Category Archives: weather

An endorphin thing ;)

So I cross Bradley to get on the sidewalk for my unabashed “nonvehicular” exercise and oh, my!!! another user of the sidewalk!   Coming towards me from a hundred yards away is a guy on a chopper bike, fully focused on… the apartments to my right, pedaling madly… No, he’s not scanning… so I toot my air horn.   He grins madly, says “thank you!” I say “Good morning!” and he replies in kind riding by, and I realize that if my “full body smile” is anything like that, no wonder people crack up laughing 😉

It’s a joyful morning 🙂

New year comin’

I’m shopping for a new bike.

I *might* be sort of thanking my bike thief. I have been thinking of this slothful-sabbatical year, when I’ve been riding to get to work and other places, and riding the club rides where I’m expected.   I’m outta shape. To cut it short:   I haven’t  ridden *hard* any time, any where, at all this year.   Maybe up the odd hill at GITAP…

It has occurred to me that at 52, if I don’t do something about it, my days as a closet endurance athlete might be over.  Since October I’ve been trying to psych myself up to think 8 or 10,ooo miles next year, to get out JAN 1… and wondering whether I’ll be able to trip that “on” switch that drove me to WHEN IN DOUBT, RIDE AROUND THE BLOCK ONE MORE TIME!   It’s utterly exacerbated by my GPS being AWOL (and hence, no magic numbers creeping up on the mileage tally) tho’ I stopped keeping score in March. (No, Sue, DRIVES you.  Think present tense ;))

However, this morning, I did something I hadn’t done in forever:   intervals on the commute… partly ’cause cold weather inspires me but also just thinking that I could get me a bicycle overtly for randonneuring.   (No, I don’t expect to do the formal stuff with their weird rules and paperwork.) I might have to go to upper Canada in the summer to get weather cool enough for the odd double metric…

Popcorn storms

Yesterday should have been sweltering, but tho’ the a.m. ride was at 78 degrees already, there was an intensity to the energy such that I charged into the headwind and had a sub-35 minute commute. (It helped that I was wearing jersey and shorts so I knew I could go hard.)

Then, just for me, a minuscule cloudburst rained where we were going to do our bike ride.  Not here, 2 miles away… but it slammed the temperature down into the downright pleasant range for that little pocket so my campus laps went 5:25, 5:26, 6:soemthing (the recovery lap) and 4:57.   It’s a mile and a half so that means getting the Xtracycle truckin 🙂 … and then it was just four of us on teh Tuesday ride, and instead of 15 miles at 13-14 mph that sometimes happens if it’s “oh, just the experienced cruisers” we went 20 miles at 15-16 with several 18+ intervals. That new front tire sure is fast!

This a.m., 82, and just that kind of oppressive where’s-the-air fog (and there was fog). Oh, and I did not manage to drink any tea before I left… but I think it will take more than caffeine to clear the air.   Still, we could get popcorn tonight!

The heat is on

…. tho’ it was only “hot.”   Went to  church and then out to the bike shop — on the folding bike, because of this:

I sort of thought about trying to boot it … but instead stuffed it into a bag and hopped on the folding bike.

I’d planned on riding the green Schwinn over there except…. I don’t know where it is.   It’s not in the garage.  Did I loan it out?  (It is *possible* that I was relieved of it — but why just that bike? It wouldn’t have been ridably inflated, as half of the other bikes in there would have been.  It’s not that valuable and it doesn’t reallyh appear thus. )   So if you’ve borrowed a lovely grfeen ladies’ Schwinn Racer, one speed, with handbrakes added on… let me know 😉

I’m asking thunderstorms to brew.

I have a HOME PHONE for the first time since … early 1998.   Must look up things like “do not call.”   Despite  despising and loathing Verizon for its frankly evil practices (market to people who can’t afford much wiht low prices… but oh, the fees if you’re a day late or a dollar short or discontinue, *that’s* where the profit lies…)I went with their wireless twenty-dollar-a-month unlimited deal… 2 year contract. But now I won’t realize that well, actually, the phone hasn’t been charged in three days… I might even let it lapse for a bit here and there (since it’s a no contract phone).


Sultry sauna

… treated yesterday as a day of rest, so only 9 miles.  Today could have been a high-miler but I didn’t even go out for a single lunch lap; it was just busy enough in here and 95 degrees out there. It’s still not hot like it gets back East. I still don’t like it 🙂

I do like the 38-minute commute times possible in the deep summer.

Longer commute

So that 2 mile challenge thing wants you to take short trips to places less than 2 miles — but they *do* count some rides longer.   Not mine, though.

Danville had its first (“hopefully annual”) “Community Bicycle Day. THey’d asked Ed Barsotti if somebody would come down and “talk about bicycling safety.”

I put together a script to fill 15 minutes — more, if I told stories. I made some handouts but since I didn’t know the setup… as it turned out, I could have even pulled off a powerpoint – there was a nice shelter with power, and computers.

