December 31, 2010

Blitzed by the Blizzard

Mom: Stop that! Don't do their job!
In this case, "they" would be the snow-clearing dudes who were yet to appear, more than 30 hours after the Blizzard of 2010 dumped more than 30 inches of snow on us. The fierce winds had created drifts taller than me. Needless to say, the snow crews were pretty busy. I was thoroughly bored and longing for some exercise. I shoveled a narrow path down the driveway to the street, and dug out the mailbox.
Sister-in-law's mom: Stop that! I can get the car out!
Sure, but the softening patches of ice on the driveway will freeze solid overnight and be just as treacherous tomorrow.
Uncle (and his next-door neighbor, in harmony): Stop that!
I don't want you to do that. It will melt!
Yes, it will melt. Eventually.

When you cross the threshold into your eighties, do they hand you a script? Is there a prohibition against graciously accepting the help of the next generation?

The most effective response, I have learned, is simply to turn my back and tune out the tirade. As my brother later remarked, they do not understand that I am in better shape than they were at any point in their lives.

My Christmas holiday visit was unexpectedly extended by the storm, which would have been classified as a Category 2 hurricane in a different season. A state of emergency was declared, thousands of flights were canceled, at least five state highways were closed (unplowed) for several days, and the Post Office stopped delivering mail.

The airports were jammed with stranded travelers and Continental Airlines would not answer the phone. They are not accountable for the weather, but they are responsible for how they cope with the aftermath. Grade: F-

At least I was comfortable and merely inconvenienced, staying with family. Five days after my flight was canceled, I rescued myself with a one-way ticket on a different airline.

There's no place like home, there's no place like home ...

December 11, 2010

Into the Mist(ic)

Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
We were too far inland to smell the sea, but we certainly did feel the sky. It was neither cold nor rainy, but wet without any doubt. I was coated with grime before I arrived at the official starting point and then astonished that five intrepid riders showed up for our ambitious climb-fest in spite of the weather.

Confidentially, I had been hoping for rain; when my ride co-leader originally suggested this route, my eyebrows went up. "We could always make Reynolds optional," I proposed. As we started up Mt. Umunhum today, one of the guys asked "Are you really going up Reynolds, too?" Yup. Three hill climbs, each with an average grade hovering around 10%. For me, two additional hills riding to the start and back home. Sounds crazy? [Okay, it probably is crazy.] By the time I would load the bike into the car, drive to the start, unload and set up the bike ... trust me, it is faster just to ride the bike.

Slugs were the only creatures climbing Hicks more slowly than I was today. I respectfully avoided them. Three deer crossed in front of me; the last, a young buck, lingered in the middle of the road to study me. "What sort of weakling is that?," he must have wondered. Labored breathing, moving so slowly, separated from its pack.

Thirty-three miles, 3,635 feet of climbing through the clouds.What a view.

December 4, 2010

Touch of Color

All the hills are brown
and the sky is gray.
I've been for a ride
on a winter's day.
Judging by the radar map this morning, I would have stayed home (warm and dry). Technology is not always the best thing. A ride partner willing to goad you onto the bike can be better.

The rain did start coming down just before he arrived, but it was insincere. Undeterred, we headed for the hills.

It has been three weeks since I was last on the bike, but I did surprisingly well. Realizing that I should be cross-training in practice, rather than in theory, I signed up for the Concept 2 Holiday Challenge. To date, I've rowed 35,130 meters. Given my performance on the bike today, that has indeed paid off.

We climbed 1,675 feet over 15.9 miles, with views of steep forested canyons and Santa Clara Valley in the distance. Not to mention the usual quail and one flock of wild turkeys. Only a few cyclists, though; the hard-core who pay little heed to weather forecasts.