Biking, December, Really?

strong-windThis morning around 6:00AM I grabbed my coffee and took a peak out on the back deck. Plenty of items not belonging to us were scattered around the backyard. This was undoubtedly caused by the strong winds there were whipping around. According to the weather channel, the temperate was currently around 34 degrees with a wind chill factor it will feel like 20 degrees.

Now for those of you that know me, Saturday mornings are BIKING MORNINGS. I have been very regimented this season, very rarely missing a ride for the past eight months. Now the logical side of my brain was saying, “Look it’s cold out, its extremely windy, not good conditions for a ride. stay inside be safe”. But unfortunately the adventurous side of my brain had to put its two cents in as well, ” Wow, it’s Saturday, time for an awesome ride, whats a little wind and cold, what are you a WHIMP!, just get out there and do it.”

My usual rule of thumb is when its not freezing or snowing its definitely ride time. The wind thing has been more of a last second flip a coin type of decision. Technically when the wind is blowing North to South, I can plot a East to West and visa versa on the return trip. Today the “adventurous” side of the brain wins.

After gearing up with full winter wardrobe including hand and toe warmers, the wheels hit the pavement around 9:00AM. An immediate blast of winter hit quickly. Ten minutes into the ride I believe I heard the logical side of my brain smirking. Twenty minutes into the ride I seriously considered turning around. Even with a North South route heading to Monroe and Heightstown, the winds began to swirl in unpredictable patterns and just staying on the bike became a challenge.

For anyone who is not a seasoned rider this ride was absolutely not for you. It really took plenty of skill and perseverance just to stay the course. About 50 minutes into the ride I received a text from my wife, simply stating “Your an idiot”. From information I gathered later, apparently she went to walk the dog and got a taste of what the weather was like.

About 90 minutes into the ride, snow flurries where coming down. The weather channel only said a 20% chance of precipitation, so much for that prediction. Actually it was hard frozen hail that when it touched the small amount of skin unprotected on my face it stung. Obviously I was well past the point of no return so I just stayed the course.

I developed a pattern that seemed to work, when the wind calmed, I stood and pedaled fast, when the wind picked up steam and gusted, I crouched low and just pedaled enough to keep my balance and keep forward momentum. The biggest issues where cars that had no remorse for crazy riders. During cross winds the bike was blowing into the traffic from the left or right and many cars didn’t give amble space so nerves of steel where needed to keep going.

Two hours into the ride I knew it was enough. Home was in site and that was the smart move. The logical side of the brain eventually wins the debate. I did arrive home safely and managed to get in 33 miles in a pretty decent time.

For those of you that are asking, given the same conditions would I do it again.? In a word. ABSOLUTELY

One more weekend in 2012 coming up. Another ride? We will see.

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Who remembers the day back in the 80’s that before you did your deliveries you got out the Hagstrom county maps and plotted a course.  Usually the pages you needed were ripped out or missing only to be found in the back of the delivery truck.   This was the way we learned directions.  It was challenging and it was a great mental exercise for our brains.  Not only did it teach us to read a map but it also helped with our organizational skills, logic, reasoning, time management and efficiency.

Now, let’s press the button and move to 2010.  How do we get from point A to Point B today?  Here is a clue; its three letters.  They are GPS.  Most of my workers don’t even know what GPS stands for, they just know that you press the buttons and it gets you there.  One day I asked them what GPS stands for? A couple of noteworthy replies; “Get people somewhere”, “Go places system” and my favorite answer “Get Problems Solved”.   Just to be sure we all agree, GPS is Global Positioning Satellite.

Are we relying too much on GPS to get us places?  I recently read an article that a man drove his car through someone’s house because his GPS told him to. (see photo above) It seems this is not an isolated case and there are numerous stories of people blaming GPS systems for accidents and bad directions.  Can you really blame your GPS.  Give me a break!

Many argue that in order to use GPS you have to have the knowledge of how to work and program it and this in itself is  a great mental exercise which is suppose to make up for not learning how read a map.  I say no way!  I think map reading is an important skill that should be learned by all.    I personally love my GPS and use it quite often, but I always confirm on a map before I commit to its directions.  Many times I don’t agree with the voice commands and I have been known to curse and throw items at it.

Our crews have become accustomed to bringing their own “tom toms” or “Garmin” to work and using them. They also have become very affluent at using Google maps and printing directions.  The problem is what are they going to do if the internet goes down or the GPS signals fails? Will they know how to read a map?  Will they drive in circles before asking for directions? Will they be late for deliveries? I believe the answers to those questions are no, yes and yes.

I do miss my ripped out Hagstrom maps.  I bet if I look hard enough I might find a couple pages behind some old desk in the warehouse.  For those of you that are interested Sesame Street can be found in Clarksboro, NJ. That would be Hagstrom Gloucester County Map, Page 16, Grid N-6.  Even Big Bird could program a GPS for that!  But a real cookie monster can read a map.

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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