I had  decided that casually cruising to Danville on my bike would make a clear statement about the genuine feasibility of bike riding.  I decided it really needed to be the Xtracycle so they could see the thing I rode in on. That meant it was more of an athletic endeavor, but it’s all about perception, isn’t it? No spandex = no work 😛

I got up early enough to try to remember everything I forgot… and banked on the event starting at 9, but my part at 10:15, as my margin for error.   I *did* get out the door at 6:05.

Oh. The weather. Friday night there was a huge mass of storms eking its way mostly north and slo0wwly East.   Thus places were getting a *lot* of storms for a *long* time. If those storms got here in the morning… I hoped they wouldn’t get here at oh, 7:30…

At 5:00 the storms had faded and the forecast  changed from 70% thunderstorms to 50%.   I put stuff in plastic, and took off.  Had a route in my GPS. Tried to call it up – and the whole unit just shut down. Oh, dear.    I had my paper map and hey, the stories I could tell! I got it going again. I knew I should stick to just north of I-74 from Cottonwood Road a mile east of 150 out past Ogden… and somewhere around St. Joseph I tried again and the ride loaded. ( is the actual day’s ride.)

About then I realized that I had left without any water or sunscreen… and there was a headwind… but hey, if I *could* manage a little better than 12 mph, I’d probably get there on time. The wind was significant — SSE, but crosswinds   rather grab the Xtracycle bags like unto a sail.

The sun came out. How hot would that rain gear be, used for sun protection? No problem –  the sky to the south greyed and greyed darker.   It was an interesting grey – not exactly threatening, but not “just overcast” either.  I didn’t know whether to be worried or not, so I didnt’. Hey, there was no lightning, and the weather is kind to me.  Out of respect for our relationship,   I got motivated to  pedal harder, and debated whether I should sprint in to Ogden and get Gatorade…

The clouds made me really want to get there, and I got to Kickapoo …  rode by concessions because I really might make it — but I also still might hit gravel or storms to slow me down.   It sprinkled enough for me to put my jacket on, but stopped.

I had a half mile or so of very fast riding when a large black mutt dog and his friend came out after me.   I t was running *hard* so I almost really went all out for little spurts … and because it didn’t quite seem to be running for fun and love, I screamed primally at the creature (okay, that was *almost* fun — especially in hindsight —  but I’m afraid it sounded more like screaming than commanding… ) After a half mile or so of run, run, run it just stopped cold and turned around and went back.  (It was in Vermillion County else I’d have let Champaign County know.)  I can tell you zackly where it is on the GPS recount of my speed 😉

I got to Danville and managed to only have to ride a block on 150 — and hi-viz vests work, ’cause I saw a mess of ’em in a parking lot.  There were about 15 people; half a dozen cops on cop bikes, a couple of families, and a couple of bike rider types.

The mayor talked ( a good sign! 🙂 🙂 ) and the cop talked — and went through teh whole ABC check, which was the first 20% of my safety speech.   No problem — there was all kinds of other stuff … tho’ he covered another 10% of it before we took off.

We went through the town, the mayor joking about needing oxygen and more rest stops. 2 miles later we were at the park, where there were all kinds of food and displays.  THen they showed… the C-U Share the Road VIdeo.   Oops, the next 60% of what I had to say.

Welp, I went through ABC again on my bike,  gave a plug for LIB (but forgot about license plates — GET YOUR 🙂 )  then I just used my bicycle as the discussion theme — what gear, why — and talked about how much learning to ride is like learning to drive, but we don’t remember how complicated learning to drive is because everybody does it, and talked at length about lane position.

Nobody had a single quesiton — though a couple people came up after and talked about the bike.

I guess I’ll ask Ed about feedback… wondering if this is yet another “well, she wasn’t what we expected” (trying to say somethign else nicely) situation…

Then it was time to ride back.  Danville has a local bike route map now and that came in handy to find my way… their “worst” road was very reasonable on a low-traffic weekend.  Um, yea, the wind had shifted a little — from SSE to SSW.   Yea, I was going back West. It wasn’t quite as much W as it had been East at least.

Then came this warm blast behind me… was God breaking wind?   I didn’t care, it was going my way.   I took the Xtracycle up to 17-18 for a couple of miles… would I get home by 2:30???

Whoosh! Just as suddenly, the cooler SSW breeze returned.  (You can see where it happened – West of Newtown — on teh GPS recount.)  I realized I was pretty tired and wondered what bonking would be like out there…  I paused for some of the munchies and water and bananas that I’d tossed on board…  and made myself put enough into the system to get me the rest of the day, ’cause stopping felt lousy… and I really wanted a bit of caffeine. If I had been *sure* that the chocolate Gu I’ve stashed somewhere was in my bag, I’d have stopped and dug it out.  I’ll have to check 😉

I *did* get in at 2:45, with 77 miles on the GPS. Went inside and quaffed Gatorade with a mess of tea, and duly noted the heart rate and breathing were taking longer than they should to ramp down… but I still had time to fit in a shower and between that and the tea, things balanced out.

So, chapter two, next post 😉

opportunistic chivalry

First, weather,   when this morning’s forecast didn’t have snow in it any more, and it would seem that as I requested, we’re done with the stuff…   I was thinking about my elevated social status riding in when… it started snowing.   Little cold wet kisses, they were.   WHen I called it “pretend snow” because it was only the odd flurry, it got dense enough to show up on the ground a little, but it’s “pretend precip” until the little wet dots run together.

