Sunday, January 6, 2008

How I Spent my Christmas Vacation

Every time I hear a DBC Master (or other racer who has not yet adopted the HTFU mantra) piss and moan about riding in Norcal winter weather, I think back to a New Year's resolution I made in 2002.

I was tutoring and studying at the University of Nebraska. My wife, baby daughter and I lived only 3 miles from campus, but Omaha lacks bike lanes, and motorists there respond to cyclists with either shock or hatred.
Anyway, I got all worried about global warming and decided to forgo gas consumption for a semester. Over the Christmas break I tuned up a battered mountain bike to use as a commuter and bought all manner of cold-weather riding gear. But when I woke up on Monday, January 4 to ride to campus for the first time, the Weather Channel told me the temperature outside was 2. That's not a misprint. TWO DEGREES. Fahrenheit. Four inches of new snow had fallen during the night, and wind gusts were around 20 mph.
I didn't have the vocabulary I have now, so I didn't remind myself to HTFU. I just put on every layer I owned, packed my books in my panniers, said a little prayer, and threw a leg over the top tube. I followed a route through residential neighborhoods, skidded out at every stop sign, fell twice, and still made it to my office on campus in less time than it usually took me to drive and park. My nose was frozen and my right pinkie finger stayed numb for an hour or two. But I managed to commute to campus four days a week until May. During that time I took a recruiting visit to Davis and found myself amazed at the bike culture I found here. The rest, as they say, is history.

As I write this post today, Davis is recovering its power and sanity after a severe "winter" storm dumped inches of rain and blew huge gusts of wind all over the Central Valley. My wife, daughters and I got back from Omaha yesterday, so I missed the storm. The Davis forecast calls for rain again today, and I almost decided to stay warm and dry inside. But then I thought about the snow and cold I just left behind in Omaha--cold which seemed much worse than I remembered from five years ago-- and I realized just how good we have it here in Davis. I miss the seasons and the people I left behind five years ago, but the chance to ride outside in January without losing any of my appendages seems like a decent trade.
I'm back, boys--and I'll see you out there.


Jason Eiserich said...

Welcome back to sunny CA EO'B! Wonderful pics, and a great story. For some of us, it's not the cold that we fear, its the slick roads and the fear of going down and breaking your ass...I mean collar bone... ;-}

cya soon

cheers, jas

glide said...

nice post E. welcome back to cali brother, i'll see you on htfu tuesdays.