Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Morning low in the mid 20s. Sunday's snow shrunken to a coating where the sun shines strongly through the leafless hardwoods. I considered hiking without the need for snowshoes or skis, but a few deeper areas remain. It's not enough to be worth skiing, and certainly not enough to require snowshoes except in a few spots. Rather than stomp sloppy postholes in it after the day had warmed to the 40s, I pulled the trusty fixed-gear off its hook, and pumped up the tires.

That's the nice thing about the fixie. About all you have to do is pump up the tires. Then I just had to pump myself up to go find out just how much I had deteriorated since my last park 'n' ride commute in early December.

In the theme of reclamation, I talked to my father, age 90, on the phone last night. Last year he got his hip replaced. He receives regular injections in his eyeballs to hold off the effects of macular degeneration. He's determined to keep living as well as he can. He was never a big exerciser just for its own sake. He needed a goal or a standard imposed from outside. But he's joined a 24-hour fitness center. He told me I had been an inspiration to him. So I figured I should start acting like one again. I salute anyone who can consistently go to a fitness center and keep to a routine. But then that's his strength.

High clouds filtered the sun ahead of some unsettled weather drifting toward us for the middle of the week. A little of this, a little of that, none of it supposed to leave piles of anything, it does not alter the trend toward days solidly above freezing. Since the big climate news is open water in the Arctic right now, with temperatures above freezing, our own mild temperatures aren't astounding.

Years ago I learned that New England is at the approximate latitude of the French Riviera. The fact that we had legendary winters at all reinforces the saying that location is everything. Where we sit relative to our continent, the nearest major water body, and the former routine meanderings of the jet stream, combined to make us feel more kinship to the Arctic than to any place famous for rich and famous people in sunglasses. But then we do get a smattering of those, as well. They keep manufacturing new ones... and they have to go somewhere.

Speaking of location, I live near some of the only relatively flat roads in the area. The route I picked took full advantage of that, and the light wind, and generous shoulders on Route 25. I'm not reshaping muscles adapted to vigorous use in cross-country skiing. I got nothin', or nearly nothin'.

Gratifyingly, I seemed to warm up and settle in after 20 minutes of pedaling. I have no depth, but at least I got around the route and finished feeling better than when I started. The twinges of atrophy and anxiety abated. Exercise is good for your mental and emotional health. It also takes longer than drugs or other shortcuts, which explains the continued popularity of those. Quick and easy and back to the rat race. Hell, time budgeting was why I quit working out in the first place. I wanted to work on other things. Something had to go, and work and sleep couldn't be reduced.

The bike commute is based on time budgeting. It provides physical benefits greater than the cost of the extra time in transit. It has more advantages than disadvantages. This would be true for anyone who only needs to transport their own self and some fairly compact cargo. I wouldn't expect someone to throw a $10,000 cello onto a BOB trailer and tool off for a day of teaching. But for a person whose main equipment for a day of work is simply their presence, it offers a lot.

Last year I was starting to lay base miles around this time, and we got shut down in mid March. One never knows. But no two winters seem to be exactly alike, so maybe this underachiever will go ahead and fade away, so we can get on to the next thing.

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