I had barely enough time to come in the back loop, which requires a left turn into the parking lot, and of course all the other people arriving barely on time were getting in, too. Looked like an eternal procession — until that driver at the stop sign sixty yards away where two tributaries of traffic were feeding in (hence, the congestion pocket)  simply paused an extra few seconds, creating a Big Old Gap.  I was absolutely positively sure that it was done on purpose, for my benefit, and pondered how if we set up our culture for low-risk opportunities to have a little personal contact with other humans, we might like each other better. (When the ride’s endorphins wore off, I realized that of course the driver could have been on the cellphone and just not reacting but… naw, of course not…)

Flash Flag — I’m psyched :)

Terry Smith of “flashback” retroreflective doodads is sending me samples to show off to my cohorts in the cycling community. is where they are… and hopefully soon to be available at a bike coop near you.   I ordered retroreflective stuff so I can make my lips even tastier.

I completely overslept today … fortunately by an hour so I could keep the same pace in the mental fog I was in and the clock kinda looked the same. Traffic wasn’t much different an hour later. The racer was a lot slower, though… I was just foggy. I forced myself to up the pace — I even had the Garmin, since I’ve figured out a quick rubber band combo that I can leave on it, wrapped around the previous speedometer’s mount. Then I had a brilliant idea — I could go to the Sprint store! Oops, the phone is out at school.   Oh, “Snap.”   I am holding back from the urge to put hot sauce in it… but it does have a little wear and tear.

It was snowing this a.m. but I just fuzzily decided that didn’t matter. (It was also 31 at the airport by the time I left, which did translate into damp roads, not icy, and I could have just tossed the bike onto the bus if I felt like it.)   I do like my CUMTD.


I successfully GOT UP in time to put on a MILLION LAYERS (okay, four) and even to get on the trainer and ride for six whole minutes into a minor lather, and then get out with enough spare time to charge into the 19 mph headwinds and 2 degree temps.

(I believe I have to give credit to my space heater. Blasting it for ten minutes makes the whole world more warm and accepting of my intrusion into the morning.)

Was it good for you?

This morning a significant part of me did not want to get on the bike.  Sure, the ride in was going to be nice; it was 25 degrees.  Forecast, though, for “flurries.”  Same forecast as for Saturday when we got five inches. Low tonight: 6.

I steeled myself.  My option when confronted with challenge is to respect the voice that says “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t,” and thus create an option, so that it can’t win when it really shouldn’t. I decided I’d ride the Gazelle in… and if it got ugly, I’d take the folding bike home on the bus so that there wouldn’t be two bikes out at school. Then I could bus in in that frigid morning and take the bike home whne I was good and ready.

We did get a few flurries, but honest “flurries,” nothing sticking, not even a dusting.  The roads are really clear, at least my southern route home (some of campus was rock solid ice sheets – rumply as an unmade bed, but solid ice –  this morning and I walked ’em, foolish as that is with the studs giving better traction than shoes, but as I said, I respect my avoidances ’cause hten they’d want me not to ride at all… in fact, it wasn’t that slippery to walk on.  THerefore, it wasn’t too slippery to stud on… but it’s my commute and I’ll whine if I want to — *and* I left early so I got to work on time anyway.)

So I had enough layers on to make singing tough (“your voices sound constricted!”  – um, oy, yea, there’s an awful lot of elastic around my middle…)  but it was 19 at the start and 20 at the end at leaving time, so I donned my lights and took the long way around, because the tailwind was strong enough to chill me if I didn’t warm up riding reasonably briskly first, and with only one gear that’s hard. (It’s gear 3 — pretty easy — of the 7.)

As I left, the Green bus approached.   I thought about racing it and sprinted parts of JOhn,  but realized that I’d have to go a different route to see if it passed me, and I”m not inclined to travel Vine, so I cruised after that.

Another reason for my reluctance to ride was that I’ve been getting by with just a red blinky on the back of my backpack, and yes, it’s different. I found a string of baby white LEDs and just clumped them back there, and added two of those finger lights.  Yes, cars gave me more time and space. Made me envision a poster:   “Legal’ vs. “good.’

Then I turned onto State STreet and grasped what the bus driver was referring to as a citizen was walkijng on the bike lane towards me.  It was mostly plowed, but the parking spaces werent, so it was actually a reasonably good sidewalk, with a few feet between the cars and the regular traffic lane.

I envisioned a second set of posters that I”m going to suggest, though it may be a solution in search of a problem.  Two pictuers on it:  one wiht a bike out in the car lane, and a driver pissed… the second zooming in on a legitimate reason for the bike to be there.  Specifically, makin’ a left turn, glass or potholes, or whatever.  Caption:   “If I’m not in the bike lane, there’s a reason.”  Then it occurred to me that the same could be done for bike paths, with a fast rider and then zooming in on the cute little children playing on the path, or that family with the kids with training wheels.

And yes, I was comfortably warm, head to toe.  It felt really good. TOmorrow’s six degrees? I’m up for it.