I beat the rain bike up pretty good Sunday morning. It had rained much of the day Saturday and well into the night, but we woke up to 60° temps (15 C) and partly cloudy skies. The roads were really, really, very, incredibly wet… but I wasn’t about to miss sunshine and 60°! Normally, 60 isn’t anything to write home about, but in Michigan, in March, 60 is glorious and rare.
Within a mile I had water and dirt dripping off the frame and drivetrain but because the bike is so solid, I had no worries. I just rode on with my buddy, Chuck well off to my side and back so to hold the social distancing norm. My Venge was sitting protected and comfy in my bike room.
My rain bike isn’t perfect, of course. It takes a noticeable amount of added effort to keep her spun up and rolling, but it’s a nice trade-off, actually… I’ve gotta put more effort into it so when I switch over to my Venge, I’m that much faster on it.
The first fourteen miles were wet and gnarly, into a mild headwind, but as we approached our stop, the wind started to pick up. We still had eleven miles to get to tailwind. Five miles later and that once mild headwind was a 20+mph lesson in effort. Three miles later and we were getting into 30-mph gusts. I laughed out loud more than once. Three miles later, the pain was over. We turned for home, the wind having dried the roads out completely. And the push was worth the effort to get there.
My Garmin radar died first, then my Edge 520 Plus ran out of juice… then I ran out of gas. It had been a long week, I think, going from approximately 125 miles a week to almost 250 and without a day off the bike in two weeks. Even with the cross-tailwind I wanted to sit up and soft pedal home a few times. I didn’t, though. I stayed with Chuck, trying to break it down into miles… three to go, only nine minutes. Surely I can handle that. Two miles, less than six minutes. One mile.
I showered up and was off in nap land shortly after firing down some lunch. I woke up with a smile on my face and one hell of a dirty rain bike. An hour later, she was clean, lubed, drivetrain cleaned and lubed, and ready for another go.
My rain bike isn’t one of those ultra-cool aero road bikes. It’s not exactly a lightweight climber, either. It’s just an old Trek that was given a new lease on life. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with riding the bike, too, having rebuilt her from the ground up.
And she still tears it up in a fashion show… after I clean her up and dry behind her gears.
I had every intention of writing a scathing post about Chicago’s mayor who recently said something to the effect that this is no time for long bike rides and 5k (runs)… that allowing people to go outside is meant as a mere respite from being locked indoors and anyone caught out for more than that mere respite could be fined and eventually imprisoned. Actually, it’s a perfect time for running and long bike rides unless you happen to be anti-science…
However, I don’t know Chicago’s situation so I’ll reserve my opinion of the mayor’s statement and just say I’m glad I passed on the $13,000 per month job I was offered out there. We’re still free to roam the roads as we please as long as we choose to do that at the appropriate distance (which vastly exceeds 6′ or 2 meters on a bike, btw). Also, the irony after my post from yesterday would be just a bit too rich.
That said, if the information here, here, and here is right, the mayor could be doing more harm than good for the people she represents. One can only hope the local news agencies hold the mayor accountable, but I won’t hold my breath. I can understand requiring people to avoid congregating – I’m on board with that – but requiring city residents to stay cooped up in their homes seems over the top and wrong.
I’m simply going to remain thankful that smarter heads have thus far prevailed in my home state. Interestingly, at most of the links I’ve looked at (more than what I’ve included above), all of it suggests mild exercise is good. This is to say, rather than the kind of exceedingly rigorous exercise I’m used to. To that end, I’ve slowed down considerably, though I also increased my mileage. With the downturn in traffic, cycling has been safer and more enjoyable than I can ever remember it and I’m going to continue to take advantage of it. I ended up with a little more than 240 miles last week and am vastly happier for getting out.
Don’t Listen To the News; Use Your Looking Balls. Look At How Happy Your Neighbors Are To Be Walking and Riding In This Uneasy Time.
In my post yesterday, (sort of) following one of my favorite blogger’s wordless posts, I included one of my favorite quotes of all time. I like to shorten it during troubled times because I need to keep things simple so as not to get lost in the weeds; I want to be able to say, “Wow, what a ride” when it’s all over.
What am I doing today, right this very moment that’ll help me get there?
This is what I think of when I’m in a snit with my wife. When I’m having a tough time with a task at work. When I simply don’t know what to do… What am I doing right now to get me to, “Wow, what a ride”?
I’ve ridden 26 of the 28 days we’ve had in this month – 18 of those 26 were outdoors. 653 miles (and I’ll get at least another 40-ish today)… You know what’s stuck out more than the awesome lack of traffic?
Friday, after putting in 30 fun miles with my wife, I went back out to add another ten or so to crank out some hard miles. My wife is a little anxious because she’s going through the exact symptoms I had last week, but hers have persisted longer than mine. I think she’s surprised it isn’t worse, but waiting for the hammer to drop at the same time so she doesn’t want to push it by riding too hard. A feeling I can relate to – and it’s scary.
Four miles into my bonus miles, I rode up to four couples walking down the road, all in the same direction, but spread out more than enough on both sides of the road. I said to all eight, “You know, I’ve been riding these roads for years. I’ve never ridden up on four couples out walking, let alone four couples in the space of 40′. I love it.”
