Sunday, December 17, 2006

Racing against the Weather

I'm trying to exercise regularly, and since I'd rather do that outdoors than in, there's that weather thing to consider.

My goal of the moment is to put 700 miles on the bike computer before the end of the year. I pass the 650 mark yesterday, so I'm pretty close. That's the goal, and then for next year, to double the total miles for the year (since I got the bike computer put on in August, that's not wildly unrealistic).

But, I'm also lazy as all get out, which means I use whatever excuse is handy to support my laziness.

The weather's a big one right now. It's cold, maybe not arctic cold, but for me, cold. I have on right now, high tech (well, REI said so) long underwear, biking tights, a T-shirt. I'll add a windbreaker before I brave the outdoors, and full gloves. It's a matter of balancing the "way too cold to bear" and the "too hot when I'm going well" problems. This outfit seems to work well as long as I'm going fairly full out; when I slow down, though, I get cold quickly.

I can go fairly full out for 15-20 miles now because I've been lazy and haven't been biking much. That and the white stuff that comes out of the sky sometimes, and the rain. I'm a fair weather biker. I'm not high tech or tough or whatever enough to want to bike when it's really nasty.

Just as an aside, when you see those people in bright colored, high-tech biking gear, muscles rippling? That's not me, just so you know.

Last weekend, I went out rather later than I'd intended, and went further before I turned back, and so I was still on the trail for 20 minutes after the sun had fallen behind the landscape bumps that count for hills in the midwest. The temperature dropped a bit, and riding that last bit was colder than it had been before. It was still light out, and I was pretty near the trail head, but I felt stupid anyways. How embarrassing would it be to get a flat and have to walk back in the early dusk? And how fast would I get cold enough to be really miserable?

So weather and my middle-aged carefulness make good excuses.

I also use classes, office hours, meetings, and the like as excuses. And laziness. There's no way I'm getting up at 5am to go out in sub-freezing weather for an hour so that I can rush home, shower, and make it to campus in time to get parking near my building. (I know! If I went late, then I could pretend that walking across campus counts as exercise! But I hate walking across campus and pretending that's exercise!) The sun going down early these days means that I can't really ride after the office stuff is done for the day as I did in early fall.

When I looked at the weather report yesterday, I saw that we were supposed to have snow flurries today, so I decided to "be good"* and go out for a ride. Usually, I ride out and back on a nice bike trail, so I pretty much have to decide how far I'm going to go by the halfway point of the distance. Yesterday, I thought about turning back at the 7 and 1/2 mile point, which would have made my ride about 15 miles, but I thought, weirdly, that I'd feel "defeated" if I only went 15 miles. Why is that? When I started biking a bit, just over a year ago now, I was proud when I'd gone about 8 miles.

*And what's with my "being good" thing? I'm not a six year old, really, but deep down, I'm a six year old on some level, still. And I'm telling the internet, "look, I was good!"

It's supposedly above freezing now, and I'm wrapped up and ready to ride. It's me against the weather for the final 45 miles. Fifteen miles or 20 today. My legs are a little tired from yesterday, but I want to go today because it may snow or something tomorrow. And then, of course, if I don't go today, I would have to start grading now.

Riding even in sub-freezing weather sounds more appealing than grading. Excuse #1 loses to Procrastination!


  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Well, shoot, I think I just lost a comment. But I wanted to say -- nice progress! Yay for cold weather riding!

  2. Anonymous6:37 AM

    Every time that procrastination in one aread leads to success in another, it's a true success...way to go!