On The Commute: Evening Edition
Bike: Gary Fischer X-Caliber 29
My mistake this evening began this morning. The weather was 53 degree’s. I was happy. I practically went out of the house in a thong. The temperature wasn’t supposed to dip until nightfall. I figured that by some superhuman act, I could beat the hawk swooping in, in the pm. Gotta to work without a drip of sweat. Nice.
Fast forward 8.5 hours. The sun and it’s live giving heat is somewhere over Missouri. The temperature had dropped 20 degree’s. With wind chill, I would be riding in 20 degree weather with again only a thong to keep me warm. I stepped out of the office and was instantly greeted by my old friend, “The Hawk”. My best bet to warm up was to alter my course by riding in the opposite direction of my house. The further north you go in the state the higher the elevation, so I began climbing for a few blocks. Essentially the equivalent of pumping the gas pedal on a Cutlass, just to get it going.
I began to steer south and got to the lip of Jefferson hill, which I had gotten pretty familiar with climbing up. I dropped in; literally. 3 short blocks, 30+ mph. I was too scared to pedal. I know I could’ve easily caught 20 feet of air. The problem with catching air is landing air. The problem with landing air in an urban area, is that when your wheels touch down you literally have a second upon reentry to come to a complete stop before you hit an intersection accelerating somewhere between 35-40mph. Getting hit by a Tahoe with twenties, not big on my list of things to do before 50.
Now my heart is racing. Almost shitting yourself is good for heat generation. With my version of the X-Games behind me the next 40 minutes were cold; frigid actually. My hands were useless. I found a gear to spin in, and rested my palms on my rizer bars. At this point my legs were beginning to cramp, from the cold. I decided to forgo soldiering on and to stop into McDonald’s for a small coffee and more importantly 10 minutes to raise my body temperature again. The clerk that gave me my coffee called me, “Mista”. A real throwback. A regular Debbie Reynolds. I’ll go back just to be addressed like that again.
I’m out the door and on the bike with about 15 minutes to go, before my extremities are in bad shape again. Commuter hours are pretty helpful with buses coming back from New York fairly often. I pass by a Decamp bus on Broad St. The speed limit is 40mph. I figure with stops that the driver won’t go above 35. If he’s hungry, tired, or in need of the restroom he may push it. I start instantly increasing my speed. If I draft off of that bus I can essentially be sucked down the road for nearly a mile. No pedaling to really concern myself with and the bus will also eliminate the chilly temps.
Big wave surfers on a budget have to paddle into the monsters they ride. Sponsored surfers and those whose meth sales can afford them jet ski’s are towed into the beasts. I fashioned myself to the budget minded surfer as I have no money and no jet ski was in the vicinity to lend a “brah” a tow. After getting my 29er up to a good 20mph I launched behind the bus as it passed by instantly getting sucked down the road. To draft it effectively, I had to ride within 10 feet of the bumper. Close enough to benefit off the draft and far enough to see it’s brake lights. A fine line indeed, but it saved me a mile of frigid air and gave my legs a break as well.
Once I was back in a congested area, drafting ceased. No more suckage for me. The hill, Debbie Reynolds and surfing the pipeline turned a mundane ride home into one that almost made freezing worth it; almost…