KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Thursday, February 08, 2007

People always ask, when they see me riding in inclement weather, if I worry about getting sick. This is my perfect answer. Of all the years I've spent riding bikes I remember a 7 year period where I rode bicycles and motorcycles all year. During that time I didn't have a single illness. I worry about getting sick if I DON'T ride. If I get out and get the fresh air and clear my lungs regularly I don't get sick from the usual things. That's the statistic. Once I get sick I'm not sure what to do, but I have a good prevention plan. When is it safe to get back on the bike? That's a tough one. You have to know your body. I have always given myself plenty of rest. It helps me stay creative. I don't get as grumpy. I think it helps keep me from being sick. If I get sick a lot of rest goes a long way. My lungs tend to get congested if I don't get vigorous exercise. In the winter slow months, I tend to get thick mucus buildup in my airways. In the spring when I start the renewed exercise program, it takes a while to clear that up.


Friday, February 02, 2007

I just returned to the DC area after being in Kansas City for 10 years. I work in downtown Silver Spring, MD and keep a bike in my office for errands. I have planned to use the bike during the winter for occasional rides during the lunch period for exercise. Yesterday I went to meet a realtor about a house and rode my bike. The house was in Takoma Park. Round trip the mileage would only be about 6 miles, but I need to get the exercise. I had my rattrap pedals on my old Paramount so I wouldn't need the special shoes. That's just another excuse not to ride. The weather was chilly, about 30 degrees with a light breeze. I didn't even have my helmet, but I had gloves so I took off. I allowed 30 minutes to get to the location just to be sure I was on time. It took 15 minutes, so I was able to look around the neighborhood unobtrusively. There was a steep hill at the end toward the house which I knew would be a female dog to get back up.

I had a serious wreck with a car in December. It's time to get over it. It's time to get over the cold. I enjoy bicycling - do it! The other night I went out for a short brisk ride around the neighborhood on my recently purchased mountain bike. I have a steep (50% grade?) hill nearby that I could test the granny gears on. I put on a few warm clothes in the middle of the night, hoisted the bike out of the basement and took off. I had to just do it, if I thought about it too long the air would be out of my brains tires. I wanted to enjoy the wind and pedal furiously and take the steep descent and...

The previously rusted chain performed admirably. Shifters were stiff and took some getting used to. As I dropped down the steep incline I started thinking about the snow on the embankment/precipice I just steered into. Where there's snow, there's ice I thought suddenly. I started to apply brakes and prepare to crashland. I maintained speed, kept my butt off the saddle for flexibility. It went very smoothly. There was no sliding, no drop in my stomach, no wild swerving. I just felt the clean, clear, chilly air whistling by and the dark night watching from above.

I finagled the gears into a low position and scooted up the other side of the hill in triumph. It was a triumph of enjoyment of the moment, a triumph of willpower to get out and enjoy, a triumph over laziness.

I returned home in the dark night just a little healthier, a little saner and with increased motivation to keep doing it.