Friday, January 31, 2014

The End of a Beautiful January

Early this month, I decided to join a Strava challenge to attempt to get as many miles as possible for transportation and joy purposes before the end of January. It was a rough start here in Colorado for the new year as we were in negative Fahrenheit temperatures for the first week and a half or so. In short, it sucked. I saw the occasional person out on a bicycle or walking, but they were few and far between. The cold also coincided with snow, which turned to ice and because I am the biggest ice-wimp on the planet, I lost out on several days of riding. I had a goal at the start of this which was to complete at least 600 km. If you read my first post, my math was incredibly incorrect (thank you, U.S. education system) and my initial proclamation that it was about 311 miles was wrong. Six hundred kilometers is actually approximately 373 miles. If my conversions skills weren't so poor, perhaps I wouldn't have even thought of trying to go after this goal, but since I am apparently impaired when it comes to converting kilometers to miles, I stupidly thought it was possible.

As the month moved along, we had a few day streak of warm weather. Really. It was actually warm (or at least warm for winter), with some days getting in to the low-to-mid 60°F temps. People were wearing shorts (though some do this even when it's in the teens), children were out playing and laughing, and I almost would've believed we were closing in on the spring/summer transition period. The ice pretty much melted away (pretty much), and I was a happy winter rider out enjoying (at least for a few days) what should've been a very cold month. Then more snow. It took a few days for that round to melt off, but then I was back out in the thick of things. Now, at the end of the month, we've gone back into a snow round, and I've seen the last of my January riding. The worst part is that my last ride was only 3 miles. Three. Measly. Miles.

Ugh.

If only I could go back and tell past G.E. to keep riding that day - but, alas, I cannot. Thus, I am stuck with the numbers that stopped accumulating almost a week ago now. On the up side, I think I did more than I would've thought possible, considering I really only had about two weeks of riding in the 31 days this month. I knew going into this challenge that it would be - well, a challenge - but because I am a fool who wants to believe that anything is possible, I went ahead and tried to go after something that I should've known really wouldn't be possible. In the end, I traveled 327 km (if my math is correct this time, that's about 203 miles) - which for me, is the most miles I've accomplished on a bicycle in January.

That's the bad news - that I didn't accomplish my mileage goal. The good news is, I learned a lot about myself during the month and I don't think I would trade that for anything. It's difficult to explain the experiences I have on a bicycle sometimes. It's so easy for me to get lost in thought, particularly when I'm out roaming back roads and don't worry as much about motorized traffic. Sometimes, there are just small moments that I'm grateful to have experienced first hand. Other times, I have great epiphanies about life. Still other moments find me deep in a sea of tears, trying to make sense out of some predicament that never seems to get resolved. I often wonder how I went so many years not riding a bicycle. I've realized that riding has provided such a huge emotional release, a happy place to be, and sure - even a bit of exercise if I really want to use the bike in that fashion.

I was not as diligent about taking photos as I should have been (because I saw a lot of great things), but if you'd like a small glimpse of just some of what I was able to take in, please feel free to watch the slide show below.

(In case that isn't working - as some have informed me - here's a direct link to the video. Warning: If you're at work, there is sound. Also, this slideshow is deceptive in that it looks like I live in the middle of nowhere, but those just happened to be the places I stopped to take pictures when I was out. My apologies.)

I have a new appreciation of folks who continue to ride through the snow and ice. The snow actually isn't so bad (to me), but the ice is a game changer for my riding for sure. I am grateful to live within walking distance of a lot of different things because I know that if I wasn't, when those icy days are here it would be all too easy to opt for a car instead. I don't necessarily have anything against the car itself, but it's so much more enjoyable to be out transporting myself under my own power - in whatever form that comes.

I know there were others participating in new year or winter riding challenges. How did (are) things go(ing) for you? I think for me, this January was a great start to what I hope will be a great 2014. I look forward to continuing to be outdoors throughout the winter months and enjoying the season in all its vast unpredictability.

2 comments:

  1. I'm amazed that you were able to ride that many miles considering how cold it has been! As I mentioned in another post, I'm participating in a Commuter Century Challenge at bikejournal.com. The idea is to commute to work on 100 days in 2014. Recreational rides don't count.

    I had 17 work days in January and was able to bike commute on just 7 of them. The days I missed were all because it was way too cold for me. I like to ride in the cold (well, cold for me), but I'm simply not equipped for the kinds of temperatures we've had this January (single digits in Memphis?!). My coldest ride to date was 24-degrees, which I know is positively balmy for some people.

    I have 20 possible days for commuting to work in February. If the polar vortex plays nice and goes home to the arctic where it belongs, I'd love to ride on all 20 days. I'm setting my goal for February at 16 commutes, though, because I have the option of working at home on some days, and I don't want to end up going into the office just to hit my goal (yeah, I'm kind of like that). I'm also planning to take as many recreational rides as I can.

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    Replies
    1. LOL... I understand. I would do the same thing and go in just to get the miles. It's funny how we do that to ourselves, isn't it?

      Someone else had recently commented about the extreme cold in the entire state of Tennessee, and I think most would agree that 24 degrees F is still pretty cold. I think a lot of it is what we get used to as well. If we have consistently cold days, I seem to do okay, but when (as is typical) the weather here goes from one extreme to the other, it's difficult to acclimate. Today, most of us here woke up to a good half a foot of snow, and after the nice warmer days we'd had last week, I think it was a bit of a shock (even though we all knew it was coming). I'm trying to cut myself a little slack, but also not use the weather as an excuse constantly - so, I suppose we'll see how that pans out for me this winter. :O)

      Good luck as you continue on your commuter challenge. I have no doubt you'll achieve your goal as you seem very focused and willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen.

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