Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Proletarian Fat Bike

I did something I thought I would never do.  I purchased a bicycle from Wal Mart online.  For the price of a Ragbrai bar tab I had delivered to my house a 26" oversized all terrain bicycle, the Mongoose Beast.  $207.11 including tax and free shipping.  I had to put the wheels, seat and maybe another item or two on myself.  Going into this I had no illusions that it would in anyway compete with Surly's Pugsley or the Salsa Mukluk.  The Beast is heavy, weighing over 40 lb, single speed bicycle with coaster brakes.  But for $200 I could own a bike with 4+ inch tires instead of spending upwards of $2000+.  And if it ends up being a true POS it could always be modified into a cruiser for pub crawls.  I have no illusions of racing anymore, being fat and old.  I like to ride for the sake of riding.  I ride over 100 miles per week all year round.  I do not need to race.

My main desire for a fat bike was to use it in snow.  I could never get the straight answer from other  fat bike owners on how these bikes handle in deep snow that 100s of cars have smashed down.  I know my skinny tire bikes even with studded tires fail in these conditions as well as my 26x2.2 bikes.  With stock gearing the Beast moves through snow good but I have a feeling it will be better with the 22T cog.

I own a lot of bicycles.  I have spent multiple thousands of a few of them.  I have ridden over 6000 miles per year for the past 5 years.  I ride to work every day even in winter.  I love bicycles.  I even had the privilege to have ridden a Salsa fat bike and the Moonlander.  Yet I never felt the urge to purchase one.  I'd much rather spend that money on a new touring bike or another road bike.  Then along came the Beast.

Usually I spot a bike in the LBS and begin to lust over it.  Find a need that burns my heart.  Honestly, the last few bikes I have purchased I new test rode.  Laid the money down and told them to wrap it up.  But when I stumbled upon the Beast I did my research.  $200 for a new bike is extremely cheap and the quality would have to be suspect.  But out of the 104 reviews I read the word "fun" popped up 99 times.  And the more I looked online the more I discovered that this bike has an internet community dedicated to helping other owners in taming the Beast.  It is the most researched bike I ever purchased.  I knew what I was getting into and I knew what I needed to do once it arrived.  Namely, put liberal amounts of grease on the bearing surfaces since that seems to be where Mongoose cut costs.

The Beast with The Beast.  Fritz was a young pup in this photo taken in late September.  Now he weighs over 85 lb or about twice the weight of the bicycle!

Taming the Beast

The bottom bracket was the first issue.  Being the impatient person I am I put about 15 miles on the bike before taking it in for the BB job.  Sure enough, no grease on the bearings.  To make matters worse the spindle was bent.  Whether I bent it or it was defective to begin with or a shipping snafu, I had to contact Pacific Bicycles to get a new spindle.  I did not demand a new one, simple inquiry of the dimensions so i could purchase stronger and lighter one.  They sent me a new one free of charge included the bearings as well.  I went to the Collective and installed them myself.

Gearing is the main issue.  The solo chainring is a 36T with a 18T rear cog.  That is a bit steep for a heavy bike with WIDE low pressure tires.  It moved around good in snow, on single track trails that are flat or lack huge climbs and on the river bottom (sand) but on the streets and trails it is a work out to get it to accelerate and maintain a cruising speed.  Hills?  They are a bitch with the stock gearing.  I have over 500 feet of ascent on my commute to work yet i took the Beast one day.  Stayed seated all the way.  A slow grind but I made it.  Switching back to my normal commuter I felt like Superman the next day!  Something needs to be done.

There are many options such as adding a custom built adapter plate that allows for a derailleur and rear disc brake.  Internal gear hubs.  I briefly considered the Metropolis Patterson Transmission crank to make it a 3 speed.  Most people simply swap out the 18T for something more humane such as a 20T or a 23T.  Some swap the crank for a chainring with less teeth.  I opted for a 22T made by Sturmey-Archer.  After all, it is a 3 tab cog secured by a metal circular clip.

