Wednesday, January 1, 2014
I love the New Year time for setting and refreshing goals and for resolving to improve different facets of our lives. Fitness tends to get a special focus, especially because we are all in need of re-upping our game after indulging in some wonderful holiday foods. When I finished graduate school several years ago I resolved to get into better shape and decided to do some things I've always wanted to do but could never make the time. I started karate and dedicated a lot more time to riding my bike. Over the course of several months I had dropped 20 pounds and felt fantastic. When my wife and I had twins a couple of years ago, I found it difficult to keep up my training and was lucky to string together enough hours of sleep together just to keep my sanity. My bike commute became my only physical outlet, and the reason I started riding in the winter. I had to make a mental decision, similar to the one I made when my commute distance doubled when I started work in downtown St. Paul, to accept the conditions and embrace the growing pains. I have found that having the right layers and staying dry are key ... and make the difference in a thin line between comfort and misery. In the winter, I just ride an old mountain bike that I have outfitted with studded tires (to add traction in those icy spots) and fenders (to keep the "brown sugar" off my back and out if my gears). Ski goggles come in handy on occasion, for those crazy cold days when the wind freezes your eyeballs. The other important piece is visibility to cars. With the days being shorter, I am sure to have on reflective clothing and bright flashing lights as I ride through the dark. I find I must be more vigilant in the dark to avoid ice patches, potholes and other obstacles, as well as being aware of the moterists operating in slippery and low-visibility conditions. It took me baby steps to get there, but once you get used to it, riding in the winter is a lot of fun. It is just like riding a bike, after all.