Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cyclist, frustrated

Date: Dec. 23
Mileage: 17.0
December mileage: 342.1
Temperature upon departure: 33

Today I went for a short ride. Words have not been invented to describe the unpleasantness of it.

Sleet is a word I might use, but it doesn't exactly do justice to the ice daggers that tore through the air, piercing exposed skin like millions of hot needles.

Windy is a word I might use, but it doesn't really describe the terror of leaning my bicycle 20 degrees this side of vertical as 55 mph crosswinds threatened to toss me off a 100-foot bridge without warning.

Slippery is a word I might use, but it in no way conveys the oil-slick sludge gushing down the pavement, giving my tires traction equal to that of an aluminum saucer and turning my single rear disc brake into an icy grip of death.

Wet is a word I might use, but it doesn't explain how, despite wearing the equivalent of a garbage bag suit, I still had to wring out my underwear after an 80-minute-long ride.

Cold is a word I might use, but the mild statistic of 33 degrees doesn't justify the searing pain my swollen-white feet endured to come back from the numb onset of frostbite.

And so I am left to wonder. Why do I keep on keeping on? These are not isolated weather incidents. These are the hard realities of my climate - more bewildering than even the -11-degree trail rides and -40-degree-wind-chill descents of last year. My plastic suit doesn't keep water out and I am going to have to find another option. As far as my feet go, I am ready to admit the neoprene booties, Vapor Barrier sock and wool sock combination won't work. I am moving right on to the N.E.O.S. overboots, covered by gators, covered by baggier waterproof pants if I can find some. But I feel a bit frustrated. I already dress like an astronaut just to do a daily-routine ride. My next, best option is to seek out an enclosed space. Like a car.

On the bright side, I received a great Christmas surprise today from Shawn Kielty, who also is learning to deal with the wet climes of San Francisco and incidentally is an amazing photographer. He sent me a great camera to upgrade my current digital. It's a Canon Power Shot S70. It also surprisingly came with a waterproof case: So I could take this camera deep sea diving if I wanted to; or, you know ... outside in Juneau.

I feel inspired by Shawn's generosity but I'm not sure where to take that inspiration. I guess I have an extra digital camera now, so maybe I can pay it forward, in a lesser sense of the idea. My camera is a Fuji FinePix 2650. I believe it's 2.1 megapixels. It probably retailed for $14.95 back when it was new in 1987 (just kidding! I received it as a Christmas gift in 2003.) But I'll say this about the FinePix: It has accompanied me across the shutter-choking sands of the San Rafael Swell, over the muddy waters of the Dirty Devil River, through the crushing cold of the Susitna valley in January and inside my waterlogged pocket over countless rain rides. This camera, I'm convinced, is hurricane proof. And it's taken nearly every single one of the pictures that have appeared on this blog.

And it's yours if you want it. I'll just mail to you, with a USB cable, (small) memory card, and even batteries. No shipping payment required. Just shoot me a comment with basic contact information, and maybe a short description of what kind of pictures you hope to take with this humble little piece of ... technology (just in case more than one person replies and I have to choose.) And either way, have a Merry Christmas!