No need for survivor guilt Chuck. After all, this is March 1st and the First Day of the Good Riding Weather here in the Northeast. Just to ease you're guilt, I'll describe my ride today.
Up at 0700, I look outside, and go back to sleep for two more hours. The temperature is well below freezing and yesterday's melt from the ubiquitous snow pack will still be frozen hard on the roadways. So crawling out of bed at 0900, I putter around getting together bike stuff, eating a hearty breakfast, putting some air into the tires (adding a few extra psi to compensate for the cold weather outside which will lower effective tire pressure) and finally around 1030 get on the road. I'm wearing a whole lot of clothes, but not quite as much as Brian B on his ride yesterday.
The temperature has rocketed up to a balmy 36 degrees, with heavy overcast, a slight chance of snow and with a brisk 15 mph south wind to add a little windchill to the equation. I'm tempted to say it's *&^% cold, but this is March 1st and the First Day of the Good Riding Weather. I adjust the leather chopper mitten shells over my winter riding gloves, and start out on route 34 towards the ocean. Heroic work by the snow crews and the thaw of the last three days have cooperated to push the snow banks back to the general vicinity of the shoulder of the road, so it's possible to get a car and a bike down the same road with clearance between them of about a piece of linguini. Penne, no, but at least linguini clearance.
Fortunately, winter riding has many compensations. There's always plenty of stuff to keep us on our toes. For example, is that dark blotch on the road ahead a wheel bending pothole, a renegade patch of black ice that will result in a 180 degee vertical flip and a perfect one point landing, or merely a patch of water and road salt that will spray a fine mist of corrosive/abrasive material all over my bike? And what are those white chunks in the road? Crushed, tire-eating glass from the hundreds of fender benders caused by slippery conditions, ice that fell off someone's car or merely slippery gravel that I must negotiate with slippery, frozen tires?
Reaching the ocean with only 2-3 near death experiences, I now make a typical early season mistake and turn north towards the Sandy Hook light. Remember, I said we had a south wind (that's why it's so warm). Never ride with the wind on the 1st half of the ride, or you'll have to buck it all the way home. Nevertheless, I have a great time as I whoosh north up the coast, past the frozen abandoned beaches and chilly looking seagulls. I also see some cyclists out, but thats only to be expected on the First Day of the Good Riding Weather. If you want to know what they looked like, just picture the michelin man.
At the Sandy Hook light, I stop and make a few fiddling adjustments to the bike (a lugged steel Fuji Del Rey, just to be on topic). The main fiddle is to drop the saddle to compensate for the 1.5 inches of swaddling clothes I have on. I am charmed to learn from lighthouse instructional material that the light was erected in the early 1700's, and the rebellious colonial army tried to knock it down in 1777 or 8 to deprive the British of the use of New York harbor during the war. But feeble colonial artillery was no match for the limestone and brick structure erected by canny British traders who no doubt saw the day of trouble coming, and the light house survived to one day guide boatloads of Raleighs, Peugeots, Bianchis and Austro Diamlers to American shores (and you thought this whole thing was wildly off topic). Comforted by contemplation of the Great Wheel of Life, I turn for home.
Naturally the trip back is tougher. The wind is especially cutting out on the bare point of Sandy Hook. I would have said I was going hypothermic but of course that can't be on the FDof the GRW. So I play my trump card and pull the concealed hood out of my windbreaker (I did mention to always wear a windbreaker with a hood, didn't I?) and fasten in on my head under the helmet and over the ear band, raising my core temperature and eradicating my peripheral vision in one swoop. I gear down about 4 steps and grind my way back south. Back at the base of the Hook, I make the tactical decision to abandon the coast and turn inland into the town of Highlands to avoid the wind.
Strangely enough, as soon as I leave the shore I have to start climbing some respectable hills. Great work, Sherlock, the town is called Highlands. I struggle up a few good ones, and take a scenic detour to a county park that advertises a great view of New York City. Not that I'm tired or anything, but I'm just a sucker for tourist attactions. I collapse on the bench and swig down half my remaining water and wish I'd remembered to replace the power bars in the seat bag that I ate last fall. After a few minutes, I look around. It is a nice park, and I'm sure the view of the NY skyline is breathtaking, on days when the sun shines and grey haze doesn't cut off visibility halfway across the bay. Thus inspired, I hop back on and wobble off towards home.
The rest of the trip is kind of a blur. I would say I was bonked as well as hypothermic, but of course that can't be on the FDotGRW. Some light snow falls, and the temp drops a few degrees, but I don't really notice. Numbness will do that to you. In any event, after about a total of three hours, I make it back to the apartment, peel off 3 layers of clothes, grab two banannas and a Coke, and collapse on the couch. After a while, my cheeks stop hurting and my toes start (but that's an improvement as I couldn't feel them at all before). I haven't measured the route, but I hope its about 50 miles (but it's more likely about 40-45, with 30 not out of the question). I wipe the residue off the Fuji (not much, thank heavens for fenders), and finally flick on the computer to read whats up in bike weenie land. I'm charmed to read that there's going to be 70 degree temperatures and sun for the Rose Bowl ride. No wonder those guys are so soft.
Now just think of who you'd rather be, me with my well built character or Chuck with his poofy, machine swept bike path.?
Yeah, me too.
Tom Adams, New England, Shrewsbury NJ (that's southern New England, ya'll)
>From: Chuck Schmidt
>Subject: Re: [CR]Re: .......ride story also
>Date: Sat, 01 Mar 2003 13:30:48 -0700
>Chuck Brooks wrote:
> > In a message dated 3/1/03 12:42:40 AM, email@example.com writes:
> > << 37.5 miles from where Hwy. 39 goes into the San Gabriels above Azusa
> > down to Seal Beach and that Cafe on the beach and NO ONE RIDES IT !!!
> > >>
> > AND SUNNY WEATHER? Incredible!!! What we folks "back east" wouldn't give
> > for some of that!!!
>I have to admit that I do suffer a little of what is called "Survivor
>Guilt" each day when I go ride and the sun is shining what with you guys
>suffering with the slush and snow and lack of sun.
>But of course that is all forgotten the minute I start pedaling ;)
>Chuck-S "70° & sunny for Rose Bowl vintage ride tomorrow" Schmidt
>South Pasadena, CA