Monday, February 05, 2007

Temporary Insanity

I'm building a case for temporary insanity. I might need to use it someday.

The last few days have been wickedly, bitterly cold, and, with my thermometer telling me it's -19°F (I've since learned to account for the 20° error) I figured it was time to make an attempt on my old record. What old record? Well, the one that had me doing 50 miles at 5°F. On a motorcycle.

Last time I tried this, I had to stop every ten minutes and warm up my hands on the muffler. My legs were frozen, and I shivered uncontrollably for more than two hours when I got home. This time, things went much better — despite the colder temperatures and 40 mph winds — largely due, I think, to some insulated bib overalls I found on clearance last spring for $6. Oh, what a difference! My legs weren't cold at all, and my body didn't feel like it had to shut down blood flow to other necessary bits, like my fingers. I was able to do about 26 miles at a time without stopping, and with one less layer on my top half, to boot. Speaking of boots, that's the part I need to upgrade next — for some reason, my heels were frozen solid, painfully so. Why not my toes? No idea. Maybe it's the steel toe, keeping them warm, or, at least, out of the wind blast.

Those boots were my lifeline for reading the road, though. Whenever I came to a section of road that looked different, I'd slow down, and drag a toe to see how the traction was. It worked very well, but I was still fooled once — a section of what I thought was dry, salt-white pavement turned out to be just plain snow on the road, and there was a very long, nervous moment as I felt both tires sliding and shunting back and forth as I offered up a two-word prayer ("Oh, Lord...") and rode it out to drier ground. Amazing how the cold was suddenly absent from my mind!

At any rate... my new record? 52 miles at a nice round 0°F.

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