Thursday, February 16, 2006

Never insult a goddess...

I was thinking about titling this “God of All the Headwinds” but on reflection decided that since headwinds are often arbitrary, capricious, and entirely irrational, “Goddess” was probably more accurate. Not that I’m personally familiar with any ‘arbitrary, capricious, or irrational’ women, but it’s better to stay on the safe side. I only LOOK dumb.

It was 70 degrees when I got up this morning. I left for work at first light, riding into a stiff headwind. The temperature is expected to drop all day and the wind will swing around to the north. That means I get headwinds BOTH ways. Oh joy.

Welcome to Oklahoma.

The temperature will continue to drop tonight, with the forecast calling for 24 degrees by tomorrow morning, and maybe snow over the weekend. This is one reason it’s hard to stay healthy here. Well, that and all the dust in the air. This has to be the allergy and respiratory infection capitol of the country.

But I was toying with an idea while riding into that wind. Any line of thought will do to take my mind off the chore. Fortunately, I had enough foresight to get the Bianchi out rather than ride the fixed gear. I think a fixed gear, even a low one like my commuter, would have nearly killed me this morning.

The idea I had was to categorize headwinds. Sure, it’s not a GREAT idea, but like I said, sometimes any idea will do.

Headwind Categories:

Light: Just enough wind to feel the extra strain in the legs, but not quite enough to feel that it’s slowing you down. Leaves swirl in the wind.

Moderate: The wind is noticeably harder to ride into, yet it’s not taxing. Leaves fly along in a straight line.

Stiff: Like riding up a long, steep hill, without the side benefit of going down the far side. The leaves, well, who watches leaves when they’re breathing this hard?

Ferocious: Vicious, nasty wind that feels like riding into clear Jell-O. Strong enough to lean on in cross wind situations. Stay alert for flying lawn furniture.

Today’s headwind was on the borderline between stiff and ferocious. The National Weather Service said that it was 20-30 mile per hour, but I’m certain there were some higher gusts. Three times I was hit hard enough to move the bike a couple of feet sideways.

I wish I could say that there’s a technique to make riding into the wind an easier task. Really, I wish I could. But in reality, riding into the wind is difficult and exhausting. The best solution is to gear down and spin as easily as possible. This morning, for instance, I averaged only 11 miles per hour. It’s best to ignore that nagging voice from the ego that says you’re just twiddling along in a tiny gear. Spin and save your knees.

And as I said before, I try not to dwell on the long, hard slog. I think of other things, sing, or try to come up with good ideas for CycleDog. There’s a reason I sing on the bike. My singing voice is so bad my own mother wouldn’t sit next to me in church! That is not an exaggeration. And I was thinking about that “Goddess of All the Headwinds” bit, though I’ll probably save it for another time.

Sometimes there’s a song in my head that goes along with the pedaling cadence. That happened today too, but I have to provide the background information.

Fritz from Cycle-licious wrote in an e-mail about his upcoming interview with Google about a job writing code for Linux kernels. I had to ask what that actually entailed because I’m basically a troglodyte armed with a stone axe when it comes to high-tech stuff. He wrote back to say that he writes the code that makes the networks go.

My over-caffeinated brain immediately thought of Barry Manilow singing, “I write the code that makes the networks go! I write the code that makes the whole world glow!…”

Guess what went round and round in my brain while fighting that headwind this morning?

Sometimes, I think it would be more merciful to just get out my pocketknife and open a vein.


Blogger Fritz said...

5°F (-15°C) with 15 mph (25 kph) north winds, snow and fog on my commute this morning. I rode with my son to his school before heading off to work. The temperature has since dropped to near zero.

Tomorrow, my son's Boy Scout troop will go snow caving at an elevation of 10,500 feet above sea level. They'll dig snow caves and then they'll sleep in them tomorrow night.

11:18 AM  

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