Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Epic at 2 Degrees

I experienced IT the other day.

We headed out to the local skiin' hole after work. Temps were a bit chilly and the trails were duly slick it's tough to keep a nice corduroy when it's 2 degrees.

It's just durned cold here. Don't get me wrong...we've had one of the best winters in years: good snow cover for cross country skiing, a few single-digit days to keep us humble, and a ton of sunny days with temps in the mid-20s. I like it, really I do. But the bi-polarness of the temps is enough to send me to the prescription bottle some days. The swings make the ski trails hell. Moisture freezes to the street and sidewalk surfaces making running treacherous damn, and I love running SO much.... I know, the Nokians are ready and waiting, but I'm just not wanting to get them out these days. Winter is for skiing, dammit.

It was during one of our previous deep freezes that I reluctantly headed out to the ski trails after a long day at work. Sometimes, exercise is just the thing to do at the end of the not to even think about it, just go. I needed to work off some slog.

I took out the old skate skis, assuming the trails would have dirt and sticks showing through the freeze after the previous meltdown. The trails were clean, but the old skis were like ice on ice. For a good 7 k I skittered around curves and down hillsides. My legs fought for balance. My poles jabbed in random attempts to keep me upright, and my torso lurched from side to side.

Temps were rapidly dropping in that late-afternoon, dark-setting-in kind of way. The cold was taking its toll on my energy level. Once back at the car, though, I wasn't ready to go home.

I took out the new skis this time and decided to hit another loop. I know what makes one bicycle different from another, but I didn't know how one pair of skate skis differs from another and I wanted to see.

Epic. Can a half-hour on freeze-hardened ski trails be epic? Definitions of epic include words like heroic, impressive and surpassing the ordinary.

The skis bit and we set-off flying. At 2 degrees on a 5 k icy trail not 8 miles from home, the experience transformed flailing to grace.


Not a chance.

- TOwowB

Monday, January 21, 2008

And I didn't look like the Staypuft Man

Skiing at 1 degree

We headed out to a local ski joint prior to the high temps of the day after all the Packers were playing later and pretty much had the trails to ourselves. There were a few high school team kids out getting their workout, but for the most part there's nothin' like 1 degree to keep the rifraff away. As we were wrapping-up around 3:00, a couple of dads with their kids were hitting the trails. Dad and dad were obvious skiing/skating buffs -- it was fun to see their kids (two pre-teen boys and a couple early-teen girls) skilled on the boards as well and thoroughly enjoying themselves. There's hope for the future of the sport!

Skiing comfortably at 1 degree requires:

Weather Conditions


stiff SOBs

wool hat
neoprene face mask

wool tank
zip T wool 260 long sleeve
full windstopper cycling/skiing jacket

wool glove liners
windstopper lobster mittens

silk longjohns
wool 200 longjohns
wind front ski pants

wool liner sock
thick wool sock
heat packs upside and underside of toes
boot covers if'n ya got em!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby, it's Cold Outside

We won't see temps above 0 until Monday.

We get one of these stretches each winter. This winter has seen more than its share, but at least snow is on the ground which somehow makes the bone-chillin' cold bearable. After all it is winter and it's supposed to be cold. Last winter's dead, brown ground and dirty streets left us all in a funk when the sub-zeroes hit: nothing worse than dangerous temps with ground that looks like spring is supposed to be nearby.

This time around it's white and bright. The sun is shining and the wind is at a minimum. The 50 ft. walk from the house to the garage was totally pleasant in my headband and wool hat, wool sweaters, shin-length wool coat, flannel lined jeans over long johns, two pair of mittens, wool socks, and wool-lined boots.

Anyone actually cold is just plain wimpy.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Smellin' Like Flowers

I quit washing my ski shirts
I started wearing wool
it's non-itchy, silky-soft, merino wool
it doesn't hold onto odors
if it doesn't smell
doesn't need a washing machine

I smell like flowers anyway
I'm not wearing crude oil anymore
Polyesters are generally manufactured from petroleum
from which the constituent acids and alcohols are derived.

I quit wearing some crude oil
I'm not sure what Windstopper is made of
it keeps me warm on really cold days
I'll make an exception for Windstopper
what of all my cycling clothes
are totally made of plastic
other assorted man-made gunk
clings skin-tight to my outers
...spandex fibers are produced in four different ways including melt extrusion,
reaction spinning, solution dry spinning, and solution wet spinning.
All of these methods include the initial step of reacting monomers
to produce a prepolymer.


- TOB a bit creeped-out

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Betty Who?






P.S. Can I say that ya gotta know Betty and not have it be blasphemy???

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fly on the Wall the jar??

I wrapped up grad classes three weeks ago and have yet to figure-out normal. Finishing right before the holidays didn't help much. Extra time was spent with preparations, even if all that involved was purchasing a couple of gift cards. There were work parties to attend, a couple suppers with friends, and some car repairs that needed to be taken care of. I was still busy.

Vacation days between Christmas and the New Year were spent visiting family and sleeping-off a cold and some drab exhaustion. When I felt normal I'd grab a book and read a couple chapters, then set it down looking for the next thing I needed to do. After some quick skiing or riding, I'd do some finger-twiddling wondering what I had to take care of next. I felt a bit like a fly in a jar...bzzzzzz bzzz bzzzzTT....bzzzzTT... bzzzzzzzzzzTT.... During the down times I'd get through a couple things I'd been neglecting since August, but for all the flurry, I wasn't really getting anywhere.

I couldn't quite figure out how to take the time needed to think through anything or to organize myself (or my office piles!). While I remembered all the things I used to do, I'd forgotten the pace of all the things I used to do. I'd just been through a year of outwardly imposed due dates and expectations. While something similar typically defines anyone's work day, for 12 months this defined my time after work as well. And now that it's over, it seems I need to re-figure how to set my own goals I will skate ski all day with intermittent stops for hot chocolate and a sandwich and determine what's important to me.

I'm getting used to spending a day out skiing and an evening shopping online at Sierra Trading Post (if you're into Icebreaker woolies, now's the time!), but it feels a bit indulgent.

O not a fly, dammit! B