Friday, March 29, 2013

Riding with My Bride

Ok, I realize I haven’t posted in a month!  It’s not like I’ve been slacking off; work has been busy, I’m on a church committee that’s taken up a lot of my time (searching for a new minister) and I’ve been working to raise funds for my first charity ride of the year, the National Capital Tour de Cure for Diabetes.

I’m working hard to raise $1500 and ride 108 miles to raise awareness for diabetes. Do you know someone that has it? Maybe you have it yourself. It’s a silent killer in the US and more people are being diagnosed with diabetes every year. Help me reach my goal and help to find a cure! As little as $5 can be donated through this website with a credit card and I’d really appreciate your help.  Come on, I’d do it for you!

Scattered thoughts

Old man winter is taking bloody forever to move on, here in Central Virginia.  We’re a week past the first day of Spring and the night time temperatures are still either side of freezing and I have to scrape frost off the windshield before heading to work. It seems unusual to me; my birthday is the day before the first day of Spring and I know I’m usually in short sleeves around this time of year, at least occasionally.

MB and I decided to watch the late news the other night and the local weather guy came on to tell us that, “The high for the day was 37 degrees which is 22 degrees below the normal for this year.”  Aha! No wonder it doesn’t feel right, it’s not nearly as warm as it usually is. He then went on to say that, based on the long range computer models, the temperatures would remain about a “month behind” where they should be on the spring warm up, at least for the next four to six weeks.  So, it feels like February right now, and it’s going to feel like March next month although it’s really April.  Great! 

I was hoping to start bike commuting a couple of days a week this month but I’m going to wait till the low is in the forties. I realize I’m a fair weather biker.  Please don’t hate.

Some people complain about the weather, others just observe it, some work in it but no one does anything about it. (Although depending upon who you believe, humankind has been doing something about it for about 100 years – mostly causing it to change for the worse.)

My dad was a bricklayer, and for him the weather was mostly about getting a paycheck.  When the temperature gets too low, it becomes difficult to make mortar which is used to lay brick. If it freezes, you get weak joints and houses fall apart.  If it’s raining, the mortar becomes too wet and you get weak joints and houses fall apart. But for the worker, the bad weather means “I don’t work so I don’t get paid.” I would have made a lousy bricklayer; I hate other things having an impact on whether or not I get to work.

At least, I’m working….

On the bright side, the last two weekends have had at least one day where the temperature snuck up to 50 degrees or so. That’s warm enough for me to ride and I even talked MB into joining me for both rides.

While having been very happily married for the last 12 years, MB and I have not really had any hobbies to share. I’m completely open to it, in fact I’d welcome it! We’ve talked about playing golf together from time to time but she says that she’d be intimidated playing with me because I’m so much better. I keep trying to explain to her that golf is the hardest game in the world, that it humbles everyone who plays it, and that you have to really work just to suck at it.  Perhaps after we retire when my game is completely gone…….

Admittedly, I have a secondary motivation for getting MB into cycling – more gear. Nearly every cyclist that catches the bug becomes addicted to the gear.  Clothing, gadgets, energy gels, and magazines are all on the shopping list. Bike shops understand this and send emails daily, touting the latest deals.
Constant temptation

And bikes are the worst. I recently read that the number of bikes any of us need is expressed in an equation B=n-1, where B is the number of bikes we need (want) while n is the current number currently owned. The corollary to this equation is B=SO-1, where B is the number of bikes we need (want) and SO is the number of bikes at which our Significant Other will leave us.  These same equations transfer over to most other addictions – classic cars, guns, pool cues, tennis rackets. I think the B integer is inversely proportional to the price tag of the addiction, too. As the price rises, the quantity decreases.

I also recognize that MB is immune to all this stuff.  She is truly a rock when it comes to handling finances and sticking to a budget. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that she won’t spend money and won’t let me. She just won't allow us to spend it needlessly.  Dammit.

So any way, we took some rides…….

Back in the day, MB was a bicycle commuter up in Northern VA/DC. She used to commute to her job in downtown Washington from Arlington, and back, nearly every day.

DC - Where decisions are made with no thought given to consequences
Cyclists didn’t get a whole lot of slack back then, particularly from taxi drivers. She was taught to carry her bike lock in her left hand while riding so that if she was squeezed by a driver, she had something to rap on their car and get their attention. (Cars were made of pretty stout sheet metal back then; if you tried that same trick today, you might shatter somebody’s quarter panel.  How cool! Note to self: buy a lock when the next bike shop email comes out!)

The first ride we did together was on the roads near our house.  We live out in a rural suburb with lots of two lane blacktop and there are lots of cyclists out here. As a result, drivers are pretty aware and give a wide berth most of the time. I wanted to make sure she got her legs under her more than anything, before we tackled bigger rides.

We ended up riding about 10 miles or so, on a wider road nearby; it has really generous shoulder and since the road is only a few years old, the pavement is excellent.  MB got to practice her pedal stroke, try to ride in a pace line, albeit a small one, and generally get comfortable with the gearing systems of today by riding my Trek hybrid.  It was great fun and a wonderful start.

The second ride was in a completely different spot.  MB works for one of the largest employers in the state and their HQ is situated in an office park called West Creek that has a really nice road system with wide lanes, shoulders, and great vistas.  RABA, the Richmond Area Bike Club to which I belong, has a group ride in the area every week with something for everyone. MB suggested we ride those roads the Sunday following our first ride.

Now, I hate to drive my bike someplace in order to take a ride.  Seems counter to the entire cycling thing to me, somehow. But the ride over there and back would be longer than the first ride we took so I agreed. We loaded up the bikes and drove over to West Creek, offloading in one of the parking lots of her company.  MB took the lead as we pedaled onto the road since I had no idea where anything led.

We’d traveled just over a kilometer when one of the security guys pulled us over, asking for ID. We’d left everything in the car, of course, including MB’s company badge. After offering to return to the car to show him, he just asked for the make and model of the car along with the plate number to check on us and then sent us on our way. The only downside to the exchange was that I’d failed to downshift before stopping and this lead to a rather sketchy start but I quickly recovered.

We settled into a nice smooth pace as we rode back and forth along the one section of road, along with a large number of other cyclists. Our ride totaled just over 13 miles and we completed that in an hour. I’m pretty impressed with MB’s ability to hold a decent pace on that hybrid. We’re planning to do a couple of group rides in the next 6 weeks or so, including one of 50 miles, and I’m confident that she’ll be ready to get after them!

Now, if I could just get her thinking about new bikes………