The results were felt immediately.  The bike will now accelerate without making me sweat albeit with some loss of top end but then again it was a bitch to spin out the 18T.  Hill testing today.  No issues.  It's not a antelope but it will climb much better than before.  I even could mess with gloves and sunglasses during a climb.  I may change the rear to a 21T or 20T since it is an easy procedure.  I may even get a 23T for serious off road.  But I am happy with it now and cannot wait to get it back in the woods when the trails dry up a bit from the snow melt.

The rumor in the Mongoose Fat Bike community is that there is a 1x7 fatty coming out in early March named Dolomite.  Price point, less than $300.  Shimano 7-speed rear and disc brakes.  If these rumors are true, the Beast and its brother Brutus, single speed with 32x18 gearing, will fade away as novelties but should be remembered as the Peoples Fat Bike.  which begs the point.  Whenever I ride the Beast people stop and look.  Kids always yell "COOL BIKE!"  And even adults take notice.  During today's ride I was stopped outside walgreens.  A gentleman in his 50s inquired about it.  He really dug it.  Perhaps these people will get them.  Perhaps these people will discover the joy and benefits of riding a bike.  And if they can do this without spending $2000 so much the better.  Nothing will deter people from a bike than the price of admission.  If it takes less than $300 to get someone on a fat bike then I don't know a better bike.  I just hope they take the time like I did to make it a joy and not a waste of money.

At the Laotian Buddhist Temple, Des Moines, Iowa.

Mile # 1001

The 4th digit will only change 7 more times this year if I am lucky.  Any more means that I am riding too much.  Hard to balance family, work, house and life when in the saddle for 7000+ miles per year.  I narrowly missed 8K last year and have a feeling I will reach that point this year.  Many opportunities are available for it.  But 9000 or 10,000 miles?  I don't think I even want to run that river dry.

My original guess of where I would roll past that mark was near the University Tap.  I would stop in and have a beer and hope that people would join me.  But at work I redid the maths in my head and realized that University Tap would not make the nut.  I would have to ride farther.  Water Works Park.  So I stopped at Windsor Heights Hy Vee and purchased a bottle of Barefoot Citrus Fusion champagne for Mary, as she probably has her 1000,  and I to share at home and a bottle of Stone Brewery's Cali-Belgie IPA for my self when I hit the magic spot.

That spot was in view of George Flagg Drive so I rode an extra mile to the Fleur Viaduct to break the seal on the beer.  Discretion.  Legally purchased drugs must not be consumed in view of the public.  The viaduct is a better place anyway.  So I pulled over and parked the bike.  Photoed the bottle on the bike and Tweeted it.  Then another biker pulled up and asked if I needed help.  I wished I had a 2nd bottle to offer.  But we had a nice conversation.  When we finally exchanged names we realized that we pass each other almost every morning at 5 am somewhere on the Bill Riley Trail.  Every morning, snow, rain, -5F, wind from hell, ice, warm weather ect.  The last time I took Ingersoll instead of the trail he did too!  I cannot think of a better person to enjoy the moment with than Paul except for Mary and Craig and a few others.  But someone that has been there this year, this miserably rough and overlong winter.  Paul has been there.  Where was David this afternoon?  Probably the streets.

But 2014 is starting very good for me.  My commute is now over twice as long as it was when I began 2013.  My preference to bike instead of drive is as strong as ever.  I have only driven to work once this year.  And I have survived the very worst that weather can dish out at a bicyclist.  Hoping that the winter will retreat soon but I think I can handle more, not that I want too.

It was at the last quarter of 2007 that I started dedicating myself to riding more.  Through the years I made simple goals.  One that really helps to add the miles up is to have at least 100 miles every week.  Not an easy feat but this year I have done that thus far.

So lets look at my best years.

