|I have been on a few rides this winter most notably the January 27th ride downtown that was a grinder across snow covered icy roads as well as a few others that I thought were challenging. But nothing can compare to today’s ride. In honor of Todd Scott, who as a group we would be meeting later, I decided to challenge my sensibilities once again. The coldest temperature I have ever embraced on a bike ride was some three years ago. Back then it was 19 degrees when I started and 16 degrees by the time I made it back home. I distinctively remember having to stand in the shower for 20 minutes stepping on pins and needles as I waited for the ‘feeling’ to return to my feet. Today’s ride began with the temperature at 6 and by the time I made it downtown it had fallen to 4.
Okay perhaps you are thinking right about now, WHY? Why would someone do something like this in the face of wind chills that were well below zero? What motivates someone do this? Falling back to earlier Blogs I will again make mention that bike riding for me is an arena of application where will, force, and intent goes up against not only the conversation in our heads but against all the people who separately streamed at me from the warmth of their cars. With two pairs of biking pants, a snowmobile mask, and gloves added in with my normal bike riding garb, I took off down my driveway and headed out on the road to confront myself.
For the first few miles east, I was adjusting my mask over my mouth and nose trying to get in enough air without having my cheeks succumb to frost bite. By the time I made it into Huntington Woods I had about figured it out and once past Scotia I made my way south to the Golf Course/Zoo Boundary road. The street was closed at Woodward so I dismounted, put my Mountain bike up on my right shoulder, and hiked through a 3.5’ high snowdrift. Stepping in past my knees I made it to the side walk and took a minute to stomp off the snow and find my breath once again.
Now for the hard part, it was time to embrace Woodward Avenue all the way down to Canfield where I would be making my turn. Far too many times I had to veer left into the right lane to avoid the ice packs and snow drifts that had crept in from the west breeze. I reached out first my ears and then my feelings before sliding over. I did once receive a little chin music from one fellow who seemed to be caught up in the rush but other than that the feeling I received most was something like WTF? I think it is safe to say that I was the only one out riding my bike on Woodward that day.
The trip through Ferndale was the most crowded as I had to back off the pedals and coast when people cut in to turn right in front of me. Making past Palmer Park, I smiled and imagined how difficult it must have been for people to get to the Bus stop using sidewalks that were filled with over a foot of snow. Many people were walking in the street in accommodation I made a wide sweep to the left allowing them plenty of room, saying hello as I passed on bye. On through Highland Park and across the Davison is where my legs started to turn into ingots of lead.
I had to adjust my jacket to vent the heat and then zip it back up when my pace fell below the level of steam. All of the layers became soaking wet with sweat making my motions heavy and laborious. With my water bottle froze I could feel the stiffing approach. As I dipped down under the Rail Road Bridge just south of Grand Boulevard the conversation in my head became exceedingly loud. Both legs below the knees started to turn cold in turn added their voice of concern to the ongoing conversation. Remembering my teaching I went back to my breath. I slowed down moment and fell into my lungs, finding my rhythm once again. As I regained my balance I started to push and rip whatever consideration my legs were having in two. Dancing with a Bus back and forth through campus I won the race for control and turned onto Canfield before the Bus-man made it there. Turning into the Parking lot I coasted my way to the bike rack which was almost completely covered with snow. Standing there for a while I practice and found my breath and composure.
Silence the voice in your head while you trust your feelings!
Bike Detroit, J. Meyers bike explorer