#bikehour – 1/23/2015 – “let there be light”

January 23, 2015

So, two lessons were learned today, and fortunately neither one carried major ramifications.

The first was experienced shortly after leaving the house. Somehow – and still not real sure what occurred here – I misread or misunderstood the hourly forecast on my phone. I thought I would be riding in roughly 26-28 degrees. Therefore I dressed accordingly. Similar to yesterday, but with the thicker wool socks, and also with the heavier winter gloves. Sadly, almost immediately I realized “hey, this feels colder than 26.” I passed a bank clock in town that said 20. I thought “nahhh, must be wrong.” A mile or so later, a second bank clock. This one said, I think, 18 or 19. Ok…..and on the return trip to the house, the first clock actually had dropped by a degree, and my weather app was now informing me it was 20 degrees. My water bottle (from which I didn’t drink on the ride) was very icy – a first for me on this streak. I’m surprised to report that, even on short bike rides, the difference between 18-20 degrees and 26-28 degrees is quite noticeable.

Definitely the coldest ride for me on this current streak.

The second lesson was shortly to come. And that is: when riding in pre-dawn darkness, on dark country roads, make *sure* your headlights are good & charged up. I run 2 rechargeable Li-ion headlights. One has a shorter, 2ish hour life at max brightness, the other about 4 or so. I charged these (probably not 100%) a couple days ago and assumed I still had enough juice. I was wrong. Light #1 died on me probably 2 miles into the ride, leaving only the one (less bright although longer-lived) light. From the gauge on THAT one, though, I could see it was quite low. During the darkest stretch of the ride (very little ambient light), when I had the light on high, it switched itself to low and stayed there – a sure sign it didn’t have a lot of life left. Not a great feeling when it’s so dark your visibility is much shorter than your reaction time.

The one good thing is that I wasn’t intending to do much more than the 10 mile minimum, anyway. I am in this for the very long haul and want to build up gradually, making sure the body is getting the message that this every-day riding thing is the norm and especially that it must do this along with regular gym sessions, which I attended again today. So I planned the “airport road” route that I did a couple days ago, which would get about 10.5 miles. With the headlight situation though, I decided to cut it somewhat short and, only several seconds past the 5-mile point in the ride, turned back for home. I ended with 10.2 miles.

In all, not the most enjoyable ride ever, primarily a combination of a) being colder than I thought I’d be (I would have worn a balaclava had I known the actual temp, plus I just would have been mentally more prepared and b) the dread of my lights dying while I was out on dark roads, including a couple of highway-shoulder miles. The ride was ok – and as a friend once remarked, the worst day on the bike beats the best day at work – but, certainly not my finest hour.

But, it all works for the better. I learned two important lessons, extended the streak to 7 days, and got to ride my bike for a while. Who can complain.

I’m not 100% sure but I think my personal best for consecutive 10+ mile days is around 8. So with rides on Saturday and Sunday, I will probably be at a new best streak for me. If not, then certainly early next week.

Notable music: u2 “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” was first song up. This one has always reminded me of my dad. A Geoff Tate-sang version of Welcome to the Machine followed that, which I’d never heard before. “No More Lies” by Iron Maiden was playing during the darkest stretch of the ride, which with a little smile I thought would be more appropriate as “No More Light”. “One” by u2 (a live version) was playing as I returned home.

Also, just clarifying my intentions RE: #bikehour – it’s not necessarily the plan to log a writeup about every single ride in the streak. I’m hoping to do that for as many of them as time allows, because most bike rides bring about a thought, an idea, or a development that I find worthwhile, but I don’t necessarily mean to do one every day.

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