2010 it took 14 weeks to achieve the first 1000 miles for the year on April 3rd.
2011 it took 9 weeks to achieve the first 1000 miles for the year on February 27
2012 it took 9 weeks to achieve the first 1000 miles for the year on March 3rd
2013 it took 9 weeks to achieve the first 1000 miles for the year on March 3rd (again!)
2014 it took 8 weeks to achieve the first 1000 miles of the year on February 19

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Das war das Ende aller Traume

One last chance to own the Giant Via 3 Raw that I got on St Patrick's Day 2011.  The coolest looking bike I ever owned.  Then after some 200 miles some bastard stole it from me.  In the 2 and a half years following that heart break i have browsed Bike World's webpage and searched the internet to find another.  Bike World had two, a large and a medium.  Mine was a small.  I thought that the medium would work.

Was planning to dress it up with a set of Velo Orange hammered fenders.  Get a rack and some sturdy bags for the back.  Swap out the bars for something better.  Install the patterson transmission crank to make it a 3 speed.  Perhaps do some weekend touring on it.  Yeah, I had plans, had some dreams.

So we went to the Warehouse sale to look at the medium.  Too big.  Crushing.  Day ruining.  Saw ghosts of bikes past:  A 1989 Trek 7000 in the same paint scheme as the one I sold.  A Cannondale very similar to the one Timmy lost.  As Casey said, "you can never replace the ones you lost.  They are never the same."  Bullshit, just get me the right size!

Well, 10 minutes of a ruined day  before I distracted myself with working on the Beast and riding a Bianchi.  Bikes come and bikes go.  Will still keep my eyes out for the small Raw Via.

Das war das Ende aller Traume--That was the end of all our dreams.

Another Light Extinguished By a Car

She was one of 97.  One happy individual that always had a smile, always was friendly and rarely complained.  Joan was always good for a laugh and I was glad to have worked with her.  But the 97 is a club I do not want to be a member of.  I may be off by up to 6 or 8 as I have not compiled the statistics for 2013 but every day 97 people in America are killed by automobiles.  97 candles quenched violently and dramatically in a cruel death.*  If 97 per day were killed by handguns in the US of A the 2nd Amendment would be eliminated.  Truly the 97 are the "inconvenient truth."

The person who committed the homicide remains free.  Just drove on without slowing down according to witnesses.  Joan was taken to Mercy Hospital where she died.  A surveillance photo of a 90s-2000 vintage Buick is floating around but as of this morning no arrests.  If this person is intelligent and soulless, he/she would destroy the evidence instead of getting a new fender and windshield as the police and media alert the "collision" repair shops to be on the look out for that Buick.  Small price to pay for freedom.  I hope that the murderer will confess and turn itself in.  Joan will never be back but doing the right thing will relieve many of us and start that person down the road to redemption.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines police have identified a woman killed while crossing a street by a driver who sped away.
Police say 52-year-old Joan Haggar, of Des Moines, was hit just before 11 p.m. Friday while crossing East Eudlid Avenue.
Police are asking the public's help in identifying the car.
A witness says the car didn't slow or stop after hitting Haggar. The vehicle is believed to be a mid-sized car, and it may have damaged to its front and windshield.
Haggar was taken to a Des Moines hospital, where she died.
The Des Moines Police Department is offering to match a Crime Stoppers $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
People with information can call police at 515-283-4811 or Polk County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 515-223-1400.

Click for her obituary  Joan M Haggar

*Does not reflect those that die from disease and illnesses related to a sedentary lifestyle associated with driving and lack of exercise, cancer caused by pollution created by autos, heart disease, diabetes ect.


Friday, February 21, 2014


I was hoping the weather people let their latest successes go to their heads.  Hoping that they had become paternalistic safety nazis that over hype the chance of a snow flake or two and a strong wind.  Technically, they missed it for the Des Moines Metro.  And if it was not for the 2" of hail that fell within 5 minutes at 11 am the "blizzard" would have been a non-event.

