Friday, March 20, 2009

Out of the car! Now!

Scheduled for a shift in Wolfe City, I seized the opportunity to fire off a bike commute. With the early onset of daylight saving time I had just enough window if we didn't have a closing time pest.

The closing time pest arrived deceptively in advance of closing time. I was working in the repair shop when our Supreme Leader brought in a pair of roller skis to be mounted and a pair of excruciatingly expensive skate poles to be cut. I drew the skis as my colleague selected Carbon Fiber for $300, Alex.

These V2 roller skis have too short a shaft to accommodate a regular jig. You have to build the hole pattern in three steps after determining the proper binding placement from V2's specifications based on ski type and boot size. You have to glue the screws with epoxy. Everything takes that much longer. Then one of the bindings in the first pair had a broken plate I didn't notice until I had already screwed it down.

To complicate matters, a critical bridge I use on the back way out of town has been demolished for rebuilding, so there's no way anyone's going out of town that way. I have to take the busy way, on Center Street.

I come in on Center Street every morning. The way the road pitches, I can maintain speed fairly well to wrangle the traffic. Everyone is forced to slow down as they enter the congestion of town. I quit riding out that way after several ugly incidents in the evening rush hour. Going out, the cyclist fights the grade all the way, with motorists eager to escape the crush of town. They can smell open road ahead. "Born to be Wild" cranks up in their heads. They will kill anyone who gets in their way. I've avoided it for at least 15 years.

No avoiding it tonight. On my longest day of the new season, on my hefty silver fixed gear, I pulled onto Center Street in the little shopping district. This time of year I hoped traffic would be light. It was. I had a lot of energy, too. The luck can't hold, but I had it this evening.

The closing time pest had me crowding dusk. Fortunately I had thrown in some lights in case of something like this.

The ride in had started at about 29 degrees after a morning low of 23. The day was supposed to warm above 40, but never did. It was dropping through the mid 30s when I started for home. I had plenty of clothing. Really, the defining characteristic of the ride was its pleasant uneventfulness. It was chilly, but the wind was light. The roads stayed dry because cold temperatures didn't melt loose a bunch of water. I can't complain.

Back in the car for the next two days, working back up north. Back on skis for those days. In a strange, bass-ackwards way I fell into a career as a sort of professional athlete who never has to win anything.


greatpumpkin said...

I just say you built your life around your fitness program. And I have envied that many times, despite its disadvantages.

Ham said...

London has been wonderful this last week - shorts and long sleeved shirt all week, I'm convinced that warmer air is thinner and easier to cycle through - I reckon it added 2 - 3 mph to my average speed. Certainly, as I flew over my only gradient (a flyover) without changing out of top, I knew there was something different.

To be honest I no longer look at my average as I'm cycling as I end up in insane competition with myself - not the best recipe for urban cycling safety.

I have a question for you - I am about to join the ranks of the carbon fibre road bike brigade, courtesy of the UK government bike scheme and Greg LeMond's fight with Trek. (I'm getting the equivalent of 2,000GBP of Trek Madone for 600GBP). Thinking about this, I need to get hold of a bike carrier for the car, and a workstand. Do you have any thoughts of the suitability for carbon fibre, please? I'm thinking of a fork-holding roof carrier for the car, but I can't choose between the BB holding sort, or the seatpost clamping sort (recognising that I need a steel seatpost in there) for the workstand.

All thoughts appreciated