Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Training to be "not a cyclist"

Those of us who can't just light up a cigarette, push up the kickstand with our fashionably booted foot and zip off on our latest short-hop errand in all seasons have to keep our engines in shape even if we don't nurture competitive urges. We have to train.

Even an inanimate engine holds up better when it gets run occasionally. And when the engine is muscle it really deteriorates if it sits idle. When the riding season is limited and the distances are long, you have to tune the engine somehow.

The cellist has been home for the holidays. As soon as she got over highway fatigue she dug out her fixed-gear and suited up for a spin on one of the mild days we've been having. When I got a couple of days off we went out together. The days are their shortest, but just barely beginning to lengthen.

These outings used to feel heroic. Since I gave up on my legend it's harder to feel justified going out on a bike ride to nowhere in particular just for the exercise. But I know I'll wish I had.

Yesterday I shot a video on one of the climbs, illustrating two techniques, Stitch and Grunt.
I'm Stitching. The cellist is Grunting. The Stitcher has to keep an eye and ear out for traffic, but the rhythm appeals to me. I'm basically indolent, and stitching is less work than grunting. I grunt on the last bit because it's too close to the blind hill crest to keep crossing the lanes.

A little farther along we got to a nice fast stretch.
The fixed gears make you pedal the whole way. The single gear limits your speed, which is good for controlling wind chill as much as you can. You get a lot of value for your time. This is important when the weather is uncomfortable or dangerous.

Today the temperature was in the teens in the morning. It was still around 20 when I headed out alone. The cellist has a lot to do to prepare for her return to Maryland.

About three miles down the road I saw a small sedan stopped in the oncoming lane. In front of it was what looked like a lump of dirty snow. It was a small cat that had been tagged by a car, which had sped on. The occupants of the sedan had stopped and called the police. I stopped, called the cellist for a cat carrier and blankets and then called our vet. But it turned out that the police were going to take the kitty to the same vet, and have the advantage of police markings and flashing lights. We wrapped the cat in a blanket and placed it carefully in the warm back seat of the police SUV.

I held out some hope for the animal because it was sitting up, meowing, rather than lying there with insides hanging out. There was blood, but not a lot of it, and its limbs felt intact when I lifted it in its swaddling. I had petted it while we waited, slowly moving a warm hand down its back. I could feel it purring, which they do to soothe themselves when sick or injured. It was still engaged in being a cat.

I rode back to intercept the cellist and tell her how things had worked out. She had gotten out of the house too quickly for me to get her by phone as the whole thing was evolving. I thought about just going home, but I went on instead. These were going to be my last miles of 2014, for whatever that's worth.

It was definitely more like winter out there. I had gotten a little chilled while attending to the wounded. I rode hard to generate heat. At least the wind had gone down. I tooled dutifully through my old faithful 15-mile loop and home to a warm shower and some food.

Hard to say what happens next in the training department. I'll do a lot, including just say screw it and drink beer, to avoid spending too much time on a stationary trainer. The Wolfeboro Cross-Country Ski Association is making snow on a two-kilometer loop. I might just have to take my headlamp off the bike helmet and put it back on its headband for some laps of night skiing. We only just got the cold weather, so that won't be ready for a few days.


Steve A said...

For the fixie, you might consider an S3X.

cafiend said...

If you Google S3X you don't get bike parts. But I dug deeper and found Sturmey Archer attached to it.

I like the simplicity of the direct drive and one gear, take it or leave it. I do have a two-sided hub. It requires a bitof premeditation.

NHcycler said...

You're a good guy, cafiend. Most peope would have left the cat to the car occupants and forgotten about it.

cafiend said...

I did not want to see its injuries, but I couldn't leave it. I have a soft spot for kitties in need. I still haven't checked to see if it made it. Poor little fuzz ball.