Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It's a sort of snow day here--not much snow, but dangerously cold temperatures. One of the perks of being an academic is that my work is portable, meaning that if I'm not actually teaching a class, then I can work anywhere I can plug in a computer.

It happens that I do teach a class on Wednesday afternoons, but I know for a fact that some of my students don't have cars, and one or two don't even have gloves, so I was worried about them having to make a choice between safety and course obligations. We have a required, weekend field trip to go to a festival celebrating the lesser prairie chicken later in the semester, and I always give them one regular class day off in exchange. Today seemed like a good day to be that day. So, a self-imposed snow day.

The low temperature when I woke this morning was 1º F; the high right now is 13º, with a wind chill at -4º. Reason enough not to go outside for any purpose except clearing the sidewalk for my favorite mail carrier. Today is a near carbon copy of yesterday, weather-wise, so it makes two days I've decided to skip riding a bike. January was good for riding, however, and I have a nice cushion of miles in the bank on the Bike Garden Challenge.

In bike racing, Spanish cyclists and directeurs sportif will sometimes offer this admonition during the toughest, most stressful parts of a race: "Tranquillo, tranquillo." Calm, calm.

Tranquillo is how I am feeling right now about the bike challenge. When I started this project, I'd never ridden more than about 1200-1500 miles in any given year, so I was somewhat worried about whether I could do this. What I'd forgotten, however, was that in the past, I've always combined that mileage with running. This year, I've decided to forgo the running to concentrate on the cycling in an effort to increase the number of miles. And to my surprise, I find I haven't missed running at all. More importantly, neither have I missed waking up in the mornings feeling like someone has been whacking my feet and legs with a baseball bat in the night.

I've always been a runner, so this not missing it is new to me. I think I can live with it, though. I'm not saying I'll never run again, just that I've no desire to start it up right now. In the meantime, I do need to do some weight-bearing exercise to replace it, so this week I've started weight training again. Cycling, without any other sort of exercise associated with it, has been shown to contribute to bone loss, so it is not good to rely solely on it for fitness.

Tomorrow should be a bit warmer, though my WeatherUnderground desktop widget is issuing frostbite warnings through 10AM. The high is supposed to be in the mid-20's, which may still be too cold for my taste for riding. We'll just have to see. I have a lunch date at a neighborhood restaurant, Home Cafe, with one of the neighborhood association board members to discuss some plans. It would be nice to be able to ride there, as it is only a mile away.

A mile here and a mile there is how I'm racking up the total on the challenge. On any given day that I use my bike for errands or work--to school, to the grocery store, to a meeting downtown--it is possible to put anywhere from 6-15 miles on La Chica, my commuter bike. Then on the weekends, I get out The Cosmic Explorer, the racing bike, and together we add a few more to the kitty. As a result, in January I rode over 268 miles--an average of nearly 70 miles a week. Unheard of for the likes of me. Tranquillo.

All of this has made me something of an oddity in LBB, which is no Portland, or Copenhagen, or Boulder, or Austin, or Davis, or this year's winner of Bicycling Magazine's most cycling-friendly town, frigid Minneapolis, Minnesota. No, LBB is none of these. Here a body is more likely to be driving a big ol' pick-em-up truck than something that balances on two wheels. So when I show up at planning meetings with helmet hair, one pant leg rolled up, and asking if I can bring my bike into the offices (since there is seldom a bike rack available), people have a hard time hiding their bemusment. I have such a meeting on Monday, and I've already told the person setting it all up on what to expect, and why. He seemed fine with the notion. The meeting is clear across town, so maybe I'll make up a little of what I'm missing during this unruly weather. But if it turns out not to be the case, I won't be worried


  1. I am always a bit surprised when Lubbock is as cold as Duluth. Temps very similar here today and would make biking pretty difficult, but not running ;->

    Understand about taking a break from running.

  2. similar weather in the snow belt of NY..stay safe and warm....

  3. LOL @ waking up w/ baseball-bat whacked legs. I hear ya. Stay warm! (We're supposed to get snow in Austin overnight-- yikes!)

  4. Thanks, y'all. It was cold, but things are warming up now.


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