08 January 2013

The really great outdoors

I'm back outside. After an autumn pretty much off the bike and the running shoes "hung up" since September, January has got off to a nice start.

Not because it started warm. Last winter was the mildest I can remember, and I squandered it, "exercise-wise-speaking" ( can you identify the source of that construction?).  I wasn't training for a spring marathon, and yet I also did not take advantage of the warmth to be out on my bike.

January 1, 2013 was different. And not because of some lame resolution. No, because the Saturday morning ride guys were called to the challenge by the quiet "heart" of our group - Jim H. One year ago, Jim was fresh out of liver transplant surgery. The initial prognosis was positive, but so much was up in the air. In subsequent weeks, he went from managing, to doing well, to very positive, and ultimately this summer to being basically "back on the bike."

Which is a nice metaphor, and in Jim's case, also very literal.

So, when Jim proposed the New Year's Day ride to Caribou - regardless of temperature - there was almost nothing would have kept me from it. And while I've missed many a Saturday ride, I managed this one.

Bundling up to ride in 10-degree Fahrenheit is always a challenge. Last year my Karen bought me a big box of "hotties" - hand warming pouches to slip into gloves - which I never opened until this ride. Bonus! The box had a few packets also of foot warmers. I was in business. Layered up, covered up, and heated up.

But, golly, 10 degrees IS cold!

We took a reasonably direct route from Winfield to Geneva, and at our Caribou there (this is often the first hour mark on a Saturday morning road ride - a quick 18 miles to get things started . . . and then about 20 minutes to sit and shoot the breeze while we decide where and how far to go from there.). There we met 2 other riding pals who had driven out. No shame there. Perhaps the better part of wisdom. And to be honest, the three of us who rode seriously considered whether the two drivers might be able to haul us back!

A nice 22 miles, all told, and by the time I got home it was a balmy 14 degrees. Cycling season? Well, I have my first road miles for the year. Meanwhile, my road bike is on a trainer in the basement, and I'm on it a few days each week.

Then, yesterday, after a hiatus of uncertain duration, I hit the streets in my running shoes again. It was just laps in my neighborhood, and only 2.5 miles. But it was sunny, "warmish" at about 35 degrees, and while it will take a while to get that running feeling back, it was good to be out.

My only goals for the winter are to be on my cycling trainer more days than not each week, and to rebuild running road miles. And to do it all out in the pretty great outdoors.

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