The ride to work was wonderful.  Relatively warm for a February 5 am morning.  Even had a rare tailwind.  Mary and I were able to ride the first 8 miles together before parting ways.  The usual suspects were on the trail as well, Paul and David.  Paul has a bright light and we see him first.  David has two dim lights.

I watched the radar all day.  The "blue", snow, seemed to be on the usual moisture pattern I witnessed during the summer.  Heading to the northeast and staying out of the line for Des Moines.  But it hooked over and then clobbered us with hail before the snow began.  Schools were closing early.  My place of employment closed early too at 3 pm.  I get off at 3 anyway.

Having taken the now flooded Clive Greenbelt trail for the past two days I opted for the bee line home.  Head east on Westown Pkwy and Buffalo Rd to get to the trail 4 miles away.  Use sidewalks if necessary.  This is the same route that I took during the Thursday that the metro came to a halt because of snow.  Bonus would be the 25 mph tailwind.

Glad I was heading home to the southeast.  My northern and western jaunts in the parking lot were painful.  The wind gave the snow an icy bite.  But I managed to get out of there in one piece.  And I got to the trail 4 miles later safely.

The trail was where the fun began.  Windsor Heights had their section plowed!  Awesome!  But a short lived awesomeness.  After the dog park Des Moines takes over and no plows had touched the trail.  The surface was wet and slushy.  One other bike had been here before me and its tracks visible and about 2" deep.  This winter mix slowed me down a jet or two.  I was also getting wet.  Occasionally I crossed long and deep puddles.  Nothing up to the bottom bracket but I knew the bike would need some attention during the weekend.

So I plugged along, slush and puddles and snow.  I stopped at Mullets for a celebratory shot of FireBall and beer just as I did that snowy Thursday last month.  This time Mary and Dora joined me for dinner.  Pizza and a pitcher Shiner Cheer. We'd need the energy for the morning.

While waiting for my family I spied David heading to Urbandale on the trail.  Damn, the full force of the headwind and the speed sucking slush on the trail had slowed him down to a crawl.  I ran outside to get him to turn around.  I could arrange a SAG for him.  He had about 10 miles to go in this bullshit.  He looked, not recognizing me out of winter bicycling regalia and trudged forward into the 25 mph wind and icy snow.  He backpack looked like it weighed 20 lb.  Godspeed David.

In the morning Mary and I took the trail.  Took forever to leave the house.  Late.  She got ahead of me and chose the trail instead of the streets.  I prefer this because the streets would have been filthy and wet.  Also, the 21 mph wind from the west would really impair our speed if we took to the streets.  The trail blocks the wind.  The 8 miles of ice I can handle.  What I could not handle were the tracks.

There were three sets of bicycle tracks.  One set was mine.  There was one set of foot prints.  I am very grateful that there were no more of either.  Everything froze overnight.  Tracks were hard and bumpy.  And I could not avoid running into them.  The bike tracks would grab my tires and threaten to throw me down.  The footprints were annoying bumps.  Then the iced over puddles.  Sometimes the tires would break through.  Loud.  RIP!  ZZZZIPPP!! Splash!  Never went down.  Had to walk through a few.  That's when my water proof boots paid for themselves.

Once passed the car wash (Grand Ave) there was a set of car tracks.  Probably a truck.  This made the bumps worse.  Just get to the dog park where they had plowed.  It took an hour to get there!

Finally Buffalo Rd.  Faster than the trail but my rear derailleur froze in a steep gear which ate up more time on my climbs.  But I survived.  Finally the wind.  Once on top of Westown Pkwy the wind kicked in.  But steady as she goes determination I reached work.

On the brightside I was never cold.  The previous week's below Zerex temperatures made this morning's 23 F feel warm despite the wind.  I also heard cardinals sing.  If those birds have begun the procreation ritual then Spring must be near.

