Friday, December 28, 2012

The Brrrrr! of Winter Bicycling

You see those bike riders wrapped up in parkas, scarves, wind pants, helmets...and (dare I say it?)...goggles?

This is another Iowa winter that I continue to commute a mile and a half to school every day and generally knock around on my bike. My wife and I've just bought a second car, so I could drive--and I do when the weather is really severe with cold and wind--but I've just gotten into the habit of jumping on the bike. A "green" habit, some might say. A more healthy habit, I say.

Before the school year began last year, I went to my doctor for a health check-up. One of his questions was, "Do you exercise?"

I said, "I ride my bike."

"How much?" he asked--I thought somewhat sarcastically.

"Usually about three to ten miles a day."

"Oh . . . okay . . ." was the reply.

I see those who cannot get around, those with disabilities due to age or accident or birth, and I want to enjoy my ability to be physical. Bicycle commuting suits me because I don't have the time to engage in exercise for its own sake--and let me state here that exercising for its own sake, for health, is not bad. I just prefer to bike ten or fifteen minutes to school rather than scrape my car's windshield for five minutes and then drive to work for five minutes in a freezing car. In all fairness, though, I should add another five minutes of bundling up with snow pants, parka, and all the other cold weather paraphernalia necessary to keep from getting frostbit.

I like the wind and the rain and the cold and the heat--the senses flush with all the variety of the seasons. I feel blessed to be healthy and engaged in the moment, to be using my body and lowering my carbon footprint.

I am careful, though. Whenever necessary, I carefully walked my bike a significant portion of the way to work and back. In our last snow storm (the first of the season, actually), I had to push my bike home. The combination of a small hill, the severe wind, and the snow on the ground made it impossible to ride. Also, I wear a helmet; about eighty percent of bicycle fatalities are due to head injuries. I may look like a Yellow Bubblehead from Mars, but I am happy, healthy, and enjoying God's gift of the day.

The varied weather over the course of the year is all part of life. And as long as the snow storms don't slap me too hard upside the head sideways, I'm ready to enjoy the beauty and power of the blowing snow. I even saw studded bicycle tires the other day at our local bike shop . . .

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

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