Three couples turned and smiled. One person responded, “You know, we were just talking about the same thing”.
Friends, I don’t know what things are looking like in your communities, but in mine I’ve seen more good than I can list here. People aren’t just sitting in their homes, they’re getting off the couch and going for walks. I’ve seen an unprecedented number of cyclists and bike riders out to get some air pumping through their lungs. Even at the grocery store, I’ve seen people nod and smile at their fellows with that, “We’re all in this together” wink.
There are going to be those random examples of idiocy and evil. They are not examples of human nature. They’re examples of inhuman nature. Don’t get sucked into anger and self-righteous indignation. No good can come of it. I don’t want to skid into my casket thinking, “Wow, I wish…”
As for me, I can’t tell you how glad I am to be a cyclist… actually, relieved might be a better word.
The first tightening in my chest, where I could tell something wasn’t quite right, scared the hell out of me. I texted my boss that I shouldn’t come to work and he agreed, offering that I could work from home. My cycling buddy’s son, then wife had been sick and we’d been fist-bumping after rides like it was going out of style. That was supposed to be acceptable… The dry cough started Thursday morning, though it never approached “uncontrollable”. Mildly annoying is a better description. I went out for a bike ride with Chuck that afternoon anyway. No way I was going to let this get in the way – it wasn’t all that bad and I was going to will myself into being asymptomatic. It was a slow ride as chuck was starting to feel a bit under the weather himself. Chuck and I tooled around our normal loop at just under 16-mph… about 3-mph slower than normal (Tuesday had been 18.85-mph on the same route).
Friday had me pretty nervous. One can will oneself not to be sick, and sometimes it works, but I wasn’t kidding myself either. I was waiting for the hammer to fall. The weather wasn’t all that great, either. A cold front had blown in so I chose to ride my trainer indoors around lunchtime. The hammer never dropped. The cough subsided Friday afternoon and the tightness in my chest was entirely gone by Saturday morning. For Saturday, it was really cold, so another ride on the trainer. Again, easy so as not to flare anything up, but not too easy.
Sunday, the weather improved and Chuck and I were back outside. I was feeling fine, he was still battling his mild fever. On that ride, Chuck said he’d spoken with his sister, a nurse, who recommended “deep breathing exercises”. Well what better deep breathing exercise is there than riding a bike? We were out for 2 hours, covering a little more than 35 miles. Over the next five days I covered 184 slow(ish) miles and I’m feeling fantastic.
Aerobic exercise. Before infection aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen cardiovascular health. Once infected, during the period of mild symptoms, moderate daily aerobic exercise can improve lung ventilation. Such exercise may benefit immune function as well . Ideally, do this exercise outdoors or with open windows or otherwise well ventilated areas. In sufficiently warm climates, longer walks or even running may improve lung capacity. Jumping jacks, jogging in place, or dancing can be done even in small spaces.
Is the advice legit? I don’t know, but I’ve heard it from enough people I trust that I trust it. And it definitely helped me. Who knew?
On another note, and purely turning the frown upside down, it’s unmistakable what this virus has done for getting people outside in my neck of the USA. Folks, I see more walkers than I do cars while I’m out on those bike rides nowadays… and the number of those who are smiling while we wave as I go by is simply fantastic.
A couple of my riding buddies shared these with me this morning:
We need an end to the N+1 stigma!!!
For those in Rio Linda, that image of Trump is a meme. It is not meant to be political in nature. It is meant to be funny. And it is.
I have this thing about how many miles I put on my bikes over the course of a year. This may seem extreme to normal folk, but I like to be right around 8,000 miles overall (6,000 outdoor miles) for the year. This isn’t an easy task when one has a job, but it’s certainly not impossible. I did it last year.
Then the Wuhan, China coronavirus COVID-19 swept in and I expected March’s total mileage to take a serious hit. Far worse, we’re looking at almost a three week layoff (without pay for me, which is another big hit) if things don’t change. The first day of the layoff, Tuesday, I was sweating bullets. How would this work itself out?! How would I provide for the family?!
Then I remembered that which is most important: God is everything or God is nothing. At that point, I started thinking positively again.
Fortunately, though, my wife and I have a little nest egg tucked away for just this sort of occasion, with enough cash I could easily withstand a month, maybe two, without having to get off the couch. We have this little nest egg because when ex-drinkers sober up, we’re taught that it’s wise to save up some money for just in case… and the only reason we don’t have enough cash for four months is we decided to pay cash up front for my eldest daughter’s Invisiline “braces” so we could get a credit for the youngest’s.
So that’s meant I have been, and will continue to be able to, spend an inordinate amount of time on my bikes. March started out as a mediocre month and with four days left in the month, I’ve smashed last March… and I’ve got nothing but time for the next two weeks. Starting Monday, I won’t be getting paid so I have no problem whatsoever riding whenever the mood strikes me.
It’ll be like being retired for a couple of weeks, and that sounds good to me.
Some people wonder “why sober up”?
Because my life’s become so good, drinking stopped being a temptation twenty years ago. People don’t understand being clean because they can’t see beyond their addiction. If they could see what life had in store for them, quitting would be an afterthought.
And that most definitely doesn’t suck.