Going home was a breeze.  The trail was plowed the best they could do.  Sure, some puddles existed but I could make decent time.  Another tough day during this long winter.  Commuting needs to be an Olympic Sport.  Mary, Paul, Davis and I would medal!

Speaking of whom, we saw Paul but not David.  I bet David took the streets.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Clive Greenbelt: Trail of Two Tales

I have such a love/hate with Clive's Greenbelt trail that I don't know where to begin.  I really love its curved layout.  Reminds me of skiing.  Switchbacks all the time.  Highlights the senses especially sight.  Need to look ahead constantly and scan through the trees and look for other trail users.  But when the trail is in heavy use this is a pain in the ass.  I also love the fact that it is a vital segment trail for both commuting and adventure.  Beginning in Windsor Heights the trail allows people to ride all the way to Jefferson, Iowa without having to get on a road or highway.  It also connects to West Des Moines.  But what really does it in for me is winter.  Don't know what it is but this trail seems to be among the worst in terms of being clear of snow and ice.  Maybe budget issues.  Lack of being a priority.  Trees also block much of the sun's warmth needed to melt.

However I will say this.  the trail is being cleared better this year than in previous years.  At the beginning of the winter Mr Plow would leave up to a half an inch of snow on the trail.  This was bad.  Every trail user left thousands of foot, paw and bicycle tracks on the remaining snow and that snow froze hard and turning into ice.  The resulting surface was akin to a cratered moon or minefield.  Then miraculously the city used a brush and the snow was totally cleared from the trail except for the ice from foot prints, paw prints and bike tracks ect.  Improvement.  Still there were large sections of ice that seemed to stay forever and when they melted mini-lakes were formed.  I avoided the trail for the past few weeks opting for Westown Parkway and Buffalo Rd to get me to Windsor Heights and properly groomed trails.  I did not want to deal with the Greenbelt.

This week curiosity got the better of me.  Tale 1: Monday.  Let it be known that on Friday the metro received over an inch of snow.  And Saturday another 3".  And Monday a freak storm dumped another few inches before the temperature hit the 40s by noon and melted much of it away.  So how was the trail?  Horrid.  I started at 128th St.  My wife started at the other end in Windsor Heights.  Totally pocked from trail users over the week end.  Icy as well.  I suppose if I had been on my fat bike with studded tires or a dual suspension MTB with said tires we would have made it.  Not a square millimeter was left untrampled.  Mary quit and turned around.  It was bone shaking.  I kept it up for 3 miles finally getting off on Swanson Blvd.  8 minute miles on the trail are not my cup of tea especially when I felt like I was rolling over IEDs.

Why?  No weekend plowing and constant trail use.  People love the trail and are willing to use it despite the snow.

Tuesday it got up to 54F.  So I opted to give it another chance.  Smoother ride but almost needed a canoe.  The snow and ice on the trail and in the woods surrounding the trail melted.  There are sections over 20 yards long of 4" deep water.  No issues with ice although I road over ice that was on the bottom of the mini-lakes.  Studded tires.  But it occurred to me that the water is attempting to go into Walnut Creek but gets stuck on the trail.  However, the water gets stuck on the trail and is trapped.  Something needs to be done to facilitate drainage.  This problem also exists in warm weather when it rains.

From the the "2 Mile" marker on east the ice is bad from lack of sunlight  Plowing could prevent this.  Further east the run off from businesses adds to the ice and water issues on the trail.

Just a rant.  Today I had a better ride.  Faster times.  Many trail users--several people running, walking dogs and a woman pushing a baby stroller.  People love this trail all year round.  Please keep it safe.  In the furte when the next Jordan Creek Town Center is built more people will need to use this trail to get to and fro work.

