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Bike Rides 124
A Winter Beat Down

What a difference a year makes.  I’m almost afraid to admit it but if you’re looking for someone to take responsibility for this year’s harsh and extended winter, I’m probably your guy.  In the Bike Rides column from April 2012 not only did I note what a wimpy winter we’d had, I even went so far as to taunt the abominable season.  It seemed like a safe enough move with nearly 80 degree temps in March the mercury was high enough on the thermometer and the date deep enough into the calendar that it was just too late for Minnesota’s biggest bully to catch up. And despite a cool and relatively rainy April, that theory held true. 

But the one lesson I had to keep learning over and over as a child still seems to elude me today; Bullies often have remarkable memories and remarkable strength.

Instead of writing my column from my front deck with robins chirping in the background on a clear evening as was the case last spring, I’m holed up inside the house, in my pajamas battling pneumonia and struggling to motivate myself to write anything at all, let alone a bicycling column in what feels like the twelfth week of January.

I’ve always contended there are really no conditions in which it becomes impossible to take a bike ride if one is truly motivated enough.  But my Doctor has offered another opinion all together, suggesting I learn to take it easy before I drown in my own bodily fluids.  So far I’ve taken his advice and been grounded for two solid weeks, popping Azithromycin like peanut M&M’s and looking at another week of solitary confinement before I can even consider getting back up on two wheels.

I quit smoking over 20 years ago, hung up the drinking over 10 and thought I’d finally found a healthy hobby to settle my restless mind into middle age.  But physical health always trumps mental, so in the interest of surviving another climatic beating I’ve had to leave the Raleigh hanging on the basement hooks for now and opt instead for navigating a remote control.

The last time I was off my bike this long was in the seventh grade.  I managed to acquire mononucleosis, pneumonia and just to complete the trifecta, got the measles on the tail end of all that from my brother.  I was out of school for five weeks that winter and believe the teachers only passed me on to the eighth grade because they considered me a health risk to them and the other students.  They sent a tutor to my house but she couldn’t really expect much while I was too weak to lift a number 2 lead pencil (I never have seen a number 1 or 3 have you?).  I tried looking her up again to help complete this column but had no luck, so instead I’ll just cut the ride a little short this month.

I’ve always had kind of a big mouth for being a relatively little guy.  In my youth on several occasions older, tougher or just braver kids knocked me off my bike and backed me up against the school house wall until I cried for mercy. And as I write this with yet another Monday snow storm in the forecast it looks like I’m up for one more humbling from the mean Minnesota neighbor boy.  I give winter; you are older, tougher and braver than I.  Here’s my lunch money, now let me be.

Traffic Tip:  Clean and lubricate those moving parts regularly in spring, wet sand is a drive train killer.

See past Bike Rides columns at dansbikerides.com
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