Yesterday was sunny. The high was in the 60s, glorious day for a ride, right? But, I had school bus duty and an appointment to finish my dental crown right in the middle of the school day. I needed to get my miles in early.
I was ready when the bus left. I had loaded the bike, filled the bottles and packed the best gloves I had. I got off a little earlier than my best hope. I saw that the temp on the car said 37º and that was lower than I was expecting, but I kept driving, thinking it would warm a little before I got there. I got to the trail right about official sunrise, no increase in temp, no change in my determination to ride. That’s one of the biggest things that leads to disaster BTW, neglecting or refusing to update actions based on new data.
It was rush hour. I’ve never noticed the humming roar of traffic on 400 being loud enough to hear from Big Creek, but in the winter when leaves that muffle sound are gone, I’m more likely to hit the trail for the evening rush hour instead because it’s warmer. In the evening, traffic is more spread out and there’s more ambient noise to mask highway noise.
As I got the bike ready, I figured that the ride would be short, but not as short as it was. The path had not been cleaned since some high wind or wind/rain event. It was thick with sweet gum balls, a nemesis to narrow tires and ankles. There were a lot of small branches and some tree falls. The path was cleared of the big stuff, but the small stuff littered the whole way.
My visor was fogging. It does that when I try to cover both my nose and ears with a neck gaiter. The jacket I keep in the car was plenty warm. My feet and legs were okay, I think, even though I put on the lighter weight riding tights with patches of mesh and didn’t change once I realized which pair I had. It was my hands that caused the problem. I didn’t go far or fast. It wasn’t possible to dodge the sweet gum ball carpet, even if I had been able to see much through my fogged visor. I kept taking it off and wiping, but I still caught several balls that shifted my back tire an inch or three.
I turned when I thought my hands would be miserable by the time I got back, but I misjudged. It was already too late. The Raynaud’s Syndrome hasn’t caused me much trouble since that day I was photo documenting the record flight in North Dakota and learned that “seeing stars” was real. I took my gloves off that day so I could feel the camera shutter button. This morning’s 37º was a great deal warmer than the temps out west and I didn’t remove my gloves this time, but they were cool weather gloves, not proper winter riding gloves, there was the wind chill, and I was exposed for longer. When I got back loading the bike was a challenge. I tried a variety of things to warm my hands in the car, knowing that doing it too fast would be a problem.
Russ was working a temporary day job to earn a few dollars. I intended to text him that I was in the car and ok, but I wasn’t going to attempt that with fingers that felt like I’d grabbed stinging nettles. When I pushed the “call Russ” button on the dashboard screen I hadn’t even been willing to try to take off my helmet. After our call, I was sitting at a traffic light and felt nauseated, then dizzy. I remembered the N. Dakota stars and pulled into a shuttered office building parking lot beside me to wait for it to end. Thankfully, there were no stars this time and shortly after I decided to try my hands on the helmet clip, I started to drive again. When I came home to shower, I made sure the water wasn’t as hot as I wanted it to be, and when I laid down to rest after I set the alarm and dressed first so I’d be willing to get out from under the covers and keep the dental appointment.
After the appointment I came home. So did my daughter. That’s when I remembered that she was doing afternoon bus pick-up and I could have had a long balmy ride after my dental appointment.
So, now I’ve had a good recent lesson on getting fixated and I also know that I shouldn’t attempt rides in the 30s, not even the high 30s, until and unless I have better protection. I seem to be fully recovered from the lesson and I plan to have a better experience today. I was thinking that would be with Russ, but the job was bigger than expected and he’ll be working again
That’s it for this week. Have a glorious Valentine’s Day with a trail and/or a person you care about!