were still around, messing up roads and trails.  A mere 13 miles.  Got home and watched South Park on NetFlix and made dinner in time for Mary's return.

Tuesday was not much better.  Threat of rain did not prevent me from spending 10 minutes mapping a route to Cumming since Polk County refuses to clear the trail.  And when I opened the warehouse door to walk the bike out (I would ride it out but the security camera is pointed at my door and PFG security gets pissy.  Already had one run in with them downtown concerning my bicycle and I really do not want to lose my ability to park inside the warehouse) the wet pavement told the story.  Rain.  I do not ride in the rain unless I have to.  I do not ride in the rain when the temps are in the 30s unless I have to.

When I grab the bars and throw a leg over a bike I ask myself these questions.  1) Will this be fun?  2) Is this necessary?  Hours of riding in cold rain in the mud is not my definition of fun.  Sorry Sam, it was not necessary to get tacos.  I'd get home way late, kids would be hungry and grumpy and my immunities would have been greatly compromised.  No for both questions as I let out the F word and headed home from the PFG call center/warehouse.  14 miles.  I had to stop at B&B grocery store for something.  That much was necessary.

Wednesday was better.  But this is the day I need to be somewhere by 530 pm.  After work I turned north up the Bill Riley and went to IngerDahls.  I really hate this store, way overpriced, but time was important and I did not possess enough to go to Windsor Heights Hy Vee.

"They don't give out medals for riding in winter," Mike Lamb said to me as I was locking up the Red Phoenix.  This was our first encounter in what seems like a year.  He purchased a house a while back and has buried himself in fixing it up.  He said he quit drinking.  Nice to see old friends.  I hope he survives.  I wonder who my friends 20 years from now will be.  17 miles for the day.

Damn, midway through the week and a mere 44 miles.  The weather bastards were calling for a cold front to ruin the week end.  Single digits for lows.  Prepare for hibernation.  Take stock of what we have at home and make lists for 2 shopping sprees.  Time to switch bikes.

Thursday I took the 520.  I'd need to go to Hy Vee for major shopping.  Pork loin was on sale.  we could get 3 meals out of that.  Beer, could always use more.  Fixing for tacos, a good choice.  New issue of Bicycle Times, a necessity.  Caffeine and high fructose corn syrup, that would make others happy.  Cat food.  Milk.  But most importantly this trip would double my miles of my commute.  I met Mary there and her bike carried what the 520 could not.  We stopped underneath the Fleur Viaduct for a one beer stop.  Weather was great, mid 30s.  Felt great to be outside.  A shame we had to go home and feed our children.  Sometimes they remind me of little birds in a nest waiting for their parents to puke in their mouths.  29 miles.  27 more to go.

Friday was weird.  27F was our wake up temperature.  Weather bastards were wrong!  I was expecting single digits for today's ride to work.  But the joke was on me.  The temp fell and by the time I got to work it was barely 20F.  When I left work it was 17F.  Round 2 of Hy Vee was in play.  But I needed extra miles.  It was cold and there was a 20 mph wind from the north.  I had to go into the wind. 

The plan was for me to go home and grab the Burley to redeem all our empty beverage vessels.  It has been some time since I had done this.  Mary's idea.  The week end would not be good for this.  But pulling a trailer with strong winds sucks.  And I think the bottles and cans are frozen on our back deck.  Punt.

I rode to Water Works contemplating my next move.  We were to meet at 530 pm.  From the Raccoon River Bridge it is 5 miles to Hy Vee.  Another 8.5 miles to home plus the 9 I had already.  24 miles.  Not enough.  I doubled back and spotted two bicycles.

I caught up with them by the shelter former known as Santa's workshop.  One guy was turning toward Flagg.  The other guy welcomed my companionship.  He was about 10 years older than me and on a early 90s Trek 1100.  Downtube shifters!  It is his winter bike.  never caught his name.  Rob I think the other guy called him.  His goal is 50 miles per week.  Aiming for 5K for the year.  And I knew he was a good rider when he said "I was saving my good lights for the ride back..." during a discussion of crashes.  We lapped the great field 2 or 3 times before heading on.  He was shy of 30 miles.  He lamented about Thursday.  Said he changed his clothing situation and was cold and miserable!  Today, he said, it felt like 50F!  Strange how two people who ride in this miserable weather can have totally different opinions about the weather.  However, company on such rides always makes it better.  How many rides did I cut short out of loneliness and boredom?

Hit the north!  This was my first venture to Windsor Heights in a week.  Yes I am a creature of habit.  Yes, I enjoy going to the store.  Yes, I'd rather make a 17 mile round trip to this Hy Vee than the 4 miler to the closer store on my side of town.  Then the 911 call.

My son Joe called form the Hy Vee on my side of town, Park Ave.  He went to his bank and returned to a frozen bicycle lock.  I was 8 miles away.  "Purchase a lighter and heat the lock up.  call me back when you succeed."  He did not for a long time.  I called him.  "Not working."  He was heating up the key.  "Heat the lock and for God's sake do not break the key."   Another long stretch of silence ensued.  then I got to thinking.  The chain on his bike was Gatorade orange the other day.  He rides on the streets more than I do.  I lubed that chain a few days ago and noticed how the rust particles were everywhere on his bike.  Perhaps he got the road salt into his lock.  He wraps the lock around the top tube.  He also allows his bike to get wet.  WD-40!!!  I called him again as I was approaching the train trestle on the Bill Riley.  "Still no joy?  Go back inside and purchase a can of WD-40."  He called back 3 minutes later, bike was free!  Crisis over.

I arrived at Hy Vee at 5pm.  Moments earlier and about a half mine away I took the photo of my shadow that i placed at the top of this blog.  Half hour to kill.  Locked the bike and walked in with everything but my helmet.  Let any sweat dry off inside and keep clothing warm.  I bought a soda and sat in the cafe and waited for Mary.  I was tired.  Caffeine and high fructose corn syrup in the mode of a Mello Yello fountain drink was in order.  Channel 13 said it was 17F.  Phone battery almost dead.  We did our shopping and headed out into the cold.  At least we'd have a tail wind. 

Uneventful ride home.  Caught up on each other's day.  Mary had shitty kids affected by the full moon.  I had a dead freezer and no internet at work.  Long day with fix it mean and tech support and my GM snooping around my fortress of solitude.  Only one other person, a jogger who was on the proper side, on the trail.  It must have been after 6 pm when we left.  A quick prayer to God when I rolled over the ice underneath Grand Ave.  Crashing here would not be good.  Does the ground hurt more during the winter since the molecules are closer together??  No beer for a Fleur Viaduct stop but 2.5 miles left to go.  Conversation waned as we focused on the remaining journey.  Mary broke the silence and we laughed about how quite we became.  I left when it was dark and I returned when it was dark.  Warmth awaits.  Food awaits.  Children and pets await out return.  A bottle or 3 of winter Abbey...A few more miles to go.

We All Stand

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