It. Was. F-ing. Cold.

For the past three years I’ve been an escort rider for the MS Blues Marathon and it’s usually a lot of fun.  This year, though, someone forgot to pay the heating bill.  When we picked up the runners at mile 9, it was about 20 degrees. I’ve never ridden my bike in 20 degree weather.  Hell, I have trouble riding it in 70 degree weather, but since I volunteered myself and a friend, I couldn’t back out.  Well, I could have, but my friend promised to repeatedly kick me in nads if I did and that’s really something I try and avoid. 

My hands and feet were numb before we even got on the bikes.  Our plan was to suit up at the pickup point and get warmed up before heading out.  This was partially successful since the “warmed up” part never happened.  Since it’s hard to dress while wearing gloves, my hands were exposed for the 30 minutes or so it took to get ready.  And they got so cold they were getting stiff…and not in a good way.  We had enough chemical hand and feet warmers to start a small fire, but the damn things wouldn’t fit in my gloves or shoes.  And I was out of time.

I’ll take a second here to mention something about marathoners…they’re nuts.  Why would you pay $90 to run in 20 degree weather for 26.2 miles?  If your answer doesn’t have the words “hoardes of loose, naked women” in it then stop, because I’m not interested.

My group was escorting the Top 3 Male runners and by mile 9, these guys were hoofing it.  We had to stomp on the pedals at first to get in front and from then on it was all pedaling.  At one point, I saw a guy run…and barf…and run some more…and barf some more…and run some more.  I gotta give that dude credit.  Barfing while still is a bitch so I can only imagine what barfing while in motion must feel like.

It was about this point that I realized I was slowly getting feeling back into my hands.  My guess is that my core was warming up so the body could afford to push some blood out to my hands.  My hands have since sworn total allegiance to my core and have promised to punch me in the nads should I ever think of doing this again.  Within about 10 minutes, the only part that was still cold were my toes.

In case you’re wondering, I was wearing neoprene leg warmers, tights, bib shorts, a long sleeve, wool/thermax shirt I use for hunting, a long sleeve cycling jersey, a cycling jacket, and a windproof vest provided by the marathon.  I had a Turtle Fur Shellaclava (this thing ROCKED!) under my helmet, two pairs of gloves, and a pair of wool socks and toe covers for my shoes. 

Now let’s skip ahead to mile 23 when I quit.  The previous miles consisted of a frozen water bottle, rock hard Clif Bloks, and Hammer Gel that I couldn’t reach.  Although I didn’t know how long I’d been riding, I did know that I could no longer feel the front half of both feet.  When I tried to wiggle my toes, I couldn’t tell if they were moving.  It was at this point that my brain said, “Fuck it, y’all.  We’re done.”  And true to it’s word, we were. 

I’ll be honest, Dear Reader, and admit that my feet have never, ever been that cold.  It was like pedaling blocks of ice.  All I could picture were red and black stumps that used to be toes rolling around in the ends of my socks. 

I was wise enough to stop at a portable toilet occupied by a Salvation Army Emergency Services worker who promised to send someone to pick me up.  The easy part was being picked up.  The hard part was explaining to my friend that I punked out 3 miles from the end.  She was a good sport about it and plans to use it to her advantage for a VERY LONG TIME.  I can’t argue with her…because she threatens to kick me in the nads.

For the record, it took until the next morning for my feet to feel completely normal again.

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Nighttime bike ride

I went on my first nighttime mountain bike ride last night. Yep, we rode bikes, at night, in the woods. Cool, huh?

There are some pretty good trails near my house so my friend Charlie and I rode them last night. He had the headlights for the bikes so I just had to bring my bike and my gear. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. I hadn’t been on my bike much and have never ridden at night…in the woods…at night It was a blast!!

The weather was a bit chilly but once we got into the woods, I forgot all about it. The headlight let me see about 8 or 10 feet in front of my and about 2 to 3 feet on either side. Other than that, it was pitch black. You sometimes had to guess where the trail was going, but we both played it smart and didn’t fly through the woods. The coolest part was how quiet it was. The only thing I could hear was me wheezing and gasping for air and the crunch of leaves under the bike tires.

I think we rode for about an hour or so. I really wanted to do a second loop, but was also pretty tired and we had to ride back to Charlie’s house. Uphill. A mile. In the snow. 🙂

I will definitely be doing more of these rides. It was great training for my bike handling skills and also an excellent cardio workout since you’re constantly pedaling. Plus, it’s a bit more interesting than road riding because it’s a challenge with the trees and rocks and narrow trails.

So, Santa, if you’re listening. I want a headlight for my bike and one for my helmet, a new blinky, an underlayer t-shirt, and a winter riding jacket (in case Charlie needs his back). If it’s not too much trouble.

Giro De Rankin

We had our annual bicycle race this weekend. It was fun, tiring, hot, sweaty, exhausting, hot, chaotic, hot, relatively accident free, hot, and hot. It was 96 degrees at noon yesterday and today, and little ol’ me was out in the middle of it since I’m the Race Director. It was worth it, though.

We had an awesome turnout with people coming from Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Florida. I met some friends of a fellow blogger and hope they relay how great the race was. 🙂

I got paid for being Race Director this year, which was completely unexpected and also not necessary. I like to help because it’s fun to be out there, although it’s a huge amount of work. However…getting paid was a nice bonus. And it was a very nice check, too. And it’s going into my savings account.

And in the TMI category:

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Public Service Announcement

I just found out that two friends of mine were hit by an SUV yesterday as they were riding their bikes. Fortunately, neither of them was hurt and the driver did stop to check on them. The driver said he didn’t see them because the sun was in his eyes. I find this hard to believe since I know their location and time of day. The sun is not really in your line of sight at that time, however, I’ll give the guy a break because he did stop.

Folks, please be aware of cyclists on the road. These guys were about 200 yds from the bike lane and were trying to get to it when struck. I know there are many assholes out there who ride, but the majority of us just like to get out and get some excercise. Mississippi has very few bike lanes so we’re forced to ride on the roads right next to cars. For the most part, people here are tolerant of us provided that we try and give them enough room to pass and don’t bunch up on two lane roads.

I’m very thankful that nothing serious happened and ask that all of you who drive keep an eye out for us. We’re sure as hell looking for you.

SU-WEET!

This is my old bike:

And this is my new bike:

The reason for the new bike is the cycling team I help out changed bikes because of some ugliness with a sponsor. I chose to not ride the old bike anymore and got this su-weet new one. It’s a Guru Flite with a custom paint job, Speedplay pedals, FSA Carbon bars and seat post, and Velomax Orion II wheels. It weighs a grand total of 18.1 pounds.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stare at it for a few more minutes.

PS – If you look at the team picture, I’m the chunk of lead on the far right in the white shirt.