Friday, January 20, 2006

Real headwind

Date: Jan. 19
Mileage: 15.6
January mileage: 274.3
Temperature upon departure: 12

No picture today. Geoff's computer is currently in 179.5 pieces, and the browser on my archaic laptop (connected by 28.8 dial-up) won't let me upload anything. Oh well. You can't win 'em all.

I left for my two-hour ride today at about 5:30. The thermometer read 12 degrees, but a stiff wind and swift circulation of floating ice particles made it feel much colder. I can't really account for the "feels like" temperature, but tonight's was definitely the chilliest ride I have done to date. So I tried a piece of gear today that I hadn't tried before, my neoprene face mask. Onward I churned up the first hill as twilight slipped below the jagged treeline, sucking down the moist backflow of my own breath. As I crested the hill, my vision suddenly darkened several notches, and everything else felt airy and light. I squinted and swallowed, for the first time noticing the subtle noose gripping my neck. The combination of the neoprene mask and my helmet strap were somehow blocking my airflow. I tugged at it for a while to no avail. Finally I tore the whole thing off. I'll mess with the logistics tomorrow. But the temporary oxygen shortage gave me a nice rush to start off the ride.

The first two or three miles are always the hardest. No matter how much you "warm up" before the ride, your legs turn to licorice the minute you step outside. As you work to get your heart rate up, streaks of wind find their way through any imperfection in your layers. Nostrils and eyelashes freeze shut, and cold air tears at your throat. You begin to wonder what traumatic childhood experience drove you to such unmitigated masochism. But then ... your legs begin to warm up. Your body settles in. You pry your eyelashes open, and the stark beauty of the frozen landscape opens up before you. You move freely with winter and there's nothing about it that can stop you, and you come to the calm realization that you will, in fact, survive, and you feel entirely alive.