Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rousing the blog from its slumber

Apologies for the silence on this end. The combination of getting some reading done before books had to be returned, preoccupations of various sorts, and nothing especially compelling about my own commuting have kept me away from here. Todays' trip, though, provided me with a couple of things worthy of note, along with a question to ask.

The question first: Is it harder to ride in cooler weather than in warm weather? This morning the temperature was in the low 50s--by far the coolest weather I have yet ridden in--and by the time I got to McConnell, I felt physically like I did the first time I rode out there . . . which is to say, awful. Heat wasn't the problem, though; I just couldn't catch my breath. The afternoon, though, was great: temperatures in the 70s, and I had no troubles with the climbs.

I'd appreciate any insight that those of you experienced in riding in cooler weather might have.

The most momentous commuting news is that on Mt. Vernon as of last week, for a couple of blocks on either side of Broadway, the city is laying water and/or sewer lines, and so for that little stretch I have to detour with the rest of the traffic. I read somewhere that that work will be going on until this January. The detour doesn't add any distance to speak of, but now I don't have a traffic light to aid me in crossing Broadway.

Odd sight of the day: The Harry Street bridge, where it crosses the Arkansas, comes through again. Last month, it was a large turtle that had somehow made it halfway across only to be killed by a car. Today, it was a skin that looked like--in size as well as appearance--it had come from the belly of a decent-sized alligator. No alligators this far north, so what I saw today of course begs the question . . .

One of these days, I hope to post on something other than odd bits of carrion.

This afternoon, I saw a car with a front plate that read "#1 Sooner Fan." I (born and raised in Austin to love all things Longhorns) instantly thought, "Some folks, you just want to light a candle for them until they get better."

And: even though gas is now down to $3.39 a gallon for regular, each time I go out, I see more and more cyclists: folks wearing backpacks, some with panniers on their bikes, but too many without helmets, even on the streets. Still: our numbers are growing . . .


Peter Janson Paggi said...

Re: Cold Weather
I'd wake up a bit earlier and make sure you're stretched out beforehand. That's my big thing in the winter, not being able to get properly warmed up on the bike. It really helps a lot to throw in some stretches beforehand.

Re: The Detour
Crossing main roads and making left and turns without the aid of a traffic light are my two main "hassles" on a bike. They always seem like suicide unless there are no cars in sight. I usually end up making routes that either involve lights, or right hand turns only, even if it ends up being a mile or two longer. A great thing about a bike, though, is being able to hop up over the curb and riding on the grass for a bit to make your own little entryway, which I must confess, I do occasionally.

Re: Gas Prices
I still find it odd that people refer to $3.39 as "low". Just a couple of months ago, they were complaining about those same prices. It's amazing what a little bit of relativism can do to one's opinions, though. At work the other day, there was some inane political/economic discussion going on a few desks over from me about what the price of gas would be if we didn't start any military action in Afghanistan/Iraq. $10 a gallon was the number being shouted, I think, and that "we [were] lucky to have gas as cheap as it is". Now, I've noticed a lot of trucks out here, and with the amount of driving people seem to do, I'd hate to see what they consider expensive if gas is now "cheap" for them.

Re: Sunday Rides
I'm looking forward to the next one. I have some nice cycling-related topics I'd like your opinion on.

coppercorn said...

Cold weather: layer, and dress less warmly than you'd think. I hate the first five minutes of the ride because I'm cold, but after that I'm unzipping my jacket because I'm too hot. Also, get an earband. Covering your ears keeps you warmer for some reason.

Wildlife: last week after turning north on Woodlawn from Pawnee, I saw three wild turkeys grazing(?) browsing(?) what do turkeys do? On the grassy slope going up to the turnpike. I wish I'd had a camera with me.