Saturday, February 13, 2016

Return of the Commuter

Return to the Rack with Fiber One on top!

It was difficult but it had to be done.  Did not want to go an entire week without riding to work,  I ridden maybe 8 miles since the stent was placed inside me but those were flat miles without the pressure of time restraints.  So easy to lay in bed an extra hour or so before leaving for work.  And the climate changer has heat and a stereo and comfy seats.  Plus we were experiencing the last blast of arctic air this winter, hopefully.

Half hour before the alarm was to go off our dog squeezed between us and body slammed me 3 times to gain a few more inches on the bed.  Then when the klaxon sounded I partially dressed and let Fritz out.  20F and does not seem that bad.  Time to dress and find all the survival clothing I had not worn in 10 days.

Time to leave. The NiteRider battery charged overnight.  The bike was partially packed the night before.  The only thing extra I packed was a box of Fiber One.  The rest was loaded before launch.  The 930 am daily dose of meds, work keys, wallet and sunglasses.  Turn on the lights and leave the warmth of the house.

Still felt decent outside, perhaps I will make it.  Walked the bike from the deck to the gate at the driveway.  The path from the deck to the gate is super rutted from biking on it and now snow covered.  No sense in crashing here.  Open the gate.  Then it hit me.  That jealous north wind.  Cold and strong.  "Hello human, time to suffer."  2 blocks west, 3 blocks north then trail exposed to the river.  1.5 miles until the tree line blocks the wind.

Mullets smelled good.  One of the pleasures of the commute is wafting of smoking meat.  The trail had about an inch of fresh snow.  Partially buried fatbike tracks and a fresh skinny tire tracks from Joe Ayers hybrid.  Good to know Joe was out.  For some reason Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby became the ear worm.  Strange because I have not listened to that track since lord knows when nor own a copy of it.  Oh well, better than anything from Grease which Dora watched last night.  Let it flow and assess.

Should have added a headband.  2 miles into this, still could turn around and have Timmy drive me.  No, keep going.  My speed was the same as it would have been on the Soho on a dry trail.  Good.  Do not push it.  No sense in shoving the throttle into the firewall to see if my heart was truly repaired.  Any physical breakdown would be certain death.  I don't care about the Rule of 3.  3 hours without heat may be long enough but a heart event at these temps would be fatal.  Keep heart rate as low as possible.  Shakedown cruise.

Reached the 5.5 mile point, the bench by the access road that leads to Angel's old house.  I was thinking that this was taking forever but in 3 miles I'd be on Buffalo Rd and then Westown Pkwy and making better time after the hills.  The hills would be a good test.

Fox tracks appeared on the trail.  Beautiful.  Could not tell if it was one or two or more but they were all over in several sets.  These went on until we reached Pal Joey's.  Then we approached Windsor Heights and saw Jason and Cassandra walking their Fox Terriers.  They walk their dogs every morning in all but the very worst of  the weather.  They also ride bikes and Jason runs to work at least once a week weather and floods permitting.  Stopped to chat since it has been about two weeks.  Their dogs were lurching at Mary in a friendly was probably detecting the subtle scent of Fritz.

At last Wal Mart and Burger King.  Time to part ways from Mary and leave the security of the trail for the streets and its sloppiness and cars.  Did the time check, 537 am.  Prefer to be on the other side of 530 am but it is what it is.  Time to climb.

The streets were wet.  Stay in the center of the lane to avoid the worst gunk.  salt and sand and black snow mush otherwise.  But on the flats I was going faster.  With one mile to go a woman driving a newer Volvo rolled down her window and uttered something like "be careful."  Muggle.  Silly woman, dollar for dollar given the size my tires are much more expensive and professional grade.  My say "Klondike" on them and have studs for ice.  I bet hers say "all-season".  Jack of all trades master of none.  Westown Pkwy was not slick for me.  Soon I inside work with Starbuck's in hand.  Text Mary "Safe."

The sunglasses were needed after work.  The wind picked up and the temperature was a few degrees colder than the morning's.  Head north into the wind toward the Clive Greenbelt.  This adds 3 miles to the commuter but is much safer than westown Pkwy and Buffalo Rd at this time of day.  the trail had not been groomed.  From what I have been told Clive has not shown their usual vigilance in clearing the snow off the trail during the past two weeks that I have not ridden  on it.  Now it is riddled with foot prints that turn to ice  in the sun.  Hidden ice underneath the latest snow caused Mary to crash twice during curves this morning.  Anders admitted that he now needs studded tires.  Despite this I rolled eastward fine.  Stooped to visit Anders at The Rookie, his shop, at 100th and waited for Mary there.  His goal was not to crash.  At That point I had not crashed.  I cannot recall my last bike crash.

