Biking

Much of what we do with our lives is done for a reason; take the laundry for instance.  If you don’t do at least two loads every day, either you run out of socks for work or clean t-shirts.  Have you ever tried wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it underneath a dress shirt? – very tacky.  Likewise if you don’t take out a couple pounds of frozen hamburger in the morning it’s, “Can I make this meal work at 5:30 in the afternoon with the microwave down?”  Fortunately there are things we do just for the pleasure of it – take biking.

Biking here in Northern Minnesota has limitations.  If you’re lucky, you can do it from mid April to late October.  You do however have to exercise some good judgment.  Early morning biking suits my schedule.  But cruising at fifteen to twenty miles per hour with air temperatures hovering around thirty-five degrees, in the dark, before dawn, can lead to hypothermia.  Either you wear a snowmobile suit if you really want to do it, or choose a mid day ride.  Biking here is largely a late spring, summer, or early fall recreation.

Weather is an important variable.  Starting out on a day with showers possible is always a risk – but like many risks it can have great payoffs.  Reward comes in outracing a rain shower, or if you get caught in it, hearing the hum of tires on wet asphalt, singing the power of your legs and lungs.

On the other hand, being soaking wet, chilled to the bone in a thin shirt and bike shorts lets you know you played the game and lost.  The black strip of road grime up your back is also a reminder.

My main mode of transportation is an old Schwinn Varsity.  It’s at least forty years old.  In its’ various incarnations it has hauled kids on various sized bike seats, books to graduate school, and occasional backwoods forays off paved roads at Itasca State Park.  There was even a one time attempt to have my black Lab pull me down the street.  That unfortunately wrapped me around a stop sign.

I know the bike is heavy – every time I lift it onto the bike rack on top of the car.  Compared to my son’s hi tech Peugeot, its pumping iron. Speaking of Peugeot, now that’s an experience!!!  Light, sleek, high pressure tires – no kick stand to weigh it down……   I’m all of a sudden in the Tour de France – right behind Lance Armstrong.  I sprint at the end of my ten mile ride, legs weary with exertion finding that last ounce to give – I cross the asphalt bump at 27th and Birchmont – YES – the pleasure of it all!

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