 I look forward to the warm months and better times on the Greenbelt.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

More Early February Winter Madness

Tuesday would have been the best day.  20F, light snow and tailwind at 415 am.  Unfortunately, I was ill.  Woke up and I new I was not going to make it.  No way in hell would I be able to work today whether I got there by bicycle, automobile, panzer or helicopter.  Burn some sick hours.  Disappointing.  Wait an hour before waking my boss up and telling him the facts.  The rest of the week was downhill from that moment on.

I slept most of the day.  Missed his text telling me to go visit a doctor.  He thought it was the weekend's slip on the ice that landed me on my back, my head taking the brunt of it all and the head ache that lasted into Monday.  No, it was your basic common cold.  Chest felt tight, glands in the neck swollen, slight fever and occasion productive cough.  Need to bury myself under the covers and sleep so the body can go into repair mode.  But every time I glanced out a window it was still snowing.  Damn, I want to ride in that!

The only bike ride that day was to my bank across the river and to the Italian grocery store.  Cash and food.  4 miles on a single speed fat bike.  If only I would have changed on the rear cog for something better suited for climbing and easier cadence I would love to take the Beast to work the next day.  Not to be.  The trustworthy Trek FX would have that honor.

Wednesday morning it was cold at 6F but there was a strong wind from the north gusting up to 36 mph.  I can take the cold and I can take the wind but both at the same time really gets to wear me thin.  Because it snowed all day and into the night before we went to bed there was a good chance that the trails would not be plowed.  I would have to take to the streets.  Sure enough when we got to Mullets the trail was buried.  First we had to cross the pedestrian bridge at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers.  Needless to say, the bridge was not clear of snow.

I rode it the best I could until I caught up with Mary and joined her in walking to a plowed street.  She was heading to Urbandale, me West Des Moines.  We would bust out of Des Moines together.  We took MLK.  Plowed wide road with little traffic.  The sidepath trail was never considered as it was not clear yet and if it was the intersections would be blocked form the plowing of the streets.  I actually enjoyed this.  No slipping, no drifts to battle, just enough snow to quiet the studded tires and well lit.  Most importantly few cars and no wind.  I wished that I could take MLK all the way but had to turn north at 15th St.

15th is a climb to Ingersoll.  4 traffic lights.  the first two we treated like stop signs because they never trip and we would have had to climb over a mountain of snow to hit the button.  In freezing temperatures I'll risk a ticket or getting hit by a car because I do not have the time to wait for a light I cannot trigger.  Once on Ingersoll we slowly climbed our way to the next turn.

At this point I had a decision to make.  Which route to work should I take?  Last year I took Ashworth to 50th and 50th to Westown Pkwy whenever I could not take the trail to Buffalo Rd.  However, this required me to take Ingersoll all the way to Grand Ave and the slow climb up Grand to 8th St.  Finally, it calls for the climb from 50th to Westown on a sidepath.  I doubt if West Des Moines would have had that path clear.  Traffic on 50th is a bit busier than I like for a snowy morning on a climb.  I opted for what i call the "Northern Route."

the Northern Route is when I turn north on Polk Blvd and take it to  University Ave.  Then i would take University all the way west and over the I-35/80 to work.  Just 3 hills on University itself and a slight climb by Valley west Mall and keep a careful eye on traffic entering and exiting the freeway.  Cagers are not used to seeing bicycles on this road.  But traffic is light enough that they have plenty of room to avoid me.  Another reason I chose this was because of the wind.  By going north on Polk I only need to take the brunt of the wind once in a relatively protected area.  I would be entering work from the north instead of the south.  Brilliant.

Somewhere on Polk Blvd Mary got the recall code from her work.  2 hour delay.  I told her to find somewhere to eat and stay warm and we parted.  We would have parted at University anyway.

University Ave was pretty good.  Light traffic.  Like everywhere else this morning if you eliminated all the pick up trucks with snow blades traffic would be almost nonexistent.  In Clive I noticed that the sidepath along the road was clear but the entrance to it was buried by plowing.  And soon it was apparent that only a few sections of the trail were clear.  All intersections were about 2' deep in plowed snow.  If you want me to take the trail please plow them and plow the intersections.  I watched a bus almost totally slide through the intersection of 86th and University.  This was good because it distracted the other drivers enough to allow me to get a jump on the light and take the jog on 86th to the other part of University.  The rest of the ride was easy.