This was to change not long after Mary and resumed our home bound journey.  We passed a man walking a dog westward and then had to make a curve.  I took the outside where the snow was not rutted with footprints, Mary was in the lead taking the inside.  WHAM!!  My bike slid out from underneath me. So much for studded tires.  Speed and curves and ice hidden underneath fluffy snow.   Landed on my right side, elbow and right arm and right hip sharing the impact.  My head did not hit the ground.  Helmet was not of use here.  This reminds me that i should check for bruising.  Brilinta, my new medicine to prevent my stent from clogging up, makes me more susceptible for bruising. From the medication guide "You may bruise  and bleed more easily."  How comforting.  One year of 180 mg per day of this.

The impact must have been loud.  Both the dog walker and Mary stopped and asked it I was ok.  I was fine but a bit worried that my phone may have been damaged.  Mary said that there were 6 deer in the vicinity but I was more concerned with damage assessment.  Nothing but a sore elbow.  Did not even check the bike.  "I'm fine!"  Got up and rolled a bit.  Stopped to text Craig. "When you get to a bar text me.  Will join you for a beer.  REPEAT WILL JOIN YOU FOR BEER."  Resume east with the wind at out backs.  Craig was at Pal Joey's.  Good place to stop since we got the 911 call from Timmy asking for money for a doctor's visit.  One beer would allow Mary to talk to him to see what was up.  breathing issues due to bronchitis.  When did he get that?  Give us an hour.

With Craig we continued east toward our house so we could hook up with Timmy and give him $$.  Sounds like we are bad parents but he will be 19 years old tomorrow.  He had his GF Sam with him and his sister Dora.  Extra cash to feed her.

I don't think I drank half of this.  Should have had water not PBR.

He took off like there was a fire but Mary and I kept our usual pace.  Eventually he wore out or slowed down and we rode together.  We were side by side near Gray's lake when I spoke.  "This is where years of experience pays off.  It is night and extremely cold.  Any newbie would surely perish or not attempt this right now.  Too fucking cold.  Yet we are thriving in it."  He agreed.  To the north of us we could see the colored lights on the bridge over the lake through the dormant trees.  Above that the skyline of downtown Des Moines.  Truly beautiful sight, a picture so serene.  A photo worthy moment but to stop and take that picture would not be wise.  Deadly cold, maybe 10F now with a howling northwest wind.  Almost to our destination.

Craig's original text was "who has the cheapest beer east of Fleur?"  I said Extra Innings which is less than a half mile from home and worked well with both the Timmy Issue and Mary'a need for food.  the barkeep and patrons were amazed with our fortitude to ride on a night like this.  Windy and 9F now.  They were more amazed when I told them that Mary and started 15 miles west of here.  We only stayed for a few(four each and 2 for Mary) beers before Craig needed to head west and Mary needed food.  I probably could had rolled home and gone to bed but Mary does not get to eat lunch like I do.  Redress and a shot of Jager.  Fuzzy Tacos was our choice.  Cheap eats and $2 schooners of PBR.  6 tacos and 2 PBRs plus chips and salsa--$17 and change.  This was the closet place other than Mullets and just over a half mile away.  But we had to get there first.

The wind was as strong as ever and we headed straight into its teeth.  I kept thinking that this had to be it.  The last blast of the jealous north wind and air.  Mid February, winter has to end soon.  Next week's forecast is much better.  A few weeks from now it will be March and the snow will be in full retreat and the grass will be turning green and trees will be budding and flowers will appear and birds will return and fill the sky with song.  So here I am out in the worst of it the first day after I got the all clear from Iowa Heart to resume bicycle commuting.  Of course they probably would not recommend an evening of beer and tacos but that is more of a cholesterol and triglyceride issue.  I had to do it.  One act of defiance to show the Arctic that it cannot stop me.  I hated every pedal stroke into it but was unwilling to submit.  No looking back, we're pushing through.  Gonna beat them all tonight.  Turn the heater on!  Never surrender!  Soon this will be over and I'll be on a road bike and sweating from the heat but not fearing for my life.

Oh yes, my heart was fine.  Never felt it bitching at me, asking me to knock it off.  Wait until road bike weather to hit WEP and find out how strong I am.  I missed over 200 miles since February 2nd, my legs should have barked.

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