Coming home I took the direct route.  I could have done what I did last year and reversed the Ashworth route but I like now to just head straight to Wal-Mart via Westown/Buffalo Rd.  This does require constant attention to traffic.  especially at 50th where people want to turn right.  Because the entrance to the side walk on the other side of 50th is buried by plowed snow I need to get on the street when the light turns green.  Look at the car next to me and make them aware that I am there.  Don't worry about traffic because the sidewalk is worse.  Poorly plowed and crap intersections and always a goddamn car in the intersection blocking my way.

NOTE:  Take most of the lane.  Make them switch lanes to pass you.  If you give them room they will take more and push you to the curb.  State law requires cars to change lanes when passing a bike.

I do take the sidewalk if I can on Buffalo Rd in the afternoon.  Narrow, curve and traffic.  but sometimes the sidewalks need to be shoveled or shoveled again.  One time this week when I was forced to walk I walked through their lawn.  I hope they understood my point.  Crossing 8th that day I got into the traffic and waited for the green light.  I usually leave enough room for those turning right on red to get through.  Straight into Wal-mart and abort the left turn onto the trail because at 4 pm it had not been plowed yet.  Windsor Heights let me down!

I rolled through the parking lot and walked it over the shortest distance from the lot to the trail.  Wind cleared it somewhat and a moment later when I was in Colby Park there was one lane open on the trail.  One pass through was enough for me.  When I got to the dog park the trail was clear shoulder to shoulder all the way to Mullets.  It was 7F when I left work.

Thursday morning was almost as cold as they predicted.  -5F at 430 am.  Mary and I rode together.  We took the trail and rode in silence.  Head down and grateful that the wind was not evil.  Back to normal.  Trail to Wal-mart and then the climb up Buffalo Rd and Westown Pky.  Somewhere during the first mile was passed a crow on the ground flapping one wing.  Not sure what had happened.  Broken wing or frozen to the trail.  We did not stop.  We are not veterinarians and one less crow would not cause the extinction of the species.  Perhaps the fox would come upon it and have a meal.  The circle of life, the redistribution of protein.  Yet it haunted me for a moment.  Omen?  Living metaphor for winter riding?  Prediction of my future?  Need a few more miles to warm up.  Focus on forward progress.  7 more miles until I can climb the hills and really generate heat.  Two miles after that the feet will start getting cold.  Move my toes to keep them warm.  Pedal on in silence.  Too cold to talk.

It's the face that freezes first.  Everything else can be covered.  But always exposed skin below the eyes.  And the nose.  Sometimes I take off one glove to warm these places up and brush off the ice that is building on my mask.  I tried goggles but they steam up on me.  I want to get a Daft Punk helmet.

Once at work strip off the top layers straight to the base layer.  Wash my hands and face and hair and then dry them off and comb my hair.  Grab a glass of water and a large coffee.  The best part is changing socks and putting on my work boots.  Comfy and warm.  8 hours later I will be out in the cold again.

The trails were replowed and plowed if they were not before.  Back to normal.  They are doing a better job this year.  I remember waiting 3 days for the section from Pal Joey's to the bridge in Water Works to get cleared.  Bullshit..

Friday it was better.  Only -2F but the wind was starting to come around from the south.  Warmth and moisture.  It got as warm as 17F after work.  I met Craig and Angel at University Pub on my home.  And then enjoyed a night ride the remaining 8 miles to my house.  I saw an old friend and her giant 220 lb dog near SW30th.  We both agreed that it felt nice outside.  12F and it felt nice.  Slap me for typing that.  Must be getting used to the winter.  It's got to warm up sometime.